Midweek, and I'm off to Norwich. A two-hour train journey, the perfect length for a relaxing nap followed by a little work. I settle in the quiet coach. Except it isn't. "Welcome aboard this 11.00 One service to Norwich, calling at ..." The voice is very loud. We are told to keep an eye on our things. We learn that safety instructions are in every carriage. First-class accommodation is available only for those in possession of a first-class ticket. Our informant, the guard, will be shortly be coming down the train to inspect our tickets. Our next station stop will be Colchester. Coach B is the quiet coach, where mobile phones, laptop computers and portable music players are
banned. We are invited to sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.
Then the woman from the buffet comes on. Apparently it is open. They are serving a selection of hot and cold snacks, tea, coffee, and alcoholic drinks. But what else might a train buffet sell? "We are open for a wide range of ocelot pelts, rare porcelain and small farming implements?"
When we approach a station they get very excited, because it's time to tell us where we are, to mind the gap between the train and the platform, and not to leave any personal belongings behind. Colchester, Manningtree and Ipswich are each only 10 minutes apart, so the team are on the air more or less full time - when we arrive and much the same again when we leave. As the train nears Norwich we are running late, so we get minute-by-minute updates on whether the connecting trains to Lowestoft and Liverpool (Liverpool? How many people go to Norwich to connect to Liverpool?)
are going to be held. Apparently not; they are run by a different company, so screw the passengers.
No, of course I didn't once nod off. Do you think they might invent a quiet coach that was quiet, leaving some of us experienced, "old hand" passengers to use our eyes to detect which station we had reached?
Monday, April 09, 2007
The Perils of Modern Day Train Travel
From Simon Hoggart's Guardian diary. Sums up my view of train travel perfectly and why I never travel by train unless I have to...