Kings Cross Station Departure Hall
This post was sponsored by Trainline
My sister and I took the train to school in Ashford, Kent unaccompanied every day from the ages of six to thirteen in what is now outmoded rolling stock; we travelled from a tiny Victorian station – Pluckley – on slam-door trains, with push down windows that popped straight back up again unless you leaned out of them (the thrill of the wind in your hair!), triangular luggage racks, battleship grey fittings, carpeted bench seating, and loos that always smelt of stale wee.
I loved travelling on those trains, wee smell apart, and the romance and independence that comes with travelling by train has stayed with me ever since. Whenever I can, I take the train, whether it’s for something exciting abroad – travelling from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur’s extraordinary Mughal-esque railway station, taking the TGV from Paris to Cannes for the Film Festival, or for travelling within England –the Night Riviera sleeper train from London Paddington to Truro in Cornwall for my holidays, an inter-city from London Euston to Manchester for a meeting, the short hop to Ascot for the races to avoid the traffice jams, or a quick nip to Banbury from Marylebone to see my mother.
Of course I love to drive but, in the words of the famous 1980s British Rail ad I usually prefer to ’let the train take the strain’ if my journey involves any hint of a motorway and, even in, say, an auto-piloted Tesla I’m still all about the car, the road, the mechanics, and there’s no chance I’ll get any work done on a drive; there will be no phone calls, no dictating copy into a voice app, let alone email answering. So, when I need to get work done I do indeed happily let the train take the strain.
And speaking of taking the strain, for years now I’ve booked all my train travel online in advance. I started my career as Bookings Editor at Conde Nast Traveller magazine in the late 90s, producing fashion and photographic shoots all over the country, and I used to book all our train travel through Trainline (it dropped the ‘the’ and the ‘.com’ in 2015).
After I left I never lost the habit, rejoicing in the ease and convenience of booking in advance, so you can imagine my joy when Trainline launched an app, especially once Apple and Android Pay were integrated, allowing users to pay for their train tickets in seconds. You can make seat reservations, and it also allows you to book with a Railcard – my sister has a Disabled Railcard – and it applies the correct discounts.)
The app means that I can research, plan, compare and book my journeys on the hoof and, once on the train, there is a live journey tracker (I can’t be the only one who loses track of time on journeys, sitting bolt upright and wailing where ARE we? at various intervals).
It also gives live departure information, and the advance platform notifications in particular are genius. You may too have noticed that railway stations like to post the platform number about two minutes before the train leaves – but with the Trainline app you can beat the frenzied rush to the ticket gates. (It’s particularly useful when taking the train to sporting events when there are hundreds of people milling about the station craning their necks towards the departure boards.)
Trainline also now offer the choice of either ticket collection from the station or an e-ticket on your smartphone so you don’t even have to queue up at the station for tickets to pop out of the machine (a real bore in the rush hour). But the absolute best thing that has recently changed for me is that small businesses – SMEs like myself (small medium enterprises) – can now run both a business and a personal account on Trainline, switching between the two as required, both on computer or on the app.
Shamefully, I am that person who presents her bookkeeper with a bucket of receipts each year at tax time, so you can imagine her pleasure at not having to wonder whether this or that journey was for work or for play. It also means that anyone working for me can have a business account linked to my corporate credit card, so they don’t incur out of pocket expenses. You can bring up any historical journey too if you need check where and when a particular journey took place.
Of course everything is still sent to email, so you can belt and brace all your information.
In short – if you use train travel for work and for play as a small business, then this is the way forward.
This sponsored post was written in collaboration with Trainline