Rachel Watson is the titular girl on the train and the novel’s primary narrator and protagonist. A divorcee and alcoholic in her mid-thirties, Rachel has also recently lost her job and seemingly her prospects for… read analysis of Rachel Watson
Megan Hipwell / “Jess”
Megan Hipwell is one of the book’s narrators and protagonists. Megan is a young, artistic, sensitive woman with a dark past and a restless, insatiable spirit—and she’s missing when the events of the novel begin… read analysis of Megan Hipwell / “Jess”
Anna Watson is one of the novel’s narrators and protagonists. As Tom Watson’s former mistress current wife, she feels a deep sense of anxiety and protectiveness when it comes to her marriage. Anna is… read analysis of Anna Watson
Tom Watson is the lying, conniving, murderous antagonist of the novel. Tom disguises himself as a loving husband doing his best to make ends meet for his family—but as Rachel and Anna discover toward the… read analysis of Tom Watson
Dr. Kamal Abdic
Kamal Abdic is a Muslim refugee from Bosnia working as a therapist in Witney, a suburb of London. When he begins seeing Megan Hipwell as a patient, Kamal is determined to help the troubled, restless… read analysis of Dr. Kamal Abdic
Cathy is Rachel’s roommate and longtime friend since their university days. Niceness, Rachel believes, is Cathy’s defining quality—no matter how many times Rachel gets into trouble or makes a drunken mess, she feels that… read analysis of Cathy
Detective Inspector Gaskill
Detective Inspector Gaskill is a middle-aged male detective who is in charge of Megan’s case. Rachel first meets him when he turns up at the apartment she shares with Cathy to question her about… read analysis of Detective Inspector Gaskill
Detective Sergeant Riley
Detective Sergeant Riley is a young female detective working Megan’s case. Riley, like Gaskill, is suspicious and wary of Rachel—but unlike Gaskill, Riley is more ready to pin Rachel down as a “sad” and lonely… read analysis of Detective Sergeant Riley
The Redheaded Man / Andy
The redheaded man, whose name is later revealed to be Andy, is a commuter who lives in the London suburb of Witney. He often rides the train to and from the city at the same… read analysis of The Redheaded Man / Andy
Craig “Mac” McKenzie
Mac was Megan’s first love and a friend of her older brother Ben. Megan and Mac had child a together, Libby, who died just a few months into her short life. Several… read analysis of Craig “Mac” McKenzie
Libby was Megan’s and Mac’s daughter. When Libby was just a few months old, Megan took Libby into the bath with her—but when Megan fell asleep, Libby drowned. Megan still carries the trauma… read analysis of Libby
Tara is one of Megan’s acquaintances. Megan often uses hanging out with Tara—which she actually does very rarely—as an excuse to get out of the house. This allows her to get away from Scott… read analysis of Tara Epstein
Evie is Tom and Anna’s baby. She’s about a year and a half old during the novel’s main timeline.
Ben is Megan’s long-deceased older brother. An adventurous spirit throughout his 19 short years, Ben always encouraged Megan to pursue freedom and autonomy.
Damien is Cathy’s boyfriend.
Rachel’s mother is a flighty but apparently wealthy woman who constantly has a new boyfriend in her life.
Scott’s slightly overbearing mother comes to town to help him cope in the wake of Megan’s disappearance.