4 Weird And Annoying Things About London's Train Termini

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 18 months ago
4 Weird And Annoying Things About London's Train Termini
Another train vanishes into thin air at London Bridge. Photo by Sven Loach in the Londonist Flickr pool

The tube gets a lot of attention, but while we're all busy obsessing over underground stations, their mainline cousins are wreaking all sorts of havoc.

1. The disappearing trains of London Bridge

We've lost count of the number of times we've been waiting for a train on the Southeastern side of London Bridge station, only for said train to disappear. We'll be standing on the platform waiting for our train. It's the next one listed on the electronic screen. At the due time of arrival, it'll be delayed by a minute, then two, then three... until the information wipes off the screen and the next train is listed. No announcement. It's not delayed. It's not cancelled, it's just... gone.

It's been happening to us for at least six years, and only ever seems to happen at London Bridge.

What worries us most is this — where do these trains go? They can't simply disappear, especially the ones inbound to London, which presumably already have an abundance of passengers onboard. Is there some sort of commuter train graveyard among the railway arches between New Cross and London Bridge? A 21st century Bermuda Triangle? Answers in the comments please.

2. Cannon Street's microclimate

Cannon Street has its own mini weather system, we're sure of it. Several times we've approached the entrance to the station in fine weather. We'll walk straight through the ticket barriers and down the entire length of the platform. By the time we reach the uncovered bit of platform over the river (three or four minutes after entering the station), the sky is dark grey and it's hammering it down. This has happened to us too many times for it to be a coincidence.

3. Blackfriars? Slackfriars, more like

London's only cross-river platforms are the jewel of the Thameslink route. Passengers waiting for trains (and Thameslink passengers do a lot of waiting for trains) can gaze out on the riverine cityscape, and marvel at the information screens that reveal how much of the station's energy is generated from the rooftop solar panels. All good stuff. But this mainline station also has its share of oddities. For starters, the ceiling is too low for the trains. Incoming drivers are exhorted to 'drop the pantograph' (the structure on top of the train that connects to the power lines). If they forget, this happens. Passengers also have a challenging time, thanks to the positioning of the train-time indicators, which are artfully placed behind pillars where you can't see them. When you do find a vantage point, the news is rarely good:

Thankfully, this station has the best passenger waiting room on the network. It's called the Blackfriar, and Thameslink sends it much custom.

4. Whereterloo East?

Don't even get us started on Waterloo East. How it even has the audacity to refer to itself as 'Waterloo', we'll never know — as anyone who uses it regularly will attest, it's practically in the next postcode zone to its namesake. Southwark West would be infinitely more appropriate.

Got any more station oddities to add? Pecularities of Paddington, perhaps, or the curse of King's Cross? Let us know in the comments below.

Last Updated 14 October 2016

Continued below.

Jim

For a long time, I wondered why it looks as though the southbound Northern line platform at Moorgate looks like it's been diverted - there's what looks like a blocked up tunnel portal and the platform tapers to accommodate the existing track - something that wouldn't have been necessary had it gone into said portal.

Sadly, after a TfL-working friend looked into it for me, it appears that the answer is rather mundane - the tracks need to start their turn early, otherwise there's be a sharp corner en route to Bank. Why not build a curved platform? It was apparently simpler to just dig a rectangular box and then make the existing layout while it was in situ.

DX101

The vanishing trains at London bridge might be because they've come out of the Thameslink Core and hit a congested station approach so been diverted via Elephant and Castle.

The pantograph business at Blackfriars is related to the switch between overhead and third rail power I think.
They should have dropped it (going south) at Farringdon? Or possibly City TL I forget.

Another oddity is City Thameslink itself. The gap between the south end of City TL and the North end of Blackfriars is less than a trains length.
It seems like such a pointless station to me.

Curved platforms are very much discouraged these days because they result in big gaps between the platform and train, which are a) a safety hazard and b) slow down passenger boarding and alighting so you can't run as many trains.
Nice big station boxes are preferred.

Might the blocked tunnel portal be where the old Farringdon to Moorgate lines ran before Thameslink blocked them off?

Rob Smith

The far end of Waterloo East is almost at Southwark Jubilee line station - and there's a gate between the two stations. Think twice about using it though - I opened it with my Oyster Card once and got charged for a journey between two Zone 1 stations. A bit harsh seeing as I had done the journey on foot under my own steam

feckyoo2

If a train is cancelled usually it's to avoid fines as they get fined for late trains but not cancelled trains. Joke system

Dave Pike

Paddington Station car park: Not in Paddington station but more nearer to Royal Oak station. From walking down the concourse to the car park, you have effectively walked the entire distance to the next underground station.

Mike Pellatt

The vanishing trains is purely down to the Passenger Information Systems (PIS - sic) being utter pants. Still. After years of promises. SouthEastern issued hundreds of iPads to their staff with the alleged goal of improving customer comms ?? Difference was there none. When asked if they'd made the necessary back-end system changes to support the iPads, they waffled and mumbled. It seems their staff are expected to use exactly the same tools, apps and websites available to their punters. And then not communicate the info over the PA. Rant over.

Gez

Since when has there been two Burger King outlets at Euston??!

Colin Botterman

What about the old link between Waterloo East and Waterloo Main Station. The bridge is still there with the Passenger link footbridge above it crossing Waterloo Road.

Moritz Lesche

What I really want to ask about London's termini is who planned the Waterloo/Waterloo East fiasco. If they were built in similar times then they should've made Waterloo a through station and connected the railway lines. It's weird how other than the Thameslink route there isn't a single mainline running through the city.

flyingking

Not being able to catch any international trains from Stratford International

Henry Vivian-Neal

At Kensal Green (served by London Overground and TFL Bakerloo line), entire trains also mysteriously disappear from the display boards. I've started to wonder not only about the fate of the rolling-stock, also but what happens to the driver & passengers?