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My worst journeys from hell?

February 27th, 2010 No comments

 

[A shorter version of this piece was published in the Times]

My worst journeys from hell?  Waiting days for a series of cancelled boats in Ziguinchor, southern Senegal, at 100° in the shade — 6/10.  A bus trip across the Peruvian desert that lasted 24 hours -  8/10.  Taking a train from Birmingham to Edinburgh – 10/10 and not just because it was the last one I did.  Or because it cost hundreds of pounds more for the pleasure that the other ones.  But because you know it could so easily be improved.

Take a much cheaper coach from Birmingham to Edinburgh and you need a numbered ticket with a designated seat to travel.  Just as you do with a plane.  So why is it that British train companies get away with crowding as many people as they possibly can onto a train before shutting the doors?  This particular journey saw passengers crammed solid down the aisles and in the doorways, with luggage spilled in every direction and children crying:  it looked like a train load of refugees after a catastrophe event.  If the train company could have got away with putting passengers on the roof, they would have.  And this was not for a couple of tube stops or a suburban commute, but a five-hour journey. 

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