The 12 Commuter Commandments

Inscribed on tablets of stone, passed down through the generations, these are the 12 holy laws of peak-time train travel

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My name is Dominic. I am a commuter. For the last three years I’ve been catching trains between Oxford, where I live, and London, where I work; and I’m here to tell you that it’s mostly been rubbish.

So much so, in fact, that for nine months I kept a blog of emails to (and replies from) the Managing Director of First Great Western complaining about the service. This correspondence led to a book deal, and the result, Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time – a book of emails between a harassed commuter and the entirely fictional MD of, ahem, Premier Westward trains – is out in January.

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Commuting has not been pretty but it has taught me a few things. And here they are: the 12 unwritten rules of peak-time train travel, er, written down.

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Thou shalt invest in a decent pair of headphones – and not that crap you get free with your phone. Everyone will be happier for it, trust me.

Thou shalt not push your way to the front of a queue if you already have a booked seat. Others need those precious seconds to scramble for a free one.

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Thou shalt pass through the ticket barriers in as brisk and efficient a way as possible. Dawdling/stopping to look for your ticket/repeatedly trying to make an invalid ticket work is a SIN and means you will BURN FOR ALL ETERNITY.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ass. She can totally see you “discreetly” checking out her legs in the window reflection, you know.

Thou shalt respect the Quiet Carriage.

Thou shalt not adopt a generally cheerful demeanour and summon up the “Blitz Spirit” in the face of delays and cancellations. You’re supposed to be angry and miserable, goddamnit.

Thou shalt give fellow passengers nicknames and invent entire imaginary lives for them in order to pass the time. See @benjionthetrain’s twitter feed for an excellent example of this.

Thou shalt not take a seat next to someone when there are other options. It just creeps people out.

Thou shalt complain only to the highest authorities. Customer Service people don’t solve problems, they’re just paid to say sorry. I wrote to the Managing Director of First Great Western trains every time I was delayed for nine months. He wrote back. It all became quite funny and surreal. Read the whole correspondence here.

Thou shalt not bring egg sandwiches on to a train in the morning. Or the evening, come to that. No egg sandwiches. Ever.

Thou shalt let people off the train first. Come on, it’s pretty basic.

Thou shalt not place your bag on a seat. Unless you’ve actually bought a ticket for your bag. Which, on reflection, would be awesome, and means you win at commuting.

Dominic Utton’s novel about train delays, tabloid journalism, love, life and pop music, Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time (Oneworld), is out 2 January


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SEE ALSO:

The Real Rules Of Using The London Underground 
Things You Only Experience At The Airport 
Signs You've Been Friends For Too Long 
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