#111: Stratford International – 01/10/2020

'Stratford International' sign on the side of the sttaion with four people in the foreground. One lady in a red coat stands out as she talks on her mobile.

My fourth trip on the non-TfL rail routes within the Transport for London (TfL) travel zones. Arguably this station falls neither within the end of the line London travel zone nor is it a furthest travel point within the travel zone as I can’t use my Senior Citizen Oyster card to get here from St Pancras. This is a special service operating to Kent and there’s a nominal charge (around £5.00) to make the one stop journey.

An animation of the east bound train emerging from the tunnel into the station through an array of overhead power cables

However I felt it would have been churlish not to have included this station… so here I am.

The Station

Operated and managed by Southeastern Railways, the station offers a stopping point to/from Kent and was built as part of the transport infrastructure for the Olympic Park forming part of the original bid of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The station also acts as a pass through for Eurostar with which Southeastern Railways shares the track and services began operating through here from December 2009.

a close up shot of points on a track

The station is a cavernous concrete construction carved out of the land running north of the Westfield shopping centre. It’s a functional and windy station, with little to please the eye. Nevertheless, I did spend a good hour on the platforms courtesy of my £0.10p platform ticket. I was a little surprised with this station feature, a blast from the past, as I didn’t think platform tickets still existed.

my platform ticket dated 01/10/2020 - cost £0.10p

Looking closely around the station, it does have some architecturally interesting features. And although the station, in its Olympic heyday, would have been operating all four platforms, the current service status is such that only the central platforms 2 and 3, are used. This black and white view under the central canopy by the escalators looking towards one of the many waiting areas gives an insight into the symmetry created by the station’s designers.

tunnel view to a waiting room in the centre of the picture, flanked on each side by pillars, notice boards and an escalator

And similarly, this (now) unused staircase on Platform 1 also demonstrates an element of design symmetry with the staircase cladding highlighted by the late autumn sun providing a nice backdrop against which the overhead electric cables are highlighted.

external stairway cladding with each rise or drop emulating a 'Z' shape


‘Mirror mirror on the wall!’ Well that’s what it feels like as the station concourse is a long glass enclosed rectangular space. With the sun beaming harshly on its surface, the glass acts as a super sized mirror. This full length view captures its scale; the building casting a shadow on the immediate surroundings which contrasts with the sunlit Celebration Avenue beyond.

an external side view of the glass panels making up the length of the station concourse. Approximately  5 panels high and 30ish panels long. Just right of shot is the stripped walkway leading up to Celebration Avenue

This alternative view captures the opposing skyline majestically. The newly built, and imposing ‘Stratford Hotel’ is a striking landmark visible from all directions as you approach the area. Noticeably different in that it appears to have a slice carved out of it.

a reflection of The Sttratford building in the main station windows

I believe the hotel is still under construction to some extent as I was called over by these three gents who invited me to take their picture. They were taking a break from installing bathrooms within the building. Meet Catalin, Valentine and Raj – forgive me gents if I’ve misspelt your names.

Catalin, wearing a facemask. Valentine and Raj

And on the theme of construction, this shot of the hotel’s entrance shows that building works in the area continues. I remember my excitement in 2005 when London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics and then travelling past the Olympic site almost daily (commuting into London) seeing the scale of work that changed the landscape at an incredible rate. And post Olympics, work hasn’t stopped with each visit to the area revealing a new shape to the landscape. I guess the sight of tall cranes across London has always been and will continue to be a permanent feature of the skyline. Maybe in some way, they define our ever changing capital city.

The entrance to 'The Straford', outline letters on the bottom of the picture and above in an arc 'Hotel Btasserie Bar'. The windown reflecting a blue sky and two cranes reflected

My final reflection is of a different kind. You know where I’m going here. This picture of a faded and jaded restaurant sign reflects what was once a thriving business by the renowned chef – Jamie Oliver. A business that started in 2008, aiming to disrupt the mid market dining experience, was itself affected by the competition and market forces resulting in 22 restaurant closures nationwide. This report by the BBC summarises the events.

a sign outside the now closed 'Jamie's Italian' restaurant near John Lewis at Westfield. The 'I' of  Italian is hanging by a thread

Top and Tail

To finish, here’s a couple of shots I took: one at the start of my day and the second at the end of my day.

The first is this long shot of the concourse outside the station. A casual look and you’d think this walkway is on a downward slope towards me…but it’s not as it’s very flat. I suspect it’s a combination of the striped tiled floor, stark light and shade and the framing effect created by the straight gutter inlay on the right that connects the lamp posts together. What do you think?

Pedestrians walking along the side of the main station. The walkway has a strupped light and dark tiled layout

The second is a fanned footbridge over the Central and Overground railway lines along Temple Mills Lane in Chobham Manor. I’ve taken this shot in black and white to capture the colour contrast created by the strong afternoon sunshine. The predominant colour is grey, so I’ve applied a ‘Reel’ Google Photos filter to enhance the contrast and to bring out the detail of the metal mesh inserts.

The footbridge over the railway at Temple Mills Lane. the side designed to lean to the left to create an illusion of more space. The sun reflecting on the main strutts of the side.

Picture of the Day – Javelin

The only trains that stop at Stratford International are the Class 395 (Javelin) rolling stock, manufactured by Hitachi Rail Limited. Rail enthusiasts will know the trains are made up of six-car trains and operate at a maximum speed of 140 mph (225 km/h) under 25 kV AC overhead electrification on services to Ashford, and 100 mph (160 km/h) on 750 V DC third rail supply on conventional lines to Dover.

Most of the 29 rolling stock units have all been named after successful Team GB athletes, with some being given temporary names to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I.

I didn’t capture the number of today’s picture of the day, but I do know it wasn’t: Ellie Simmonds (395 023); Dina Asher-Smith (395 014); Jonnie Peacock (395 024); or the Southeastern highspeed 10 years 2009-2019 (395 015) as they had all passed through earlier.

Today’s picture of the Javelin travelling through the station was one of a sequence of shots to get the right balance between shutter speed and aperture. I wanted to capture the train’s movement, to convey it’s high speed pedigree, so an element of blur was necessary. But at these settings, I was happy with the balance as you can still make out the writing.

The shot was taken at the furthest end of the platform as the train approached me, and I panned the camera to emulate the train’s speed as it passed to create the illusion of motion. In post production I’ve applied a Google Photos ‘Reel’ filter to highlight the colour contrast between the yellow writing and the engine’s blue livery. I’m happy with this.

a moving shot of the deep blue engine unit with the following painted on the side: South Eastern 10 High Speed Years 2009-2019 Javelin. The words are stretched created by the panning effect of the shot being taken as the train goes past
  • Location: Stratford International Station
  • Date/Time: Thursday 1st October 2020 2:09 pm
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ10; Shutter Speed – 1/8; Focal Length – 46mm; Film Speed – ISO100

Social Media

If you like what you see, do please follow me on my social media channels

  • YouTube – for my video clips where I present a compilation of my day’s pictures to music
  • Instagram – for my photo portfolio where you get to see pictures of each visit before I publish my blogs
  • Facebook and Twitter

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