Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

On the road to…Newcastle

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 7 September 2013

HUZZAH!! The return of the football season!!! A return to trekking around the country on a Saturday afternoon (or a Sunday, if Sky have got their claws into the fixture). Ordinarily this, the first away fixture of the new season for us, would involve a four hour journey up from London to the Land of the Toon. But happily that won’t be the case for yours truly this time, as my annual trip to the Edinburgh Tattoo (combined with taking in a few shows at the Fringe) coincides with our trip to Newcastle United.

Date: 24th August 2013
Stadium: St James’ Park
Capacity: 52,404
Attendance: 49,622
Away Section: Sir John Hall Stand
Score: Newcastle United 0-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: St James
Local rozzers: Northumbria Police
Total Travel Cost: £30.85p (2 x Advance Singles)

Rail journeys:
12:00 – Edinburgh Waverley to Newcastle Central (East Coast InterCity 225 Mallard)
17:46 – Newcastle Central to Edinburgh Waverley (East Coast InterCity 125 High Speed Train)

Station to Stadium: St James’s Park is a familiar sight for people heading on the train north out of Newcastle, atop the hill. With it being so easy to see from the train, you’d expect it to be easy to reach from the station, and indeed it is, as there are several different routes towards the ground simply by crossing the road and heading upwards towards Chinatown. Because the stadium is so big it is difficult to miss. Even a slow jaunt will take you no more than 10 minutes. Of course, you then have to prepare yourself for the climb to Level 7 of the Sir John Hall Stand.

Anything else?: St James station has a unique colour scheme on the Tyne & Wear Metro, as it is decked out in the black and white colours of Newcastle United, rather than the corporate cream and yellow.

Newcastle Central railway station

On the road to…Manchester City

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 1 May 2013

Eventually, we all have to make that journey; the journey that all teams that win promotion to the top flight have to make at least once a season, and that is the one to the home of the reigning league champions. And, most years, that will involve a trip to what is arguably England’s second city…although the people that live there can fight out that claim with the other one that is arguably England’s second city. However, just for once, it isn’t to the home of the ones that bear the name of one city but reside in another that this accolade belongs, but instead to their “noisy neighbours”, Manchester City

Date: 27th April 2013
Stadium: City of Manchester Stadium
Capacity: 47,805
Attendance: 47,189
Away Section: South Stand
Score: Manchester City 2-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Etihad Campus
Local rozzers: Greater Manchester Police
Total Travel Cost: £32.20p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return; 1 x Tram Only Dayrider; 1 x Matchday Return)

Rail journeys:
Line 1Nottingham Trent University to Nottingham Station Street (AT6/5 Incentro)
09:45 – Nottingham to Manchester Piccadilly (East Midlands Trains Class 158 Express Sprinter)
East Manchester LinePiccadilly to Etihad Campus (M5000 Flexity Swift)
East Manchester Line – Etihad Campus to Piccadilly (M5000 Flexity Swift)
15:43 – Manchester Piccadilly to Nottingham (East Midlands Trains Class 158 Express Sprinter)
Line 1 – Nottingham Station Street to Nottingham Trent University (AT6/5 Incentro)

Station to Stadium: Initially, on construction of the City of Manchester Stadium, Ashburys was the closest railway station. The construction of the new Metrolink line to Droylsden has since seen a new transport link adjacent to the stadium, with a station serving it directly. The station is located at the north end of the ground, which is also where the club have built a “plaza” for pre-match entertainments; to reach the away end entails simply walking around the exterior of the ground. However, this can prove inconvenient as the police helpfully cordon off the away section at the end of the game – as a consequence, it may be more convenient for away fans to use Velopark, one stop further on, which is also closer to the away end, just five minutes down the Ashton New Road.

Anything else?: Etihad Campus was the third name assigned to the station before it opened, having initially been known as Sportcity-Stadium and then Eastlands City Stadium, before gaining its present name with the advent of the Etihad Campus development.

Etihad Campus station

Etihad Campus Metrolink station

On the road to…Chelsea

Posted in London, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 18 March 2013

Ah, the derby. It is completely alien to me what it’s like supporting a team from a one club city, given that it’s a rarity that the Premier League has less than five clubs from London in it. As a consequence, when you support a London club it ends up as derby after derby, with the occasional visit from a team from the north-west. Well, this is the last of my away trips in the nation’s capital for this year, and the one that, were it a midweek game, would not even entail a rail journey to get to the ground, given that in my day job I work not ten minutes walk from Chelsea.

Date: 17th March 2013
Stadium: Stamford Bridge
Capacity: 41,837
Attendance: 41,639
Away Section: Shed End
Score: Chelsea 2-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: Fulham Broadway
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: £4.80p (2 x Oystercard extension, 1 x Oyster Tram single)

Rail journeys:
13:39 – Lewisham to London Victoria (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
14:36 – London Victoria to Clapham Junction (Southern Class 377 Electrostar)
14:46 – Clapham Junction to West Brompton (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
District Line – West Brompton to Fulham Broadway (D78 Stock)
District Line – Fulham Broadway to Wimbledon (D78 Stock)
Route 3 – Wimbledon to East Croydon (CR4000 Flexity Swift)
18:47 – East Croydon to London Bridge (Southern Class 377 Electrostar)
19:27 – London Bridge to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: The area around Stamford Bridge could be described in part as one of the more affluent locations to host a football club, which is why Fulham Broadway station has an upmarket shopping centre with a cinema, several eateries and a gym/fitness centre over it. Of course, in order to avoid the centre being swamped with a load of plebby football fans on matchdays, there are now separate entrance/exit routes off the platforms, which bring you out behind the centre with a direct walk onto the Fulham Road. Then it’s simply a case of turning left and finding the right entrance, as, like other grounds I’ve been to, this one opens out in one direction. For the away fan, the entrance is the one on the east side of the ground, next to the two hotels that Chelsea decided were a better idea than a larger ground to build.

Anything else?: Heading south from West Brompton, the Wimbledon branch of the District Line runs along the north side of Stamford Bridge to call at Fulham Broadway, while the West London Line runs along the east side to Imperial Wharf, effectively hemming the stadium in and making any  expansion difficult, hence the reason for Chelsea’s bid for Battersea Power Station.

Fulham Broadway station

Fulham Broadway tube station

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On the road to…Fulham

Posted in London, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 31 January 2013

Just like buses are league derbies. You wait ages, and then three come along in succession. Not content with the last away game to Arsenal, the one prior to that was a home game against QPR. Would you Adam and Eve it (said Chairman Pip going all cockney on the world)? Still, there we are – we go where we must. And obviously a derby game is a must, no matter who it is against. There are the big ones against ones most hated rivals, and then there are the other ones – of course you still want to win, because you want bragging rights. But there is much less of the intrinsic hostility. That being said, I’ll be very annoyed if, having been their bogey team for so long, we fail to come away with something from the trip to Fulham.

Date: 30th January 2013
Stadium: Craven Cottage
Capacity: 25,678
Attendance: 24,791
Away Section: Putney End
Score: Fulham 3-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Putney Bridge
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: N/A (Zone 1-2 Travelcard)

Rail journeys:
District LineFulham Broadway to Putney Bridge (C69/77 Stock)
District Line – Putney Bridge to Wimbledon (D78 Stock)
22:17 – Wimbledon to London Waterloo (South West Trains Class 455)
22:55 – London Waterloo East to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: Craven Cottage is one of those funny grounds that looks like it should be fairly close to the nearest station, until you actually get there and find that it isn’t. Not that I’m saying that it’s an especially onerous walk – it’s quite pleasant in fact, as all you need do once leaving the station is cross over Putney Bridge itself and descend into Bishops Park, which then allows you to do something that you very rarely get to do when going to football, which is take a walk by the river. That being said, this particular walk will take you a good 10-15 minutes and (as I found out) is not to be advised for an evening game as the river path has no lighting at all.

Anything else?: The route between Putney Bridge and East Putney is one of only two points where the Underground network crosses over the River Thames rather than under it, the other being between Gunnersbury and Kew Gardens, also on the District Line.

Putney Bridge tube station

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On the road to…Arsenal

Posted in London, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 23 January 2013

One of the joys of supporting a London club is the presence in our nation’s capital of so many Premier and Football League clubs, which brings about a significant number of derbies. There are six London clubs in the 2012-13 Premier League, so out of a total of 760 games to be played, 60 of them (or nearly 8%) will be London derbies. All of this means that there are many opportunities for the gaining of bragging rights for me this season. Which takes me to derby number seven so far, and the scene of yet another memorable away day trip as I make the relatively short journey to Arsenal.

Date: 23rd January 2013
Stadium: Emirates Stadium
Capacity: 60,432
Attendance: 60,081
Away Section: Clock End
Score: Arsenal 5-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Holloway Road, Drayton Park or Arsenal
Local rozzers: Metropolitan Police
Total Travel Cost: N/A – Zone 1-2 Travelcard

Rail journeys:
Piccadilly LineEarls Court to Arsenal (1973 Stock)
21:47 – Highbury & Islington to Dalston Junction (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
21:55 – Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)

Station to Stadium: The Emirates Stadium is located on Drayton Park on a triangular piece of land with a railway station and two tube stations forming the three points. However, the eponymous Drayton Park is not open on match days, while Holloway Road has severe restrictions on it, which means that the closest is Arsenal tube station, which is literally a hop, skip and jump away from the ground – exit the station and simply turn right, and then left, following the road around, until you reach Highbury House, which contains the club offices, then up and over the bridge across the Northern City Line where you find yourself on the plaza outside the stadium.

Unlike many stadia, getting away does not necessarily involve going to the same station, which is useful for me. Rather than going back the way you came to Arsenal, go in thesame direction as you came, following Drayton Park (past the railway station), until you come to the Holloway Road, and then turn left, walking right down to the end until you get to Highbury & Islington station.

Anything else?: Gillespie Road tube station opened in 1906. Following a campaign by then manager Herbert Chapman, in 1932 Gillespie Road was renamed as Arsenal, making it the only underground station named for a football club.

Arsenal tube station

Highbury & Islington railway station

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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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Airlines profiteering? Surely not!

Posted in Business, Europe, Great Britain, High Speed, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 26 April 2012

As the sound of Gary Neville’s “goalgasm” fades, and Chelsea look forward to their date with destiny following their heroics in the Nou Camp, the thoughts of thousands of Blues fans have no doubt turned to the prospect of getting to Munich – how to get there, and how much it will cost. It was with interest therefore that I noted a story in yesterday’s Evening Standard. Doubtless there will be some who will have the idea of clubbing together with a load of mates and hiring a minibus. Well, that’s fine, but it’ll take a shitload of time. The obvious answer is to fly, as Munich is a big city, and has relatively good connections to the UK, with both British Airways and Lufthansa, as well as Easyjet, flying directly to Munich Airport. However, never let it be said that airlines don’t take advantage of an opportunity to fleece a load of people that have somewhere they desperately want/need to be at a very specific time. British Airways have announced prices for flights around the time of the Champions League final of around £700, while apparently Easyjet are offering £800. Even Ryanair, whose hub for Munich isn’t Munich Airport, but Memmingen Airport (which is 110km from the centre of Munich) are offering flights for £470 – the weekend before they’re offering the same flights for £32. People will doubtless pay, but there is an alternative. Fly somewhere else, and then get on the ICE, which, at least as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is a shedload cheaper than the £700 BA will take from you. Of course, it will take longer (the train from Hamburg-Altona to Munich takes around 6 hours), but as I’ve often said, you pay for time, and if you’re unconcerned about the time you actually get there, as I would assume most people will make their way the day before and home the days after the game, then it could well be a winner.

“Ryanair Hikes Fares for Chelsea Fans’ Trip to Soccer Final”

The profiteering leprechaun strikes again

Speaking of high speed trains, there was something else I noticed in yesterday’s paper, this time (as is often the case) on the letters page. Or, more specifically, the “text your ranting in and we’ll print it” section. As it’s short, I’ll quote verbatim:

If Chiltern Railways can operate a 100 minute service between Marylebone and Birmingham, what is the point of spending £30 billion on HS2?
John Benjamin

Once again, Joe Public (or in this case John Benjamin) misses the point. Birmingham was not, is not and never will be the ultimate destination of HS2. It’s intention is to allow faster travel to London from various points in the north. But, perhaps even more importantly, it is intended to increase capacity so that more interurban (as opposed to intercity) trains can run. This will start off allowing more capacity on the southern section of the WCML by removing express trains. This idea will be extended further northwards when Phase 2 is built. The idea is being able to put more trains onto the existing network, as well as letting express trains get to their destinations faster. Surely this is something that the government should be putting right at the top of its publicity. It isn’t that hard a concept to get one’s head around after all.

Chiltern Railways do offer an excellent 100 minute service from London to Birmingham. But the point of HS2 is to increase capacity on the WCML, amongst other things

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