Sunday 30 October 2016

A Day Of Two Halves - First Half

This was going to be a classic day, all worked out - start by returning to the observation point at the Northern end of Medway Viaduct on HS1 to hopefully see my first e320, and get some good pics to try and win the elusive Network Rail #DailyPick photo competition, then travel up to Paddngton for some serious HST spotting. I'm lucky that the observation point, purpose built for enthusiasts, is visible from my Mum's house, so literally a 2 min drive away. It is surrounded by extremely busy roads though so you need quite a strong nerve to stand where I did for my first few vids and pics, but my word it was worth it. The Winter sun was out and providing a great contrast of lighting depending which side you were standing.

A Southeastern Class 395 Javelin heads for Ebbsfleet
A Paris bound new Class e320
After that what has to be said impressive sight I went down to the observation point where you can get really up close and personal to the trains hurtling past you. Remember that point as it will be relevant in a while. First up was a 12 car Javelin, which seemed far better than a 6 car for some reason!

The 12 car Javelin streaks past
There was some time before the next train so I explored the path to see what other angles could be achieved. I discovered the path went down, underneath HS1 with views of the Chatham Mainline, and up the other side giving quite magnificent views of the Medway Valley. I decided a train on the edge of this view would be quite something, so after a test pic I monitored the real time train tracker and waited.

The test picture with HS1 and Medway Valley
At this point events took a rather surreal turn. I looked up and saw two uniformed Police officers coming down the path on the opposite side. Instinct told me why they were there, so I waved, pointed to my phone and shouted I was taking videos, Unfortunately the traffic noise from the M2 totally drowned me so I indicated I would come back round to their side. When I got there this extremely pleasant Transport Police officer informed me they had had reports of a trespasser lineside. Maybe at this point I should say the above pic was taken with my hand up at full stretch to get the camera higher than fence level! My initial concern was that the site wasn't as enthusiast dedicated as I thought. However, the officer confirmed that yes, I was doing nothing wrong being where I was and indeed it was a spot designed for the activity I was undertaking. So with no crime being committed, or suicide threatened we had a good natter, shook hands and off he went. I turned round to go back to my original location on the other side and immediately saw two Police cars stopped on the M2 right by me obviously waiting to close the M2 should I have been a potential jumper. A slight overreaction to an enthusiast taking pictures at a dedicated enthusiast spot?

I have enormous sympathy for anyone who sees the only solution to their problems is jumping under a train. However to my knowledge no one who has taken that ultimate and tragic step has ever taken pics of the trains beforehand. I never did get the pic I was after due to a 373 having technical probs, so I gave up as time was getting on, and went back to the other side to come face to face with a lady from Network Rail who was also checking I wasn't about to end it all. Again she was very pleasant, really interested that I had access to live running diagrams, and in fact we nattered too long as I missed a perfect opportunity to get two Eurostars passing on the bridge. The last train on the video is of the troubled 373 just after another one hammered the other way.

I am very grateful everyone cared so much, but at the same time hope no one was being burgled at the time as I would think the Police response may have been delayed due to lawful activity taking place elsewhere. Anyway here is the vid compilation, enjoy the whoosh of the 373's as some of them are being scrapped, and of course because of the number of Police man hours involved in the production!

It was then time to go to Paddington. The intention was to drive to Bluewater, leave the car there and then bus it to Paddington. I managed to find a parking space 20 yards from the Bus Station and got my first surprise. The 96 from Bluewater to Woolwich is normally operated by E400's or hard seated Scania Omnicity Deckers. However waiting on layover was a Gemini3 Volvo B5LH.

Stagecoach London 13014 Volvo B5LH BN14 WAE
Holy cow did it rattle! Not very good for a bus less than 3 years old. But that turned out to be the least of my problems. Crayford Hgh St was closed due to a burst water main and we had to detour around a closed section of about 500 yards. The diversion took 45 minutes, no exaggeration. It involved doubling back halfway to Dartford, going to the A2, heading London bound to what was the Black Prince at Bexley, then doubling back again to Crayford in appalling traffic. Had TfL shown any foresight we would have gone straight to Bexleyheath and a shuttle service between Crayford and Bexleyheath would have saved many people massive delays. As it was we were so late the bus terminated at Bexleyheath and we were all rather unceremoniously chucked off!.

It was obvious I wasn't going to make Paddington by bus, so a change of plan was needed. I caught an 89 to Lewisham - a 61 reg E400 that was considerably less rattly than the Gemini - finally invested in an Oyster card, caught a Southeastern 465 to Victoria and jumped on the Circle Line to Paddington, only to be serenaded by what I have to say was an extremely good jazz band most of the way.

Jazz on the Tube
At precisely 1427 I stepped onto the concourse at Paddington for the first time in 13 years. In the Second Half I'll review my afternoon there, with some unexpected trains, some impressive trains, I get to meet Sir Ken and some really friendly folk.

PS - despite best efforts didn't win the photo comp!


  1. Estra Ipswich Park & Ride Journeys for xmas late night shopping

    I question the logic of this when money for bus services is so tight. Will there even be much demand for a 12 minute late evening service? I cannot see a bus every 12 minutes being justified. Parking etc is not to much of an issue late evening in any case. Surely it would make far more sense to provide some a late evening services on the ordinary routes where people msay not have a car?

  2. If us rural dwellers can't get a Sunday service,then there is no chance of a later bus for Xmas shopping. Too few drivers,drivers hours and no one willing to do it. Park and ride is ok if just two of you. If you have young kids and bags of shopping, you are just as well to use the car considering the costs to keep one on the road.

  3. Andrew Kleissner3 November 2016 at 16:28

    To be fair:

    1. This is simply a repeat of what was done in previous years (and may perhaps be the last time).

    2. The Thursday service is supported by Suffolk CC and the Sunday one by Ipswich BC. You may well feel that this is a poor use of ratepayers' money, but presumably the councils wrote the costs into their budgets many months ago. It can only be good news for IB itself, surely.