Thursday 24 February 2022

James Jolly Journey (3)

That's The Way To Do It!

Hitting policemen with a big stick; beating the wife ditto; stealing sausages and allowing a crocodile to stalk the streets are surely less than acceptable content these days. Hey, they are traditional fun!

But the accompanying catch phrase does resonate with the efforts of a skilled rail and bus traveller to get the best out of the system.
Such a person is James Abbott, consulting editor of Modern Railways. His journey from Tonbridge to Buckingham closely followed the journey planner (Traveline) route as seen in yesterday's blog.
James does not tell us what his time constraints were, only that he was invited to a wedding. Skilled users of the UK's transport system are less likely to turn to journey planners because they know the options by heart and by experience.

James would know that he had  four trains an hour from Tonbridge to London ...
But, whether by accident or design, he caught the 1139 departure, ten minutes earlier that the journey planner advised. This is "fast" to London Bridge (by a massive three minutes) eschewing the stop at Orpington and arriving there at 1211.

He refers to his interchange at London Bridge as a "brisk step down and up the escalators" ...
... brisk isn't the word. He caught a 1216 Thameslink departure going, eventually, to Cambridge. 5 minutes - impressive!
After 15 minutes leisurely amble, Thameslink deposited him at St Pancras at 1231. Of course he took the exit to Midland Road ...
... but he eschewed the busy Euston Road. Our James is made of sterner stuff and he used his extensive local knowledge.
Opposite the St Pancras exit is a back street called ...
... Brill Place. It has no street name board at the St Pancras end, but there is a helpful directional sign up a convenient pole.
Brill Place becomes Phoenix Road ...
... and all that is necessary is to adopt that well know motivational song and "keep right on to the end of the road" where you would espy ...
... the familiar but architecturally uninspiring former parcels deck above the platforms at Euston Station. Sadly there is no side entrance equivalent to that at St Pancakes, so it is left turn, and short nip down Eversholt Street and there you are ...
... at the entrance to M&S Simply Food; beyond which you are in the circulating area of Euston Station.

A fitter-than-fbb James arrived with a couple of minutes to spare "before the door-close warble" of the 1243 Avanti West Coast - going somewhere! 12 mins approx platform to platform; AND he had to buy his ticket from a machine. James did confess to being "somewhat breathless". fbb would have been in a gibbering heap somewhere on Phoenix Road!

For the Euston departure fbb tried to do what the Avanti web site said he could ...
... but nary a PDF would appear!
Timetable secrecy appears to be First Rail's policy.

James reported an on time arrival at Milton Keynes Central at 1313.

He had used the wonders of phone and internet to check on the times of the X5 ...
... and confessed to thinking there was little chance ...
... of making the 1315.

But he did! And he duly arrived in Buckingham at 1337, one hour and 58 minutes after departing from Tonbridge.

The closing paragraph of his editorial in the March issue of Modern Railways says it all.
Well done that man. And a saving of 52 minutes on the journey planner time.

That is why timetables and, above all the experience of a man who knows, can often trump an impersonal journey planner. Of course most of James' connections were way quicker that the recommended times built in to the JP. No one would seriously advised an inexperienced traveller that in one hour and 58 minutes they could "nip" from Tonbridge to Buckingham including crossing London and using three trains and a bus.

The chances of all four legs running on time would be low.

But sometimes, it can be done. 

fbb once beat the odds on a journey from Axminster to Sheffield by leaving his train from Exeter at Clapham Jct, taking a local to Vauxhall and the Victoria Line to Kings Cross. But he couldn't do it now, energy levels being depleted by old age!

And Talking Of Success
The turkey and mushroom pie was a huge reasonable success for a pie making first effort!
But don't look too closely at the crimping! And he used bought-in short crust pastry from the co-op.

We'll Take That As Red
Above is the first First double decker in their Southampton generic City Red livery, previously seen in profusion on single decks.
These "Reds" should not be confused with these "Reds" ...
... which are Salisbury Reds and are operated by Go Ahead South Coast but run into Southampton.

Tomorrow we look to the west again. 'Tis also a special day for fbb.

 Next First fares blog : Friday 25th February 


  1. If more time was available, a diversion via St Pancras churchyard, to see the Hardy Tree would have been possible.

    That strange combination of the Midland Railway and Thomas Hardy is spooky, distasteful or intriguing. Well worth a visit.

    1. That's fascinating. I knew that Hardy was involved with disinterring the bodies, but I'd never heard of the Tree.