With services from Bedford, Cambridge and Peterborough in the north, through Central London, to Kent, East & West Sussex and some of the south London suburbs, Thameslink connects London’s northern and southern commuter belts and was the controversial winner of the 2020 ‘World Cup of Tube Lines’.
Affectionately known as ‘Happy Trains’ due to the positioning of their light clusters, the Class 365 Networker Express have been a mainstay of the longer-distance former Network SouthEast (NSE) routes for the past 25 years, operating services from King’s Cross to Cambridge, King’s Lynn and Peterborough. With forty-one units initially built, their use has been ramped down and now just two services are required to operate the daily service diagrammed to the Happy Trains.
From Central London there are three ways of getting to Heathrow Airport by train: London Underground’s Piccadilly line, which is the slowest but cheapest; TfL Rail, which will eventually become the Elizabeth Line; and Heathrow Express, which runs non-stop from Paddington Station to the Heathrow terminals.
As some of my readers will know I am a key worker and so, despite various tiers and lockdowns, I am continuing to commute from Peterborough to London to do my bit to keep the capital moving despite Coronavirus. These commutes a few days a week have been a way for me to get a small ‘fix’ of train travel, and I thought I’d write this post to give you an idea of what travelling on trains during lockdown is like. I’m not going to use my normal rating scale for this journey, given the unique circumstances.
I hadn’t actually been planning on reviewing my journey back to London from Portsmouth, however the discovery of a class 444 waiting for me and improved customer service compared to my trip down was enough to differentiate it from the southbound journey (read about that here) and make it worth a short review.
The Island line, the one small remaining part of the Isle of Wight’s once extensive network 55.5 miles of railways, is just 8.5 miles in length and has a total of 8 stations spread across its length, mostly centred on the north-eastern and eastern conurbations of Ryde and Sandown & Shanklin.