Child take train alone?

(48 Posts)
CURIOUSMIND Wed 16-Oct-13 13:36:36

Is there a legal age for this?
If there is not a legal age, how old do you think is old enough for them to take train alone?
The regular journey I am thinking about will last about 2 hours and 20 mins, including one stop.
What is the best discount card for a child alone?

Many thanks.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 17-Oct-13 09:19:10

I would be happy to do it occasionally from about 10 if the child is sensible and if they have a phone - say to stay with a parent/grandparent etc but I would not expect a child to do it every weekend (no matter what age) for weekly boarding - it's too much, especially (as others have said) if your DC can't leave until Saturday lunchtime and has to return on a Sunday when lots of disruptions are probable.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 17-Oct-13 09:23:45

Downton - does DD mind doing it? (not so much the 'safely' aspect but the time it takes). If there were others doing it and the child had friends to talk to and didn''t mind doing it, I'd be happy for them to do it. I was more picturing the OP's child doing it alone every weekend. I used to do it myself (as an adult, for work) and it got old quickly - especially when the train was full and you had to stand a lot of the time. (I couldn't book in advance as due to the job I could never be certain I'd get that specific train). I felt half my weekend was wasted commuting - and I like trains!

EldonAve Thu 17-Oct-13 09:36:04

I'd say 10 years and up

In London 5-10 year olds can ride the train/bus/tram/tube alone

difficultpickle Thu 17-Oct-13 09:39:43

Eldon how many 5 year olds do you see on the tube/buses in London on their own? I work in London and I can honestly say I have never seen this. Plenty of secondary aged dcs but not year 1s!

EldonAve Thu 17-Oct-13 09:41:00

There are probably a fair few on the buses

CaptainSweatPants Thu 17-Oct-13 09:42:54

Why don't you post in secondary schools rather than primary ?

difficultpickle Thu 17-Oct-13 09:45:58

Really? I work near primary schools in south London and see plenty of aged 5-10 on the buses accompanied by adults. I've just never seen them alone without an adult.

DowntonTrout Thu 17-Oct-13 10:03:50

Chippingin no she doesn't mind it- so far. It was the trade off for her to go to this school. And believe me, if there had been something similar in our area, we would have gone there, but there isn't.

There are children travelling every day from Kent, Essex, Oxford etc- many commute 3 hours a day to get there, so conversely her 4 hours a week is relatively minor. Had she gone to one of the grammar schools in this area (locally) we would have had to leave the house at 7am to get her to the bus.

Now it isn't ideal. I won't pretend it is. There is a fairly high turnover of DCs who start the school and can't cope with their journeys. I suspect that in winter a 5am start on a Monday morning will get very wearing. She has got on the wrong tube once. Realised what she had done, got off at the next stop and changed. There were delays on one line so she just took a different route. But like I said, I spent months training her.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 17-Oct-13 10:49:10

Downton - is it a school for something specific? (ie Dance)

I am very impressed with her navigation of the tube - well done her smile

Bonsoir Thu 17-Oct-13 10:50:36

Eurostar lets children take it on their own as of their 12th birthday. So I think a national journey on the train ought to be within their capabilities. I was certainly taking the train from Kent to London (an hour's journey) on my own by the age of 10.

DowntonTrout Thu 17-Oct-13 11:01:47

Yes. Well known theatre school. So she does the journey or doesn't go. Her choice. It breaks my heart actually but that's another story.

VinegarDrinker Thu 17-Oct-13 11:12:13

I did 2 trains (with a change) and a 20 minute walk - total 1-1.5 hours each way, daily from y7 (when I was aged 11 and 2 days!)

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 17-Oct-13 11:49:05

Downton - I can imagine flowers You are lovely to let her do it, even though it's not what you would prefer.

rubyflipper Thu 17-Oct-13 11:59:21

Hi Downton, I guessed this might be a performing arts school.
Is there no way you could take her yourself?
Do the school have any suggestions? I don't think your dilemma will be unique

DowntonTrout Thu 17-Oct-13 12:21:34

We did a term of Saturday school at first, with me taking her every week. That was last year. Then I moved to London for 7 months and we both travelled home at weekends. That's when she learnt about the tubes, buses, safety etc.

This was all preparation for this term when she started boarding. Yes I could continue doing the travelling with her on Monday's/Fridays but actually we have spent the best part of a year building up to it and as most of the time she has company, she really doesn't need or want me to do it. There was a new starter in September and DD showed her what to do and where to go. She negotiates all that with a suitcase too. Hand on heart I think she is safer travelling from kings x at busy times on the tube than she would be going through our local bus station and wandering around the town centre. it's not like she's wandering round back streets and she would never get into an empty carriage.

BUT, and it's a big but, I know most other people wouldn't be comfortable with it. It is not ideal but it is the norm for many at her school. She takes it in her stride.

friday16 Thu 17-Oct-13 12:23:38

There are children travelling every day from Kent, Essex, Oxford etc- many commute 3 hours a day to get there

In case anyone still thinks that abusive parenting is unique to the feckless underclass, we present "obsessive parents and the things they put their kids through so they can brag about it on Facebook".

There is no conceivable educational advantage that will justify spending the equivalent of 35 days a year (assuming eight hours sleep and 190 school days) on public transport. Over the course of a seven year secondary career, they will have spent eight solid months (16 hours a day for 249 days = 3984 hours, 3 hours a day for 190 days per year for 7 years = 3990 hours) travelling. FFS.

DowntonTrout Thu 17-Oct-13 12:33:53

I'm not sure what you're getting at Friday

DDs commute is 4 hours a week, plus a 10 minute tube each way.

Most children around here have a much longer journey across the whole of the week. Lots and lots of children everywhere have a 30-60 minute bus journey to school every day.

Are you calling that abuse?

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Thu 17-Oct-13 12:45:01

Downton - don't get dragged down. Some people are just trouble & as thick as mince grin What you did for/with DD was above & beyond to enable her to follow her dreams, especially when you wouldn't have chosen this for her yourself. I suspect she is better prepared to handle her 'commute' than most kids who walk to the local senior school!

DowntonTrout Thu 17-Oct-13 13:02:56

Thank you grin

Anyway, I've answered the OP. some DCs can cope with a journey like that. Prepare them for it and if they have travelling companions it makes it so much easier. The journey becomes part of their social time and if they are smart they will use it to get homework done. DD buys a Starbucks, chills out and watches Eastenders on her iPad. wink

Bonsoir Thu 17-Oct-13 14:59:06

There's a great film just out in France called Sur Le Chemin de l'Ecole about children in Argentina, Morocco, India and Kenya travelling long distances on foot or horse across deserts/mountains/other inhospitable nature to get to school.

I don't think two hours on a UK commuter train twice a week is much to put up with!

moldingsunbeams Thu 17-Oct-13 17:04:45

I think I would be tempted in this situation to do full boarding during term time and go and pick them up and spend time with them near school at the weekend than them do the journey.

CURIOUSMIND Fri 18-Oct-13 17:45:11

Other possibility about the plan is going home every three weeks. Children can leave on Friday 3 pm, and they are supposed to come back on Sunday afternoon. Train station is right next to the school. I will always pick up. School staff can walk children to train station, not sure whether they can pick up, I don't think so. I am also thinking about practice the journey with him couple of times, then see what's next. My Ds1 is very mature for his age, very confident person.
Thank you to all again. I learned a lot , such as Sunday nightmare etc.You are very helpful!

Magrug Fri 18-Oct-13 18:36:53

One of mine has come back from boarding school alone since the age of 13. It involves 2.5-3 hours of travel although usually just one change. We've had a couple of missed connections and once a missed stop, but these are all good learning experiences IMO.

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