The Anonymous Widower

Dalston To Gatwick And Back For £6.15

This could be one of the best travel bargains for those like me, who have the privilege of a Freedom Pass.

I can use my pass, as far as East Croydon or West Croydon stations, but I must buy a ticket or use contactless to get to Gatwick Airport.

So I use the following route.

  1. London Overground to West Croydon station using my Freedom Pass.
  2. London Tramlink to East Croydon station using my Freedom Pass.
  3. Thameslink or Southern to Gatwick using a contactless credit card.

I paid £3.10 for the last leg.

These pictures show my journey to Gatwick.

Note that as my flight on Friday was early, I was staying the the Premier Inn, where I watched the World Cup 2018, before taking an early bath and an early bed.

The only problem was finding how to get from the shuttle to the Premier Inn at the Gatwick North Terminal.

Coming back, was just a two-legged journey.

  1. Thameslink to London Bridge station using the ticket I bought on the way out and my Freedom Pass.
  2. A 141 bus to just outside my house from the forecourt of London Bridge to just outside my house using my Freedom Pass.

I paid £3.05 for the ticket between Gatwick and East Croydon.

The Journey Could Be Improved

I do this journey a lot of times, especially as it is an easy way to the South Coast.

  • Getting to Victoria will continue to be difficult, until there is a comprehensive rebuild of Highbury and Islington station.
  • I could go to St. Pancras and get Thameslink, but there are time restrictions on using a Freedom Pass early in the morning.
  • I could get a 141 bus to London Bridge, but going South seems a lot longer than coming North due to traffic, road works and bus frequency.

So what would I do to improve things?

The Overground Should Go To East Croydon Not West Croydon Station

Often, when I do the journey to West Croydon, the train is almost empty from perhaps Penge West station.

So do passengers from the East London Line wanting to go to Croydon choose a train to East Croydon?

  • East Croydon has a cornucopia of services going all over the South.
  • West Croydon has only a few services and no long distance ones.
  • There are no intermediate stations between either station and Norwood Junction station.
  • East Croydon is the hub station of London Tramlink.
  • There is only a tram service going East at West Croydon.
  • To get a tram to Wimbledon at West Croydon, it is a long walk, which is badly signposted.

What is needed is a dedicated Overground platform at East Croydon station.

  • One platform could handle six trains per hour (tph)
  • It would create a simple one-change link between Gatwick Airport, Brighton and other South Coast destinations to East London and especially Whitechapel station, for the Eastern branches of Crossrail.

I know space is difficult, but I suspect that there is a solution somewhere.

Refurbish The Class 700 Trains

The Class 700 trains have only been in service for about two years, but when you travel on one after using another train, you realise their inadequacies.

  • The seats are worse than most and certainly not up to the standard of those on Electrostars, like the Class 377 train, I took to Gatwick.
  • There is no wi-fi.
  • There are no power sockets to charge a mobile phone or laptop.
  • Tables don’t exist in most of Standard Class.
  • There’s nowhere to put a drink.
  • Some drivers, who worked for East Midlands Trains told me, that they are not fast enough for the Midland Main Line.

They are crap design of the highest class. They certainly don’t say “Welcome to the UK”, to arriving passengers at Gatwick.

But I do believe the trains can be sorted, as the Class 707 trains are better.

Extend The Freedom Pass Area

A Freedom Pass works to any station in Fare Zone 6, with a few extensions like Shenfield station using TfL Rail and Watford Junction station using the Overground.

I don’t think that the area, where the Freedom Pass can be used for free, should be extended, but the technology must exist to link a Freedom Pass with a credit or debit card, so that all journeys within the Oyster contactless area are charged appropriately.

I’m surprised that this or something like it hasn’t been implemented yet, as surely it could be an encouragement for Freedom Pass holders to vote for a Mayoral candidate.

Conclusion

Travelling to Gatwick will get easier and more comfortable.

 

 

 

 

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

England’s First Victory In The 2018 World Cup

This article on the BBC is entitled The Lawnmower Firm Planning World Cup Pitch Invasion.

This is said.

A business is working on its largest ever order – supplying lawnmowers for the World Cup in Russia.

Allett Mowers is providing 185 machines to stadia.

We may not be the best at football, but we could be the best at mowing.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Meridian Water Station – 14th June 2018

Since my last post on Meridian Water station, that was called The Site Of The New Meridian Water Station – 25th April 2018, things have moved on at a good speed.

Note.

  1. It will be a four-platform station.
  2. It will have fullstep-free access, with five lifts.
  3. It will be ready for Crossrail 2, if that line ever arrives.
  4. It will also be a step-free bridge over the railway., for those not using the trains.
  5. It will be very handy for Tesco and IKEA.

It also looks like it could be ready for use in May 2019, which is the planned opening date.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

More Innovation From CAF

CAF are noted for innovation in the design of their trains and particularly trams. I have read somewhere, that they spend a lot of money on Research and Development and it seems to show in their products.

  • In Seville’s Elegant Trams, I wrote about the MetroCentro in Seville, which is catenary-free and charges the batteries of the trams at stops, through an overhead rail.
  • Zaragoza trams use a similar system.
  • The Midland Metro is fitting batteries to its CAF Urbos 3 trams, to extend the system in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
  • A second line for the Midland Metro could use tram-trains, so it can share the South Staffordshire Line with freight trains.
  • My engineering instinct tells me that the Midland Metro system is more advanced, than that installed in Spain.

This article on Global Rail News is entitled CAF Secures New Orders In Luxembourg, Germany and Sweden.

This is an extract from the article.

Luxtram has selected CAF to supply 12 trams for the second phase of Luxembourg City’s tram network, a catenary-free line which is currently under construction.

These Urbos 3 trams will cost €40 million and be powered through a ground-level charging system at stops.

So it looks like CAF have now added a new way of charging battery trams.

Will we be seeing this technology in the extension to the Edinburgh Tram and later extensions to the Midland Metro?

 

 

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Is The United States Catching Railway Mania?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Brightline Looks To Replicate Model In Other US Regions.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Brightline, the United States’ only privately-owned, operated and maintained intercity passenger railway, has revealed it is looking to replicate its model in other areas of the country.

The announcement comes less than six months after Brightline’s first service was launched between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida, and weeks after the service was extended to Miami.

Brightline must be doing alright!

Especially, as they are going to start construction of their extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando.

Talking to an American friend today, she said that Orlando to Miami is a long drive. I wouldn’t know, as I’ve only been to Florida twice and that was to Key West with C and a conference near a couple of theme parks. On the latter trip, I got to see the Space Shuttle take off!

Brightline’s concept seems sensible.

  • Higher-speed diesel-electric train.
  • Trains consist of two SCB-40 locomotives and four coaches initially.
  • Speeds up to 125 mph.
  • Level disabled access
  • Wi-fi
  • Orlando to Miami is planned in three hours.
  • 7-12 services per day.

The concept has echoes of an InterCity 125, built to modern standards.

If we can find several routes to run InterCity 125 trains, surely Brightline’s plan to duplicate the Florida service can find many places in the wide expanses of the United States.

But this is not the only rail project, that I’ve covered on this blog lately.

The Texas Bullet Train

I covered the Texas Bullet Train in August 2017.

  • This will run between Dallas and Houston.
  • A speed of 205 mph
  • A journey time of 90 minutes.
  • Based on Japanese Shinkansen technology.
  • Could start in 2020.

See Texas Central Railway on Wikipedia for more details.

Vivarail D-Train To Be Tested In US Cities

On the face of it to use a Vivarsil Class 230 train in the United States seems a crazy idea.

Wikipedia says this about the concept.

During March 2018, it was announced that plans were being developed to take a Class 230 to the United States, in order to demonstrate how they could provide a low-cost rolling stock option for new passenger services.

The idea would be to run them on freight lines with temporal separation from freight trains.

The Rise Of Metro, Light Rail And Trams In The United States

I haven’t been to the United States this century and in those days, Metro, light rail and tram systems were fairly thin on the ground.

In those days, I drove and I think I’ve only ridden on systems in Boston and New York.

What surprised me, was that Wikipedia now lists about over a hundred rail transit systems around the United States, several of which are expanding.

Even cities built for the car, like Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles have systems.

Temporal Separation In Salt Lake City

The TRAX light rail system in Salt Lake City, is a system with three lines, forty-five miles of track and fifty stations.

This is a paragraph from Wikipedia.

TRAX uses former Denver and Rio Grande tracks as well as street trackage to service Salt Lake City. Between the hours of midnight and six in the morning, Union Pacific freight trains use much of the trackage, up to just past 2500 S to service a number of industries along the line.

How many other areas in the United States can use techniques like this?

Conclusion

Perhaps the United States is going through a Modern equivalent of Railway Mania.

This time though, it is not driven by a frenzy of get rich quick investors, but more by the following.

  • Serious investors like Pension Funds looking for places to put money to get a return for thirty to forty years.
  • Brightline talks of city-pairs, where it is too-far to drive and too close to fly, like Orlando-Miami and Dallas-Houston.
  • Dallas-Houston will link two cities with light rail networks. Others will follow this model, if it’s successful.
  • Increasing highway and airport congestion must help rail.

But the biggest driver could be the new technology coming on stream from the rail industry, which makes setting up systems easier, less disruptive and more affordable.

 

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment