Trip Report: Four Trains and Wedding.

fourtrains

After jumping into a cab, it was a quick drive back to Norwich station, where my train to London was already parked up, and had been serviced for the two hour journey ahead of it. I took the opportunity to pick up a couple of bottle of drink, and cleared the ticket barrier, heading to coach G this time.

A Gorilla from the Norwich Gorilla trail. If I had some extra time (and no wheelie case), I might have investigated it.


The concourse at Norwich


Heading down the train – will be useful later as it’ll be a shorter walk at Liverpool Street

Unlike the train to Norwich, this one started to load up quite quickly (and would be pretty packed by the time it left Colchester). Nether the less, the train pulled out on schedule, with engineers making sure we go away…

Or not.

After coasting past Crown Point depot, the train picked up speed, and begun its journey through Norfolk, and into Suffolk.

A bit busier than last time.

As the train closed in on Ipswich, there was more sign of life with container traffic from the port of Felixstowe waiting to move.

Unlike the day before, the train was moving at line speed, and was doing its darnest to get to London a few minutes early. This would be helpful, as I was due to meet my parents in Gerard Street at 12:45.

Suffolk Countryside at speed

As opposed to a table, this time I had an airline style seat – which isn’t that bad in space – I’d say an easy 34” seat pitch.

Soon enough the River Stour crept up again, marking the division between Suffolk and Essex.

The train sped on, with a stop in Colchester, then a fast run down to London. Again, I passed my old hometown on route.

Racing against the A12

Central Park again

from here it was very familiar territory, zipping past commuterland, before crossing over the M25 – a sign we were entering the Greater London area.

As the density increased, the speed slowed, and soon, the train pulled into its destination – Liverpool Street. I got up a bit early before the train stopped and moved down the train to give myself a running start (as I needed to grab a tube or two to Leicester Square), with the train pulling into station a good five minutes early.

Overall: At least Greater Anglia got this service in early – a vast difference to the day before. Again, the train was comfortable and clean. Add the on-time element, and it’s not a bad way to travel at all.

Once through the barriers, it was off again. At this point, i abandoned my onward connection to Birmingham via Euston, and headed off to Leicester Square to have lunch with my parents.

This means a trip on the Central Line to Holborn, and the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. Now if the trains were empty yesterday, this day I travelled… well…

Central Line = Busy


Outside Leicester Square Station


Into ChinaTown


Busy life outside Long Fung – though I’ve never known it to be quiet since I was a toddler…

Still… I made it on time, and went to have lunch with my parents. And that’s a good thing as I don’t see them that often – so any excuse to have an extra stop is not a bad thing. A family tradition is to stop for Dim Sum in Gerard Street, so we tried the New New “New Long Fung Restaurant” (I’ve lost count how many times that restaurant has been burnt down, closed, taken over, etc etc etc since I was young!)

Thankfully, we didn’t stop here for lunch:

What’s that term I’m using more of each day? Ah yes, “Submitted Without Comment .

After a good lunch, a gifting of presents from travels, it was time to get going once again. I left my parents at Piccadilly Circus as they headed back to Essex, and for me to head on the Bakerloo Line up to Marylebone.

And the Bakerloo Line wasn’t that busy either!

After negotiating the stairs – and realising I had just missed a train to Birmingham, I slowed down a bit.

Rather than heading for a ticket machine, I actually went to the ticket booth for a change – as I had a discount voucher that gave 30% off a return journey to Birmingham. This reduces the low £27.50 fare to £19.20. Under £20 for a return to London is no bad thing in my book, so this was done.

Barriers to the trains

Under the Great Central Canopies

A platform was declared, and it was back up the far end of Marylebone

London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill

Price paid £19.20

(Note: For those of you who tune into my main trip reports, this is pretty much the run of the mill journey… but then that’s not a bad thing when it comes to Chiltern Railways)

Whilst a platform had been declared early, the train was still locked out of service. I just took the opportunity to sit down and wait in the rare British sunshine.

Soon enough, the driver came along to unlock the train, and everyone bundled aboard for the 1 hour and 40 hop back to Birmingham

The Chiltern Main Line – rather than being the poor relation of the West Coast Main Line has had some real benefits pushed into it since Network South East and Chiltern Railways have ploughed real money into it.

At one point in the 1980’s, the line was looking like a rural backwater rather than a main line, with old trains, old signalling… and falling passenger numbers. Network SouthEast took the line and completely modernised the line by putting in new signalling, brand new rolling stock and spruced up the stations on the line. This continued into rail privatisation when Chiltern Railways took over – as they re-doubled segments of rail lines, and begun to improve the speed of the line by introducing new rolling stock, whilst working with Network Rail to improve the line speed – to point where the time difference between Virgin Trains and Chiltern Railways on the London-Birmingham run is… 10 Minutes (Virgin Train quoting 1h 20m, Chiltern Railways quote 1h 30m on their fastest services).

Therefore, it’s a no-brainer for me to choose Chiltern Railways when its lower cost, a slightly longer ride to save a bucket load of cash.

the Train waiting

Racing against tube lines


Through the Chilterns


Waiting at Warwick


Inside the Class 168’s cabin


Seating

There was no trolley service aboard, so it was a quiet run up to Birmingham, as the day turned into evening, and the train became a commuter service as it arrived at Solihull.

Eventually, the train slowed and entered the Birmingham Area

St. Andrews Football Ground – home to Birmingham City FC

Approaching Moor Street – the Birmingham Skyline visible.

As most of the train emptied at Moor Street, I hung around on the train to the final stop – Snow Hill as it would be easier for me to grab a bus back to the flat.

Through the less than pretty Birmingham Snow Hill – a regular sight for me

A short walk, and I was at my bus stop. Another 10 minutes, I was at my front door, ending this small adventure.

Closing up:

I don’t cover train travel that often – something I should address every now and again as it does form a key point of travel within the United Kingdom.

That and for those who are credit card inclined, you can earn a bunch of points from buying train tickets. However, as I proved in the introduction to this, it does pay to shop around using two or three fare search engines.

As for the Holiday Inn – it did the job I wanted. However, it served as wonderful base for my friends of many years to tie the knot.

May they have many years of happiness together.

Now, that’s enough of me on the ground. Join me back in the air as I go aboard British Airways brand new Airbus A380 to Frankfurt … with an adventure to match.

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Toodle Pip!

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