The romance of train travel

Faster than fairies, faster than witches, bridges and houses, hedges and ditches“… there’s a certain romance associated with trains, a romance which has managed to survive in a way that the romance and pleasure of travelling by air really hasn’t.

Travelling by trains has always had an element of romance for me personally too (perhaps because I’ve never had to commute by train). Other than a boyfriend from school, my first real adult relationship was conducted by train. In the summer before I went to university I got chatting to a guy I’d ‘met’ on an online forum. It sounds super dodgy but it wasn’t, he wasn’t 45  or a weirdo, just a normal guy (and I took all the usual precautions, taking a friend with me to meet him and that lot). The only obstacle? I was at university in Sheffield and he was at university in London. So, I started travelling by train in order to visit him. The funny thing is that whilst we were ultimately incompatible (although we had fun while it lasted), I did fall in love, with London. I realised that I exhaled when I was in London, in a way that I didn’t anywhere else. I felt like it was meant to be. I’ve been gradually moving my books down from my mum’s garage to our flat down here in London. A lot of them have been in storage for nearly a decade and sometimes I get them out and flick through, only to find that there’s an old train ticket tucked in the back which had been acting as a bookmark. It instantly takes me back to another time and discovering my first (and enduring) real love.

Trains have continued to bring me closer to my loved ones. Before I moved down to London I somehow ended up in a relationship with my boyfriend. I was offered my job in 2008, a few months before I met my boyfriend, so I always knew that I’d be moving down here, in 2011 I finally did move down to start my job (a two year period between offer and starting is normal in the legal profession but then my start date got deferred due to the financial crisis). It sounds bad now (nearly nine years later) but I’d always assumed that we’d have fun while it lasted but that when I moved down to London things would probably drift apart with the distance. However, without any real discussion we decided we would just see how things went and every other week one of us would travel up or down the country on a Friday night to see the other. It turns out that things didn’t drift, in fact, he ended up moving down and now we travel back home together to see our families and use the train to explore the country on a series of mini-breaks. We have a Two Together railcard which is the ultimate romantic train commitment in my view.

This year we celebrate our ninth anniversary – the question is, where to go?

But, we aren’t the only ones celebrating an anniversary, this year. On 9 March 2017, Virgin Trains celebrates its 20th birthday on the West Coast route, where passenger journeys have grown to 37 million a year.

To celebrate the occasion and give back to their customers, Virgin Trains hosted a ‘pop-up musical performance’ at London Euston which saw choir Urban Voice Collective sing legendary pop song ‘Ain’t Nobody,’ by Chaka Khan (and here was me thinking it was by Liberty X, you learn something every day). Customers travelling in the midst of rush hour were delighted by the impromptu singing and dancing performance which lasted around 5 minutes.

The celebrations will continue onboard throughout March with the introduction of five films onto BEAM for a limited time only (Virgin Trains’ free onboard content service), all of which are celebrating their 20th birthday. These include Titanic, Men in Black, The Full Monty, LA Confidential and Boogie Nights.

Umm, sorry, but how is Titanic 20 years old?! Time flies. Happy 20th Anniversary to Virgin Trains!

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  • Nancy Wilde

    I tend to romanticise trains too 🙂 Pity they’re so expensive these days, at least here in Ireland. I still dream of the Transsiberian and Orient Express though…

  • Luxury train travel – they just don’t make ’em like they used to – really is the epitome of “it’s the journey not the destination!”. Although given what an impatient, hyperactive, overstimulated millennial I am it’s probably best that long and languid train journey remains a figment of my imagination. 😂

    My Cosmetic Surgery Journey – The Prelude – Posh, Broke, & Bored

  • I definitely romanticise train travel but that’s probably because it feels so luxurious to be on the slow train out of Exeter compared to the coach (which is what I usually go for because I am STILL a student and terrible at budgeting to boot). Congratulations on your 9 year anniversary this year! Perhaps a luxury train experience or a trip on the Eurostar? 🙂 xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy