A rant about trains in the UK

July 29th, 2008 | Categories: Travel | Tags:

I know this is completely off topic for this blog but I need to vent – so I apologize.

I love my home town of Sheffield but work in Manchester and so I, like many others, face a daily commute by train. The journey is only around 50 minutes to an hour long and it is usually very pleasant, complete with views of the beautiful Pennines and the chance to relax with a book, DVD or however else you might choose to idle away an hour or so.

Sometimes though, it goes horribly wrong. The train company may spontaneously decide to half the number of carriages at peak time for example which results in everyone getting very up close and personal with one another. Standing up for an hour with your nose in someone’s armpit after a full days work is not the nicest start to your evening and should really never happen, especially when you consider the fact that the ticket is so expensive.

It really is expensive too, a sizeable proportion of my salary in fact, so the last time this happened I had the temerity to complain to the guard (a very un-british thing to do but I had had a BAD day). I was paying an obscene amount of money for the pleasure of having my nose in someone’s armpit and could I have the address of the train’s complaint department please? I was informed that my money only actually bought me the right of carriage, not the right to a seat.

That’s right ladies and gentleman – almost 3000 pounds a year for the right to stand on a train. Well if that’s the case then why are they pretending? Why bother with seats at all? They would save even more money (and fuel I guess) by ripping out all of the seats and just being done with it. At least then I wouldn’t be able to complain about the lack of seats because I would never expect there to be any.

Furthermore they could spend the saved money on more people to check that I actually have a ticket because they obviously don’t do that enough. On a bad day my ticket can be checked by 8 different people – once at Sheffield station, twice on the train itself and once as I attempt to leave Manchester station and then the same again in the opposite direction. To be fair it’s more usual to only have it checked 4 or 5 times but it still seems like overkill to me.

Unfortunately I have no choice if I don’t want to leave my life and home in Sheffield (or my job in Manchester). I have to commute and, since I don’t know how to drive, the train is my only option. So I pay and suffer (and occasionally complain of course).

A final note – it turns out that UK commuters have it worse than cattle. Figures!

  1. July 30th, 2008 at 14:03
    Reply | Quote | #1

    OMG! You live in Sheffield. Let’s do coffee.

  2. admin
    July 30th, 2008 at 15:56
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Sounds good to me. Drop me an email and we can sort something out,

  3. July 30th, 2008 at 17:43
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Hmm. Finding your e-mail address is a little tricky. Whereas your admin interface should give you mine with each of my comments. I can do most days in Sheffield and some, especially by prior arrangement, in Manchester.

  4. MJC
    August 3rd, 2008 at 02:12
    Reply | Quote | #4

    You can pay to upgrade to first class. no sweaty pits there….

    Also you choose to live in sheffield, you choose to work in manchester, you choose to not drive. Seems that you are making a lot of choices :)

    Also you could pay the person(s) who are close to you to get off the train and take another less crowded train.. economics my dear boy, economics……