The boy grinned apologetically.
'I'm sorry,' he said. 'But could you tell me when the next train's going to be? I got on the wrong one and I need to get on one going back the other way.'
The old man glanced down at him, but didn't say anything and the boy wasn't sure whether he'd heard or not, so he said it again, and this time the man turned his head and looked at him.
'It's not a station,' he said brightly. 'It's a Permanent Way Post. You're on a Permanent Way Post.'
He had an odd voice - sing-song, and brittle like a reed. Without seeing the face it could have been a man's or a woman's.