Cower As The Verbal Thunderstorm Spews Forth

I’m wrapping up my What I Learned in England series today. My final observation is that…

England’s rail system is pretty good

We spent a fair amount of time on trains while in England. We rode the Tube around London and rode three different rail carriers around England’s countryside. Overall I was fairly impressed and satisfied. The Tube can be confusing, but that’s because it covers so much of London, which is a good thing. And if you have questions there is always someone to assist you. And best of all, there seems to be an unlimited number of trains, so we never waited very long at a station. Meanwhile, while traveling around England I really enjoyed that the rail carriers were strict about being on-time at every stop, the seats were comfortable, they offered food and beverage service and some seats contained tables and power outlets for laptops. Ok, so what’s the catch? Well,…

There are some potential pitfalls that you should be aware of

You may not have to wait long at a Tube station for a train, but you might end up waiting a long time in a train to reach the next Tube station. The Tube system gets backed up easily. If a train ahead of you is sitting at a station, you naturally have to wait for them to leave, as two trains cannot occupy the same station without causing a huge and unsightly mess. Sometimes that waiting can be a minute, and sometimes, as we experienced, that waiting can be fifteen minutes or more. So, if you need to be somewhere at a specific time, and you need to take the Tube to get there, give yourself a half hour more than you think you’ll need. If you get there early, go to a pub and get yourself some sticky toffee pudding.

Rail carriers in England are very similar to airlines in the States in many ways. For example, they both have first class and coach seats, tray tables, food service carts and tiny bathrooms. The other thing they have in common is that their ticket prices rise exponentially the closer they get to their travel dates. I’m not talking about an increase of a few pounds. I’m talking about an increase of a lot of pounds. So, be warned, if you know you’re going to travel by rail around England, book your train travel as early as you can. You will save a ton of money.

That’s it. See you next time.

– Ben