Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Year's Day Train Services from Watford Junction

I am a creature of habit and will once again be travelling through Watford Junction, towards London Euston on New Year's Day.

My second post of this blog was a rant at the timetabling of trains from Watford Junction during engineering works.

Silverlink Trains do not appear to be having to endure significant engineering works from Watford Junction this year on New Year's Day and appear to be offering a pretty good service. Good News. A link to their timetable page is here.

Click the image if you are struggling to read the micro-print. A larger image will open in a new window/tab.

Have a very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Christmas

Best wishes to everyone. Thank you for reading my blog.

As there is absolutely no chance of a White Christmas in West London (unless fog counts), I thought I would share with you my idea of how Christmas might be in warmer climes.

I took this picture on Mt Kinabalu, Borneo, in November last year. You may spot a little bit of post production.

Do please have a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.Happy Christmas. Based on a photograph taken from Mt Kinabalu, Borneo, November 2005. Click picture for more detail.

Year in a Nutshell

January: I'm not one for New Year's resolutions, but I thought I would at least start 2006 by starting this blog.

February: An early trip to Heathrow Terminal 4 this morning to meet my father who was returning from a five week visit to Delhi in India.

March: I was fortunate enough to be skiing last week in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

April: Having seen off the Spring downpour at lunchtime today, it turned into a pleasant afternoon.

May: A short while ago I made a post entitled 'Chavs On The Line'.

June: Central Line users will be well aware that Queensway Station has been closed for over a year for refurbishment work.

July: Sorry about the gap, almost as big as the one between the train and the platform at Bank.

August: Baker Street London Underground Station was closed today between about 09:30am and 6:00pm due to a major gas leak outside the station.

September: Following my post earlier in the week, here are the brief descriptions again, along with the names/locations of the airports to which they refer.

October: Today is the day of The Great North Run.

November: It was only after chatting about this with a former station announcer earlier this evening, that I remembered that I had forgotten to blog a recent incident.

December: Actually, what I mean is they are poo.

If you need any clarifications, please scroll down to the Archives on the right.

Thanks to The Coffee Table for the idea.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Travel Arrangements over Christmas and the New Year

I have received quite a few hits to this blog seeking information about travel arrangements in London over Christmas and the New Year, including those for the Central Line on Boxing Day.

The full tfl (Transport for London) leaflet detailing the arrangements for the holiday period is available here (411kb pdf file).

The Central Line information for Boxing Day, Tuesday 26th December 2006 is:

"Reduced train frequencies on all lines. The first
trains will run through the central area at
approximately 0830. Services finish at Sunday
times. The following exceptions apply to the Central LIne:

no Hainault to Woodford service.
Buckhurst Hill, Chancery Lane, Chigwell,
Fairlop, Grange Hill, Roding Valley,
Ruislip Gardens and Snaresbrook closed."

My research suggests that the first train from West Ruislip to Central London will leave at 08.21 am on Boxing day (and every 15 minutes thereafter). The last direct train from Oxford Circus back towards West Ruislip will leave around 23.38. You could alternatively catch an Ealing Broadway Train 10 minutes later and change at North Acton.

This would then be your absolute last chance of getting back to Hangar Lane, Perivale, Greenford, Northolt, South Ruislip or West Ruislip. As stated above, Ruislip Gardens will be closed all day, but it is a relatively short walk from South Ruislip station.

Warning: Do not bet your life on these times. They have however been obtained from the tfl Journey Planner.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead.

Something strange is going on:
  • Central Line: Has run to time and with no problems everytime I've been on it this week.
  • Chiltern railways: Have run to time and with no problems everytime I've used them this week.
Ive got my 8 year old nephew all day tomorrow and am taking him to a Childrens' Christmas Party in Docklands. I have no doubt just put the kiss of death on the Central Line, the Northern Line, South West Trains and the Jubilee Line for tomorrow!

Now you've got to admit that the title "Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead." is mildly more interesting than "Trains run to time".

Could I just say that I think Chile is a lovely country (I plan to go there next year) and earthquakes are not funny. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Central Line Runs Well - Commuter Relieved

Got up before six this morning. Had proper breakfast and had 15 minutes to shower etc and catch train. Didn't feel right, went back to bed. Slept two hours more, woke up feeling under the weather, went to work.

Felt awful all day, would have come home (I don't do 'ill' well, and it was only a headache) but had a late afternoon customer meeting in the diary.

Moped around all afternoon, unproductive.

Went to meeting, should have got an Oscar for being normal. Literally seconds to Oxford Circus, first train is going home. Get seat, head in hands till home, straight to bed. Thank you Central Line!

Now... wide awake.

And, it would appear that the London Underground network has not had a good night. This image is a shrunk down version of the live tube map. If you can see a line's colour, it has a problem. See what I mean? Good night.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Travelling Home on Chiltern Railways

I know the train times all changed last Sunday.

Nevertheless I zipped up to London Marylebone tonight to catch 'my' train. As I was haring along the platform (two minutes to spare) I noticed that the monitor suggested that the train was not stopping at my prefered station. Doh!

Never mind, I thought. I'll get off at the adjacent station. It's my fault. I should have checked. Silly Billy.

Sat down on the train.

What does the rolling dot matrix say? Well, the train is stopping at my station after all. We then set off and eventually approach 'my' station. The train slowed down as if to stop and then rapidly accelerated away. It's a good thing I hadn't stood up, else everyone around me would have known I had got on the wrong train!

Back to plan B and onwards home. Thanks Chiltern for getting my hopes up.

Enough blogging for one day.

Christmas Shopping (and Blogging) Splurge

Traveled like a maniac today around North West London, Hertfordshire and Central London in an attempt to get my Christmas Shopping nearly finished. Nearly was the end result.

I travelled on a bus, Silverlink County, Silverlink Metro, Southern, the District Line, the Central Line and Chiltern railways.

All ran to time (though another mini-rant about Chiltern later).

I used to live in the Watford area 20 years ago and it is now definitely a major regional shopping centre. It has everything from Poundland (no, I didn't go in) to a John Lewis, with much else beside. It is also full of track suited, bangled and blinged up individuals.

PS Although I have included a link to Poundland, they seem to be so cheap and cheerful that their website is currently slow enough as if to appear to be running their site off a ZX80 or similar. Either that, or my ISP is having a really bad hair day.

Mobile Phone or Smoking - Which is more dangerous?

Young man stood on platform at Harrow & Wealdstone Station smoking and using his mobile phone. Nothing unusual in that... except...

He was talking into (and listening to) his flip-top mobile phone as though it were a walkie-talkie, holding it about six inches away from his face.

Someone had obviously told him that mobile phones emit dangerous microwaves.

Petrol Prices- I Don't Usually Notice

As it's the last full weekend proper before the Christmas break I've been whizzing around on public transport a lot today (more later) and noticed a couple of petrol prices.

Normally I never notice- It's only occasionally that I fill up, when using a hire car.

  • Not a million miles from home, in North West London: Unleaded is 85.9p per litre
  • Just off a well known shopping street just to the west of Hyde Park: Unleaded is 118.9p per litre
I know it's a free market etc etc, but an uplift of 38%? Outrageous.

Monday, December 11, 2006

District Line shows favouritism towards Ealing

Today I experienced one of those nightmare journeys that come along every now and then.

Heading from the Ealing area on the District Line, I had to change at Turnham Green to go down to Richmond for a meeting. I did not anticipate having to wait 42 minutes for a train.

I think the score was Ealing 6, Richmond 0. Eventually Richmond scored but there were a lot of seriously hacked off people, myself included.

My customer was fine (apparently she used to commute from via Richmond to Ealing), but I get embarrassed at being 1 minute late, never mind 25 minutes.

There has been some sort of track problem in the Gloucester Road area all day- roll on the era when all sub-surface lines use the same train stock. Hopefully it will then be easier for the service to recover from problems.

At least they appear to have solved the issue of the signals failing on the Richmond branch whenever it rains.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Central Line Continues to Behave

I have previously mentioned that new National Rail timetables start this weekend- as my local Chiltern Railways service is going from mediocre to rubbish in the evening peak, I have been getting used to the Central Line over the last few days.

To my surprise the Central Line service is currently fairly good.

Last night we had our work Christmas party at a hotel near South Kensington tube station. To get there involves changing onto the notoriously unreliable Circle Line at Notting Hill Gate. Door to door each way was 40 minutes (including late journey home). This is pretty good given that Uncle Ken's Journey Planner has journey times ranging from 48 to 59 minutes.

Another party today. Yippee.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Coded Manual on the Central Line

Many people do not realise that the Central Line Trains on London Underground virtually drive themselves as 'Automatic Train Operation' means that in theory trains can operate faster (and safer) than with the human touch.

As I understand it, drivers are allowed to drive in 'Coded Manual' on open air sections, on Sundays and when there are no other known problems.

I think that the driver of Train 032 currently on his/ her way from West Ruislip towards Epping is exercising the dispensation and having a practice at real driving. And a very pleasant ride it is too!

Of course, it also means that the Central Line is behaving itself, as it seems to have been for the last few days.Good news.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

First Great Western have no sense of history

Actually, what I mean is they are poo. They couldn't catch a cold, are as much use as a chocolate teapot and do not deserve the word 'Great' in their company name.

Today there are some invisible engineering works which mean that the Heathrow Connect services from London Paddington have been cancelled. Also the 1/2 hourly service between London Paddington and Greenford has been replaced by an hourly train between Greenford and Hanwell plus a replacement bus service between Ealing Broadway and Greenford.

I suggest the works are invisible only because I have just spent 45 minutes standing at Hanwell waiting for a train to Greenford and can confirm that (1) all four mainline tracks are in use and (2) there is no mention of engineering works in the are on either the National Rail site or the First Great Western Site. There may well be some works going on somewhere, but goodness knows where.

The train to Greenford never arrived. Other travellers and myself ended up catching a train back to Ealing Broadway, then getting the Central Line (changing at North Acton) back out to our destinations. Not so much as a by your leave from the cretins at the railway company in charge of communicating with their passengers. has an abundance of definitions for the word Great. You may wish to remind yourself of some of them. The company has 'Great Western' in its name as a historical reminder of the Great Western Railway. There is no comparison. Anyone with any sense of railway history will know that a mention of GWR is highly evocative: Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Box Tunnel, the age of steam and Victorian Britain. The modern day company has purple trains that run late, stations with clocks that don't function for months on end and no real evidence of appreciating that their passengers are anything other than cattle.

First Great Western should remove the word Great from their name forthwith. They do not deserve it and certainly will have no positive impact on the history of railways in this country, if my experiences are anything to go by.

I also missed out on the unusual train journey from Hanwell to Drayton Green, a very short stretch of line that does not usually carry passenger trains.