Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Getting on a train to Ljubljana to Budapest at seven in the morning and finding out that there is no restaurant or buffet car or even a little women with one of those squeaky trolleys and muddy coffee and then realising that you will spend the next nine hours without your necessary caffeine fix or the tiniest bite to eat. This really happened to me. And I thought part of the rules of Slovenia being granted entry to the EU was that long distance trains had to provide some kind of refreshment. Surely it's there in the small print somewhere under sticking to within 2 percent of the ASDL broadband of interest rate or something. The day before getting on the train I had called the Ljubljana international trains office and checked there was a restaurant cart, as I had remembered reading in a guide book somewhere the lack of provisions available on Slovenian trains. Of course sir, was the answer from the man in the office; he obviously knew his EU rules! However, he was wrong and his misinformation meant I had nothing with me whatsoever other than some chewing gum. What!, I exclaimed to the ticket checker man when I asked where I could get a coffee. Not even a cup of coffee? Not unless you jump off in Pragersko and make sure you are back on the train in 5 minutes. So I waited the two and a half hours until Pragersko and jumped off the train as it was still moving into the station. You have to understand that at this stage I was in a state of high anxiety brought on by a total lack of caffeine. Anyway, to cut a long story short I managed to get back on the train with my plastic cup of tepid coffee within the five minute limit. On a bit of a high after making it back on the train in time, I placed my coffee on the floor (there were no tables in first class!) in order to hang my coat back up on the rail. It happened to be the exact same moment the train pulled away from the tiny Pragersko station throwing my coffee all over the floor. I spent the next few hours licking the remnants from inside the cup. It was not a happy experience. And I know what you're thinking. Two things. Why didn't you take the plane? The answer being, I refuse to pay 600 euros for a one hour flight when I can quite easily take a cheap airline to destinations three times further away for less than a twelfth of the price. The second thing you are thinking is, wait a minute, nine hours from Ljubljana to Budapest, isn't that a bit long? Yes, of course it is. It's crazy in fact and it leads me to this month's hypothesis; Is Slovenia's train service the worst in the world? Discuss in no less than 100 words. Well judging by my experience on the train to Budapest, which really does take nine hours for around 450 kilometres which means travelling at 50 kilometres and hour, Slovenia can certainly lay claim to one of the slowest services in the world. I have travelled faster by camel in Morocco. And that's when I weighed way a lot more than I do now. Why would anyone in their right mind take the train if it takes so long and you can't even get a cup of coffee? Talk about a way or promoting pollution; we really don't want you take the much more environmentally friendly train as we really want you to pollute the whole of Slovenia with car fumes or plane excrement so we will make you sit there for nine hours with nothing to eat or drink and no table to put your laptop on. The first time I came to Slovenia I arrived by train from Trieste. It took me 3 hours. It takes me 45 minutes to drive. How is this possible? Is the train going via Paris? The other claim Slovenia has to the worst train service in the world is the ludicrous ticketing system of internal trains. If I want to catch a train in Duplica on the outskirts of Kamnik where I live, I have to first go to the post office to buy my ticket which is not on the way to the train station and is about a seven minute walk from where I catch the train. How inconvenient is that? How stupid is that? I guess I don't have to answer either of those questions. If they can't afford to man a little ticket office at the Duplica stop (which is understandable as not many people get the train from Kamnik to Ljubljana, and you guessed why, it takes 50 minutes in the train and 25 minutes in the car) then at least can't they let you buy the ticket on the train? Actually they do let you buy the ticket on the train, but it costs exactly double the amount than if you buy it in the post office. At the end of the day people want to get from A to B as quickly, safely, conveniently and comfortably as possible, and they don't want to pay the earth for it. Trains are by far the most environmentally friendly mode of transport other than the hang glider and bicycle. And those little bouncy things you have as a kid. So why isn't Slovenia making the train service better? A quicker and more convenient train link between towns in Slovenia to Ljubljana is going to cut down immensely on the amount of road traffic that builds up every day going in and coming out of the capital. It will also keep Slovenia greener. And with the country bordering four important trading countries it is silly not to make transport between the major cities more convenient. So come on the Slovenian government, I love trains, so make them better. And to that guy who told me there was a restaurant cart on the train to Budapest, you owe me a coffee mate!