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Blog: High Speed Action
As you may or may not be aware, the 2012 Olympics will be happening in London, mostly in Stratford which is about half an hour's walk, or a five minute tube journey, from mine own humble abode. As part of the MASSIVE construction work (during which much, though most would say not enough, of Stratford itself has been FLATTENED) they've been building a High Speed Rail Link from London St Pancras to Stratford and then all the way out to Kent, along the same route (i think) as the Channel Tunnel. Stratford International Station opened for business a little while ago and, as it was LOUDLY HALLOOED as only taking SIX MINUTES (where normally it takes about half an hour on the tube) my good friend Dr Neil Brown and I thought we would give it a go.
The Glamour And Excitement got off to a good start with us queuing at a wooden BOOTH outside Stratford Station for longer than the journey itself would take in order to get tickets. The ticket lady assumed I wanted a ticket to KENT, and looked at me like i was a LOONIE when I said "No, to St Pancras please." It cost us a fiver each, or £3.30 with Neil's railcard. BARGAIN!
With tickets in hand we went through the barriers and along to Platform 11 at the far end of the station, and then walked all the way long it until we came to a GAP in the fence. Here we SURPRISED a Transport Employee, who pointed us in the direction of one of his colleagues, leaning out of a portakabin. "Have you got tickets?" he asked. We showed him "No no, don't waster your time showing me," he said with a smile, "Just get on the bus!"
Another of his colleagues put down his newspaper and strolled to the bus that awaited us. This is the only way to GET to Stratford International - apparently it's going to have a link road, pedestrian walkways and DLR link when it's finished, but for now you have to get a Shuttle Bus (which contained 2 other passengers when we went) which takes you on an EXCITING JOURNEY through the MASSIVE construction site.
The walk and then bus trip had, once again, taken us longer than our eventual High Speed Train was meant to, if only just, but it was worth it when we disembarked at Stratford International. It's a MASSIVE station that will be a huge transport HUB in a couple of years, but for now it was DESERTED, and the huge ceilings, enormous windows and shiny floors only made it seem more so. For some reason there were ticket machines switched on - even though it was impossible to get that far without a ticket - and a clutch of further Transport Employees, AMAZED to see anyone.
We went down to the platform which looked like something out of "Survivors" or, as Neil said, one of those Virtual Life games where there's absolutely nobody about. The train soon came in, at HIGH SPEED, and we were the only people to get on. It was quite full with passengers who must have been slightly NARKED that an extra few minutes was added to their journey so that nobody could get off and two KRAZY GUYZ like us could get on, but we were soon ZOOMING away.
The trip FLASHED by and five minutes later we emerged from the tunnel near St Pancras and started to slow down for our arrival. As the ROBOT TANNOY said "This is St Pancras, where our journey ends" (a very nice way of putting it, I thought) it really looked like the six minute story was going to hold true... until we ground to a halt and sat in SILENCE for about five minutes, waiting for a platform to come clear.
WELL DONE EVERYBODY! I can't really complain, it WAS only five minutes but when that basically DOUBLES your journey time it does seem a bit much. Still, we eventually got to disembark and come down the Mysterious Stairwell that has sat right at the BACK of St Pancras ever since it opened, and emerge BLINKING into the centre of town. It was GRATE!
After that we set off on a HEARTY WALK along Regents Canal, stopping off for an ENORMOUS and DELICIOUS and CHEAP meal at Indian Veg in Islington before nipping into The Palm Tree in Mile End (one of the LOVELIEST and most PUBBY pubs in all of London Town) for a couple of Well Deserved Pints then making our way through A BIT SCARY Tower Hamlets Graveyard and HOME. It was a LOVELY day out and, BY GOLLY, I slept well that night!
posted 9/3/2010 by MJ Hibbett
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