The Anonymous Widower

Bristol Poised For Seven-Day Ban On Diesel Cars

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Bristol is set to become the first city in Britain to ban diesel cars under the toughest measures yet seen to combat air pollution.

A few points.

  • It will apply to all diesels.
  • It will apply in part the City Centre.
  • Petrol cars will be exempt.

Although, I agree with the need to improve air quality, I doubt the measure will be passed. Selfish interests will prevail!

October 30, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Transport for Wales Is Invading England

There is an article in the July 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled TfW Targets Swansea To Bristol Services.

This is the first paragraph.

Transport for Wales Rail Services is aiming to start an open access service between Swansea and Bristol Temple Meads, commencing in December 2020.

These are characteristics of the proposed service.

  • Hourly service
  • Calls at Neath, Port Talbot Parkway, Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Filton Abbey Wood stations.
  • Sixteen services per day will run Monday to Saturday in both directions, with twelve services on Sundays.
  • Trains will be Class 170 or Class 175 diesel trains.

Looking at current times of sections of the route, I suspect that services could take a few minutes under two hours and would need four trains.

Reasons given for planning the service include.

  • Long-term political pressure.
  • Welsh ministers abandoning plans for the £1.6 billion M4 Relief Road around Newport.
  • Cross-Severn road traffic has increased after abolition of tolls.
  • Main roads on either side of the Severn are congested.
  • Increased house sales in South Wales to people who work in the Bristol area.

Incidentally, before I read the article, if you asked me, I’d have thought there would be a direct service.

My only thought about the service, is that as there will be electrification between Bristol and Cardiff, why not run a proper fast bi-mode train like a Hitachi Class 800 train or a Stadler Class 755 train. The latter of which Transport for Wales have on order, for delivery in 2023.

The Class 755 train or its Welsh cousin, could be an interesting option.

  • The distance without electrification between Cardiff and Swansea is 46 miles.
  • Transport for Wales tri-mode version of the Class 755 train could have three batteries and a diesel engine in the four slots in the powrpack car.

Could it have the capability of jumping the gap.

Birmingham Services

The article also says that, Transport for Wales are also planning to extend their services that terminate at Birmingham to Coventry.

  • Holyhead and Birmingham New Street takes three hours.
  • Aberystwyth and Birmingham New Street takes three hours
  • Pwllheli and Birmingham New Street takes five hours

As Birmingham and Coventry takes twenty minutes or perhaps a convenient hour to go to Coventry and return with a relaxed turnround, does the extension make these three long services simpler to operate?

Extra positioning services from Crewe to Coventry in the morning and return in the evening are also proposed.

These would  also suggest that improving the ease of operation of these services is the reason for the extension to Coventry.

Liverpool Services

The article also says that these services to Liverpool will be added in 2022.

  • An hourly service to Llandudno.
  • A two-hourly service to Cardiff.

It isn’t said, if one of these services is an extension to the recently launched Liverpool and Chester service.

Conclusion

The Welsh are getting ambitious.

 

 

June 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Bristol Gets Serious About A Local Metro

A few days ago, a short article appeared in The Times, which was entitled Bristol Tube Plan To Beat Congestion.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Bristol could become the fifty city in Britain to get an underground rail system under plans to ease crippling congestion.

The council is investigating plans to build three lines, including one linking the city’s airport to the south, at a cost of about £4billion.

The article also notes that Cambridge is thinking along the same lines.

The problem is that tunnelling is expensive, as the Bristol estimate shows.

We also have the problem that some areas of the country are much easier to tunnel than others. The asymmetric nature of the London Underground is explained by London’s patchy geology, where tunnelling is easier, where there is London clay.

Bristol are also looking at improving their network of local rail lines, called MetroWest. Wikipedia says this about the network.

MetroWest, formerly known as the Greater Bristol Metro, is a proposal to improve the rail services in Bristol, England, and the surrounding region. It was first proposed at First Great Western’s Stakeholder Event in March 2008. The aim of the project is to develop half-hourly services through central Bristol which will also serve the surrounding West of England region. Transport campaigning group, Transport for Greater Bristol are actively supporting the proposal,[3] as are the four unitary authorities. Services are expected to start in 2019 for phase 1 and 2021 for phase 2.

Nothing much seems to be happening, although a new Portway Parkway station is going to built.

This article in the Bristol Post is entitled Bristol Could See Hydrogen-Powered Trains To Tackle Carriage Shortage.

This is said.

Bristol train lines could see new eco-friendly hydrogen trains introduced as the future of planned electrification remains uncertain.

The new regional trains are being tipped as an alternative to diesel powered trains and transport secretary Chris Grayling says he would like to see the technology introduced “within a short period of time.”

The article also includes Alstom’s promotional video.

If nothing else, the two articles show that Bristol is thinking seriously about some form of integrated rail system in the city.

 

 

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 5 Comments

Disappointing Bristol

On Thursday last week, I went to Bristol with the aim of perhaps doing a bit of a wander around some of the local railways in the area.

I know the centre of Bristol quite well and I’ve visited the usual attractions and walked along the Avon. After a previous visit, I wrote Walking Around Bristol. I’ve have also visited the SS Great Britain a couple of times, but it is not an attraction, that you can walk past and enjoy, like say HMS Belfast or the Cutty Sark in London. After a previous visit, I wrote The Disappointing SS Great Britain.

I had thought, that I might go to Severn Beach, as I’d read that the trip is one of the most scenic of railways.

But trains were only every two hours and I’d just missed one. How visitor-friendly is that? Anybody going on the off-chance would love to be stuck at Bristol Temple Meads station for two hours.

Services like those to Severn Beach should be at least twice an hour and preferably four times to attract passengers to the route.

I couldn’t even buy any gluten-free food, as the only place to buy anything was WH Smith. The nearest Marks was in the Centre. As there are no shops at Paddington at the moment due to rebuilding, I was starting to get hungry.

It’s also quite a boring and long walk between Bristol Temple Meads station and the City Centre. So I wondered if there was a local bus that could be used to get to Cabot Circus, where I might have some lunch. But there was no information, that I could find.

So, I did what my family always does at times like this. I did a runner! In this case to Bath!

Bristol may be getting new electric trains all the way to London, but they need to think seriously about providing a more welcoming experience for visitors.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend to anybody going to Bristol by train for a day out! Portsmouth, Liverpool, Cardiff and even Birmingham are so much better.

If Bristol was in Europe or had a bit more ambition, which I’ve always felt the city lacks, it would have a tram system.

This Google Map shows the City Centre.

Bristol City Centre

Bristol City Centre

Bristol Temple Meads station is in the middle at the bottom. Only one other station is shown on the map and that is Lawrence Hill station in the North-Eastern corner of the map.  Wikipedia describes the station as having minimal facilities. This extract from Wikipedia, describes the services at the station.

As of the December 2013 timetable, Monday to Friday, three trains every two hours run along the Severn Beach Line from Bristol Temple Meads to Avonmouth via Clifton Down, with one extended to St Andrew’s Road and Severn Beach. Most services start at Bristol, but one evening service to Avonmouth begins at Weston-super-Mare. On Saturdays only two trains per hour each direction call. Sunday sees an hourly service to and from Bristol, with only two services extending to Severn Beach, except during the May–September timetable period when all services are extended. The first and last Sunday trains towards Bristol are extended to Taunton via Weston-super-Mare, and there are similar workings in the other direction.

No wonder, the station only has minimal facilities, that level of service will struggle to attract the proverbial one man and his dog.

If as I believe there should be at least a two trains per hour service on local lines, then if the Severn Beach Line and the service to Avonmouth had this frequency, then there would be four trains per hour service across the eastern side of the city centre.

Bristol is trying to organise MetroWest, but compared to say Cardiff, Liverpool and other large cities, it has a distinct lack of rail lines and stations in or near the City Centre.

Talk is of a start in 2019, but I doubt, anything will start until the late 2020s, at the earliest.

In 2014 I wrote Is Bristol Left Behind? After my visit on Thursday, I can’t help feeling that the City is the most disappointing one in England.

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Food, Transport, Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Will Another Of Beeching’s Closures Be Reversed?

Lord Beeching wrote his infamous reports about Britain’s railways in the 1960s and died in 1985.

He gets a lot of blame for today’s rail problems, from various interest groups, but to be fair, the problems were severe at the time and some managers cut a lot harder than he recommended.

I think that for example in Scotland and other places, rail lines were closed in such a way they could be reopened, whereas in others, the land was sold and to reopen the line would be impossible without spending billions.

In the last thirty years two things have happened; there are a lot more of us and we’ve discovered that trains are an increasingly useful method of transport.

So sometimes the reason why the Victorians built a line, is even more valid today. The soon to be reopened Borders Railway is probably more needed now, than it was when it was built, because leisure and tourism is so much more important.

The Borders Railway was a victim of the Beeching Cuts and will join a long list of lines and stations that have since reopened.

That list will continue to grow.

The latest possible reopening is detailed in this article on Global Rail News entitled Milestone for Portishead-Bristol line restoration. The article describes how the Portishead to Bristol Line could be incorporated into the Greater Bristol Metro or MetroWest.

If all goes well, it could open in 2019.

July 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

A Maritime Tour Of England

My trip to Portsmouth yesterday, got me thinking.

As I waited for my train to return to London, there was a First Great Western train waiting in Portsmouth Harbour station waiting to depart to Cardiff via Bristol.

So why if you are thinking of visiting England  and you’re interested in the sea and ships, why not visit England’s three western maritime cities; Portsmouth, Bristol and Liverpool? All have their main attractions close to the city centres and with the exception of Bristol, the stations are too!

Trains between Portsmouth and Bristol are every hour and take about two and a half hours and those between Bristol and Liverpool have the same frequency but take just over three hours.

So it is feasible to perhaps start your trip in London and then spend say two or three days in each city.  Remember that Portsmouth and Bristol are near to excellent beaches for swimming and sunbathing and Liverpool is near to the amazing beach at Formby with its statues by Antony Gormley.

After Liverpool, you might carry on to Newcastle or Glasgow for a maritime theme or take the flight home from either Liverpool or Manchester airports.

As all cities are to the west, the weather is more likely to be sunny and warm, than some other places I could mention. The weather in Portsmouth yesterday was supposed to be of cloud and rain, but I ended in the sun all day.

Two things would improve your trip.

Some rail companies allow you to break your journey, provided you keep going in the same direction.  So for instance, between Portsmouth and Bristol, you might like to break your journey at Salisbury for lunch.

But if you do, I suspect there’s no Left Luggage facilities at the station.

As to hotels, you would obviously pay your money and take your choice.  I think that in each city, there are ones at all prices in the city centres or by the stations.

Remember if you’re over sixty, you can buy a Senior Railcard for a third off rail fares. If you are someone, who can stick to a timetable, the three tickets linking London, Portsmouth, Bristol and Liverpool, booked in advance over the Internet will probably cost around £30 each leg or £20 with a Railcard.

Judging by the number of foreign tourists, that I meet on trains, this type of holiday is getting much more common.

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Bristol Left Behind?

I travel all over the UK watching football and visiting cities. Go to Hull, Brighton, Nottingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow and many other places and you’ll see shining new stadia and public buildings.

This article entitled Why Does Bristol Never Build Anything?  got me thinking. I have been to Bristol a couple of times to watch football and Bristol City’s stadium at Ashton Gate was one of the worse in The Championship.

Bristol is the sixth’s largest city in England and over a million live in the catchment area, so it is up there in size and population with some of the biggest.

It deserves better!  The city is missing out as this piece from the article says.

When England hosts the Rugby World Cup in 2015, a number of games will be played at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, as well as at 12 stadiums across England. No games will be played in Bristol, though, because “there is no decent stadium”, says Rhodri Morgan, Wales’ First Minister from 2000 till 2009.

It certainly, isn’t a city that keeps calling me back like Nottingham, Brighton, Liverpool and Leeds do!

The only other large city, that seems to not present its best face to visitors is Coventry, which again has stadium trouble.

January 16, 2014 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

British Cycling – The Crux Of The Success

If you want to go faster, you have to cut drag to a minimum, as any racing car designer will tell you. But with cycling, it’s just a bit more difficult! Or it was until Crux Product Design of Bristol got in on the act and came up with futuristic streamlined helmets. The story is here on This is Bristol. There are also some great pictures on the Crux website.

It just shows how redesigning something as mundane as a cycling helmet can reap big rewards.

What other simple things need to be redesigned? Or should it be designed properly for once?

August 19, 2012 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

92 Clubs – Day 5 – Brighton, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers

This was supposed to be an easy day with lots of float, but as you will see it wasn’t quite as simple as that.

The aim was to get up early and take the Overground to West Croydon, where I would get the tram to East Croydon.

Croydon Tram at East Croydon

At East Croydon, I had planned to get a train to Brighton and then on to Falmer, using a full price ticket, as I was too early to use my Senior Railcard. I remembered a bit too late so ended up with two tickets, one valid only after 9:30 and the other at anytime.

The train journey was a bit stressful, as it always is for North Londoners, south of the river, but after changing at Lewes, I arrived at the most impressive stadium so far.

The AMEX Community Stadium, Brighton

Some may say the Emirates is more impressive, as it’s bigger, but they have masses of money, whereas Brighton just have fanatical fans, who have not lived, but created the dream.

From Brighton, or should I say Falmer, as the stadium is right on the station and linked to it by a wide well-metaled pathway, I made my way to London and Paddington. To make matters even better, there are modern eight-coach electric trains every fifteen minutes along the coast.

I’d booked a few days ago and it had cost me just £13.20 for the trip out and back.  I do have a railcard, but surely that is good value for a day out of the capital.

I have walked to Bristol City in the past, but in this case I took a 24 or 25 bus from the city centre. It was now raining, so we took the picture in the club shop.

Inside the Bristol City Superstore

From there, it was on to Bristol Rovers, with directions from the staff at City. Does that break some unbroken rule about not talking about your local rivals.

The Memorial Stadium, Bristol

Bristol Rovers and Bristol Rugby Club share the same stadium, as the picture shows. There was no-one to take the picture, as it was now a thoroughly bad day and it was making my hay fever worse.  Or it seemed like it.

Thanks at this point must go to Jeff, who I met on the bus from City to Rovers, for guiding me  across Bristol on the buses.

I returned to the city centre and then I had an excellent supper in Carluccio’s there. No wine though, as I didn’t want to celebrate just yet.

It was then that it all went slighytly pear shaped.

I had booked on the 20:01 train out of Bristol Parkway to get back to London at a reasonable hour.  To get there I needed to catch the 19:41 from Tenple Meads. Wherther it was my tiredess or hay fever, the warmth in the train, but an hour or so later I found myself in Gloucester, having fallen asleep.  Never in my 64 years, have I ever fallen asleep and missed a station.

But not too worry too much! First Great Western put me on the 21:15 to Parkway and then on the 22:01 to London.  They could have charged me for a new ticket, but they didn’t.  And I didn’t play the charity card until after they’d let me on the train.

So lots of thanks to First Great Western!

October 6, 2011 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is First Class Worth It?

Charlotte Gainsburg was quoted in The Times on Saturday as saying “I always travel first class.  I feel I’m being cheap if I don’t!”

I travelled back from Bristol in First Class, but I think it’s the last time, I will on First Great Western. This is not a criticism of the company or even the well-refurbished IC125 trains, but more a criticism of my neck, which finds the soft seats uncomfortable.  It’s also a compliment to the Standard Class seats, I found so good on the way down to Plymouth.

So when I go to Cardiff on the 15th of October, it’ll be Standard Class both ways.

August 8, 2011 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment