British Trains

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British trains, the home of commuters, a life line to people in remote communities, or the least efficient system in the United Kingdom? Who knows, but let's see what it's all about.

Different types of train services (below list will be expanded)

  1. Underground
  2. Fast trains
  3. Commuter trains
  4. Eurotunnel

The Service

Officially, trains run on time 84.5% of the time. This is due to several different companies all running on a shared track network. On top of this there are many different agencies responsible for different aspects of running the network. Network Rail is responsible for maintaining the track network and is a not-for-profit agency wholly owned by the Government1. Its predecessor, Railtrack, was a privately owned company until the Goverment forced Railtrack into administration after a series of accidents and financial problems. After Network Rail took over, they recognised the problems of Railtrack and started bringing
rail maintenance in-house. The consensus seems to be that the Railways are in crisis.

complain - FGW experience. Refund if over hour delay, usually 100% of the ticket price (so 50% of the ticket price on return journeys)

Who Runs the Trains?

The railways were nationalised in 1948 and then were privatised in 1993. Network Rail is responsible for the track maintenance. Before the privatisation all the trains and routes were run by British Rail; routes were subsequently divided up between different Rail Companies.

Games to Play on Trains

There are a number of factors to consider when taking a game on the train - it must be:

  • Easy to pack
  • Not too long
  • Easy to play (even on a large, unsteady table)
  • Easy to pick up quickly

The most suitable games to play are either card games, electronic games or board games2.

What to Pack for a Journey

Packing for the train is always a problem, you must try to anticipate all eventualities3, while at the same time not weighing yourself down with unnecessary heavy items. This list should help you pack all the necessary items for a simple journey:

  • An extra jumper in winter or sun cream and a hat in summer4
  • A snack and emergency food
  • Medicines and tablets if they are prescribed
  • A pair of slip-on shoes
  • A belief that the train will arrive. Only 83.1% of British trains run punctually.
  • A mobile phone, so that if you're late, you can let someone know if necessary.

Following this list will hopefully give you the peace of mind that you have packed for any likely happenings. You may of course wish to take additional items such as a camera and film or Walkmans etc.

The Golden Rules

There are two golden rules to remember when travelling on a British train. They are:

  1. Always plan a contingent route, either using the train or an entirely different mode of transport, in case your train is badly delayed or cancelled.

  2. Never lose your temper with the ticket collector or other members of staff. It is not their fault and they cannot help it. Calmly ask for a complaints form at the desk and fill it out. They will then direct your annoyance to the right people who can sort it out.

Trivia Train Fact

  • The suburban rail service from Bedford to St Pancras London (now called Thameslink after a major extension) used to be affectionately known as the 'Bedpan Line'
  • It's 2004 and the project known as Thameslink 2000 hasn't even made it past the consultation stage.
1I.e. Nationalised2As long as they do not have too many small pieces and are not to bulky. Travel board games are now available, which are perfect for train journeys.3A hurricane, the train breaking down in the middle of Wales etc.4Naturally, the sun cream and hat will not always be required in the UK during summer, but you never know

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