Yesterday we crossed our little island in its widest part yet another time. By train, of course, as we haven't got a car. It takes about seven - eight hours & 4 trains. You can look out of the window from Newtown to Shrewsbury and from March to North Walsham, but not in between - unless you like graffiti & warehouses. Kids always go mad at same point. I wish they had sort of mini-playgrounds on trains (and in airports). In one of the trains we couldn't get easily to our seats as there was a lady with 3 babies (probably 0-1-2) layered in one small pushchair and two more small children with suitcases. She was standing next to a toilet, and older kids had to go inside to let us pass along the train. And no more adults around to help her. She did look SO tired. I just couldn't stop wondering: how on earth she end up like this?
Anyway, seat reservations is a real problem in Britain. Train companies just don't put reservation tickets and you and your kids can't claim your pre-booked sits and have to stand all the way somewhere near a smelly toilet...
Another problem for me, who was born in Russia, is relationship between people of different ages. Once we travelled at Christmas time with my mother-in-law. We did booked the seats but our train got cancelled. So we ended up in a very crowded carriage. There were many students, but for hours NO ONE have been offering his or her seat neither to a very tired lady in her seventies or to small children pushed around in the ail. Finally a Chinese girl did... This situation is almost impossible to imagine in Russia (and probably in China?). On the other hand I remember boarding a train in Newtown with my husband and two kids and a respectfully looking elderly gentlemen literally rushed in and occupied the last free table/4 seat compartment. And there were many single seats available!
Yet another problem is behavior on trains. Loud music, drinking & swearing to be precise. We used to go from Nottingham to east cost (Skegness) to take kids to the beach. That train was normally very slow, hot and full of strange public who never heard of using headphones... At some point I remember starting singing myself to protect children from this mayhem. Conductors do nothing. Other passengers are too scared. I even remember being in the carriage with very badly behaving football supporters and there were policemen on the train but they were just popping their heads in the door for a second (checking if somebody got killed???)and then disappearing!
Well that's what we eco-friendly lot have to put up with! I should say that despite British Government destroying lots of railways there still probably much more trains running across British countryside than in rural Russia.