The “joys” of train travel

We love train travel. It may not be as fast as going by air, and sometimes isn’t as fast as bus travel, but for the most part it’s so much more comfortable. You can get up and move around, use the toilet whenever you need to, don’t have to go through all the security hassles, and you don’t have to show up 2 hours early.

Train travel

It certainly isn’t immune from problems, though. Something we discovered a bit more deeply yesterday when a series of hiccups turned our 5-hour travel day turned into 11 hours.

The day started out quite nicely. We had gorgeous weather, and everything went without a hitch in turning over the house and animals back to their owners.

When we boarded our first train, we had a slight bump. For some reason someone else had our reserved seats. We looked at each other’s tickets, and sure enough we had the same seat assignment. He was more perturbed than me, but there were plenty of other seats and since I was with a kiddo, he decided to move. Just a minor, rather odd hitch.

About 10 minutes later we would discover the cause of the error.

I handed the conductor our tickets, to which he replied: “I need your tickets, sir.”

“Umm, those are my tickets.” I had double checked to make sure I had the correct route and everything.

The conductor took a second glance at the pile of tickets in his hand. “Sir, you’re on the wrong train.”

There had been a last-minute platform change that we were unaware of. Not only was it the wrong train, but it was going in the opposite direction, too.

UK trains can be quite strict, and normally I would’ve been charged for the mixup, but thankfully they were going to allow us to switch trains at the next stop at no extra charge. Phew!

Train travel

Unfortunately, the snafu meant we would miss our connection and have to take a later one. That segment of the journey was with a different train company, so there was no guarantee that I wasn’t going to have to fork out more money for that route.

When we boarded the right train for our final destination, I was slightly nervous as I handed over our tickets to the conductor. He didn’t even flinch as he punched them and handed them back.

We had dodged a bullet and would only be slightly delayed on our arrival! I was so relieved I wasn’t going to have buy 2 new tickets.

Thirty minutes into our journey, however, we had a special announcement: Due to a freight train derailment at Crewe, we can’t go through. We’re going to turn the train around and head back to Manchester and use a different route. This will cause at least an hour delay. However, we don’t know if our service will be able to continue south. We’ll know that later.”

Obviously, this just wasn’t going to be a smooth travel day! I just hoped there weren’t any serious injuries from the derailment. I was glad to be in the polite UK, too. People around us only grumbled slightly as they pulled out their phones to make the necessary calls. I’ve been in other places where temper tantrums would’ve ensued.

As we returned to Manchester, the conductor announced that we would indeed be able to continue southward so at least we weren’t looking at having to find another way into Cardiff. Another huge relief!

Train travel

The next joy was discovering that unlike every other train we had been on that day, this one didn’t have a trolley service or dining car. We had already eaten dinner, but we had no way of getting something to drink.

Of course, this was the one time I didn’t overdo it and bring on extra drinks and snacks (for the bottomless pit that my son calls a stomach). See what not following your routine can do sometimes?

Needless to say, by the time we got to our hotel room, we were ready to collapse.

But even with all the hiccups, train travel is still easier and better than air travel any day.

Have you had a particularly “fun” adventure by train? Share it with us!

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  1. I love train travel too! Travelling by train in the UK, however, is both expensive and not an entirely pleasant experience. And here in Mexico, there is no train system 🙁 For such a huge country, it would really benefit from one.

    My favourite place to travel by train in India. The tickets are cheap, lots of options, a comprehensive network, and people always want to chat.

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    • Train travel in the UK is definitely freaking expensive, especially if you are trying to buy a ticket without much time in advance. One thing I really don’t like about Latin America is the drastic lack of a train system. It makes travel SO much easier.

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  2. I do love train travel. No major disasters to report but the Butterworth to Bangkok train appears to have had a service upgrade on the Malaysian section. This last trip we could get iced coffees, cold drinks and toast! And dinner was a glorious chicken and rice effort so much better than we’ve previously enjoyed. SO hope it continues!!!

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  3. Talon, I’ve done the train twice in Vietnam. Other than that, all air, bus and taxi. We dug the sleeper train going to Nin Binh. Thanks for the share!

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  4. Travelling to Slovenia’s Zilina from Budapest would have been a leisurely eight-hour journey. If it wasn’t for the fact we were racing to get to a Champions’ League game we were covering for a British newspaper. Plus the fact we were unsure when and where to change, and nearly missed our connections due to our limited Hungarian and, indeed, Slovenian. By contrast, the long way back from Wrexham to London after interviewing a former Chelsea player was a whole lot of fun. Especially as said former Chelsea player had stuffed our rucksack full of beer.

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  5. Sounds like a rough travel day. A few cliches come to mind, you know, those best laid plans and when it rains it pours. The next train ride will be the normal piece of cake:)

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  6. I love your comment about Polite UK. That is definitely one of the times I’m proud to be British!

    Sounds like such an adventure – and I’m glad you didn’t have to buy extra tickets!

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