What a Heathrow Omnishambles
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I’ve documented this in my blog entry. So, this is a mixture of a copy and paste, as well as further details. This was the experience I had on 17th June 2023. Since then I’ve had another trip through that was substantially quicker – however, the experience is highly variable as far as I can establish. Allow time to clear the Heathrow mess – I’d say at least 1 hour 15 on hand luggage, 2 hours with luggage if you’re coming in from a long-distance destination.
After an annoying 10-minute wait for the jetbridge to be attached, we were finally able to disembark into the heat of Heathrow.
Off we go… finally.
And by hot, this was the day before the big heatwave was set to take place across the United Kingdom
From here, it was a matter of following the signs, as well as the long walk to the immigration counters – bearing in mind that we were parked in one of the far satellites of Terminal 3.
Let us go to arrivals.
We’ve got a long, long way to go.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Iberia Airbus A350 and the Finnair Airbus A330 I came in on.
Down to arrivals.
However, by the time I neared the immigration hall at Heathrow, this hot mess awaited me, as people were being blocked from entering the hall.
I do NOT know what went on for people to be held up to enter the immigration haul, but it took another five minutes to clear that hot mess.
Combined with the walking and such, we’re heading into an hour since the aircraft touched down and I was nowhere entering the country.
Eventually, we were let through and into the tensabarrier maze that is immigration. With me also knowing the state of my passport and that the chip is dead (and I have no intention to replace the passport until I have to), I queued up in the “Rejects” lane at the UK Border.
Again – it was another 10 minutes to get seen for that privilege.
Knowing that Heathrow is a hot mess, I had the foresight to not check any luggage – my patience was starting to wear a little thin at that point. I made my way out of the luggage haul, through customs (which seemed pretty busy that night) and finally into the public area.
I dread to think how long I would have had to wait for luggage too.
It was 18:09 by the time I got into the public area – we were on the ground at 16:47. Near enough 1 hour and 21 minutes to get through this mess.
I said it once, and I’ll say it again – that is a pathetic performance. I dread to think how long extra I would have had to wait for luggage too.
Finally, I headed downstairs to the trains.
It seems the travel deities were not done with me yet, with a 20-minute wait for an Elizabeth line service (because the reasons for Heathrow Express are diminishing by the day).
Chose your own adventure…
The Heathrow Express – it is overpriced still if you’re travelling on the day.
A quiet sigh. Not a lot I could do at this point other than try and cool down in the tunnel station. Considering a coach back would not be for a few hours yet, I had decided on the train home some time ago.
The question of what train came to mind.
Eventually, an Elizabeth Line train turned up for the ride to Paddington. If there’s one thing these trains have got right, it is the air conditioning on them, which was set to “nice and chilly”.
Purple Train, Purple Train…
The train was not that busy, only picking up a few people as it proceeded towards Paddington.
Scooting down the Great Western Main Line.
Eventually, I made it to Paddington station. The next task was to find a tube train to get me closer to where I wanted to go – the trains north.
It’s at this point where the transit deities decide to have one final laugh on me, with the Metropolitan, Hammersmith and City and Circle Line suffering partial or full line closures.
Let us just say I wasn’t in the mood for fighting with TfL to go around the houses to get to Euston, nor take a black cab. It would be Marleybone and the Chiltern Service tonight.
Whilst it was one the more expensive services (as they were selling full-priced “Super off-peak” tickets, by the time I added taxi rides and other stuff to the fare, everything equalled out.
I headed down to the Bakerloo platforms, where the sea of humanity was waiting. Wonderful.
Rather than fight with the first train that came in, I waited for the next one which was substantially quieter.
Getting off at Marleybone, I fought and won against the train ticket machine. All that was left to do was get some drinks at Marks and Spensecs food – because hydration is important. Considering their bottle of the barrel 2 ltr water bottles are 1) 60p and 2) cold.
Maybe it’s because 2ltr water bottles are unwieldy, or Londoners don’t want to be caught swigging out of that size of bottle, looking like an alcoholic.
With the train called, I was pleasantly surprised to find there would be a classical train tonight, as opposed to a multiple units
Marylebone gate line
Classic train tonight
The Chiltern “Main Line”
With classic IC70 Seating (taken much later on in the evening).
These are hauled by Class 68 locomotives, with Mark 3 coaches and a Driving trailing van at the London end of the train.
The Class 68s are Stadler-built units (ex Vossh), with a bit of a habit of being loud – to the point where the local residents complain about them. Meanwhile, the Mark 3 coaches have been heavily modified, with power doors and slightly different seating in some rows, and the classic Interncity seating in the rest.
The train would go onto Kiddminster this evening in readiness for the morning – I would be getting off at Birmingham Snow Hill.
I jumped on the first standard class carriage and grabbed the first seat with a table. Whilst the other side of it was occupied, the train did not pack out enough so that people could have space to relax.
Me? I was in no mood to relax. With the train underway and out of the tunnels, I fired up WordPress and vented away. Well, it took a good hour or so to get some of the anger out of my system. It also gave me a chance to get a lot of the images I had shot onto the MacBook Pro – without reaching for the power adaptor.
As the train edged closer to Birmingham, I took the chance to find my keys. With those now in my pocket, I headed to the exit at Snow Hill station.
Whilst New Street is the big station that most people know (or as I’ve called it Mordo Hauptbahnhof, with added light), Moor Street is the restored station, Snow Hill station is built underneath a car park (or rather restored, but built underneath a council car park, along with some offices.
The history of Snow Hill station is a mixture of a sorry one, combined with a renaissance, thanks to the Jewellery Line opening. The Snow Hill line connects to The Hawthorns, Smethwick, Stourbridge and beyond, linking up with West Midlands Metro.
Me? I followed the signs out of the station. The day was getting long at this point, and I wanted my sofa.
Thankfully, Colmore Row is where the station exits out to – and is also the place where I catch my bus home.
And it just so happens that a bus had pulled into the stop as I was walking.
Providing the transit deities were in a better mood, I would hop this bus home.
And I did. The one time they smiled at me that evening.
By 21:54, I was at home.
5 minutes later, I was on the Dominos site. It had been a good three days, but going to the little Tesco for dinner did not think bearing about.
Finally: 160 Tier Points Down, 160 to go.
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