Hastings to London Charing Cross
At the Southern end of the line, the three stations around St Leonards are separated by two long tunnels. Emerging at Bopeep Junction our "4-CEP" EMU - in the much lamented "Jaffa cake" colour scheme - turns north through the East Sussex countryside through Battle to Tunbridge Wells. The character of the line changes at Tonbridge as we join the main artery from Ashford, Dover and Folkestone.
Two lines become four at Orpington - the start of the commuter belt. By the time we race toward London Bridge, our fast lines are lost in a bewildering maze of tracks as we pass various classes of slam door EMUs. Finally, after traversing the junctions with Cannon Street and the Thameslink line, we cross Hungerford Bridge and enter platform 5 at London's most central terminus, Charing Cross.
The Hastings line became infamous for its tunnels. Many had been constructed by a rogue contractor who saved thousands of pounds by only lining the tunnel with one row of bricks instead of the specified two. In danger of collapse, when the scam was realised a second layer had to be built inside, reducing the overall width. Following this, special narrow bodied trains had to be specially constructed. Since the scrapping of these and in order to allow the passage of standard width stock at the time of the 1980's electrification, many of the tunnels had to be singled. These you can best appreciate from the driver's cab.
||Herbert C Bassett