The stations of London, (underground, over ground , or indeed Wombling free) form a key part of any cabbies working day. Even if you are a non-ranker you can’t avoid at least dropping people off at various stations during the day. Obviously the big termini feature most heavily, but you find yourself dropping off at all sorts of stations and using them as points of reference when heading out into the sticks. Somebody wants Tulse Hill or Herne Hill? “Is that near the station mate?” will be my first question, in what can occasionally be an extremely difficult attempt to extract from people where they actually live. Why people seem to want to keep their address a bit of a secret when they are paying someone to drive them home is beyond me, but that’s another matter.
Without further delay then, I present to you my Top 10 London stations, with a bit of justification for each one.
10 – Clapham Junction. Nearest, but definitely not dearest. even back in the glory days of early 2007 the rank here was either overflowing with cabs, or overflowing with pissed up Claphamites. Sometimes worth wandering past in the am as the occasional poor sod has been knackered by the trains and is looking to get into town.
9 – Liverpool Street. Avoided during the day as it is virtually impossible to get near due to a continual round of roadworks in the area. Avoided at night by us SW London dwelling cabbies as the odds on ending up in Southend are just too high.
8 – Waterloo. The rank here is known in the trade as ‘the rat run’ and sums up my feelings on the place. Always seems to be miserable no matter what the weather, I’ve only picked up here if there are less than 10 cabs on the rank. Late at night you can get some good ‘oops, I’ve missed my last train’ fares but be prepared for them to be worse for wear.
7 – Kings Cross. Not higher because the queue to get on the rank, or the start of the end of the rank, is normally just too off putting. Can get good fares here but anyone who thinks cabbies wait here in order to take advantage of tourists, is clearly delusional. Fares to Holiday Inn Kings Cross or (even closer) the Premier Inn Kings Cross quickly put paid to that particular myth.
6 – Euston. THE most depressing rank in London. It has been ‘upgraded’ recently but the fact that it’s so concrete and completely underground, just make it miserable. You can get good business from here if you can stand waiting but I only really go here now if it is completely dead on the street and the queue for the rank is manageable. Occasionally, there are more punters than cabs and you can go straight through without having to endure the misery, bliss.
5 – Charing Cross. Not higher in the list only because of it’s location. Heart of London, the place where every distance to London is measured maybe, but it’s a nightmare to get in & out of. Prone to the occasional silly local that would be easier to walk, at night you can mainly get good jobs.
4 – Victoria (Main rank). Buggered up recently by some plum putting up railings that stop more than one cab loading at a time, still a good station to work. Even the sometimes long looking queues on the rank normally move quite quickly, and being on the radio, I can cover myself with decent work that comes out of the SW1 zone. Not higher because of the dreaded “Victoria coach station please”.
3 – Victoria (RAFT). RAFT stands for Rail & Air Freight Terminal and is the back entrance to Victoria, often referred to as the Gatwick Express entrance. Would be top if wasn’t for the fact that there is limited space up there. But you get good jobs from here as people have come from Gatwick and rarely go local.
2 – St Pancras. Love it for what it is, the grandest station around, love it for what it can hand out. You need to get there at the right time, get it wrong and you can be waiting a while but get it right and it’s well worth it. I often try and time it for the mid evening lull (8:30 to 9:30) so that I can have a bit of a rest, maybe some tea, ready for a couple more hours work.
1 – Marylebone. Not the biggest, not even the best work. But the combination of steady work, easy access to a toilet and an M&S Simply Food can’t be beaten. So there you have it, it’s not even about the work you get from the rank, these are the priorities for a cabbie.
And a small mention for those that didn’t make the list. London Bridge, can’t even remember the last time I picked up a fare from here. Fenchurch Street, once in a blue moon when dropping off here you might catch a fare, but otherwise best avoided. Cannon Street, not even a proper rank here. Lastly, Paddington. Anyone whose seen the lines of cabs snaking back to Edgware Road will understand why a cabbie might avoid Paddington. That doesn’t mean I don’t pick up from here, just less and less frequently.