diamond geezer

 Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Good and bad things about inter-city rail travel (for example between London and Leeds)

Bad: you now have to name the time of your train when buying your ticket, unlike the good old days when you could just turn up and travel; in order to be sure of catching your named train you have to leave your house half an hour early, just in case you miss it and end up paying £60 more; you have to reserve a seat; when you reach your reserved seat you discover it's completely hemmed in by other people who've reserved a seat; if you hadn't reserved a seat you could have sat at that nice empty table down the carriage; your seat reservation appears to have been selected purely to ensure that there is no decent talent within your field of view; there isn't a window next to your reserved seat, just a whopping great mirror in which the view is nowhere near as good as the passing countryside; the amount of legroom provided is appropriate only for those under five foot tall; the man at the table opposite is attempting to conduct his normal office business in an extremely loud voice by mobile; there aren't enough tunnels along the route to block out phone reception; there are wheelie bloody suitcases everywhere; the distant smell of cigarette smoke drifts through from the next carriage; you can't sit in your seat undisturbed reading a book because every ten minutes a steward comes along and tries to serve you tea or coffee; the liquid he calls tea is in fact merely brown water; your ticket would cost noticeably less than the exorbitant amount you had to pay if only the train company didn't employ someone to come round serving 'free' beverages all the time; the on-board trolley contains feeble snacks at twice the price you would pay for them in any supermarket; the woman next to you has heeded this and brought a marmite bagel on board which she proceeds to nibble at for a full thirty minutes; the camp inflection that the catering supervisor adopts when inviting you to the restaurant car suggests that he has more than a breakfast sausage on his mind; when the steward offers you a complimentary 'newspaper' he is in fact only offering you a copy of the Times; should the train ever grind to a halt unexpectedly the conductor will be on the internal intercom within 30 seconds telling you that he doesn't know why you've stopped but that he'll keep you updated on how much he doesn't know as the delay continues; the eventual cause of the delay will be repeated every time the train arrives late at each subsequent station, just so that you go away blaming Railtrack and not the fine, upstanding train company.

Good: Leeds was lovely; and the journey back was quite pleasant.


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