Train Etiquette – A grumpy 22 year old’s code of locomotive conduct.

I write this article as I’m sat on a train, wedged between a window and a man whose arse takes up one and a half seats, who seems to enjoy as his only form of sustenance cheese and onion crisps. It is the only smell spare his potent sweat that I can currently smell, burning in my nostrils as I struggle to breath. This is when the thought of train etiquette sprung into my head, it seems to be this unwritten code of conduct that travellers and commuters alike adhere to, for the most part. I drew up a list of rules that should be followed to insure an undisturbed journey. I write it in full view of this man, who has just plugged in his IPod, listening to what I presume is Harry Potter as I can hear Stephen Fry whispering sweet prose into his ear. On a side note, I am fully aware I sound like a grumpy old man but my Britishness of not saying anything in public but writing complaining letters is winning through.

1. Smelly foods are a definite no no, people don’t want to smell your questionable in date yogurts or pickled eggs. There is a group on Facebook that supports this called ‘Anti smelly foods (especially prawn flavoured crisps) on public transport’ . We as British people eat an average of £229 a year on food consumed in transit, the highest in Europe. This really shows on trains with people quaffing pungent smelling Greggs or inevitably spilling some drink that upon contact instantly turns into superglue on the seat that I have reserved.

2. Children, anyone praying for peace, it’s their worse nightmare. I once sat on a 40 minute train counting how many times this 5 year old ran past my seat, by the time I got off the tally was up to 43 with many swear words etched around the page. Further down the age spectrum are babies; I love babies in any other social situation they make my ovaries tingle but not on a train. Somehow when put on public transport they call upon a scream that puts a banshee to shame and their mothers read Hello Magazine ignorant to the mass disturbance that their spawns are creating.

3. The mobile phone revolution has been a massive leap forward in communication, with the vast majority of Britain owning a mobile and I am fully aware that at some point during the journey you will need to call a loved one and let them know you are on the train safe and/or inform them on your impending arrival. However, for the love of all that is holy we do not need to hear about how much banter was had last night or if Kelly really got off with Liam. Another type of phone call that really exasperates me has to be the arrogant business man, who always seems to have an exceedingly loud ringtone, that never seems to cease ringing twinned with his exceedingly loud voice.

4. Public displays of affection are a rare occurrence but never the less equally as annoying. On a train to Cardiff recently as I was about to get off the train two policemen pushed past me onto the train and started to bang on the toilet door, being the nosey man I am I stayed to see what had happened. They forced the door open after knocking for sometime, this revealed a half naked woman desperately trying to cover up her ‘dignity’ and a very red face but obviously very proud man. This incident meant that the train was delayed by half and hour, not a bother to me but for everyone else on the train a nuisance.

5. Definitely the most common irritation to people is the sleeping passenger. A past time I must confess I readily enjoy, at the end of this term I took a 6am train from Durham and slept for the majority of the 4 hours waking only momentarily in a panic I had missed my stop. However you should not sleep on a train if you are; a snorer, a dribbler, a sleep snuggler, shoulder rester or worst of all a sleep talker because no one wants to have someone next to them shouting “The red coats are coming, the red coats are coming!”

6. Finally my pet hate, stinking feet. If your feet smell like damp stilton, keep your feet in your shoes, we all shouldn’t have to suffer because you have an inability to shower.

193 thoughts on “Train Etiquette – A grumpy 22 year old’s code of locomotive conduct.

  1. thejamminjabber says:

    Spot on. Unfortunately, almost NOBODY follows these simple rules! I empathize with your plight. It may sound shallow, but fat people squeezing next to me on the train pisses me off to no end. It’s not my fault they are overweight, why should I have to suffer?

    • quinncreative says:

      Many times it is not their fault that they are overweight, either. But your manners are, indeed, within your control. Trust me, the generously proportioned don’t want to sit next to you, either.

    • DJ Camstar says:

      Yep, it’s not always their fault they’re overweight and as a fatty, I don’t want to sit next to anyone as quinn says…. no need to have a go at us fatties, bottom line doing anything communal like travelling on a train, we should all remember our manners and also bear in mind travelling on a public transport is a means to an end… I’d rather be where I’m going than sitting next anyone…

  2. adventuresomeentrepeneur says:

    Your article is so great. I am thinking of relocating to another country and these tips may come in handy!

  3. Nikki says:

    You may want to add: “Coffee without a sealed lid.” I love the travel mugs that have a lid that closes completely. And Starbucks now has these sticks that you put in the spout of your drink to make it “spill proof”… But not all people know this, and just let their coffee slosh around and dribble all over other people’s clothes… Ugh…

    And the business man, oh my!!!! I LOATHE those… This one man, he was really, really loud… And would not shut up about the “tens of thousands of dollars that the idiot cost” him… He was acting like a big shot, and as if he was something of high importance… Yet he was dressed in cheap clothes, and on the TTC (Toronto). Maybe this was proof that someone actually DID cause him to lose “tens of thousands of dollars” that he was so loudly complaining about… But this doesn’t mean that I (or every other person crammed on the stuffy bus) wanted to hear about it in surround sound.

    Ooooooo, the foot thing. There was an older woman on my train a few months back, and she had the nastiest feet I’ve ever seen in my life… Sores all over them. I thought to myself, “okay, at least they don’t smell”… I was wrong. She actually put them up ON a seat (I thought only ignorant little teenagers did this) right next to me, and the smell was something I’d rather not try to put into words…

    Public transit is amazing, isn’t it? I love this post… It’s great to see that I’m not the only disgruntled young adult who thinks about this stuff hahahhahha

  4. Brooke says:

    One would think if you ride the train often, you’d see what bothers you and not do them yourself. But one also thinks that people are stubborn and selfish.
    Speaking of sleeping passengers, I rode my first NYC subway train last year. A man (who was either really drunk or high) was snoozing but every time the train stopped, he’d fall on the lady next to him. His face ended up in her lap before she moved. Was he really tanked or just putting on a show?

  5. Arnab Das says:

    Hahaha! Was laughing out loud after a long time. Very good advice I should say. Wondering why I wasnt following this blog. Oh well, better late than never, now following you (via RSS that is :P)

  6. Jan says:

    Funny story, however, I think that quitting the train will be the same as quitting smoking, in that it will add years to your life.

  7. scandalousmuffin says:

    Having spent a lot of time in the subway, I would like to add the inverse of #3… arguing couples on the train. I once had to listen to a couple’s divorce proceedings. The only thing missing was their lawyers.

  8. lostbutf0und says:

    sweaty people, iPods on way too loud, someone with their bag occupying another seat, your neighbor reading over your shoulder, someone staring at you (I start then to wonder if I have a stain somewhere or if my make-ups runny)….I could go on and on.

    Nice post, true and funny at the same time. Kudo’s!

    • shaelah says:

      definitely add those to the (hiarious, made my day) list. Also anyone who insists on actually telling you, directly, their life story in great, loud and painful detail.

      and on the iPod one…. someone with it not only way to loud but who seems to forget they’re on a train and starts jiggling up and down to the song/seat dancing / humming or singing along, in a very out of tune manner.

      The above often happens but once but it was just that much worse because it was with a BUS DRIVER. And it wasn’t an ipod, it was his portable stereo, so not only did we have to listen to him play bad 80’s hits, we had to listen to him reliving them.

  9. Haute Elle says:

    A comprehensive list – well done! Cheese and Onion crisps should not be allowed on trains. This might cause problems here in Ireland where they are strangely obsessed with the foul things.

    • bantics says:

      but that’s because Irish cheese and onion crisps are not even in the same league as cheese and onion crisps of other nationalities!they’re way more delicious, far less onion..mmmm Taytos.

      Like the list though, will definitely be reading more

  10. rememberme2 says:

    I concur….especially about children. I recently was on a two and half hour flight with a mother and child. In between screaming and crying “we are up too high!” he repeatedly pulled the back of my chair, which included my hair occasionally, to climb over his sleeping mother to check out what my nephew was playing. I told my nephew to never feed the animals because then they would never leave…he did not listen.

  11. Pamela says:

    And don’t forget, as another undesirable aspect of train travel, pickpockets! Not exactly an ‘etiquette’ issue, but one that my family and I had more contact with than we wanted last May in Italy. They are nasty, but capable of being foiled–as our experience proved.

    Like your blog–well-written, and fun. And great background design!

  12. akbillue says:

    I am also grumpy and 22, and I take the streetcar in New Orleans every week day. I experience many of these (mainly the cell phone part). My biggest annoyances are:

    1) When people don’t let the elderly and disabled have the seats that are specifically reserved for the elderly and disabled. There’s a sign above the seats! What more do you need?!

    2) When one person sits on the aisle seat with an empty window seat next to them, effectively taking up an entire row of seats.

    I hope your train experience gets better!

  13. transamrail says:

    Here in the states they have added video games to the seat backs on certain commercial jets. I never thought people could get so excited and I am certain that the little finger punches against the not so brilliant touch screen must have gotten someone other than my attention.

  14. natinanorton says:

    Wow. So angry, and I can see why. 🙂 Smelly food, babies screaming, and LOUD mobile phone conversations are the worst, but my biggest pet peeve is the train staff randomly enforcing their own policies.

    Take a completely empty carriage to yourself, the one at the back reserved for sleeping/quiet. Your mobile rings, you answer, and before you can even get out of your seat to take the call outside the carriage the stewards pounces, pointing furiously at the sign requiring QUIET!

    Now, take the same carriage, nearly full, and you’ve got screaming babies, teenagers playing tin-can sounding music full blast on their mobiles, and businessmen and night clubbers shouting their personal/business over the chaos? Where’s the train stewards now? Enforcing their previously strict policy? No, they walk right passed your silent plea for assistance and go on about their business of doing nothing.

    If I could sleep in this situation, I would. 🙂


  15. malik11397 says:

    Well, I concur mostly, but should I say your next topic should be people habit of eating in elevators (what you English people call Lift). Here, in USA, people eat in the elevator there smelly food. They can take this to their cubicles and eat there. I am sure they have lunch room, or some kind of arrangment where they can comfortably. Again, they eat and talk at the same time and their muffled voices come and the grinded food is shown along with their smelly teeth. Once I read an article that there should be a minimum dress code while travelling, I liked that. This would exclude people in short, and ugly t-shirt, and also who just jogged few miles and forgot to take shower. One more thing here, if someone wants to go to 15 th Floor, why the heck he would push button for 10th, 11, and 12th floor. I should suggest also if people really need to talk to some one, stay few more minutes when you get outside of the elevator, and the continue your conversation. We are definitely not interested in any such moronic conversation.

  16. Steve Withnell says:

    I remember one time when a pal and I were on a train into London, one guy smelled that bad everyone moved out of the carriage to elsewhere on the train. Never known a live person stink that bad before -or since. Maybe a ploy to get some piece and quiet?

    • RB says:

      in Jamaica we have bus and taxis and it is the dame thing. Sometimes you don’t want to offend anyone, but you might sit so close to someone that you can feel their sweat. The moley smelly is the worst . Some passengers smell so green. Crying babies smelly food ..

  17. meeyamia says:

    Did you know that in Japan, there are signal jammers throughout the whole train line so there can be no incoming or outgoing calls made will riding the subway. If your country adapts that, you’ll get to cross one item off your list! 🙂

  18. sylviangirl says:

    I totally agree with everything you listed! The business men are a particular pet-hate of mine, along with the ordinary people who speak SO loudly on their mobile that you cant help but hear everything they say, which can sometimes be funny but 99% of the time is just horribly irritating.

  19. Evie Garone says:

    Great blog, I just want to know HOW you got so grumpy so young! It took me til my 40’s? My list has children kicking your seat from behind , the talker next to you when you don’t want to talk, and you are so right, I hate the smells of other people, food & bodies, YUCK!!!!! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • jamesdunn25 says:

      Thanks Evie, it’s from taking far too many delayed and annoying trains that mixed with being a writer creates, well this! I love just looking out the window and relaxing for hours, but sadly that never happens!

  20. Don Kaspersen says:

    As a native New Yorker, now far from home, who used to ride the subway daily, it seems that you are tilting at windmills. Expecting all the people who ride the trains to conform to some code of etiquette is naive, if not totally unrealistic. Unless you are going to ban from the train exhausted men from the construction or other physically demanding trades, you will always have sleepers on the train, even against their will. As I grow older, I have found that engaging the shreiking child, when possible, is usually effective. The child is bored and tired, mother has run out of ideas th calm him or her, is more embarrassed than you may imagine and genuinely grateful for your intercession – in most cases. Saying absurd things to children has a remarkably calming effect on children -things that have a taste of the Carollian, Narnian, Ozian and the like. They seem to realize that you have gone to the trouble to think up the some non sequitor for their amusement and smile.
    There are worse things that can happen to you on a train – the woman who lost her balance and drove her stilletto heel into my foot, giving me a purple foot, a strain between metacarpals and a limp for a week, and many others I could tell you about.
    I think it far better to think of a subway ride as a descent into a Hades of human design, but unlike Orpheus , short of a coronary or a stroke, you shall rise out of it. Patience is a balm for many of life’s annoyances.

    • anandspeak says:

      >Patience is a balm for many of life’s annoyances.
      Salutations to you for putting it across with subtlety.

  21. gealach says:

    I would like to add chewing gum to the list. Is there anything more disgusting any sound that is more disgusting than that? I don’t leave home without my ipod, or it would be impossible for me to travel by train, not only because of chewing gum, of course, but most of the things you mention…

  22. Sharon says:

    Yes. Yes. And YES. I have to thank you for writing this post. As a commuter myself, both when I lived in London and now in the States, I am very much a grumpy old lady when my personal space is intruded upon on the train. And smelly anything is just a no-no!

  23. Darrin says:

    My Dear James, why are you such a HATER! Cheese and onion crisps are cracking good! Move to the States if you want your large humanoids less smelly!

  24. xtina92 says:

    Soon we’ll have a train where I lie and I’m pretty sure that’s how every single train ride is going to be like

  25. Dogette says:

    Great post! I swear I’m going to write a book someday about taking public transportation in Boston, the first chapter will be “You Do Not Exist in a Vacuum: be considerate.”
    Congrats on making it to Freshly Pressed!

  26. thefrenchchick says:

    You would probably love the trains in Washington DC. The transit cops do not allow food or open beverages. People keep their clothing/shoes on and it is way too crowded (or the opposition would learn to much) to have a phone conversation. Didn’t witness any public displays of affection/disaffection either. The trains are clean, kids are in their seats and amazingly I did not hear a baby scream even once during the week straight that we rode the trains while on vacation there. And the people are very nice, very helpful too. We were there for the Cherry Blossom Festival, the beginning of tourist season. All I’m saying is: don’t give the trains up entirely, there is hope!

    Congratulations on making Freshly Pressed!

  27. bantics says:

    God children are the worst, what are their parents doing bringing them on long journeys when they’re at the crying/running up and down age? don’t they realise that they still have a few years left where their kids are very easily amazed and amused and that long journeys to faraway interesting places are wasted on them? leave them at home!

    Must admit to being a train sleeper though, I think I leave my mouth open and I jerk awake very ten minutes or so which must disturb the folks beside me as much as it does me.

  28. bigguyinasmallcity says:

    There are a lot of things I miss about living in a big city but public transportation is not one of them.

    Good blog mate!

  29. freehandprofit says:

    Great post! I took the subway everyday to art school in DC years back, I was a quiet sleeper (no dribbling of course!) but I do believe you summed up my subway experience for those 4 years.

  30. lululauren08 says:

    “They make my ovaries tingle…”. I about died of laughter! Thanks for the great post and congrats on freshly pressed.

  31. BourbonBird says:

    Oh I am loving this post but as a long-time commuter (first-time reader!) I must point out a very clear omission: iPod docks and groups of teenagers sitting around sullenly and/or singing along. If I am not on a peak-hour train ride to or from work, you can bet I’m enduring this.

  32. Wanderer says:

    If I may add one to the list: wait for those exiting the train to exit before you barge your smelly, cell-phone talking, apparently oblivious self onto the train. That way there will be a place for you to go rather than you blocking the door for everyone. Oh, that too: if there is room to move back to clear areas to clear the entrance that would be a good thing too.

  33. megumiwasframed says:

    Funny – mostly because public transportation is the same worldwide. These fit perfectly for metro buses in middle-of-nowhere Midwest United States.

  34. laurasixpattay says:

    I live in NYC…. I loved this article, it was nice to know that being a jerk on the train is international. I think the one annoyance left out was ‘homeless’ people who ask for change, while wearing nicer clothes than I have.

  35. Adrian in Victoria, Canada says:

    Hilarious! I rode public transit (buses) for more then ten years whilst attending university, and it seems the rules should be international! Here in Canada, it seems we have the same problems. Oh, and don’t get me started on those hot and smelly junior high school (middle school) students who get on in the middle of the day, reeking to high heaven. Oh, and they insist on eating ketchup- or pickle-flavoured chips. Ugh.

  36. Olivia says:

    And that’s as relevant as it could be.. only, I didn’t expect that to happen anywhere else than my own country (India) LOL..
    About the kids running past, they will clutch your trousers or skirt with their sticky fingers with saliva dripping and her parents will let that happen smiling from a distance. If you try complaining, they’ll make you see the point- she is only a kid..!!
    Worse; all menfolk here take great pride in sticking their arses on the seat as if glued and ignore a woman standing as if blind.
    And; you cant escape eve- teasing…
    I am only referring to Metro as of now… the long distance interstate railways.. thats another story- some other time..

    • jamesdunn25 says:

      I’ve travelled on many Indian railways, it’s practically my second home and men are the worst, i was travelling with 3 girls and they did not enjoy trains!

  37. elliewick says:

    Children can definitely be terrible on trains. A couple months ago I rode from Salzburg, Austria, to Munich, Germany, and a toddler screamed the whole two hours. And the parents did nothing about it!

    • jamesdunn25 says:

      haha yes I know they don’t follow them, but in a perfect world they would! I agree with your India statement, I’ve spent plenty of time in India and have “experienced” the trains there.

  38. john says:

    hey, good one. I too am a commuter on Indian trains and will make a list of etiquettes for Indian trains, which will be rather extensive, you bet.



  39. Isaac Peterson says:

    I enjoyed reading your article, I was thinking to myself about some of the public transport etiquette breakers I’ve come across in my time, the space invader (never attractive), B.O. Bob (name says it all), the weirdo (theres always one) and gaggling teen girls (shuuuutttttt your mouth).

  40. Ideas for Organizations says:

    haha !!.. hilarious..
    Let me add two more to the list….

    1) the rather relaxed gentleman with the newspaper, who doesn’t mind waving the newspaper in front of you (ok..inadvertently, I admit), but the moment you start reading an interesting bit of news, the page is flipped over.

    2) the passenger investigator. She/he looks you up and down, detailing and underlining your bald patch, or your short dress, almost chuckling, condescendingly feeling superior….arrrgh !!

    • jamesdunn25 says:

      I love your second point, I have experienced one who looked like she was making notes on people as the sat near her, smirking at everyone it was terrifying. It was a long journey so I thought I would have some fun with her so I had a pretend phone call with a friend saying that my paranoia was back and I said “I wont do anything to her, I promise” I have never seen someone move so fast.

    • mavisrose says:

      Very funny! And you matched jamesdunn’s oxymoron of the
      “ovaries v. disgruntled man” … with the “relaxed gentleman v. short dress” comment… very clever!! (even if unintentional)

  41. Locksley McPherson Jnr says:

    Excellent post! I totally agree with you. I have experienced many of the things listed first hand an and has put me off trains in this country for good! I now drive anywhere I possibly can (sorry environment!) because the price to comfort ratio of public transport is ridiculous! I’d much rather pay a little extra to have a car and get everywhere in peace than pay rip off prices on trains, buses etc and have to put up with all those examples of poor etiquette.

    Very well written!

  42. richard lederer says:

    Even in Portland this is a problem. We have these street kids getting on the trains and asking EVERY SINGLE PERSON if they have any spare change.

    “Any spare change?”
    “Any spare change?”
    “I don’t carry cash.”
    “Any spare change?”

    The echos of his/hers constant loitering goes all the way up to your side of train — you wanna yell at them, but their just street kids trying to get drunk, you know?

    Rule: no loitering on trains — outside it’s free game, but in here, I’m trapped with no answer.

  43. katorikurant says:

    I saw a comment about signal jammers, and having been to Japan myself I’d say that isn’t true. Nobody calls on cell phones in Japans because its expensive, and doing it on a train is asking an o-baasan to murder you like she murders the mochi every new years.

    I’m guilty of loud talking on the trains…blame it on me being American, or just a talker in general.

    Awesome post!

  44. chezjlb says:

    Wonderful post! May I also suggest: no spraying of perfume or hair spray, no polishing of finger nails or toe nails, no clipping of finger nails and toe nails. I’ve seen all of this happen on the commuter trains in Portland, Ore. (US).

  45. jesswu720 says:

    just had a similar realization yesterday night while I was on the Washington DC metro – this obnoxious, bitchy, rich white girl with her two friends. She talked as if her friends are both retarded and deaf, carrying conversations loud enough for the whole train to hear. The DC metro at night is also the worst time to be on it, because it run maintenances at none rush hours. All the trains from the different lines have to share the same track, so being stuck at one station for 15 mins was not unordinary. It was bad enough to be extremely delayed, stuck in a small train, rain outside and also listen to this stupid girl talk about how she needed to pee. So close to getting up and cussing her out.

  46. Carlos says:

    I was beginning to think that these types of inconsiderate folks were mainly to be found in large American cities like San Diego (where I presently live). India too? Britain? Canada?

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry given that I had hoped to find someplace in this world where people on the whole were still raised to be considerate of each other. I suppose the best I can hope for is that the citizens of the country I hope to retire in, Chile, will be more considerate than your typical American is but I’ve never lived there (other than when I was a little kid) so I don’t know.

    Great post.



  47. akilah76 says:

    Since I changed my life to think more on the positive things, I must say that what you read I often see here in NY. While there are things that do truly annoy I can say:

    1. While not all food smells good, you never know what’s going on in somebody’s life and sometimes you just got to eat. If you lost your sense of smell tomorrow it would be those little things that you would miss (except for the smell of stinky feet)..

    2. As for the children- the parents need to teach them train etiquette, but I think now, after having 2 of my own, I think it gives me a slight pleasure when their children give them a hard time. But instead of fueling the annoyance use that time to reflect on how much fun you had a child and maybe invite a little of that back in your life. Life was so much better than.

    3. Public affection- find love and you won’t care. Glad to see people still out there loving each other. Love can be recession proof. I think it’s cute.

    4. But the feet….I’m with you on that. People know when their feet stink.

    For me, you missed people that have seemed to pour the entire bottle of perfume on them. Perhaps they need to wash more.

  48. fitzhughs says:

    Haha, valiant effort to tame the masses…

    I take the post completely in the spirit (I think) it was meant. I enjoyed it very much.

    All I’m going to say is that in the (statistically highly likely) situation that you end up with kids please do me a favour and come back and read your post just before you take them on the train for the first time! 😉

    I love the comments like “Leave them at home”… like kids are an accessory you choose to suit your dress!

  49. Jackson Rodgers says:

    Your rules are right on except you missed one: The angry drunk.
    I was taking the train in San Francisco, CA one fine day and a very drunk and angry person came onboard cussing and shouting and sat down pretty close to me. Every few minutes was F* this and F* that. Pretty scary experience actually. My friends that commute by train frequently say this is not an uncommon experience.

  50. Nox Dineen says:

    I always like to grab bratty children and ask them if they’ve lost their mommy or daddy.

    Oh, and Carlos, there are definitely horrible people on public transit in Canada. I’ve been groped in a manner worthy of the Tokyo subway a few times during rush hour in Toronto. I did once have a drunk girl pass out a box of stolen Mandarin oranges during Christmas season though, so I guess it goes both ways.

  51. Kate Saavedra says:

    Yes! Thank you for outlining these seemingly common-sense-common-courtesy rules for train passengers.

    I rode my first train last weekend (Durham, North Carolina to Washington, D.C.) and was horrified by the way people acted. The biggest annoyances:

    *Mother feeding her children canned tuna fish, which they spilled everywhere and which smelled like ass.
    *LOUD ladies on their cell phones gabbing to their friends.

    Ugh, you’d think people could be considerate of others at the very least.

  52. Pyra says:

    Heh heh… funny crap. In my section of the U.S, we don’t take trains to get anywhere… but i’ll keep your advice in mind if the next time i decide to shuttle myself somewhere on one.

  53. michaeleriksson says:

    Largely, I agree. A big exception is sleeping on trains: While a case can possibly be made against deliberately sleeping on trains (in particular, when known “bad habits” during sleep are present), there is also the issue of simply being too tired not to sleep. I have myself had a several occasions when I was commuting and had slept poorly during the preceding night (or was at the end of an overtime-filled working week), and I spent the train ride home in a mixture of short sleeps and a dazed consciousness—simply unable to stay awake. (You have likely all experienced this yourselves on many occasions, even if never on a train.)

    Concerning children, I agree whole-heartedly. In deed, one of my personal pet peeves is children in restaurants—there I sit trying in front of a quality meal, wanting to relax and enjoy, and some idiot parent has brought a screaming baby…

    However, and here is the hitch which makes a victim of the rest of the world, travel by train with the children is often more convenient and less stressful for the parents than travel by car. The result is that many parents will minimize their own stress levels without regard for the side-effects on other passengers—and with the blind-spot many have concerning their own children, they will consider this something the rest of the world will just have to suck-up.

  54. starrypawz says:

    Exactly. The ones I add are
    1. Yes I know you want to get a seat on the train, I want a seat on the train too and have been waiting here longer than you have, do not barge past me when the train comes
    2. For the love of God please stay BEHIND the yellow line, it’s there for a reason and I don’t really want to have to put up with the conductor yelling at everyone
    3. Turn that damned MP3 player down, it#s 8am and I do not need to hear your crappy Chav music
    4. There are certain things you should NOT talk about whilst on public transport, either on the phone or to passengers

    Oh the joy of being stuck on a train in the morning that’s pretty much filled with schoolkids and college students (yes I am a college student too)
    One particuarly crowded train journey to college, my friend and I grabbed our seats, quite glad of it. A troop of school girls came onto the train and found seats and you won’t believe this, one of them sat ON the arm of the seat my friend was sitting at, didn’t even ask she just plonked down.

    And to think in September I’ll have two more years of this!

  55. unknowntheartist says:

    Oh, you forgot to mention the idiots who, as soon as the door opens rush in, when you are trying to de-train. My other half and I came back from a trip on Thursday and whilst trying to de-train, maybe 20 people tried to rush on and we just pushed our rolling suitcase straight back into them. And then they act surprised that you’d do that to them. Here in OZ, I detest the little wannabe gangs who spend their entire trip running up and down through the train through the carriage connecting doors, trying to avoid the ticket inspectors. So annoying.
    Your rules should be the ones placed in the carriages, well thought out!

  56. Doris says:

    My goodness you are a grumpy twenty-two year old. Let me tell you, young man, you find more things to be grumpy about as you get older. You will also discover that you too will perspire more, your feet will sweat more (and I think of worse cheeses than Stilton) and even your taste buds will change – I have noticed that cheese and onion crisps have an unsettling appealing for the over fifties.

  57. technogran1 says:

    Hmm. this post has encourage this Grumpy 66 year old train traveller to maybe add her own rules of Train Etiquette to add to these. Of course as they will be written by a train passenger at the other age of the spectrum, then they might not quite coincide with yours .
    However, I do agree with most of your rules and as a frequent train passenger, tend to adhere to most of them.

  58. johnj says:

    What a great post!

    As a rider on MetroNorth in the NYC area I sympathize. I liked the poster who advised us that cell phones are jammed in Japan. I know such a device can be found on the Internet and have considered buying one.

    I know DC train cops prevent eaters on the train. There was brouhaha once in DC over a 16-year-old having a snack.

    My personal story involves a guy on a crowded Boston train with a jungle parrot on his shoulder. The bird crapped constantly all over his jacket while we rode. The guy was insulted when I suggested he move, muttered a few words, but moved. Simply put, I was bigger than he and he read the situation properly.

    All in all, this exchange people have had here demonstrates why we fight to keep the bar cars on the Connecticut line of MetroNorth!

  59. aLaykkaLikesYou says:

    Definitely well-said. I think this should apply to other public transportation, too, like the bus. Some people just don’t seem to have an enough amount of consideration for others. They should learn proper etiquette. I love your article by the way. 🙂

    Please do visit and comment on my blogs if you have time. Thanks!

  60. quinncreative says:

    Excellent choices! But I have a question. How come do babies make your “ovaries tingle” in one point, and you are a “nosey man” when the couples are having sex in the WC? That must be some train that allows you to change gender in transit!

  61. saracita says:

    I feel that “Endeavoring Conversations With Strangers While Lacking The Ability To Take A Hint” should be part of the unwritten rules of public transit…

  62. mostlymath says:

    I get the train every week and all of these are very annoying. I always feel embarrassed to answer my phone, it feels instinctively wrong on a train. My pet hate has always been friends talking loud enough for the whole carriage to hear, never understood why some people can’t keep a conversation between themselves.

  63. Mignon Ariel King says:

    Too, too funny. I feel the need to print and xerox this, ten times larger, laminate it, and hang it in every train station in the continental US. People, please contain your smells and sounds!

  64. weekdaypoet says:

    While we all have our pet peeves, I tend to find people who complain about every little thing on public transportation the most annoying. If people have risen so much above the rest of humanity, then why not save up and get a car so that you never have to face people in a hurry, in love, or trying to raise kids ever again?

  65. sarahnsh says:

    The children thing is a huge issue, I’m a girl and my ovaries don’t tingle when I see babies, they tie into knots several times over. I rode the train for a bit for school and noticed that there are these unwritten rules you either follow, or you don’t. Also, here’s an added point, if you’re sick please cover your mouth and don’t cough on me. I swear I’ve gotten sick from a sick passenger just coughing all over me.

    I also love when there’s new people who come into the train, they look around for seats, make eye contact with you, and you’re thinking please don’t sit, please don’t sit, and they move on to another part. There’s that momentary stalemate when someone is thinking about sitting next to you and they’re thinking of where to go.

    Oh, and here’s another rule, don’t sit next to me if there’s other open seats. And, I’m talking about a LOT of open seats without someone already sitting in them, find an open seat and let me have my own to myself for a while at least!

  66. sayitinasong says:

    Absolutely I agree!!! And people holding doors open for their clueless/drunken friends who are taking forever to board the train. Little kids who pull emergency alarms, just because it is red and it has a handle. And you missed out on one of my absolute pet hates-women who put on their make up on the train. Get up 30 minutes EARLIER!!!

  67. universaldn says:

    I agree with you on every bloody point!! It’s the stinky folk that get to me most though. OOOOH and what is with parents who don’t even try to calm their children down?? I mean children cry, it’s what they do, but come on parents……at least try and settle them!!! Ok, my rant is over 🙂

  68. Fred says:

    gotta agree with the children point. i would put that on #1 !! What I’d give to have those little buggers be a little quiet and give me some peace 😛

    PS: I’m a 21 yr old grumpy guy ^^

  69. Kindrasaurus says:

    I have not had many experiences with trains in England. However, I have had a couple and you should add no shoving people over when getting on the train.. Seriously we have a tram that runs around my university and people aren’t nearly as aggressive as the people I witness the day I got push on my face getting onto a train at Paddington station. No shoving should be #7 a seat isn’t worth getting blood all over the place.

  70. englistics says:

    Being English I should say “No sechs (6) please were British” . Ok being English that’s a bad pun. I refer not to your number 4 – which may combine a number 1 and a number 2 (blush – ugh!) but your number 6. The stinking feet complaint in number 6 certainly resonnates with me. You omitted to mention the number of people who put their stinking feet on seats and the people of all ages who put their faeces traced, chewing gum afflicted and muddied feet on seats. Sorry to add a dark note, but the disenfranchised and disaffected often use this as a ploy in London to attack those verbally, or even physically, who comment on this anti-social and unhygienic behaviour. This is one of the clearest examples of what has changed in Britain since 1979. Then again multi cultural London barely behaves as Britain any longer.

    I cannot resist but ask is your reference to “proud” in 4 a euphemism for upright?

      • technogran1 says:

        Well, I am usually having a moan about bus journeys more than rail journeys James but as I recently went back up to Scotland by train, I could think of quite a few more ‘rules’ that were not included in yours. Of course, that could be the age difference I suppose, what annoys me, might not even register with you, but I do agree with most of yours

  71. lauren2689 says:

    Excellent post! I can relate to what you were going through on the train ride when you compiled this list; I am currently visiting Europe for the first time and I have had some similar experiences on some of the trains I have been on. The smells are especially disturbing to me! The foot odor, the food, all of it combines to make a nasty “train stench” and I’m not sure if I was just sitting close to the lavatory or what, but on a train from Brussels to Paris last Friday the smells were just unbearable.. Very interesting blog, I like your perspective!

  72. Nicole says:

    Great post. Public transit works so much better when everyone plays nice.

    But I guess I am even more stringent than you: keep your feet in your shoes if your feet stink?? Good God! I say keep them in your shoes regardless. If one feels the need to free one’s feet from one’s shoes, perhaps one needs better-fitting shoes.

    I will also add my favourite rule (which perhaps does not apply to you, as I think your seats are reserved, but I’ll add it here all the same): move back – that’s as far back as you can possibly go; and, no matter what, do not hang around the doors unless you are disembarking at the next stop.

    Oh, and when sitting in the aisle seat, and the passenger sitting on the inside seat next to you needs to get up, don’t just swing your legs to the side: stand up and move into the aisle.

    Oh, and no personal grooming! If you can quickly and unobtrusively apply a coat of lipstick, fine, but no laying out of your entire makeup bag as though you’re in a private washroom, and definitely NO NAIL CLIPPING. Even if your nail clipper features a little sac to catch the clippings, just don’t do it!

  73. wendysumner says:

    I hate the londoners who think that they own the train on Henley regatta week. They stare you out first. Then if you don’t give them your seat they say “move!”. If you don’t they try starring you out again. Usually the train is full on the way home so you never get a seat. You find gradually they lean on you so you move further down the carriage. Once I was pushed down the carriage and back onto the platform. These people refused to let me back on.

    Londoners have to be pampered. Every 2 minutes by notification of where the train is. They are given very loud classical music to calm their nerves. Flags to make the station pretty. I would not recommend trying the four day expierence but give it ago if you are brave and stand your ground.

    Do not let these bullies get away with it any longer.

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  78. Goddess says:

    Argghhhh…. some etiquette definitely needed for my neighbour on the train this evening. A gentleman (I use that term very loosely), in his late fifties, wearing headphones tapping along VERY loudly to whatever it is he is listening too… IPad or similar open (wrapped in some leather holder) in front of him.. then out comes the paper which he opens w-i-d-e… sod anyone sitting opposite or next to him… bored with the paper, he is now CHEWING gum along to the music, with his mouth open… and now we also have the sniffing….. in time with the music I am unsure but I have had enough of the chewing, sniffing and tapping, and am MOVING to another seat… arghhhh

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  80. Peter says:

    Well done! I’m planning a trip to Ireland and thought it best to check on train ettiquette before going. Your article gave me a good laugh.
    It would seem that the problems with train travel in areas infused with western based culture are pretty much universal (stinks, sleepers, cellphones, drunks). Thanks for the enlightening article.

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  82. dansortino says:

    Beong a fellow commuting Brit, I feel your pain.
    In fact, my blog (not a blatant plug!) stemmed from the lunacy and frustrations encountered on our nation’s networks.

    There are some odd ducks out there.


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