A photo from the train one early morning


A couple of years ago I had a job which meant a lot of travelling. The organisation I worked for had to be mindful of carbon footprint and so the journey from the north east to London for meetings had to be done by train. Consequently, I spent quite some time:

  • calculating efficient journeys
  • travelling to stations
  • finding and paying ridiculous money to park my car
  • buying Hazelnut Lattes at Costa
  • waiting on cold platforms at 6:30am
  • confronting people sitting in my reserved seat
  • sitting uncomfortably with my feet tucked under the seat so as not to touch the person opposite’s feet
  • returning home in the dark

To book a ticket to London and to arrive by 9:30 cost around £300 each time. To fly from Newcastle and use the Stansted Express was about one third of the price. However, the company didn’t want us to fly because of their carbon footprint. Sometimes a First Class ticket would be cheaper. But we couldn’t use First Class as the company had to be accountable to the public and it didn’t look good sending employees First Class.

London was pretty straightforward. Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham not quite so. And trips to Warwick University were even more complicated. I would have preferred to drive. I like driving. I like the fact that you aren’t carrying heavy bags up and down stairs, finding safe storage on the train and that you can stop for a coffee or a wee whenever you like. But…….carbon footprint and Health and Safety said ‘NO!’.

I became an expert at not having a wee for hours on end. Have you ever used a train toilet?? I also learned what it was like to have a meeting finish early and get an earlier train where I had no reserved seat. I once spent 3 hours squeezed in a corridor with a man’s sweaty armpit in my face.

Then there were cancellations and delays. Leaves on the line. The wrong sort of snow. Flooding. Signal failure. Cable theft. The list of whinges goes on and on.

I miss those days. I loved that job. I loved my colleagues. But I don’t miss the trains at all.


4 responses to “Trains

  1. Whilst I can readily identify both with the stupidity of ‘rules is rules’ bureaucracy which results in paying vastly more than you need to, the real issue IMHO is as follows.

    Since retiring I have made a conscious effort to use a car as little as possible by using public transport whether bus or train. The real issue is the condtions and cost of these things – in other countries it is not like this. We should all be being encouraed to reduce our carbon footprint where possible because the alternative to the car is relaible, comfortable, effective and economical.

    But that might require investment and an ideology that is about managing transport utilities and not auctioning them off with all the stupidty that goes with it.

    A friend remarked that whikle a certain train company was running a cergtain franchise they refused to replace any light bulb that failed for the whole of their franchise at the station…… it would have hit their profit margins……

  2. Apologies for the spellcheck fail on my brian’s part….. Lol

  3. I love your insightful and sensible comments on my blog. Thank you for taking the time to do this.

    • Seeing as I no longer have the time to blog myselfg its nice to be able to make comments on a sensible blog……

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