10/11/2011

A London Adventure 07/11/11

On Monday 7th November I had an excellent trip to London using one of the five free complimentary tickets I recieved for taking part in First Capital Connect's generous and highly popular "sign up for updates" promotion.

I started my day by getting Optare Solo YN53SSZ on the 0648 Norfolk Green 1 to King's Lynn railway station where I joined FCC's 365521 for the journey to London King's Cross, due to a speed restriction between Downham Market and Littleport & it taking longer than usual to couple our train to another at Cambridge we arrived slightly late at King's Cross where 365534+365521 are photographed amongst the on going refurbishment works...

KGX train

I then embarked on my tube, bus & DLR travel plan starting with a visit to King's Cross St Pancras Underground Station to top up my Oyster card with sufficient credit for the zone 1-4 off peak price cap, it was then on to my first tube train of the day - one of the new 2009 tube stock Victoria Line trains to Stockwell, I made this journey purely to try out these new(ish!) trains and was rather impressed. So after the 20 minute journey to Stockwell I changed on to my favourite line (the Northern Line) for the 35 minute journey to my favourite place in London, Golders Green where the graffiti clad 1996 tube stock train I travelled on is pictured below...

GG Tube

I don't know what it is about Golders Green but I just really like it, it has a sort of friendly small town feel but with all of the fantastic transport links and amenities one comes to expect in London, if I was lucky enough to get the chance to live in London I think this would definatly be the place for me.

So it was out of the tube station into the bus station which also doubles up as a National Express hub with a constant steam of coaches passing through on their way into and out of Central London, the first vehicle I came across was broken down Arriva DAF SB220/Wright YJ06LFH...

YJ06LFH

I then popped around the side of the bus station where the smallest buses operating on TfL contracted bus services can be found, the Arriva Optare Solo M780SL's operate on two services, to Hampstead Garden Village and Hill Top, here YJ06YRR lays over in between runs...

YJ06YRR

I then went for a spot of lunch at Starbucks before returning to the bus station for a few more photos and my first London bus of the day which was First Volvo B9TL/Wright LK59CXO towards Ealing Hospital on the 83...

LK59CXO

After an enjoyable hour long journey on the 83 I disembarked at my next port of call Wembley Central Underground Station which was purely to change onto the Bakerloo Line for Paddington, approaching the station following the short walk from the bus stop I was suprised with what greeted me - a very shabby run down tube station that appeared to be falling part (photo below) and was also home to nesting pigeons and their "business" which covered the upper ledges of the station, walking down stairs to the platform wasn't much better either, the platform covered in puddles from water leaking through the ceiling and the whole station shaking due to the many express trains including Virgin Pendolinos passing through at very high speed lead to a very uncomfortable wait - this is in stark contrast to Wembley Central Underground Station just down the road which is a far superior offering - although I must point out that the area around Wembley Central is undergoing redevelopment and I believe a refurbished station is in the pipeline.

Wembley Central Station

Anyway! thankfully I didn't have long to wait before boarding my 39 year old 1972 tube stock Bakerloo Line train for the 30 minute or so journey to Paddington, the train was in remarkably good shape for its age although the famous "Mind The Gap" announcement comes into its own on this line with large gaps, desents or climbs needed to board or alight the train as the photo at one of the stations en route shows below...

Mind The Gap

Upon arrival at Paddington it was time for my highlight of the day - an end to end journey on the 436 to Lewisham on Go Ahead London General BD52LNA, the 436 is one of only three "bendybus" routes remaining and converts to double deck operation on 19th November - I had a very enjoyable journey on the route (apart from the occasional smell of burning rubber which I think was caused by rubbing brakes) after a 70 minute journey I arrived at Lewisham.

BD52LNA

At Lewisham I had a quick visit to the bus station which is conveniently located next to the Docklands Light Railway station, a view of the bus station below shows an old (for London) Y reg Dennis Trident and also several of the rare Scania powered East Lancs Esteem single deckers operated by Metrobus...

Lewisham bus station

I then returned to the DLR station for my second highlight of the day - two trips on the DLR Lewisham to Canary Wharf & Canary Wharf to Bow Church, I was pleased to discover new DLR stock in operation, a comparison of the new and old were side by side on ajoining platforms as shown below...

DLR NEW

DLR OLD

As well as a thrilling front seat ride on the first leg of my DLR journey added interest came as the "Customer Service Agent" had to take control of the train in the Mudchute area due to problems with the automatic train operation in that area, after a quick change of train at Canery Wharf I soon arrived at Bow Church.

Next was the last journey in London of the day - the 205 to King's Cross which after a long 15 minute wait including letting one bus go past as it was packed out produced a Stagecoach Scania Omnicity DD (unfortunatly I forgot to note down the registration) it took just under an hour to reach King's Cross on what seemed like the busiest bus I had ever been on jam packed full all the way :-D

At Kings Cross with just 3 minutes to spare I boarded the 1814 service to King's Lynn, this train is an unusual one as it is a 12 carriage service, the rear 4 carriages detatch at Royston and the front 8 carriages continue fast to King's Lynn stopping at Cambridge, Ely & Downham Market only - despite the rear 8 carriages being very busy from King's Cross the front 4 were quite quiet and by the time we got to Ely I had a whole carriage to myself - arriving bang on time in King's Lynn I noticed the train I returned on was the same one I had in the morning - 365521, I was even in the same carriage!

After 2 trains, 3 tube trains, 2 DLR trains, 5 buses and an amazing and totally enjoyable day in London (apart from the Wembley Central bit) I got Optare Solo MX54WMJ home on the 2035 Norfolk Green 1.