Yesterday was a day, when Crossrail would have been more than handy.
I went to Exeter to see an old friend and his wife and had booked myself out of Paddington on the 09:07 train.
From Hackney, getting to Paddington is not easy and I usually take the Metropolitan line to the western end of the station and walk in to the trains from the bridge. Since the new Underground station has been built, this is the easiest way to get a train for Wales and West.
Paddington station for me also presents a gluten-free breakfast problem, in that there is nowhere I would trust in the station. So I took a bus to Kings Cross station, where there is both Leon and Carluccio’s, who both do excellent gluten-free breakfasts. Yesterday, it was Leon’s turn and I left myself thirty seven minutes to get to Paddington, after finishing my egg, chorizo and beans.
But that was my downfall, as there was signalling problems on the Metropolitan line and the trains were very infrequent and crammed solid.
So I tried a taxi and the queue was hundreds long and there wasn’t a taxi in sight.
In the end I found a bus to take me up to Euston Square station, where after a wait, I got on a train to Paddington.
But I missed the train by about five minutes.
Normally, the journey takes ten minutes from Kings Cross to Paddington, but it had taken me forty-five. The Metropolitan line, which is normally one of the most reliable had let me down.
It’s on journeys like this, that Crossrail will really benefit people like me, who live in the eastern part of the capital.
I should have a choice of buses to various Crossrail stations, or I could even take the Overground to Whitechapel from Dalston Junction station, just up the road from my house.
Crossrail is going to change the east of London dramatically and not just the places, which have a station on the line.
When I came back from Reading into Paddington station yesterday, I walked to the back of the Inter City 125 train and took the bridge to the Metropolitan line station. Before catching my train to get home, I ventured outside to look at the new entrance, which has just opened.
As you can see the entrance is by the canal and the Paddington Basin. It’s obviously not finished yet and won’t be until Crossrail opens in a few years.
It is an area, that is crying out for a decent cafe, restaurant or bar.
I took this picture on the pedestrian bridge over Paddington station.
It’s amazing what you can do with flexible rubber hose and a couple of jubilee clips! But then you’ve got to make sure the rain from the roof, goes down the drain and not where people walk.
This is an example of the sort of design I like! It’s clever, stylish, practical and above all affordable!
The Metropolitan station at Paddington is emerging from the extensive building works at Paddington station.
Note that there is still quite a lot to do, like installing the lifts.
Paddington station now has a new taxi rank.
It must be one of the best ones in the UK.
It certainly means that if you’re coming into Central London from the west and need a taxi, it’s a good station to pick one up.
Note how the taxi rank is properly numbered, so you can arrange to meet on a particular number!
For those of you, who know Kings Cross station, they started running to the station at the end of the 1970s, which is just about the time, that the disgusting dark green extension was erected.
The irony is that they’ll actually outlive the extension, by several years.
So good old British Rail did get some things right. But not stations! Where should Network Rail’s refurbishment experts strike next in London? After all, they’ve now done or have nearly finished St. Pancras, Stratford, Clapham Junction, Blackfriars, Kings Cross and Paddington. I think London Bridge and Waterloo are being planned. But what about the others!
Vote now and vote often.
The trains out of Paddington are some of the most overcrowded in the UK. So First Great Western are doing the sensible thing and adding an extra coach to their High Speed Diesel Trains. Currently, their trains have a two power car plus eight coach formation, whereas those on the East Coast are two plus nine.
So they have found a source of redundant buffet cars and these are being re-manufactured and fitted with seats, as reported here on the BBC.
Some reports are a bit sniffy about this approach and have called it rather stopgap.
But I would say it is a tribute to the design of the High Speed Diesel Train, that has always been capable of sandwiching any number of coaches up to nine between the two diesel power cars.
What puzzles me, is why wasn’t this simple idea, carried out sooner. But then those in the Department for Transport didn’t want anything to get in their way of their trips to Japan to clear the way for Hitachi.
Long after those civil servants have retired, High Speed Diesel Trains and their Mk III coaches will still be running.
This is not the best of pictures.
But it does just show the two tunnel boring machines or TBMs for CrossRail at Westbourne Park before they move forward to start their journey to Farringdon.
I think a better picture could be taken from a main line train out of Paddington.
I was told that when the basin was drained to create the new developments, the police had a sweepstake on how many bodies, shopping trolleys etc. they would find. I was told they were rather surprised, but obviously pleased that none of the former were found.