Thursday 2 May 2024

London Bus Route 24 - the full journey

It's been quite a while since I have done a full journey. Part of me always wondered where Pimlico actually was, so on Sunday 1st of October 2023, I decided to take a full journey on the London Bus Route 24. 

The route runs from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico via Camden Town, Mornington Crescent, Warren Street, Goodge Street, Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Westminster, St James Park and Victoria. As far as records can trace, since 1934 the route has pretty much stayed the same with no adjustments or changes being made. It is the oldest unchanged route in London. The frequency is every 10 minutes, increasing to 12 minutes during the evening. Additionally, it runs 24 hours a day.

In terms of operator history it's been back and forth. Since introduction it was operated by Arriva London, transferring to Metroline in 2002, then to Go Ahead London in 2007, returning to Metroline again in 2012 before going to Abellio London in 2019. Upon it's return to Metroline in 2012, it was allocated New Routemasters (the irony is that they are not even that new anymore) being the first London bus route (of many) to convert. The route operates at Battersea (QB) garage so I imagine it isn't too far to get to Pimlico. 

Two New Routemasters stand at the Hampstead Heath terminus in South End Green awaiting their journeys on route 24 towards Pimlico.
Photo taken by Maggie Jones
Photo taken during: April 2016.

The route begins at South End Green in Hampstead Heath, close to the Royal Free Hospital. Hampstead is not the largest of areas but does have housing which is quite expensive. There are 6 bus routes in the Hampstead area, one being a night bus and 4 running during the day (apart from route 24 of course as that runs day and night). Hampstead Heath also is close by and if you have time and want to wander around, then it's definitely worth exploring - it's a large park and contains a number of ponds. I haven't been inside it myself but I saw alot of people walking towards there. Certainly a peaceful area for sure, alongside the cafes, restaurants and off licence stores nearby.  

I arrived at the bus stop at around 3:00pm in the afternoon, with the bus coming around from the stand (which was a tight turn) to let us onboard. I took my seat upstairs and we were on the move. Departing away, we took a left hand turn onto the one way Agincourt Road, leading us to the outskirts of Gospel Oak. On the right hand side a school and a church made an appearance as we twisted left and right before it became straight again. So far, the route had felt residential aside from the occasional off licence stores appearing now and then, although there was an interesting mix of buildings. The 46 bus route has followed us since we began at Hampstead Heath, after the stop Prince of Wales Road at the junction it heads it's own way while we remain on Ferdinand Street. The housing section was over (for now at least) turning left at the junction onto Chalk Farm Road. 

The next area of interest is Camden Town, Camden Market made an appearance on the right while the day to day shops is on the left, notably this area can get particularly busy on weekends (due to Camden Market) around this area and it certainly was the case when I travelled today being Sunday. Taking a left hand turn, avoiding the main touristy bit onto another one way road. I would say this bit is the more quieter end of Camden Town, mainly being housing and a couple of railway bridges. After the Camden Gardens bus stop, the road turns into four lanes and we take the furthest one towards the right. Now on Camden Road, a Sainsburys store made an appearance while stopping at Camden Town station, served by London Underground Northern Line. The station gets really busy and this is where the bus started, to fill up a bit with tourists and local passengers. We twisted left heading towards Mornington Crescent, along with more housing looking largely identical to each other. At the end of this road, we went right with the sign ahead directing us towards Central London and Euston. The left hand turn followed at the second junction heading away from Camden. Mornington Crescent seemed bit more quieter than the bustling Camden though it still contained a decent amount of shops and restaurants. We navigated through Harrington Square Gardens (essentially a one way road) which was in the middle, the next bit containing many buildings and construction work for HS2 (High Speed 2 - a railway project). 

Onboard route 24, on approach to Tottenham Court Road.

Entering into Central London, Warren Street station (served by the Northern and Victoria lines) appears after crossing the busy Euston Road junction, this is where it starts to get touristy. Now we are on Tottenham Court Road (the name of the road not the area yet), and pretty much a mixture of shops, restaurants and eateries. Further down is Goodge Street station (served by the Northern Line) passing through an array of traffic lights that so close to each other. Approaching another station, Tottenham Court Road (served by Central, Northern and Elizabeth lines). Since the Elizabeth Line now passes through here it has become a very busy station, right on the heart of Oxford Street. Venturing south on Charing Cross Road, Leicester Square is our next point of interest the bus I was riding still full with passengers. The station is served by the Piccadilly line. You will get the usual horde of tourists between here and Westminster, notably demonstrations take place. Trafalgar Square is a very famous tourist area that people love to visit and there seemed to be an event going on with food stalls and music to entertain the crowd. You can also alight here for Charing Cross station (Bakerloo and Northern Lines), and for Southeastern services at London Charing Cross heading towards Kent. Continuing onwards to Whitehall for Horse Guards Parade, before reaching Westminster and Parliament Square not long after. Navigating through Parliament Square, the bus decided to go past Westminster Abbey and St James Park, the office buildings and shops making an appearance. 

Victoria. One of the last busy areas we pass through in Central London. Passing Westminster Cathedral, the bus stop for Victoria station (Circle, District and Victoria Lines), is immediately twisting left, opposite the Apollo Theatre. Heading to the main London Victoria station, served by Southern and Southeastern, you can get train services towards South London, or even further towards Kent and Sussex. The bus emptied out here which was a relief, as I pretty much had to endure a packed bus since Camden Town! A few twists and turns led us to Wilton Road, essentially a backstreet section of Victoria. A Sainsburys shop had appeared to the right of me, one those shops that I pretty much went to a few times in the past. The scenery began to change again with an eventual left turn, passing through more housing, it felt quite posh though this time. Pimlico. Passed through St George's Square, where you can alight for Pimlico station (served by Victoria line). Getting close now but at the next set of traffic lights we turned right, this road featuring  a mixture of housing, a few shops and parked cars on both sides of the road. This route seems to like twisting and turning, as a left hander followed at the next traffic lights, though I could see the railway bridge and Battersea Power Station across the River Thames. The lights went green, we made the final left hand turn onto Grosvenor Road, the terminus of the route arriving at 4:15pm. 

Battersea Power Station seen across the River Thames.

Was quite the journey to make but happy to have done the route, I would say it's perfect if you like touristy routes, as this route covers the main ones. It took me around 75 minutes to do end to end, so not too bad considering the length is 7 miles in total. This route was actually proposed in recent times to be withdrawn by Transport For London (TFL) as part of their consultations they do. It managed to avoid being axed so it survives... for now.

Battersea Power Station seen in the distance.

Grosvenor Road, at the first bus stop for route 24 heading towards Hampstead Heath.

If you want to kill time, then yes I recommend the route - preferably during the quieter times of day such as early morning.

Thanks for reading and happy riding!

Friday 1 December 2023

The Elizabeth Line Experience

Hello! Hope you are doing okay. Last year one of the biggest rail projects that has been heavily delayed, was finally opened to the public on Tuesday 24th of May 2022. The Elizabeth Line. Crossrail. Whatever you want to refer to it as. It's original date was supposed to be in 2018, but there were so many complications that arose as the project progressed through. Anyways, regardless, in this blog post I will be discussing my ride with the Elizabeth Line on two separate days and how it has been going since then. 

A TFL Rail Class 345 is seen at Goodmayes station on a service towards Gidea Park. This photo was taken a couple of days before the rebranding to "Elizabeth Line".

The opening day on the 24th of May 2022 was quite something. People all around the world had come to witness the brand new railway being opened, even going as far as camping nearby or staying in a hotel that they booked to catch the first train out of London Paddington. I am sure on that day it must have been fun, although I was unable to make the trip on that route. It's also worth noting that this was part of Phase 1 of the line opening in stages. 

Phase 1 - Tuesday 24th of May 2022:

The section between Abbey Wood and Paddington opens to the public, with the East and West sections of the route being rebranded from TFL Rail to Elizabeth Line.

- London Paddington to Abbey Wood (Central section)
- London Paddington to Heathrow Airport Terminals 4 and 5/Reading (West section)
- London Liverpool Street to Shenfield (East section)

At the time of operation the line was not fully connected, so to access the West sections (i.e. towards Heathrow Airport and Reading) passengers at Paddington had to go platforms 11, 12 and 14. Similarly for Liverpool Street, passengers needed to change over to platforms 16, 17 and 18 to continue their onward journey towards; Stratford, Romford and Shenfield. The central section was also not operational on Sundays as a result of engineering works, to ensure everything was running okay and to iron out any issues. Another thing, is that Bond Street station did not open in time with the other stations, but the station itself fell behind schedule meaning - it needed more time to be fully complete. So yes, as much as it was a grand opening it felt like one part of a jigsaw puzzle that is missing. 

The Elizabeth Line map showing Phase 1 of the Elizabeth Line, with the stations at Liverpool Street and Paddington showing where passengers had to change platforms to continue their journey. 

This information was also displayed on the maps, upon rebranding of the route.

Phase 2 - Sunday 6th of November 2022:

The East and West sections are connected to the central section of the Elizabeth Line, with the route now running seven days a week. 

- Heathrow Airport Terminal 4/Terminal 5 to Abbey Wood (the West route now goes via the central section)
- London Paddington to Shenfield (the East route now goes via the central section)

It had been a couple of months since the Elizabeth Line opened, though soon another section of the route become operational. The West and East sections had become connected up to the core section, which was good news for me as I needed to go somewhere on the day. Here's how it went.

It was a cold and rainy Sunday morning, as I walked into Chadwell Heath station while I waited for the train. Roughly around 10:15am the train arrived onto the platform with the destination boards displaying "Paddington", this did slightly baffle me a bit as I was used to seeing "London Liverpool Street" but then I realised what happened - the second phase of the Elizabeth Line had arrived and coincidentally being the first day I hopped onboard. 

The interior of the Class 345s taken during the evening rush hour, a few days after phase 2 become operational. The train has largely longitudinal seating, though transverse seats are also present on some some carriages seen above in the other carriage.

To give you a bit of context, the train that I boarded was the Class 345 Aventra built by Bombardier Transportation. 70 of these trains were built between 2017 and 2019, with the first train entering service in June 2017 under the TFL Rail brand. I have already covered a blog post on this already and contains a bit of background on TFL Rail itself. Click here for more information on that. Upon introduction, the trains were 7 carriages, as of now all trains on the route are 9 carriages and over 200m long. They are fully air conditioned (a plus on the previous passenger train stock that was lacking), equipped with free Wifi and has a mix of longitudinal seating (the front and rear being fully this type) while near the middle of the train there are some transverse seats, as this line goes outside of Greater London boundary. 

Departing Chadwell Heath (at 10:20am) through the miserable weather, we made our way towards Central London. Of course since these trains were introduced, I had been quite familiar with the seating layout and luckily I managed to bag a two by two seat facing the window, just to let you know, these seats are popular and tend to get taken up quickly. So if those seats are empty when you board the train - go for it. There are no toilets or USB charging sockets onboard, the latter being something that new trains nowadays tend to come equipped with but, given the intense services these trains have to go through, you have to question whether it's worth it or not. The announcements are pretty much straight to the point, albeit it does sound robotic, that said I am sure passengers wouldn't want to be listening to bombarded next station information! Some of the stations that we stopped at on route (Seven Kings, Manor Park, Forest Gate and Maryland) could not accommodate the full 9-car, due to where they are situated thus, the doors on that carriage didn't open. Despite all the platforms being extended on the route but hey ho...

By the time we got to Stratford, the loads started to pick up a little bit - maybe not too much due to the weather. Usually at Stratford station I would have gotten off and changed over to the other platform to get a Central Line train. Not anymore. Not on this journey, as after a couple of minutes waiting (presumably we arrived early) we departed away and a view of the Olympic Park became visible. Turning off the Great Eastern Main Line, could only mean one thing.... underground!!! That's right, we entered a tunnel and now running underground for the remainder of the journey into Central London, taking about roughly 6 to 7 minutes to reach Whitechapel. Our next stops were; Whitechapel, Liverpool Street, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road. I needed to change at Tottenham Court Road (arrival into the station at around 10:51am) for an onward connection elsewhere but wow... those platforms are certainly spacious! No kidding, each of the stations here felt futuristic. I enjoyed travelling onboard this journey, particularly through the core. 

The platforms westbound at Tottenham Court Road - very large indeed!

Information displayed at Tottenham Court Road informing passengers where to exit the station at.

Information showing how long it would take to get from one station to another. Also includes timetable information - considering the date at the time I took this photograph, the timetable most likely would have been updated.

The second part of my Elizabeth Line journey occurred on Sunday 15th of January 2023. At Tottenham Court Road, I decided to instead of going home, have a look at Paddington station and explore another section of the route. So I took a short journey from Tottenham Court Road to Paddington calling only at Bond Street along the way and arrived at London Paddington. Very spacious when I arrived, even had designed "clouds" on the rooftop to make you think it's actually shining outside. Well, guess what, you're wrong! I spent 10 minutes exploring the station before boarding another Elizabeth Line service.

I made my way down to the Elizabeth Line platforms after taking in views of the station at London Paddington. The next service towards Abbey Wood came by and was notably busy, as it served stations from the West section of the route (i.e. from Heathrow and Reading). Departing Paddington, after serving a couple of stations in Central London, we made our way towards Whitechapel and this is where the line splits in two sections after leaving the station. Diverging onto the Abbey Wood branch, we headed to Canary Wharf, staying underground until emerging from the tunnel to serve Custom House station. Going through two tunnels, (the second tunnel of which goes under the River Thames) Woolwich station followed, another underground station and the penultimate stop for this service. Couple of minutes later, the daylight appeared once again rising out of the tunnel, with the terminus of Abbey Wood station following briefly. The whole journey took around 30 minutes, felt insanely quick!  

The station entrance at Abbey Wood station.

The station entrance is situated on a bridge, with around 7 main TFL routes (as well as one night route) serving the station, some of which have had their routes altered, or have been newly introduced to serve the Elizabeth Line. You might immediately think that with the greenery and housing development around that you're outside of London. Yes, although there a couple of shops including a big Sainsburys if you exit and head towards the left. My explore here was brief, though I am sure for passengers that regularly use this station, are happy that they have a quicker alternative to Central London and beyond, seeing as the two other train operators (Southeastern and Thameslink) are under National Rail and goes to London Bridge, which must be a tedious journey just to interchange onto other lines. Nonetheless, they do have services that head towards Kent, so, definitely handy. The station is Zone 4 believe it or not.

A Elizabeth Line Class 345 is seen at Abbey Wood station about to start a service towards Heathrow Terminal 5.

It was certainly an interesting journey, however, I needed to catch to the next service out of Abbey Wood and given how long they take on Sundays compared to weekdays, I wasn't going to take the risk of getting a later service. Conveniently, there was a Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 bound train on the platform (seen above) thankfully as I had time, the departure wouldn't be for another 10 minutes meaning I managed to grab a seat (thank god, the standing was killing me on this day) and board another Elizabeth line service home at Whitechapel. Sadly, the lack of time meant I could not explore the Heathrow and Reading branches and even if I did go up to Reading (which is outside the Greater London boundary) my oyster card would not have been valid, though that adventure is for another day. 

Recently, Phase 3 began on Sunday 21st May 2023, enabling trains on the Eastern section to go from Paddington to Heathrow direct. Yes, direct. This means that the whole route is fully connected from east to west, a year later after opening. Here's how the services look now;

Phase 3 - Sunday 21st May 2023

The departure board inside the shelter at Goodmayes station, on the first day of Elizabeth Line services extending further to Heathrow.

The full route runs in seamless network with more trains running towards Heathrow Airport. Shenfield services from Paddington are extended to Heathrow.

- Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 to Abbey Wood
- Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 to Shenfield
- Maidenhead to Abbey Wood
- Reading to Abbey Wood
- London Paddington to Shenfield

Note: Some services may during the peak time, or early/late evening services go to London Paddington and London Liverpool Street. Additionally, some services may terminate at shorter destinations along the route. This is so that there are many trains running through the core section and to spread out the number of trains at the terminus. 

A Elizabeth Line Class 345 is seen approaching Goodmayes station on a service towards Heathrow Terminal 5.
Taken during: July 2023

Notably, on the more recent trips I tend to see that the Heathrow bound trains are more busier than the Paddington services, obviously since the train goes to Heathrow + passengers with suitcases boarding, it equals a recipe for a very busy journey - I imagine those passengers are slightly annoyed that they have to hold their suitcase with them, the Class 345s lacking a suitcase rack to store their belongings. Overall, the Elizabeth Line has completely transformed travel around London, in a good way, as getting to stations are quicker and require less interchanging which is a bonus. The stations served on the line is flourishing, to be expected. The trains, despite breaking down from time to time are nicely air conditioned and have a maximum operating speed of 90mph, with the acceleration being rapid departing from stations. Admittedly, the service as of late has been hit and miss, while the East section has been operating okay, the Abbey Wood and West sections, alright, considering it runs over an existing section of track west of Paddington, I accept, having said that, the Abbey Wood branch is the new bit and given that if a delay happens over there it causes alot of trouble for trains heading in other directions - especially signal failures. Those are the worst. The whole line just goes into meltdown mode. Otherwise, if you can overlook those minor things, the line is brilliant.     

What's next?

As for the Elizabeth Line the main project is complete, however, of course there will be extensions and proposals as such that eventually may come into place in the future. Generally, trains come every 7 minutes, note this may vary depending on what section of the line you are on. If you want more information on the timetable and about the line, click here as it provides the necessary information in regards to that. Alternatively, speak to member of station staff if any assistance is required or grab an Elizabeth Line leaflet at stations.

As I type this post, the trains currently serving the route are being equipped (one by one) with USB charging sockets - eventually the whole fleet will get them but at the moment its very early stages.

What else can I say? If this post does not encourage you to ride on the Elizabeth Line then I don't know what will, just try it out!

And with that, I know it has been a long one (as always), thank you for reading and happy riding on the Elizabeth Line!

Sunday 5 November 2023

TFL Rail: a review

After years of delays and setbacks, the Elizabeth Line is now in full operation. This blog post will discuss my experience of using TFL Rail before it's rebranding to the Elizabeth Line in May 2022.

The TFL Rail Logo, under the old operator seen on a Class 315.

TFL Rail

A TFL Rail Class 315 is seen at Goodmayes station on a service towards Shenfield.
Taken during: April 2021

After many years (even before the 2000s) of many proposals being submitted and rejected, in 2007, construction for the Crossrail Project had begun. While the construction was in progress, TFL Rail began operation in 2015, taking over the eastern section of the Liverpool Street to Shenfield route - previously operated by Abellio Greater Anglia. The existing Class 315s previously with Greater Anglia stayed with the route, the trains being refurbished internally and externally for the TFL Rail brand.  

The Bombardier Class 345 Aventra made it's debut on the route in June 2017. TFL Rail took over the following sections on the western part of the route between 2018 and 2019;

London Paddington to Hayes and Harlington (May 2018)

previously run by Great Western Railway.

London Paddington to Heathrow Terminal 4 (May 2018)

previously run by Heathrow Connect.

London Paddington to Reading (December 2019)

previously run by Great Western Railway.

A TFL Rail Class 345 is seen at Goodmayes station on a service towards Gidea Park.
Taken during: June 2018

Class 345s were also introduced onto the routes above upon takeover however, there were issues with the signalling in the Heathrow section as it was outdated for the Class 345s to pass through at the time, so the Class 360s were retained for use along this section. They could only last so long though, as the Class 345s began operation on the Heathrow service in July 2020 - the Class 360s were taken out of service by September 2020. 

A TFL Rail Class 360 is seen approaching West Ealing station on service towards London Paddington.
These trains previously worked the Heathrow Connect service between; Paddington and Heathrow Airport.
Photo taken by: R~P~M

By now, both sections of the TFL Rail routes were largely allocated Class 345s, apart from the Class 315s which still managed to hang on. It's now 2021 and at last something related to the Crossrail project was mentioned, with the first half of the project scheduled to open in the "first half of 2022". All of the stations that were being served by the Elizabeth Line on the Great Western Main Line and Great Eastern Main Line, had to receive major refurbishment, at first the progress was quite slow, however as time went on purple roundels were placed and platforms at stations were extended in order to accommodate the Class 345 trains which entered into service as 7-cars, though later being expanded to 9-cars. 

The platforms at Goodmayes was one of many stations on the route to be expanded, as part the Crossrail Project. 

The destination boards on display at Goodmayes. 

Poster at Stratford station mentioning about Class 345s being upgraded from 7 to 9 carriages, along with information mentioning about the short platforms at certain stations.

TFL Rail was then rebranded to the Elizabeth Line on the Tuesday 24th of May 2022, after 7 years of operation. The operation over the past 7 years, to be honest, well.... the service had it's ups and downs but when I travelled with the operator on most days it has been fine, of course though I did have some bad days where the line was completely messed up. Has it improved under the Elizabeth Line? I guess you have to stick around and find out in the next blog post.

Thanks for reading and happy riding!

Tuesday 3 October 2023

A trip to Lewisham

On Sunday 4th of June 2023, I went on a trip towards Lewisham which was actually unplanned but, I went with it anyways. I would also like to apologise for the lack of images on this trip as it was last minute. 

It was a sunny day and I was in Central London after having some lunch. I headed over to Oxford Circus station; obviously a very busy station, as it's on the heart of Regent Street and Oxford Street for shoppers to go towards their shopping spree. Literally a shoppers paradise, if you are a fan of that. 

Central Line 1992 Tube Stock train at Bank Station on the Eastbound platform.
Photo taken by Brett Jordan

As I descended down into the platform, I waited for a Central Line train on the eastbound platform. It had been a while since I used it, since the Elizabeth Line now runs throughout Central London but certainly copes a bit better - pretty much had to stand all the way though, at least during this section, I went only a couple of stops. I alighted at Bank, which (as you can see above) has quite a gap between the train and the platform as the Central Line platforms are on quite a curve. Over the past year, the Northern Line southbound platforms at Bank station has received a bit of an upgrade, with the platforms being more wider as before it felt narrow. 

This photo was taken way before this trip and on a totally different branch of the DLR route, although this was the type of DLR train I rode on my journeys during this trip. 

Next, I had to walk to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) platforms which took about roughly five minutes. The Docklands Light Railway is a line (classed as light metro) that has been operation since 31st of August 1987. As of today, the line is very popular and has seen a number of extensions; Woolwich Arsenal and Lewisham to the south, Stratford and Beckton to the east. The aim of the route is to serve the redeveloped Docklands area (well, it's in the name I suppose) which at the time wanted a direct connection towards the City of London. The trains are fully automated (meaning it can drive by itself) however, there is a guard onboard who operates the doors and deals with passenger assistance should they require so. 

I did briefly miss the Lewisham service as I arrived to the platform, regardless the next one was only two minutes behind so not all was bad. On this trip a fair amount of passengers boarded as we departed away from Bank. At first we were underground briefly but emerged into the outside world. The c2c route was running alongside on the left hand side, having come from London Fenchurch Street which is not too far away from each other. After stopping at Limehouse and Westferry, we took a very sharp right hand curve into Canary Wharf - the heart of the Docklands. Towers, buildings and offices appear  all around you. A few more stops are served before going underneath the River Thames, then emerging into South East London. The rest of ride onwards into Lewisham was pretty much views of the suburbs.

Arriving into Lewisham, which was an area that I visited alot many, many years ago. My last visit was 2017 and since then, well, apart from the new housing in development and the road layout - I can't really tell what has changed as I don't go here often. If I did then I would have a bit more of a fairer judgement to give. Anyways, once I finished what I had done in Lewisham I boarded the DLR back to Canary Wharf and changed for another DLR service towards Stratford (since the one I got previously was heading to Bank.) At Stratford I took the Elizabeth Line home, was fairly quiet at Stratford given it was the late evening so made a change. 

That's pretty much the whole trip. 

Thank you for reading and happy riding!

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Station Reviews: Fairlop

In this blog post, we are going to review one of the stations on the London Underground - Fairlop Station. 

Station information:

Station name: Fairlop

Located in: Fairlop, London

Borough: London Borough of Redbridge

Fare Zone: Zone 4

Fairlop station is in Zone 4 of the tube map and is fairly quiet during the day, though I imagine it can get a bit busy during rush hour. It is served solely by the Central Line on the Hainault Loop. I have passed through this station quite a few times and to be honest, there is not anything worth noting in terms of facilities. If you are willing to walk a bit though, there is Fairlop Waters and does occasionally see funfair attractions, during the Half term, Easter and Summer holidays.   

The station opened on the 1st of May 1903 by Great Eastern Railway. It closed on the 29th of November 1947, before reopening again for Central Line services on the 31st of May 1948. The station entrance inside is pretty small, being next to the car park and to access the platforms is through the stairs only, there are no lifts at the station. It's one stop away from Hainault which is the terminus of the route, (and you can actually see a glimpse of the platform in the distance facing to the north) though some Central Line services terminate at Newbury Park occasionally. The longest I have waited at the station is around 15 minutes but, generally the frequencies are around 10 minutes or under - pretty much as standard for majority of the London Underground stations. 

You have one local London Buses route (Route 462) that serves the station, but that runs at an infrequent frequency (around every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday, 30 minutes in the evening and on Sundays) with the bus stops not being too far apart from each other. Aside from that not much else to report, it's a decently quiet station and I haven't had any issues using it. 

Route 462 is the only London bus route that serves Fairlop Station. 

So, yeah. You won't find much to do here in Fairlop but if you happen to pass by, there are frequent Central Line services. It's also not too far away to walk to Fullwell Cross, if you want to go to the shops or require taking a bus further out. 

Thank you for reading and happy riding!

Tuesday 1 August 2023

The Scottish Adventure (part 3)

Welcome back to part 3 of the Scottish Adventure, this is the last part of the 3 day trip in Scotland. 

Day 3 - Saturday 27th August 2022.

It was the penultimate day out in Edinburgh and for once unlike the last two days which had questionable weather, today at least would be different. 

Onboard Lothian Buses route 3, which was heading towards Clovenstone via Edinburgh City Centre.

I boarded route 3 alighting at Bernard Terrace, a couple of stops short of the City Centre. Now of course I wanted to explore more around Edinburgh itself, so one of the areas I had in mind was Arthur's Seat. Arthur's Seat is one of the highest hills in Edinburgh - at 251m - as before it used to be an active volcano millions of years ago. Getting there involved going around a couple of side roads and a hilly grass path, which Citymapper helpfully navigated me through. 

There was a slight incline when walking towards Arthur's Seat, which my knees started to feel the further and further I got. In the distance, I could see people making their way up Arthur's Seat, with some already arriving at the top. As much as I would have liked to have climbed it fully, 2 hours going and 2 hours coming down didn't seem worth it, since I didn't contain the right footwear and gear for climbing - unlike other people that did. At least the consolation was that the views managed to be quite good, no matter where you were standing in the area. 

After capturing some photos, I decided to head back to continue the rest of the day. 20 minutes later, I arrived where I got off and boarded route 8 (see the first photo below, this was the exact bus model I got) into town - a Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini 2. Of course, the bus type and layout inside was familiar to me, as we have quite a few of them in London. Sitting upstairs, there was no next stop announcement board screen that I've been familiar to - instead a CCTV screen so I used Citymapper, to know the stop where I had to alight from. I then explored around visiting a museum (that I didn't stay for long in because.... museums) and Edinburgh Castle though unfortunately, to visit this castle it has to be booked, hence the tickets were sold out but still, I made it up to the entry point before they started to let people in. 

Bright Bus Tours 32790, (LX51FNT) seen in Lawnmarket (Edinburgh City Centre) on the City Tour.
Bus model seen in this photo: Alexander Dennis ALX400
Previously Stagecoach London 17515.

Above: A CAF Urbos 3 Tram is seen departing Princes Street tram stop on a service towards Edinburgh Airport.

I wanted to try out the tram however, unlike buses contactless was not accepted and I felt a bit confused on paying since there were two fare zones. Of course, majority of the stations are in the City Zone with Edinburgh Airport being in the Airport Zone. After an attempt to buy tickets, I ultimately gave up and decided to do something else instead. 

Two photos above: Onboard route 44 heading towards Balerno, displaying some of the bus stop information.

All of a sudden, I waited at the bus stop and got onboard route 44, which was heading towards Balerno - I decided to take a ride for myself to see where it was. Sitting upstairs, we passed through the congested Princes Street onto Haymarket station - another busy station in Edinburgh. We are now on the A70 at this point and various shops appeared left and right, as we were still near the area of the City Centre. The next bit consisted of housing, with the railway lines passing underneath entering Slateford, the Lidl shop shortly emerging afterwards. Now, for some reason it seems like supermarket shops in Edinburgh start at 8am and close at 10pm, even on Sundays. Bit interesting I guess. The housing consisted of flats looking largely similar to each other, though there was a fuel station which was in between. Slateford Station appeared and does not see many trains being served, as proved with no passengers at the platform, with indeed no trains either.

There seemed to be some building works taking place, probably new housing. I thought the colour for holding the scaffolding (yellow) done here was quirky, as usually it would be blue. The housing felt different and varied as it seems we entered the area of Kingsknowe, definitely felt suburban for sure. Housing seemed to be the theme for next few minutes into Juniper Green, the sign mentioning it to be a "historic mill village". The road did feel a bit tight here but, a view of the A720 and the hill was one of those look at moments in a bus/train ride - if you get what I am saying. The houses wasn't too much here compared to the other areas, with trees and greenery mainly to look at. Shops are also very limited, with Iceland being the first proper shop that appeared in a while. The view of the hill in the background definitely meant we were on the outskirts of Edinburgh, with a Sainsburys Petrol station making a random appearance. 

More housing and vegetation alongside the unusual brickwork eventually lead into the village of Currie, again, limited eateries consisting of a few small independent shops, a cafe and an Inn. The empty park and football pitch briefly made an appearance before passing houses, feeling a bit residential. The scenery pretty much felt the same entering Balerno, as we turned off the A70 taking a left onto Bridge Road, with a high school on the left hand side to greet us in. Navigating the roundabout, it felt rather residential at first, until it became rural and felt like being in the middle of nowhere. The terminus was in a turn around point, nothing else but a road and houses to stare at. I then asked the driver (as the bus was terminating here) whether I could stay on, he replied "yes" eventhough other people boarded nearby the terminus. On the way back we went via a different way, through the high street of Balerno which... didn't appear to offer much from the looks of it. Still, that's not really a surprise considering that we were outside of Edinburgh! The route was going to Wallyford and well it looked pretty lengthy, so I would have loved to complete it fully, nonetheless I decided to play safe and alight at Edinburgh City Centre, getting route 31 back towards Cameroon Toll. Overall, the route definitely had some picturesque moments at times when riding it towards Balerno and back - the sunshine definitely made the viewing experience more admirable to look at. A pretty good day!

View of the hills.

Passing over the A720, the border of Edinburgh.

Picturesque view.

Slateford station, served by ScotRail services.

Leaving Edinburgh - Sunday 28th August 2022.

It had been a great few days in Scotland, though the time was coming to an end. Exiting the hotel, I decided to buy some food for the journey back at Cameroon Toll Shopping Centre, offering a decent amount of shops. I got it, then made my way towards the bus stop to wait for a bus to take me towards the station. I did initially walk (at first) to see if I could reach the station on foot but, after 10 minutes, I figured this would not be appropriate, especially I since I was carrying luggage around with me. So I walked over to the bus stop and waited, eventually route 37 came and dropped me off at Princes Street leading me to walk towards the station. I then admired the rubbish being left on the pavement one last time, before I arrived at Edinburgh Waverley station. To be honest, there was an ongoing bin strike when I travelled during this trip, so it pretty much was their fault - tourists might just get the wrong impression of the City when visiting! 

Onboard route 37, downstairs in Edinburgh City Centre.

Lothian Buses 697, (SJ71HLU) seen in Princes Street (Edinburgh City Centre) on route 37 towards Sliverknowes.
Bus model seen in this photo: Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 MMC

By the time I arrived in the station, it was around 12:50pm and our train was not departing Edinburgh until 2:00pm, so I had about an hour to kill which is what you want - better to have time to spare and wait than be running around, arrive late onto the platform, missing the train you supposed to have gotten! I sat in the waiting room where other fellow travellers were also waiting for their trains to arrive. In the meantime, I took a moment to look at the glass up above which was very presentable indeed along with the brickwork and lighting. 

Onboard the 2:00pm LNER service to London King's Cross at Edinburgh Waverley.

The platform was announced for 2:00pm service, so I walked over and found my seat. The service was a bit busy heading back, even the reservation system for seating wasn't operational on this journey which lead to some passengers having to move around, meaning some people stood in the unreserved section and near the doors. We called at: Alnmouth, Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York, Doncaster, Newark North Gate, Peterborough and London Kings Cross. The departure from Edinburgh was on time, slightly late arriving into Alnmouth (9 minutes), though time managed to be made up. The scenery was pretty impressive around Alnmouth and Newcastle, notably at Stevenage station (a couple of stops after Peterborough) we went via the Hertford Loop Line instead of staying on the East Coast Main Line, passing through stations served by Great Northern. Presumably that section between Alexandra Palace and Stevenage was closed off for engineering works that day. The areas began to became more built up entering London, with the Emirates Stadium at Finsbury Park coming into view, finally arriving into London Kings Cross about 2 minutes late at 6:51pm in the evening. 

As I was sitting on the other side of the train on the way back (again), I decided to quickly get a photo of the North Sea while the train was still empty during that point.

The North Sea.

Interior of the LNER Class 801s, standard class.

Arrived at London Kings Cross after a 4 hour journey from Edinburgh.

I don't often do train trips to other areas, however, I really enjoyed spending the past few days venturing into Scotland and taking in some of the scenery along the East Coast Main Line, which has some picturesque moments for sure. Needless to say, I managed to tick off two lines (well technically one but, yeah) and have a ride on one of the Class 801 IETs, which I have to say are alright and the motors are good despite being pretty quiet, although I imagine it wouldn't bother the regular passenger who commutes regularly on the route. I personally don't have any complaints about the IETs at the moment - just that they seem to be the regular choice for rail operators in the UK that operate fast intercity services (i.e. Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, TransPennine Express, Lumo). An enjoyable few days out in Scotland and it will most likely be a while until I visit it again, since the prices were pretty expensive.

Thanks for reading and happy riding!

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