Thursday, 27 June 2013

It Must Be Thursday: Five Useless Things About Trains

The ongoing saga of a weekly That-Was-The-Week-That-Was posting.
Commenting on things that caught my attention for better or for worse and left me shaking my fist at the sky and shouting "Whyyyy!!!" 
After all: until science brings us a better use for Thursdays - what else is there to do?

Well folks, I'm still without a computer to call my own and as there haven't exactly been people banging down my door saying "Hey Pixie, where are your posts" I've been taking a break until such time as a good idea popped around to my door, let itself in and made me a nice refreshing cup of tea.

My life over the past couple of weeks has mostly involved travelling on trains which has inspired me to create one of my much sought after list of fives that never add up to five.  This time its things on trains that annoy, frustrate, or are down right pointless

#1 Train Announcements
Don't get me wrong here, having an announcement - automated or not - at every station is generally a Good Idea.  What I object to is the train guard coming onto the tannoy five seconds later and telling you what Automated Lady told you five seconds ago, then the Automated Lady coming on again to tell you once more incase you were too stupid to get it the first two times

Enough with the announcements already - once when we are about to leave and once when we are about to arrive is enough.

Although, to be fair, the train announcer who announced the following probably deserves some kind of prize:
"Ladies and gentlemen we would like to apologize for the fact that it's Monday morning.  The problem has been reported to management and we expect it to be resolved in about four and a half hours"

#2  Trying To Sleep
It can't be done.  Firstly because of the endless announcements which seem to be specifically timed to shout at you over the tannoy just as you are dozing off and secondly because of the seats. The train seats are specifically designed so that there is no way to put your head back without suffering some spinal injury, that the wall is too far away to support your head at an angle without the same result and that the window ledge is too thin to rest your arm on to support your head.  Plus if you DO decide to place your bag on your lap, rest your shoulder on the contents and your face on the palm of your hand (resulting in a suspicious looking red mark on your face) you risk the ever-embarrassing headbutt as you nod off into the person sitting next to you

#3 Ticket Booking Sites
If you were too look on the train website you could be easily convinced that every day for the past couple of weeks I have been breaking the laws of physics and performing an impossible journey - BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU LOOK THEY DON'T TELL YOU ABOUT IT.

Usually you will find that the website tells you one, or maybe two, routes which they consider to be the fastest.  They won't necessarily be the most economic or the best one for you and the only way to find these out is via a series of trial and investigations that would leave Sherlock Holmes whimpering in a corner.  Plus the savings are mostly imaginary or only available if you can afford to buy the £12,000,000 ticket that works out a whole 50p cheaper

#4 Too Many First Class Carriages 
Anyone who has ever travelled on a high speed train in England will know the pain of standing in a train corridor for an hour because there are no seats, or be familiar with the smell of wet armpit on the subway.  But what is particularly galling is that all of the people standing could easily sit in relative comfort (well, as comfortable as train seats can be) if they just took one, just ONE, of the totally empty first class compartments and replaced it with another second class one.  Yes, I know that they charge twice as much for the privilege of having half a train to yourself - but simple maths alone should tell you that a full carriage will still earn you more than an empty one at twice the price.

#5 Train Station Prices
There are few places less lovely than a train station forecourt.  They are full of the noise of endless announcements and the smell of desperate people ready to jump over each other to grab one quarter of a seat should the arrivals board ever prove to have more than a passing resemblance to reality.  So what else can they do to make you miserable and take even more money from you: yes, that's right, allow a chain store to move in and sell you expensive chocolate, coffee, cold pastries and wetsuits (if anyone can explain to me why motorway service stations 400 miles away from the nearest puddle and train stations have suddenly started selling scuba gear please let me know)

Of course the smart person walks around the corner to the kiosk outside where everything is priced as per usual, but then rail executives know all too well that a person in a train station is a Person On The Edge, and therefore gullible

#6 Annoying Kids Making Endless Beep Beep Noises with the latest Gadget-o-thon
Don't think I really need  to argue this one very hard, other than to say that I was once an extremely annoying child - and to anyone who met me on what were the permanently broken down trains of my youth when I used to carry my magic tricks around everywhere - I am deeply, deeply sorry.

However, that does NOT excuse the kids that sit with their Nintendo DeeplyStressing machine turned to full volume

Anything I missed, please let me know


Stephen Hayes said...

I think you've hit all the negatives of train travel....but it's still a fun way to travel.

The Bug said...

I love the Monday morning announcement - ha!

I'm the person who would need all three announcements because I'd miss the first one (listening to my audio book), catch a bit of the second one & then really get the message on the third one.

I HAVE missed your posts - but since it's all I can do to have one post a week (P365 doesn't count) I didn't really feel I could harangue you :)

Argent said...

Yep, been there, done that for four years. And let us not forget the annoying twonks who insist on yelling into their mobiles that they're... ON THE TRAIN or insist on having a business meeting. If I ran the trains there would be no work allowed on them at all. Travel is tiring enough as it is.

The Fat Controller said...

How about the inconsiderate people who, when presented with 4 empty seats around a table, decide its all theirs and spread out all their wares to avoid anyone sitting next to them.

It's a train journey not a jumble sale!!

I was on a train journey last month and appeared to have sat in the 'YES, I'M ON THE TRAIN' carriage with loads of really important people trying to justify their existence on their phones. No one thinks you look good or that you're working really hard, especially when their phone call finishes and they go back to playing Angry Birds or Solitaire.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Stephen - yes it certainly can be

Bug - glad to hear that you enjoy my posts

ARgent - no to work on trains - that is a good election campaign in my book

Fat controller - just today i had someone sit next to me who seemed insistant on taking my side of the seat as well as his...

Roxy said...

Hey Pixie, where are your posts? :) I'm the one who's been absent. Do you take the train every day?? I live in a small community - under 1 million people. People think we live in a city but of course, I know much better - compared to the rest of the world ... but, I have been able to sleep on ANY train, it's my gift!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Hey Roxy - posts will be more regular once i get a computer i can use on the go

I am catching the train daily and find it almost impossible to sleep on it....

Anonymous said...

Well, I agree about the sleeping: for a piece of transportation that's used for such long commute, the seats need to be more comfortable.

I agree about the gadgets, too. But it's mostly adults being loud, not the children (sometimes it is).

The train announcements repeating (by person or automation), however, I think are important. Despite the uncomfortable seats, sometimes people do get to sleep. To lessen their chances of missing their stop, the stops should be announced multiple times. When I was in Japan, this was very important for me, even when I was fully awake and heard the stops the first time.

Also, yes, I agree about the first class carriages. Definitely needs reduction.