A surveying friend and myself found ourselves stuck at Taunton Railway Station on Monday. Our London train was cancelled and the subsequent one, 70 mins later, was 10 mins late. So we clocked up 80 mins sitting on Platform 5 of Taunton Railway Station which, I can assure you, was 79 mins too long. Ken, as ever, was witty company but I knew we were both totally bored when he piped up "this is a long platform - how many metres do you think it is?". This caused a chain of events to unfold which involved my train spotting brother.
It didn't take long before we found out that Taunton is a mere teenager in platform length - the Grandad of them all being Folkstone with 791m. Indeed, it is the longest platform in Europe.
My brother then got going and my inbox is now full of facts and figures.
Did you know that the longest platform on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) was Canary Wharf at 99m but may have been overtaken by Lewisham at 106m if it's had its extension?
And on the London Underground the longest platform is unsurprisingly on the District line? Upney wins with 213.7m (east bound in case you were wondering). The shortest looks to be Bank eastbound on the Waterloo and City Line at a small, but perfectly formed, 78m.
Gloucester is 603m and Colchester 620m. Ken tells me these are cheating as they are actually 2 platforms back to back but who am I to argue?
A quick google shows that Folkstone is the 4th longest platform in the world. First is Kharagpur, West Bengal, India at 1,072 m, then State Street Center subway station, Chicago, Illinois, USA at 1,067 m and Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand at 1,000 m.
And after all that I still can't recall the length of Taunton platform 5!