NEW Story: Naval Commando
I’m starting a series looking at the lives and machines of domestic Vekllei life.
Vekllei National Railways, or ‘VK Rail’ was the bastard of six major pre-war rail companies that were extinguished along with the society that housed them. Today there are three rail companies in Vekllei, but all of them operate under direct supervision of a Vekllei Industry Bureau (making it Venrouiva, in other words) and are only broken up for reasons of logistics. So even though a train may run under the Montre Inclinantor Rail Company, it is fundamentally a Vekllei National Railways train much in the same way that all regional airlines are actually fully subsumed by Vekllei International Airways.
A few characters you’ll find at every manned Vekllei station have been illustrated below.
The first, the locomotive engineer, drives a train in four hour shifts. They wear a shoulder plate to distinguish them from other miscellaneous station staff and carry a pedigree in Vekllei culture, as a country dependent almost entirely on rail internally.
Each station has a station master, who manages the station. In small stations, they do many types of work including maintenance and assisting public enquiry. In large stations, like Vekllei Central Terminus, there are dozens of station masters commanding multiple platforms each and are extremely demanding jobs.
Most stations also have a most unusual employee, nicknamed in Vekllei a ‘daughter’ or ‘son of the station,’ who are usually children or teen-agers particularly interested in entering employment with Vekllei Rail and are thus apprenticed in many different roles. They are usually taught some English in a special extracurricular programme and are used as guides for tourists, as Vekllei signage is usually written only in the country’s native tongue. After a few hours of miscellaneous works a child of the station might ride the trains, checking carriages and platforms for cleanliness and observing passenger behaviour.
More recently, stations have been adopting station dogs to help lift spirits among commuters and tourists alike. These dogs, usually of breeds too large for Vekllei apartment lifestyles, have no work but to meet people and offer pets to passing commuters. Some are trained in rescue and as service dogs to those who need them, but for the most part they are simply large dogs in uniform who wander with the station master or child of the station to look for love from strangers.
At nearly 20,000kms of rail, Vekllei has one of the most dense and intricate rail systems in the world. Stations are built to receive modern transonic maglevs and century-old steam engines simultaneously, and nearly 15,000 people are employed in some form to keep these railways running.