After two weeks travelling daily by train, I feel qualified to offer advice to new commuters.
Take headphones. You don’t have to listen to anything but it does dissuade any conversationalists. It also gives you an air of bored detachment.
If you do listen, avoid laughing aloud to a podcast – you will sound demented and others will move away (actually, this is probably a ‘good thing’).
DO sit in the ‘quiet zone’. It is marginally calmer than the normal carriage and school children avoid it.
If you inadvertently sit in front at a ‘snorter’, move at once. They will not snort once, but will continue for the whole of the journey, unable to remove the phlegm stuck between nose and throat. And they will get off at or after your stop.
Snorters often smell. Probably choose another carriage.
When you open the seat-back table, be prepared for an object to fall onto your lap. It is usually sticky: move your knees, let it drop to the floor and kick it under the seat in front.
If you notice that there are delays to the service, get on any train going remotely towards your destination. Pass the coffee kiosk, do not buy a bacon sandwich, even if you’ve missed breakfast. The next train may not come for two hours.
If there are delays to the service in the morning, this will continue all day. You will be late to collect your your children. Make sure your partner is not stuck at the end of the same train line.
Sit back and enjoy the ride. It is less stressful than the school run.