Another day, more train delays. Today it was a derailed freight train at Charlton; last night, apparently it was a girl running about on the tracks. Last week, signal failure… Of course, none of it can rival the man in a tree last year for entertainment value, but the end result is the same – nobody can get anywhere.
I’ve been commuting for over six years, and I know how annoying train delays can be, especially when you’ve got somewhere you need to go. So the last thing I want to do is to make light of anyone’s frustration. But, since I’m not allowed to rant on here, I figured instead I’d come up with a few tips to help us all make the best of an annoying situation.
First, the survival skills:
Bring something to do
Because the internet is only going to save you as long as your train doesn’t grind to a halt in a tunnel. Looking out the window at a brick wall is no fun. So read a book, listen to music, watch a movie. Or why not use the time to learn a language? I happen to know a great app. Just saying.
Make sure you have battery on your phone
Not just for playing on the internet, but for letting people know where you are, and for finding out the reason for the delay (because, let’s face it, chances of the train company telling you anything are pretty minimal). It’s a horrible feeling being stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to contact the outside world.
Don’t get angry
Easier said than done, I know, but it won’t change anything to get mad, so what’s the point? Your fellow passengers are all miserable too, and don’t need to be yelled at. And I know staff can be pretty unhelpful, but there are ways to complain about bad service that don’t involve personal abuse. I like to think we’re all better than that.
Because you don’t know how long you might be trapped, so it’s always good to have some emergency food and drink in your bag, just in case.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, here a few ideas on how to keep yourself entertained during a train delay:
Talk to people
Because you’re all in it together, so you might as well make some friends. Even if you’re just bonding over your loathing of trains, at least it’s common ground to start from.
Go for a walk
This depends on time and location, obviously. I’m not suggesting anyone take a moonlit stroll around Dartford in the middle of the night. But if you’re stranded somewhere interesting like London, and there’s nowhere else to go, why not take 10 minutes to get some fresh air? Or if you’re one stop from home, get off and walk the rest of the way (it’ll probably be quicker). You’ll get some exercise, and you might even work off some of your rage.
Take a nap
A bit of extra sleep never hurt anyone, and it’ll make the time go faster. Although be careful not to miss your stop, should the train suddenly start moving.
Seize the opportunity to chat up the cute guy (or girl) opposite
This one is best done when the train isn’t busy, in case it doesn’t go well. You don’t want to be trapped in a window seat for the rest of the journey, with a red face and nowhere to escape to. But if it does work out, think what a great story you’ll have to tell the grandchildren. And yes, obviously I expect an invitation to your wedding.
Write a novel
With delays now becoming an increasingly regular occurrence, you may find yourself with a lot more spare time, so why not use it constructively? You could write a novel about people stuck on a train, then sell copies to the captive audience of your fellow commuters, the next time you’re delayed. You see? I’ve thought this through.
And if all else fails…
Start a group singalong
Hey, this guy went viral. You could too!
So, there you have it. A few ideas on how to make the best of a train delay (and possibly find love, fame or fortune along the way). You’re welcome.
But in all seriousness, good luck to anyone who’s stuck out there, trying to get home. I hope you make it soon.