The Anonymous Widower

Getting To Paddington Station

Over the last couple of weeks, as I’ve been taking my Before Crossrail pictures and going to St. Ives, I’ve been going to Paddington station, rather a lot.

If I haven’t got tickets and I’m going to say Reading or Slough, I always go via Dalston Junction to get the tickets in the machine there, as I get the best price that is otherwise only available with the hassle of queuing up at a Ticket Office.

Transport for London’s recommended route says get to Highbury and Islington station and use the Victoria and Bakerloo lines to get to Paddington. It suggests a time of just over thirty minutes.

But there are some problems with this route, especially if I get a bus to Highbury and Islington.

  • There is as much walking, as going to Dalston Junction.
  • The ticket machines at Highbury and Islington don’t issue tickets from the Zone 6 Boundary, so I have to pay for an unneeded journey from Paddington to West Drayton.
  • In the rush hour or at busy times, this route is horrendous, due to the inadequate Victoria line.
  • Sometimes, buses to the station are hard to find, due to heavy traffic on the Balls Pond Road.

It may be the quickest at times, but it is never the easiest.

I tend to go one of two routes.

  1. I often use the Overground to Whitechapel and then the Hammersmith and City line to Paddington. This route has the advantage that it is air-conditioned all the way, but it takes about a dozen minutes longer, than the recommended route.
  2. If I take a bus to Kings Cross and then take the Hammersmith and City line, this can be around forty minutes.

But if I want to go on a main line train out of Paddington, it puts me at the wrong end of the station, unless I have a booked train.

Today, I’m going to Cardiff on the 13:45 train out of Paddington. As I’m taking my own gluten-free sandwiches and I won’t have to buy a drink, I shall use the Whitechapel route, leaving before 12:30.

Crossrail will change all this in that I’ll still get to Whitechapel in eight minutes and then it’ll be thirteen minutes to Paddington. So it should be under half-an-hour between the two stations and we’ll all probably be delivered to the convenient end of Paddington.

It is interesting to apply my mother’s rule of two minutes a station and five minutes for an interchange to the before and after Crossrail routes via Whitechapel.

Before Crossrail – 35 minutes

After Crossrail – 23 minutes

It’ll be fascinating to see whether the twenty-three minute figure is regularly beaten. Hopefully as the interchange at Whitechapel will be quicker, Paddington station will be much easier and the trains on Crossrail will be very frequent, this will be the case.


October 21, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Before Crossrail – Iver

A Quaint Small Station With Bad Access – Rating 4/10

Iver was the last Crossrail station I visited and I didn’t save the best to last.

iver could become part of the Heathrow Hub in the future, but for Crossrail it will need lifts and updated buildings.

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

An Aerial Look At West Drayton Station

In my visit to West Drayton station, I also noted a railway line going away from the main line towards the North West.

West Drayton Station

West Drayton Station

In this aerial view you can clearly see it branching away at the station, which is marked by the red arrow. It then curves round to go under the Great Western Main Line in a Southerly direction, at the far left of the picture.

This is the Staines and West Drayton Railway and the northern section from West Drayton to Colnbrook is still used by freight trains. Some take fuel to a depot near Heathrow.

It seems to me over the last few years, there have been several proposals to improve the links from places like Reading and the West and Waterloo and South London, some of which pass through this area. But none seem to build on and improve this line.

We know that trains will be able to get from Reading and the West to Heathrow, but all projects to Waterloo and South London like Airtrack, seem to have foundered  until now.

On the other hand, when Crossrail and Thameslink are fully operational in 2019, it looks like the journey time between East Croydon and Heathrow, changing at Farringdon will be around an hour. Currently, it looks like it’s a couple of minutes over an hour and a half, with two changes. Fast times need a trip on the expensive Heathrow Express.

I think that the only certainty is that in the next ten years or so, Heathrow and Crossrail/Thameslink will have a tremendous influence on railways in the vicinity of West London.



October 20, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The Clapham Kiss – Where East Meets West

I took these two pictures, as I went from Shepherds Bush to Dalston Junction stations this afternoon on the London Overground.

Normally, I’d take a northbound train at Shepherds Bush direct to Highbury and Islington or Canonbury, where I would use the footbridge to crossover to get on a train for Dalston Junction. The reason I like to end up in Dalston Junction station, is that there are lots of buses down the Balls Pond Road to my house and they mean, I don’t have to cross any roads.

But at Shepherds Bush, this would have meant waiting nearly ten minutes for a northbound train, so I took the first train to Clapham Junction. A factor that influenced my choice was that to change between the two trains, is just a short walk up the platform.

I spoke to the driver, who was very pleased, as they don’t always meet as precisely as this, although that is what’s intended.

But the whole layout at Clapham Junction shows that a little bit of innovative thinking can often make things better for all concerned.

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Buses In West London

I have taken quite a few buses in West London in recent days.

A Rather Tired West London Bus

A Rather Tired West London Bus

But I can’t help feeling that the quality of some is not what we would put up with in the East.

The single-decker shown seemed rather tired with only an intermittently working information system and it seemed to struggle its way around. Luckily, I knew I wanted to get off at Ealing Hospital, which although it wasn’t announced by the bus, the hospital was obvious, as there wasn’t another large building with numerous ambulances in front.

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Before Crossrail – The Wharncliffe Viaduct

Crossrail is a new railway from Reading in the West to Shenfield in the East.

But not everything is going to be brand new!

For example, the Grade 1 listed, Wharncliffe Viaduct, will be used to take the line over the River Brent, just as it has taken the Great Western Main Line since 1837.

Modifications are probably quite small as the current four lines are already electrified. Two of these will be used by Crossrail.

The viaduct ticks all the boxes on everybody’s lists.

  • It was designed by IK Brunel
  • It is Grade 1 Listed and is part of the submission to get the Great Western Railway declared a World Heritage Site.
  • Pevsner said “Few viaducts have such architectural panache” about this viaduct.
  • It is inhabited by a colony of bats.
  • The electrification of the bridge was carried out in a sympathetic manner.

But above all, it would appear it is up to the job for which it is to be used.

You have to admit, that the Victorians knew how to build with brick!

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

My Crazy Electricity Meter

My electricity meter is baffling me.

These are my dates and readings.

20-Oct – 37108

14-Oct – 37049

18-Sep – 38777

08-Sep – 38843

15-Aug – 38331

16-Jul – 36764

17-Jun – 35353

I can explain all of the figures until September the 8th, when because of the heat in July and August, I was using the air-conditioning a lot.

But the last few readings indicate to me, that something has gone wrong.

I have phoned my supplier; OVO, and they seem to be worried too. After my previous billing experience with nPower, I’m glad I’ve changed.


October 20, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Tales From Artemis Times

When I was writing Artemis, I got to meet some very interesting people.

I remember being in Denver at an Artemis Users Conference at the time of the Falklands War. I was talking over drinks with three Americans; a New York banker, the project manager on the US Harrier and the another from Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

The banker with all the naivete of no experience, said that all the Navy needed in the South Atlantic was a big flat-top and some F14s and they’d be able to blow the Argies away.

Then the Harrier guy said that they were getting the weather reports and it was so bad down there, that the only aircraft you could recover to the carrier was a Harrier. The guy from Long Beach compared everything to the Arctic convoys and said it was doubtful which was worst.

The banker didn’t say anything more on the subject.

Another incident was meeting a recently retired US Army or Marine officer. I’m not sure where this was, but it was somewhere in the States. It might even have been at the same conference. On finding I was English, he said that he’d got a lot of respect for the British Army and told this tale.

The Pentagon had wanted to find out how we handled the situation in Northern Ireland from a soldier’s point-of-view and he had been asked to go to the province to observe the British Army at work. So he turned up in Belfast, as a guest of the British Army and was given a briefing by senior officers and a couple of tours around the city in a Land-Rover.

They then asked him, if he’d like to go out on a patrol.

He said he would like to go, so early the next morning he was taken to a barracks and introduced to his patrol. He said that as a white US officer, he was surprised that the patrol would be led by a black corporal. At the time in the US Army, such a patrol would always be led by an officer or at least a sergeant.

They kitted him up, so he looked like the average squaddie and off they went. He didn’t really describe the patrol, except to say that he was impressed by the professionalism and that nothing untoward or unexpected happened.

On returning to barracks and after a good lunch with his patrol, he was taken to a debriefing. There he was shown a film taken by the SAS, who had had a sniper on the roof-tops with a film camera.

He realised that the US forces had a long way to go, if they were to handle urban situations like Northern Ireland.

October 20, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Is Crossrail Going To Be The Shopping Line?

Crossrail seems to be a rail line that connects most of London’s Main shopping centres together. Starting from the East at Shenfield and going West, you get Romford, Ilford, Stratford/Eastfield, Moorgate, Oxford Street, Bond Street, Ealing, Slough and Reading.

You probably have to include Woolwich and Canary Wharf on the Abbey Wood branch, although Canary Wharf could be described as an important station in the basement of a shopping centre.

Even Westfield at Shepherds Bush is just a detour away from Crossrail on the Central line.

So will one of the slogans for the new line be something like.

Going shopping? Then go Crossrail!

I searched for “Shopping Crossrail and found this article in Retail Week. This is an extract.

As John Platt, managing consultant at location analyst CACI explains: “Currently no major high speed rail routes offer direct access to the heart of central London’s retail offer from the suburbs. All the major stations are on the edge of central London’s retail, meaning shoppers travelling from outside central London have to make a second trip on some form of transport.

“With stations at Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street this will not be the case with Crossrail.

So the article is optimistic that Crossrail will increase business in the retail sector.

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Before Crossrail – Issues On The Reading Branch

The issues on the Western branch to Reading are broadly similar to those on the Shenfield Metro.

1. Disabled And Step Free Access

There are some good stations like Reading and Slough and some terrible ones like Hanwell.

One advantage in the West is that a lot of stations have plenty of space and are not cramped like say Manor Park.

2. Train Access

The platforms in the West are probably worse matches to the trains than those in the East.

But like the East, they seem to fairly straight.

3. Long Distance Trains

The Western branch has the same problem as the Shenfield Metro in that how does it interface in the best manner with the long distance trains.

But it does have the opportunity of connecting Heathrow to Wales and the West through Reading.

4. Buses And Onward Travel

These are probably worse than the East and might be more difficult to saolve as you’re often not talking to London or its boroughs.

I have a feeling that Transport for London may get all of the stations to use London’s very much proven system.

5. Freight

As in the East, there appeared to be a lot of freight on the line.

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment


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