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 Nationalrail.co.uk 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.

Best:

  • getting a window seat and the trains empty

Worst:

  • 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.

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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.

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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

-Trainbeers

-Fares
-People

Good:

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.

Bad:

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.

Damn those hot people!

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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Best: Vestibule parties

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

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

Go on?

best:
folksy cheerful ticket inspectors. How you can be cheerful while doing that job and engaging with the train-travelling public is a mystery

worst:
the prices, and how it’s basically prohibitively expensive to flexibly travel inter-city for people with lower incomes. also the local services in the north are basically inhumane.

Outside of rush hour - my experience of travelling on trains is almost entirely positive. Can’t think of anything about it I don’t like.

Biggest problem I find is fares. I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford them but do worry for those who can’t. That said I got to and from the midlands yesterday for £13rtn which is pretty decent.

Also the DiS propensity to list variations on ‘other people’ as something they don’t like about something never ceases to disappoint.