I flew to Geneva from Gatwick on easyJet on an early afternoon flight, as that way, I got to have a good lunch in Jamie’s Italian in the North Terminal. I always prefer to arrive in a strange place well fed, as I can’t be sure of the food I can get there.
To get to Gatwick, I generally go using the Overground to Clapham Junction and then get one of the many trains to the airport, from there.
Together with quite a few other passengers, I piled into one of Southern’s Class 377 trains. I’ve written about these trains before, and Second Class is so good, I never bother with First. At £6.85 from Clapham Junction to Gatwick, it’s definitely good value, especially as they are well-tabled trains.
But we all piled into a First Class section of the train!
Before the first stop at East Croydon, this was discovered by the ticket collector, who very politely asked us to move on, or buy a simple upgrade. A few jokes were exchanged and I think we all moved, although one guy did buy the upgrade.
I never saw the ticket collector again.
I do wonder though, whether with these trains, the comfort in Second Class is not perceptibly below that in First. The only difference is you have a big table in First and a few signs.
The inspector had handled the situation impeccably and he had warned us about revenue protection officers, who aren’t so pleasant.
I suspect that the whole incident, got Southern a few more returning customers.
I just bought a ticket on Southern Railway. As ever, I will pick up the ticket from an automatic machine, before I travel.
I noticed that it said on the site that the method I chose was the preferred one for UK and Overseas customers.
If this is true and I’ve no reason to doubt it isn’t, then say an Australian booking a ticket in the UK, should do the following.
1. Ascertain the train company, who handle the route he wants to travel. The National Rail Enquiries web site, tells you this, when you check train times.
2. Go to that company’s web site and book your ticket, paying for it with a debit/credit card. Note that the actual company seems to always give the best price and often, you’ll find a special deal. Using an intermediate company is inevitably more expensive and they all seem to be generators of unwanted e-mails to your Inbox.
3. When booking, elect to pick up the ticket, any time before you start your journey. you need to chose a station, but it’s not important as tickets can be picked up at any station with a machine.
4. Make certain, you note the 8-character booking reference, the card you used and the journey you booked.
5. As you can pick up the tickets two hours after booking, probably by the time you arrive in the UK, that limit will have expired, so perhaps it’s a good idea to go and get all your tickets at a quiet time soon after arriving. Even if the company you specifically want doesn’t accept foreign credit cards, it certainly looks that some do.
The replacement trains for the sub-surface lines of London Underground, show a lot of clever thinking to deliver effectively two different but identical trains.
For the Metropolitan line, an eight car train is needed, with a generous proportion of seats, as the line goes a long way into Metroland.
For the Hammersmith and City, District and Circle lines, a seven car train is needed, with longitudinal seating.
Bombardier came up with the S Class train, which satisfies both these requirements. It is a unique design for the Underground, in that it is through-gangway train, where you can walk from end-to-end.
The replacement trains for the rest of the Underground, will probably borrow heavily on this design.
I travel on these trains about once a week or so and feel they are a great improvement on the previous trains. I first used them, during the Olympics to get back from Wembley Stadium, where they were able to move 1,500 or so people a time away from the stadium, in an air-conditioned train. The A Class trains they replaced had more seats, but a smaller capacity and a ventilation system from the 1960s.
The London Overground is overcrowded, which is more due to the fact that it has attracted more passengers than was predicted.
But within a year or so, things will be better, as Transport for London, has just bought 57 new carriages to lengthen the trains by 25 %. The story is reported here on the BBC. This is the second time, that some of these Class 378 trains have been lengthened.
All it needs now is some more carriages for the Gospel Oak To Barking Line.
It is worth looking at the economics of the lengthening trains by inserting carriages. the fifty-seven carriages are costing £88 million, so that works out at £1.54 million per carriage, one of which is inserted in each train.
There must be a few advantages in terms of certification, training, maintenance and other issues, in lengthening trains, rather than moving the old stock elsewhere and bringing in new trains.
So could other trains benefit in the same way?
In fact, quite quite a few projects are on the go, to shuffle carriages and make longer trains.
So don’t be surprised if your train actually is a few years older than it looks!
Coming home, I didn’t go via Clapham Junction station, as the quickest train from Redhill went via New Cross Gate station, where I changed to the Overground.
It is not far to walk, but it is not step free and I had to walk up one tricky staircase and down another. So this would not be a route from Dalston Junction to Gatwick with a heavy case.
incidentally, I saw at least seven or eight passengers get off the train at Dorking West station.
The station was generally clean and tidy, although it is very short on facilities, with it would seem nothing convenient to the station, except for the scrapyard. Apparently, a few years ago, the latter caught fire and disrupted the trains, according to someone in Information at Redhill. I’ve since found this report on the BBC.
The Class 166 trains were in good condition too!
It was in some ways an interesting trip, to one of the least used parts of the rail network in the South East England.
Various things have been proposed to generate traffic from electrification, to use as a route from the Channel Tunnel to Reading for freight, but it is unlikely that much will be done.
A few years ago, travelling south of the Big Sewer, usually meant a ride in some rickety old electrical multiple unit, that had seen better days.
Now though, I seem to usually get an immaculate Class 377.
It wasn’t very busy and I had a coach to myself.
One of my gripes with Clapham Junction station, is that if you arrive on the Overground like I do, you have to exit the barriers to either purchase or pick up a ticket for your onward journey.
I did think it was probably that the obvious place for a machine, the refurbished pedestrian bridge, didn’t have proper network connections!
But it’s got these two cashpoints, so that can’t be the reason!
As it was today, I was changing for Redhill and missed my train by a minute or so, because I was delayed by having to walk a long way to get the ticket.
This surely must be one of the daftest names for a railway engine.
I’m sure Colchester Power Signalbox is a worthy signal box, but to name an engine after it, is akin to calling one of your children something like BMW 5-Series.