Can making friends with your fellow travellers help you ease your train pain?
As a London Midland commuter, I’ve discovered that there’s a great deal of camaraderie among the crowd who share my commute every weekday morning and evening.
Even though most mornings are met with an awkward jostle to get onto the train first and grab a seat before they all go (which they very often do), when there’s a delay or cancellation, we all seem to club together.
Euston: we have a problem
Earlier this month, as I was sorting out the final bits for the day, I received a text from my other half (another commuter) warning me about the pandemonium at Euston station. It had been evacuated earlier and there were crowds of people all waiting outside, trying to get home.
I took to Twitter to find out what was going on and it emerged that a track fire had damaged around 100m of cabling. This meant that no trains would be leaving Euston for the rest of the day.
‘Great,’ I thought. ‘How are we going to get home?’
As I discovered from the sea of tweets from other London Midland passengers, a replacement bus service was running out of Euston. Ticket acceptance was in place on other train services, too.
A call came in from my boyfriend who had, by then, met a fellow commuter who’d recognised him from his daily commute. They’d agreed to join forces to get home.
With no information at Euston as to what was going on, I explained what I’d read on Twitter.
Agreeing that the bus was an unfavourable option given the amount of people stranded, I travelled to meet them at Marylebone.
There we were joined by the other commuter’s girlfriend, and the four of us agreed to travel as close to home as possible on public transport and then share a taxi.
But this isn’t the first time my fellow commuters have come to my aid.
On another occasion, my train randomly terminated a few stops early. As there were no more trains running that day, those of us left stranded did a quick tally of each other’s destinations and organised a taxi home, sharing the cost between us.
Now, I feel fairly fortunate with my commute. From the thousands of stories shared with us as part of our My Train Hell campaign, I know it could be a lot worse.
But after a year of commuting, my overwhelming experience has been that for the thousands of pounds I spend on travel, when things do go wrong it isn’t the train company that fixes things for me, rather my fellow commuters.
I’ve also recently discovered that there are several social media groups for my local area where fellow train travellers share information about train problems and call for commuters to share taxis. I guess I’ll be joining them…
Do you have a train friend or have you ever clubbed together with your fellow passengers after you’ve been stranded by a train? Do you think the train operator did enough to help its passengers at the time?