The Anonymous Widower

How To Build A Railway

This article from Rail Engineer, discusses the building of the Borders Railway.

It doesn’t have seem to have been plain sailing all the way. One section deals with what Network Rail called the Utilities Challenge.

In discussion with Hugh, it was clear that the diversion of public utilities was one area where some work had not gone well. Although some utilities had diverted their services in an effective manner, other companies had proved problematic and had not been able to give a time for their diversions. Some utilities had many different departments, were very procedurally orientated and could not programme their work effectively. For example, materials could not be ordered until a certain stage was complete.

Often problems were discovered at a late stage. In one case, a problem on an associated route required a road closure that then delayed work for a further three months. Hugh felt that, for some companies, the length of their supply chain would not be acceptable on railway projects. Effective liaison is not possible when the project only has contact with two men digging holes who are sub-sub-contractors.

Doesn’t any of us who’s ever connected a new property to the mains know of the arrogance of those doing the work.

It’s happened before to transport projects.

This article on the BBC web site, which talks about delays to the construction of Phase 2 of the Nottingham Express Transit says this.

The contractors blamed the latest delay on the need relocate underground utilities.

This article on the Wolverhampton Express and Star talks about delays to the construction of the Midland Metro.

Issues that have caused the delays include underground utilities not being in the locations that transport authority Centro were led to believe, and the strength of the slabs currently in place.

Perhaps Network Rail and other big users of utilities, should create a web site, where we can all enter our complaints.

Or how about a web site called How To Sue Your Surveyor!

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Dreadful Doncaster

Doncaster is a town that doesn’t deserve to have a football team.

I went to the match on Tuesday, where Ipswich won by four goals to one.

On arrival at the station, as I’d got plenty of time, I thought I’d take a bus to the excellent Keepmoat Stadium. Doncaster station is next to the bus station, but I couldn’t find any information or in fact anybody to ask. So I had to take a taxi.

I asked the taxi-driver how I would get a taxi back after the game and he said that I couldn’t, as because of the traffic taxis can’t get near the ground.

Two stewards told me that I could get a bus from a particular stop to get back. So that was some progress.

As I had to catch the 22:43 train, I decided to leave after the match proper, which meant I missed the extra time, but it did give me an hour to get to the station.

Unfortunately, the buses seemed to have stopped running, so after waiting for twenty minutes, I decided to use the most reliable transport I had – my feet!

But there were no signposts and after scrambling over busy dual carriageways and walking through dark and dismal subways, I made it with about ten minutes to spare.

If a ground, is not obvious from the station, then councils and football clubs, should at least provide some signs and maps.

I shall not be going to the football in Doncaster on a Tuesday night again.

At least I’d booked a ticket in First for the trip home for £23.75.

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn Sugests Women-Only Carriages On Trains

According to this article on the BBC, Jeremy Corbyn is suggesting that women-only carriages should be introduced in the UK. This is the start of the article.

Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has said he would consider women-only rail carriages to help stem a rise in assaults on public transport.

Mr Corbyn told the Independent he would consult women on the suggestion.

But the idea was attacked as outdated and unhelpful by his Labour leadership rivals Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham.

I have no view one way or another on the actual proposal, but practically there are problems.

Most new urban trains, like those on the London Overground, Underground, Thameslink and Crossrail are effectively built as one long articulated carriage. This picture shows the inside of a Class 378 train on the Overground.

Looking Through A 5-Car Class 378

This layout increases capacity, enables passengers to spread themselves to less-crowded parts of the train and get to the appropriate carriage for disembarking.

I am not sure whether it is a safer layout, but on a couple of occasions, I’ve had a drunk or a noisy baby sit by me, whilst I’m trying to read, so I’ve quietly moved to another part of the train. It must also be an easier train to monitor for security purposes.

The layout also makes evacuation of the train easier in the case of an incident, like a complete power failure in a tunnel, as you’d just walk to one end of the train to be taken down steps by the emergency services.

If there was a segregated area for women, this would be extremely difficult to incorporate into a train designed in this way. It might even compromise the tunnel evacuation procedures.

So to create some women-only trains would mean an expensive rebuild, new trains, or a lot of work to make tunnels fit the new circumstances.

An alternate would be to make one train in six say, women only!

And surely, if you have women-only trains, you should also have women-only buses, taxis and minicabs. I think the latter are one of the worst places for attacks on women. This article in the Daily Mail has the headline of No woman is safe in a minicab, says rape judge. It may be an exaggeration as it’s the Daily Mail, but it does say there are 100,000 private hire drivers in the country and questions the checking procedures.

It would be far better, if instead of making public transport safer for a particular group, we made it safe for everybody who wants to use it.

I was travelling on the Overground recently, when on arrival at Dalston Junction station, a blind, black lady in her forties was met by a uniformed Overground stationman, who led her professionally up the stairs and through the barriers.

Every station in the UK should be mandated to follow the Overground rule of station staff being present from the first train of the day until the last. Also if you need special assistance on the Overground, you don’t need to give prior warning. This page on the Transport for London web site, details their policy.

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tram-Trains To East Midlands Airport

I have a Google Alert looking for tram-trains and it found this article on the Nottingham Post entitled Could tram-trains link Nottingham to East Midlands Airport?

It’s a thought!

The article talks about a proposal to create a link between East Midlands Airport and the Midland Main Line, that would allow tram-trains to connect the airport to cities like Nottingham, Derby and Leicester and the proposed HS2 station at Toton.

This is a Google Map of the area between the Airport and the Midland Main Line.

East Midlands Airport, the M1 And The Midland Main Line

East Midlands Airport, the M1 And The Midland Main Line

East Midlands Parkway station is at the top right of the map.

I think that properly designed this idea could have legs.

A few points.

  1. Some doubt the South East will ever get a new runway, so improving connections to East Midlands Airport would surely mean more passengers flew from their local airport, rather than a congested Heathrow.
  2. It would improve links between the major cities and population centres of the East Midlands and they probably need an improved turn-up-and-go four trains per hour service between each.
  3. There are a number of intermediate stations to the various destinations, which probably need better connections.
  4. The tram-line would also cross the M1. So would a pick-up/drop-off tram stop ease travel in the area?
  5. Once the tram-train technology is proven and approved and the Midland Main Line is electrified, I doubt that creating the link would be a difficult planning or engineering project.

I will be very surprised if at some point in the future, some form of light or heavy rail line doesn’t reach East Midlands Airport.

But then I think tram-trains would be best.

August 27, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conclusions On Phase 2 Of The Nottingham Express Transit

Phase 2 Of The Nottingham Express Transit seems to have opened without a hitch and from what I saw, the reactions of the passengers seemed to be very positive, as they travelled around with smiles on their faces.

These were some of many comments I heard from fellow passengers.

  1. I can get to the hospital easier, by parking at the Park-and-Ride by using the tram.
  2. My grandchildren love the tram.
  3. I’ll use it instead of driving in a lot of the time.
  4. A student didn’t realise the tram went to the University until I told him and he was pleased.

These comments lead me to the conclusion that I doubt, they’ll be scratching around for passengers.

I do have some reservations on the system, which is otherwise well-designed.

Contactless Ticketing With Ban/Credit Cards

One of the many Customer Service Representatives at Nottingham station, told me that she had already been asked by a traveller from London, if contactless ticketing with a band or credit card was allowed.

Hopefully, as their Mango card is a touch-in and out system, they will be able to incorporate this later.

In my view contactless ticketing with a bank or credit card is something that any transport system should allow as it is so visitor-friendly.

Maps And Information

Maps at tram stops do exist, but they are only small and should be bigger, with perhaps showing walking routes to local attractions. For instance, the stop at Meadows Embankment should show visitors how to walk through the gardens and along the river to the major sports grounds.

There is also a need for a display at the Nottingham station tram stop, showing departures and arrivals in the main station below.

London Overground Syndrome

But my biggest conclusion is that now the NET is a real system, rather than a line to just the north of the city, is that it will suffer from London Overground syndrome.

The London Overground was designed and opened in 2009, with just enough three-car Class 378 trains, with platforms to fit these trains.

These have now been augmented with additional trains in 2011 and progressively lengthened to five carriages, which has necessitated lengthening the platforms.

NET doesn’t have the platform lengthening problem, but I do feel they will have to beg, borrow or steal some extra trams. At least the track and signalling seems to be able to cope with two different tram types, so if say more trams came from a new supplier, there would probably not be a problem. After all, Edinburgh, Sheffield and the Midland Metro are the only tram systems in the UK with one type of tram. Soon Sheffield will have two.

Just before I left, I talked with one of NET’s Customer Service Representatives. Except that he was a Senior Manager checking things out and getting feedback. Good for him!


I suggested to him that after what I’d seen in Germany an especially at Nottingham’s twin city of Karlruhe, that the city is crying out for tram-trains.

His demeanour had Watch This Space written all over it!

So do I think that we’ll see tram-trains in Nottingham?

Wikipedia says this in the section on further routes for the system.

A document raised the possibility of tram-train lines from Nottingham to Gedling and/or Bingham, and to Ilkeston.

Obviously tram-trains will have to prove their worth in Sheffield first.

Gedling, Bingham and Ilkeston, all are on or close to railway lines radiating from Nottingham, although Bingham on the line to Grantham, is the only one with a station.

A couple of points about tram-trains and Nottingham.

If tram-trains had been proven and certified for the UK, when the NET was designed and the Robin Hood Line was reopened in 1998, they would have could been used to create a continuous tram-train route between Nottingham to Worksop.

Tram-trains release platform space at central stations, as they go straight through the station and on to the destinations where people really want to go. Nottingham station is very crowded with split platforms and other techniques being used to get the number of trains through the station.

Tram-Trains To The East Of Nottingham

Look at this Google Map of Central Nottingham.

Central Nottingham

Central Nottingham

The main station is indicated by the red arrow and note how the railway lines to the East pass to the North of the racecourse in a green corridor from the city centre.

To the edge of this map, the lines split into two with the northernmost one going to Carlton station in the Borough of Gedling and then on the Nottingham to Lincoln Line to Newark and Lincoln, whilst the southernmost one goes to Bingham station on the Nottingham to Grantham Line to Grantham.

Both lines have a generally hourly service, which given the population density is probably not enough, especially in the more densely populated areas closer to Nottingham.

So running tram-trains from Nottingham to a convenient intermediate station would be a means of upping the frequency closer to Nottingham, if you could find a way of getting the tram-trains onto the tram network to finish their journeys.

Tram-Trains To The West Of Nottingham

Ilkeston is to the west and a new Ilkeston station is being built at the town. It will be the first station out of Nottingham on a line that goes through the western suburbs of the city, which also passes through some sizeable communities.

Tram-Trains On The Robin Hood Line

I said earlier that if tram-trains had been certified for the UK, when the NET was designed and the Robin Hood Line was reopened in 1998, that tram-trains would have most likely been used between Nottingham and Mansfield and Worksop.

Nottinghamshire County Council is looking to extend the Robin Hood Line to Shirebrook, Warsop and Edwinstowe on an old freight route.

If this extension is done properly, I can’t see tram-trains not being involved. Especially, as an extension like this, would probably be cheaper to build if it was built to tram standards rather than heavy rail.

What difference would it make to passengers from say Mansfield or Worksop, if instead of having a direct train service into Nottingham station, they had a tram-train service going direct to Nottingham city centre and the Nottingham station tram stop.

  1. New Class 399 tram-trains would probably be used on the route and these would be faster and offer more capacity than the current trains used.
  2. There are numerous stops on the route and electric trains save a minute or so at each stop because of their better acceleration.
  3. The current frequency is generally two trains per hour to/from Mansfield and one to/from Worksop. Three or four trains per hour should be possible.
  4. Train times from Mansfield to Nottingham station would probably be about the same, even though the tram section from Nottingham station to Bulwell takes twenty four minutes, as opposed to ten.
  5. There would be no reason, why trains still couldn’t use the direct route into Nottingham station.
  6. A present, many passengers going to Nottingham city centre probably now change at Hucknall or Bulwell onto the tram. With tram-tains, they would do the journey without a change.
  7. With perhaps extra steps and escalators between Nottingham station and Nottingham station tram stop, interchange between Robin Hood Line and other services might be easier.

Obviously, whether this project goes ahed, would be determined by the traffic patterns and needs of travellers.

A subsidiary factor would be the amount of freight on the line. Electric tram-trains would not interfere with freight any more than the current diesel units, but if the line was electrified to main line standards, more efficient electric locomotives could be used.

Getting Tram-Trains On The NET At Nottingham Station

I think connecting tram-trains to the northern branches of the NET might be difficult, but as Nottingham is a station on a spacious site, connection to the lines going south might be easier. But what do I know?

I only know Nottingham as a visitor and don’t know the demographics and routes of travellers, but it strikes me that it would be possible to use tram-trains running between the southern branches of the NET and the lines to Newark, Lincoln, Grantham and Ilkeston, creating stops or stations at important centres on the routes.

As the rail routes already exist, outside of the Nottingham station area, there would be little disruptive construction needed, other than creating the stations and stops.

In designing the connection at Nottingham station, remember that trams and tram-trains running as trams are much more manoeuvrable than  trains and can go round very tight corners, so can reach places trains cannot reach.

As Nottingham station has been through a big remodelling in recent years, I would suspect that the work was future-proofed for any tram-train connection. As tram-train proposals for Nottingham were talked about in this report on the Nottingham Post website in 2009, one has to assume that the connection is at least on an engineering fag-packet in Network Rail’s bottom drawer.

Some external factors and projects will complicate or simplify any development of tram-train routes around Nottingham,

When and if, the Midland Main Line is electrified, will have the biggest effect, as it will bring a number of electrified routes into the city. Some of these may be suitable for tram-train operation alongside main line services.

To the east of the city, there is the need to sort out the flat junction at Newark,  where the Nottingham to Lincoln Line crosses the East Coast Main Line. It strikes me that if this line was an electric route from Nottingham to the East Coast Main Line, this might open up other possibilities.




August 27, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Nottingham Station And The New Integrated Tram-Stop

Travel to some stations in the UK, that are also served by trams or light rail and transferring to the local transport is often an obstacle race or a long walk. This is a summary.

  1. Manchester Victoria is now a flat transfer, but at Piccadilly you dive into a less-than-obvious subway.
  2. In Birmingham, the tram doesn’t yet serve New Street and no plans exist for a proper interchange at Moor Street.
  3. In Blackpool it’s a long walk, although there are plans in the pipeline. Sometime!
  4. Edinburgh is a trek upstairs and a walk.
  5. Sheffield is not too bad, as it’s just a walk up from the bridge over the station.
  6. London isn’t good as how many main terminals have easy access to the Docklans Light Railway?

Nottingham used to be a difficult one, but now they’ve opened a new tram stop on top of the main station at right angles to the train lines. These pictures show the new stop.

Access at present is by climbing up steps from either the station lobby or the main line station platforms. But in the next few weeks it appears there will be an escalator from the main station.

To compliment the new tram stop, Nottingham station has also had a makeover.

It is certainly, a new interchange, built to the standards that a city like Nottingham deserves.

A few months ago, I saw a similar right-angles arrangement, at the main station in Krakow, except that te Poles used a tunnel.

From the experience of one day in Nottingham, the interchange appeared to be working well. And it was the first day.



August 25, 2015 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Wliford Bridge On The Nottingham Express Transit

Wilford Bridge opened over a hundred years ago as a toll bridge and parts of it are Listed.

The Nottingham Express Transit (NET) needed to cross the River Trent and instead of building a new bridge this bridge was widened and strengthened to accept trams.

I think that the architects and engineers have done a splendid job to create a very good crossing for trams, pedestrians and cyclists. As I walked across it, there was a lot of cyclists and pedestrians crossing the river.

I do wonder if the Meadows Embankment tram stop on the north side of the bridge will become one of the better ways to get to the cricket and football grounds. You would park at Clifton South or another convenient Park-and-Ride and after getting off the tram, would walk along the river. The Google Map shows the Trent from Wilford Bridge to Trent Bridge.

River Trent

River Trent

I don’t know how good the walking route is at present, but surely signs and information on the river route and a possibly more direct one cutting out the bend in the River Trent should be provided. I suspect that the route is shorter than it first appears, as there is the Wilford Suspension bridge on the other side of the bend.

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Clifton South On The Nottingham Express Transit

Clifton South tram stop is the Southern Terminal of Line 2 of the Nottingham Express Transit.

It opened on the 25th August 2015 as part of Phase 2 of the NET. These are pictures. I took on the opening day at the terminus.

Clifton South is a two platform terminus at a very large park-and-ride site. So even if the tram fleet get too small in the future, due to incesed usage, I would suspect that this terminal will cope for several decades yet.

I can’t get a detailed Google Map of the site, but this map shows its location with respect to the city and the A453, which runs to the west of the site.

Clifton South Park-and-Ride

Clifton South Park-and-Ride

The tram line crosses the River Trent on Wilford Bridge, which is at the loop of the River to the west of West Bridgeford.

My only feeling about this Park-and-Ride site, is that as it is so convenient and totally free, that say when a large sporting event is taking place in the City, the frequency of one large tram every ten minutes will not be enough at times.

But, at least the infrastructure is there to cope with more trams

August 25, 2015 Posted by | Travel | | 1 Comment

Wet-Free London

When you know London well, you get to know the public transport routes on which you don’t get as wet as others. I should also say, I never use an umbrella, as umbrellas are for wimps and softies.

I had to go to Maplin’s at Liverpool Street and then John Lewis at Oxford Street.

The obvious way to get to Maplin’s from my house is to walk two hundred metres and get the 141 bus, which stops outside the store.

But the rain was heavy so I took the much shorter walk and got a 38 bus to The Angel. I then got the 43 bus from the sister stop at the Angel to Maplin’s. After getting what I wanted at Maplin’s, I dodged under the buildings into the dry of Liverpool Street station, where I bought my paper.

It was then the Central Line for Oxford Circus, but how wet would I get walking to John Lewis. You used to be able to exit the station on the North West corner of Oxford Circus, so you could walk sheltered by the buildings to the store. But not any more and you have to exit on the South East corner and fight your way through the crowds and the bad weather. If ever a station is not fit for the number of passengers, who use it, it is Oxford Circus.

I did think about using Bond Street and walking back to John Lewis, but it would still mean crossing the road. Then I remembered that the 25 bus passed Chancery Lane station, so I surfaced and walked the few yards to the stop.

The pictures don’t do the rain justice. But at least I got on a 25 bus without getting too wet.

The advantage of the 25 bus, is it stops alongside John Lewis and you just walk into the store.

The 25 Bus At John Lewis

The 25 Bus At John Lewis

I bet John Lewis would like to have 25 buses go to Oxford Circus – John Lewis rather than Oxford Circus.

John Lewis To Oxford Circus

John Lewis To Oxford Circus

Leaving John Lewis, I was able to walk along Oxford Street under the shop overhangs to the North West entrance at Oxford Circus station.


August 25, 2015 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

Phase Two Of The Nottingham Express Transit Opens Today

The Nottingham Express Transit is in my view one of our better tram systems.

As a regular user of tram systems in the UK and Europe and a Londoner, I actually think that the London Tramlink is the best, but that is because of the ticketing, which is based on the London contactless system and I just touch-in and go. Both Nottingham and Croydon systems are low-floor systems.

Nottingham Express Transit (NET) has also proved to be reasonably commercially successful. Wikipedia says this.

The new line proved successful, leading to an increase of public transport use for the Nottingham urban area of 8% in the five years to 2008, together with a less than 1% growth in road traffic, compared to the national average of around 4%. Nottingham has exceeded the most optimistic predictions, carrying 9.7 million people in 2005. This bolsters the case for the construction of new lines.

In my view other than the non-contactless ticketing, NET major problems are that it is not big enough, doesn’t connect properly to the rail station and doesn’t serve the two football and the major cricket grounds at Trent Bridge, which are all clustered together a twenty-minute walk south of the rail station.

The size problem is being rectified today with opening of Phase 2 of the system. According to this article on Global Rail News, it is happening today.

I think that this could turn out to be a significant day in the history of modern tramways in the UK, as if it proves out to be a successful extension to a proven system, it will be a wonderful advert for trams and light-rail in general.

It is just a pity, that the tram system still doesn’t serve the three sports grounds. Nottingham County Cricket Club, does at least say this about using trams to get to the ground on this page of its web site.

The nearest tram stop, Station Street, is a 20 minute walk from the ground, and anyone travelling from outside the city can take advantage of NET’s free park and ride facilities.?As an added incentive to take the tram, NET will be running a £2 return ticket for all match and season ticket holders.

Nottingham Forest give no information on how to use the tram, although Notts County would seem to run a similar scheme to the cricket.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station, the River Trent and the three sports grounds.

Nottingham Station, The River Trent And Sports Grounds

Nottingham Station, The River Trent And Sports Grounds

Note the bridge at the left hand side of the map over the River Trent. This is the Wilford Toll Bridge, which the NET uses to cross the river.

I suspect though that many meetings about transport in Nottingham have concluded that crossing the River Trent is the biggest transport problem in the area.

When I used to drive to Nottingham from Suffolk to either see a client or watch football or racing, getting away from the city to the East was always difficult, as the river always seemed to get in the way.

The simplistic solution to solve the sports ground problem of running a tram route over Trent Bridge or Lady Bay Bridge, which are the two bridges near the grounds would probably be the sort of measure that would be terribly unpopular with motorists.

I have searched for stories about a possible new crossing across the Trent to the East of Nottingham and there is certainly a lot of studies and speculation. This report in the Nottingham Post talks about a fourth road crossing and this one in the same paper talks about a foot and cycle crossing.

My feelings are that this is a classic problem, that should be sorted locally by a local Nottingham-wide Mayor or Transport Commissioner, responsible to a lkocal electorate.

If the extension to the NET are successful and take traffic off the roads, this might give impetus to expand the tram to the east and south-east of the city coupled with a new route to get cars and trucks over the river. This is a Google Map of the East of Nottingham.

East Nottingham

East Nottingham

Note Lady Bay Bridge and the City Ground in the bottom left-hand corner  and the Holme Pierrepoint National Watersports Centre to the right. I bet the Watersports Centre would love a tram from the centre of Nottingham.

Also in this map in the top right hand corner is Carlton station on the Nottingham to Lincoln rail line. After what I’ve seen in Germany, this line would be one, they’d not hesitate to use for tram-trains. Little modification except for electrification would be needed outside of the city. At Nottingham station, the tram-trains would become trams and use the tram network to get to their final destination. I hope that Nottingham’s great and good visit their twin city of Karlsruhe and see how tram-trains working on the Karlsruhe model combine trams and trains in the city.

One thing that would make connecting tram-trains to the new tram stop at Nottingham station is that Nottingham station is not on a cramped site and a lot of the land surrounding the station is surface-level car parking.

I can envisage tram-trains arriving at Nottingham station from places like Grantham, Mansfield and Newark and then transferring to the NET tracks to go north or south from the station. You could even run tram-trains to Sheffield, so that the two tram systems are connected.

Compared to similar lines around Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff, the frequencies on all these rail branches out of Nottingham are not high enough. Nottingham to Sheffield, as an example is only twice an hour, when four should be a minimum for cities of this size.

I suspect that Nottingham is watching the result of Sheffield’s tram-train trial to Rotherham with interest.

One way or other the Nottingham Express Transit will be key to solving the transport problems in Nottingham.



August 25, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment


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