A folk train.

Sounds beautiful doesn’t it? Catching a train from a station. Traveling across a beautiful autumn landscape whilst being entertained by live musicians. Stopping off at a delightful country pub and having a bar meal and some real ale, all whilst being entertained by the same musicians; before returning home.

I tried it a couple of times a few years ago – and the reminder just pinged up that we were on it.

Sadly, I stopped going because even though I thought folk fans would be gentler people, it turns out they aren’t. One time – this time – we played on it.

Meeting at the station – the crowd gathers. A large crowd. Over 150. This isn’t good as a standard British Rail carriage holds about 75-90 people depending on the layout.

The train then pulls in. It’s a Pacer. The words pacer will strike fear into the hearts of any northerner. These things have been the staple of our rail travel since the 70’s – and many of them were built in the 70’s. With horrible hard bus seats, rock hard unforgiving suspension, and a slow shuddery ride they’re at the end of their life (and slowly being replaced).

The train arrives and the push begins. People force their way into the first carriage to see the “main band”. We’re the “caboose” band so we are in the overspill carriage. Problem is because it’s a standard train and not a charter there are passengers on there who really don’t give a flying fuck about the music and just want to get home on a quiet evening train after a hard day at work.

Arriving at the pub it’s a free for all. We head up there with everyone else and find that the same people who pushed into the first carriage are the same ones who push up to the bar and take the best seats.

Photo of the pub from a previous visit.

Once in the pub we finally get a drink – and stand up for a while. There aren’t any seats. Even though we are obviously one of the bands there is no reserved seating.

Two ladies ask about us and I explain that we are in the second carriage if they want to sit in there for the return journey. One of them tells me quite bluntly that “they don’t care about support bands, they’re here to see X” (X being the other band with us, a bunch of guys we know and actually appreciate as musicians).

The return journey has exactly the same chaos. Idiots fighting over seats. Pushing each other. Again we’re in the second carriage playing. Again we see the same faces who got pushed out of the lead carriage by the idiots.

Our journey home is met by heavy rain starting. Very heavy rain. We’re parked in Rotherham though so it’s only one train from Sheffield to Rotherham for us, and then a quick drive home.

But, you remember the two ladies (both of whom were “front of the line” when it came to pushiness), well they were also on the train to Rotherham; but unlike us, they had buses to catch home after leaving the station – a walk from the train to the bus station in the cold rain, and then a 30 bus ride to their homes (Herringthorpe).

I could have given them a lift. But I didn’t. Fuck ’em.

2 thoughts on “A folk train.

  1. I hate those Pacer trains too. I had to use them for 2 two hours rides daily while stationed on the USNS Hess, a Naval Oceanographic Ship. It was during a two month shipyard availability and the ship had no heat or power because its boilers were being repaired.

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  2. We still have Pacers. We shouldn’t have Pacers, but as is the normal for Northern England; spending on anything at all is kept to a minimum. We’re a very London centric country and the resentment we show because of this is obvious.

    We need our trans-Pennine rail lines upgrading. They are single track for sections and none of the line is electrified. We’ve been told AGAIN that this isn’t likely to happen for at least 10 years. The journey between Sheffield and Manchester as a result is just over an hour and a quarter by train. A distance of less than 30 miles.

    The alternative is a single carriageway road, not suitable for lorries, but nonetheless used by them anyway. The average speed is 32mph on this particular road and there are often 30 minute queues at the Manchester end. It’s been on the cards for improvements for many years at a cost of around £1bn.

    Meanwhile in London they have billions thrown at the infrastructure including multiple cross-rail projects and major road and junction improvement schemes.

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