In the olden days, railway travel was one of life’s great pleasures. When I was little I would arrive at the station, walk through a little wooden gate and buy a ticket from a friendly, smartly-dressed man in a ticket booth, who would give me a lollipop and a cheeky wink, and even if I was a little late the gleaming green steam engine would still be waiting, the driver leaning out of his little cabin saying “hurry along you little tinker!” with a cheeky wink, as I stepped into an airy, pleasant wooden carriage and the train puffed out of the station with a merry toot. And it would naturally arrive at its destination on time.
These days, when you turn up at a station you are thrown into a disorganised scrummage to reach some automatic ticket machines, two thirds of which will be out of service, and you then wait for somebody to open an electronic barrier that obstinately refuses to respond to the ticket which you have purchased. By which time you will have missed your train, which will have pulled out of the station even with five hundred commuters still halfway out of its doors, ensuring that even if you do just about make it through the barriers on time you will never make it through the human wall blocking the way to the grimy, sweaty carriages. And the train will nevertheless arrive at its destination late.
And they call this progress.