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.