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BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 03:05 AM
I'm writing a scene where my main character takes a train ride to the next city. She's already arrived, and she's about to flash her ticket at the entrance. Who is that person you show your ticket to?

Is there any type of security on a train? Because I'm going to write a scene where the train was being Hijacked, by a group of robbers,(or terrorists.) Are they like the security in an airplaine? Where they scan your bags and they have metal detectors and stuff like that. What sort of obstacle must you go through to get on that train.

There's a robbery scene, where a couple of guys are hijacking and stealing passengers money and jewelery and when they were about to steal Lily, my MC's necklace she points her gun at them. And that's where the passengers become afraid of her, and she discovers that she's a child assassin. Child assassins are illegal in many cities.

I was wondering if there could be some sort of security on a train. Like if a security guard saw the robbers or a 12 year old with a gun, what would they do?

veinglory
06-27-2008, 03:07 AM
It really depends where you are. In a tradional train you just get on. At some point a conductor will come by and either inspect your ticket or sell you one.

JoNightshade
06-27-2008, 03:12 AM
Ditto to what Veinglory said - need to know where this takes place, first.

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 03:12 AM
It really depends where you are. In a tradional train you just get on. At some point a conductor will come by and either inspect your ticket or sell you one.
The conductor on the train? I thought you get one like at the entrance, like airplanes.

So my character can just go to the train station and get on?

It's in an urban fantasy setting. Just a normal city. The city name is fake. I've never been on before.

veinglory
06-27-2008, 03:24 AM
No there won't be someone at the door of the train. For a start the train has many carraiges each with two doors. They would never have that many staff on a train. At a large station there will be a turnstile where station staff might stop you. At a small station you just get on.

Chumplet
06-27-2008, 03:30 AM
Generally, access to a train is through ticket gates in the train station. The last time I took a train was the New Year's run to Cochrane on the Northern Express, way back when I first met my husband twenty five years ago. I don't recall anyone checking my ticket because I had to go through a gate.

KTC
06-27-2008, 03:32 AM
For Via in Canada you buy the ticket in the station and just board the train. You're pretty much on your own. I believe your ticket is checked at some point, but there really isn't any security. I've traveled from Toronto to Montreal dozens of times... and from Toronto to the East coast... even when transferring trains in Montreal you really feel like you're pretty much on your own. Admittedly, I haven't taken Via for a few years... but it seemed much like taking a bus to me. Like others have said, it really depends on where you are.

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 03:33 AM
Oh I see. :)

Would there be security? There's going to be a robbery.

Smiling Ted
06-27-2008, 03:34 AM
Is this in the US? The UK? Western Europe?

In the Northeastern United States, you purchase a ticket and the ticket taker walks through the train, checking your tickets and punching them. There's little security.

But the train is different from the subway in cities like New York. There, there are turnstiles that cannot be jumped, and open with the swipe of an electronic debit card.

Kitty Pryde
06-27-2008, 03:39 AM
I ride the commuter train in LA and Orange County. I don't show my ticket to get on (at LA Union Station), I just get on. Usually someone in a uniform walks through and looks at everyone's ticket at some point. If you don't have a ticket they fine you, but if you are roaming around the cars and avoiding the conductor, they wouldn't check you.

If a train employee saw crimes in progress, they would probably call 911 and stop at the next station. There's no security to speak of. Gotta run--train to catch! :)

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 03:41 AM
Is this in the US? The UK? Western Europe?

In the Northeastern United States, you purchase a ticket and the ticket taker walks through the train, checking your tickets and punching them. There's little security.

But the train is different from the subway in cities like New York. There, there are turnstiles that cannot be jumped, and open with the swipe of an electronic debit card.

Cool, it'll be like an american train then. :)

Kitty Pryde: You can actually sneak on? :eek:

WendyNYC
06-27-2008, 03:43 AM
I've taken trains on the East Coast and in Europe. For most of them, you just walk on with your ticket and someone punches it once the train is in motion. (Except for subways.)

veinglory
06-27-2008, 03:59 AM
One reason there isn't a lot of security is because is there isnt much to gain. You can't hijack the train as the engine doesn't connect to the carraiges. If you rob the passengers someone will get on a cellphone and they will just arrest you at the next station ;)

IceCreamEmpress
06-27-2008, 03:59 AM
If it's a reserved seating Amtrak train at Penn Station New York or either of the Boston train stations, one of the conductors checks to see that you have a ticket for that train (either at the head of the stairs/escalator at Penn Station, or behind a little stanchion on the platform at either of the Boston stations). They can ask to see your ID, but in my experience they rarely if ever do.

But that's just a preliminary check--the real check is as others have described (conductor going through the car, punching tickets and taking counterfoils/stubs).



Child assassins are illegal in many cities.

You don't say.

Um, Blue? This is something that I've been wondering about for a while. Does your story take place on a fantasy world? Or in a fantasy country that's part of this world?

Because all of this stuff about trains and Glocks and what-not seems oddly this-world-specific, if this is all taking place in a different world where child assassins are legal in some cities.

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 04:16 AM
You don't say.

Um, Blue? This is something that I've been wondering about for a while. Does your story take place on a fantasy world? Or in a fantasy country that's part of this world?

Because all of this stuff about trains and Glocks and what-not seems oddly this-world-specific, if this is all taking place in a different world where child assassins are legal in some cities.

It's like a regular city. Jeez that's really hard to explain. And can you elaborate on that last paragraph? I can't understand.

Hold on do you mean fantasy as in "Wizards and Unicorns" fantasy world?

veinglory
06-27-2008, 04:22 AM
It's jsut that if it is not literally this world it is odd that it has the same brand names and stuff. Unless it is an AU or something like that.

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 04:23 AM
Then it's the real world, if that answers your question.

By the way, you know those cabins on the Harry Potter trains,(they have like beds and a sliding door and all that.) do they exist?

Mumut
06-27-2008, 04:25 AM
In Queensland you buy your ticket and get on the train. There is about a ten percent chance that the railway security staff (usually in groups of three, uniformed) will check every ticket. On very late trains ordinary police often walk through to check the safety of the passengers. At each entrance to the carriage there is a tiny video camera in the ceiling. I don't know whether it records or just shows the guard what is happening in the train. The driver is in the front, of course. For long trains the guard is in the middle. At stops he steps onto the platform to make sure everyone is clear of the train when it pulls out. On shorter trains he is at the back of the train. In both cases he has a discrete little room (that makes it sound too large).

On the normal commuter trains in Queensland there are no toilets but in NSW they use double decker carriages and these have toilets. These are ideas for you, just in case your terrorist needs to be out or sight to prime the bomb or something - he/she could push into the guards little cubby-hole or wait for the toilet to become vacant - perhaps tension for him if this doesn't happen quickly.

In long-distance trains you have to book a seat but the trains do stop at main suburban stations to collect passengers. So a nasty person could barge on at one of these places or take a chance to hide in the luggage compartment.

In Paris you buy your ticket and swipe it through the turnstile, activating it for that day. The inspectors come around to see you have a ticket and it has been franked on that date. So you can buy a swag of tickets and they don't go out of date if not used by a certain time.

Let me know if you need anything explained further, Blue.

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 04:29 AM
A bomb in the toilet, that would be weird. What if someone sat in it?

Linda Adams
06-27-2008, 04:30 AM
Believe it or not, there's a WikiTravel, and it covers train travel in a fair amount of detail:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Tips_for_rail_travel

veinglory
06-27-2008, 04:35 AM
Trains with bed are called 'sleepers'. I would suggest Googling. But all the details surrounding train will make it really very hard to write that without doing it or at least getting out a train documentary from the public library.

shakeysix
06-27-2008, 04:37 AM
those sleeper compartments exist on usa amtrak trains but are very expensive. most peeps, shakey included, just buy sleeper chairs. --s6

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 04:37 AM
wikipedia has weirdness on so many levels. But awesome there's some articles on this. Thanks Linda! But the only thing I'm having trouble is something bad will happen on the train and there's very little security. I don't see anything about crime or terrorists.

I'm going to try to use sleepers, it only takes several days to get to the next station.

Linda Adams
06-27-2008, 04:43 AM
Try running a search for passenger trains in some of the bigger newspapers--might be a story of an incident that would give you some information.

BlueLucario
06-27-2008, 04:46 AM
I think I might do that.

Thank you again for the articles.

veinglory
06-27-2008, 04:46 AM
Why would terrorist want to rob a train carraige?

If you search for terrorist attacks on trains there are many and some very recent, bombings that is.

Sandi LeFaucheur
06-27-2008, 05:17 AM
On GO trains (for those outside Ontario, GO trains are the commuter trains in the Toronto area), I've never had my ticket checked--when I board, when I'm on the train, when I leave. Very much an honour system. But then, we all know all Canadians are honourable!

Similarly in England. Sometimes there was a conductor on the train, but not very often. Sometimes there was a ticket collector at the end, but not very often. English trains (and probably Canadian, I've never really noticed) have communication cords running along the top of the windows that you pull in case of emergency. Wait, they may be strips that you press now. Haven't taken trains in England for awhile!

Re: sleepers. Yes, they still have them on long-haul trains. Try looking at some of the train web sites, like Via Rail: http://www.viarail.ca/classes/en_serv_clas_voit_toja.html#Sleeping_car_rocking_o ff_to_sleep

English trains used to have compartments with just seats--so six people would be in a compartment, 2 seats of 3 facing each other. Sometimes there was a corridor joining the compartments, and sometimes not. It is truly terrifying to be in a non-corridor train with a strange man, knowing there is no escape. Probably why they don't have them anymore.

But if your book takes place in a fantasy world, you can do what the heck you like.

veinglory
06-27-2008, 05:24 AM
A few of those trains with seats facing together still run, even ones where each compartment has an outside door--although they ask you not to use them :) I love the old trains.

stormie
06-27-2008, 05:33 AM
Blue, if there's a robbery on a train in the US, every conducter has a means of communicating directly to the engineer and the police. But if there's a hold-up and the conductor can't communicate, there would be a passenger texting some friend who's not on the train to contact the police. I've never had a problem with cell phone service, even years ago.

(Shakey, we ride coach instead of the sleeper cars, too. If the train isn't full, each of us takes a row of seats at night. Fun!)

C.bronco
06-27-2008, 05:40 AM
The guy in the blue suit punches your ticket after the train takes off. Then you arrive at Penn Station after some stops in Newark and Hoboken.

You can get a bagel in Hoboken if you are hungry.

Colin McHale
06-27-2008, 09:51 AM
those sleeper compartments exist on usa amtrak trains but are very expensive. most peeps, shakey included, just buy sleeper chairs. --s6

How the heck do you get any sleep?

My last Amtrak ride (which also had been my first in 20 years) was also the one I decided that, if I ever rode on Amtrak again, even if I had to pay a lot of extra money for a sleeper compartment, it would be worth it.

I think I slept like 20 minutes or something for the entire night (the train left at 8 PM). My chair's footrest was broken, of course. The lighting in the aisle was too bright and distracting. The fat guy in front of me, who had a bad odor about him, fell asleep promptly and spent the next 13 hours snoring. The Polish family in the opposite aisle didn't seem to know how to entertain themselves without either A.) talking or playing with their expensive cellphones B.) using their high-end laptops or C.) taking pictures of each other every 15 minutes. And they just. Wouldn't. Shut. Up.

I won't mention the entire group of high school kids who were seated several rows in front of me. Or the crazy Indian guy who I eventually nicknamed "Mr. Fidgety".

Sheesh.

What was this topic about again? :P

waylander
06-27-2008, 11:20 AM
I take UK trains a lot.
Half the time no-one ever inspects your ticket. There may be a ticket inspector coming along the train in which case you'll get a fine if you have no ticket. At larger stations there are turnstiles you put your ticket (which has a machine-readable strip on it) through, at smaller stations you just get on.
The compartmented carriages as depicted in Harry Potter are gone, all the carriages are open plan seating now.
For a terrorist incident on a train Google Madrid Train Bombings. Al-Quaeda linked terrorists set off a series of bomb on suburban commuter trains - killed a lot of people.

dpaterso
06-27-2008, 12:25 PM
Don't you have any train stations near where you live? Even if you don't board the train, can't you at least stand on the platform and watch and look in the doors and windows to get an idea of How Things Are in the world?

Watch old movies like Silver Streak (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075223/) or North By Northwest (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053125/) to get an idea of sleeper carriages. These are popular films, people you know might have the videos in their collection.

-Derek

johnnysannie
06-27-2008, 03:06 PM
The conductor on the train? I thought you get one like at the entrance, like airplanes.

So my character can just go to the train station and get on?

It's in an urban fantasy setting. Just a normal city. The city name is fake. I've never been on before.

In my experience riding trains, you have had the chance to either buy a ticket at the station before you board or from the conductor when he comes around after the train is underway. So I've bought my ticket in advance and I have also paid the conductor after just getting onthe train.

So yes, a character could just go to the station and get on the train in most cases. It's quite plausible.

Mike Martyn
06-27-2008, 09:40 PM
A bomb in the toilet, that would be weird. What if someone sat in it?


It depends on what country you are travelling through. I did some traveling by train in the early 60's through Europe.

I remember using the toilet on a train travelling through Spain . I flushed and could see the railroad tracks when the flap at the bottomof the toilet opened. Yes, that's right. It discharged directly on the tracks. Yuck.

There was a sign on the wall in several languages requesting that passengers not use the facilities if the train was in a station.

However, it would make bomb disposal fairly simple.

"Quick, Inspector Clueso! Flush!"

As for sleeper cars, there are several different sorts. The tiny private ones that sleep two on upper and lower berts which fold into the walls during the day and larger ones which were called "drawing rooms". When I was about 6, my parents, sister and I travelled from montreal to Vancouver in one. There were bunk beds that folded out of the wall for us kids and a king size bed that folded out of the wall our parents With the beds folded into the walls the room was about 10 ft by 10 ft or so.

I was always scared that the porter would come and fold up my bunk bed with me in it and I'd be trapped.

Then again were I a child assasin, that might be where I'd hide.:)

veinglory
06-27-2008, 09:43 PM
The Caledonina sleep has two fixed bunk beds and just enough room to get into them. It runs only from about 10pm to about 7am so you really are just meant to get in the bed and stay there, especially as the beds are sold separately so the other person in there could be anyone (limited only by gender). It is how also very cheap if you wait for a value fair.

StephanieFox
06-27-2008, 10:28 PM
My husband and I took the train, with a sleeper compartment, on our honeymoon. It was a blast. We are planning another train trip late this summer. I traveled by train at least twice a year from my hometown in Iowa to Chicago when I was very young. I wandered around and went up on the vewing car to watch the scenery. The staff was very attentive, but maybe that was because I was a precoscious 5-year old.

I would suggest that you check the Amtrak website. There's a lot of info there. Since your MC is going only to the next city, I'm certain that she would ride coach, and not get a sleeper car.

Amtrak differers a bit depending where it's going. The Empire Builder (from Chicago to either Portland or Seattle) is the most elegant. The shorter and more heavily traveled routes are less so - D.C. to NYC, for example.

Oh, by the way, there are no asigned seats in coach. There is a bar car.

stormie
06-27-2008, 10:46 PM
There aren't any assigned seats on a non-sleeper business class or the "quiet car" (no cells, no laptops, no burping....) What the BC and QC have are reserved seats, meaning you shouldn't end up standing. And the seats are roomier.

Okay, after all that, I just realized. She's only going to the next town. It'd probably be jammed with all kinds of people with tons of backpacks and cells and iPods and people knocking into you as they go down the aisles. The conductors are very businesslike and focused and won't take nonsense. And as I said, they have direct communication with the engineer and the police.

Kalyke
06-28-2008, 12:03 AM
I generally just took a train from Waukegan to Chicago--Union Station a lot. There was a ticket taker (maybe he was a conductor. He had a blue suit on). That's about it. You went and sat in your seat and the ticket taker would look at your ticket after the train was started and everyone was seated. If a person getting on the train did not have a ticket, they could buy one from him right there. I think on a few occasions I did show a ticket getting on. The incidents do not stand out in my mind. There were no ninja warriors guarding the train unless they were running on the top outside. I don't remember using a bathroom, or even being curious about it. Sorry.

BlueLucario
06-28-2008, 02:34 AM
Another question. What would they do with pets? My MC's cat, is in a pet crate. (And she's very pissed.) Would there be a special place to put the animals or would could you just take it with you. In the Harry Potter books, I never saw Harry take Hedwig on the train, so I'm assuming there's a place for pets.

DonnaDuck
06-28-2008, 02:36 AM
Like what everyone else has said, it depends on the country you're traveling in and even then, how big the town is you're picking up the train in. In my teeny little state alone I've taken a train from a rundown cement slab they called a platform as well as a very nice train station. In both cases, you can just get on the train. In Europe, I tended to travel from the bigger stations so you needed to swipe your ticket before getting on the platform. TGV (the speed trains in Europe) are double decker with people sticking quite stridently to their seat numbers. I actually had a woman point out to me I was in her seat when there was about 100 empty seats in the cabin. As if it mattered. I've also been in compartment trains as well. They're running in Italy, where you have the 3 seats facing 3 seats and the door to shut it off. Still a commuter train but they were compartmentalized. Decide where the story is taking place and go from there.

Remember, terrorists don't target cement slabs that trains stop at. Terrorists aim for the biggest impact they can get. Subways durning rush hour are always a target because they're looking for maximum impact.

DonnaDuck
06-28-2008, 02:38 AM
Another question. What would they do with pets? My MC's cat, is in a pet crate. (And she's very pissed.) Would there be a special place to put the animals or would could you just take it with you. In the Harry Potter books, I never saw Harry take Hedwig on the train, so I'm assuming there's a place for pets.

Actually in HP the pets were always on the train. Hedwig, Scabbers, Trevor, Crookshanks, they were all running about the train. Well, the bird and the rat were caged. I've seen leashed dogs on trains. They're much more lenient about pets on trains as compared to planes. You won't necessarily need to crate your pet, especially on shorter trips. Cats, since you wouldn't normally leash them, would probably be in a crate.

waylander
06-28-2008, 11:44 AM
I've seen people carrying cats in carry-cages on suburban trains in the UK. There's nowhere else you can put them so they go with you like any other piece of luggage

HeronW
06-28-2008, 03:25 PM
In DC there's a huge train station (among dozens of smaller ones) and there they did a cursory check of luggage but nothing like the x-ray/hand search at airports.

Most smaller stations just sell you a ticket and you can carry anything on as long as you have the muscle to do it.