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A short ride on the Elizabeth Line

UK rail trip – 2022

Day 52 – 24th May, 2022

Today I’m leaving Manchester, at least on this trip, for the last time. I checked out by 07:30 and walked to the nearby Castlefield-Deansgate tram stop and caught a tram to Manchester Piccadilly. It was an overcast day, with scattered showers forecast. Thankfully, at the moment, it wasn’t raining. Upon arrival at Manchester Piccadilly, I bought my usual litre of orange juice and found myself a train that would take me to London Euston.

About to leave Manchester.
Manchester Piccadilly (08:35)
Avanti West Coast
2:14 (208:22)
London Euston (11:49)
295.3 km (19190.8 km)

I boarded the train and took my usual table seat, just a few rows from the onboard shop. It’s nice not to have to walk too far to grab a coffee and a bacon roll. 🙂 Crossing the Stockport Viaduct, my mind cast back to the wonderful times I’ve had on this trip. At the end of this week, I’ll be flying back to Sydney. With the number of trains I’d taken, I must have covered at least 10,000 km – quite likely many more. It’s certainly going to take a fair bit of time to plot the routes and add up all the distances. I’d travelled all the way up to Kyle of Lochalsh and Aberdeen in Scotland, all the way out to Penzance, down to Portsmouth, east to Lowestoft and many other places in between. I certainly hadn’t wasted my time in getting around. Had I not caught Covid last month, I would likely have covered a couple of thousand more kilometres. I definitley got my money’s worth. After a slight delay just north of London, the train arrived at London Euston a bit before 11:00.

Arrival at London Euston. Last time on a class 390 for several years.

Today I’m off to Cardiff. I wanted to go there one more time before flying back to Sydney on Friday. If I had been doing this yesterday, I’d be taking the London Underground all the way to London Paddington. Today, however, I’ll be trying out the new Elizabeth Line. But first I had to take the London Underground to Tottenham Court road. A quick trip from Euston Square station was all that was required. After walking through some rather lengthy passageways, I arrived at the Elizabeth Line part of Tottenham Court Road. Very spacious!

The new Elizabeth Line.
A decent amount of space oon the platforms.
A decent amount of space oon the platforms.
Train at the station.
Spacious passageways.
Easy to read passenger information displays.
Signage in line with the London Underground.

As I was going to London Paddington, I hopped on board a train. Quite spacious, with a combination of logitudinal and forward/rear facing seating. As I was only going two stops, with a suitcase, longitudinal was more appropriate.

Tottenham Court Road (11:24)
Elizabeth Line
0:03 (208:25)
London Paddington (11:27)
3.6 km (19194.4 km)

Despite being two stations, it only took three minutes to get to London Paddington. The trains are swift and silent. I took a photo of the interior and then hopped on to the platform.

Spacious interior.
The platforms at the Elizabeth Line’s London Paddington.

Despite the spaciousness of the station, I can see it getting crowded rather quickly. However, as this is designed to be a high frequency line, it shouldn’t be too bad. I took the escalator up to the ticket barrier level.

Nice and spacious.
The ticket barrier level.
The ticket barrier level.

I left the Elizabeth Line part of the station and walked over to the mainline station. Time to look for a train to Cardiff. I found one on platform 3.

All aboard for Cardiff Central.
London Paddington (12:19)
Great Western Railway
2:13 (210:38)
Cardiff Central (14:32)
235.9 km (19430.3 km)

My Great Western Railway class 800 operated reliably as usual, I’m becoming quite taken with these trains. Nice, fast and comfortable. On arrival at Bristol Parkway, however, the track that the train would normally follow had a defect. If this were an all-electric train, this would have prevented a problem. As the only way around it would have meant diverting on non-electrified lines. However, this was a class 800 which is bi-modal – it can also run on its down diesel engines! So, the diesel engines were started up and the train proceeded to Filton Abbey Wood, where the train would reverse. Upon rejoining the normal line at Patchway, the train resumed electric operation and the diesel engines were turned off. The train continued normal operations to Cardiff Central.

I walked the ten minute walk to the hostel. I’ll again be staying at the BunkHouse. As far as hostels go, it’s not too bad. I checked in and took my stuff up to my dorm room. It was a smaller room, this time, which I had all to myself. Not bad! After sorting things out, I went out and walked the 20, or so, minutes down to Cardiff Bay. It was good to be back!

Roald Dahl Plass.
Mermaid Quay.
The Pierhead Building and the Senedd (Welsh Assembly).
The Pierhead Building.
Roald Dahl Plass, with the Wales Millennium Centre to the left.
The Wales Millennium Centre.
The Wales Millennium Centre.
Roald Dahl Plass, where the Torchwood Hub is supposed to be.

After spending a few hours down at Cardiff Bay, I started to head back. Time for dinner. Instead of walking all the way back, I decided to take the short shuttle service from Cardiff Bay to Cardiff Queen Street (where I’d change for another to Cardiff Central).

A single coach train operates this shuttle service.
Cardiff Bay (20:18)
Transport for Wales
0:03 (210:41)
Cardiff Queen Street (20:21)
1.6 km (19431.9 km)

After a short three minute trip, the train arrived at Cardiff Queen Street.

Changing trains at Cardiff Queen Street.

I changed platforms and hopped on a train that would take me to Cardiff Central.

Cardiff Queen Street (20:25)
Transport for Wales
0:02 (210:43)
Cardiff Central (20:27)
1.1 km (19433 km)

After an even shorter trip, lasting only two minutes, the train pulled in to Cardiff Central.

I walked out of the station and started looking for somewhere to eat. I felt like steak. I found one of the JD Wetherspoon pubs, called The Great Western. I ordered my steak, grabbed a pint of cider and relaxed. Tomorrow, I will be heading back to London, but not before making a detour to one of my favourite villages.


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