Off Home Again
To Stuttgart and Schwabisch Hall
In this trip report:
- An Invite to Germany
- Testing and Paperwork
- Off to Heathrow, Terminal 5, and the South Galleries Lounge
- BA920 London Heathrow to Stuttgart (Club Europe)
- The joy of German Immigration, Into Stuttgart and the Novum Hotel Rieker, Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof
- Off to Schwabisch Hall, qubixx stattemitte Hotel
- Economy Class and Beyond at Recaro Aircraft Seating
- Back to Stuttgart and the joy of pigeons
- Off to Stuttgart Airport
- BA921 Stuttgart to London Heathrow (Club Europe)
- Welcome to Brexitainia, The Premier Inn Heathrow
- Off Home again
- Innovation is the driver
With the trip nearing the end, I decided that getting home would be done on 1) a budget and 2) via the West Coast Main Line (as it’s a bit of track I haven’t done mileage on for some time).
I took the 423 back to Heathrow Airport from the Premier Inn, being deposited again at Stand 8.
From here, I made my way to the Heathrow Express and Underground services. In retrospect, with the wait, I should have taken the Underground with the amount of waiting I had to do – but really – time was on my side. I was not due back in the office and I just fancied taking my own sweet time.
I headed down to the Heathrow Express and used Express Transit to clear the gate. Waiting in front of me was the “New” Heathrow Express Trains – the Class 387’s.
These are commuter trains that have been converted for airport use. And by converted, I mean a few luggage racks installed, new seat covers installed and new seat covers installed.
You’ll note that I said seat covers, not new seats installed. This is important as these seats are the much-maligned “ironing boards” loved by commuters.
In other words, they’re great for your posture, but not a lot of else.
The tables had also been deleted from standard class too, which will mean you’ll be balancing your drinks if you take this.
This is one hell of a downgrade from the older Class 332 trains that were built for the line originally, with no level boarding too.
Of course, my timing was off, and it was another 15-minute wait for a TfL Service. Eventually, a Purple Train turned up for the ride to Paddington.
I’ve reviewed the Purple trains before – but they’re people movers rather than comfortable long-distance trains – and that’s fine for the distance I do on them (30-minute journeys or so).
The train left the station with its passengers and popped out of the Heathrow tunnels, and crossed the Great Western Main Line, depositing itself on the “Slow” lines to Paddington.
Mask compliance was mixed – whilst TfL demands its passengers wear masks, it’s very lightly managed as far as I can see.
The train pootled along its merry way to Paddington, eventually pulling into the station.
I made my way out of the ticketed area and over to the Underground. Annoyingly, the useful entrance to the underground near platforms 11 and 12 had been closed, meaning a hike across the Paddington station concourse.
Once back in the ticketed area, it was a matter of waiting for a Circle Line train to Edgware Road, then a further Circle Line train to Euston Square (the Circle line hasn’t operated in a circle for years sadly).
Once out of Euston Square, I took a very familiar walk to Euston MainLine Station. One purchase later, I had a cheap super saver ticket to Birmingham for £17.50 one-way.
Of course, Euston being Euston, there was a wait – as well as waiting for the departure boards to announce what platform you’ll be going from.
The joy of the Euston Lottery.
The side effect of the Euston lottery is the mass migration to a platform when it is announced a train is ready for boarding. Never change Euston.
Eventually, the train was called, and I headed down to the platform, where the 8-Car Desiro was waiting. I also checked the train as I was walking along – as they had decided to merge both “commuter” sets with a “long-distance” set as one train.
This is important, as the commuter sets have 2 x 3 seating, whilst the long-distance sets have 2 x 2 seating. It pays to be nerdy and know what unit numbers mean sometimes.
With a seat located, I plopped myself down. And was happy to find power and USB-A outlets at the seat.
Believe it or not, things like this make a difference.
The train pulled out of Euston and built up speed as it headed on the fast lines out of the station.
After a while, the train moved from the fast to the slow lines as it entered Milton Keynes, then taking the local line via Northampton, Rugby and finally almost all stops to Birmingham.
Whilst it takes just over an hour more than an Avanti service, it is…cost-efficient say the least.
These services don’t tend to have a trolley service or anything – so it’s be prepared if you’re taking one of these trains (thankfully there’s a reasonable priced M&S Food at Euston Station… well, reasonable by London prices).
The train made good time, crawling through Northampton then up the Stour Valley Line up to New Street – where the train acts as a semi-fast local service.
Eventually, the train made it’s to its destination – Mordor Hauptbahnhof – I mean Birmingham New Street (it’s still very much Mordor Hbf at platform level, whilst the top is an open-air atrium-style
A short trip is done and dusted.
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