Sunday 14 October 2018

A Southeastern Super Saturday Part 2

"And I would ride 500 miles, and I would ride, erm actually 80 more"! Doesn't quite scan I know but not bad just riding around one county all day. Part one finished with me having returned from Kent's answer to Love Island, otherwise known as Sheppey, to a very wet Sittingbourne, where I was roughly two thirds of my way through a marathon journey round the Southeastern
network, thanks to their £20 all you can ride Super Saturday ticket. Next on the list was Victoria, so I thankfully left the rain and boarded my 375/6 to the Capital.

375603 at a very wet Sitt8ngbourne
A quick pit stop at Victoria and it was time for the bonus train. During the week it had been decided that the Catford Loop wasn't on the official list of routes to do as Southeastern don't actually stop anywhere between Ravensbourne and Nunhead on a Saturday. However, as the 1842 to Dover Priory was sitting on platform 4, going to Bromley South via the loop it seemed rude not to, particularly as it was a 465/9, an upgraded 465/2 to include 1st class and universal loo.

465903 at Bromley South
Have I mentioned I like the 465's? Just a shame it wasn't a 365 with original interior, just about my all time favourite train interior (Yes, Matt, I know the TC coach on VEP 3582 was better). Anyway we were soon at Bromey South and I waited for the Ashford via Maidstone East service, which turned out to be an imposter. Southeastern have recently acquired some 377 units that were on loan from Southern to Thameslink, but were displaced due to the 700's introduction. So Southeastern have now got them, and seem to be using them exclusively on the Maidstone East line, only this one was still in full Southern livery. Sorry for the blurred pic - it was dark again!

The Southern 377, now with Southeastern
I confess I don't remember much of that trip - we were delayed at Swanley due to a passenger alarm being activated in one of the loos - and then I fell asleep, and woke up somewhat disorientated at Ashford, realised my next connection was on the adjacent platform, which was just as well as the doors closed as I boarded. This was another 375/9, ghastly seats, but I have to admit the interior to the universal toilet was very attractive.

Universal toilet interior on the 375/9
This train, from Ashford to Paddock Wood closed up all the mainline routes for me, just some suburban routes to do, but I had to get there. That meant repeating myself a bit, so a second trip up the Medway Valley Line, again on 375306 12 hours on from my first trip. Not much to see in the dark so not for the first time I was grateful for Southeastern's free WiFi. I was somewhat worried when I saw a 50MB limit, but needn't have. If you use it you just reconnect and carry on - some bus operators could learn from that!

375306 at Paddock Wood
One final Javelin from Strood to Gravesend, and then onto platform 0 for the trip to Lewisham via the Bexleyheath branch. Another 465, a bit chilly this one!

Final Javelin of the day at Strood
Now those of you who haven't yet lost the will to live will have noticed I still had one London terminus still to do. Cannon Street is far busier now than it was in my day, now used 7 days a week from start to end of service, and rightly so as it frees up capacity into Charing Cross. But Lordy it has changed. I barely recognised the place as I wandered around before boarding my penultimate train of the day, the 2332 to Dartford via Greenwich and Woolwich. Top bloke driving who put the heating on!

Cannon Street Station
It's the first time I have travelled through Abbey Wood station since it was totally redeveloped for Crossrail, and I'll have to make a separate journey to take a look in daylight as had I not known the old station well I'd have never believed what it used to be like! Next time I'm up that part of the world I'll take a detour.

465020 at Cannon Street
Arrival at Dartford signified the end of my mission, but not the end of my day. I still had to get back to Greenhithe, and it was either a 29 min wait for a Southeastern service, or jump on a Thameslink service sitting on the platform. Sorry guys, I cheated and caught the 700, and immediately sat on the worst seats of the day. Any lingering doubts I had of those seats being utterly heinous were dispelled. When you've sat on train seats for over 19 hours you know a hard seat when you get one and boy the 700 seats are hard! 6 minutes was 6 minutes too long!

70057 at Greenhithe
So how to sum up? 24 trains, all of which departed on time, 23 arriving on time, 23 connections made, total travelling time 19 hrs 9 mins (not including 4 hours driving), and, thanks to the brilliant Southeastern Twitter team for doing the maths, 160 stations and 580 miles covered. That works out at 3.45 pence per mile. If only all train fares were that low!

So, my personal journey excepted, was the Super Saturday a success? The weather didn't help matters, and it was difficult to judge who would have been on the trains anyway, or would they have been much quieter because of the weather without the Super Saturday ticket. I hope it was a success. It deserves to have been a success, and a venture that I hope will be repeated, and copied by other operators. There has been precious little to smile about on the railways recently, and I saw a lot of smiles on my travels, and some happy passengers as well as some very obvious enthusiasts! Anything that brings some positivity back to the railways has to be supported and applauded, which is why I made so much of an effort, and why I'm allowing Southeastern to use portions of this write up for their staff newsletter. There need to be more initiatives like this more regularly to get people back to thinking well of the railways, because as my stats show, when it all comes together it simply cannot be beaten. Thank you to all at Southeastern, from the organisers, to the wonderful CC and CH on the Twitter team, to the on board cleaners who make such a difference, and all others concerned. A great, if very long day, and one I'll remember for a considerable time. Now to convince Greater Anglia to do one....


  1. Why are your photos so terrible? Nighttime or not they're always bad

    1. Will be happy to publish yours if they are better. In the meantime if you let me know your details I'll be happy to refund your subscription. Or you could supply me with a decent camera. Or you could shut up. Totally up to you, fella!

  2. Transport for Wales has taken over the Wales & Borders Franchise from Arriva

    it is extending free travel from under 5 to under 11 and off peak under 16's travel for free. It is not clear but I assume this only applies for jouneys starting within Wales

    1. Having looked into it a bit more it seems to be structured similar to TFL so Transport for Wales have over all responsibilty but the operation of the trains is contracted out or possibly sub contract to a French/Spanish consortium. The track and infrastructure remains under networkrail

  3. Trains can run on time but just not in the UK

    Hong Kong's subway bosses apologise over 'worst ever delay'

    Owners of the MTR network have apologised for Tuesday's delays and have brought in overseas experts to determine how they occurred.

    99.9 percent of subway trains in Hong Kong arrive on time, with trains usually running every 2-4 minutes.

    According to the South China Morning Post, delays on trains are so rare, there was nothing in the handbook on how to deal with the signal failure.

    Passengers complained of waiting up to half an hour for a train with staff resorting to switching off escalators as a way of dealing with overcrowding.

    Announcements on the tannoy told passengers that they would not be charged for their journey.