I generally drive to work in my car, but for a while I’ve wanted to try something different. I used to commute on the train, and really enjoyed it at the time, but life kinda got in the way. Eventually I bought a car and that was that. So I was really happy when Ideas in Motion offered me the opportunity to take the train to work for a week. I wanted to see if it was still like I remembered.
Things weren’t that different to how they were before. There was still the same morning rush of school kids (which I tried my best to avoid by travelling a little bit earlier or later if I could!). The seaside outside the window on the Fenchurch St. line was mostly just as pretty as in my memories. And I enjoyed a lot of the same things about train travel that I had before.
The thing I noticed most, in fact, was that train travel seems to give you extra time that you don’t get in your car. I spent my journeys reading my book, browsing through copies of Metro, calling friends, sending texts and emails, planning what I had to do at work or just generally gathering my thoughts. It occurred to me at the time that I couldn’t really do any of that in my car. I even met a friend I’m still in touch with on one journey. She and I talked about weight loss programmes and healthy lifestyles, and after I mentioned that I didn’t need to go to the gym now I was walking to and from the train station every day, she said she might start getting off the bus one stop early!
I’d love to take the train to work on a more regular basis, but I think it might be tricky given I still need to pay for my car and can’t really afford both at the moment. But I would definitely recommend it, especially to anyone who has limited time. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive, but really it freed up a lot of my day. It was fast and reliable, and because I could get a lot done while I was travelling – reading, catching up on the news, getting in touch with friends, planning things – I didn’t feel as rushed when I got to work or back home. Overall I’d give my experience on the tracks an 8.5 out of 10.
Heather Ffrench works for the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. To talk to her about her experience email firstname.lastname@example.org.