Train travel is awful – no wonder there’s so many cars on the road

Gone are the days when I used to be excited about getting the train.

Gone are the days when I used to be excited about getting the train. Yes, although it’s hard to believe, there actually WAS a time I used to get a little flutter of butterflies to be jumping ‘all aboard’ onto one of those carriages.  

Personally, I think that it’s probably because I only ever really got the train at Christmas when I was little – that I loved the whole experience so much. It was one of those really old fashioned ‘choo-choo’ trains with steam, and Santa (or a man in a cotton wool beard anyway) who was always there to surprise me with a gift. I now realise of course, that the train I used to get didn’t actually go anywhere other than around the convention me and my Mum were visiting, and at the age of five I was never in any rush to reach my destination, therefore making the £30 ‘experience’ amazing. Now however, my train travel outlook is a whole different kettle of fish.

So my hatred for *insert British rail company here* began when I went to college. Before this point, being an only child, I was chauffeured around by my Mum here and there at ease. When I started my A Levels however and my taxi driver was working at the time I needed to be in a lesson – I was forced onto the tracks of hell.

The amount of times I was late for college was ridiculous. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t particularly keen to be at college early, but getting there before my lesson had finished would have been nice some days. Having the most infrequent station in the world near to my house also meant if my train was cancelled, it was a whole hour until the following one. The consequence – I got a bus pass. As much as I dislike buses, this was the preferably option to failing my A Levels.

Then came university… and the bum-numbing experience of a three and a half hour train ride to visit home. I had decided before university not to bother learning to drive just yet – ‘I’ll never afford the insurance/petrol/maintenance of the car anyway’ – and this I now realise was a mistake of epic proportions.

Not only do I have to endure three and a half hours of other irritating passengers, that annoying woman who recites the stops every 10 minutes and that weird musty train smell, but on top of that is the lugging of my oversized suitcase across the platform in time for the battle of the seats. If I am in fact then lucky enough to be seated, I’m far too terrified to leave my whole life in my suitcase to move for a visit to the toilet. The consequence – a bladder the size of a hot air balloon.

To be honest however, I’m not sure that even if I could move for the toilet, that I would after the horror story of my friend Laura.  For poor Laura, Frankie Boyle’s stand up joke was just too true. Whilst going for a sneaky number two on the train, she told me of how she was revealed by the automatic door to the rest of the carriage, with her jeans round her ankles. Cringe. I’m not sure if it’s just me either, but I’m also always slightly terrified that the force of the train flush will suck me down there along with my toilet paper and deposit me onto the tracks. Ever since this incident, I have only ever visited the toilet if I really, REALLY need to, and even then it involved a balancing act between hovering over the seat, and reaching as far as I can to hold that flashing little ‘lock’ button to retain my dignity. 

On top of this, when getting the trains from home to university, and vice versa, the three minutes that I have between connecting trains at one of the stations is absolutely ludicrous when about four flights of stairs and a suitcase is involved. Not to mention the merciless door minions who despite my half sprint still frown unsympathetically and again I end up platform stranded, waiting for the next train to come in half an hour (at least) for which my pre-paid reserve ticket is no longer valid. The consequence – the rest of the journey hiding behind my belongings, sweet-talking the guard or just generally panicking that I am on the right train.

If this all wasn’t bad enough, other hiccups of mine on the railway lines have included connecting/disconnecting carriages making a delay, sheep on the line, snow or ice related cancellations whenever the temperature drops below 2 degrees, probable dehydration due to no more tea or coffee due to staff cutbacks, and that one time a little boy locked himself in the toilet for 45 minutes before staff could find the key and stop him bawling and screaming.

The joys of train travel are never ending, I’m sure you’ll all agree. If only I could afford to drive…