Monday, 15 August 2011

Travelling by Eurostar? A ticket to 'London International' is your friend!

Undoubtedly the best way to get to Paris, Brussels and indeed many locations in western Europe is by Eurostar through the channel tunnel. Thousands make the trip every day, however it seems very few of them are aware of tickets to 'London International (CIV)'.

For anyone not starting their journey in London (and that is a large number of us) these tickets are a great option for making your way to St Pancras. The tickets offer travel to, and from, St Pancras in connection with a Eurostar ticket.

There are several advantages over a usual fare
- firstly these tickets tend to be cheaper
- the tickets carry far less (if any) peak travel restrictions
- finally, and possibly most importantly- the tickets are subject to the international conditions of carriage- this means that if your train in the UK is delayed, Eurostar are obliged to put you on their next available train without any additional charge. Similarly if your Eurostar is late and you have a 'timed' ticket to get back home in the UK the ticket will be honoured on a later train.
Amazingly these fares seem not to be advertised at all, and if it were not for the excellent Seat 61 website I would not have known about their existance either!
To book simply ask for a ticket to 'London International' at your local ticket office, bringing your Eurostar tickets with you. You can also get a further 1/3rd off these tickets with a railcard. My local station had no problems issuing the tickets- but politely insist that the tickets do exist should you have any trouble.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Eridge- All change for the Spa Valley Railway!

On the weekend of 5th - 7th August 2011 the Spa Valley Railway held their first diesel gala with running through to their new terminus at Eridge.

Ever since I first discovered Eridge Station, back in the days when the Oxted-Uckfield line was worked by the vintage class 205 and 207 'Thumper' units, I have eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Spa Valley to this quiet Sussex station. When, or even if it would arrive I did not know. There were hurdles to overcome- not least the operation of a preserved railway alongside an active Network Rail line. The situation however was quite unique, and until the railway arrived the second island platform at Eridge lay dormant, slowly decaying, but fully accessible to travellers.

This page presents some 'then and now' photographs of Eridge as it was in 2004 and following the Spa Valley Railways arrival in 2011.

What a difference a lick of paint makes!
Of course a huge amount more work has been undertaken to get platforms 2 and 3 back into use than just pain. The closest building- the gents toilets has been completely refurbished as well as a waiting room and booking office being set up in the former station building.
In the seven years between these pictures platform 1 has also received some paint with 'Southern' colours now present instead of the former 'Connex' scheme.

From the station footbridge it is actually the Network Rail area of the station roof which appears far cleaner! Also noticeable is the reduction of vegetation at the far end of platform 3 where there is now pointwork. The most obvious difference of course- is that platform 3 is now occupied by a Spa Valley train from Tunbrige Wells West.
The glazing at the London end of the platform 2/3 station canopy has been renewed which really brightens up this area of the station. The window shown in the 2004 photograph is now the ticket office for the Spa Valley Railway. The track in platform 3 has been cleared of vegetation and is now able to be used to stable locomotives. Access across this track to the car park currently stops the platform being used as a true island, and also prevents a run-round loop from existing here.
Looking back along platform 2 the platform surface has seen some attention, including the less than attractive (but probably necessary) tactile paving strip. The track has been cleared of weeds and the platform once again accomodates a train.

An overall view of the station. Since 2004 the 'Thumpers' have sadly gone and heritage traction now departs from the opposite track of the station. Originally Eridge boasted four platforms. This reduced to just one before the re-establishment of the link to Tunbridge Wells by the Spa Valley Railway. It is incredibly fortuitous that the generous station buildings and canopy at Eridge have survived so long and avoided rationalisation in the intervening years.

Where once the disused island platform carried 'Alight other side' signs, the platform, now very much back in use welcomes visitors to the Spa Valley Railway. What seemed an unenviable task has been achieved and the Spa Valley Railway should be congratulated on their achievement.

Spa Valley trains (both steam and diesel) are now running regularly to Eridge.
For more information visit the railways official website at