Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel
celestialweasel

Let me take you by the hand and lead you through exurban busways

Trip (some time the week before last, started post but didn't finish it at the time)
1. Drive to Bletchley station
2. Train to Bedford
3. Train to Luton
4. Busway to and from Houghton Regis
5. Train to St Albans City
6. Train from St Albans Abbey (station, not abbey :-)) to Watford Junction
7. Train to Watford Junction
8. Train to Bletchley
9. Drive home

The original plan for the trip was more ambitious but foundered on (a) having to get up a bit earlier than I would like (b) my having a bit of a head-ache this morning (c) my heart not being quite in it.
If you look at the London and South East rail map http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/London_South_East.pdf which you have probably seen at stations you will notice a loop taking in the Watford Junction to St Albans line and the Bletchley to Bedford line.
The Bletchley to Bedford line will of course be upgraded as part of the East-West Link, but at the moment it is quite sleepy. Two guys were chatting on the train, one talking about his counsellor and being on methadone. The line crawls into Bedford - it used to stop at Bedford St. John's station but this was gradually dismantled, then moved with the line going to the main station some time in the 80s.
The main highlight of Beford station was someone coming up to see if I was OK due to my walking up and down the platform and taking photos of the notices e.g. the Samaritans' green notices (which the multi-storey car-park at the Oracle centre in Reading has also recently sprouted). Then again it may not have been concern for me as I was wearing my Brazillian electrician's backpack.
The stop in Luton was to have a go on the busway http://www.busway.net/. This is essentially a disused railway converted into a busway.
Look, a video on YouTube, not by me, with over 2500 views https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYHQ394u5tA (currently with top right hand suggested link saying 'Gays should be executed in an ideal world says Chairman of' (their truncation)).
The busway is a converted railway line. It is a guided busway - the buses use guide wheels which keep them aligned with their tracks. By dint of having more or less normal buses it can go 'off the rails' (ha ha) as it does in the middle of the route - it basically does a loop of Dunstable town centre and then resumes. It has bus stops that look quite like tram stops. Like the Gravesend Fastrack (previously mentioned on this LJ) it suffers from the drivers stopping to collect fares.

I didn't stay to look at much of Luton. I was certainly struck how much the station and environs reminded me of somewhere in Eastern Europe.
St. Albans was interesting in that I had a very clear recollection of the abbey and the area round it which was 100% inaccurate - I have no idea whether I am thinking of somewhere else or whether it was a weird but not very exciting dream.

The Abbey Line from St. Albans Abbey is also quite odd - not far outside Greater London but very rural. The train brushes against the trees which have been allowed to grow without being trimmed. There are a couple of tiny stations in places that normally would probably barely have a bus service.

My overall impression of the day - lots of buddleia and horses. There was a radio item about there being a horse welfare crisis - lots of surplus horses and horses being 'fly grazed', and there certainly seem to be a lot of horses standing round in semi-random places.

Meanwhile, I have another couple of plans for trips but am slightly torn as the overlap is such that I probably wouldn't want to do both, but I am not sure a combination of both could comfortably be done in a day. Time will tell.
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