Today I become a Surrey commuter, taking the train into London for the day to visit a camera repairer and spend the day visiting various railway locations around my old home. Sadly, it’s a very grey start to the day ‘dahn sarf’ although the forecast for the capital looks more promising. As the extended bank-holiday weekend is over I’ll be interested to see how many people have returned to work and how busy the capital is without its usual summer overload of foreign tourists. Or are they starting to creep back? Whatever, it should be an interesting and enjoyable day. Keep popping back to see how it develops. Right now I’m packing my kit ready for a lift to the station. See you later…
Dawn’s dropped me off at the station in time to catch my first train of the day, the 08:33 to Guildford. You used to have to change at Aldershot to get to Guildford, but nowadays there’s a direct service. Today it’s operated by 450007 a 4-car Siemens Desiro. The trains lightly loaded with just half a dozen in my car after leaving Aldershot. Not having any previous experience of the route at this time of day I don’t know if that’s good or bad.
The heavy grey clouds have now added drizzle to the entertainment outside my train window. My Scottish friends have a word for a day like this. Dreich.
On arrival at Guildford I had just enough time to grab a couple of pictures before the next Waterloo service arrived. The 09:05 was worked by a pair of well loaded 5-car Class 444s. I maged to find a seat for the trip to Woking where I changed once more in order to catch a service stopping at Clapham junction. A minute late a brace of diesel powered Class 159s rolled in, so I joined the leading seat which contains a respectable number of passengers.
I see the London Overground is back to normal already.
My trip on the busy Overground took me to Shepherds Bush, one of the few areas of London I really don’t know very well as I never had much call to go here. That said, the area around the LOROL and Underground stations has undergone a massive redevelopment, so it’s hardly surprising I don’t recognise much! I was here to catch the Central Line out to one of its Western extremities. As an old East-ender I know the other side well, but I was shocked to see the state of the trains today. They’re filthy inside and out.
They’re kept free of litter but they really do need a deep clean and some TLC. My trip took me to the far end of the line at West Ruislip. I’d come here to get shots of the HS2 construction site which is next to the line and easily visible from the station overbridge, as you can aee from this picture. It’s rail connected so that when it’s fully operational material can leave/arrive by train.
Thankfully, by the time I arrived the miserable drizzle had lifted, allowing me to get the shots I wanted. Now I’m heading back into London to grab shots from a few more locations on the line.
I’ve had a busy time. My next stop was to East Acton, where I wandered up to Wormwood Scrubs to see the work HS2 contractors are doing to divert some utilities. As usual, some local ‘greens’ are screaming blue murder about the “destruction” of the Scrubs. There’s even a squalid squatters, sorry “protest” camp on the site near the work that’s taking place. Needless to say, the reality of what’s happening is far more mundane. A trench is being dug from OldOak Common Lane N-E along the edge of the Common. The fencing is far wider than the trench itself! Here’s the compound on the main road. Not exactly ‘laying waste’, is it? I’ll do a different blog about the whole site another time.
Meanwhile, here’s what the rest of the Scrubs looks like. The trench works are to the left, at the end of this temporary access road. Looks very ‘destroyed’, doesn’t it?
Meanwhile, just the other side of the railway to Wormwood Scrubs is the site of the new Old Oak Common HS2 station where construction works recently started. The station will be built in a vast underground box. Here’s what it looks like today as work ramps up. This is going to be stopped by the handful of squatters on the Scrubs? Seriously?
Retracing my steps to White City it suddenly dawned on me when I last spent time around here and why – and they’re not fond memories. I used to come here regularly in 2004-05 because my sister was receiving treatment for breast cancer at the Hammersmith hospital. Having beaten the disease back in the early 1990s it returned again 10 years later. Two mastectomies and specialist treatment only slowed it down. Sometimes she’d come down from Southport to stay with us whilst she had the treatment, other times she’d come down for the day. As Ruth didn’t know London I’d be her guide and get her to the hospital by bus and tube. I was with her on her last visit when the Surgeon told her there was nothing more they could do, her condition was terminal and she needed to arrange a Hospice. She was devestated after fighting for so long. She had two young children and fought like a lioness to see them grow up. It was an awful experience trying to comfort her. What on earth can you say to someone in that situation? So, now I remember why I never visited Acton again afterwards.
Shrugging off those memories I doubled back to Clapham Junction and on to Vauxhall to deposite my poorly lens in the tender care of Fixation, a company I’ve been using since I turned professional. They’re exellent and always helped me in the past. Hopefully the damage isn’t too severe and can be repaired quickly. Having that mission over I made my way to Clapham Junction once more to get pictures of these old girls, which are living on borrowed time due to delays in getting their replacements working, drivers trained and the units in service. Until that happens, the old 1980s, BR built Class 455s will remain on the front line, forming the backbone of suburban services.
Here’s what will displace the Class 455s. One day. This was a new Bombardier Aventra in Clapham Junction yard this morning.
I’m now off the rails (as it were!) and back in Tilford getting ready for a meal out with Dawn and her Niece, Jessica. We’ll be eating in Farnham so I’ll be going off-grid for a couple of hours. When we get back I’ll finish off this blog with a few more pictures and impressions from the day.
I’m back! We enjoyed a relaxed and really good meal at Cotes in Farnham. Jess had only recently returned from her first festival experience at Reading and loved it (well, apart from the toilets, obviously – a rite of passage for any first-time festival goer), now we’re back in Tilford and I have chance to bring this blog to and end with a few thoughts and a couple of pictures.
Thoughts? How busy the railways have become again in such a short time. Travelling on the London Overground today and you’d think Covid had never happened, but then the Overground sees few tourists, it a Londoners travel network. The Underground was quieter than it was pre-Covid, partly because of the lack of tourists, but also because not everyone’s returned to work. Even so, I believe the doomsayers have been proved wrong – and within a very short time.
Another thought – how massively construction of the new HS2 railway is ramping up. The construction sites are a hive of activity. I visited several today and passed many more. The levels of activity are through the roof now mobilisation is in full swing. I’m looking forward to visiting many more sites along HS2 Phase 1 over the next few months in order to get a fuller picture. All in all, it’s been a fascinating day. But tomorrow I really will be heading North again – albeit not for long. September is going to be a very interesting month…
I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website – https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/