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 facelift. St 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.