Thursday, January 10, 2013

A First - Along the Central Line

Despite the title of this blog, I have a confession to make. I have never actually been Along the Central Line.

I need my passport to go further East than Stratford. Venturing into Essex requires a visa.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the running of the first underground train, I thought that I ought to put things right. Yesterday saw me set out on what I expected to be a rather dull adventure.It was.

To be clear, I had a rough plan. I had not however sat for hours (or even minutes) working out a detailed timetable.

The plan was simple:
  1. West Ruislip to Epping (34 miles 6 chains)
  2. Epping to Woodford (7 miles 41 chains)
  3. Woodford to Hainault (3 miles 65 chains)
  4. Hainault to Ealing Broadway via Newbury Park (23 miles 27 chains)

  • 11.31 West Ruislip. I seem to recall that West Ruislip to Epping is the longest journey that it is possible to complete, on a single train, on the London Underground. The platform poster at West Ruislip says that the journey should take 81 minutes, so at 11.31 my train set off. Would I be in Epping at 12.52?
  • 12.01 Queensway. Half an hour in. 13 stops into the journey and with a little service regulation at White City. Hopefully that slight wait implied that we had been running slightly ahead of schedule.
  • 1205. Marble Arch. A really rubbish busker gets on the train and gets off at Bond Street. His accomplice collects precisely £0.00.
  • 1209 Tottenham Court Road. All seats occupied for the first time.
  • 1211 Holborn. Man with loud hat gets on train. It is remarkably mild in London at present.
  • 1223 Mile End. Man with loud hat gets off as do lots of other people. Plenty of vacant seats. I suspect the train will now gradually get quieter.
  • 1231 Leytonstone. 60 minutes and 28 stops in. We wait for a couple of minutes again. Possibly a driver switch over. Not a cloud in the sky. A lovely day.
  • 1237 South Woodford. In brackets 'George Lane'.
  • 1249. We've left Debden. Now in proper countryside. I can see the M11 off to the right. Theydon Bois - very rural tube station.
  • 1252 Passing under the M25.
  • 1253 Epping. 82 minutes from West Ruislip.

A very quick walk down the hill and back up again. Epping station car park is full and the entrance is coned off.
  • 1316 Epping. Less people heading back in than there were coming out. Loud hat day strikes again.
  • 1331 Woodford. Cross the footbridge.

  • 1335 Woodford. Platform indicator says Hainault. Train comes out of the siding, the front says Hainault. Driver announces that train calls all stations to Hainault and then on to Ealing Broadway. That was my hope.
  • 1340 Chigwell. There is a lot of paint peeling off the walls. Still more countryside than suburbia.
  • 1342 Grange Hill. Sonia now says that the train is going to Ealing Broadway. Is there anything at Hainault? Past the big train depot. I think I'll take a look. I'll have 20 minutes.
  • 1344 Hainault.

True suburbia. A long straight road. A small parade of shops.
  • 1401 Hainault. Via Newbury Park and on to Ealing Broadway. 65 minutes?
  • 1418 Leyton. Lots more peeling paintwork. Whitewash doesn't seem to work in East London.
  • 1452 Holland park. This Westbound train has been noticeably quieter than the earlier train going in the opposite direction.
  • 1507 Ealing Broadway
 While I was outside Ealing Broadway station a reasonably well dressed man came along, rummaged in a litter bin, pulled out a half-eaten sausage roll, put it in his pocked and walked off.

So that was it. 68 miles 59 chains Along the Central Line! It is fair to say that yesterday's escapade has reinforced in my mind just how large London is.

Happy 150th Birthday London Underground.

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