Story of My First FNC

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Story of My First FNC

Post by Will1 » 21 Feb 2018, 21:26

So I decided to do my first FNC with my dad on Friday 16th February, but unfortunately we didn’t complete – albeit at no fault of our own – even though it was going so well up to that point. You can probably guess what station is missing in 269/270.
Having spent many weeks planning, I settled on a Chesham-Heathrow T5 route, staying overnight in Chesham. We were going to try to meet one of the two evening Olympia trains from Earl’s Court. All ran smoothly until Watford, where our train was held outside Watford at a red signal for around 5ish minutes, by which time I knew it was going to very tight to get out on the next train. We pull into the platform agonisingly slowly, with the train in the opposite platform with its doors closed, but door-open buttons alight. Our train’s doors open, and we sprint.
The other train’s door-open lights go off.
Crossing the platform, I look to my left and notice in the instant that someone had got on quite recently and the adjacent set of doors was closing. I lunge over and manage to get my fingers in and create enough space to squeeze through a gap and onto the train, with dad in tow. That could have messed us up early on.
Feeling a sense of elation, all ran smoothly to North Harrow. I knew that at Ealing Common, we could make an earlier Central Line train at Broadway to link up with an earlier West Ruislip train. I also knew that if we missed that, then we’d find ourselves connecting onto a Northolt train.
Heading towards Broadway and seeing the time of departure of this earlier train (merely a luxury in my mind) come and go, we get to Ealing Broadway. A Central Line train is ready to depart – perhaps the one we would have liked, departing a few minutes late? We get to East Acton and change platforms quickly, and a West Ruislip train pulls in. We were ahead of schedule.
From then on, our journey was unremarkable, we just miss a Bakerloo at Kenton which sets us back a bit, but we catch up time by changing a few things around with the Upminster double-back and make an earlier-than-expected Circle line train at Aldgate. Minor delays on the Victoria line don’t hold us up too much later on.
Having run hard, we get to Wimbledon in time for an ideal District Line train, that will connect to an Overground train at West Brompton, but with only one minute to make the connection. Our District train leaves a minute late, putting us under a fair bit of pressure. We sprint over the bridge at West Brompton and make the train with a minute to spare, thanks to a delayed Southern train holding ours up.
White City gifts us with a Woodford train as the first in, setting us up for an uneventful trip to Epping and back down, and all goes smoothly until Cockfosters where we have a 9-minute wait for the first train out. I knew we would have about 20 minutes to wait at Earl’s Court for the second (and final) Olympia train, so we decide to pick up Barons Court and West Ken before going to Earl’s Court.
We get to Earl’s Court with ten minutes to spare, with an Olympia train on the board. It rolls in a couple minutes early and we get on. We’re the only people on it, with others getting on and promptly getting off when they see the destination board. Then the announcement comes: ‘The destination of this train has changed. This is now a District Line train to Ealing Broadway.’ We step off, gutted.
I go up to the ticket hall and ask if there are any more trains to make up for the cancellation. The staff member contacts the control room and gets back to us: there is another train going to Olympia in 15 minutes. He tells us that if 20:43 comes and goes with no Olympia train, use the Help Point to contact the control room.
A train is on the boards, saying ‘Check Front of Train’, set to arrive around 20:43. It soon changes to ‘Not in Service’. I was losing my new-found hope.
It pulls in, held at a red and then leaves. Lights off, it took no passengers. I press the help point and a few minutes later someone comes down to inform us of what had happened. We were told the driver of the train out of service should have taken passengers but assumed no-one would want Olympia anyway so had decided to run his train empty from HSK to Olympia. We were also told there were to be no more Olympia trains either.
We decide to head off to Edgware Road feeling rather down and there’s a H&C train in platform, lights off, with all passengers de-trained on the platform. We wait 10 minutes for the next Hammersmith train, waiting for the empty one to leave the station. We get to Hammersmith and sprint to the other station. No Richmond trains on the boards, so we go to Turnham Green and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait 20 minutes for a Richmond train in the freezing cold. Disgruntled enough, we get back to Turnham Green, only to see the next Broadway train is in 19 minutes. Worse still, just before we got on the Broadway train, the TfL website was saying 25 minutes at Acton Town for a T4 train! We get to Acton Town as a T4 train pulls in, out of nowhere, not on the boards, nothing - it seemed to have appeared from nowhere. At least we had a little bit of luck left.
An agonising wait at T4 ensued, knowing we were going to not catch the last trains home from Victoria/London Bridge. We get to T123 as a T5 train pulls out. It’s 20 minutes until the next one. Tired and frustrated, we get to T5 just before midnight, having hoped to be there just after 10:30 having also picked up Olympia too.
We hop back on, Night Tube to Green Park and then down to Brixton to go and get the night bus home. The fire alarms go off at Brixton as we leave the station and the Fire Brigade turn up, station closed. Good job we’d been on that train into Brixton, or our journey home would have become even longer.
Having run 9ish miles and been up for 22 and a half hours, my bed was very welcome at 3am.

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Re: Story of My First FNC

Post by al » 22 Feb 2018, 08:47

Good effort Will, unlucky there with Olympia, that is particularly rough. Also, not the first time that the District has collapsed in the evening leading to long waits (although I doubt that cheers you up any!)
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Re: Story of My First FNC

Post by Nigel » 22 Feb 2018, 10:29

Sounds like the luck wasn't going your way.

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Re: Story of My First FNC

Post by tufnellpark » 22 Feb 2018, 15:40

A good effort and good luck next time!

If you want a completion, start at Heathrow and get Kensington Olympia out of the way early. But for a fast time you probably need to do it the other way round, starting in the NW and keep your fingers crossed (helped by flexible planning) that you hit Olympia at the right time in the evening. However this increases the risk of not completing the 270 stations, as you unfortunately found out.

I'll be doing an FNC tomorrow as part of the Winter Olympics, so hopefully Ken O trains and the District line will behave themselves.
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Re: Story of My First FNC

Post by Iain » 22 Feb 2018, 16:40

What a frustrating day - all that work and then Olympia screws up. I bet you learnt a lot though.

I'd echo the starting at Heathrow for a completion advice.
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Re: Story of My First FNC

Post by TeamHelsinki » 25 Feb 2018, 15:22

A brave attempt. I feel your pain.

I would not dare try for an evening Olympia train for mine and my son's first attempt, which is coming up just after Easter (Tue 3 Apr). We will be starting at Uxbridge and finishing, hopefully, at Heathrow.

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FNC 269/270 in 19:16:41
FNC completion Uxbridge to LHR4 in 30:32:57

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