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Commuter - Track
An installation by Rob Godfrey

The topography of Commuter is based on Charing Cross Station, in London, with the 'head' representing the six station platforms of Charing Cross, the 'body trunk' representing Hungerford Bridge and the 'legs' representing the tracks to and from Waterloo East Station - click here for photos.

Satellite view of Charing Cross Station

Commuter is a representation of the human organism and the passage of time and mortality

Commuter trackplan

Commuter has an end-to-end track plan, which means that the trains do not run non-stop around loops. The trains travel from the station/head to the Waterloo tracks/legs and then back again. There are a total of 17 block sections. The trains cannot stop anywhere outside of these block sections.

Four carriage trains can stop in all the block sections. Six carriage trains can't stop in Blocks 1, 2, 7 & 15 because these block sections are not long enough to accomodate them. Blocks 13, 14, 16 & 17 are route blocks. All other blocks are terminal blocks; ie, a train has to stop in them and then reverse out.

Four carriage train

Six carriage train

Commuter block schematic

ii.   Mind The Gap

Like Sherlock Holmes they stroke and shelve
lawnmowers, teeth, urns gone astray
(old Mr Moss, born 1912);
brown bakerloo strums Yesterday.
Who needs a Chinese typer, say?
or likes to taste bull sperm from Devon?
From bloody birth to dying day,
lost property of Mr Bevan.
Now riding a stairway to heaven
this white city is full of hate
for one-unders who like eleven
o'clock, and now we're running late.
Someone once loved these objets trouvés;
their epitaph: yet more delay.

The two different train lengths, and the fact that six carriage trains can't be accepted in Blocks 1, 2, 7 & 15, brings more complexity into the train movements and ensures that the traffic pattern does not become too cyclic. This uneven layout of the trackwork forms part of Commuter's nervous system, and the attempt to create consciousness, while the rails themselves act as busbars, carrying power and digital signals.

Travelling from one end of the installation to the other, and then back again, there are 122 different routes that the four carriage trains can take and 56 different routes that the six carriage trains can take. This gives a total of 178 routes.

Commuter's railway is 7mm scale (1:43 scale), with standard gauge trains and track (32mm gauge). This is known as O Gauge in the model world. This model scale occupies a lot of space, almost 50 feet / 15 metres of space! The main reason for the big model scale is that Commuter contains a soundscape and a large area is needed in order to properly hear the myriad of sounds. On a visual level the trackwork is part of the 'body' laying in the coffin. The off-white colour sleepers represent bones. The metal rails represent the peripheral nervous system. The rails are made from nickel silver, which doesn't rust.

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