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Paddington Station – Gateway to the West
Member Name: libertybell
Date: 14/08/00, updated on 14/08/00 (213 review reads)
Advantages: lots of facilites, getting better all the time, well lit
Disadvantages: can get cold in winter
Paddington Station is located to the west of central London in W2. The original station was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1840’s though the current station is nothing like the original having being enlarged throughout 2 centuries of use.
Paddington was home to the Great Western Railway (GWR) or as it was commonly called by its devoted fans – ‘Gods Wonderful Railway’. The GWR existed from 1835 up until the railway nationalisation in 1951. The name has been revived in the form of one of the companies running services out of the station – ‘First Great Western’ – who will always be associated with the Ladbroke Grove disaster a couple of miles down the line.
Paddington is the station to travel from if you want to get to:
· Bristol, Bath and Weston Super Mare
· Cardiff/Swansea and routes to west Wales
· Cheltenham/Gloucester and Malvern
· Oxford and Stratford –Upon-Avon
· Heathrow Airport (using the newish Heathrow Express)
The station is being transformed as the result of major building works, which have been going on for the last couple of years.
All of the Great Western Hotel has gone except for the façade on Praed Street. In its place is a huge new air-conditioned area where you can check in your luggage before boarding the Heathrow Express. In the same area can be found a Sainsbury’s, Dixons, a large Fullers pub, Carphone Warehouse and other eateries. Just around the corner is a WH Smith.
On the platform are a number of retail units including Boots, Burger King etc. There are new toilets but I have never used them. As with Waterloo, there may be a charge.
Not so long ago, there used to be a huge arrivals/departure above platforms 4 –8. This has been completely removed and there are now 2 banks of blue screens to the right and left of the platform. Its fascinating watching the crowds waiting
for the platform number to come up for their train – there then follows a charge for the platform.
Once you arrive at Paddington, there are 2 ways of getting onto the Underground. One way is to head for the front of the station if you want the Circle/District and Bakerloo lines. The other is to head for the staircases, which connect the platforms. This will take you to the Metropolitan line. If you want a taxi, head out of the station to the right (past the loos) where a taxi rank can be found.
Paddington is still a bit of dirty station as most trains using it are diesels and the fumes turn the glass in the roof brown. The Train Operators now do turn off the engines when not in use – which is an advance on earlier BR days. However it is a safe station. It is well lit and there are plenty of places to sit. It is better to remain in the station when dark then outside it.
Although not as pleasant as Liverpool Street, Paddington is rapidly improving and in a few more years will have been totally transformed. Give it a visit and check out the facilities.
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