“But she has a ticket and there are seats. Can’t you let her stay?” An adjacent Amtrak ally pled my case, even though we both knew that vengeance would be swift and mercy out of the question. “Nope. You need to get off the train at the next stop.” An Accela exile, I phoned my sister. “They threw me off the train! They said I didn’t have the right ticket even though it was the same price and the same place.” “That happened to me! They threw me off too,” she exclaimed in solidarity. Perhaps only luddites have rail horror stories, but trippin’ is trippin’.
“This train has been canceled” was a popular British Rail tune back in the day. There we were on the last train to London from Nowhere-on-the-Heath England, when a strike action popped up. I have no words. Therapy was required to block out the hitchhiking and the three bus rides.
Have you been on the Last Metro (or maybe just seen the film)? I can do one better: I missed the last metro from Pigalle. Toulouse-Lautrec is not there anymore, but rest assured that the ladies of the evening remain. Years later, upon hearing this story, a motherly French scientist looked up to the heavens and mourned, “Mon dieu, if only I had known.”
These experiences apparently taught me little about strap-hanging. Traveling from a meeting in Montreux, a fellow passenger was kind enough to inform me that there would be a fee AND a hasty exit waiting for me because I had the wrong ticket. This dapper fellow happened to be getting off at the next stop, and so escorted me to the ticket window. Tickets in hand, he noted that the next train would not arrive for awhile and asked me out for a drink. Air travel is tough, but at least no one has handed me a line and told me to jump. Yet.
Trains in Switzerland are amazing. Nab a seat in the dining car for a white glove experience. Just be sure to get to the train exactly on time. Exactly.