Don’t go running after trains. No matter how much you want to get home, and how much the train schedule is messed up and how much you get on the wrong train. I had to learn this the hard way.
This past Tuesday I got to London Bridge Station to see that all the South Eastern trains were delayed and/or cancelled because of some major signal failures in Lewisham. Way to go, Lewisham.
After a few platform changes a train finally draws near which according to the platform signage should be the train I need to get to Abbey Wood. Oh but it wasn’t. Standing on the train I thought ‘gosh, this is an awful long way to Deptford… and none of it looks familiar’. First stop, Lewisham. Right. Maybe it’s a fast train. The fast train stops here. I’ll give it one more stop before I get too annoyed and get off the train. Next stop, Blackheath. Right. This isn’t happening.
I get off the train at Blackheath and here’s where it all went a bit downhill. Or, upstairs as it were. I thought I’d go to the opposite platform and get a train back to London Bridge to try the journey all over again. Oh crap, there’s the train. I turned into one of those huffy rushed people that everyone including me find annoying and overly dramatic at times. Boy did that bite me in the arse.
I rushed up the ramp to the ticket hall area. There were a few steps up to the actual ticket hall. I’m still not sure how it happened, but I tripped on the last step and was going fast enough (and had a heavy enough bag) that I flew face first into the ticket hall floor. Ow. Hell. Teeth smashed into mouth and knees and legs receiving equal treatment. Thankfully there were a couple of nice women there who helped me up , game me some water and made me sit down to calm down a bit.
After they were happy to let me be on my way I hobbled to a bus stop. I gave up on the idea of mucking about with the trains anymore. I got a few looks on the bus. My mouth was a tad bit swollen, purple and by the taste of it a bit bloody.
A day off to rest yesterday and today I’m feeling quite a bit better. My mouth is much better though the same can’t be said about my knees. Granted they’re no longer swollen to the point of looking like black and blue traffic cones.
Also on the upside on the bus ride I went through a bit of Blackheath that looked familiar from Google street view. That being the lil’ high street area just to the south of where my new flat is. So that was kind of neat.
So there’s the lesson kids; slow down and chill out. Just a little bit.
That headline will work so much better in four years time, but never-mind. One of my favourite London rail stations, Liverpool Street, was opened 136 years ago today. As I already made mention of King’s Cross birthday last year it’s only fair I do the same for Liverpool Street as I use both to travel to the capital.
The station that opened in 1874 was very different to the one that serves North East London and East Anglia now. Originally it was laid out in an L shape, with a long entrance way just off Liverpool Street, running along what what is now (was it then?) Sun Street Passage.
In Cambridge station there are four ticket machines. Three look the same. One doesn’t look like the others. This tends to kind of throw people off.
Let’s talk about the forming of the ticket queues. Sometimes there is one queue, other times there is a queue behind each machine. When we have the ‘uni-queue’ there tends to be a bit of hesitation in using the ticket machine that looks different. It includes looking around to see if other people are going to use it and looking at the screen distantly with squinted eyes. Eventually someone from the back of the queue (or in today’s case, someone who just walked into the station) will just stroll up to the machine and go about their business, with varying degrees of success as we will see.
When there is a ‘multi-queue’ scenario, the queue for the Mystery Machine is usually the shortest. Can it be trusted? It doesn’t look like the other ones…. can I buy the same tickets from it? The person who queue jumped to it today wasn’t able to work out how to buy a ticket, wondered around a bit, tried to queue jump to the Mystery Machine again before getting in the uni-queue with everyone else.
The Mystery Ticket Machine is on the left. The rest look like the one on the right. All of them do the same job. I wanted to get a shot of all 4 machines, but there was a couple who just wouldn’t move out of the way. That same couple passed on using the Mystery Machine moments before.
It’s terrible to see such ticket machine discrimination in the flesh.
There’s been a few chances to see stream trains going about their business in London in the last few weeks, and it always worked out that it happened when I wasn’t there.
This morning I was off to London to finish present shopping and was getting the 11:32 to Liverpool Street. I got to Cambridge Station a bit early (before the train did) so I had some time to mill around. In doing so I noticed that we now have a service that goes to Stratford. I also noticed that everything was in a bit of a disarray. Train platforms kept getting swapped. There was a Stanstead train parked at platform one, which was causing all the King’s Cross trains to be moved about. Hmm what were they tying up platform 1 for?
After a while the Stanstead train cleared off and then there was an announcement that the delayed 11:07 special service to King’s Cross will be arriving at platform 1. Special service eh? Hmm it didn’t take much to work out what was about to happen, so I dig out my camera from my bag and grabbed a spot along the platform.
Off in the distance, I could see a hulk of an engine with a puff of black smoke coming out the top. Yes! Finally a steam train! But drat, it’s now 11:29 – my train leaves in 3 minutes.
It was the Sir Nigel Gresley, which has been busy lately. I got to snap a few shots of the train approaching and the above video of it going by me before having to run to catch my train. I contemplated missing mine for a chance of a better photo, but it would chew up too much of my afternoon. When I got onto my train, I headed for the front carriage so I could at least get a look as we pulled away. I got a few blurry shots…
… to go along with the few I got from the platform: