THE BLOG

Guidance for the Naive Undergraduate - Part Four: Trains.

02/06/2014 15:56 BST | Updated 30/07/2014 10:59 BST

It is inevitable that whilst you are away at University, you will travel back home from time to time and usually on the eighth wonder of the world, trains.

There is much to be said for trains as a mode of transport, albeit mostly criticism and negativity. Interesting fact for you, trains are probably the only form of transport with a phobia of leaves, for if there happen to be leaves on the track, your train my friend is going nowhere. To be fair, I once had a similar issue with Charlie Chalk in a Brewers Fayre when I tried to enter the ball pit, so I can relate.

Trains in my opinion are wonderful things to be on, unless of course you are the person who always gets asked, "is this the train to such a destination?" The problem is, it always is the right train and you know in your heart of hearts it is the right train, but you still panic for the rest of the journey don't you? I remember a nice lady once said to me "excuse me, is this the 10:47 to London Euston?" I confidently replied sure of myself and with sheer conviction, "it certainly is".

Ten minutes later and upon closer inspection, I realised it was not the 10:47 to London Euston, rather the 10:50 to Norwich, which didn't happen to take a detour to London Euston. I flustered, I did not know what to do, I couldn't suddenly tell the lady for then I would have to face her rage at being misinformed. My heart raced, my hands went clammy and it was at this moment that I learnt adrenaline was brown.

I had absolutely no idea what to do in this situation, so I did what any respectable human being would have done and I panicked, got off the train at my stop, ran all the way home, confessed my mistakes to my mother before running to the bathroom and using the sink as a hammock for my tears. I can only assure you that to this very day, I am still ashamed of myself and my mother is now forever disappointed in me.

The trains I most often find myself sat on and struggling to breathe are usually ones operated by Northern Rail. Northern Rail is a train company operating in, well, the north of England. They also happen to proudly associate themselves with Merseyrail, kind of in the same way Nick Grimshaw is never papped more than two creepy feet away from pop sensation Harry Styles, whom I may add is now so terribly tattooed, he is starting to look like the school desk in the behavioral unit at my old high school.

The best way to describe Merseyrail would be as a shambles. Merseyrail is probably the only mode of transport where you may require a tetanus vaccination before travelling. Although the real star of the show that is Merseyrail is the train conductor. Interacting with a Merseyrail conductor is like entering into some kind of regime whereby they, someone who may well have undergone brain surgery using only an ice cream scoop, becomes an enforcer of the law and can prosecute you if your happy feet cross their poorly maintained and last upholstered in the 1980's seating. I must confess that I would love to be sat in the public gallery, tucking into my tuna sandwiches with a flask of tea the day that crime of the century graces the high court.

What makes Merseyrail even more so unique is that their train conductors are not called train conductors; they are actually referred to as train guards. Guards! This makes them sound all the more elusive, as though they are guarding something or guarding some sort of secret. A secret that is highly likely to be an out of date health and safety certificate for the train you find yourself travelling upon. This of course isn't my only problem with Merseyrail, for the true eczema of the Merseyrail network is those species that work in the ticket offices. Those species that snatch your ticket money from you as though they have caught you stealing their wife's underwear from their washing line and are taking them back. Though it is important to acknowledge that this is just the tip of the iceberg that is a half hour journey, that stops at every train station in the world on the Merseyrail rust bucket express.

To conclude, if there is one thing I have learnt from using the rail networks it is that here is a reason national rail employee's work behind a protective screen.