British trains suck

This is a moan — if you don’t like to hear people venting their petty frustrations, look away now!

So today, I’ve waited five minutes for a train which started at the station I was at. (How did it manage to be late? I don’t know.) Narrowly avoid missing an appointment.

On the way home, I miss my connection because my first train is five minutes late, and I have to sit on the platform watching the seconds tick by. I catch it, and arrive at the halfway point only to find that half the trains are running an hour late — except mine, of course, which has just left — and now I’ll be waiting an hour for the next one. Finally, I end up stuck near some smelly people (like, seriously stinking-of-something-unmentionable, smell-them-from-several-seats-away smelly).

Not as bad as when I was heading to York a couple of months ago, though. £40 for a 90-mile journey, paid on the morning. Got on the (late) train, and was greeted by an announcement that we’d be further delayed. Waited ten minutes, then a further announcement that we’re moving to the end of the platform to get out of the way. As we stop, a scant thirty seconds later, we’re told the service is cancelled. And we have to walk all the way back along the platform.

Over the course of the next half hour, they cancel one train after another — each time insisting that the train will run, right up until the point of cancellation. (It later turns out that the line was completely blocked, so they’d have known no trains could run. They almost certainly knew at the time they were happily selling me tickets, too.)

Awesome. No wonder people like cars.

4 Responses to “British trains suck”

  • At least you have trains… I live in one of the larger cities in the US and there is no useful mass transit. The auto companies like it that way.

  • Public Transport doesn’t work – if it did cars would never have caught on.
    At least we have trains – be careful what you wish for. Out here in the English countryside, our options are into or out of London radially or nothing – to get to my next nearest town it’s car,bike or walk – the bus when it runs is slower than cycling – the busses are huge – very large dirty diesel engines and usually empty – so not very eco friendly.

  • Isn’t it a shame trains are so rubbish in the Uk, having seen how they operate in Japan – they apologise if it is 30 seconds late! I would happily use them more if they were cheaper and less grubby and more reliable as I can arrive less tired than driving. I also hate the constant tarmacing of the UK gradually adding more and more cars to the congestion, when will we learn it wont work for ever!

  • You are in danger of sounding like you are having a moan rather than posting a genuine question.

    Assuming you are asking a real question, lets put it into perspective. Somewhere around 30,000 trains run every day on the rail network in Britain. A vast array of train types, from slow, heavy freight carrying all types of things, right up to the fastest of high-speed passenger services share the same network. Safety is at an all time high, on time figures (around 91%) are at an all time high, passenger satisfaction (measured independently) is at an all time high and number of trains run are at an all time high.

    I challenge you, Sir, to research into certain railways on the asian or southern american continents, and tell me if you think you would prefer a journey on one such network instead of ours.

    Regarding the news article, I read it this morning. I fully understand how unendingly awful it is to be stuck on a train a stone’s throw from your destination – i’ve been there before! The matter of the fact is, passengers are not allowed to walk on the track, and it is an illegal offence, for a good reason.

    That reason (although the UK public’s arrogance prevents them accepting this truth) is their OWN safety. The train operating companies and Network Rail do not enjoy trains being late, or holding passengers up for hours. The bottom line is, if you let fifty people climb off a train and wander around the rails, how can you guarantee their safety from other train movements, electrified overhead lines, third rails etc? You can’t. Thats why they had to be forced to stay on the train.

    Please remember that the media do NOT look to provide you with the truth, especially when it comes to the railways. The railways are, and always have been, an easy target. 30,000 trains run on time with everybody happy and nobody notices. One is delayed and its major news. Bad news sells. Fact.

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