Today started bright and early at 06:00 as we had a long journey to London Paddington ahead of us. We were off to Heathrow to meet my dad from the airport as he had been working in Calgary all week. The plan was to get the Heathrow Express from Paddington. As a result of all the engineering works, we had to catch a bus to Didcot Parkway for the journey to Paddington. At 0645 our bus arrived to take us to Didcot – it had come from Bristol Parkway and called at Swindon and then Didcot. We bagged the front two seats of the coach right behind the driver, which gave us a great view. We arrived at Didcot at 07:30, just time for a quick station review before we caught the 0745 to London Paddington, calling at Reading and Slough – this train was formed of 8 coaches. We boarded the train in first class but we had booked standard class ticket. We were aiming for a first class upgrade as at a weekend it is only £7.50 for one zone and Didcot and London Paddington are in the same zone. We walked down to the buffet car and asked the lady in the buffet car if we could sit in first class and wait for the ticket inspector to come and then buy the weekend upgrade. The lady had no problem with letting us sit in first class. She even let my mum and me have a cup of tea, fruit cake and some porridge. We sat in coach L and sat in seats 22 and 21 a table seat – again it was just as nice as the trip from Gloucester to Swindon only a bit longer. We saw lots of parked up trains just outside Reading station (it looked like a depot). We stopped at Slough and then just after that we saw an IET train maintenance depot full of all different class 800’s. We were travelling too fast so I couldn’t catch all the numbers but I added a few more to my collection.
We arrived at Paddington Station, it looked absolutely amazing!!!! I have only been to Paddington once before, but I wasn’t into trainspotting at that time as I was very young, and also we didn’t hang about at the station we just went straight to the underground to catch a connecting train. I did a bit of trainspotting at Paddington station, there are trains constantly arriving and departing from this station, and then went over to platform one as that is where the statue of Paddington Bear is located. I didn’t realize but on that same platform was the GWR first class lounge. We popped inside the door as I wanted to give the lady a website card and she invited me to go and sit down and help myself to anything I fancied. We sat down in the lounge for a while ( the lounge was full of pastries, fruit, tea, coffee, water, juice, magazines and lots more). We came out of the new part of lounge and then walked through to the old lounge that Queen Victoria would have sat in – Hint: the toilets are in the old part of the lounge. We walked to the end of platform one to go and have a look at the train, and it turned out it was a Red Arrows named train – it was really cool! We walked back up the stairway to the first floor area inside the station and across the footbridge – it was a great vantage point for the station I would highly recommend it. We then walked down to the Heathrow Express platforms. If you are travelling with a railcard don’t use the ticket machines as you can’t use your railcard, you just have to walk to the end of the platform and go to the ticket office. We caught the 0955 Heathrow Express to London Heathrow Terminal 5, the train called at London Heathrow Terminal 1,2 and 3. For terminal 4 you have to get a transfer from terminals 1,2 and 3. We walked up to arrivals at Terminal 5 and there I saw my dad. My dad suggested that my mum and I go on the pods to the car park. That was a disaster!!!!!!!!! First we selected car park B as we didn’t know where my dad had parked. It turned out he had parked outside car park A. We got to car park B and tried to connect to car park A but it said that you had to leave the pod. We selected car park A again and this time it started moving and then a message popped up saying “Error we can’t take to your selected destination but you are being re-routed.” As it turned out it was taking us back to Terminal 5 and my dad was in car park A. My dad drove to the main short stay car park and we found him there.
We then drove to Maidenhead station to try and do a quick review of the station. As we walked into Maidenhead station we asked to go through the ticket barriers to do some trainspotting and I gave the man one of my website cards. The man, called Chris, was really interested and another member of staff suggested Chris take us up onto the platforms and show me around the station. I said, “Yes please.” Chris took us up to the best place to stand in the whole station, which turned out to be at the end of platform 4. We were watching the trains and chatting about our favourite trains and journeys for a good few minutes when a man came to Chris and said, “Do you want to take Sam into the control room?” The man got permission from the station manager to let me into the control room. I went into the control room and Chris asked me if I wanted to make a train announcement. I replied, “Yes please!” and I got to make an announcement – my second station where I have now made an announcement!! This time it was announcing the 1152 to Reading, calling at Twyford and Reading. We also looked at the P2 mapping system and compared websites we use for information about trains. We both used mainly the same sites but Chris did tell me about a new one – Traksy.uk – which I love. Then it was time to leave the station and drive home.
Thank you Chris and the staff at Maidenhead station for making my day extra special!!!