railway

End of the Line

When Mrs P and I decide to go to London, we catch the train. For us it is free, so there’s not really a decision to make regarding mode of transport. It’s a comfotable way to go, and quick – we’re in the capital in about an hour and fifty minutes. The end of the line for us is Waterloo station, the country’s busiest in terms of passengers entering and exiting. Nearly a hundred million of them every year. We’re doing our bit to try and heave the station over the line into nine digit territory.There’s different ways to measure stations in terms of ‘busiest’ though. About ten minutes before we get to Waterloo we pass through Clapham Junction, which is the busiest in terms of trains passing through. Lines into both Waterloo and Victoria come through Clapham Junction. Which, of course, is not even in Clapham. In fact there’s never a guarantee that going to a station named after a town will actually be in that town. For example, if you’re headed to Bishopsgate, don’t go to Bishopsgate. Go to Liverpool Street.

But back to Waterloo, which is of course not located in France. If you include Waterloo East and the Waterloo Underground station, this is the biggest train complex not just in the UK, but in Europe. Most platforms, lines, floor space, passengers – the full package. It’s a nice enough station I guess. It’s not my favourite though. That would be…oooh, I’m undecided. Kings Cross was recently and tastefully given a modern faceliftSt Pancras is a gothic wonder. Paddington is home to everyone’s favourite bear. And the diminutive Marylebone is very much in keeping with its neighbourhood and worthy of a mention.

The worst? Oh, that’s oh so easy. London Euston, once a fabulous Victorian masterpiece, was demolished and rebuilt in the 50s/60s. In that awful post war brutalist style. Concrete rectangles everywhere. Ghastly, so it is, and one hopes it will be scheduled for demolishment again some time soon.

These stations are all officially London terminals. Which brings me to the inspiration for this post. How many terminals does London really have? National Rail says fourteen. But some of them, including the capital’s oldest at London Bridge, aren’t strictly terminals to my mind. Trains go through them, on to further destinations. I guess definitions are sometimes a bit fuzzy. But I did find an interesting article on the subject (click here) and another which provides explanations (click here) for the names of London’s stations.

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8 thoughts on “End of the Line

  1. The one station in London that I know is St. Pancras. I took the Eurostar from Paris to St. Pancras, and, very conveniently, it was from St. Pancras that I took the train out to where my cousins live in Borehamwood. I was supposed to call my cousin when I arrived in London, but I could not find any public phones in the station. I am a dinosaur and do not have a cell phone… but one of the employees was very kind and allowed me to use his cell phone.

    Excuse me… the retired schoolteacher in me is coming out… but I have to make one small correction to your post. The original Waterloo, where the battle was fought, is not located in France, but in Belgium.
    Saludos from CDMX,
    Bill

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    • I’m amazed that public phone boxes still exist, to be honest. Though it is nice to keep the old red ones on street corners, just for the purposes of urban décor.

      Waterloo, is of course, in Belgium. I know that – I have even planned a potential trip there this year – but still I’m ashamed of my error. I have a common bloggers problem – I write and publish, often with no proof reading. Nada. Sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean most of the time) I read back old posts with a sense of utmost shame. Grammatical errors, poor choice of wording, spelling errors, punctuational catastrophes…

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      • I do the same thing. I will go back and read a post that I published, and find a horrifying grammatical mistake or a typo. I will go back and edit it, but by that time most of the people who are going to read it have already done so.

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  2. Interesting.

    I know St. Pancras station mainly from the impromptu recital given by Valentina Lisitsa on an old upright piano there.

    Also a bit of trivia. Waterloo is mentioned in the dedication to Anthony Burgess’ Napoleon Symphony:

    “To my dear wife, a Buonapartista, who, in her extreme youth, could never understand why the British had named a great railway terminus after a military defeat.”

    😊

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    • I have a slightly odd, but tenuous link to St Pancras. I went to an independent school in Hertfordshire which was founded as a trust with lands held in London. Some of that land was subject to a compulsory purchase in order to build St Pancras station on it. The money was one of the key factors in helping to turn the school from a failing educational establishment into one of the most prestigious in the country.

      https://aldenham.com/other-information/history/

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