I made a change to my journey today. I traveled to London from Swindon today instead of my usual journey from Reading. It cost me £56 one way. I knew it would be that much, I was prepared. But when the barrier ate my ticket at Paddington I actually felt a tug and stopped – a little voice in my head said quite clearly “…but, I paid fifty-six pounds for that.” It suddenly felt very silly to have paid that much for a tiny rectangle of flimsy orange card.
I can get a peak time ticket from Reading to Paddington for £20.60 and an Anytime Travelcard (there and back + unlimited travel around London on buses and tubes) for £45.50. How can it cost so much more from Swindon, a journey that takes just twice the time? With most things, the more you buy or the further you go – the more you save. Not with train travel.
When we reached Reading, the commuters piled onto the train as I usually would, one or two of them getting seats and the rest standing in the aisles and the vestibules.
I tweeted last week (on my journey home to Reading from Paddington) that cattle on their way to slaughter got more room than I had on the train.
Cattle on their way to slaughter get more room than this…
— Katharine Robinson (@TheSourceress) August 7, 2012
I wondered this morning if there was any truth in that hastily written criticism of First Great Western.
A train carriage seats 80 people, I read a piece in the Guardian at Christmas time that reported the average commuter train between Reading and Paddington is 306 people over capacity. Divide that by the 5 standard class carriages (you can’t stand in 1st class unless you have a First Class ticket) and you get an extra 61 people per carriage. This sounds absolutely accurate to me as a regular commuter on this route.
I found a generous estimate of the size of a train carriage online giving it a floor area of 9ft x 65ft. That’s 54.3 square meters between 141 people. That’s 0.385 square metres of space each.
Defra give the following guidelines for transporters of cattle:
Are we all crazy?
I can get the megabus to London from Swindon for £5 – I bet that would get me a seat. I’m going to try it. I have to for the sake of my sanity.