There are various levels of comfort / discomfort when riding a train to work. If all goes well, you find a seat and use the time to read, type away on your laptop, or snooze for a few more minutes. If things go awry, there is standing space only (very limited at that), and you are crammed in trying to avoid your fellow passengers’ armpits. Latter may be OK for a few minutes, but what if it’s your daily 20 min morning train commute…?
Commuter train comfort actually made me feel good about living in zone 6 (aka, far away from central London). When travelling within the usual commute hours, a station further out may add a few minutes – but I have a good chance of finding a seat.
For example, ‘my’ line from Kingston into Waterloo: Boarding any of the trains between 7:45 and 8:03 am (there are 3 of them), I can usually get a seat – let’s say 4 out of 5 times. At the next station (Norbiton), I’d estimate only around 10% of those getting on manage to sit down (will try and assess this more scientifically over my next commuting days). After that, there’s no more sitting. By the time the train takes in passengers at Raynes Park/Wimbledon/Earlsfield, it gets crammed. At Clapham Junction, all hell breaks loose (I get off here, fortunately).
For the train line from Richmond into Waterloo, the story is no different: North Sheen = usually a seat, Mortlake = fight for the 3 remaining spaces, Barnes = you have to stand, Putney and beyond = cram in and hope for deodorant. [This is the slow train – the fast train is already full at Richmond. But then, travel time is so short, you might just put up with a stranger’s armpit draped around head…]
The difference in travel time between an 80% chance of sitting and a 100% chance of standing is 6 min. 6 additional but comfortable minutes. I’ll take it.