Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

On the road to…Sunderland

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 14 January 2013

When it comes to trekking around the country, there are certain things one has to take into account, with perhaps the most obvious one being “how far do I exactly have to go?”. The benefit of taking the train is of course obvious, because it takes a hell of a lot less time to get somewhere by train (usually) than it does on the road, not least because the driver doesn’t have to keep stopping, and that the weary passenger can at least have a wander up and down the length of the train, should he so choose. Believe me, being cooped up on a coach travelling virtually the length of England (been there, done that, had the bad knees to prove it) is not something I’d wish on someone I didn’t like. Well, actually I might, if I particularly didn’t like him. As it is, I don’t have to get up at stupid o’clock for this trip; merely going to work o’clock, as I journey up to the north-east for the game against Sunderland.

Date: 12th January 2013
Stadium: Stadium of Light
Capacity: 49,000
Attendance: 39,918
Away Section: North Stand
Score: Sunderland 3-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: St Peter’s or Stadium of Light
Local rozzers: Northumbria Police
Total Travel Cost: £87.40p (2 x Advance Singles, 1 x Daysaver)

Rail journeys:
08:33 – New Cross to London Bridge (Southeastern Class 376 Electrostar)
08:45 (Dep 08:47) – London Bridge to London St Pancras (First Capital Connect Class 377 Electrostar)
09:30 – London Kings Cross to Newcastle Central (East Coast InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
Green LineCentral Station to Stadium of Light (TWM Metrocar)
Green Line – Stadium of Light to Central Station (TWM Metrocar)
18:04 (Dep 18:18) – Newcastle Central to London Kings Cross (East Coast InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
Victoria LineKings Cross St Pancras to Highbury & Islington (2009 Stock)
22:25 – Highbury & Islington to New Cross Gate (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)

Station to Stadium: The Stadium of Light appears at first glance to be one of those new stadia that have been built with ease of access in mind, being, as it is, not too far from the city centre, good road access and two nearby metro stations. That being said though, reaching the ground from self-said metro stations (or at least the one that bears the name of the stadium) is a little more difficult than you may give credit for. Even though you can see the prominent cantilever roof of the North and West stands as you exit the station, using the main road is likely to take longer than following the little back street that I used. Cross the main Newcastle Road and you’ll see, cutting through a row of terraced houses, what looks almost like an alleyway. Up this and turn left, and then keep going straight on following the road round until you come out at the Southwick Road, and there in front of you will be the ground.

Anything else?: The ground is served by both Stadium of Light and St Peter’s metro stations – they are sited so that supporters for the northern end of the ground should get off at Stadium of Light, and those at the southern end should use St Peter’s.

Stadium of Light metro station

On the road to…West Brom

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 17 December 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve headed out of London, and when it comes to going to football I do have a tendency to get slightly itchy feet if I miss a few away games. As it happens, the first half of this season has only seen me make three away trips up to now, and two of those have actually been in London. Which is why it is nice to actually get out of the big smoke and on a nice journey out, this time to the West Midlands and the scene of one of my most memorable previous away trips, West Bromwich Albion.

Date: 16th December 2012
Stadium: The Hawthorns
Capacity: 26,272
Attendance: 24,816
Away Section: Smethwick End
Score: West Bromwich Albion 0-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: The Hawthorns
Local rozzers: West Midlands Police
Total Travel Cost: £31.40 (1 x Super Off-Peak Return; 1 x Anytime Single; 1 x Metro Single)

Rail journeys:
11:40 – New Cross to Canada Water (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Jubilee Line – Canada Water to Baker Street (1996 Stock)
Bakerloo Line – Baker Street to Marylebone (1972 Stock)
12:33 – London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street (Chiltern Railways Class 168 Clubman)
14:45 – Birmingham Moor Street to The Hawthorns (London Midland Class 172 Turbostar)
Line 1 – The Hawthorns to Snow Hill (Midland Metro T-69)
18:40 (Dep 18:45) – Birmingham Snow Hill to London Marylebone (Chiltern Railways Class 168 Clubman)
Hammersmith & City Line – Baker Street to Whitechapel (C69/77 Stock)
21:30 – Whitechapel to New Cross (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)

Station to Stadium: This is not a route to The Hawthorns that I had taken before, as I usually go from Nottingham via Birmingham New Street, which means that I tend to get off at Smethwick Rolfe Street and walk. However, The Hawthorns station is so much nearer to the ground that I’m sorely tempted to forego my previous decision, walk the short distance from New Street to Birmingham Moor Street and catch a train from there. It literally is a case of leaving the station to find yourself on the Middlemore Road, from where you can see the stadium at the top of the hill – walk along the road and you’ll see a sign for away fans, which takes you up a (slightly meandering) path right into the away end. Job done.

Anything else?: The Hawthorns station was a matchday only halt between 1931 and 1968, when it closed. The current station opened in 1995 as part of the project to bring a light rail system to the West Midlands. The light rail platforms opened along with the rest of the Midland Metro in 1999.

The Hawthorns railway station

On the road to…Tottenham

Posted in London, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 25 November 2012

There are games and there are games. Some games, while exciting and important, do generate a certain “meh” factor. Some, usually against the big boys, have a fantastic atmosphere of “us against them”, which means getting a result against them is fantastic. And then there are the derbies. Now, supporting a London club as I do, there are usually a lot of them to be had. And they are all big occasions. But there are some that are bigger than others. And this is one of them. Whenever the fixture computer spits out the new season’s fixtures in June (assuming we are in the same division of course), the one that I always look for first is this one; the trip to our closest rivals (in terms of both geography and status). A trip to Tottenham Hotspur.

Date: 25th November 2012
Stadium: White Hart Lane
Capacity: 36,230
Attendance: 36.043
Away Section: South Stand
Score: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: White Hart Lane
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: £3.20 (2 x Oystercard PAYG Single)

Rail journeys:
13:45 – New Cross Gate to Canada Water (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Jubilee Line – Canada Water to London Bridge (1996 Stock)
Northern Line – London Bridge to Moorgate (1995 Stock)
Metropolitan Line – Moorgate to Liverpool Street (S8 Stock)
14:52 – London Liverpool Street to White Hart Lane (Greater Anglia Class 317)
18:02 (Dep 18:05) – White Hart Lane to London Liverpool Street (Greater Anglia Class 317)
Hammersmith & City Line – Liverpool Street to Moorgate (C69/77 Stock)
Northern Line – Moorgate to London Bridge (1995 Stock)
19:11 – London Bridge to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: The placement of White Hart Lane along Tottenham High Road makes it easily accessible from the nearest railway station, as White Hart Lane itself is one of myriad streets branching off at right angles to the main road. Essentially all you needto do is exit the railway station and turn right, walking down While Hart Lane until you reach the main road, and then turn right again. Given the development that is taking place in and around the stadium, you will easily be able to see it. The away section is in the South Stand which means you need to then turn left into Park Lane.

Anything else?: White Hart Lane is the only Premier or Football League stadium in London that shares its name with its nearest railway station.

White Hart Lane railway station

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On the road to…QPR

Posted in London, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 2 October 2012

As with buses, you wait ages for an away game, and then two come along at once. If you can call one of the myriad London derbies that there are in this season’s Premier League an away game that is. I mean, admittedly it isn’t a home game, but given that it’s taken place on a weeknight, and given where I work, it is actually easier for me to get to this away game than it is to get to a home game. Or even home come to that. Still, that’s neither here nor there. The point is it’s my first time back to one of my favourite grounds in the thick end of a decade, and the first game in the top flight since 1996 against QPR.

Date: 1st October 2012
Stadium: Loftus Road
Capacity: 18,360
Attendance: 17,363
Away Section: School End Upper
Score: Queen’s Park Rangers 1-2 West Ham United
Nearest station: White City
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: N/A (Zone 1-2 Travelcard)

Rail journeys:
Piccadilly LineSouth Kensington to Hammersmith (District/Piccadilly) (1973 Stock)
Hammersmith & City LineHammersmith (Circle/H&C) to Wood Lane (C69/77 Stock)
Central LineWhite City to Oxford Circus (1992 Stock)
Bakerloo Line – Oxford Circus to Charing Cross (1972 Stock)
22:47 – London Charing Cross to New Cross (Southeastern Class 376 Electrostar)

Station to Stadium: Loftus Road is one of those grounds that you almost have to dig up to find, it’s so well hidden behind houses and flats. Indeed, if it weren’t for the floodlight pylons, and the main entrance on South Africa Road saying “Loftus Road Stadium”, you could well miss it altogether. That being said, if you know where it is (and as always, following the crowd is a good bet), then you’ll know how to get there. For me it is to head down Wood Lane, away from Television Centre and the two tube stations and towards the Westway, before turning left into South Africa Road. You will be able to follow this all the way to the stadium’s main entrance. However, for this season away supporters have been stuck with just the upper tier of the School End, which involves walking from the South Africa Road side of the stadium to the Ellerslie Road side.

Anything Else?: Wood Lane is the second station on the Hammersmith & City line to bear the name; the first was opened in 1908 to serve the Summer Olympics and Franco-British Exhibition, renamed White City in 1947 and closed in 1959.

Wood Lane tube station

White City tube station

On the road to…Norwich

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 15 September 2012

It’s that time again. Finally I get the chance to venture away from London to watch football and start yet another tour of the country. Tiring though it can be at times to trek here there and everywhere, it does give me a buzz, especially when it’s somewhere I haven’t been in a while. I will say that, having been to all but two of this year’s stadia in the Premier League, it is less fun going to away games when you’ve been to them a million times. Which is why today’s trip was somewhat more fun, as it was to a place I last went to on our glorious run to the 2006 FA Cup Final, namely Norwich City.

Date: 15th September 2012
Stadium: Carrow Road
Capacity: 27,220
Attendance: 26,806
Away Section: Jarrold Stand
Score: Norwich City 0-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: Norwich
Local rozzers: Norfolk Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £41.10 (2 x  Off-Peak Day Returns; 1 x Oyster PAYG Single)

Rail journeys:
08:02 - Canada Water to Highbury & Islington (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Victoria Line - Highbury & Islington to Kings Cross St Pancras (2009 Stock)
08:45 – London Kings Cross to Cambridge (First Capital Connect Class 365 Networker)
10:12 – Cambridge to Norwich (Greater Anglia Class 170 Turbostar)
15:35 – Norwich to Cambridge (Greater Anglia Class 170 Turbostar)
17:04 – Cambridge to Tottenham Hale (Greater Anglia Class 317)
Victoria Line – Tottenham Hale to Blackhorse Road (2009 Stock)
18:21 – Blackhorse Road to Barking (London Overground Class 172 Turbostar)
18:47 – Barking to London Fenchurch Street (c2c Class 357 Electrostar)
19:24 – London Cannon Street to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: Getting to Carrow Road from the railway station genuinely couldn’t be easier, as you can see the floodlights on the left hand side of the train as you pull slowly into the platform. Upon leaving the ornate station building, simply turn left and head towards the Norwich Ring Road and the Riverside Entertainment Centre. It’s a 5-7 minute walk around the ring road, or slightly longer through the entertainment complex and retail park until you reach the neat little ground.

Anything else?: As with several cities, Norwich had a Victoria station and, as with many cities, Norwich Victoria has long sinced closed. The present Norwich station used to be called Norwich Thorpe.

Norwich railway station

Do you want more?

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 14 June 2012

Those of you with short memories might be aware that the football season has just finished, and my beloved West Ham won promotion back to the Premier League. You may also remember that, over the course of last season, I kept you informed of my travels around the country, from Burnley in the north to Portsmouth in the south, and Ipswich in the east to Bristol in the west. I know that I enjoyed keeping track of where I went, and how I got there, but I have no idea whether you, dear reader, enjoyed reading the record of my adventures. Well, the fixture list for next season is released on Monday, which will allow me to plan what away trips I will make. Unlike our year in the Championship, where I got to eight grounds that I’d not visited, this coming season will see a division where only two of our 19 opponents are ones I’ve not yet visited, Swansea City and Southampton. That being said, I do plan to go to a significant number of games, both from London and Nottingham, and I would be quite interested in doing another map following my journeys, as well as noting on here all of the rail journeys that I needed to take to get there. But, would you be interested in reading it?

Actually, to be brutally honest, I’m not particularly worried whether you want to read it or not, because as I’ve often said, my blog is my blog, and I’ll write what I want on it. I’ll try my best to make it entertaining, but if you don’t find it so, go figure. There are lots of interesting trips to take next season, hopefully with a good number of interesting rail journeys.

It’s just a shame that I can only do a maximum of eighteen away games – I’d love to get a clean sweep, but the one I will categorically never do is Manchester United. Not because I have any great hatred of Manchester United (though I do), but because I’ve been to Old Trafford once, in 2001, where we won, not a situation that happens particularly often. As a consequence, I have a 100% win record at Old Trafford against Manchester United, and I ain’t jepordising that for anything.

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On the road to…Wembley

Posted in London, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 22 May 2012

Well, well, well. Who’d have thought that I’d need to write one last post about an away trip this season. And to where? Why, to Wembley of course, thanks to our finishing third and having to negotiate the lottery of the play-offs. While of course automatic promotion is better, it does mean that those two gain the success without the opportunity to taking the long walk up to actually collect the trophy. Of course, it totally sucks if you end up on the losing side. So it’s best not to lose the most valuable game in football when we take on Blackpool.

Date: 19 May 2012
Stadium: Wembley Stadium
Capacity: 90,000
Attendence: 78,523
Away Section: Western End
Score: Blackpool 1-2 West Ham United
Nearest station: Wembley Stadium
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: £60.40p (1 x Super Off-Peak Return; 1 x All-Day Tramrider; 1 x Oystercard PAYG Single)

Rail Journeys:
NET Line 1Nottingham Trent University to Royal Centre (AT 6/5 Incentro)
NET Line 1 – Royal Centre to Nottingham Station Street (AT 6/5 Incentro)
11:02 – Nottingham to London St Pancras (East Midlands Trains Class 222 Meridian)
Circle LineKings Cross St Pancras to Baker Street (C69/77 Stock)
Metropolitan Line – Baker Street to Wembley Park (A60/62 Stock)
18:05 – Wembley Central to Kensal Green (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Bakerloo Line – Kensal Green to Baker Street (1972 Stock)
Circle Line – Baker Street to Kings Cross St Pancras (C69/77 Stock)
19:30 – London St Pancras to Nottingham (East Midlands Trains Class 222 Meridian)
NET Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Old Market Square (AT 6/5 Incentro)
NET Line 1 – Royal Centre to Nottingham Trent University (AT 6/5 Incentro)

Station to Stadium: Being the national stadium, Wembley has to be well served by public transport, and it has the virtue of having three separate railway stations close by. As with me on Saturday, most people will tend to arrive at Wembley Park, the only one of the three not to have a National Rail service, for a very good reason – it is from Wembley Park that fans take the iconic walk up “Wembley Way” (actually Olympic Way) that leads right to the exterior of the stadium, where once there were the famous Twin Towers, and now there is the Arch. Essentially it is down the big flight of stairs and through the tunnel, and then a straight walk all the way, making sure you then take the correct bridge up to the stadium, depending on which end you are in.

Somewhat unusually, the station I arrived at with this one was not the station I left from; given that most of the 80,000 would head back to Wembley Park, the smart thing is to use one of the others, and so I decamped to Wembley Central, which is the furthest of the three, but also fairly convenient if you are in the western end of the stadium (which we were). Heading off down South Way, past Wembley Stadium, down Wembley Hill Road and onto the High Road, and then it’s a brisk walk of around 10-15 minutes. Of course, on days when there are events, naturally there are more entrances, as Wembley Central has not benefitted to the degree Wembley Park has from reconstruction, and thus the main entrance, even for the reduced numbers that would head that way, would probably not cope.

Anything else?: While Wembley Stadium is the closest station to Wembley itself, both Wembley Park and Wembley Central have significantly more services to and from London.

Wembley Park tube station

Wembley Central railway station

On the road to…Leicester

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 24 April 2012

While I know football is a business that is driven by television is this day and age, and that football clubs derive significant income from having their games televised, I still retain a desire to go and watch football at 3.00pm on a Saturday afternoon, and feel immensely put out when a television company feels, seemingly on a whim, that it can move a game at quite short notice to another slot simply so that it can broadcast it. As it is, I had to give serious consideration whether our last away game of the season (potential play-off game notwithstanding) was feasible, as I would have had to take a half-day, as well as ensuring I could get home again. Having made a judgement call, I decided to go ahead and make the trip to Leicester City.

Date: 23rd April 2012
Stadium: King Power Stadium
Capacity: 32,262
Attendance: 23,172
Away Section: North East Corner
Score: Leicester City 1-2 West Ham United
Nearest station: Leicester
Local rozzers: Leicestershire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £44.50 (2 x  Advance Singles, 1 x Anytime Day Single)

Rail journeys:
District LineFulham Broadway to Paddington (C69/77 Stock)
Bakerloo Line – Paddington to Marylebone (1972 Stock)
15:07 – London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street (Chiltern Railways Class 168 Clubman)
17:22 – Birmingham New Street to Leicester (CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostar)
21:59 (Dep 22:12) – Leicester to London St Pancras (East Midlands Trains Class 222 Meridian)
Northern LineKings Cross St Pancras to London Bridge (1995 Stock)
00:06 – London Bridge to New Cross Gate (Southern Class 455)

Station to Stadium: The King Power Stadium is yet another of those new stadia built to replace a small, outdated one. Like some, it’s in the city rather than outside; like others, it’s a busting long walk from the railway station, especially if you’re in a rush. Not that it’s especially complicated – it’s simply a case of following the A594, which has signposts helpfully placed along the way to keep you in the right direction. But it’s a good 15-20 minutes on foot, so if you’re in a rush, take comfortable shoes.

Anything else?: If you’re from London travelling to a midweek game then beware – the last train to the metropolis leaves Leicester before 10.00pm, so you’ll likely have to leave the game before the end.

Leicester railway station

On the road to…Bristol City

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 21 April 2012

It is markedly annoying when the fixture computer decides to throw out those places that you’ve yet to get to midweek. Twice this season I’ve had to forego getting to such places because they’ve been scheduled for Tuesday nights. Fortunately however, I had long identified the Irons’ trip to Bristol City as an excuse to have a week in the city at the end of God’s Wonderful Railway. And thus stick two fingers up at the fixture computer for being a git.

Date: 17th April 2012
Stadium: Ashton Gate
Capacity: 21,497
Attendance: 16,669
Away Section: Wedlock Stand
Score: Bristol City 1-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Parson Street
Local rozzers: Avon & Somerset Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £8.60 (3 x  Off-Peak Day Singles)

Rail journeys:
18:26 (Dep 18:38) – Bristol Temple Meads to Parson Street (First Great Western Class 150 Sprinter)
22:00 (Dep 22:02) – Parson Street to Nailsea & Backwell (First Great Western Class 150 Sprinter)
22:21 (Dep 22:22) – Nailsea & Backwell to Bristol Temple Meads (First Great Western InterCity 125 High Speed Train)

Station to Stadium: Ashton Gate is located in a part of Bristol where railway access is limited. Parson Street station is closest and is around fifteen minutes walk, with the easiest way to be to turn left at the main road that runs parallel to the main line and follow it round until you eventually arrive at the away end. Of course, as this is not particularly well signposted, this may prove to be a little difficult.

Anything else?: Although Parson Street is the closest railway station, it has an hourly service, with the last train on a weekday supposed to be the 22:00. It is probably more advisable therefore to use Bristol’s bus network to make your way into the centre of the city.

Parson Street railway station

On the road to…Barnsley

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 11 April 2012

You tend to find that you get some recurring destinations when you’re an away fan, no matter what division of the league you play in. Were this to be a chronicle of a Premier League season for example, I might well be writing of seven separate trips to the North-West. As it is, here I am regaling you of my third trip to the wilds of South Yorkshire, as I make an excursion following the Irons to Barnsley.

Date: 6th April 2012
Stadium: Oakwell
Capacity: 23,009
Attendance: 11,151
Away Section: North Stand
Score: Barnsley 0-4 West Ham United
Nearest station: Barnsley Interchange
Local rozzers: South Yorkshire Police
Total Travel Cost: £25.20 (1 x Off Peak Return, 1 x Tram Only Dayrider)

Rail journeys:
NET Line 1Royal Centre to Nottingham Station Street (AT 6/5 Incentro)
14:45 – Nottingham to Sheffield (East Midlands Trains Class 158 Express Sprinter)
15:50 – Sheffield to Barnsley Interchange (Northern Rail Class 158 Express Sprinter)
19:40 – Barnsley Interchange to Nottingham (Northern Rail Class 158 Express Sprinter)
NET Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Royal Centre (AT 6/5 Incentro)

Station to Stadium: Oakwell is one of those old, northern grounds, in a valley, surrounded by terraced houses going uphill that, as the train pulls into the railway station, looks like it’ll be miles to walk. And yet it isn’t, as you simply walk towards the overpass that carries the A61 over the A628. However, rather than following the road down, as you might expect, you instead hang a sharp left, then a right, and walk up the hill towards that most 1970s of phenomena, the grass car park, through which you pass to reach the welcoming sight of the away turnstiles. All no more than 10 minutes from the railway station.

Anything else?: As a result of successive rail company takeovers, the current railway station has been called “Barnsley” (Jan 1850-Jun 1924), “Barnsley Low Town” (Jun 1924-Aug 1924), “Barnsley Exchange” (Aug 1924-June 1960), “Barnsley” (Jun 1960-May 2007), before assuming its current incarnation as “Barnsley Interchange”, serving as the town’s railway and main bus stations, in May 2007.

Barnsley Interchange

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