As almost the rest of the world wants to talk about the US Election (what on earth have you done to the world now?) I want to talk about trains. Yesterday I mentioned my trip to Edinburgh and I noted that I travelled by train. I didn’t tell you of the sheer pleasure of travelling on a high-speed GNER train and I won’t have all those nay-sayers who want to moan about the service stop me. Clean, comfortable and (except for one brief 15-minute slow down as we criss-crossed track works) very high speed. An at-seat buffet trolly with things you’d like to eat and a well-stock buffet car (I skipped the sit-down lunch in the restaurant car despite the fact it looked good). Apparently, there was a wireless network (although I couldn’t find it) but, sensibly, there were power-points near my standard class seating to charge my lap-top and mobile ‘phone. All that and no waiting around at airports and ‘please turn off all electrical items’ until we are quite high. The last time I went to Scotland the journey was turbulent to say the least, but that’s another story.
On the way back yesterday afternoon the train was older and more crowded (as we hadn’t booked seats there was a little more of a scramble). Still, two comfortable seats, coffee served at your seat and a newspaper seemed like a good way to travel home (no roadworks or turbulence). We were in the Quiet Carriage which, in principal, is a nice idea. However, the quiet was lost on:
- a Japanese student with an annoying high-pitched ring-tone and a line in friends who wanted to hear the detail of his journey home
- the larger lady who turned off the ring on her ‘phone only to talk all the way from Newcastle (or was it York) to colleagues about how she’d turned her ringer off and – while she was heading back to the office to tell them about the meeting – it went very well, darling, sweetie.
- two women on a shopping trip from Newcastle who were so excited about their purchases they unpacked each one and cooed at each other all the way to London
- a man whose iPod was so loud I know he was listening to Keane
- a woman who (I think) was doing very badly at whatever game she was playing on her portable game-thing as it made lots of those baritone beeps that I associate with people failing to answer questions on Family Fortunes
All such activity made it almost impossible for anybody to hear the announcements from our train’s Customer Service Leader (whatever happened to The Guard?) that it was a quiet carriage and you should turn off all equipment that makes annoying sounds and hold mobile telephone conversations in the vestibules (which used to be the cold bits between carriages but seem to have been given a new lease of life).