diamond geezer

 Monday, September 16, 2013

WATERLOO & CITY: Down the line

Arrive at Bank in the evening peak to ride the Waterloo & City and the station is abuzz. Financial types from the southwestern Home Counties, and elsewhere, are keen to dash to Waterloo to catch a train home. They may have to wait. If the travolator's looking full, why not take the stairs? The gradient's very shallow, the steps far apart, so it takes a practised walk to make speedy progress. Weave between slower folk to reach the bottom faster, because you might just catch the next train here, and hence the next suburban service at the other end. Note that there are no adverts here, nothing to distract the eye. Top companies are only interested in the swish white tube of the travolator - surely few big bosses stop to take the stairs.

One platform is packed. Everyone's massing on whichever the very next service is leaving from, which at this time of day is most likely the platform on the left. If you could get to the front end of the platform there'd be a bit more more space, but most people are massing at the rear (near the buffers), like most people do. It's not easy to get past this crowd as a train arrives, nor is it easy to get off the platform if you're travelling in the opposite direction. Best bundle aboard if you're leaving, and don't expect a seat. At half past five the Waterloo & City acts as a mass people carrier, cramming in more and more as the minutes to departure pass, so don't expect to be able to read any more of the Evening Standard than the cover. Grab a mint green pole and hold on.

The journey's not lengthy, just four minutes to traverse the mile and a half to Waterloo, passing beneath the river halfway completely unnoticed. There are bends and turns, but no events of any major significance, until hey presto the train arrives at its destination. You may have to queue to leave the platform - front of the train for the Jubilee exit, back of the train for everywhere else. If things are slow you may be around to see the emptied train shuttling onwards into the depot. But hopefully you'll be long gone, aiming to grab that seat on the five fifty one to Woking (or wherever), as the W&C driver prepares to shuttle up the line one more time.

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