Train of Thought

25 Nov

I am writing this on a train. That sentence probably didn’t alarm you.  It might have done if I had instead written “I am writing this while driving a car.” That’s just one of many good things about public transport in general, but trains more specifically. I have been left in charge of the car keys recently and have had occasion to do a bit of driving, and while cars are certainly convenient and at times almost necessary, it has made me realise just how much I like trains, how relaxed they make me feel in comparison with the heart-palpitations-and-incipient-ulcer sensation I get when discovering that I’m in the wrong lane with no idea how to get to my junction.

Certainly, trains have their faults. They’re almost a by-word for lateness, they are sometimes crowded, and it’s not much fun being on the last train home on a Saturday night with all the people who are too drunk to drive, and far too drunk to regulate the volume of their conversation. However, those things are also true of buses, which are far less pleasant to travel on. So this post will be all about the superiority of trains as a form of domestic transport.

Five reasons why trains are better than cars

1. You don’t have to scrape the train on a cold morning, and the heating is already on when you get in.
2. If the train breaks down, you don’t have to pay to repair it.
3. Trains are almost never in the wrong lane, and can’t ever take the wrong turning because they’re on rails.
4. No one tailgates you on the train.
5. You don’t have to park a train.

Five reasons why trains are better than buses

1. Buses have to stick to roads. Trains often go through some of the most beautiful countryside, without any other traffic to scare the wildlife away.
2. Trains don’t take unannounced diversions and leave you in an unfamiliar part of town with no idea how to get to where you’re going.
3. You don’t have to go to each platform to find out which one your train will stop at; there will be a sign in a central area telling you which one. Not so with bus stops.
4. People on buses (in the aggregate) are louder, smellier and more aggressive than on trains. I don’t know why, they just are. Bus drivers also tend to be less friendly than train conductors. Maybe someone should do a sociological study.
5. Trains are great for writing on. It’s something about the white noise, rhythmic motion and view out the window. It seems to switch off certain parts of your brain in a really helpful way. Buses don’t have the same neurological effect, and anyway all the bumps mean you would never be able to read your writing anyway.

I’m crossing a misty river in perfect comfort, watching the stressed traffic driving along the bank below me, which means I’m almost on Central Station. Time to sign off.

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