St Pancras: day 1

Look at that - 2 posts in 2 days. It seems the Poorhouse hasn't died after all. Many apologies to the hoards of eager fans (well, one person mentioned it in passing, to be more accurate) who clamoured for more, more, more pointless nonsense.

A couple of weeks back, the Poorhouse had the inadvertent "pleasure" of travelling on a train on the first day of the St Pancras, London railway station redevelopment with its Eurostar links being open for business. With that thrilling build-up, you might expect a dramatic story of said events from the Poorhouse to feature here. However, in what can only be described as luck for the lazy, the media was out in force - and the Sheffield Telegraph reporter Carolyn Waudby was on the exact same train would you believe - so we'll steal bits from her article.

November 14 8.27 am. Midland Station. On platform 8, it's business as usual. No hoards of Francophiles heading for London. An announcement relays the news that the London train is eight minutes late. We leave at 8.38 on one of the older Midland Mainline trains.

Yep, 11 minutes late. Prior to the takeover of the Sheffield-London route by Stagecoach the one, and only, thing you could rely on is that barring massive accident the London train would be ready and waiting at Sheffield a good 20 mins or more earlier than the departure time. Black mark (repeated black mark on a later occasion where similar lateness occurred on the same route) .

The train used was indistinguishable from the old Midland Mainline service- certainly no free wifi the Poorhouse thought he saw on an advert somewhere. And no free tea, like one used to get in the MM trains. In fact...

An announcement apologetically informs us that the train left the depot with no stock, therefore hot drinks and snacks are off the menu

Gutted - this was a business trip too. There are limited expenses one can pseudo-legitimately build up under these circumstances.

Passengers are not impressed

Correct.

but buffet steward James Lewis, 20, from Sheffield, is upbeat over the importance of the day. He describes the new St Pancras as "absolutely gorgeous – the best structure for years". His eyes light up as he recalls seeing every platform lined up with Eurostar trains for the first time.

He clearly loves his trains. Or alternatively it was the same misdirected "eyes light up" as the Poorhouse has when he realises due to certain system failures he couldn't possibly get on with his job. Train cheeseburgers are foul enough to eat; they are probably even worse to handle under the guise of selling them to idiot consumers.

During this time, the Poorhouse noted no excitement or even mention of St Pancras or Eurostar on the train. The only thing of note was that opposite the seat reserved for yours truly sat a crew of a camera man with an impressive size optical tool and a man in a suit - first thought to probably be an MP but later pretty much found out to be a cheesy local news reporter. Yep, eagle-eyed viewers could easily have spotted the Poorhouse disrupting the last remnant of seriousness that could possibly be attributed to a local TV news report by waving to his mummy in the background of certain local news that day.

It seemed to baffle the passengers more than anything, again lending credence to the fact that it wasn't only the Poorhouse who had no idea of the day's "spectacular" events. It was only early and we were hungry so no-one was really in the mood for appearing as a film star. Instead, the guy pranced up and down the carriages staccato-chuntering "hard hitting" and not at all cheese-mongering lines such as "Paris just got significantly nearer to the East Midlands". It was at that point the local news credentials were entirely confirmed.

Presumably, somewhere on-board Carolyn Waudby was taking notes.

9.30. We're between Derby and Leicester and the train is held up by a slow-moving train in front. We don't make up the time, arriving at St Pancras at 11.10 – 22 minutes late.

22 minutes feels a little optimistic there. In fact we were held up by two different independent slow moving trains in front at different points in the journey if the Poorhouse recalls correctly. Personal displeasure was felt, as of course the Poorhouse had left it to the very last minute to travel to employment-related activities so he could get an extra 15 minutes in bed. It was enhanced by there being no end of other film crews on the station hanging around getting in the way of irritated commuters.

There was also an on-board announcement or two telling first-class passengers that they might like to unboard the train and get a later one because the service on this one was so inadequate. As the Poorhouse is a natural proletariat no personal reportage is available re the take-up rate of this offer to become even more late than they already were.

Hence:

Grumbles over the shaky service from Sheffield are instantly forgotten as we alight. There is huge excitement as passengers see for the first time the £800m restored St Pancras. Necks craned, we gaze at the steel and glass single span ceiling that diffuses natural light into every corner.

is not exactly universally true. This, however, was:

I go downstairs to explore the arcades of shops but only a handful are open. However, the hoardings promise upmarket stores, even a Hamley's and a Foyles

Upsetness was had. The Poorhouse had every intention of coming back and making massive use of all these wonderful new facilities. Not a nice restaurant to be seen. The primary plan of longest champagne bar in Europe usage was rendered asunder - incorrectly as it turns out, as it's actually in working order open air style on a semi-outside bit of a platform. Presumably it is therefore irritatingly cold, noisy and over-full of exasperated travellers, but its potential cannot be entirely ruled out before a visit is had.

In other funny news, there was some sort of French transport strike that day meaning that the France side of the transport links were in some cases quite messed up. It also takes significantly longer to get out of St Pancras on foot, or so it seemed.

Summary: quite disappointed really; late trains, most station facilities closed and extra people related irritation do not make for a pleasant trip out, especially as of course with trains being the massive rip-off they always are, the ticket from Sheffield to London - bought decently in advance, second class - cost £150. Nonetheless, the endeavour will be repeated soon to give it a fair go.

Carolyn was lucky enough to go the whole hog and Eurostar it over to France. However as the jealous Poorhouse didn't get that privilege that part of the article, which was probably really the focus to be fair, isn't going to grace these pages.


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