Which St Albans station?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by lonogrol, 31 Oct 2011.

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  1. lonogrol

    lonogrol Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm about to move to St. Albans and start a job in SW1.

    I have a pass that entitles me to free travel from either Watford Junction to Euston, or south of Kentish Town on FCC (train doesn't need to call there in line with a special arrangement between my employer and FCC). My options are therefore either to pay £2,640 for an annual St. Albans City to Kentish Town or £1,072 for an annual St. Albans Abby to Watford Junction.

    Investigating the two options, I could get the 7.41 from St. Albans Abby, arriving Euston 8.24, changing at Watford. This would get me to work by about 8.45 (on Victoria Line).

    Other option would be to be get the 7.44 from St. Albans City, arriving Blackfriars 08.16, direct. Once the tube station reopens I'd get to work about 8.35 (on District Line).

    Walking distance to both stations is about the same, so I'd leave at the same time.

    So can anyone give any views on my two options? Is it worth paying more than double for a slightly quicker service, and one that is more frequent? Or is the via Watford service better, in terms of crowding, reliability, etc?

    Many thanks.
     
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  3. Lampshade

    Lampshade Established Member

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    I'd be inclined to go for the St Albans Abbey route because it's so much cheaper and you avoid the Thameslink core at rush hour, which is always a bonus.
     
    Last edited: 31 Oct 2011
  4. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    The OP stated in his post that "walking distance to both stations is about the same."
     
  5. Yew

    Yew Established Member

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    Maybe you could get a weekly season on each line, then at th end of two weeks see which one works for you? (you might find you like subsurface tubes better as you don't have to stand. Around on escalators or something)

    So you could find which one works for you :)
     
  6. SAPhil

    SAPhil Member

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    The trouble with the Abbey line is that with only one train every 45 mins you cannot afford to be late! FCC trains are very frequent, especially in peak periods so getting to the station a few minutes late is not much of an issue!
     
  7. talltim

    talltim Established Member

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    I would say Thameslink, simply because of the far higher number of available trains. Although you say the walking distance is about the same, abbey is at the bottom of a hill, so depending on where you will be living, that may make a difference.
    (I have memories of walking back from the sports centre opposite Abbey to City station carrying my games kit after school as a teenager. That was not fun)
     
  8. lookingforit35

    lookingforit35 Member

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    Absolutely no idea about that line whatsoever I'm afraid! But anything with an increased frequency has got to win over, unless you plan on hanging around stations that is.
     
  9. 87 027

    87 027 Member

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    The Victoria line can be fairly packed at Euston in the mornings so I'd agree with the advice above to try out both routes before you decide
     
  10. lonogrol

    lonogrol Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far:

    I'll be living just off the Old London Road so either way there will be some up hill - on the way from Abby or the way to City.

    Do people genuinely think the frequent trains is worth stumping up that huge amount extra? In the morning I'd be on specific trains so frequency wouldn't matter too much for me. I am sure I could time the return trip to be on the right train. If the time isn't convenient or I miss the last train then it's only £6.20 single to go back to City.
     
  11. richardderby

    richardderby Member

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    you obviously work for TFL as well :), certainly for the huge extra expense, and the fact you will probably have a seat to Watford junction, if you dont mind going around the houses, you might as well make use of your free travel allowances....
     
  12. MCR247

    MCR247 Established Member

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    but you are just in trouble if for some reason, you are a bit late, or you have to go in at a different time on one day
     
  13. lookingforit35

    lookingforit35 Member

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    Frequency becomes important when you consider all the slightly tiresome things that can go wrong on your journey when you commute.

    TOCs cancel services for a variety of reasons - do you really want to wait 45 minutes till the next scheduled arrival. Similarly, if you miss your favoured service you have a long wait ahead of you, somewhat depressing on the way home!

    And a change at Watford could also give you a few problems with connections. Imagine sitting delayed outside Watford on your way home knowing that your connection is about to depart............

    Yes, it's dearer but worth it in my humble opinion. 25 years in and I always go for convenience!
     
  14. Bedpan

    Bedpan Member

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    Thinking of getting a seat, and ease of travel generally, I'd go for St Albans City. Whilst most of the fast trains to London from St Albans are packed, having two leaving at 07.44 will surely help and getting the slightly slower one, which arrives at Blackfriars at 08.24 after 4 extra stops, should mean that you will get a seat easily, particularly as it starts from Luton rather than Bedford.

    I have never travelled into London from Watford Junc in the morning rush hour, but on the few occasions I've come back out from Euston in the evenings, the trains have been packed. The question is though, is it worth the extra £6 odd a day? I think I'd take up Yew's suggestion and try both to begin with.
     
  15. Mutant Lemming

    Mutant Lemming Established Member

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    It's a simple choice between cost and service and you pretty much gets what you pays for.

    (1 Thameslink FCC - I have my gripes about them but you have a high frequency, virtually 24 hour service. So not only is it useful for work but also nights out in town.

    (2 The Abbey Flyer - It's quaint but it's slow and unrelaible. You are banking on one train which has been known to fail for the morning rush hour. You will also have to change twice so you have three trains that need to be running okay as opposed to two. It may also turn in to a tram - but probably not in our lifetimes.

    Try a St.Albans - London Terminals season for three months and alternate between the two and see which you prefer.
     
  16. cumfy

    cumfy Member

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    If you're doing any work on the train, the direct service may be better.

    Just in terms of valuing your own time ...
    If >£14/hour go for the faster service if <£14/hr the slower!

    Try both!
     
  17. John Webb

    John Webb Established Member

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    The extended Thameslink trains are due to start running soon so seating should be a bit easier from City station as well in the future.
    (Do pop up and see us at St Albans South Signal box once you've moved to St Albans!)
     
  18. lonogrol

    lonogrol Member

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    Hi everyone

    Thanks for the replies so far. I will take up the suggestion of trying a week on each line. I am entitled to a hefty discount on my seasons but only if I buy annuals, so will try out for a week each route and report back here.

    For travelling 5 times a week on the FCC route it's actually cheaper for me to buy 5 x returns at £12 each with my Young persons railcard (£60 total) vs a 7 day season @ £66.

    On the Abby - Watford line I'll buy a 7 day season as will be travelling before 10am.
     
  19. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    If they are going to be working for TfL they shouldn't be paying £2,640 for an annual to Kentish Town - if you are, contact me by PM, lonogrol or HR.
     
  20. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    I have travelled on FCC for 20 years - (or its predecesors) - and been responsible operationally for the Abbey Line.

    The 0744 SAC semi fast is an OK train , you will get a seat , though it gets very busy after Radlett - there are many other options and if you are pushed , you can always stand on a faster train. The semi fasts are the train of choice for those trading a seat for a 7/8 min longer journey. A trade off to an all stations train - many of which start from SAC is another 5/6 mins and a guaranteed seat of your choice.


    The Abbey is a delightfull and civilised journey - with a good mix of locals on it and pretty well guaranteed a seat from Watford. The down side is the frequency , and a missed connection means a cold wait at one of the UK's most functional stations. It wont go to tramtrain now till 2014 or so, - when there might be a 20 min service.

    As you are moving to the old London Road , it is a very short and pleasant walk to SAC and a decent walk to SAA. Both have merits - though when Blackfriars re-opens , you will have a very good place to return from and (again) a seat on any train you choose coming home. The Southbound Victoria line is no fun.

    On balance , pay the difference and go for FCC - the start of some 12 car trains from this December will skim off some of the overcrowding on the fast trains - giving some hope of a seat , but in reality , a more comfortable stand !

    And if you want a pint sometime ...........(and some pub information) .....
     
  21. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Are you working near Victoria station? If so, taking FCC to Blackfriars then the District Line is going to be slower than changing at St Pancras.

    Unfortunately, while the walk between King's Cross Thameslink to the Victoria line was very short, the walk from the new St Pancras Thameslink platforms to the Victoria line is very long. But it would be quicker than going via Blackfriars.
     
  22. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    FCC for frequency and options for those times you want to go to London outside work times.

    On the rare occasions I've opted to go from Euston, I've spent far too many cold 43mins at WFJ having just missed the 'flyer' (oxymoron if ever there was one) due to some delay on the WCML.

    Depending which bit of SW1 you are in, and your employer's travel rules, the 0744 semi fast from SAC, change at W Hampstead for the Jubilee to Green Park / Westminster may be quicker.
     
  23. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    The West Hampstead option is better than the Vic line - especially with the new freqeuncies on there - the back of the train is always lighter loaded too !
     
  24. lonogrol

    lonogrol Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone yet again, very helpful and friendly forum :)

    Deerfold and richardderby = No I don't work for TfL but for London Underground. I am aware of the 75% tax free discount on FCC and the 75% taxable discount on the others, but I didn't want to quote any prices with the discount in case it confused anyone and not wanting to be accused of showing off!

    Rick = Hadn't considered going via the Jubilee line from West Hampstead. Seems a season to West Hampstead is the same price at Kentish Town, not sure about any time savings.

    Yorkie = I work in the vicinity of Victoria. (Although I can use St James's or Westminster stations.) I suggested Blackfriars as it was a through train and avoids the Victoria Line and the walk at Kings Cross. It'll take about 12min from the FCC platforms at Blackfriars to Victoria station exit (1.5min + 9min journey + 1.5min) but about 19min at Kings Cross (6min + 10min journey + 3min).

    ChiefPlanner = Thanks for the advice about the different lines and future plans. Sorry I keep spelling it Abby - I know it's Abbey !
     
  25. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    This is a good option actually, providing there are suitable trains calling at [stn]WHP[/stn]. Exit near the front of the train (in either direction) for the easiest interchange, the walk is not far.

    Journey time is 15 minutes, with trains every 2 minutes.

    Hmm, possibly, though that still makes it quicker to change at King's Cross by 5 minutes (St Pancras <> Blackfriars is 12 minutes), however I do wonder if the times are a little skewed, but then I'm not sure. TfL recommend 10 minutes (compared to your 1.5) for the interchange at Blackfriars, compared to allowing 12 minutes (for your 6) at King's Cross/St Pancras. Admittedly TfL are allowing too much time for the Blackfriars connection!

    The 'fast' 0744 would probably have got you to St Pancras at 0807, or Blackfriars at 0817 today (it made up time), while the 'slow' 0744 got to West Hampstead at 0805. Allowing for the walk & wait for a Jubilee train at West Hampstead, you'd have been on the tube at around 0810, and at Westminster for 0825. Depending on how convenient Westminster is compared to Victoria, I reckon that'd be hard to beat.

    For sure, the walk at West Hampstead is a lot shorter than the walk at St Pancras/King's Cross.

    I think the interchange at West Hampstead could be so much better (and it would be even better if one day the Met could call there instead of Finchley Road, but that would need new platforms to be built) if it was invested in.
     
  26. lonogrol

    lonogrol Member

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    Okay, what I'll do is buy a weekly pass Abbey to Watford for next week, and then a £12 return each day the week after. A few days I'll go via West Hampstead as it's the same price, but will reconsider if it's raining.
     
  27. NSE

    NSE Established Member

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    Yorkie, I agree about West Hampstead. I change there for work at least three times a week, and it could be so much better. Platforms on all TL, LO, Jubilee, Met and Chiltern would be brilliant.
     
  28. richardderby

    richardderby Member

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    theres always the northern line to high barnet and the 84 on your staff pass if you want a change of scenery,(although its 30-40 min from High Barnet!)
     
  29. Geezertronic

    Geezertronic Established Member

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    I frequently do Birmingham to St Albans by train (although car is more often than train now unfortunately) and go in and out of London to St Albans (City). Usually quicker than the M1 :)
     
  30. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Staff pass is not valid north of Potters Bar on the 84.
     
  31. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    OP, you have a PM.
     
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