Banning enough stuff enough

When I see somebody slugging from a can on the train my first reaction is to slowly back away and head to the next carriage. The problem is that if you do this on a GNER train you will end up in the smoking coach addicts’ carriage where not only is visibility reduced to 5cm due to all the smoke, but half the passengers seem to be drinking as well.

Here’s The Sunday Times’ take on the government’s proposed ban:

But commuters who enjoy a quiet drink on the train home would also be banned from relaxing with a glass of wine or gin and tonic.

I don’t think I have ever seen a commuter “relaxing with a glass of wine” on the train. The only people I ever see drinking on the train are smelly old men, and it’s not wine, it’s Tennents Super.

The first time I saw somebody drinking on the train I thought, “isn’t that illegal?” I then concluded that it can’t be because they sell bottles on the train itself. But I mean, drinking is already illegal in the street. If I were to list the places where I would choose to ban drinking first, public transport would be considerably higher than the street.

Why is drinking in the street banned then? I just don’t understand the disparity. I would have thought drunkards on the train are far more dangerous than ones in the street. I mean, if somebody starts to go insanely drunk on the train you can’t run away or anything. You just have to put up with this mad drunkard in a confined space and travelling at 100mph or something.

Anyway, I’m not too sure about banning drinking on trains. Unlike smoking, the guy drinking a few rows in front of you isn’t doing a great deal of harm to others around him, unless he is actually being violent, which is illegal anyway. Drinking itself isn’t a menace.

When I went on the train last weekend there was a group behind me in the train making an incredible amount of noise for the entire journey. They might have been drinking on the train, but they might not; I couldn’t see. Maybe they had been drinking before they got on the train, in which case any ban would be useless. Maybe they were just loud because they were in a large group.

But as uncomfortable as it is for the other passengers, banning loud folk from getting on the train would never work either, because that would mean banning every screaming child from trains forever. Actually, maybe that ban is a good idea after all…

In seriousness though, it seems that all that the government is doing at the moment is banning stuff. And arguing about whether or not it’s banning enough stuff enough.

(I don’t suppose this proposal, if it were to become law, would even affect Scotland, but it seems to be the main story of the day so I might as well have an opinion on it.)


  1. GNER trains are completely non-smoking now, you’ll be pleased to know. I’d hoped that they would swap it for a ‘Family Carriage’ for folks with screaming toddlers, but you can’t have it all.

  2. Parents who deliberately get seats in the “quiet carriage” for their small children so that the brats can sleep, only for the children to go ape and terrorise the carriage, are my eternal bugbear. I think they should ban under-12s from them, but anyway…

    I sometimes have the odd can on GNERs between London and Edinburgh or other long-distance trains, though I do get disapproving looks, or at least I feel I do. When I was on holiday in Latvia, I once caught a rush-hour train and half the men on it were enjoying a post-work beer. I was struck by the normalcy of it compared to here.

    Anyway, the set of drinkers on trains only partially overlaps with the set of troublemakers on trains. Banning drink will do nothing to stop antisocial behaviour; what it will do (as the Stumbling & Mumbling link you provide points out) is that the innocent one-can-a-journey drinker will get stopped by the inspector while the dozen-strong party of pissed-up hooligans will be left well alone out of fear.

  3. I was on a train yesterday with a loud, screaming child. The only person louder was its mother, who not only mimicked the child’s cries, but also insisted on putting her mobile on speakerphone to play in the kid’s ear.