Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Talking trains...and time


4 months ago I was house hunting: following estate agents around tiny weeny flats with crazy rental price tags - but my main concern was 'how long is it going to take me to get to work?' Preparing myself for the long working days to come, I knew that I wanted to minimise my commute as much as possible, whilst still living somewhere affordable and cosy and well located. And so that's where we found ourselves, in a lovely little flat, a half an hour cycle (for Simon) or a 45 minute train/tube journey for me. Do-able. Absolutely. 

Part of me wishes I'd written this last Wednesday, when the Circle line broke, and I felt like punching everyone who budged me on the tube, or didn't have their Oyster card ready for the barriers. Or the Wednesday before, when the cancelled sign at Victoria caused me to just burst into tears. That day it had taken me an hour longer than it should have done to get into work - and only because I was small enough to slot just below one man's armpit, and almost squeezed between another lady's boobs. I stood, in this claustrophobic mess, convinced that the air I was breathing was 90% sweat and 10% germs, for the longest 15 minutes of my life. So when, at 7pm, you're greeted with delayed, followed by lol, it's actually cancelled and so is the next one, I cried. Lame, I know, but I am not about 4 hours commuting a day to travel a grand total of 12 miles. 

And you know what? I wouldn't even mind if it was a one off. Sometimes trains break down, and sometimes there's a signal fault, or a streaker on the line, but last week, not one single train I have taken ran on time. And that's not unusual. We all hear the angry passengers on the news talking about how much their season tickets cost; but, for me, it's not really about the money (even though I can think of so many things I'd rather spend £124 a month on). It's about two things:

1. The embarrassment. 
When you've got up extra early, allowed an hour and 20 minutes for your 45 minute commute, and you're still late and have to awkwardly walk into your meeting full of apologies, it's embarrassing. There's sympathy, and other people understand the struggles, but there's only so many times it can happen before you start to look flaky and unreliable (when in fact Southeastern are, not you). 

2. The time.
I spend 50 hours a week at work, and should spend an additional maximum of 10 hours a week commuting. So when your 60 hour week threatens to become a 70 hour one, it's beyond crap. When you leave Victoria and know that it's less than 12 hours until you're back; when you get in late, and by the time you've showered and eaten, it's already gone 9pm and you're knackered anyway; and when you get to Friday night and you can't remember doing anything that week that wasn't work, or standing on a station platform...And, of course, I am not the only one. Last week I sat next to a lovely man on a train that had been delayed by 45 minutes, and he'd downloaded a children's book on to his iPad so he could read it to his daughter down the phone. Whether you're missing out on quality family time, or sleep, or watching 24 Hours in A&E, it's all still important - and it's time you need, and deserve, and makes you more than just a weekday machine. 

So although I am now the proud owner of a sorry we're rubbish and ruin your morning and your evening nearly every day gift, in the form of a Southeastern canvas bag, it feels like a small price to pay for all the time, discomfort and money I, and every other commuter, suffers and continues to suffer. Public transport is the first thing I have to deal with in the morning and one of the last things in the evening, and it ruins my day (week/year/life). Seriously. 
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2 comments

  1. Very nice picture of platform, I like travel in train because of its adventurous track so I book e ticket after IRCTC Register for my journey.

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