The Cornwall to London Sleeper train: A timeline (dignity not included)

The Cornwall to London sleeper train is a great way to get about the country if you have to arrive up country (yes, I just said ‘up country’. I say that now.) early in the morning for reasons of business, travel, or a desire to maximise all free food opportunities available to you during a family Christmas. But what should you expect if you’ve never been on it before? He is my rough-yet-oddly-precise guide.


Arrive at Truro an hour and a half early. Curse self. Why am I like this? Crack open a book, and then play on your phone the entire time without once looking at the book you, like, just opened.


Train arrives.


Resist the urge to say “How early?!” when told we’ll arrive in London at 5:10 but you’re welcome to stay on board until 7:00. Resist same urge when nice train lady tells you she can bring breakfast up until 6:00. Pick 6:00, hope she’s late, and ponder your first world problems.


Listen in bemusement as the man in the cabin next door orders water and a croissant for breakfast as if he wasn’t given a ton of better options.


Instastory your cabin because otherwise how will people know that you’re fancy?


Lose internet signal because you might be fancy but you’re still in Cornwall.


Decide it’s good there’s no internet because you brought a book and you have writing to do, so now you can really focus.


Although you did also download some podcasts for just this eventuality so maybe you could just fall asleep listening to podcasts.


Give up trying to find an appropriate volume at which to listen to My Dad Wrote a Porno. People shouldn’t be eavesdropping in the first place.

23:20 – 05:09

Sleep fitfully. Either enjoy a gentle rocking sensation or cling on the the narrow mattress for dear life, depending on direction of travel.

Also 11:20 – 05:09

Hear man next door going back and forth to the bathroom one hundred times. Genuinely worry for his health a little bit.


Wake up because nothing is rocking you to sleep anymore. You have arrived. Try desperately to go back to sleep until it’s time to get up way too early for the nice train lady to bring your breakfast.


Give up two minutes before your alarm was going to go off anyway. Get dressed.


Nice train lady knocks on the door with a tray. Freak her out by sitting in the very small space, fully-dressed, trying too hard to be friendly. It will not even be light for two hours. Nobody needs this.


Eat a bacon sandwich. Feel conflicted about the fact that it’s not that nice, but it is free. Which of those things will win? (Note: We all know it’s the ‘free’ thing but at least have some dignity and pretend there’s a dilemma.)


Bacon sandwich finished, start thinking about leaving. Roll up blind so you can stare out at Paddington station while brushing your teeth. Make lengthy eye contact with a pigeon eating a sandwich from the bin opposite. Don’t hate it.


Leave room.


Bounce back because your luggage configuration isn’t quite right and your bags won’t fit through the door.


Eventually sort your life out, wiggle off the train, and then spend so much time in the First Class lounge it becomes officially recognised as ‘taking the piss’.

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