Sunday 29 April 2012

That's the Wander at Westfield

Intrepid Interchange Investigation
Or, Mission Impossible?
Good Morning Mr Phelps. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find your way from Stratford bus station (just out of picture bottom left) to Stratford International Docklands Light Railway [DLR] Station which is ... erm ... somewhere else.
This tape will self destruct in five seconds.

Unfortunately neither Jim Phelps nor fbb (on a recent visit) had the benefit of either the aerial view or a map. So we start at the huge flight of steps that lead onto the new bridge over the railway line.
There are large glazed panels on the parapets which means that you have a good view of the whole station; a trainspotters paradise.
But where next? Look, a huge direction sign ...
... which takes you down, through the station subway and back to where you started. Failure!

But, there is hope; just a few yards further on is a very tall sign with very small print ...
... to Stratford International (sorry about the camera shake!); but still no actual mention of DLR. This seems to lead along "The Street" which is an unusual feature for an indoor shopping mall. It isn't indoors.
At the street junction, however, there was no sign to either DLR or Stratford International; but there was a man wearing large foam plastic "joke" hands ...
... (something like these) directing people to something somewhere else. "Up there," he said, "and through the double doors." 
Now you were inside the inside bit of Westfield. Using "stab in the dark" technology fbb crossed the "mall" and immediately went outside again. There were no signs. And there, in all its spartan glory, down a huge flight of steps and across an open bit, was Stratford International station.
Now look carefully to the right of the right-hand tall pillar and the left of the orange jacket and what do you see? Not a lot!
But there is an obvious and well designed paper poster (!) stuck on the glass which takes you into the International terminal building. And you keep going, gazing ever upwards, and you then espy ...
... in the gloom of the roof space a sign to "Way Out DLR"; and boy is it way out! So it is outside again and, at last, the holy grail is there; the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow; shargri-la.

Yes you have found the DLR International Station.
Cue Lalo Schifrin's irritating but memorable music. Mission Impossible : Achieved!

Now if this were France, or Germany or the Netherlands; all this would be part of one fully integrated public transport block; itself constructed as an integral part of the shopping centre. But, here in GB, everything is a separate company with rain-forest's worth of contractual paperwork and it's a wonder that Stratford International station isn't at Dagenham.

Before someone sends in a critical comment, fbb is fully aware that only a complete fruit cake would want to walk from Stratford (main) station all the way through Westfield shopping centre to catch a Docklands train that would pass back through Stratford (main) Station 2 minutes after departure. And yes, fbb is a bit of a fruit cake!
black dotted line : fbb's walk route.
See "That's the Wonder of Westfield" (read again)

But, there only was one sign. What about folk who might want to catch the Javelin service to Kent? Or be thrilled with a high speed run into St Pancras? What about people who may want to enjoy the shopping experience and not walk all the way back before catching their train to West Ham?

Perhaps things were better in the "inside" mall? Of course, there did seem to be signs to the car parks.

It all makes fbb really, really glad that he lives on the Isle of Wight where the total number of escalators is ...
... ONE: here at British Home Stores on the busy Newport High Street.

A look at the Stratford bus stations is postponed. Just the thought of Westfield is too exhausting. And thanks again to Alan, long suffering side-kick, for some more snaps.
 Next : Monday 30th April 


  1. A few months ago I also went to look at Westfield and the variety of transport connections, but arriving at Stratford International DLR. In particular I wanted to see Stratford International Bus Station before continuing to catch the other DLR line. Perhaps your blog will continue, but if not I expect you can guess what problems I had.

  2. I will be looking at bus "connections" in due course. The complications were/are "challenging" but expect a blog in about a week.

  3. I too did it the other way round, though as a Man of Kent, I arrived by Javelin. But that threw me, as Stratford High Speed now has two exits - I think the newer one is the easternmost of the pair.

    That means that the walking distance back through Westfield is shorter, especially if you use the northern entrance to the main station - roughly adjacent to the end of the Overground route on the map (perhaps it should be marked as E?). And signing to "Underground" was reasonable in this direction.

    Never found the other bus station though...

  4. I recently went to a meeting at Stratford and during the lunch break I wandered around Westfield but never even realised that there was a DLR station to be found.

  5. Like Man of Kent, we arrived at International by Javelin a few months ago, when the DLR wasn't running (boo, hiss!). We ended up in what appeared to be a loading bay to the right of the large staircase at Westfield, and eventually walked through the centre to get to the northern Stratford station entrance. Signage from the HS1 station was IMHO very poor.

    Returned yesterday by DLR to International and we commented that this really is two stations as the HS1 station seems totally divorced from the DLR one. And what is the point of the other DLR station exit???...