I wish I could have recorded the noise made by the booking office clerk at Aigburth station when I asked for a Cheshire Day Ranger. It’s hard to describe, but was a sort of “ooh” – not, “ooh no, I’m going to have to search through 15 different menus to find it on my ticket machine,” but, “ooh that’s an interesting ticket I’ve never heard of.”
Having successfully acquired my ticket, I set off for Liverpool South Parkway for an onward connection to Crewe. My goal was Acton Bridge, a small Cheshire village with a small station to match.
This is probably going to be my last Station Master trip this year. Autumn brings with it short days and wet weather, as well as those pesky falling leaves that make train travel so unpredictable. However, I decided to go out for one last hurrah, an ambitious trip to bag a few more (relatively) local stations before going into hibernation. I like to keep my audience interested. Also, I didn’t want to leave the phrase “FUCKING CUNT” floating at the top of my blog for the whole winter.
The angry-looking man from whom this utterance came turned around and noticed Ian and I staring incredulously at him.
“Not you,” he said, apologetically, “I mean me.”
He stormed off to his car, which he proceeded to kick and punch several times, in a scene reminiscent of Basil Fawlty at his frustrated worst. Having dented the bodywork, he got into the vehicle, cursed loudly to himself several more times and then drove off with engine roaring, at a speed completely inappropriate to the residential area in which we found ourselves.
Scott was still inside the corner shop and missed this entertaining tableau. As soon as he rejoined us, we soldiered on towards the end of the line at Croxley Green.
More side streets beckoned, where terraced houses rubbed shoulders with small industrial units in various states of dereliction. Our attention was drawn to this lovely sign on one of the still-functional factories.
I have no idea what a Fibrerod Pultrusion is, even after reading their web site (yes, I Googled it). Still, I wish the firm all the best with their Pultrusion-related endeavours.
I made one of my occasional trips to London last weekend, and amidst a whirlwind of tourism, theatre and Soho-based frolicking, I made time for a Station Master trip.
I also met up with an old friend from school, Seb Patrick. We spent a good deal of time catching up, and during the conversation I mentioned that I was planning to take the London Overground out to Watford.
“You’ll love the Overground,” he advised, “everyone loves the Overground.”
He was right, of course. Ever since the launch of “London’s new train set”, as the initial publicity described it, I have been in love with the idea of the Overground. Transport for London took a disorganised collection of neglected, unloved railway lines and invested wisely in them, creating a useful transport network for the 21st century. It’s been a huge success with passenger numbers increasing dramatically in the four years that the system has been in operation.
Certainly as I trundled up the line from Euston, I was impressed. The new Capitalstar trains, with air-conditioning and wide gangways between coaches are light years ahead of most other commuter trains, although it is strange to see Tube-style longitudinal seats on a “main line” train. I alighted at Watford High Street, which felt cared for and welcoming, as did all the other stations the train passed through. In short, the Overground is the standard to which other suburban rail networks should aspire.
However, amidst all this life, there is death. I was here to explore a forgotten part of the system, which has not benefited from the recent investment. That is the Croxley Green branch, a short stub which leaves the Watford DC Line just south of Watford High Street station.