Off to St Pancras on the Early Train (Virgin Trains Birmingham to London Euston), St Pancras Departures Lounge – Train vs Plane
- Train vs Plane? What the blazes is this?
- Off to St Pancras on the Early Train (Virgin Trains Birmingham to London Euston), St Pancras Departures Lounge
- Eurostar train 9114 London St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal
- A walk around Amsterdam
- Setting the timer off: Off to Amsterdam Schiphol
- A light bit of spotting at Amsterdam Schiphol
- British Airways Terraces Amsterdam Schiphol
- BA441 Amsterdam Schiphol to London Heathrow
- Into London, stopping the stopwatch and Chilterns home.
- Who wins?
Off to London
Beep… beep… Beep.
Ah the joy of a 5am alarm. I can think of nothing better in the world. Well, I can – and it involves staying in bed and snoring my backside off. But with the bag packed, and my brain in a semi-awake position, I found things resembling clothes.
With the basics done, I headed out for a Uber to get me to Birmingham New Street Station. The driver dropped me at a different end of New Street station – not welcome, but passable.
As I already had my ticket to London, I grabbed a beverage resembling coffee, and headed to platform 2 for the waiting train
Birmingham New Street to London Euston
Virgin Trains Super Voyager
£9 Advance Single
I headed down to the platform… and was welcomed by a Super Voyager as opposed to an expected Pendolino.
Bombardier Super Voyagers (or Class 221‘s) are five car diesel trains… that in this case are operatingon a totally electrified rail route. They consist of 1 First Class Car, a Shop/Standard carriage and three other standard carriages – so a rather limited train service, even if it’s the first train to London.
On the plus side, the train would have a limited stopping pattern, calling at Birmingham International, Coventry, Rugby and London Euston.
My seat was a window seat, with a 17” seat width. Considering these trains have been around since 2001, they are tight – mainly due to the profile of the train that allows it to tilt through curves at high speed.
With a reserved seat, I had some comfort until Rugby, when more people joined the train. Then it got a little tight at Rugby… whilst the passenger opposite me manspread across a pair of seats.
Thankfully, the Super Voyager got to work, tilting its way down the West Coast main line, and eventually coming to a stop at London Euston.
Overall: With Virgin Trains, I find they’re on-time, and relativity comfortable – if overpriced on walk-up fares. Again – this is where booking in advance can help
Navigating the ramps, I made my way to the exit.
And set the timer off.
So, with me out of Euston station and the timer off, I headed off to St Pancras Station. The distance isn’t far at all – but considering one of my legs still felt a little dicey after the week before, I opted for the bus to St Pancras.
Yes, it’s £1.40. No, I don’t care.
I was deposited outside St Pancras – but rather than go in via the underground passage – I chose the far more impressive entrance.
And ladies and gentlemen – St Pancras is impressive.
Originally, built by the Midland Railway 1868, the station has been through multiple ownerships and in the early 1990’s – the rather dilapidated home of the Midland Mainline.
With the station re-designated for international use, the station has been through a renascence.
And an impressive one at that.
There’s plenty of art too.
I headed downstairs, and to the main shopping and boarding areas.
Before boarding the train, I stopped at M&S for on-board lunch and snacks.
With a bag filled, I headed into the main check-in zone.
With that, done – I headed through into the waiting area. This involves going through a tensa barrier maze, to get to the automated barriers.
At the barriers, your ticket is read and if it’s valid, you’re allowed through.
Once through them, you arrive at security. And there are not silly liquids rules or things like that – it’s a quick go through security.
With the time, it was time to exit the UK and enter Europe – mainly as the borders are juxtapositioned on Eurostar (and part of the reason why there’s no return service from Amsterdam to London).
The borders were handled by manual inspections and ePassport gates (Because you leave the UK and enter France at the same time),
Once clear of that – you’re in the waiting lounge. For those with Business tickets, there’s a lounge (or Amex Platinum). For everyone else, there’s a waiting area, which has a cafe and a duty free shop.
Yes, you can’t escape that hell here.
Given that this is meant to be a waiting area for 40-45 minutes tops, it should be more than enough. There’s adequate seating in the area, as well as bar type seating which has power available (in both French and UK style outlets – interestingly – no USB power).
However as boarding time passed, something wasn’t right. Thankfully, there were announcements indicating there was a delay.
Sigh. So much for a scientific study today. Let’s write that off.
In the meantime, the waiting area was becoming very busy as it now had the Amsterdam train as well as the Brussels “slow” service in it.
Some space cleared as the Brussels shuttle service boarded. 30 minutes late, our train was finally called to board
Next: Eurostar ES9114 London to Amsterdam
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