Lets Tallinn that again! Off to the Heathrow area with the joy of train travel
In this 200 Tier Point Adventure:
- 155 Tier points to go (because my mathematical skills are as bad as my grammatical skills)
- To the Heathrow area
- The Holiday Inn Ariel, London Heathrow
- To Heathrow, Revisiting the Cathay Pacific Lounge
- AY3126 London Heathrow to Helsinki in Business Class
- Can you transit Helsinki airport in 20 minutes flat?
- AY107 Helsinki to Tallinn
- Another walk around Tallinn… and an iPhone 7
- The Hotel Ülemiste
- Back to Tallinn Airport, Tallinn Airport Lounge
- AY118 Tallinn to Helsinki (ATR72-500)
- A quick visit to the Finnair Non-Schengen Lounges
- AY831 Helsinki to Heathrow in Business Class with an A350
- A Train adventure home
- Silver: Done.
After another day in the office pondering what VMWare are actually doing with their products (it’s a constant bewilderment to me… and as for the licensing of any VMWare product… that’s just mind-boggling), I arrived back at home… and gathered my bag together for the short trip. As usual, the little black rucksack would be travelling with me, along with a tablet, one camera and a change of clothing.
These trips are always best done when travelling lightly.
Also in the day, snow had fallen.
Thankfully, by the time I was due to travel, the roads were clear and I was just doing an impression of someone who was awake.
Of course, I had left it late departing the flat. Thankfully, I had an Uber driver who knew his way around Birmingham – which helps when you’re in a rush to get from A to B. I made it to Birmingham Moor Street station with 5 minutes before the train was due to depart.
Plenty of time to argue with the ticket machine to get my £11 return fare to London which I had pre-booked all of 3 days before.
That in hand, I headed to the platform, along with the commuting public of Birmingham as they prepared to head home. It was the weekend after all.
A Rather cold Bullring
The arriving Clubman.
As such, the Chiltern Clubman wasn’t packed – but it was busy until arriving at Banbury where the train mostly emptied for the run to London Marylebone.
Looking down the cabin of the train.
Whilst I could have chosen the slightly quicker Virgin Trains service, I find the Chiltern service to be just as good – if not better (as it doesn’t get as packed as the Virgin services from Birmingham). Add 125mb of free in-train Wifi, and it’s not bad at all for the 1 hour 45 run to London.
Exiting the train at Marleybone, I headed over to the Underground platforms.
On the plus side, my bag didn’t decide to unzip itself. This does happen… and normally to me.
Of course, a train pulled out as I as arrived at the platform.
Sucky timing is … well.
No matter. There’s always another train in a few minutes.
A short ride and I popped out at one of my favourite mainline train terminals in London – Paddington Station. There’s something about the architecture of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Paddington station that takes my breath away when I see it – the grand arches are always a welcome sight.
Paddington Station. Still gorgeous.
I stopped by Boots to get some dinner and checked the trains towards Hays and Harlington. This train station has two important things about it – it’s on the edge of Zone 6 of London fare boundaries (so contactless payment is accepted) and you can reach the Heathrow area by bus from there (so you can negate paying the excessive costs for the Heathrow Express).
My train to Hays and Harlington, however, was a bit different from the usual diesel commuter trains that ply the Great Western Main Line… it was an 8 car train – and electric.
Let’s go into full train nerd review.
So the train – it’s a Class 387 Electrostar, manufactured by Bombardier.
You’ll Great Western Railway Class 387/1 Electrostar
You’ll find Electrostars mainly in the South East of England, plying commuter services in and out of London – as well as on the Gatwick Express (and if there is a train so ill-suited to that service, that’s it).
The carriages at Paddington
Two Class 387/1s paired together
With the Great Western Mainline being electrified, these trains will travel onwards to Maidenhead and beyond.
GWR’s Electrostars fleet next stop: Maidenhead.
For now, they operate between London Paddington and Hays and Harlington as a stopping service.
So let’s explore. We talk about the new plane smell and new car smell – well this thing had a new train smell. Sadly, no one had been bothered to clean the train before its next turn, so it was strewn with Evening Standards all over the train.
You can’t honestly tell its a commuter train.
Seating is 2-2 throughout – with wide aisles so there’s plenty of standing room
Sadly, I discovered why there a lot of Evening Standards on the train – they must be to provide extra comfort on the seats. The seats aboard the seats are best described as ironing boards with a moquette cover on them.
I’m sure they’re nice and thin enough so they pack more people on board a train, and have the minimum possible cost, but passenger comfort seems to be a long-lost thing when travelling on commuter routes. Having the ability to get on the train seemingly is the more important thing.
Although there’s power at the seat. When these trains stretch their wheels, people will love that.
As it was a local service, it made every stop between Paddington and Hays and Harlington – no issue for me. The Heathrow Connect that departed in front of the train would have been marginally quicker for the short hop.
That gave me time to check out the next promise – Free Wifi aboard the train!
Is the free Wifi any good? Those with a reasonable 4G connection should look away… now.
Hmm. Not very “speedy”.
I made it to Hays and Harlington – and as usual, by the time I climbed the stairs to the bus stop, a 140 to Heathrow Airport and the surrounding area was coming by. Excellent timing as always.
Number 140 to Heathrow Central
Another blip of my Oyster Card and I rode the short ride through the outer edges of London to Haddington Corner – home of the Holiday Inn Ariel.
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