Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Now these are truly strange trains!

A little while ago, Transport for London (TfL), bought into a train franchise. Naturally, as it's within the London area, it's called London Overground. And very swish these trains, and their infrastructure, are. Everything's nice, fresh, clean, and still has the "New from the workshop" feeling for the trains, and "New from the builder" feeling for the stations (where they've completely renovated them, that is).

Up until very recently, I could use the buses, trams, and Tube (London Underground), but since the London Overground hadn't been extended to my area, hadn't used it - the service was only available in north London, or from Clapham Junction in South West London. However, since they extended the service to the south east London area a short time ago (West Croydon being the southern-most point), and I wanted to visit a shop in central London, I decided to use my staff pass and save some money, by using the new service, rather than paying for a train ticket on new Southern region. Makes sense, really, even if the trip winds up being about twice as long. what the hell, it's free, it's new, and I like a mystery tour every so often...

What spaced my mind, though, was the layout of the rolling stock (the trains). See the photo on the left. Instead of individual carriages, strung together, separated by doors, with rows of forward and rearward facing seats, you've got a completely open-plan train, much like the Croydon Tramlink carriages, but with a single row of bench-seats on either side of the carriages.

Yes, it feels nice and roomy.

Yes, I'm sure they're a dream to clean quickly and easily.

Yes, I'm sure you can fit many more cattle - I mean commuters - in them during the rush hour.

I'm also well aware that these things could save me money in train fares, as I go to visit the better half regularly by Public Transport, than the car (saving me ooodles of cash a month, my staff pass is!)

But, and bear in mind it's a bloke saying this, who's got a fair handle on how to handle himself in a pinch - I'm damned if I'm going to travel in them after dark, given that the route of the trains takes them through some of the most deprived - and violent crime-ridden - areas of London. It'll be far too bloody easy for a gang of steamers to run rabid down the train, mugging all and sundry in sight, as has been done in the past. It'd be bloody asking for trouble. And I've always been taught that the first way to avoid trouble, is to keep away from it, after all.

Now, with that all said and done above, it is, I will admit, a rare event these days, for steaming to happen, in these days of in-your-face CCTV, but crime's still there, and doesn't look like it's going to go away any time soon, dammit.

So, given that I'm liable to be very encumbered with luggage the next few times I use the train, and bearing in mind the advice I was given (avoid trouble where possible) it looks like I'll be spending money on train fares for a while yet.


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