Shortcutting… Train Travel

28 May

I have discovered on my travels that the long-journey, overland train is a very different beast from the underground. It must therefore be tamed in a different way. There are a few things in particular to look out for:

The quiet coach: If you’re flying solo, then the quiet coach is definitely the place for you. No one should be talking loudly on phones (and if they do, you’re perfectly within your rights to give them a dirty look), ditto loud music, loud games, and basically anything fun. If on the other hand you’ve got company, I would definitely suggest avoiding the quiet coach (unless you don’t want to talk to them), or you’ll definitely find yourself on the receiving end of the aforementioned dirty looks.

The buffet car: Never underestimate the length of the train, or your own hunger. You may think: ‘Oh, the buffet car isn’t that far away.’ It is. You may think: ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter, I won’t get hungry.’ You will. In fact, I’d bet my buffet-bought lunch that there’s a positive correlation between distance of buffet car and size of hunger. So don’t risk it. Either make sure you’re near the buffet car, or bring your own food. I can say from experience that trying to squeeze down the aisles of ten carriages of a train that keeps juddering around and throwing you onto fellow passengers is not a barrel of laughs.

Toilets: Make sure to locate your two nearest toilets before you set off, and preferably take a pre-emptive trip. Because when the urge strikes and you either can’t find them or they’re engaged, squeezing down juddering aisles suddenly doesn’t seem like the most uncomfortable situation one can encounter on a train.

Tables: There is nothing better than having a table to put your stuff on, to put your bags under, to play cards on, to rest your weary head on. With a table, life just seems worth living. The humble tray-table does not compare.

Finally, on the topic of trains, I’d just like to mention the band Train, whose song Drive By has been stuck in my head for the past week. It’s the perfect tune to get you through your journey (although sing it too many times in a row and I’ve found that even if you’re not in the quiet coach, you won’t be too popular).

Keep shortcutting,


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