They are comfortable, and allow you to watch the world whizz past the window as you’re seamlessly transported to exciting destinations across the world!
Of course they can also be a pain; a cramped, unpleasant irritation in your everyday routine. They can be a terrifying gauntlet of unspoken rules and potentially awkward situations that can blight the simplest journey from A to B. So here are my top 10 tips on how you can help yourself and your fellow travellers to have a good train journey. Or at least a pleasantly forgettable one.
Platform drift: be strong – stand still
You’re stood on the platform, happy and confident with your chosen waiting spot. But now the train is pulling up in the station, and you’ve suddenly become drawn to a specific set of doors that are clearly going to pass you by. They look identical to every other set of doors, but it’s too late – you’re hooked. As the train slows you start to drift along the platform in the direction the train is going, inadvertently ploughing into those passengers who have resisted the allure of doors not destined for them. We’re all going to wind up in the same place, so you don’t need to tread on my foot.
A page too far: no news is good news
It’s 7.30 on a Monday morning, you’ve had your over-priced station-quality coffee, you’re wedged into a rush-hour train and now you’re desperate to find out the who has been insulted by Justin Bieber’s latest haircut (sorry, I know, you’re reading it for the ‘in-depth business analysis’), but please stop paper-cutting my cheek every time you turn the newspaper page. It’s okay; the Mail Online will still be there when you get to your desk in half an hour.
A case to answer for: be careful who you take down the aisle
Congratulations! You’ve decided to bring a ridiculously oversized suitcase on a packed train intended for people. I’m happy for you, really I am, but please leave it near the door or in the rack and stop trying to drag it past everyone else because you’ve spied a tiny seat in the middle of the carriage. We don’t enjoy getting caught on the useless plastic wheels and being dragged along with you.
Riding it out: a wheely inconvenient way to travel
You’ve just bought a new bicycle and it looks excellent. It’s shiny and it has a little bell on it. You are an exercise king! You’ve also bought some gloriously tight-fitting legging things and a fantastically blinding, luminous yellow top, so you’re all set for a wonderful cycling experience …so why have you decided not to ride it? Why instead have you used it to wedge me awkwardly into the corner of the train carriage so that the studded metal pedal slowly grinds the hairs off my ankle when we go around bends?! You have a bike – please cycle. And no, I don’t care if it’s a folding bike – that just means it has silly proportions and was ridiculously expensive.
Sitting pretty: Be satisfied that you’re 32C
It’s lovely that you’ve offered to warm my seat, but I’ve paid good money for this reservation and I don’t want to share it with you. The numbering ‘code’ system on the ticket isn’t hard to crack, so please stop looking so shocked and disgruntled when I show up to sit in my seat that you’re sitting in.
Going out on a limb: getting a leg up on the opposition
It’s tough enough having to stare directly at a strangers face for an hour, but if you’re stuck in a two-facing-two seat formation, for goodness sake arrange your legs properly. Leaving a reasonable gap between them will allow you all to alternate and drastically reduce your chances of getting DVT on the 18.24 to Leighton Buzzard.
Scaling up the problem: don’t try and eat your way out of it
I know it’s late and you’re hungry, but no, tuna fish is not appropriate train snack food.
A sigh of things to come: silence makes the heart grow fonder
You can stop the exaggerated tutting, we’re all well aware that you’re angry and risk being late for your important evening of events. Everyone’s in the same position; stuck on this heavily delayed train that has now inexplicably stopped in the middle of nowhere – but don’t worry, apparently they repeat Hollyoaks on a Sunday.
Find the gap: a platform for success
Well done, you’ve correctly guessed the precise point along the platform where the carriage doors will come to a stop. We’re all very proud of you oh master of train travel, but please stand to one side, or as I attempt to leave the train I feel I have the right to jab at you with my Oyster card.
The sound of freedom: don’t be so *beeping* impatient
Finally we’ve made it to our home station. A few more seconds and we’ll be released. So for goodness’ sake stop reaching awkwardly across my chest as you frantically poke the ‘open door’ button. I’m aware of how the intricate system works and I’m perfectly competent at pressing it when the time comes. Just wait for the beeps and then we’ll be free – ready to do it all again in the morning.