At the weekend I came across a train etiquette guide. It was, in my opinion, far too brief. I have therefore compiled my own guide, issued with thoughts and prayers to everyone who has to commute to work via the train.
- If you don’t regularly get a train during rush hour, try not to comment incredulously on the state of the railways to more regular commuters. Phrases such as ‘is it always this bad?’ and ‘I couldn’t do this every day’ will not be welcomed.
- Always, and I mean always, have your ticket ready to go through the station exit turnstiles. Try not to leave getting it out of your purse as you approach said turnstile when there are 45 other frustrated people behind you.
- Don’t speak to fellow commuters unless there is an absolute emergency. In my case, for the avoidance of doubt, this should only be if I am on fire and you are certain that I have not noticed.*
- When [insert useless train company of your choice] don’t sent enough carriages and you are forced to stand with your body so uncomfortably close to a total stranger that you can tell what they had for lunch, you will both pretend that this is not happening. There will be absolutely no eye contact.
- Take the following items on a train journey: tissues (to blow your nose – no sniffing, ever), headphones* (no, we don’t want to listen to your videos and Facetime calls) and something to read (this also helps with points 3 and 4).
- Do not take: smelly food, smelly dogs, smelly feet (retain shoes on feet at ALL times).
- If you take a large suitcase with you on your journey, please store this in the appropriate place. The appropriate place can vary from train to train, but is not ever a) on your seat when there are people standing, and b) in the middle of the bloody aisle so no one can get passed it.
- Don’t buy the coffee on the train. This has nothing to do with etiquette. It’s just always vile.
- Try not to use the toilet. See above.
- Wait for people to get off the train BEFORE YOU TRY AND BOARD IT.
- Please, oh please, don’t have loud business conversations on the train. If you need to form, norm and storm, sell several tonnes of steel, provide interview feedback or pick some low hanging fruit, do consider doing this somewhere (anywhere) else. It’s both a potential breach of the GDPR and deeply irritating.
- If you leave a train part way through its journey, consider taking your rubbish with you and putting it in an actual bin so that another traveller doesn’t have to sit next to your empty cans of Stella.
- Aftershave. Don’t bathe in it before you leave the house for your commute.
- TAKE YOUR BAG OFF THE SEAT. Do not wait to be asked. Just do it. Or be aware that I will sit on it.
*A colleague gets my train regularly. Most days we then get on the same bus at the other end. Sometimes we even sit next to each other. We have never, ever spoken. This is the British way.
**Headphones can also be utilised as a defence mechanism for people who break rule 3. You don’t even need to be listening to anything.