The Anonymous Widower

Refurbishing A Northern Rail Class 319

There has been a bit of disquiet up North, about the new Liverpool to Manchester electrified service being run by late-1980s vintage Class 319 trains. I took a few pictures in October and they can be seen on this post.

I think it is best to charitably describe the interiors as something designed by a committee of accountants, with a love of pink!

Inside A Class 319 Train

I would use the word dreadful liberally! Now look at this page on the Northern Rail web site and in particular this image.

Inside A Northern Rail Class 319

Inside A Northern Rail Class 319

Where’s all the pink gone? Or are Northern Rail applying a liberal use of Photoshop?

I doubt it’s the latter, but it does show how British Rail got the engineering right with the Mark 3 coach, on which the Class 319 is based.

On the page on the Northern Rail website, there’s a time-lapse video of the refurbishment, if you still think it’s all fake.

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating and I can’t wait to ride between Liverpool and Manchester on an electric train.

To be fair to the Class 319, it must be one of the ugliest trains on the UK network and I bet everybody wishes they’d got someone like Kenneth Grange to upsex the front end, as he did for the InterCity 125. But as an old Suffolk horseman said to me.

A good horse is never a bad colour.

The Class 319 is a good train, but the old colour isn’t the best.

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Coal Mining in Whitechapel

I’ve just received Crossrail’s Autumn 2014 newsletter and there’s a section about using coal mining techniques to connect the Crossrail platforms at Whitechapel to the rest of the station and the surface. They say this.

An uphill excavator is being used for the first time in the UK on the Crossrail project. The machine is being used at Whitechapel, before installing the escalators that will take passengers from the platforms (over 30 metres below ground) to and from street level.

Due to difficulties in accessing the station box to dig downwards, Crossrail’s Whitechapel contractor BBMV decided that excavating the escalator barrel upwards, starting from the platform base, was the best solution.

The uphill excavator, traditionally used in coal mines, is being used in an innovative way on the Crossrail project. Built to do two jobs in one, it works its way up by excavating the earth using a digger fixed to the front. With a spray nozzle attached to the top of the machine it also installs the tunnel lining as it goes.

I suspect this won’t be the last place that the technique is used under London. I think it could find applications in connecting stations to the surface in a reversing loop with stations, or perhaps adding step-free access to a deep Underground station.

Whatever happens, it does seem that engineers are throwing conventional thinking out of the window.

Tunnelling certainly seems to be fun!

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Hanwell Station Gets A Second Entrance

Hanwell station, which will become a stop on Crossrail, is a Grade II Listed building, which according to Wikipedia, English Heritage says is in very poor condition.

A second entrance on the South side of the line has now been opened.

If this is the standard to which the rest of the station will be refurbished, I suspect that English Heritage will be pleased to update their view of the station.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Radio 5, where there has just been a piece talking about a shortage of bricklayers. Obviously, some very good ones were working hard on Hanwell station.

When I visited Hanwell station in October, I gave it a score of 3/10 and said it was a relic from the past.

I now have high hopes, that when this station opens fopr Crossrail, that it will be one of the jewels in London’s new train line.

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Sneaking Onto The Metropolitan Line At Baker Street Station

I have used Baker Street station many times over the years, but I’d never found this way to sneak between the Metropolitan/Circle line platforms to and the Bakerloo/Jubilee line ones.

I wonder how many other quick routes there are on the London Underground

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

It’s Not About The Wheelchairs

First Bus are probably delighted that they have won the court case about whether wheelchair users have priority over babies in buggies. This is the first paragraph in the BBC web report.

Bus companies are not required by law to force parents with buggies to make way for wheelchair users in designated bays on vehicles, senior judges ruled.

I travel regularly on London’s extensive bus network. A couple of years ago, there was a wheelchair bay full of buggies and a lady in a wheelchair wanted to board. On London buses, the wheelchair bay is opposite the middle door, which is the one with the automatic ramp. So the driver asked if the bay could be cleared, as he lowered the ramp. One lady took her buggy down the ramp and another folded hers and passengers made sure they had one of the spacious double seats by the middle door. The lady in the wheelchair then pushed herself into the space and as there was enough space the first buggy was able to be squeezed in too!

It had all been a sensible dance up and down the ramp and the bus was fairly quickly on its way, after an amicable confrontation.

On new Routemasters, with their bigger space by the door, better layout and completely flat floor, I’ve never seen anything other than minor problems.

Compare London with what happened at Reading when I went to see Ipswich play in August.

Returning from the Madejsky stadium after the match, there was a long queue for the buses. In front of me in the queue was a guy in a wheelchair. As the downstairs of the almost brand-new double-decker was full, with at least ten standing in the wheelchair space, to get the wheelchair rider on the bus, meant virtually unloading the bus and starting again. A lot of fans were not happy.

If the bus had had a central door and wheelchair ramp, what took perhaps well over five minutes, would have been much easier and probably a lot quicker.

Given all the other advantages with two or more entrance buses, like faster loading and unloading and a possible reduction in the number of attacks on staff, isn’t it about time that all the city bus services of the UK, were made to follow London.

How about adding talking buses, bus maps understandable to everybody and cash ticketing to bring the rest of the country into the twenty-first century?

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment