The Best Thing / The Worst Thing: Transport. Part 2: trains


I did one of these a couple of months ago about planes. It’s the turn of trains today.

The best

  • I actually like the physical act of being on a train: the generally smooth journey, less stopping and starting than buses or cars;
  • I like being able to put music on and stare out of the window and (even at this age) pretend it’s a music video or the start of some arthouse film;
  • it feels good not to drive. I can relax, read a book, post on DiS; also I can get into cities quicker than by car;
  • I like taking my daughters on trains- my eldest is particularly enthusiastic about them

The worst

  • other members of the public, mainly. (I am checking my male privilege as I’ve maybe had someone strike up unwanted conversation with me twice in ten years of commuting)
  • weird fare-charging system: arbitrarily cheap and expensive. Rifling through for an advance fare can be a chore.


Agree with all the best ones. I’ve generally switched now from driving to the train when going to visit my family as it’s quicker and I don’t end up so knackered and stressed.

Worst: when there are unexpected delays, or you have to get a a rail replacement bus.

Oh, and the toilets, which are almost always awful.



  • getting a window seat and the trains empty


  • Having to travel either end from the station.
  • Having to switch trains halfway and the anxiety of whether you will have enough time
  • Inexplicable anxiety when the ticket inspector comes round even though you know you have a valid ticket
  • When the train is so busy you can’t get a seat near your suitcase so for most of the journey you’re wondering if someone is about to steal it.

I don’t like trains much.


Oh yeah, the cost. Less of a problem outside the UK mind.


Best: train beers on a long journey. Just gazing out of the window with a bit of a beer buzz while listening to music is as relaxing as it gets.


The best

  • Don’t have to buy a car
  • Can get a train from Leeds right to Manchester airport without worrying about parking etc.
  • Someone comes around selling chocolate and tea and you don’t need to move
  • Can do a bit of work or catch up on reading without getting distracted by the internet because train wifi is usually pish or there’s no signal

The worst

  • Price, in general but also the wild variations depending on when you can get a ticket
  • Not getting a seat and paying a hundred quid to sit next to a broken toilet
  • Price again because going by train in other countries makes you realise how needlessly expensive our trains are
  • Trying to get off the train at your station but a load of people on the platform are standing right in front of the door






In terms of the whole experience it’s the nicest way to travel. You can go from arriving at the station to being on the train in less than 5 minutes, there’s more legroom than a coach or a plane, you can wander about a bit, selection of hot and cold drinks from the buffet car.

The quiet carriage.

The first class quiet carriage, which is the holy grail of modern transportation.


So very expensive. A return from Bristol to London is nearly £60 now, which is around 3 times the price of the coach.

People who don’t respect the quiet carriage.


Can read a book
Can listen to music
Can look around and laugh at every person regardless of age staring at their phones gormlessly

Sometimes too hot


Damn those hot people!


This, so much. I had to get a train down to Devon last year - this gives you an idea of the prices available on a weekday:


Best: there’s a toilet

Worst: the toilets


Oh another bad thing: bumping into someone you know well enough to have a short conversation with, but not well enough that you want to spend a 45-50 minute journey talking to.



A good station will have at least one of the follow - an M&S and a decent coffee shop which brings me onto the next thing…

Train picnic!! A sandwich, a cake, a coffee and a decent book or a notepad and pen and I’m happy as hell.

Those toilets where you hit a button and the huge door will slowly open. The fear for the person using it and the person opening the door. The amount of confused people I’ve seen sat on the toilet, helpless, distraught. I will go in and repeatedly check I’ve locked it and then proceed to do the quickest wee of my life.


Those huge, slow toilet doors are the worst. The last thing you want after someone’s done a train poo is a door that stays open for a good 30-40 seconds afterwards. Nobody wins.


Worst: having to turf someone out of your reserved seat. Every. Single. Time.


Best: Vestibule parties


train beers/wine, basically what @CeeJay said
no queuing

it’s not the cheapest
people, well some of them


-exasperated commuters getting really angry when trains are delayed, making a bad situation even more unpleasant
-people leaning against the bin when you want to use the bin
-disproportionate quiet carriage enforcers
-cyclists ignoring the cycle restrictions


Go on?