diamond geezer

 Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stratford International → Ebbsfleet International

In terms of pounds per minute I wonder if there's a more expensive rail journey in the country. £12.40 return for ten minutes there and ten minutes back, that's highway robbery. But to travel as many as 16 miles in those ten minutes, from Olympic London to a Kentish field, that's not quite so terrible. Not quite.

The new bullet-headed trains that run on the High Speed route are comfortable without being luxurious. There's plenty of room for luggage, and the usual preference for twin seats rather than family-friendly tables of four. And it's a very smooth ride, accelerating up to a speed of "rather nippy, most definitely faster than usual". The train zips beneath Newham, emerges in Dagenham for a few above-ground marsh-side minutes, then dips below the Thames into Kent. There's barely time to do anything (except perhaps read a copy of the London Lite, if it still existed) before ascending into Kent [photo] and decelerating [photo] for arrival in Ebbsfleet [photo].

Ebbsfleet International stationThere aren't many reasons to go to Ebbsfleet [photo]. You might be here to catch a train to Brussels or Paris, given that you can't board one in Stratford. Or you might be here to climb into your car, because Ebbsfleet at the moment is little but an enormous car park. Eurostar know that nigh everyone in Kent and around the M25 has a car, so they've made it really easy to drive here. Elevated signs direct passengers towards the car parks but not towards the only bus stop, and absolutely definitely not towards any pedestrian exit. I had to ask a member of staff how to escape on foot (answer: follow the signs toward the car park). On my way I passed another entrance to two more platforms, used no more than twice an hour by trains to Rochester and Faversham. There were two staff here, clearly with almost nothing to do, so they were more than happy to spare the time to help me out.

It's a very long car park. I got funny looks from another member of staff as I paused to take a photograph (cracker of a photograph, I think), but thankfully no vanful of armed police arrived to arrest me a few minutes later. At the barrier I had to step up onto the muddy verge and then wander across a roundabout because nobody's thought to provide a pavement. I think the station planners assumed that non-car drivers would take the bus, but it's not worth it for a single stop to Northfleet.
I'm not the first person to attempt this journey on foot. Paul tried it back in June on the day the first High Speed preview services ran, and ran into loads of trouble trying to walk from Northfleet to Ebbsfleet. Flick through his photo story here.

Ebbsfleet UnitedWhereas Ebbsfleet will one day be Kent's largest housing estate, Northfleet is rather smaller and older. It clings to the chalk ridge above the River Thames, staring out over estuary-side industries towards Tilbury Docks. Nowhere here will win any prizes for scenery. There's a 14th century church, and a quarry or two dug out of the escarpment, and a football ground at the bottom of the hill [photo]. Ebbsfleet United have been pottering around in the lower leagues since the 1940s, but last year made history when they were bought out by an online consortium. Twenty thousand global shareholders lifted the team to FA Trophy victory, but when annual memberships started to elapse the money dried up, and now the future looks less rosy.

As for Northfleet station, that's a world away from the International Gateway across the car park at Ebbsfleet. Up Station Road there's an unloved wooden ticket hall, locked on Sundays, and two lonely platforms where trains to Gravesend sometimes pause. Southeastern's High Speed services may soon suck the passengers away from this old faithful halt. But those who value money more than time will still assemble here, day in day out, to catch the Slow Speed up to London.

www.flickr.com: my Stratford High Speed gallery
(18 photos altogether)

» And tomorrow I'll give you a brief rundown of how easy (or not) it was to get back to Stratford.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
tired of london
in the aquarium
round the island
christopher fowler
thamesfacingeast
one bus at a time
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
uk general election 2015

read the archive
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv