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“A truly wondrous coincidence of arrival and departure times”

In order to place a bet on being able to travel around the world in a specific period of time, to the minute, you have to have a very high level of trust in the means of transport.

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“A truly wondrous coincidence of arrival and departure times”

In order to place a bet on being able to travel around the world in a specific period of time, to the minute, you have to have a very high level of trust in the means of transport. When Phileas Fogg spontaneously decided to travel the world between two games of his beloved whist game in his London club on October 2, 1872, this was intended not least to prove that the technical progress of mankind includes the absolute predictability of locomotion.

Fogg's timetable, previously published in a newspaper, begins: "London-Suez via Mont-Cenis and Brindisi, by rail and steamer 7 days." And so on, including rail crossings of the Indian subcontinent (3 days) and the USA (7 days).

Would anyone bet today to cross Germany in one day? Especially when such dangerous cliffs have to be overcome as "train division in Hamm" or a "close sequence of trains before Berlin"? Quite apart from the usual "signal interference" or "delays in the operational process". In 1872 it was unimaginable that the line would be stopped because bold fire protection doors had locked the passengers in a car.

Sure, even then there were doubters and complainers. In Jules Verne's novel, the Royal Geographical Society refers to "man-made obstacles and those caused by natural forces": "If you wanted to carry out this project, there would have to be a truly miraculous coincidence of arrival and departure times".

Phileas Fogg, the super pedant who dismisses his servant because he made his aftershave a few degrees too cold, doesn't need a train app that displays illusory transfer times. If the railway and steamship are connected with pinpoint accuracy, the passenger only has to change precisely enough: "Then I'll just jump mathematically precisely."

Jules Verne had an unshakable belief in technology and progress, even if he himself did not travel the world (or to the moon, the North Pole or the center of the earth), but mostly sat at his desk from five in the morning to eight in the evening and wrote novels with the reliability of a steam engine . For all his literary imagination, train cancellations in Europe exceeded his imagination.

It was only in the middle of India that Fogg encountered the complication that a 50-mile stretch had not even been completed. Even then there was already fake news - "What are you supposed to do, Mr. General? The newspapers just got it wrong.” So you switch to an elephant and save a beautiful widow from being burned at the same time.

Today's train travelers will read the novel with melancholy. Fogg ended up being five minutes late – because of “inevitable delays” on the Liverpool-London rail line, as the oddly succinctly put it – but he won the bet because he saved a whole day by circumnavigating the world. Unfortunately, Deutsche Bahn cannot rely on this simply ingenious solution to all delay problems in long-distance traffic.

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