The Anonymous Widower

Reading Station Just Gets Better!

Reading station is one of the best in the UK and rivals any second level station in Europe.

It first impressed me, when it opened and I wrote Is It Architecture, Engineering Or Art?

I took these pictures when I went to the Reading Ipswich match.

These changes were noted.

  • The football buses are now parked by the station
  • The Reading flyover is clearly visible from the massive footbridge over the station.
  • The area in front of the station is now a plaza and not a building site.

The only problem I had was when returning after the match, It was difficult to find the first fast train to Paddington and I ended up on a stopping train to everywhere.

I did look around the station when I arrived, to see if there was any clue as to which will be the Crossrail platforms. The local services are currently served by Platforms 12 to 15 on the North side of the station. So it would probably be safe to assume that one island platform would be for Crossrail and the other is for services to places like Oxford, Newbury and Bedwyn.

It would appear that Rediung will not be served by Crossrail under December 2019.

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Expanding The Robin Hood Line

The Robin Hood Line, runs between Nottingham and Worksop. It had been closed to passenger trains in the 1960s and reopened to passengers in the 1990s. I used to use it regularly to see a client in Mansfield in the years soon after it opened.

A Proposed Branch To Ollerton

In my investigations into Ilkeston station, the Robin Hood Line kept cropping up and especially talk of a branch from the line to Ollerton.

Search Google News for Robin Hood Line and articles with titles like Chancellor backs Robin Hood line passenger plans are found in the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad. This is the start to the article.

The Chancellor George Osborne, has confirmed his backing for plans to open a passenger service on the Robin Hood line, from Shirebrook to Ollerton, including passenger stations at Ollerton and Edwinstowe.

Other Government figures like David Cameron and Patrick McLoughlin and important local councillors are also quoted saying similar things.

What is not said is that the line will serve the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest and that the rail line needed is currently fully maintained for driver training. This Google Map shows the area.

Proposed Ollerton Branch

Proposed Ollerton Branch

The branch turns off from the Robin Hood Line just North of Shirebrook station in the top left hand corner of the map and then makes it way to Ollerton by way of the South of Warsop and Edwinstowe and North of the CentreParcs Sherwood Forest .

The line probably illustrates the only environmentally-friendly use for coal, which is to keep rail lines open and in good condition, until we can find a better use for them.

There is an interesting section called Branch Lines in the Wikipedia entry for Shirebrook station. This is said.

Two branch lines are plainly visible veering off north of the bridge at the north end of Shirebrook station.

The double tracks branching off eastwards (i.e. to the right as viewed from the station) to the side of the signalbox joined the LD&ECR’s one-time main line to Lincoln, next stop Warsop. The branch only ever carried a regular passenger service for a few years in Edwardian times. It did, however, carry Summer holiday trains such as the Summer Saturdays Radford to Skegness in at least 1963. The branch’s main purpose was always freight traffic, with coal being overwhelmingly dominant.

In 2013 the line gives access to Thoresby Colliery and to the High Marnham Test Track.

There is some hope of reopening the line as a branch off the Robin Hood Line and reopening Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton stations, providing an hourly service to Mansfield and Nottingham.

This Google Map shows Shirebrook station and the railway lines around it.

Shirebrook Station

Shirebrook Station

The junction of the Ollerton branch would appear to allow access to trains from or to either Nottingham and Mansfield in the South and Worksop in the North

So there could be three stations; Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton on a double-track branch.

From Ollerton To Lincoln

Interestingly, after Ollerton the line goes all the way to Lincoln. But I doubt that it would ever be part of the plans for passenger trains in the area.

But who knows?

Services To Derby

The area between Chesterfield, Mansfield and Nottingham is not very well connected to Derby.

If you want to go from Mansfield or Kirkby-in-Ashfield on the Robin Hood Line to Derby, you always have to change at Nottingham, with sometimes an extra change at East Midlands Parkway.

The Erewash Valley Line runs North-South a few miles to the West of the Robin Hood Line.

Despite being partially in Derbyshire, getting from stations like Alfreton, Langley Mill and the soon-to-be-opened Ilkeston stations to Derby, you have to change at either Nottingham or Chesterfield.

Look at this Google Map of the area

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield

Between Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield And Chesterfield


There must be a better way of getting to Derby, than by changing trains in Nottingham or Chesterfield.

But what?

There are four main North-South routes in the area.

What seems to be missing is high-capacity East-West routes for both rail and road.

The Erewash Valley Line goes South to Long Eaton, which has several trains per hour direct to Derby, so this could be the key to getting to Derby.

In a Notes on Current Station section on the Wikipedia entry for Long Eaton station, this is said.

It is planned that both platforms will be extended by up to 10 metres by no later than 2012.

It is anticipated that developments along the Erewash line will result in changes for Long Eaton station. A plan drawn up in 2011 recommended a new Derby to Mansfield service via new stations at Breaston & Draycott, Long Eaton West (renamed from Long Eaton), Long Eaton Central, Stapleford & Sandiacre, Ilkeston, Eastwood & Langley Mill (renamed from Langley Mill), Selston & Somercotes and then to Pinxton via new trackbed connecting with the Mansfield line from Nottingham at Kirkby in Ashfield.

It strikes me that work at Long Eaton, the several new stations and improvements north of Langley Mill would enable direct services from Alfreton, Ilkeston and Langley Mill to both Derby and Mansfield. This service would also improve services from stations stations North of Mansfield to Derby.

A trackbed from Langley Mill to Kirkby in Ashfield is shown on Google Maps.

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Langley Mill to Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Alfreton is the station at the top left and Kirkby-in-Ashfield is at the top right. The Erewash Valley Line from Langley Mill, enters at the bottom and splits with one branch going to Alfreton and the other going East to cross the M1 and join the Robin Hood Line south of Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

On an Ordnance Survey map, dated 2009, the railway is shown as a multiple track line, probably serving collieries and open cast coalfields.

It all sounds very feasible too! Especially, as the Erewash Valley is an area of high unemployment, low car ownership and a dependence on public transport.

The Future Of Railways In North Nottingham And South Yorkshire

Look at any map of the area between Nottingham and Derby in the South to Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley in the North and you will see rail lines criss-crossing everywhere. Many are now disused and show up as green scars on the landscape.

Also on the maps, you will see quite a few large power stations. Most were originally coal-fired and merry-go-round trains transported the coal from the mines to the power stations.

So most of the rail lines in the area, were built to take the coal away from the mines to where it was needed. Passengers were almost an afterthought. The railway companies even built the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line from Doncaster to East Anglia to take coal to where it could profitably be used.

After the Second World War, the railways contracted and cut passenger services. As an example, the Robin Hood Line closed in the 1960s.

The passenger services were suffering because of car ownership, so most were withdrawn, except on the main routes. Mansfield before the Robin Hood Line reopened, was one of the largest towns in England without a rail station, an honour now held by Ilkeston a few miles away.

In recent years, coal use has in my view rightly declined. Everybody knows the poor environmental record of coal, with its creation of CO2 and other pollutants. On the other hand, I have met people whose fathers worked in the mines and the general advice they received is don’t go underground!

So as the need to move coal by rail has declined, many of these railway lines have ceased to carry much freight traffic and have fallen into disuse.

But some are coal’s last legacy, in that until comparatively recently, they were still used to get coal to the power stations. Like the line from Shirebrook to Ollerton, they are in good condition and only need stations to bring them back into use as passenger lines. Just as the Robin Hood Line was reused twenty years ago!

Because these lines serves the coalfields and the mines, they also serve the mining communities and the small towns, that need improved public transport links.

Network Rail’s plans seem to be going some way to be addressing some of the problems in the area.

I don’t think that the reopening of the Ollerton Branch and the connection between the vErewash Valley and Robin Hood Lines, will be the last lines to reopen in the area.


September 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

A Ticketing Problem For Crossrail

Ipswich are playing at Reading tonight and as it’s an easy trip out from London, I bought a ticket in case I wanted to go.

I certainly won’t have a problem getting back, as there are fast trains to London after midnight.

But the match is on television and the weather looks to be pretty good, so I might just go and not waste my fifteen pound ticket.

As going to Reading in time for the match would mean a journey out restricted by the rush hour, I could go via any number of places like Windsor, Maidenhead or Slough to have a late lunch.

It got me thinking!

The Mayor has said, that when Crossrail opens, you’ll be able to use a Freedom Pass to Heathrow, just as you can now on the Piccadilly Line.

But how far will you be able to use a Freedom Pass on the branch to Reading?

The problem is complicated by the fact that there are three branches off the line between London and Reading; Henley, Marlow and Windsor.

To further complicate matters, direct peak-hour services operate between the Henley and Marlow branches and London.

Putting together snippets in the news and from Theresa May’s web site, led me to the conclusion which I talked about in this article, that all three branches will probably be served by new IPEMU trains (Class 387 or Aventra), as this would avoid the need for electrification.

So we’ll end up with a main line Crossrail service with a frequency of at least four trains per hour to Reading and shuttles and the occasional through trains from the branches.

The whole area will certainly end up with contactless ticketing using Oyster and bank cards, with perhaps a travel card or Ranger ticket thrown in.

But the real problem is organising the charging structure, as contactless will work well at collecting the fares, but how do you charge.

Crossrail will effectively link Windsor to Central London with a fast train and one change, so for tourists going to Windsor will be as easy as going to other important suburban venues like Wembley or the Olympic Park.

Get the ticketing right and the Thames Valley will get a lot of extra visitors.

To return to my earlier question, how far will my Freedom Pass get me in the West?

Crossrail’s journey calculator says that Bond Street to Shenfield, which will be the Freedom Pass limit in the East will take me 48 minutes.

Projected times from Bond Street for the West are as follows.

  • Maidenhead – 40 minutes
  • Twyford – 46 minutes
  • Reading – 52 minutes

I do wonder if TfL and Crossrail will adopt the same rule as they have for Shenfield, as Reading is projected to only take four minutes longer than Shenfield.

This rule would mean that you can travel to Reading, provided you use Crossrail.

I can see an awful lot of protests, if passenger to Reading, got a worse deal than those going to Shenfield.

Which leaves us with the problem of the branches.

  1. Will the branches follow London rules on ticketing and be cashless and contactless, but still allow through paper tickets?
  2. Will direct trains to London still be run in the peak hours?
  3. Will the branches be part of the Great Western franchise or Crossrail?
  4. Will Booking Offices be closed on the branches?

I suspect that however the branches are managed, passengers from London will consider them part of Crossrail and will want to use contactless ticketing all the way.

The most contentious issue would be if it was decided that there would be no direct trains between Marlow and Henley and London.

All of these problems will hopefully be sorted before Crossrail opens.


September 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Work Will Start On Ilkeston Railway Station This Month

This article in the Ilkeston Advertiser has announced that work on the station will start soon. This is said.

Works in the coming months will include building the platforms, removing and installing a new and wider footbridge – making it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to pass – and building two car parks.

 The station is due to take around seven months to build from the start of construction and is set to open in summer 2016.

I would think that this could be the start of better times for Ilkeston.

Although someone has commented that it is a waste of money!

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

Is This How To Fight ISIS?

I first read about ISIS-Chan in The Times and I’m surprised that this Japanese character hasn’t spread into more of the media.

I did find this article about the  anime in this article on CNN-Money.

The idea is to so fill Google and the other search engines with the harmless stories, that the real hardcore ISIS filth becomes impossible to find.

Let’s hope that the UK and other governments are creating masses of similar material in their fight against the evil madmen of ISIS and other terrorist groups.

Those that choose to spread their perverted material by the Internet should be strangled by the Internet.


September 11, 2015 Posted by | Computing, World | , , | Leave a comment