Unless you’re very lucky, your commute to work probably feels like a voyage through the seventh circle of hell. And in the UK, that’s especially true if you have no other option than to get the train. They say that it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey – but when the journey is subject to delays, cancellations and overcrowding on a near-daily basis, it’s tempting to sack off the destination entirely and go and live in a cave in the mountains.
So how do you feel about the fact that one group of commuters have just been surprised with a trip to work that was – shock, horror – actually enjoyable?
People waiting at Ashford International in Kent were expecting to see their usual train to London Victoria roll into the station at 7.24am this morning (if it wasn’t late, that is).
But instead, they were treated to a trip on the Belmond British Pullman – a gorgeous, old-school vintage train straight out of a period drama.
The average commuter train comes complete with chewing gum-stained seats and grim strip lighting, but the antique Pullman – a sister train to the legendary Orient Express – is a place where you can imagine Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary feeling right at home.
Inside, it looks like a cosy, luxurious living room-cum-restaurant: think gilded wood-panelled walls, soft lighting, plush armchairs, tables laid with white linens and silver, and sharp-suited waiters.
As the train swept towards London Victoria the passengers were treated to five-star service and a three-course Bellini breakfast, as well as retro music from 1940s-style group the Spitfire Sisters.
And quite frankly, their Instagrams from the journey are making us seethe with envy.
No, we mean it. SEETHING.
SO. JEALOUS. CAN’T. BREATHE.
WE WANT SMOKED SALMON AND EGGS ON OUR COMMUTE.
“We felt commuters have had a rough ride recently, so we wanted to sprinkle some Christmas magic on the rails and do something that reminded people just how wonderful train travel can be when you have the luxury of time,” said Gary Franklin, the managing director of Trains & Cruises Belmond.
In case you didn’t get the very subtle reference Gary was making there, trains from Ashford International to Victoria are often run by Southern Rail. Southern trains have been consistently delayed or cancelled in recent months as staff strike over safety concerns – meaning that the passengers who got to board the Belmond Pullman today have probably had their fair share of rubbish journeys.
Here’s hoping we’ll see the Pullman at our own station soon...