Monday, 19 September 2011

Underground, Overground, Wombling Free

Or Four Hours in London

So what can you do when you're stuck in Watford with a few hours to spare one evening?

Well, four of us decided to see just how much Undergound, Overground, Thameslink you can cover for a few quid!

And with the new Overground network some parts of London's suburban lines have changed radically recently. A lot of investment can be seen with some lines which had been neglected for years all of a sudden benefiting from huge sums of money. The only thing is I can't be the only who hears 'Underground, Overground' then hears the rest of The Wombles theme tune in their head! Or maybe I'm just slightly infantile?!

I'm not going to say too much as it could quite quickly turn into a list of 'and then we went here, and then we went there, and then...' however the photos will show a few highlights of where we went.

From Watford there are a couple of ways into London 'proper' - London Midland provide the mainline service but we wanted to sample the Overground and their very nice new units, the Class 378s. North of Euston these have taken over the old DC lines and are a far cry from the Class 501s which once held sway over these services.

Although 'mainline' in size they are very much in a rapid transit style internally with longitudinal seating and a huge amount of room for standing passengers. One of the nicest features are the near full width corridor connections between individual vehicles which gives a wonderful light and airy feel to the whole train whilst looking quite bizarre when he trains are in motion - especially so round tighter curves!

We wound our way into London via the East and North London lines over which the Overground unit now rule and with a few changes found ourselves at Canary Wharf - very much a contrast with my more usual surroundings. Any building over two storeys which blocks out greenery isn't good, is it?!

So with a bit of wonder past offices, car dealers, shops and restaurants which penniless trainee signallers couldn't possibly afford we made our way to the Docklands Light Railway - the driverless network which can be a little disconcerting, even if you know this is how it is or even if you've travelled on it before!

It does mean that you an have a superb view if you get a seat right at the front! And even pretend to be the driver as one of our group seemed to want to do!

The inner end takes you right into the centre of London and here it was where we turned unashamedly into tourists - enjoying a drink on the banks of the Thames over looking the Houses of Parliament! It is hard trying to convince those at home that we are down here to work! It just appears to be a jolly at times - they just don't see all the revision in the lead up to the exams!

Just crossing the Thames here was a strange experience - walking alongside the approach to Charing Cross is a little surreal; passing within yards of the approach to a mainline terminus in the middle of a city. Not that they aren't common but most big city terminus approaches are often not the nicest of areas but here, it's not like that! Plenty of tourists about even by eight o'clock in the evening. All seems very civilised to me.

Then we made out way back across London by which time the light was going so few photos taken and even fewer worth looking at! London Bridge, however, was worth trying to record - trains leaving every minute and a very slick operation indeed.

Taking in Thameslink and the widened lines back to Kings Cross before a brisk walk over to Euston and back up the first part of the West Coast Mainline to good old Watford.

Not a bad way to break the routine of hotel food I think...


  1. Some dodgy looking characters staggering around outside Canary Wharf...

  2. Some very dodgy characters indeed! Think it was the first time some had seen big buildings - don't think they have them in Granthamshire!