This morning my commute was marred by a thoughtless person and their loud music. Undeterred, I put in my own earphones to try and at least counter their obnoxious rap with something more soothing. Luckily, playing my own music softly was enough to drown out their noise.
I ride daily in the "Quiet Carriage", a wonderful initiative of Queensland Rail and something I have been waiting for since discovering the “mobile-free” carriages on Virgin trains in the UK some years ago. I love the fact that most of the time, people talk quietly or not at all, and if they play music, it is done quietly. I’m free to read twitter or a book in peace, periodically staring out of the window and getting lost in daydreams.
I have always enjoyed the romanticism of train travel. Stretching back to my childhood to when I first read Murder on the Orient Express, locomotives have always held a certain charm. I enjoy the rhythmic sound of the wheels on the track, the speed which makes the countryside fly past, the relentless movement in a certain direction. You know where trains are going, and can have faith that they will stop – unlike buses, which make me uneasy. You never know where a bus is going to go. This love of trains has recently inspired a desire to travel one of Australia’s great rail journeys – we have quite a few, but I would love to go on The Ghan. Cutting Australia down the middle, The Ghan takes travelers on a trip through the heart of the outback in style. My mother was lucky enough to be chosen as a travel companion for my nanna on one of her last trips, and they went Gold Class all the way – needless to say, I was jealous of her tales of silver, linen napkins, sparkling glassware, amazing wine and an evening turndown service.
And of course there are the other great rail journeys of the world – The Rocky Mountains, The New Zealand Trans-Alpine, The Trans-Siberian railway – and yes, even the Orient Express. All beckon me with the promise of experiencing something not quite a part of this modern world of planes, buses and cars. Trains, despite my daily commute, retain a certain something of the past to me, leftover from an era when the great locomotives of Europe ran from Istanbul to Calais, and men in three piece suits enjoyed a cigar after dinner with their brandy.
Have you been on any great train journeys?