Friday, 19 December 2008

Commuting for the fearless

45 minutes trundling through a tunnel, and then having to stand on a crowded train for half an hour. Sounds like the evening commute? Sadly it was my journey to Bruges. Following the recent fire in the Channel Tunnel the train crawled through at little more than tube train speed, and it after the speed of the journey from London to the tunnel entrance it comes as a bit of a shock at how slow the Belgium high speed line is.

Having arrived at Brussels a little late I still managed to make the connection, but only because the train to Bruges was five minutes late, and then when it arrived absolutely heaving.

I’m not certain if the Belgium’s are used to the Londoners idea of a full train, but some of the reactions from those already on the train as wave after wave of British tourists heading for Flanders poured into the carriage, merrily propping themselves up against the edge of seats, implied that this was all getting a bit too much.

Certainly, all those standing were speaking English and there were a couple of comments along the lines of “This is as bad as Southern/C2C/First/Insert favourite company as appropriate.”

Ghent is quite a large town, and I would suspect has a significant population that commutes into Brussels, though as to whether it matches the numbers who poured off the train at Ghent leaving enough space for everyone to sit down is another matter (I get the impression some had decided to get a quieter local train for the remainder of their journey).

Still, it makes a change. For the last five years my commute has always been against the flow heading out of London in the morning and back in the evening. I’d forgotten how miserable standing on a packed train for 30 minutes was!

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