Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

On the road to…those places I didn’t get to

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 30 March 2012

Now that I have in place the preparations for my last few away trips, which means that I’m committed to doing them, I can take a look at the six away games that, for one reason or another, I wasn’t able to get to this season, and I thought it would be an interesting paper exercise to see just how I would have reached each of those destinations, had the circumstances been different and they been played on a Saturday, not to mention what the cost might have ended up being. I will start by saying that, of the six, I have previously been to three of them (which means that I have been to 21 of the 24 clubs in this season’s Championship), so that I should (in theory) know how to get to those three stadia. In theory.

On the road to…Nottingham Forest
The first away game I had to miss this season was, somewhat ironically, the one away game outside London that I would have guaranteed on going to, given that the vast majority of away games I go to that are in the Midlands I tend to stay in Nottingham for. However, my favourite nemesis this season has been the fixture computer, which on this occasion scheduled the trip to Nottingham Forest for the same weekend as I was travelling up to Edinburgh.

Date: 28 August 2011
Stadium: City Ground
Capacity: 30,603
Attendence: 21,379
Away Section: Bridgford Stand
Score: Nottingham Forest 1-4 West Ham United
Nearest station: Nottingham or Nottingham Station Street
Local rozzers: Nottinghamshire Police
Total Travel Cost: £3.20 (1 x Dayrider)

Rail Journeys:
NET Line 1 – Nottingham Trent University to Nottingham Station Street
NET Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Nottingham Trent University

Station to Stadium: The City Ground is yet another of those relatively centrally placed stadia that requires a bit of effort on the part of Shank’s Pony to get you there from the station. Fortunately, the quickest way is relatively straightforward, especially when coming from Station Street, as all it requires is turning left out of the tram stop, walking all the way to the end of the road to London Road, and then turning right and just walking until you see the ground on the other side of the Trent Bridge.

Anything else?: Despite being the sporting hub of the city, with not only Nottingham Forest, but also Notts County and Nottinghamshire CCC located in and around the area of the Trent Bridge, NET Phase 2 will not be constructed to serve the centre of West Bridgford.

Nottingham Station Street tram stop

On the road to…Southampton
This was one that I hadn’t done, so you can imagine my annoyance that the fixture computer spat it out on a Tuesday night. I did give very serious consideration to taking half a day and going down there, but I feel a bit funny about going to a ground for the first time midweek when it’s quite a distance from home. As a consequence, this time at least, I had to give Southampton a miss.

Date: 18 October 2011
Stadium: St Mary’s Stadium
Capacity: 32,689
Attendence: 32,152 (Stadium Record)
Away Section: Northam Stand
Score: Southampton 1-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: St Denys or Southampton Central
Local rozzers: Hampshire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £38.00 (1 x Off-Peak Day Return + 1 Shuttle Bus Return)

Rail Journeys:
11:48 – New Cross to London Bridge (Southeastern)
11:58 – London Bridge to London Waterloo East (Southeastern)
12:35 – London Waterloo to Southampton Central (South West Trains)
17:47 – Southampton Central to Reading (CrossCountry)
18:45 – Reading to London Paddington (First Great Western)
Bakerloo LinePaddington to Charing Cross
20:02 – London Charing Cross to New Cross (Southeastern)

Station to Stadium: Bearing in mind that I’ve not been to St Mary’s as yet, I can only impart what I’ve read. However, given that it is a new stadium that is a bit of a walk, and given that there are shuttle buses (good invention those) laid on, the best advice would be to make use of them. I intend to once I get there.

Anything else?: The ticket office at St Denys station is located not by the main entrance, which appears to be a somewhat hidden set of steps leading to a long footbridge, but on the central island platform that forms Platforms 2 and 3.

Southampton Central railway station

On the road to…Middlesbrough
Whoever thought it was a good idea to schedule this one for a Tuesday night must have been smoking something. That being said, Middlesbrough is as far north as you can go in this division this season, so it would probably be a trek for anyone going there for a midweek game. Still, I’d imagine that fans from Yorkshire wouldn’t take quite so long to get home.

Date: 29 November 2011
Stadium: Riverside Stadium
Capacity: 34,988
Attendence: 18,457
Away Section: South Stand
Score: Middlesbrough 0-2 West Ham United
Nearest station: Middlesbrough
Local rozzers: Cleveland Police
Total Travel Cost: £77.40 (2 x Advance Singles)

Rail Journeys:
09:16 – New Cross Gate to Highbury & Islington (London Overground)
Victoria Line – Highbury & Islington to Kings Cross St Pancras
10:30 – London Kings Cross to Darlington (East Coast)
13:30 – Darlington to Middlesbrough (Northern Rail)
17:24 – Middlesbrough to Darlington (Northern Rail)
18:26 – Darlington to London Kings Cross (East Coast)
Victoria Line – Kings Cross St Pancras to Highbury & Islington
22:25 – Highbury & Islington to New Cross Gate (London Overground)

Station to Stadium: The Riverside Stadium is the second of those places that I have yet to visit, but fortunately I’ve seen many pictures of it and, based on those, it seems to dominate the skyline, as there doesn’t appear to have been anything built around it. Which means that it shouldn’t be too difficult to find, once you’ve exited the railway station.

Anything else?: Plans are afoot to make Middlesbrough the hub of the proposed Tees Valley Metro, a plan intended to provide more frequent and faster trains in the Tees Valley.

Middlesbrough railway station

On the road to…Birmingham
I’m not one from shying away from a difficult journey, and I’m certainly not one for thinking that a holiday period should immediately mean a cessation of travelling for football. However, the fact that the railway network seems to have, in recent years, taken to shutting down completely on Boxing Day kinda means that, unless the away game is in London, getting to an away game the day after Christmas is pretty much a non-starter. Which explains why I couldn’t make it to Birmingham City.

Date: 26 December 2011
Stadium: St Andrew’s
Capacity: 30,009
Attendance: 20,214
Away Section: Gil Merrick Stand
Score: Birmingham City 1-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Bordesley
Local rozzers: West Midlands Police
Total Travel Cost: £19.40 (1 x Off-Peak Return, 2 x Off-Peak Tram Only Singles)

Rail Journeys:
NET Line 1Royal Centre to Nottingham Station Street
11:37 – Nottingham to Birmingham New Street (CrossCountry)
17:49 – Birmingham New Street to Nottingham (CrossCountry)
NET Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Nottingham Trent University

Station to Stadium: Once again, St Andrew’s is another of those grounds that has been around for decades, but is a fair old trek to get to. Arriving from Birmingham New Street you’ll actually have to walk through the Bullring and past Birmingham Moor Street before arriving at the long dual carriageway that you walk down to take you towards Small Heath and the ground. I’ve done it in 25 minutes before. If you’ve got little legs, give yourself more time.

Anything else?: Bordesley, on the line out of Birmingham Snow Hill, is the closest station to the ground, but is only used on matchdays. Aside from this, it has one service a week.

Birmingham New Street railway station

On the road to…Blackpool
There are occasions when circumstances leave you hanging, such as cup replays, which end up meaning you don’t know when a game is going to be scheduled for, and so you can’t prepare and have to take the unfortunate decision to call off your plans. Thus it was with Blackpool this season, as their FA Cup exploits eventually ended up seeing our trip there moved from a Saturday to a Tuesday night. And when you aren’t staying up there, to get to Blackpool on a Tuesday night and home again is difficult.

Date: 21 February 2012
Stadium: Bloomfield Road
Capacity: 16,220
Attendence: 13,043
Away Section: East Stand
Score: Blackpool 1-4 West Ham United
Nearest station: Blackpool South
Local rozzers: Lancashire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £46.50p (2 x Advance Singles, 1 x Tram Single)

Rail Journeys:
09:18 – New Cross to London Bridge (Southeastern)
Northern LineLondon Bridge to Euston
10:30 – London Euston to Preston (Virgin Trains)
13:02 – Preston to Blackpool South (Northern Rail)
Blackpool TramwayWaterloo Road to North Pier
18:20 – Blackpool North to Preston (Northern Rail)
19:01 – Preston to London Euston (Virgin Trains)
Northern Line – Euston to London Bridge
22:22 – London Bridge to New Cross Gate (Southern)

Station to Stadium: Bloomfield Road is very nicely situated at one end of a giant car park, presumably put in due to the proximity of the Pleasure Beach. Fortunately, Blackpool South station is located at the other end of the car park, making it very easy to traverse the 5 minute walk through said car park from the station to the ground.

Anything else?: Blackpool’s tramway was the one remaining first-generation network left after the rest of the country disposed of trams in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s now received a massive upgrade to turn it into a proper second-generation network, complete with new light rail vehicles. However, it will retain part of its history through the refurbishment and continued use of a number of its double decker trams.

Blackpool South railway station

On the road to…Cardiff
There are some places that are nice and friendly, aside from the traditional banter. There are others where you should really have a quantity of brave pills to hand if you choose to venture there. Hence the reason that, when the fixture list came out, I said that I would definitely do Millwall, and definitely do Leeds, and categorically would not do Cardiff City; a decision further helped by the fact that it was moved to a Sunday morning, and Cardiff have completely incomprehensible ticketing arrangements.

Date: 4 March 2012
Stadium: Cardiff City Stadium
Capacity: 26,828
Attendence: 23,872
Away Section: Ninian Stand/Grange Stand
Score: Cardiff City 0-2 West Ham United
Nearest station: Ninian Park
Local rozzers: South Wales Police
Total Travel Cost: £45.00 (2 x Advance Singles)

Rail Journeys:
10:28 – New Cross to London Bridge (Southeastern)
10:44 – London Bridge to London Charing Cross (Southeastern)
Bakerloo LineCharing Cross to Paddington
11:45 – London Paddington to Cardiff Central (First Great Western)
17:25 – Cardiff Central to London Paddington (First Great Western)
Bakerloo Line – Paddington to Charing Cross
20:17 – London Charing Cross to New Cross (Southeastern)

Station to Stadium: To reach the Cardiff City Stadium, according to what I’ve read, it is a fairly routine walk along the aptly named Ninian Park Road, which apparently takes in the region of 25 minutes. That however is after you’ve had to trek all the way to Cardiff West services on the M4 to exchange the voucher they gave you for a match ticket.

Anything else?: Cardiff Central has a total of seven platform faces, numbered 0-4 (with 3 and 4 divided into A and B sections) and 6-7. Plans exist to build a new platform, which could end up with the reinstatement of Platform 5.

Cardiff Central railway station

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