Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

On the road to…Southampton (again)

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 16 September 2013

Having had a full season back in the top flight, and having done a significant number of our fellow Premier League teams, it is eventually going to get to the point that the ones that I’ve done, not to mention told you all about already, are going to come around again. I did wonder about just detailing my journeys to the ones that I’d not yet put on here. But then I decided “sod it”; so, my aim is to detail all of the journeys I take this season, whether I’ve told you about them or not. However, I will aim to make as different a journey as is possible, and to try and give you a little variation in what I actually say to you. Because I wouldn’t want to give you all a sense of deja vu. so, we start the merry-go-round on its second revolution with a return trip to Southampton.

Date: 15th September 2013
Stadium: St Mary’s Stadium
Capacity: 32,689
Attendance: 28,794
Away Section: Northam Stand
Score: Southampton 0-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: Southampton Central
Local rozzers: Hampshire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £37.50p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return)

Rail journeys:
11:25 – New Cross to Canada Water (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Jubilee Line – Canada Water to Waterloo (1996 Stock)
11:54 – London Waterloo to Southampton Central (South West Trains Class 444 Desiro)
18:15 – Southampton Central to Oxford (CrossCountry Class 221 Super Voyager)
19:50 – Oxford to London Paddington (First Great Western Class 165 Networker Turbo)
Bakerloo LinePaddington to Baker Street (1972 Stock)
Jubilee Line – Baker Street to Southwark (1996 Stock)
21:49- London Waterloo East to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: St Mary’s is still a long walk from Southampton Central, but it remains worth leaving via the southern entrance onto the Western Esplanade, as it is a straight run up the hill and down the other side until you reach the subway complex, after which you turn right and just carry on walking. I have no doubt that this is a very pleasant jaunt when the weather’s nice. Having never been to Southampton in nice weather, I wouldn’t know. And I’ve still not found the shuttle bus.

Anything else?: Although the station is named Southampton Central, it is not especially close to the centre of the city. The city’s central station was Southampton Terminus, which closed in 1966.

Southampton Central railway station

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On the road to…Southampton

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 13 April 2013

Finally, at long last, an away game to get excited about. You might wonder, dear reader, why this particular one is such a one to get my juices mixing and gushing with excitement. Well, I’ll tell you – I’ve been travelling around the country under my own steam (well, my own money, and National Rail’s steam actually) for some time now, and for most of that time I’ve been watching a Premier League team. And therefore I’ve been going to the same old away games year after year. That’s why last season was so exciting, as it meant trips to a load of places I’d not been before. This season, I’ve had just two opportunities, and one of them went for a burton right at the start of the season. That, and the lack of a run in either cup competition, has meant that this one is my only opportunity to add a new ground to my list. Hence I’m morbidly excited about the trip to Southampton.

Date: 13th April 2013
Stadium: St Mary’s Stadium
Capacity: 32,689
Attendance: 31,984
Away Section: Northam Stand
Score: Southampton 1-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Southampton Central
Local rozzers: Hampshire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £37.50p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return)

Rail journeys:
10:58 – New Cross to Cannon Street (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
Waterloo & City LineBank to Waterloo (1992 Stock)
11:39 – London Waterloo to Southampton Central (South West Trains Class 444 Desiro)
17:47 – Southampton Central to Reading (CrossCountry Class 221 Super Voyager)
18:39 – Reading to London Paddington (First Great Western InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
Bakerloo LinePaddington to Charing Cross (1972 Stock)
20:02 – London Charing Cross to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: St Mary’s is yet another one of the brand new stadia that have sprung up around the country over the last few years, and is also one of those that is a fair heft from the railway station. Fortunately, although a fair old walk, unlike some others, it is still in the city centre, and therefore does not require walking along a dual carriageway. Southampton Central has two entrances – by leaving the station via the southern entrance, you find yourself on the Western Esplanade. Walk straight on up here, past the Civic Centre and onwards down to the major intersection, where there is a comprehensive pedestrian subway system. Ensure that the route you take through the subway brings you to opposite where you’ve just come from, and carry on walking down, past the gas holders, and you end up at Britannia Road, which will then take you to the away end.

There is also a shuttle bus that runs from the northern side of the railway station, which, today certainly, would have been a better option to avoid getting wet.

Anything else?: The South Western Main Line branches just north of St Mary’s; the main line continues on to into Southampton Central, while the branch continues past the ground and onwards towards Southampton Waterfront. The route has been safeguarded, and there have been calls for the route to be reopened for passenger trains, including a station to serve St Mary’s.

Southampton Central railway station

On the road to…Aston Villa

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 13 February 2013

When one goes to watch football in England, there are certain places that perhaps resonate more than others. Wembley, the “Venue of Legends” is of course the ultimate one, one that I’m forever pleased to say I’ve now been to. As a Londoner, supporting a London club, trips to our local rivals are also up there. But then there are others, those major, major grounds that have history for practically everyone, which is what this one does – this one, the scene of yet another of those magical moments in my personal story, the home of Aston Villa.

Date: 10th February 2013
Stadium: Villa Park
Capacity: 42,788
Attendance: 30,503
Away Section: Doug Ellis Stand
Score: Aston Villa 2-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Witton
Local rozzers: West Midlands Police
Total Travel Cost: £20.50 (1 x Off-Peak Day Return, 1 x Tram Only Dayrider)

Rail journeys:
NET Line 1Lace Market to Nottingham Station Street (AT6/5 Incentro)
10:27 – Nottingham to Leicester (East Midlands Trains InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
11:19 (Dep 11:21) – Leicester to Birmingham New Street (CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostar)
12:43 – Birmingham New Street to Witton (London Midland Class 323)
15:17 – Witton to Birmingham New Street (London Midland Class 170 Turbostar)
16:12 – Birmingham New Street to Derby (CrossCountry Class 220 Voyager)
17:40 – Derby to Nottingham (CrossCountry Class 170 Turbostar)
NET Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Royal Centre (AT6/5 Incentro)

Station to Stadium: Villa Park is unquestionably seen as one of the great stadia in England; one that all those that follow a club feel they want to go to at least once. So, it is perhaps fortunate that, while its position is not totally equidistant, it does sit between a pair of railway stations, making it somewhat easier to arrive at the ground from different directions. Of the two (Aston and Witton), Witton is the closer by some margin, being only around 500m from the entrance to the away section as the crow flies. Of course, fans will have to walk, which makes it a little bit longer. Coming out of the platform onto Witton Road means you need to turn left under the railway bridge, and then take the next left onto Manor Road, at which point you can see the stadium over the roofs of the surrounding buildings.

Anything else?: In my personal experience, Aston Villa is the only away trip I have made where “football specials” still run. These run on the former freight section of the Chase Line before turning back towards Birmingham New Street. As a consequence, it is possible on these trains to arrive and leave Witton on the same platform.

Witton railway station

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