Good with words

Fear... distractions.... the efforts of a self-employed writer to pay the mortgage.... all that jazz.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Latvian Express

I have spent a lot of time on the train lately. Great Western are inviting people (children, I think) to name their new trains for rolling out next year, which is a romatic idea for what is bound to be a not-very-romantic project. These wonderfully-named trains will still be decorated with the same horrid purple-backed chairs with no leg room, digital scrolling signs telling you the next stop, and plugs for laptops. I mean, why not create something spectacular with the trains?

Something that actually makes people want to catch a train instead of drive?......

They could take their lead from European trains: go and ride in Italy or Latvia. Because some train journeys are about the getting there, and not the 'there'.

I like trains so much they even feature in our holiday itineraries. Trains in foreign countries are places you'll rarely find a fellow tourist... you have to stumblingly ask directions from a non-English-speaker, and risk missing stops. But they're so much better everywhere but England.

For instance, we caught a train at Riga and travelled to Jurmala, on the coast. It was a beast of a thing, with high, polished wooden seats and vast carriages. Lavish leg room, high ceilings, rickety rails. It reminded me of the Orient Express. The station? It was a small and unobtrusive building beside the tracks, overlooking the sea.

And in Italy, from Rome to Naples - it was the same sort of train, but carriages were split into rooms of four seats, with overhead luggage (like the Hogwarts Express). Huge windows you could open at the top and curtains at the little carriage door. People sitting together even talked.

See, some of us think train journeys can be enjoyable... shame the train operators don't share my views...


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