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Lessons in train travel

I’ve switched from being a car commuter to a train traveller and it’s been a revelation in many ways.

I haven’t really had to depend on trains since university, the car just always seemed like it’d be less stress, after all, I’ve seen plenty of unfavourable headlines about the state of train travel in the UK in recent years.

So, I’ve spent the past six weeks commuting by train and I have a few observations….

Wow, there are a lot of cancellations – within the first seven days, I think three trains I’d planned to catch were cancelled.

It makes you adaptable. You’ll think on your feet, make quick decisions, change your plans, and make sure you get home.

You will check the trainline app more often than any of your social media accounts. You’ll refresh manically praying those red bold letters don’t appear.

You won’t fully trust the app and will only feel certain your train isn’t cancelled once your derriere is placed firmly on a seat on a train that is pulling out of the station.

The stress at the thought of missing your train will earn you a load of zone minutes on your Fitbit….my heart rate gets a big kick start on commuting mornings.

Power walking to ensure you’re at the platform with plenty of time to spare will also boost your fitness.

You’ll remark at how you’ve never really noticed how big the gap between the train and the platform edge is.

You’ll realise there is a special place in hell for people who eat McDonalds or Burger King on the train……seriously I’d never before noticed how bad stale fast food in paper bag smells or how long it lingers for.

Next to the fast-food eaters, there’s a place for the crisp eaters too and I say this as huge crisp addict.

There’s always a Gordon Gekko wannabe who thinks the entire carriage wants to hear their conversation (they don’t). Can usually be heard saying things like “I need to escalate this up”, “We need to double down”, talks about targets a lot and sounds like a self-important twat.

You’ll always be able to hear someone’s music. Sure, they’ll have earphones in, but you’ll still be able to hear it.

They want you to be able to hear it, like they’re making a point of just how excellent their taste in music is.

There’s always someone who’s got the wrong ticket somehow. Amazingly this is something I haven’t achieved, but I have heard every possible reason/excuse going.

You’ll try everything within your power to connect to the Wi-Fi and be tempted to do a victory lap of the train in celebration when you eventually achieve this.

You’ll end up sat near someone who’s coughing up a lung and worry about whether it’s a) covid or b) the person in question is actually dying.

You’ll watch people crack open cans at 10am at the start of a (very long) day out and try to work out if they’re living their best or worst life as you head into work.

There may have been 15 announcements within 20 minutes about keeping your ticket to hand because “exit barriers are in use at this station” but yet, but yet, everyone gets to said barriers and then starts digging through bags and pockets looking for said ticket like this was the last thing they expected to happen…

You’ll inevitably be stood at the back of them all, ticket in hand muttering for fuck’s sake and knob heads on repeat.

You’ll overhear life. I’ve eavesdropped on all sorts of conversations over the past six weeks! I’m journalist, what do you expect???  I’ve inadvertently learnt about dog racing, heard multiple fitness plans, heard an alternative way to pronounce trousers, heard a lovely old lady talk about testing out her new mobile (I think she called everyone she knew) and hear about the downright mundanity of daily life.

And yet, despite all that, it is still better than trying to get out of Manchester by car…

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

13 thoughts on “Lessons in train travel Leave a comment

  1. Ah, overhearing random stuff has its own charm 🙂 I remember commuting by train few years ago, and overhearding bits & pieces felt like getting out of my bubble – sometimes it made me realize that my problems were so tiny compared to others’ problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the *idea* of train commuting – environmentally friendly, someone else doing the driving – but yes, you’re not as in charge of the journey as if you’re in a car. It definitely pays to have alternative routes mapped out in your head. I’ve been a rail commuter into Central London for 13 years now. Because I don’t like crowds, my working hours have drifted so I go in (and usually travel home) a couple of hours before everyone else does. Of course, things got weird 2 years ago, and I found myself one of half a dozen people *on the entire train* for most of my journeys.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can so much relate to this post. I spent lots of years using the train since I would workfar away from the city. It is an experience I must say. I remember I read lots of books while using the train. I think the periods I read the most in my life were when I was using the train. Thankfully I always had a seat.


  4. As someone who drives but would rather leave the driving to someone else, I can absolutely understand your feelings. I’m a big people watcher too and although there are things that drive us crazy when sharing a train, it can also be quite fascinating to observe others. Great post! Thanks for sharing.


  5. This made me laugh out loud, Sarah, so thank you for that! It’s been a few years since I travelled by train but the music and fast food comments rang bells and the bit about platform power walking also resonated loud and clear!

    Liked by 1 person

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