/ Travel & Leisure

Are you travelling on the train this Christmas and New Year?

train delays

With planned engineering works and industrial action set to cause disruption on the trains this Christmas and New Year, we thought we’d ease your pain with our very own light-hearted Which? Convo Christmas song…

With some train companies set to strike and Network Rail saying that 260 sets of engineering works will take place across the rail network between Saturday 23 December and Monday 1 January, we know that train passengers are likely to be facing delays this Christmas and New Year.

Many of these engineering works will hopefully result in a better service in the long run, but if you’ve already bought a ticket, make sure you check your train company’s website for any updates before you travel. You can also use National Rail’s future work checker to see if there are planned works on your route.

We’ve been working hard all year to drive improvements to rail services across the UK because we deserve trains that run for passengers, not just the rail industry. Join our campaign and find out what we’ll be up to next year.

Christmas cheer

Now we don’t like to be all doom and gloom at Christmas, so we thought we’d brighten up your journey with our very own Which? Convo Christmas song, Commuting in a Delayed Wonderland.

The lyrics were kindly penned by community member, Ian, and it’s sung by the Which? choir to the tune of festive classic, Winter Wonderland (composed by Felix Bernard; original lyrics by Richard B Smith).

We hope it will take the sting out of your journey. Otherwise, stick on Driving Home for Christmas by Chris Rea. Because you may well wish you were…

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Er…wot happened to the choir, then?

Yes, who was the solo singer?

No idea, I’m afraid.

For those who might like to form their own octet and perform it locally here’s the full lyrics:

Sleigh bells ring, In the distance.
On the train, No assistance.
We’re gonna be late, It’s always our fate,
Commuting on the trains to work in town.

More delay is the message,
Extra cost that’ll presage
The rise in our fares – they’re dearer than shares,
Commuting on the trains to work in town.

If you want to claim some compensation
Good luck to you; they make it hard to get.
What trains they run seem packed at every station
So sitting down’s like winning at roulette

Network rail, fixing railways,
Always pays for the deelays
But passing it on?
It’s more of a con
The companies just see it as a raise.

Verse 2

Sleigh bells ring, In the distance.
On the train, No assistance.
Increasing their price, it’s almost a vice,
Commuting on the trains to work in town.

More delay is the message,
Extra cost that’ll presage
The rise in our fares – they’re dearer than shares,
Commuting on the trains to work in town.

They should do the right thing by the trav’ller,
The companies should do the decent thing.
The Government agrees, so what’s the hold up?
It’s all enough to make commuters cringe.

It’s two years since we made our
Complaint hit the radar.
The Government knows of travellers’ woes
Commuting on the trains to work in town.

And a second ditty:

Sung to We Wish you a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas,
It’s not like we’re on an isthmus,
We don’t want to be suspicious,
We don’t trust the trains.

We’re not asking for all that much
Of trust, yes – we’d like a good touch
Might be quicker on a wood crutch
We don’t trust the trains.

We hope you will see
That openness works
So compensate all the passengers
In the coming New Year.

The rest of the choir were still in training?

No . . . stuck on the train, Malcolm.

That is what I had in mind, John.
Maybe they were travelling on South West Trains and were confused about where to alight
“London train stations have been given a festive makeover with a series of Christmas puns.

South West Trains made the change to celebrate the coming of the Christmas holidays and provide some much-needed cheer to long-suffering London commuters.

Delighted passengers have been sharing pictures and video of the new names, which include London Winterloo and Deck the Vauxhall.

Other highlights included Three Kingston, New Mald-wine and Raynesdeer Park

Or stuck at B’ham Snow Hill.

I was sorry to see that “passage” was substituted for “presage” and a lot of your lyrics were discarded, Ian.

I hope this has been forwarded to the Rail Delivery Group. For my taste the vibrato was a bit overdone but it should shake some sense into Network Rail and the train companies. No point in sending it to the Department for Transport – culture of this quality would be way over their heads; in any case they want to spend a lot more money on roads rather than the railways.

I had quite a natter with Lauren over Presage and Passage. It wasn’t Lauren’s fault; the words had been swapped about without her knowledge and (her guess, not mine) she wondered if it had been done because quite a few of the choir were asking her what Presage meant. Now, it worries me more than a little to imagine that W? staffers,who are, presumably, mostly Grads, couldn’t look it up, but what worries me more is that they may have changed it because they thought the audience might not know. I find that very disconcerting. The one organisation that shouldn’t be reducing the intellectual content of its offering is Which?

The second song was never offered, since they asked me to do the first a little too close to the date for comfort and, although I managed the first within 24 hours, I think, there really wouldn’t have been time for the second.

The original intention was to perform it at a station, which had echoes of some of Sheila McKechnie’s wonderful stunts, but I think time defeated them.

I would say that this collaboration between the members and the organisation is exactly what Young would have admired and it’s what I’ve been campaigning for for quite a while, as you know. I think with more time and forethought we could do something really special in the future.

Was it you on the piano, Ian?

I agree with your comments on vocabulary; I regard it as an essential function of this site to introduce some unfamiliar words and usage every day if possible. People reading words on a computer screen have never had better facilities for looking things up.

I enjoyed your “made our” / “radar” rhyme.

Í could identify London Waterloo and King’s Cross stations, and one of the Underground’s Circle Line stations but not which one. I presume the other images were stock pictures, at least two of them being foreign. The photo of the young woman turning away from the sweaty armpit of the man next to her [at 47 secs] sums up the commuting experience.

I presume it was the W? Choir accompanist playing, John; I offered but they didn’t apparently need me.

It was me on the piano, Ian – not currently employed as the W? Choir accompanist, but potentially available for the right price!

If you listen closely, there is a choir in the background. There were certainly a few audio tweaks and a studio-recorded soloist for lyrical clarity, but it was well out of my hands by then.

Was the soloist a Which? worker, Adam, or a professional? And nice playing, BTW.

Thanks! Only a sight-read, I’ll try to be more practiced for the next entry in the Great Convo Songbook.

It was indeed – Jenny in our Press team provided the pipes, although they were digitally manipulated upwards in pitch a fair bit!

Yes – I thought they had been.

If (and hopefully – when) we do something like this again a little more time to get it all just right would be a good idea. Let’s not wait until Christmas, either; some great summer songs I could parody 🙂


Very good, including the video, but I wonder if at this time of year it would be good to be celebrating achievements than ongoing problems.

It would be useful if, at any time of the year, positive experiences and suggestions were posted, at least in equal volume to the moans and” something must be done-ers” . I believe we get more response to constructive positivity.

Well, the thing is this was requested in Late November, John, and I got the music and the lyrics back to Lauren by the 3rd Dec, so being positive about the Railways possibly wasn’t uppermost in their minds at the time. But humour in parody form can be a useful way to draw attention to issues that persist. One reason why G & S are still going strong.

Not my criticism, Ian!

Oops! Sorry.