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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December 2003, 18:31 GMT
A festive Yuill Log
With disruptions to rail travel forecast for the Christmas period, BBC News Online's commuters' champion Jon Yuill turns to song for some festive cheer.

Elected: Jon was voted BBC News Online's rail commuters' champion by users of the site
Voice: His role is to speak up for the commuter
Commute: Married with three children, Jon commutes by train between Witham (Essex) and London
'Tis the season to be jolly - but given that train pain is looming over the festive season, and recent news that delayed rail journeys can give you DVT, I find myself feeling a little Scrooge-like.

And what could be more likely to induce a fit of the bah-humbugs than the prospect of that final journey home, the train packed and heaving with laden shoppers and tired and emotional revellers.

I can picture its delights already. The office girls with tinsel in their hair, spraying plastic string in people's faces. The drunken City workers, collapsed in their seats, waking up several stops beyond their stations. And that familiar yob, his Christmas not complete without abusing his fellow travellers.

Personally, I can't wait to see all my commuting friends again in the new year, when they can entertain me with their new mobile phones' polyphonic ring tones.

But enough! It's time for some festive spirit, so here's a little ditty to brighten up that Christmas journey... All together now:

    On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me,
    the cables are down in Braintree.

    12 hours a'waiting
    11 mobiles ringing
    10 Walkmans hissing
    9 coach replacements
    8 broken signals
    7 flooded toilets
    6 leaves a-laying
    5 fro-zen points
    4 drunken teens
    3 rude staff
    2 hooligans
    And the cables are down in Braintree.

Thanks to you all, it's been a great year for the Yuill Log - you've sent in bundles of comments, tales and bizarre stories of your railway fun.

So to round the year off as we mean to go on, let's see if there are any particularly festive anecdotes out there. Any cracking incidents on the way home from the office party? And has anyone been amazed by the price of their ticket to see family or friends over Christmas?

As ever, send me your stories using the form below.

Some of your festive stories so far:

Remember the winter of 1963? Southern Region had only just started fitting point heaters, and absolutely everybody smoked, so you couldn't see your hand in front of your face in seven out of the eight coaches. The girls were packed like sardines in the ladies-only compartments, and us school kids piled into the guard's van to avoid choking to death. I wormed my way into the rear driver's cab, and had a memorable trip through the snow drifts, illuminated by the train pick-up shoe's continuous arcing. Followed by three weeks off school when the system gave up the ghost the next night! Say what you like, things have got better, albeit slowly.
Jeremy Main, Brussels, Belgium

Many years ago I had to return to Leigh-on-Sea following our office party. It was late at night and the train was full to overflowing. I was crammed into a single compartment with other weary partygoers, including two elderly women who had been to a carol concert. They shared out their song sheets and the entire compartment sang until we reached our respective stations. It was the best journey of my life, all thanks to the Christmas spirit.
Sue B, Oxon, UK

I am definitely amazed at the cost of my ticket - as a member of GNER's frequent traveller scheme, I'm going from London to Perth and back for Christmas for free - first class! Why can't other operators offer similar rewards?
Richard Allen, Letchworth, Herts

Bring mince pies and hot chocolate (or mulled wine and sloe gin) onto your train and share the festive spirit. We had our commuter Xmas breakfast last week - even the ticket collector joined in. If you're a First Great Western commuter stuck on a delayed train, you can even take advantage of their free Xmas gift, or coffee & tea if you prefer.
Alex, Oxon, UK

The service between my home (Worcester) and place of work (Birmingham) is so unreliable that my manager has agreed to me being relocated to Worcester. I move offices on 22 December. This means more family time, as my new office is five minutes from home. The relocation would probably not have been agreed to if the train service had been even half-decent. So unintentionally, Central Trains have given me one of the best Christmas presents I've ever had!
Carl Freeman, Worcester

A few years ago when I worked in Norwich, it started to snow heavily the day before the Xmas break. The station was heaving with nervous commuters, last-minute shoppers and office revellers, all hoping to get home before the weather worsened. We got on one train, then off, then a platform change, then another train change - there weren't enough staff at such short notice to staff all the trains waiting to depart. Down the centre of our carriage came a boy conductor with the message that we could leave soon as he had offered to do overtime... he was just waiting for his mum to phone back with permission. Sweet!
Lynne, Luton, Beds, UK

A few years ago I, like Jon, was travelling home from Liverpool Street to Witham near Christmas. The packed train was old-fashioned with drop down windows. As we passed through Stratford a city gent said "Excuse me, I'm most terribly sorry", opened the window and was rather sick. He then sat back down, apologised again, and carried on reading his Times. Unfortunately, he had closed the window which had evidence of his misfortune visible all the way home!
Rob, Herts, UK

I am spending my first Christmas outside the UK and am in Brisbane, Australia. After leaving the office party I went to the station. I found it full of happy partygoers, still in paper hats and tinsel. The train arrived on time, was clean and air-conditioned (it is summer now in Australia!). The people are friendly and relaxed and the train journey an absolute pleasure, reaching each station at the alloted time. Can UK train operators match that? Not a chance. Merry Christmas everyone.
Bill Bryant, Formerly Milton Keynes, Bucks

My wife & I have just returned from the UK & we travelled extensively on GNER,Virgin & the Underground & found it to be a well run, well catered for system compared to Sydney Australia. We dont have the luxury of being told where we are or going and at what speed, nor do we have catering or toilets anywhere near the cleanliness or availability as the UK. Count your blessings you are not personaly cooking slowly in a train without working air conditioning or windows that open on a 30C+ hot day.
Robert Stewart, Wollstonecraft, Australia

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