The Anonymous Widower

A Neat Seat

These pictures show some seats  by Vauxhall Bridge, as part of a new development.

The idea is so brilliant and probably affordable, I’m surprised I haven’t seen something like it before.

March 14, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Barnsley Interchange Is One Of My Favourite Stations

Barnsley Interchange station is unusual in that it is a combined train and bus station, that seems to be well-positioned in the town.

There is only one real problem and that is like Lincoln station, it is a town centre station with a level crossing.

The other problem with the station, is that it is a steep walk up the hill to the Football Ground.

The only solution would be a tunnel under the hill with a large lift to bring you into the Ground.

I don’t think it woud be very affordable or practical.

There is a lot to like about the station and this Google Map shows the overall layout.

Note the level crossing at the South end of the station.

If you read the section on Services in the Wikipedia entry for the station, you’ll see that the station handles three or four trains per hour in both directions at times. The track layout on the Penistone Line doesn’t help, as this extract from Wikipedia describes.

Barnsley also marks the last continuous dual running track (except for parts) for trains heading towards Huddersfield, or the first continuous dual running track for trains heading towards Sheffield.

I suspect Network Rail and the Penistone Line Partnership have ideas for increasing capacity, but they’d really like the level crossing removed.

I did notice though, that trains in opposite directions, didn’t always seem to pass in the station, which is a technique that has been used in several places to cut the number of times crossings close.

Perhaps because of the single-track sections on the Penistone Line this is not possible.

But other factors will help.

  • Northern’s new Class 195 trains will probably handle the stops a couple of minutes faster, than the current Pacers.
  • As there are upwards of a dozen stops, this could save a lot of time and allow organising the passing of trains better.
  • There are some other level crossings, which might be removed.
  • Most of the line is single-track, but it does seem from my helicopter that the track-bed has been left wide enough to reinstate the original double-track.

So in a few years time with the new Class 195 trains, some track modifications and perhaps better signalling, a more frequent and better service might be possible.

 

 

 

 

March 11, 2017 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

The No Frills Station

I’m always putting in the same picture of Zwickau Zentrum station on the Vogtlandbahn in Germany into posts, so I thought I should give the picture a post of its own.

Arrival At Zwickau Zentrum Tram/Train Stop

The station is one of the simplest I’ve ever seen and it has been designed very much like a tram stop.

  • There is no footbridge, as if travellers need to cross the line, they just walk round.
  • The access is as step-free as it gets in Germany.
  • The other side of the platform is a stop for Zwickau’s trams.
  • There is no electrification, which must improve safety.
  • The station could be made long enough for any train that might call.
  • The station has been landscaped into the local environment.

But we’re starting to see simple stations like this in the UK.

These pictures show Galashiels station on the recently opening Borders Railway.

Galashiels is an interesting solution, as there is a single-platform step-free railway station on one side of the road and a comprehensive bus interchange on the other with seats, cafes, shops and warm shelter.

Both Zwickau Zentrum and Galashiels are served exclusively by diesel trains and as electrification can be a hazard to some passengers and is expensive, I would feel that most stations like this, would be better served by trains that are self-powered.

We shall be seeing more simple station designs like these, as architects and designers get very innovative.

February 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

A Facelift For Lambeth North Station

Lambeth North station has been given new lifts, a good clean and some repainting.

The only thing that hasn’t been updated are the adverts, which relate very much to films and concerts from when the station closed for the refurbishment.

I think that this facelift shows that unlike many buildings dating from the early twentieth century, it was well-designed and well-built. It’s certainly much better than the dreadful Essex Road station, which is near to where I live.

February 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Exploring The Route Of The Midland Metro Extension To Victoria Square

The extensions at both ends of the Midland Metro in Birmingham and Wolverhampton City Centres will be a first for the UK, in that they will be catenary-free and the trams will run on battery power.

This Google Map shows the area, where the initial extension will go in Birmingham City Centre.

birminghammetroextension

Places of interest are.

  • The cathedral is in the North-East corner.
  • New Street station is in the South-East corner.
  • Victoria Square and the Town Hall are just to the East of the middle.
  • Centenary Square is towards the West side.

This description comes from this page on the Metro Alliance web site.

840m of twin track from Birmingham Grand Central at Stephenson Street, up Pinfold Street through Victoria Square, Paradise St, past Paradise Circus into Centenary Square at Broad St.There will be an intermediate stop outside the Town Hall in Victoria Square, and we will interface with the Navigation Street link.

One of the problems at the moment, is that the development of Paradise Birmingham, seems to sit in the middle of the route.

These pictures show the area of Victoria Square and the route up from New Street station.

Note.

  • The steep hill of Pinfold Street.
  • The route seemed to have been prepared ready for the track to be fitted into the road surface.
  • Utilities seemed to have been moved.
  • When I took the pictures, the Midland Metro had parked a tram at the limit of the current track at the bottom of Pinfold Street.

Climbing The Hill

You can’t accuse Birmingham of lacking ambition, as Pinfold Street is a proper hill.

But then!

  • It is the only steep hill on the route to Centenary Square.
  • The tram will start the ascent with full batteries.
  • There will be no problems coming down.
  • This extension is only 840 metres in length.
  • The MetroCentro in Seville has used similar technology on a 1.4 km. route since 2007.
  • CAF have technology that charges batteries fast.
  • Battery technology has moved on in the last ten years.

If in practice, it does prove a difficult climb, overhead wires could be put on sufficient of the lower part of the up-track on Pinfold Street.

These wires wouldn’t be visible from Victoria Square, so wouldn’t effect the architectural integrity pf the area.

Onward to Edgbaston

According to this article in Rail Technology Magazine, the further four kilometre extension to Egbaston, is also intended to be catenary-free.

As the trams could be charged at Edgbaston, I think this could be possible.

But I doubt CAF would propose the use of batteries, if they hadn’t already proven the range, which is not outrageous.

The Next Step

I looked at a lot of the route of the first section to Victoria Square today, and it would appear that the roadway has been prepared for fitting the track.

So could we see an accelerated development of the first part of the extension?

It would be a good test of the technology, with little risk to the Midland Metrolink!

If the trams can’t make the hill on baqtteries, it would need to be wired, but you could always blame Spanish engineering.

Conclusion

It is a very well-designed scheme.

I wonder, if we’ll see Edinburgh batteries on their CAF trams?

 

 

 

January 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

In Praise Of Ancient And Modern

I last visited Deptford station nearly three years ago and wrote about the station in Deptford Station Is Almost Finished.

Today, it certainly was finished, as the pictures show.

It certainly is a good mix of Ancient (Actually 1836!) and Modern!

I wouldn’t be surprised if White Hart Lane and Hackney Central stations amongst others,develop the arches in the same way.

I suspect a few decades ago, British Rail used to despair at the number of brick arches and bridges they were responsible for.

Now, they have realised that they are an asset to exploit!

 

 

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

In The Brick Caverns Under London

I took these pictures as I walked through London Bridge station to the Underground.

I do like well-executed brickwork! I hope they don’t cover it with plaster or concrete.

I certainly don’t think they’re finished yet! The lights are for light rather than to a design that fits.

This set of brick arches will form a level passageway between the inner concourse of the station and the exits towards the City and the Underground.

London Bridge looks like it could take the mantle of London’s best railway station from Kings Cross.

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Newbury Park Station

According to this article in the Ilford Recorder, Newbury Park station is going to be one of the first in the latest batch of stations to be given step-free access.

So I went for a look.

Note.

  • Lifts can probably be added easily to the existing bridge.
  • Lifts are certainly needed, ss I saw a couple of mothers struggling with buggies.
  • The station buildings on the platforms have potential for making really nice.
  • The barrel roof is not to my taste, and I would rejoice if it had to be demolished for health and safety reasons.
  • The station is a Grade II Listed building.

It is certainly an unusual station.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Victorian Roof At Farringdon Station

Farringdon Station is Grade II Listed and has a Victorian roof dating from 1865. The roof is not a grand but a very practical affair.

As the pictures show, it won a Railway Heritage Board Award in 2015.

I wonder if Barbican station had a similar roof, as you can still see the remains of crudely cut off trusses, not unlike the those remaining at Farringdon station.

If the Barbican station roof should ever be recreated, perhaps something like the one, I wrote about in The New Roof At Crystal Palace Station could be used.

The two stations could be a tribute to Ancient and Modern

November 2, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Draft Hackney Central And Surrounds Masterplan

Last week, I went to a consultation about the Draft Hackney Central And Surrounds Masterplan in the Narrow Way by HackneyCentral station.

If you want to see the full version of the masterplan it is available at www.hackney.gov.uk/spd.

About Myself

As this article will be sent to the Council Planning Department, I’ll say a little bit about myself.

  • Widowed, in my seventieth year and living alone.
  • I’m coeliac, which I inherited from my father.
  • I always describe my politics as left-wing Tory and very radical.
  • As someone, who has helped create two high class technology businesses sold for millions of pounds, I’m very entrepreneurial.
  • My father and three of my grandparents were all born within the triangle based on the Angel, Dalston Junction and Highbury Corner.
  • My father was the least racist person, I’ve ever met. I hope his attitude has rubbed off on me!
  • My two grandfathers were of part-Jewish and part-Huguenot ancestry respectively.
  • As my two grandmothers families came from Northants and Devon, I usually describe myself as a London mongrel.
  • My late wife and myself partly brought our three sons up in the Barbican.
  • My middle son talks of that time in a tower block with affection, so I’m not against well-designed tower blocks.

After a stroke, left me unable to drive, I returned to my roots.

My Views On The Masterplan

I like lots of things about it. And especially these!

  • The prominence given to new workspace, shops and the creation of jobs.
  • The creation of new housing, where I’m only against bad tower blocks.
  • The opening up of the railway viaduct, so it becomes a feature. Network Rail get a lot of stick, but they know how to look after railway brickwork.
  • The creation of a public square at the bottom of the Narrow Way.
  • The creation of more pedestrian streets.
  • Better use of the bus garage site.
  • Improvement of Bohemia Place.

It wouldn’t be me, to not put in my own wish list.

The Overground

Truth be told, I don’t think Transport for London, thought the Overground would be the success, it has turned out to be. So the designers did the minimum they felt they could get away with and would satisfy their political masters!

But the London Overground’s success has been repeated in places like the Borders Railway, Electrification in Liverpool, new stations in Leeds and the Todmorden Curve, and it is now proven in the UK, that if you give the population a good train service, they’ll use it.

Now that the walkway has connected Hackney Central and Hackney Downs stations and other improvements to the complex are in the pipeline, I think that serious consideration should be given to creating a second entrance to Hackney Central from Graham Road.

Failing that, pedestrian routes should be improved, so that access to the cluster of buildings around the Town Hall and the Empire is easier.

Hackney Central As A Meeting Point

Once the public square is created at the bottom of the Narrow Way, use of the area as a meeting point should be encouraged.

Consider.

  • Hackney Central is where two rail lines cross.
  • The London Overground through Hackney Downs gets new trains in 2018.
  • There are several bus routes passing through the area.
  • Bohemia Place and the railway arches must have potential for specialist shops and cafe/restaurants like Leon.
  • Leon was started by a Hackney resident.

Who said it’s all about location?

Learning From Other Cities And Towns

I travel extensively, in the UK and Europe and see both good and bad examples of how to develop cities and towns.

Recently, I went to Blackburn and I was totally surprised at the transformation since I last visited a few years ago.

A Landscaped square had been created between the station and the cathedral.The square is surrounded by a PremierInn, a new office block, a small bus station on one side and a pedestrian way to a supermarket on the other.

Hackney could do similar or even better.

Sculpture

My uncle was a very good sculptor and I feel it is a crime that works of art like large bronzes are kept in store because security and insurance is a problem.

However, there are places where they could be placed with little fear of theft or damage. And that is at carefully selected locations on the platforms of railway stations.

So why not?

Hackney Downs certainly has space for one, but the platforms at Central are too narrow!

Information

When I was on holiday in Iceland, every building with a historic connection, had full information displayed outside.

Is Hackney’s information up to scratch?

Other Thoughts

This is a series of pictures with comments.

Conclusions

Hackney Central has some interesting buildings on which to develop the area. Unfortunately, there is some bad examples of boring architecture.

Some sites definitely have potential.

  • Could the top floors of the Iceland building, be converted into a Southern station entrance, with perhaps a cafe and a couple of shops that travellers like?
  • Bohemia Place could be a nice oasis with cafes, workshops and individual shops, a bit like the Box Park at Shoreditch High Street station.
  • Bohemia Place will be better, when the arches under the railway are opened up.
  • The right architect could do a fine job on the M & S Building.
  • The car park at Hackney Central station might be much better as a bus interchange.

In my view the key is Bohemia Place, as this could be a magnet for people of all ages, races and classes to come and shop and refresh themselves.

 

 

 

 

October 25, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment