Friday, 22 June 2012

On the Tracks

I had to travel to Liverpool on Monday. When I mentioned this to a friend they asked if I was driving or getting the train and this threw me a little. I hadn't ever considered driving there, it just didn't occur to me. The train takes 50 minutes, plus a 30 minute walk to the station, and driving takes about 53 minutes (according to the internet). So driving is quicker, but then you have to find somewhere to park and these times are only if traffic is fine. As much as we love to complain about train times they are pretty good at arriving on time nowadays.
The main upside of train travel for me is that you can get stuff done while moving. If you're in charge of a vehicle you need to be concentrating on that but if you're on a train you can do lots of things. You might get some paperwork done, catch up on phone calls, write a blog, even just stare out of the window at the passing view, you can even have a nap! These are just some of my normal train activities, but I love that feelings of getting stuff done while on the move and stepping off a train with your to-do list shorter than when you set off.

On my journey to Liverpool on Monday I did some paperwork, but I also kept an eye on what was passing by the window. The first thing to catch my interest was a train passing the other way. Carriage after carriage of freight all with the same writing on the side: LESS CO2 RAIL. Seeing the familiar font and colour scheme it was easy to realise this is Tesco moving stock around the country. It's great to see them promoting carbon reduction and trying to find ways to save energy and probably save money too. But I always wonder with these companies how much of their green initiatives is just  for good PR, on the other hand, do I really care what motivates them, as long as the change happens?

On the train back I was reminded how good trains actually are for wildlife watching. I saw two sets of duckings on various canals and a jay sat in a tree; the railway banks were covered with wildflowers like foxgloves, rose bay willow herb and buddleias and I even caught sight of a male kestrel coasting over a dual carriageway. I didn't see any of it for long, but I don't think I've seen a kestrel from above before and I've seen very few other ducklings this year.

A less natural sight was the sparkling up ahead of huge piles of glass, sorted into colours. The recycling centre glimmered as the train shot passed. It really is a beautiful sight seeing tons of broken glass and nice to know that we're creating new from old. Nowadays everyone recycles glass, I can just about remember taking glass to a recycling centre before curbside collections were the norm. This green habit has entered the countries psyche and hopefully others will too. Perhaps  renewable energy will be the next one. The railway's already there with wind turbines at almost all it's stations on the line between Preston and Birmingham. 

So, a simple journey on a train has reminded me of lots of different green ideas. How we travel, where our food comes from, the wildlife all around up and both recycling our waste and generating clean energy. Not bad for a 100 minute journey, and I got some work done too!

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