Travelling by train with children

(97 Posts)
Bgsh Mon 31-Dec-12 11:05:20

Apologies if this topic is an old chestnut but a quick search does not show it's one that has been discussed. Travelling by train, I am happy to offer my seat to anyone who needs it more, especially anyone who is pregnant, travelling with a small child etc. What do other parents feel is courteous? My daughter, travelling wi her 9 month old daughter on a busy train did find a seat but was distressed to see others carrying babies having to stand while parents with tiny children took a seat each. As a grandma, I am aware that what is acceptable changes over time but I would be grateful to know how modern mums see this dilemma.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Mon 31-Dec-12 12:11:00

If I'm on a train with ds age 2.5,I prefer to stand. It's easier than spending the whole journey trying to convince him to sit down and stay put. And the only way he will learn how to not fall over is by practicing. grin

yggdrasil Mon 31-Dec-12 12:15:54

There is a baby on board badge? shock

I do not think that anything in this world could persuade me to wear something so twee.

tinierclanger Mon 31-Dec-12 12:18:13

I expect a small child (say under 5) to be sat on an adults lap if the train is busy and people are standing. This doesn't seem to be a popular mumsnet view though!

bruffin Mon 31-Dec-12 12:20:38

Children,usually under 5 who travel free are not entitled to seats and should sit on laps.
When my dcs were under 5 and we travelled on long journeys . I always paid for a ticket and reserved seats for the dcs.

EmpressOfThePuddle Mon 31-Dec-12 12:36:34

I think the Baby on Board badges are a great idea. If I see someone wearing one on the tube I'll offer my seat immediately and there's none of the 'is she, isn't she' dilemma.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Mon 31-Dec-12 12:42:18

I wouldn't pay for a seat for ds as he wouldn't use it! If they had a harness or seatbelt on seats then I'd pay for that even a cage to keep him contained will do.

ifancyashandy Mon 31-Dec-12 12:43:16

It would not occur to me to not ask someone to move their bag or if I could sit next to them if they we on the aisle next to an empty seat. Would people really feel awkward asking in either of these scenarios? I sometimes dump my bag on a seat when I first get on a train (commute every day). I'd a) move it if the train started to fill up or b) not bat an eyelid if asked to move it as I'd not noticed the filling up.

And of course we, 'Down South' offer seats if necessary hmm

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Mon 31-Dec-12 12:43:48

whois, it's not that simple.

Not all trains allow you to book tickets for starters and even if you do if the train is very busy it can be hard to enforce. And many people will put their headphones in and put their backs to you if you try to engage them, if not shout abuse and shove you for daring to bother them.

My DH is visibly disabled and like SueFlays, he often gets ignored. People literally push past him and block seats to prevent him using them even when he is traveling with our small children. No amount of asking does any good. Until he falls down, then people crowd around him, tell him what he should have done and be doing and disregard what he needs for what he thinks he should be happy with (he hates people pushing the emergency button and begs them not to, it's not an emergency if he falls down and there is not a thing anyone can do so it just proves to embarrass him further but people act like he should be grateful they bothered to notice and disregard him).

And I hate people telling me smile, that is costs nowt to smile, why should I smile to make someone else happy? I'm not here to amuse you.

MissCoffeeNWine Mon 31-Dec-12 12:48:19

I travel on routes where you can't reserve seats and usually end up standing. Last time I was standing with a 5 year old who had been bought a ticket, a suitcase and backpack and a 2 month old baby.

atthewelles Mon 31-Dec-12 12:54:44

People who think they're entitled to take up a seat for their bag or coat on a packed bus or train are unbelievably selfish and should feel very embarassed when asked to move it; not get annoyed and irritable.

fairylightsandtinsel Mon 31-Dec-12 12:55:23

What do you do if you have purchased a ticket for a (say) 3 year old in order that they CAN have a reserved seat on a long journey, and then it gets crowded? Obviously if there was anyone pregnant / infirm etc I would hoist DS onto knee to free up the seat but if it was perfectly able people I might feel a bit more hmm about it - long journeys need to be planned and booked for in advance for this reason. If someone asked me directly I would probably also move him, for a while at least, but a squirmy 3 year old has limits too.

HuffAndHufflepuff Mon 31-Dec-12 13:10:57

It's a bugger of etiquette. I was once standing at the front of a very crowded bus with a little suitcase, a woman sitting opposite me catches my eye, looks down at my stomach, looks at me in horror and almost shouts 'here have my seat love!', everyone starts to move to let me across, I say 'no thanks', she insists, loudly- I had to say very firmly 'I'm not pregnant I'm just fat'. I was on my way to a wedding too, really knocked my confidence.

I like the baby on board badges, I rarely see them but when I do it removes all doubt! Though I have to admit I've only ever seen them on women who are very obviously very pregnant!

PessaryPam Mon 31-Dec-12 13:24:47

I love my car!!!

MsCrow Mon 31-Dec-12 13:51:01

I don't think you're being unreasonable. I was on a tran recently, a London Midland where you can't book seats. A family of four with children aged about 5 and 8 had seats with their parents at a table. It was heaving, a parent with a tiny toddler had nowhere to sit. Sure, he could have asked the family, but the mother clocked him, twice, and didn't shift her daughter, or son. People fear having their head bitten off for asking...Sure, they might be entitled to a seat as they would have tickets, but I think I sat on my mother's lap when needed until I was about 9. Just because you're entitled, doesn't mean you should exercise that entitlement on a busy train.

I don't personally agree that just because you've managed to book a seat for your 2.5 year old, that means you shouldn't move them onto your lap, even if your toddler is a wiggler. Most children tend to be quieter and better behaved on busy trains if they're on a lap next to someone strange. Quite frankly though, just because a meltdown is feared doesn't mean you shouldn't try to do the right thing.

As for underground travel, those badges are silly, but worth it. At eight months pregnant, no one would have guessed so the badge was brilliant. I've generally found people are always courteous on the tube when I have dd in her carrier, I've never not been offered a seat.

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 31-Dec-12 13:55:09

What Pessarypam said!

My solution - on grounds of passenger safety, is that NO passenger should be on any kind of moving vehicle unless there is a seat for that passenger.

I say that as someone who has been injured more than once on trains and buses when sudden breaking (not an actual accident) has thrown my weight forward, resulting in a hip injury and an arm injury. I have also see a child catapulted down the bus and into the footwell by the door, again by sudden unexpected breaking.

Now, with several children of various ages, I avoid public transport when ever possible - in part, because it is massively expensive compared to running a car! In part, this is due to the fact we live in the Scottish countryside...

FromEsme Mon 31-Dec-12 14:13:49

It's my experience that people in London generally offer a seat to those in need. A woman once asked me to move because she had a toddler with her and I moved - I didn't notice her because I was engrossed in my book. I think a lot of people in London are trying to block out other people, so might need to be asked.

I always tell people to move their bags, so bloody rude.

Not sure about offering pregnant women a seat, sometimes it's not obvious and I wouldn't want to offend anyone. Same with older people, my mum, who is 60, was a bit upset that she was now considered old enough to be offered a seat.

I think most people are decent though.

Whatdoiknowanyway Mon 31-Dec-12 14:40:51

I get offered seats on the tube. I have white hair but am not yet 50, look healthy and have no disabilities. Sometime people just see the hair and make assumptions.
I try always to be courteous but am reluctant to take the seat if there is someone more in need nearby.

TandB Mon 31-Dec-12 15:01:42

I'm always gobsmacked at people standing on the tube or train and glaring at someone with a bag on a seat, but not actually asking for it to be moved.

Obviously it should be moved the second the train starts filling up, but if it isn't that doesn't mean that you just suck it up and stand!

I will always ask for the bag to be moved. Sometimes people make a bit of a performance of moving it and then huff and tut for the rest of the journey, but I've only once had one woman argue about it, saying that there was no room for her to put it anywhere else. I said that if she didn't move it I would assume she was fine with me sitting on it. She moved it fairly sharpish at that point and miraculously found room for it on her knee - she had only not wanted it there because she was on her laptop at the time.

It's the same with people sitting in the aisle seat to try and keep the window seat free. If they are obviously trying to ignore people needing the seat, I don't even ask if they would mind moving - I just say "Excuse me, I need to get past to that seat." It leaves less of an opening for argument. I did once hear a woman refusing to move on the basis that she was pregnant and couldn't have anyone sitting too close to her in case they bumped her stomach. The elderly lady asking for the seat said she was quite happy to sit on her knee if that would be better - she moved!

manicinsomniac Mon 31-Dec-12 15:13:16

Scotchandwry - if that was the rule nobody would ever get where they wanted to go at all!

Chunkymumma Mon 31-Dec-12 15:16:28

I hate crowded trains. Anyone seen the tube in Japan (I think)? They actually employ 'pushers' on the platforms to shove everyone into the carriages!

Enfyshedd Mon 31-Dec-12 20:46:55

2 of my experiences travelling by train while about 8 months pregnant:

1. I got on to go to work one morning and the train was much busier than normal - usually my stop was the last one where you could guarantee having a seat, but this particular morning, not a chance. An friend of mine had caught the same train so we were joking about the joys of standing the half hour to work. At the next stop, someone got out of a seat about half a carriage length upf from us - my friend legged it down the carriage to stop someone else sitting in there and called me over to make sure I had the seat.

2. I'd done a lot of shopping in my lunch hour and had 3 very full, large bags. I'd also deliberatly worked overtime that day as well to catch a later train so it wouldn't be as busy on the way home. I was knackered and yes, I admit I was the seat hogger with my bags. However, I couldn't help but be amazed at the woman who insisted on me moving the 2 bags which were on the seat (which I could only pile on top of the other bag which was perched on my knees and my bump as I couldn't bend to put them by my legs) when there was a perfectly good seat 2 rows up because she wanted to chat to her bloody friend in the seat behind!! And she took her bloody time when we got to my stop - It took about 3 "excuse me please"'s before she realised/noticed I was talking to her (durr...) and somebody had to stop the doors from closing because of the time to took for her to harumph her way out of the seat and me to unwedge myself from the window seat and gather up my shopping. If the doors had closed, I don't know if I would have shouted at her or cried...

AgathaTrunchbull Mon 31-Dec-12 21:34:05

The baby on board badges for the tube are brilliant - I've worn mine since about 5 months in and have never had a problem being offered a seat. Once a guy gave me his newspaper as well, which was nice! grin I couldn't have stood, as heat and enclosed spaces made me faint for months. On a couple of occasions, I was only going another couple of stops, so said this, but thanked the person nonetheless.

Seriously, wear the badge! It removes all doubt. Also, definitely ask for bags to be removed. I think quite a few people will put their bag on a seat for easy access, but are happy to move it if necessary.

lovelyladuree Mon 31-Dec-12 22:12:26

So, we are all equal? Or are some more equal than others?

TheCollieDog Mon 31-Dec-12 23:01:08

Interesting. I've read plenty of threads on here where people have declared that a) their small child has as much right to a seat (not a lap) as any adult and generally more of a right; and/or b) their medium age (say from 8 or 9) child has as much or more right to a seat than an adult.

I believe neither: we were taught to give up our seats to adults (indeed it was a condition of my school bus pass that I did not occupy a seat if an adult were standing), and I think small children can sit on a parent/carer's lap, or two littlies can budge up into one seat.

pointedlynoresolutions Mon 31-Dec-12 23:18:17

Blimey - it wasn't that long ago that I plonked my almost 10yo DD2 on my lap because the train was so busy and someone else needed the seat. Fortunately she's a skinny thing.

And I never put my bags on the seat beside me, even if the train is empty.

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