Upon arriving in the middle of Wembley, a confusing mix of redeveloped and old buildings, I find the station tucked in the corner of a modern looking plaza having been left after the surrounding buildings were knocked down.
At this point my phone starts working again, and I realise that we had just taken a bus away from the far quicker Piccadilly Line back home at Sudbury Town. Oh well.
The platform quickly continued to fill up as no trains seem to be arriving, while the departure boards displayed two trains as ‘due’ which then just disappeared. I don’t worry about this – the line is one of the few sections where Tube trains run over National Rail tracks meaning that the information system is not properly updated by TFL. Checking my phone, I notice a train due out of the siding at Harrow & Wealdstone has been sitting there for far longer than it should be. The following London Overground service was also held there…
Everyone looks around in a confused state as the automated announcements tells us the approaching train is ‘the London Overground service to London Euston.’ What approaching train? A few moments later, an announcement that ‘the Bakerloo line has been suspended between Stonebridge Park and Harrow & Wealdstone due to a points failure at Harrow’ partially answers our question. I immediately wonder where the Overground service is and upon checking my phone once again realise it is finally on the move.
Luckily, the train was not as full as I expected and we continue down towards Willesden Junction, having used the handy Station Master app by Geoff Marshall, a former Tube Challenge world record holder, to let me know informing me I need to be at the front of the train to make the connection as quickly as possible.
We pass several stations on route, about which I honestly cannot say very much, apart from the view over the North Circular just after Stonebridge Park, which is still not very interesting.
One important comment (or rant? Feel free to skip to the next paragraph) here is the fact that despite the issues, people still let the London Overground service leave without them. Although the service was technically still running at Stonebridge Park, there are still issues. Despite that, there is still another reason you should always take the first train on this, and some other, sections of the tube. Bakerloo Line trains run about every 2.5 minutes between Queen’s Park and Elephant and Castle, with 3 continuing each hour past there to Stonebridge Park and another 6 continuing through to Harrow & Wealdstone. Combined with the London Overground service of 3 trains per hour, this creates a total of 9 trains per hour over this section. Therefore, if you take an Overground train and change at Queen’s Park, chances are there will be a Bakerloo Line train starting there on the opposite platform. Not a difficult change at all, and a likely time saving. (rant over)
We arrived at Willesden Junction where I see another Overground train at the top platform – which I thought was our connection to Acton Central. Sprinting across the station, trying to avoid people taking up both sides of the narrow, we crash through the automatic doors where I shout a little too loudly, ‘Nope that’s a Stratford train.’ Running over to the correct side of the platform, I position us at the rear doors for a speedy exist at Acton.
For some reason I decide to use the little battery remaining in my phone to take a picture of the gap between the train and the platform (along with my shoe), which is in fact much wider than this and has a large vertical distance prompting someone leaving to comment, ‘Man, I hate this gap.’
As we pull away from Willesden, we get a view over several lines including the West Coast Main Line, West London Line, several train depots and freight sidings. In the meantime, three London Overground ‘travel safety officers’ make themselves helpful by looking at pictures on their smartphones while I mash my own iPhone and the NextBuses app to find out when the bus back to Ealing will arrive.
Immediately after arriving at Acton Central, we sprint through the subway to avoid the level crossing and down a side street to the Uxbridge Road for the bus. Luckily, we managed to get a 607 express bus, meaning that we avoid stopping for one person at every stop. On board are mainly those looking to get the most out of their £1.40 bus fare (or whatever Child/Student/Staff Pass/Freedom Pass/Jobseekers discount they have) all the way out to Uxbridge.
Off we get at Ealing Broadway, and that’s it. Overall, a few bits of drama along the way but otherwise a very enjoyable trip.
Pictures from the walk are, again, here.
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