Friday, 22 November 2013

Let the Train Take the Strain? Yeah, Right.....

Armed soldiers patrolling the station... Hundreds of people boarding a decrepit train with no food or water on board... A slow grind through a snowy landscape... The train breaks down at a previously unheard of village station... Passsengers thrown off the train and forced to wait in sub-zero temperatures without knowing when they will see their homes again...

Is it Yuri's epic journey from Dr Zhivago?

No, it is the train from Strasbourg to Brussels.

All that was missing was Anton Diffring and a bunch of armed Chekists demanding to see our papers, followed by a 12 hour shift in the salt mines on arrival, and then it would have been the perfect European nostalgia trip.

But this is normal. I well remember a trip from Strasbourg to Brussels in February 2005 in serious sub-zero temperatures. The train moved at walking pace, and the heating had broken down. There were icicles inside the carriages, and we literally had to go into survival mode. It was sort of worth it to see my colleague unpack her suitcase and wrap woolen tights around her head, but probably not an experience one would like to repeat.

I didn't take the train to Strasbourg for a couple of years, but as the panzer has developed a glitch, I thought I make take advantage and get in some reading time. I didn't bank on getting quite so much reading time though - even the train east arrived in Strasbourg over an hour late - and I only took 2 books and a newspaper with me. I ran out of reading material just after the train departed from Metz.

The service was, as always, totally useless, and for this I had to pay €168. Nice!

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