The Anonymous Widower

Three Days In Preston

It may seem strange to go for a holiday in Preston. But I had time to spare and so I went to Liverpool last Wednesday and then spent the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights in the Premier Inn at Preston, with the extension of exploring the area using the trains and then seeing Ipswich at Blackburn on the Saturday.

I have visited Preston several times and I stayed in the hotel once, because it is an easy walk from the rail station.

The council are sorting out the town with new pavements, road layout and maps on liths.

It is a great improvement and will be even better when it is completed.

It would be good if Preston station was improved, especially as it will become an electric hub for local services all over the North West, with new electric services to Blackpool, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester and possibly a few others like Colne in the next few years.

Would I use Preston as a base for a tour of the North West again?

I have one problem with Preston and that is the bad provision of gluten-free food in the town. There is only the one Pizza Express that I would trust and the Marks and Spencer doesn’t stock any gluten-free sandwiches.

Perhaps to stay near the station in Carlisle, Liverpool or Manchester would be better!

I used one of UK rail’s Rover tickets, which is called a Freedom of the North West 4 in 8 Day Rover. This is the rough availability.

The rover allows travel to Carlisle from Barrow, Dumfries, Lockerbie and Hexham.

It also covers the area bounded by the Settle-Carlisle, Barrow, Morecambe, Blackpool, Southport, Shipley to Bradford, Leeds, Halifax, Oldham, Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington Bank Quay to Helsby, Chester, Shotton, West Kirkby and New Brighton.

Available any 4 days within an 8 day period.

And you can use it on all the franchised train companies like Merseyrail, Northern, Virgin and TransPennine! It’s a two part ticket.

My Rover Ticket

My Rover Ticket

No ticket inspector seemed to give it more than a cursory glance.

I actually didn’t know the ticket existed, when I went North to Liverpool. So I should have bought the ticket at Lime Street and saved myself about a tenner. I returned via Manchester, so I used the ticket to get from Blackburn to Manchester Victoria after the match.

These tickets are certainly a good way of having a few days away and seeing the country. This map of the north west part of Northern Rail’s franchise.

Northern Rail NW Map

Northern Rail NW Map

The southern boundary of the ticket I used is roughly defined by Liverpool, Chester, Warrington and Manchester.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Westfield Gets Its Own Overground Station

Shepherd’s Bush, Kensington Olympia, West Brompton and Imperial Wharf stations are the four stations on the West London Line of the Overground, that also served by services between Clapham Junction and Milton Keynes.

Shepherds Bush station has just been updated with longer platforms and a second entrance.

As the pictures show, the new new entrance is by the Westfield shopping centre and there is a light-controlled crossing across the road.

It will be interesting to see how customers take to the new entrance. I go to Westfield occasionally and it is usually because I’m coming back from somewhere in West London and need to buy some food or have lunch. As the centre has a Waitrose and a Carluccio’s in the corner near the station, I would probably use the new entrance to get a train home, as it would be a shorter walk. I doubt I’d use the Overground to go to Westfield, as going by the Central Line is quicker. But for those south of Shepherd’s Bush, it would probably be the exit of choice.


The main reason for the station upgrade would appear to have been a need to accommodate the longer trains on the Milton Keynes services, but I do think that we might see new entrances created at the other end of other Overground stations. I’ve felt for a long time, that Highbury and Islington station could benefit from a second entrance.

I also wonder, if this updating is part of a bigger plan to make more use of the West London Line.

The current Milton Keynes service terminates at its southern end at Clapham Junction, but it used to go through to South Croydon. In fact in November 2014, I used the link to go from Wembley Central to East Croydon. From Clapham Junction, the route was by Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath and Selhurst, I would assume the service has been cut back because of Thameslink work, but I do feel that quite a few people could have been inconvenienced by this. I have a friend, who lives in South London, who uses the West London Line to get to matches at Wembley. So he might not be amused by this cutback.

As Clapham Junction is such an important station in South London, perhaps if there was a better connection to Willesden Junction, then the service might find quite a few passengers come out of the woodwork.

If Crossrail builds the threatened station at Old Oak Common, to link to HS2, the current service will be totally inadequate for the demand I’d expect. This is a map of the favoured option at Old Oak Common.

Option C Proposal At Old Oak Common

Option C Proposal At Old Oak Common

One of the problems is the number of freight trains that currently use the West London Line. But surely with a good sorting out and after electrification is complete in the area, their level can be reduced.

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment