10) You had to open the doors yourself; they were not automatic. They were in fact rickety old bits of wood with hinges smeared copiously with grease. Occasionally a child would brush against them and get stuck there like an insect in some weird public transport-related venus fly trap.
Also, occasionally you’d come across a rare type of door with its own padding, just in case you fancied squatting down slightly and leaning your bum against it.
9) The technique. First you had to open one of the windows in the doors, which was always a 50-50 proposition as often the narrow strip of metal you had to pinch to achieve this would be immovable. Just as often, you’d be up against a fixed window which for some reason, presumably the entertainment of British Rail, was never meant to open in the first place.
Having slid the window down, you then had to lean right out – even though the train was still moving – and open the handle from the outside. Anyone under 5ft 6ins had no chance of reaching the outside handle and would rely on other people to do it ahead of them.
If this did not happen, they would sit back down, resigned to going to the next stop. Sometimes they just died.
8) The only thing to listen to was Radio 1-4, a local radio station or your Sony Walkman. This is before the days of CD Walkmen – strictly cassettes only. All the better for making that compilation featuring Running in the Family, Harvest For The World, Faith, Lean On Me, One Vision, Kiss by Prince and China In Your Hand. And you could usually kill up to 20 minutes per journey by having to respool some gunked-up cassette tape with a pencil.
7) You could do smoking. There used to be a smoking carriage, which even smokers found the pits of hell. Sometimes you’d have to pass through one and you could actually build up quite an awesome lung capacity due to the length of time it would take to hold your breath. People chucked butts on the floor. It was absolutely gross.
6) The strange private compartments. If you paid for a first class ticket, you got more than the pathetic first-class section that exists on modern trains, which offers you no more than an armrest, a table and a kick in the face. No, in the old days you would get a special compartment, the type you see in Agatha Christie adaptations, and with only marginally fewer murders.
In the topsy turvy, insane world of 1980s British Rail, you also sometimes got trains with carriages like these, but which were open to anyone.
Thanks to www.trainweb.org for the images.Tweet