Budapest

Line One of the Budapest Metro dating from 1896 was the first underground electrical
railway on the European mainland and the world’s second, having been pipped at the post by London’s City & South London Railway (now part of the Northern Line) which opened six years earlier. Unlike the C&SLR which was built as a deep level tube Budapest’s Line One was built using the cut and cover method from Vorosmarty Ter (square) for 3.7 km along the very elegant Andrassy Avenue to the Budapest City Park and Szechenyi Baths. Construction took only two years and it remains very much as built though the line has since been extended by just one extra stop and the original surface entrance buildings have been lost. Today the whole line has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lines Two and Three are not so interesting and, though I was hoping for some communist style pomp and grandiosity, their stations are generally fairly nondescript but with some nice 70s attempts at decoration here and there. A fourth line is currently under construction and has been in planning since the 1970s, rivalling our own Crossrail in terms of time from conception to opening. Apart from the Metro, Budapest itself is, of course, an absolutely gorgeous city which I was lucky enough to visit several times over 2011 and 2012. Should you get there make sure you try the roasted goose leg: not to be missed. I
liked the place so much I have even included a few pictures below entirely unrelated to railway stations. The Soviet statues I have shown are, of course, no longer dominating the city but have been gathered in a park for the education of visitors and the amusement of the locals. I especially liked Stalin’s boots which are all that remain of his statue which had dominated Hosok Ter (Heroes Square) and below which the communist dignitaries of the day had gathered to take the adulation of the people. The statue itself was torn down in the
peaceful revolution of 1989. I have to admit I would have loved to have seen the illuminated red star that topped the glorious parliament building back in the communist days.  And why was I in Budapest? For that I have to thank Szilvia.

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Posted in Leaving London Aside | Leave a comment

London Blackfriars

Though most services pass through now rather than terminating here London Blackfriars, which started life as St Paul’s in 1886, was one of the original ‘Big Twelve’ mainline termini that ringed central London so I have given it its own entry rather than lumping it in with the Underground station of the same name. And it is a not uninteresting station. These days, after both a 20th and a 21st Century rebuild it is decidedly unusual in being built on a bridge across the river, uniquely giving it entrances on both sides of the river. Funnily enough, unlike North Greenwich which migrated from north to south, the original Blackfriars Station was south of the river close to today’s Southwark station and just to the South of yet another Blackfriars station: this time called Blackfriars Bridge. Brickwork showing the range of destinations, from Antwerp to Wiesbaden, at least theoretically accessible from Blackfriars Bridge station has been preserved, slightly irritatingly for
my categorization scheme in Blackfriars Underground station. So starting on the south side, moving north and then stretching back across the river: an interesting history. The new station is 50% solar powered by panels on what is now a roof over the bridge that had previously only provided rail access to the station. That bridge fell apart between its opening in 1886 and final death 99 years later. Since 1985 all that is left of the bridge are the piers some of which have been incorporated into the new station with the remaining ones looking quite ghostly in the right conditions. Views into The City from the platforms are nothing less than spectacular and must be amongst the best from any city railway station in the world. Actually, I have no way of knowing whether that is true but would love to hear of a better view from a railway platform. Apart from the view, I have to admit that things are just a little bland here. On the other hand, the boyishly good looking Architectural Critic (… of the Evening Standard!), Kieran Long, is very irritated, thinks the whole thing is dreadful (13/06/2012) and hardly stands comparison with, for example, St Pancras. He is very put out about it all, so much so that the tone of his article reminded me of nothing so much as one of those early 20th Century Railway Gazette editorials that were awfully peeved about such dreadful vulgarities as calling the Underground Railway ‘The Tube’. Unlike the great 19th Century mainline termini, Kieran tells us, this Tube and minor overground station will not stand the test of time. He confidently anticipates it will be gone in no time, “no one”, pronounces Kieran with certainty, “will shed a tear in 80 years when it is once again taken to pieces and something new put in its place”. Golly, that’s tellin’ ‘em!

Most of the pictures were taken with my mobile phone and, I agree, they are not up to much. I aim to go back to rectify.

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Posted in Mainline Termini, National Rail, Thameslink | 2 Comments

Royal Albert

Named after the dock that was named after the prince rather than the prince himself,
Royal Albert opened in 1994. There is a certain sense of being out in the wide open spaces here. Actually I think that is just because for whatever reason there is no housing around here. There is a large office block occupied by Newham Borough Council and you can get a glimpse of London City Airport on the other side of the dock. For the time being you can also see a little bit of Crossrail under construction alongside the station. I assumed the grand red brick building beside the station, called Compressor House, was a left-over of
something official and governmental like a customs house or similar. In fact, as the name makes perfectly clear, it housed compressors which were needed for chilling refrigerated cargoes. These days the building, which was built in 1914, is occasionally used for exhibitions.

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Posted in Bank (& Tower Gateway) to Beckton, DLR | Leave a comment

Beckton Park

Opened in 1994, and built to an almost identical design for an identical reason to
neighbouring Cyprus, Beckton Park is named after either or both Beckton District South Park or New Beckton Park which are adjoining parks right next to the railway line. There is quite a lot of parkland around here which is almost certainly a result of The Blitz. The name Beckton came about in honour of Mr S A Beck, governor of the Gas Light & Coke Company which was based here and pretty much accounts for the fact that was the remnants of an old railway here that could be pressed back into use by the DLR. I liked the tiles outside the station.

 

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Posted in Bank (& Tower Gateway) to Beckton, DLR | Leave a comment