Train Etiquette for those Less Travelled

I have decided to masquerade as someone very busy and important on this train by tapping away on my laptop. I am pretty sure however that if my ripped jeans and Primani snow boots don’t give me away, then my David Beckham screensaver will.  Nonetheless, I shall continue in vain, as the gentleman to my right really wants to talk to me – and his breath smells of feet.

I feel that I’ve learnt a lot about train etiquette on this brief four and a half hour journey. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it goes a little something like this:


WHEN BOARDING YOUR TRAIN – IGNORE ALL INSTINCTS TO BE POLITE AND/OR CONSIDERATE IN ANY WAY. It’s every man (and woman) for themselves. Pushing and shoving are actively encouraged. A swift elbow to the face should render any assailant unconscious. Where possible – arm yourself with a large umbrella / bicycle / Rottweiler.


MAKE SURE YOU DRINK LOTS OF FLUIDS BEFORE EMBARKING ON YOUR JOURNEY. You’ll get to experience the delightful facilities that your train network provider has to offer: A door that does not lock, loo roll as soft as sandpaper and a flush powerful enough to evacuate your colon.

BE OVERTLY RUDE TO THE TICKET INSPECTOR. He’s a lesser human being than you after all and therefore doesn’t warrant any courtesy or respect.

MID-MORNING – EAT SOMETHING INTOXICATING, LIKE AN EGG MAYONNAISE SANDWICH. The wondrous odour will engulf your entire carriage and everyone will think you are wonderful for sharing.

IF YOU NEGLECTED TO BRING A SNACK WITH YOU – FEAR NOT. So long as you’re willing to remortgage your house, then the onboard catering staff will happily sell you a Mars bar.

HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS? THEN COUGH, SNEEZE AND SPLUTTER. Do so with wild abandon and without tissues – preferably in the face of someone who is eight foot tall, extremely hairy, adorned with piercings and has “HATE” tattooed across her knuckles.

DON’T HOG YOUR MUSIC COLLECTION. Set your MP3 player’s default setting to maximum volume. If you haven’t perforated an eardrum, then it’s too quiet.  Of course the world will share your love of Van Halen / Mozart / Westlife / Justin Bieber.

WHEN ACCOMPANIED BY YOUNG CHILDREN, ENSURE THEY HAVE NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO KEEP THEMSELVES OCCUPIED. For goodness sake – don’t give them a colouring book, or feed them slices of mango – you’ll only show all of the other parents up. Feed them a giant sausage roll, family sized bag of Haribo, some Monster Munch and a gallon of full fat Coke. That’ll keep them happy. By kicking, screaming and pulling the hair of innocent bystanders they are merely “testing the boundaries” and such behaviour should be commended. Reward them with more sweets. If they do misbehave – also give them sweets.


37 thoughts on “Train Etiquette for those Less Travelled

  1. Ugh, the egg/may sandwich makes my stomach turn just thinking about it. Note to self: bring mango slices for my kids. Really. Crushed fluorescent orange goldfish crackers are the nastiest thing to find in the treads of your shoes.

  2. Hahaa you reminded me of my days back in London and those tubes! I remember being packed in like sardines at rush hour and other having commuters read over my shoulder! I don’t miss the underground!

  3. Sames goes for buses. I had to take SEPTA (philly public transpo) for a few years and I swear…Here are my additions:
    1. Play footsies with the person near you. Afterall, we are looking for personal affection from strangers.
    2. Fall asleep..and once asleep..drool…a lot. Everyone near you will be happy to watch the head bobbing long line of saliva falling out of your mouth.
    3. Stand in back of bus and start shouting “I AM SATAN” really loudly. We all feel a lot better with the Lord of Darkness aboard.
    4. Before boarding the bus, make sure that you smell of urine. Then sit in the middle of the bus so that we all can share in the aroma.

    • I very nearly included the falling asleep / drooling thing. How foolish of me to omit it! You are absolutely right with these – clearly universally true of public transport! 🙂 Thanks for the insight – made me smile 🙂

  4. Pingback: In which the toilet exploded. « Suburban Enlightenment

  5. I think you’ve hit all of the key etiquette points for trains. I have one to add for subways: On crowded trains, no need to remove that backpack — the one so enormous that even thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail would find it too roomy. Your fellow travelers won’t mind it knocking into their rib cages every time that the train lurches forward. And they have plenty of room to move closer to Mr. Smells O’Feet.

  6. Very true jessseeker. Made me laugh! Have a few more:-

    MAKE SURE YOU DON’T HAVE DEODORANT ON IN THE SUMMER WHEN HOLDING THE ABOVE HEAD HANDRAIL – You want to have that space around you so that you aren’t sandwiched by people.

    WHEN ON A TWO SEATER, make sure you put your backpack on the seat next to you and put on a face like the next Lord Voldemort so that everyone can thank you for being a selfish, ungrateful brat.

    STAND IN FRONT OF THE OPENING DOORS so that you are first to enter the train; who cares that the people alighting think you’re a selfish penguin … remember – it’s you you you all the way.

  7. Could you possibly take a ride on the San Francisco MUNI sometime????

    I think all these crimes are committed within 2 minutes….. and I’d rather go on a 20 hr plane to Austrailia! ^

  8. Hilarious! Might I suggest you take a ride on the Trans-Siberian railway one time in your life; you are bound to add oodles more etiquette musts from those rides, I guarantee it!!
    Lovin’ your blog 🙂
    Though a tad different in tone than yours, would love if you’d drop by mine sometime…

  9. Hilarious, I remember one train journey where I remember a man reading a broadsheet held quite close to his face, the sound of the paper rasping against his beard nearly made me kill him! I have experienced all of things at one time or another!

  10. Whahahahah! Oh, I am so glad I don’t have to take a train but if I do, I will make sure to watch out for that lady you warned us about..hehehehehe.
    Well written once again. 🙂

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