‘Rail hacker’ hides in a suitcase for the entire two-hour train journey to York

The mysterious case of the missing passenger… Can you spot Oobah's hideaway? Photographs: Chris Bethell
15 Dec 2016 @ 7.25 pm
| News

With Christmas nearly here, loads of us will be hitting the trains.

But as passengers know, it’s not a cheap option. UK rail fares are among the most expensive in Europe.

Read the full story on Vice

So one man chose to take action – by ‘hacking’ the railway system.

London-based journalist Oobah Butler decided to take the train to York while avoiding those pesky ticket collectors.

How? By hiding inside a suitcase. (Warning: don’t try this at home, or on the train, or anywhere else.)

Baggage claim

Outside King’s Cross station, Oobah prepares for the journey

In an article for Vice, Oobah chronicles his journey as a piece of luggage travelling from King’s Cross to York. He was on his way to see his sister who lives in the city.

Climbing into a large red suitcase just around the corner from the London station on December 3, he enlisted his friend Chris Bethell to help.

A closer look – Oobah’s clever use of red face paint helps him blend in

Chris is both the photographer who would chronicle Oobah’s strange journey, and a man clearly strong enough to haul a suitcase filled with a 25-year-old writer.

He successfully lugged the case on to the train. Even with a carefully cut air hole it was a stifling and cramped experience for the writer.

The case was propped next door to the toilets where he had to stay for the next couple of hours. It wasn’t easy…

Angry Birds

Sprung from his hiding place he takes in the York sights
“Thirty minutes left, and it feels as if somebody is sat with a lighter, giving the cartilage behind my kneecaps a smiley,” he writes in his very entertaining report.

“Somebody has left the toilet door open and it smells like piss. I wish that the suitcase had been laid on its back so that I was packed more foetal, less child in an air raid. Daylight seems like a distant thing.”

Happily Oobah makes it to York without suffocating – or being discovered.

Here he springs from his suitcase and, during a few enjoyable hours in “the King’s city”, he admires York Minster, sees his sister and visits Scarcroft School fair. Here he wins an Angry Birds belt.

Wandering around York, the face paint is a little more noticeable

All too soon it’s time to climb back in the suitcase for the London-bound journey.

Once again, he succeeds in evading the ticket checkers, leaving Oobah to declare “I’ve won: I’m home”.

He leaves with his final thought: “I can tell you now: that luggage rack is going to be busy this December.”

Disclaimer: Neither YorkMix or Vice encourage anyone to try this as it’s both illegal to travel without a ticket (Oobah had already bought his before hitting on this idea) and potentially dangerous