The Anonymous Widower

Could Suffolk Have It’s Own Version Of London’s Freedom Pass?

London has a travel pass for certain groups of passengers, like the elderly and the disabled called a Freedom Pass.

This is the introduction forthe Freedom Pass from Wikipedia.

Freedom Pass is a concessionary travel scheme, which began in 1973, to provide free travel to residents of Greater London, England, who are aged 60 and over (eligibility age increasing by phases to 66 by 2020) or who have a disability. The scheme is funded by local authorities and coordinated by London Councils. Originally the pass was a paper ticket, but since 2004 it has been encoded on to a contactless smartcard compatible with Oyster card readers.

I have a Freedom Pass, as I am seventy-two and it really gives me freedom, as my eyesight isn’t good enough for me to drive.

Other parts of the UK like Manchester and Newcastle have similar schemes that allow a degree of free travel on local trains, trams and light rail systems.

But generally English counties like Suffolk don’t have such a scheme.

East Anglia’s Rail Revolution

All of Greater Anglia’s trains are being replaced with new Stadler Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

In InterCity Quality For Rural Routes, I said this.

Greater Anglia are purchasing a fleet of 38 trains with a total of 138 carriages to replace 27 trains with a total of 58 carriages.

  • This is a forty percent increase in the number of trains.
  • This is nearly two and a half times as many carriages.
  • The average number of carriages per train is raised from 2.1 to 3.6.

That is a massive increase in train capacity.

I don’t believe that Greater Anglia will park these trains in a siding, but use them to increase frequencies.

Greater Anglia are having signalling problems introducing the new trains, but we have already seen the following in Suffolk.

Four-car Class 755 trains running from Ipswich to Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

As the frequency is still the same and train length has increased from one, two and three cars, this is almost a doubling of capacity.

The UK’s Contactless Ticketing Revolution

London started wide-scale contactless tickerting and in places, it is applied to rural routes like Iver and Reading on TfL Rail’s new Western branch, where frequencies are more Suffolk, than Central London.

I believe in the next few years, the average passenger going between say Newmarket and Ipswich in Suffolk, will touch-in at Newmarket with their credit card and touch-out at Ipswich, just as passengers do now, millions of times all over London, every day of the year.

London’s Freedom Pass looks to the readers in London, as just a different credit card, so it is able to allow passengers through.

I believe that once Suffolk goes contactless with ticketing, then it will be possible to overlay a Suffolk Free Travel Pass on the system.

What Lines Would Be Allowed To Be Used By Passengers With A Suffolk Free Travel Pass?

These are routes that are wholly or partly in Suffolk.

Ipswich And Cambridge

The Ipswich and Cambridge Line currently has one train per hour (tph) and is wholly in Suffolk, except for a short section at the Cambridge end of the route.

Would a Suffolk Travel Pass allow travel to Cambridge?

I suspect that both Cambridgeshire and Suffolk would have reasons for a compromise , as both counties could benefit from visiting Travel Pass holders.

I would include Ipswich and Cambridge in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Ipswich And Diss

The section of the Great Eastern Main Line, between Ipswich and Diss, currently has two tph and is wholly in Suffolk, except for a short stretch at Diss, which is just over the border in Norfolk.

I would include Ipswich and Diss in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Ipswich And Felixstowe

The Felixstowe Branch Line currently has one tph and is wholly in Suffolk.

But this route is planned to be upgraded as I wrote in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.

  • Tram-trains would start at Ipswich station and run to \felixstowe.
  • Tram-trains could start on the forecourt of Ipswich station and could run through the streets of Ipswich, via Portman Road, the Town Centre, Christchurch Park, Ipswich Hospital, the proposed new housing at Westerfield and Ransome’s Retail Park before joining the Felixstowe  Branch, in the area, where it crosses the A14.
  • It could even do more street running in Felixstowe to connect to the Town Centre and the Sea Front.
  • Frequency would be four tph.

Removing the passenger service from the rail lines between Derby Road and Ipswich stations, would allow more freight trains to run through the area.

I would include Ipswich and Felixstowe in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Ipswich and Lowestoft

The East Suffolk Line currently has one tph and is wholly in Suffolk.

I believe that this line could be developed by adding a second hourly service to Aldeburgh.

I would include Ipswich and Lowestoft in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Colchester And Peterborough

The current service runs between Ipswich and Peterborough, and is a service of one train per two hours.

Greater Anglia plan to do the folloeing.

  • Increase the frequency to one tph.
  • Extend the route to run between Colchester and Peterborough.
  • It will terminate in a bay platform at Colchester.

The route will be mainly in Suffolk, with thends in Cambridgeshire and Essex.

  • Passengers for the North and Scotland will change at Peterborough.
  • Passengers for London will change at Colchester, Ipswich, Cambridge and Peterborough.
  • Passengers for Stansted Airport, Hertfordshire and West Essex will change at Cambridge.
  • Passengers for Sudbury will change at Colchester.

This route will become a very important connecting service.

Because of this connectivity, I would include Colchester and Peterborough in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Colchester Town And Sudbury

The Gainsborough Line currently has one tph and is an isolated line that is half in Suffolk and half in Essex.

I would include Colchester Town and Sudbury in a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

How Would It Be Funded?

Wikipedia says this sabot the funding of London’s Freedom Pass.

The cost of providing the travel concession is negotiated between London Councils and the local transport operator Transport for London. It is funded through a mixture of national grant and council tax.

Although a similar process could be used for a county like Suffolk, other elements are present, that have effects on use and revenue.

Only One Train Operator

There is only one train operator involved; Greater Anglia.

This must make planning and operation easier.

Greater Anglia Should Benefit From Passengers Travelling Further

Will passengers use their passes to get to Ipswich and Peterborough to travel further?

If they do, then Greater vAnglia won’t be bothering.

Greater Anglia may be able to fill the twelve-car Clsass 745 trains in the Peaks, but filling them in the Off Peak will be more difficult.

Would a Suffolk Free Travel Pass attract passengers to the trains?

Modal Change

This is a big imponderable in any calculation.

If you live near a station, would you be more likely to use the train to go to work, shopping or a meal in Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds or Cambridge, if the train was free?

Only partly, but if the car parking was expensive or always full, that would be a deterrent.

People plan travel against a large range of parameters and cost is one of them.

Would a Suffolk Free Travel Pass take pressure off the roads.

Trips To The Coast

There are only two rail-connected coastal towns in Suffolk; Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

Travel on a sunny day between Ipswich and Felixstowe and the train can be packed with passengers going for a stroll along the sea front.

With more capacity, this usev will increase and especially amongst those who would be eligible for a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Carbon Emissions

People are starting to take notice of carbon emissions.

But they’re not buying electric cars, as they worry about the range.

So taking the train is a sop to the pressure of their conscience or that of their children.

Stansted Airport

There are two tph between Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

Travelling from say East Suffolk to the sun, could start with a train to the nearest airport using a train at Cambridge.

East-West Suffolk Travel

Suffolk is not the largest county in England, but East West travel by road can take longer than the train.

Greater Anglia are planning two East-West services at a frequency of one tph.

  • Colchester and Peterborough via Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely.
  • Ipswich and Cambridge viaNeedham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket.

Note that Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds stations will have a frequency of two tph.

The East-West Railway, currently being built between Oxford and Cambridge is proposing more improvements for Suffolk.

  • A new hourly Manningtree and Oxford service, via Ipswich, Needham Market, Stowmarket, Bury St. Edmunds, Newmarket and Cambridge.
  •  A new A14 Parkway station, where the Cambridge and Peterborough routes divide to the North of Newmarket.
  • Tram-trains at a frequency of four tph between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

Note that Ipswich and A14 Parkway stations willl have a frequency of three tph.

I also think that operationally, there could be another improvement.

Ipswich station has a limited number of platforms and expanding it will be difficult.

But I believe that operations could be eased, if the Ipswich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Lowestoft services were to be combined into a single cross-Suffolk Cambridge and Lowestoft service, with a reverse at Ipswich.

These routes between Cambridge and Suffolk will spread the Cambridge effect across the county and in return Suffolk will provide the housing and other resources that Cambridge needs.

People Will Be Working Longer

We are going through an employment revolution for those past retirement age for various reasons.

  • Economic necessity.
  • Some people l;Ike and/or need the camaraderie of working.
  • Some people have much-needed skills.
  • Some business owners and self-employed prefer working to retirement.
  • Flexible and part-time working is expanding.

A Suffolk Free Travel Pass would be used by a lot of those who are still working and paying Income Tax.

Healthcare

I have no figures, but I suspect in London, Freedom Pass holders are bigger users of the NHS and hospitals.

Healthcare in East Anglia is changing, with increasing dependence on the three largest hospitals at Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich.

This means that going to hospital for a check-up often means a fifty mile drive and a long hassle over the limited parking.

Published plans mean that Cambridge and Ipswich hospitals will be rail-connected at each end of Suffolk.

Would it be easier to use the train from many parts of Suffolk?

It should also be noted, that those with health problems, that need regular hospital visits in London, are issued with a Freedom Pass for travel, as it’s cheaper than sending a car.

Any county bringing in a free travel scheme would surely use it to help those needing to go to hospital regularly.

Greater Anglia’s new trains are all step-free, as this picture shows.

I believe that good rail-connected hospitals can improve the efficiency of the NHS.

Summing Up Funding

All of these developments across Suffolk will see a large increase in Suffolk’s economic activity and the consequent tax take from Council Tax and Business Rates.

I believe that Suffolk could probably afford to fund their share of a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

Given the reduction in carbon emissions, that would probably occur, surely Government would contribute a share.

As Greater Anglia would surely benefit from onward journeys to and from London, they can probably afford to do a good deal for free travel in Suffolk. After all, they’ve already built in the capacity to their business model.

Restrictions On Use

There may need to be restrictions on use, like some routes apply in London.

For instance, using trains to and from London to perhaps travel between Ipswich and Stowmarket, may be restricted in the Peak.

It will all depend on Greater Anglia’s capacity.

Would It Work For A Group Of Counties?

I don’t see why not!

Perhaps instead of Cambridgeshire, orfolk and Suffolk, all having their own Free Travel Passes, would an East Anglian one work better?

Conclusion

If London can have a Freedom Pass, then why not Suffolk? Or other English and Welsh counties for that matter?

I have rambled through several ideas and possibilities.

But I believe that Suffolk with the powerhouse of Cambridge in the |West can see an improvement in economic activity, can go a long way to funding a Suffolk Free Travel Pass.

This in turn could generate further economic activity and the tax revenue that would be generated to pay for the scheme.

Suffolk though is lucky in that it aslready has the rail network and Greater Anglia have purchased enough trains. Only a hanful of extra stations and some branch line reopenings would be needed.

I shall return regularly to this post.

 

 

 

 

December 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Reading For Lunch On TfL Rail

On Sunday, TfL Rail took over the services between Paddington and Reading via Maidenhead.

The pictures show that there is still a lot of work to do to get a complete step-free Western Branch of Crossrail.

I walked to Carluccio’s at Reading, which is about a kilometre. It would be closer, if Reading had decent maps like other civilised towns or cities.

These are my comments about the new TfL Rail service.

Competitive Ticketing On TfL Rail

I would expect services on TfL Rail will be competitively priced and some details are given on this page on the TfL web site, which is entitled TfL Rail Will Operate Services To Reading From 15 December.

Freedom Passes

I can use my Freedom Pass all the way to Reading for a cost of precisely nothing.

  • There are lots of places along the line, where holders might go to enjoy themselves.
  • Freedom Pass holders can take children with them on some rail services in London. Will they be able to do this on TfL Rail?
  • Freedom Pass holders like to extract maximum benefit from their passes.

But it won’t be long before canny holders, realise that other places like these are just an extension ticket away.

  • Basingstoke – £4.50
  • Henley-on-Thames – £2.65
  • Marlow – £3.10
  • Newbury or Newbury Racecourse – £4.50
  • Oxford – £6.65
  • Winchester – £11.55
  • Windsor – £1.90
  • Woking – £9.75

I included Winchester, as that is where my granddaughter lives.

Will Freedom Pass holders take advantage?

  • This is not a rip-off offer, but a chasm in the fare regulations.
  • There are some good pubs and restaurants by the Thames.

They will take advantage in hoards.

Reverse Commuters

On my trip to Harrogate, I met a guy, who told me, that Reading has difficulty attracting workers for high-tech businesses.

I suspect that the new service might encourage some reverse commuting.

Will some Freedom Pass holders take advantage?

  • I know a lot of people still working, who commute within London on a Freedom Pass.
  • Not all Freedom Pass holders are pensioners. For instance, I would have been eligible because I lost my Driving Licence, when my eyesight was ruined by a stroke.

As the pictures show, there is a lot of offices going up around the station in Reading.

Access To The Thames

The route between Paddington and Reading gives access to the River Thames at the following places.

  • Windsor from Slough
  • Marlow from Maidenhead
  • Henley from Twyford.
  • Reading
  • Oxford from Reading

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the route being used extensively by leisure travellers to explore and visit London’s principle river.

Connection To Central London

When Crossrail opens to Central London, this must surely result in a large increase in cummuter, leisure and tourist traffic.

Indian Sub-Continent Families

There are a lot of people with roots in the Indian sub-continent living along the route between Paddington and Reading.

Note that Southall station is one of a small group of English stations with bilingual signage. At Southall the signs are in both English and Punjabi.

I feel, that strong family, cultural and religious ties will mean, that this large group will use the trains of TfL extensively in their daily lives.

Train Frequency

It was a Sunday, and the train had perhaps sixty percent of the seats taken.

I have this feeling that this route could suffer from London Overground Syndrome and that passenger numbers will rise much higher than the most optimistic forecasts, because of the factors I outlined in previous sections.

  • Competitive Ticketing On TfL Rail
  • Freedom Passes
  • Reverse Commuters
  • Indian Sub-Continent Families
  • Access To The Thames
  • Connection To Central London

This leads me to predict that this line will need a full four trains per hour (tph) service as far as Reading before the end of 2021 and not just in the Peak Hours.

Connections To The Branches

On my journey to and from Reading,, I didn’t see any trains on the four branches, that have the following frequencies.

  • Greenford – Two tph
  • Windsor – Three tph
  • Marlow – One tph
  • Henley – Two tph

Surely, as the current TfL Rail service has a frequency of two tph to Reading, it should interface better with the Greenford and Henley branches.

It appears to me, that there is scope for a better timetable and increased frequency on some of the branches.

Or is the current timetable geared to making profits in the cafes and coffee stalls at the interchange stations?

My timetable would be as follows.

  • Greenford – Four tph
  • Windsor – Four tph
  • Marlow – Two tph – Timed to be convenient for Reading services.
  • Henley – Two tph – Timed to be convenient for Reading services.

If the Crossrail and branch service are both four tph or better and there are reasonable facilities, I suspect that will work reasonably well.

But the higher the frequency the better!

Train Performance

On my trip, the Class 345 train was stretching its legs to the West of West Drayton and I recorded a speed of 90 mph.

Their performance doesn’t seem to be much slower than Great Western Railways 110 mph Class 387 trains.

Ticketing

From what I’ve seen, ticketing on this line needs to be augmented.

What is currently, in place will work for Londoners and those that live close to the line.

But would it work for tourists and especially those for whom English is not their first language, who want to visit Oxford and Windsor?

There would appear to be a need for a ticket which allowed the following.

  • Use of TfL Rail between West Drayton and Reading.
  • Slough and Windsor
  • Maidenhead and Marlow
  • Twyford and Henley
  • Reading and Oxford

Could it be called a Thames Valley Ranger?

The alternative would be to bring all the routes into London’s contactless payments system.

But would this mean complicated wrangling over ticket revenue between TfL Rail and Great Western Railway?

There certainly needs to be a simple ticketing system at Slough, so that passengers can purchase a return to Windsor.

The only ways at present are.

  • Buy a ticket at Paddington to Windsor.
  • Leave Slough station and buy a return ticket to Windsor.

Something much better is needed.

Crossrail To Oxford

Because of Network Rail’s l;ate delivery of the electrification West of Reading, the services have ended up as less than optimal.

I think eventually, services to Oxford, will be reorganised something along these lines.

  • Crossrail will be extended to Oxford.
  • Fast services to and from London would be the responsibility of Great Western Railway. The frequency would be at least two tph.
  • CrossCountry fast services would continue as now.
  • Stopping services to and from London would be the responsibility of Crossrail
  • Stations between Reading and Oxford, with the exception of Didcot Parkway would only be served by Crossrail.

The Crossrail service to Oxford would have the following characteristics.

  • Four tph
  • The service would terminate in a South-facing bay platform at Oxford station.
  • Pssible battery operation between Didcot Parkway and Oxford.
  • The service would have a dedicated pair of platforms at Reading.

There would possibly be a ticketing problem, but as there would be separation of fast and stopping services, I feel that a good solution can be created, which would allow changing between the fast and stopping services at Reading. So commuters from somewhere like Cholsey could either go Crossrail all the way to and from London or change to a faster train at Reading.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that this service will be overwhelming popular.

But the ticketing leaves much to be desired.

 

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Williams Lifts The Veil On Forthcoming Rail Review

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railnews.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Keith Williams has confirmed that the creation of a new national railway body is to be recommended in his forthcoming Review, and that he is looking at removing the profit motive from passenger train operating contracts, which could become ‘passenger service contracts’ instead.

These are my comments.

Passenger Service Contracts

These are used on some parts of the UK rail network.

Such a type of contract seems to work well on the train operating company I use most; the London Overground, where it is operated by Arriva Rail London.

I also think, that although the London Overground is a large network in terms of stations and passengers, it is quite geographically compact, so management of the strengths and problems is easier.

I remember when the Lea Valley Lines were run by Greater Anglia from Norwich, using an out of sight out of mind attitude.  Since, the takeover, these stations have improved to a high degree.

The Profit Motive

In some instances the profit motive can be bad, as where a train operating company reduces staff at a little-used station, which may result in more crime or incidents.

On the other hand, the profit motive may lead to extra train or customer services.

For instance in LNER To Put Lincoln On The Rail Map, I talked about how LNER are increasing services between Kings Cross and Lincoln and about rumours that say the service could be extended to Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

Because there is stabling at Cleethorpes, but no facility at Lincoln, in this instance, there could be cost advantages to turning the last train at Cleethorpes, rather than sending it overnight to Doncaster or Leeds.

Using the stabling at Cleethorpes might make it easier to run the following trains.

  • A n early morning direct train from Cleethorpes to Kings Cross via Grimsby and Lincoln.
  • A n evening direct train from Kings Cross to Cleethorpes via Lincoln and Grimsby.

There must be a robust partnership between all stakeholders, so that everybody gets the most out of the operation.

Political Interests

I am also wary of politicians, who are peddling their constituency’s or their own interests, or have long held views, that certain places don’t need a train service. For many years,

Hackney was considered a sink borough and wouldn’t know how to use a train service, by Silverlink and politicians of all colours. But this all changed, when the Silverlink Metro routes were placed under the control of Transport for London (TfL)

Wikipedia says this.

TfL decided to let this franchise as a management contract, with TfL taking the revenue risk.

It certainly proved very successful for passengers, but lately because of funding shortages at TfL, expanding and improving the Overground seems to have slowed.

In my view, transport is too important a factor in everybody’s lives to be left to politicians of one flavour.

The Transport for London Model

This is an extract from the article.

He is in favour of the Transport for London model, and praised the large amount of innovation which TfL has achieved. He believes one of the new-style National Rail contracts could also include specific bonuses for innovation. He added: ‘TfL is still run like a network, so we need to take account of the national network as well. To some degree, TfL could form a model for the new guiding mind.’

My comments are.

Does The Transport for London Model Work?

Speaking as a Londoner, I think it does and I can’t understand why other large cities and metropolitan areas, don’t have similar transport networks with.

  • Local trains, trams, light railways and buses under the same overall guidance.
  • Unified contactless ticketing.
  • Comprehensive information for all transport users, including pedestrians and those who are less mobile.
  • Buses and trams with smooth wheelchair access.
  • A policy to increase step-free access towards hundred percent.

Some cities are making a good fist of it, but some are downright terrible and very difficult for those with no local knowledge.

Compare Liverpool and Edinburgh!

Innovation

Williams mentions innovation and he is right.

But sometimes the innovation is an expensive idea, that is out of step with what is being done in other parts of the UK and the rest of the world.

  • To my mind, the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway was an out-of-step development, which if it had been developed a few years later would have been a tram-train working on the Karlsruhe model.
  • If Manchester had started to develop the Metrolink a few years later, it would probably use similar low-floor trams to Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh and Nottingham, which would surely ease the acquisition of new trams.
  • Rhe Edinburgh tram system  doesn’t use battery operation in the City Centre, as Birmingham and Cardiff will be doing soon and some European cities have done for years.

Partly, this is design by hindsight, but it does appear that the lessons have been learned by the designers of the South Wales Metro.

Contactless Ticketing

The biggest innovation by TfL has been the development of contactless ticketing across all modes of transport, using ordinary bank cards.

But why has it not been implemented in a similar comprehensive manner in other cities or areas of the UK?

I suspect it’s just a multiple case of NIH!

Conclusion

I await the full Williams review with interest.

 

November 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

TfL Confirms Details Of Reading Services

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is first paragraph.

Details of the transfer of London Paddington – Reading stopping services from Great Western Railway to TfL Rail from the December 15 timetable change have been confirmed by Transport for London.

Some significant points to note from the article.

  • The service will be run by Class 345 trains.
  • Fast services from Reading and some stations to the East will continue to be run by Great Western Railway.
  • There will be four trains per hour (tph) in the Peak and two tph in the Off Peak.
  • After the New Year Bank Holiday, contactless payments will be available between Paddington and Reading.
  • Children under 11 who are accompanied by an adult, as well as people who are eligible for the Freedom Pass, will be able to travel for free to Reading on the TfL service.
  • Oyster will not be available to the West of West Drayton.
  • Great Western Railway , but not South Western Railway, are expected to bring in contactless ticketing in the New Year.

A few of my thoughts.

What Will Be The Service Pattern?

When the possibility of TfL Rail taking over theservices to Reading, I wrote Will Crossrail Open To Reading in 2019?.

The service pattern to Maidenhead to Reading appears to be.

Reading To Paddington – Limited Stop

This service will be run at two trains per hour (tph) in the Peak with no trains in the Off-Peak.

Stops are Twyford, Maidenhead, Slough, West Drayton and Ealing Broadway.

Reading To Paddington – All Stations

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

Maidenhead To Paddington

This service will be run at two tph all day.

The service will call at all stations except Hanwell and Acton Main Line.

A Summary Of Peak/Off Peak Calls

Adding these services up, gives the following numbers for Peak and Off Peak calls in trains per hour (tph)

  • Reading – 4,2
  • Twyford – 4,2
  • Maidenhead – 6,4
  • Taplow – 4.4
  • Burnham 4,4
  • Slough – 6,4
  • Langley – 4,4
  • Iver – 4,4
  • West Drayton – 6,4
  • Hayes & Harlington – 4.4
  • Southall – 4,4
  • Hanwell – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • West Ealing – 4.4
  • Ealing Broadway – 6,4
  • Acton Main Line – None to Reading/Maidenhead
  • Paddington – 6,4

Note.

  1. 4,2 means 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak.
  2. It would appear that all stations except Reading and Twyford have at least four tph all day.
  3. Stations between Hayes & Harlington and Ealing Broadway will get another six tph all day going to Heathrow.
  4. Acton Main Line station will get another four tph all day going to Heathrow.

The frequency of trains would appear to satisfy Transport for London’s Turn-Up-And-Go frequency for Metro services.

No one should wait more than fifteen minutes on a Metro for a train!

Freedom Pass Holders Will Be Winners

Being able to use a Freedom Pass between Paddington and Reading will be very useful for many travellers.

It would appear that the cheapest way to use the trains West of Reading for a Freedom Pass Holder, will be to use the pass to get to Reading on TfL Rail and then buy a tricket from Reading to your ultimate destination.

Note that on the Overground, you can buy a ticket between any two UK stations. So if I was going to Bristol, I’d buy a Return at my local Dalston Junction station and use it from Reading, afdter going there on TfL Rail.

Very covenient and with the best price!

September 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 15 Comments

A Short Cruise At Greenwich

I had taken the Emirate air-line to North Greenwich with friends and we decided we needed to go to the Cutty Sark.

So we took one of the Thames Clippers, from where I took these pictures.

About the pictures.

  • The first pictures show Greenwich Power Station, which generates electricity for Transport for London on a standby basis. It must be one of oldest power stations still producing electricity, although nowadays it doesn’t use coal, but six massive gas turbines.
  • The rest of the pictures show the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.

The trip between the two piers took only a few minutes.

A Tourist Route Between Bank/London Bridge/Tower of London And Maritime Greenwich

I do this route on a sunny day, when I perhaps want to show a guest around London.

  • Take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Bank or Tower Gateway stations to Royal Victoria station.
  • Take the Emirate Air-Line across the Thames to Greenwich. Peninsular
  • North Greenwich isn’t overloaded with attractions, unless you’re seeing a show or event at the O2. But it’s getting better!
  • Take the Thames Clipper one stop to Greenwich. They run every twenty minutes.

If you want to be boring you can always catch the DLR to Cutty Sark station.

A few points.

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway is often thought by Londoners, commuters and visitors as a bit of a Cinderella.

However, like Cinderella she works hard all day and provides reliable and efficient transport, where the only alternatives are buses, bicycles,  taxis and Shank’s pony.

Just after the 2012 Olympics, I met a big cheese in Transport for London on a DLR train. He felt that the DLR had been the star in getting everybody to the games.

It must be one of the most successful light railways in the world!

And yet, no-one has ever thought to build another running on the same principles.

  • Mainly elevated track.
  • Mainly step-free stations
  • Universal step-free train-to-platform access.
  • High-visibility trains for passengers.
  • Trains every three or four minutes.
  • Friendly, interested, visible staff.
  • Driverless operation with a train captain looking after passengers and driving in emergency.
  • Contactless ticketing

Perhaps the lack of a full-time driver on every train, means that many other places would have massive union problems.

Emirates Air-Line

I’ve taken many people on the Emirates Air-Line and few haven’t been impressed.

The best time in my view is just as the sun sets, as these pictures show.

Note that unless you want a souvenir ticket, just use your bank card to touch-in and touch-out! My last one-way trip cost me £3.50 and appeared on my credit card statement labelled TFL TRAVEL CH Conractactless.

Thames Clippers

Since I moved back to London in 2010, the Thames Clippers have been continuously expanding and improving.

  • .Five new boats have been delivered since the Olympics.
  • Several piers have been improved, rebuilt or added in recent years.
  • Cpmtactless ticketing can be used for all services. Payments are labelled THAMES CLIPPERS.

It should be noted that if you are a holder of a London Freedom Pass, you can get a discount on tickets at a machine.

Plans exist for the following.

  • Extending the route to new housing developments at Barking and Thamesmead in the East.
  • A new pier at Silvertown in October 2019, which could have a walking or bus link to the City Airport.

I can also see the following.

  • Extensions to the West past Putney Pier to places like new housing at Brentford and Kew Gardens.
  • Further extensions to the East to support the massive housing developments.
  • Better connections to the London Underground, London Overground and National Rail stations.
  • More use being made of the Thames Barrier as a tourist attraction.
  • Thames Clippers becoming a river tube line.
  • Thames Clippers appearing on the Tube map, just as the Emirate Air-Line does!
  • A quick and easy connection between the City Airport, Canary Wharf and the Cities of London and Westminster being developed.

The last would surely appeal to City businessmen and those wanting to celebrate a special event.

If Venice can run a boat between the Airport, and St. Mark’s Square why can’t London do the equivalet?

Crossrail

Crossrail is the Elephant-in-the-Room, that will surely make its presence felt along the South Bank of the Thames, when it is extended to Ebbsfleet, as it surely will be.

  • There will be a short walking interchange at Woolwich between Crossrail and the Tghames Clippers.
  • If Crossrail build a station at Silvertown for London City Airport, this could be another interchange.
  • If Crossrail eventually terminates at Gravesend, there could even be possibilities that far East.

The possibilities of designing the Crossrail Extension in conjunction with the Thames could open up the river has as both a leisure attraction and a transport artery.

Conclusion

London will reach towards the sea, to further enhance and add space to the undoubted Capital of the World!

 

 

A

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Metrolink Customers Complete 170k Trips Using Contactless System

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

The high number of journeys is no surprise to me and Manchester should have introduced this system several years ago!

This post from September 2015 is ntitled Transport for London Are Leading The Contactless Revolution.

I’ll repeat the short post here.

This article from Rail Magazine is entitled Contactless Ticketing Booms In London.

It states the following.

  • In the first year, 180 million journeys have been made using contactless cards.
  • This accounts for a fifth of all pay-as-you-go journeys.

But what isn’t said is the fact that despite the predictions of some left-wing and green politicians, there has been no hint of any problems. If there had been, the various tabloids would have had a field-day.

When are the rest of the large cities of the UK going to copy London, so I don’t need to use that nineteenth century technology of paper tickets?

Manchester’s figure of 170,000 in four weeks is a rate of around two million in the first year.

  • Greater Manchester is a lot smaller than Greater London.
  • London had been running Oyster successfully since 2003.
  • Oyster and contsctless ticketing could be used on the Underground, Overground, trams, trains and buses.

I will be very surprised if Manchester doesn’t expand their system.

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for Oyster card.

Since the launch of contactless payment in 2012, over 500 million journeys have been made, using over 12 million contactless bank cards.

Assuming the rate of use is level, which it isn’t as it’s increasing, this works out at 71.4 million journeys per year.

  • Greater London’s population is 8.8 million
  • Greater Manchester’s population is 2.8 million

Just doing a simple pro-rata means that Manchester should see 22 million journeys a year or 62,000 journeys a day.

According to Wikipedia, the Manchester Metrolink had 43.7 million riders in 2018/19.

Conclusion

Manchester must do the following as soon as possible.

  • Extend contactless ticketing to all buses and trains in the Greater Manchester area.
  • Make sure all taxis accept contactless cards.
  • Extend the Mabchester Metrolink.
  • Put in an order for some more trams, as soon as possible. They will be needed as traffic will grow exponentially.
  • Purchase some vandal-proof terminals.

They should also enter into discussions with Cheshire, Lancashire, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Yorkshire about creating a common and integrated contactless card system for the North!

Contactless ticketing would transform lhe North!

Will Contactless Ticketing Generate Funding For Extensions?

Some extensions to the Manchester Metrolink will be fairly easy and not very costly to build. In Tram-Trains To Hale Station, I talked about a simple extension to Hale station, that could go a lot further to perhaps Northwich, Sandbach and Crewe.

When Transport for Greater Manchester get a decent financial model and data from a year of contactless ticketing, some of the routes for tram-trains might be possible to fund from a large insurance or pension fund.

I have used this tram-train extension as an example, as there is no need to lay a lot of new track, so costs can be less.

London should have been able to fund improvements, but Sadiq Khan brought in a fare freeze and Crossrail turned out to be late.

A Lesson For Brexit

Boris Johnson was Mayor of London, when full contactless ticketing was implemented in London.

  • It was the first such system in the world.
  • The left and the green were against it and said it would all end in tears.
  • All Londoners and visitors have embraced the system and I’ve never found anybody who refuses to use it.
  • Attacks on staff have dropped to a very low level, as there’s no money about.
  • In my opinion it is one of the main reasons, that London has been so successful in recent years.

I voted Remain and still think, there are reasons we should stay in Europe.

  • But the referendum went the other way and everyone must abide by the result.
  • Boris probably had little to do with London’s contactless ticketing revolution, but if it had failed he would have got the blame.
  • All politicians in London now embrace the technology and would be voted out of office, if they decided contactless bank cards couldn’t be used.

Boris is now in charge of Brexit and just like those of the left and the green who opposed contactless ticketing, those that oppose Brexit will be Yesterday’s Men.

Like contactless ticketing, it has nothing to do with Boris, but all to do with the power of the man and woman on the bus or in the voting booth.

I think it is too late to stop a No-Deal Brexit.

 

August 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Manchester Metrolink Expensive?

On my trip to Manchester earlier this week, I used contactless ticketing for two trips on the Manchester Metrolink.

  • Piccadilly to Velopark
  • VeloPark to New Islington

It cost me £7.40.

On the same day, I went, I took a trip to Glossop and the return cost me £4.30 with a Senior Railcard.

August 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

Manchester’s Contactless Ticketing

In Manchester yesterday, I used their new contactless ticketing.

The system appeared to be working well, but I do have reservations.

Use On The Trains

I went up to Glossop on the train. As both Glossop and Manchester Piccadilly stations have tiket barriers, why can’t I use contactless ticketing on that type of journey?

Consider.

All of the barriers I saw, were the same as London’s, so they can also read contactless bank cards.

Not all stations in London have ticket barriers. You’re just expected to touch in and touch out, as you do with Manchester’s system.

Surely, the software can and will be extended!

 

Damage To The Terminal

Two of the four terminals I looked at were damaged; possibly by a sledgehammer or a Size 10-boot.

Are they robust enough.

Instructions For Users

I didn’t see any posters, describing how to use the system in English.

Surely, as Manchester, is receiving a lot more visitors, comprehensive instructions in several languages.

Terminal Design

I came across a couple of first time users, who were both locals and they weren’t sure, where to put their card.

I’d be interested to know, why they didn’t use London’s design of terminal.

I’ve only ever seen a technician fixing one broken terminal in London.

No Staff

I didn’t see any staff! The stop under Piccadilly had no staff there to help visitors.

What About Those With Poor Vision?

I have a friend, who is registered blind and has a guide dog. But he can see a bit and has no trouble using contactless in London, especially as the dog leads him to wide gates.

Would my friend cope in Manchester?

Conclusion

It’s a good start, but some details haven’t been properly thought through!

At least, I won’t need to buy a ticket in Manchester again, unless I’m using a train.

 

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Do Tourists To The UK Get Bad Advice On How To Use The Trains?

I travelled out to Oxford with a Chinese family from Hong Kong.

  • They were going to Oxford and home via Bicester Village.
  • They had actually flown into Edinburgh and after spwnding a few days in the City, they had taken the train to London, where they were spending another few days.
  • They were going to spend a day in Paris using Eurostar.

I think they had booked most of the tickets in Hong Kong before they left.

Knowing, what I know about ticketing, I would have organised things a bit differently.

Family And Friends Railcard

Purchase of a Family and Friends Railcard can give discounts for a one-off fee of £30.

To find out ticket orices with the Family and Friends Railcard web site.

Splitting A Journey

Most tickets other than Advance tickets allow the ticket holder to break a journey and then carry on later.

Because I am a coeliac and need gluten-free food, if I’m travelling a long distance, I may break the journey in say Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds or Manchester, where I know I can get a quality gluten-free meal.

Tourists might want to break a journey between Edinburgh and London at York or Durham. This is possible on an Off Peak or Anytime ticket.

Tickets To Or From Stations Or Terminals

This ticket is a First Class Off Peak ticket between Manchester Stations and London Terminals, using Any Permitted Route.

I actually used it between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston stations, but I could have used the ticket to go via Birmingham and then take Chiltern Railways from Birmingham to London Marylebone.

I think the general rule is if your ticket is marked Any Permitted Route and you keep going in the same direction, most routes are possible.

I always ask first, as some companies have different rules.

Visiting Bicester Village, Oxford And Windsor In One Day

The Hong Kong family I met were visiting Oxford and Bicester Village.

The best way to do this is to make sure you have a Day Return ticket  between London Terminals and Oxford, which is marked Any Permissible Route.

This will enable you to do the following three journeys.

  • London Paddington to Oxford.
  • Oxford to Bicester Village
  • Bicester Village to London Marylebone.

With a Railcard, this ticket will cost £18.10.

If you want to visit Windsor, this can be done on the outward journey, by splitting the trip at Slough. There is a branch line to Windsor at Slough worked by a shuttle train, which costs £1.90 for a return trip with a Railcard.

Ranger And Rover Tickets

Check these tickets out, if you’re staying in a town or city for a few days, as they may be a cheaper option.

The various Rovers and Rangers are detailed on this web page.

London

The Oyster card in London is dying.

  • But don’t worry, as the same prices are available by using a contactless bank card.
  • Contctless bank cards have the same daily and weekly cap as Oyster.
  • Contactless bank cards also work on the Underground, Overground, buses, Docklands Light Railway and the Emirates Air Line.
  • You can now use contactless bank cards at London City, Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton Airports.
  • If you want to use Gatwick and Heathrow Express services, these can be accessed using contactless ticketing too!

It appears there are very few complaints.

If you want to read a detailed analysis of London ticketing, read this page on the Finding The Universe web site.

Summing-Up

I shall be adding to this page, as it is only a rough general guide.

Use the Contact form to send any suggestions or questions.

 

 

 

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

TfGM Announces Contactless Payments On Metrolink Trams

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Passengers will be able to ‘touch-in’ using their contactless cards on Manchester Metrolink trams from July 15, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) announced today.

I shall be there with my contactless credit card on Monday week, to check that this is not fake news.

I look forward to the day, when Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds are all one contactless card area for trams, trains and buses.

When you consider that the combined area will be smaller than Greater London’s contactless area and that the distance between Lime Street and Leeds or Sheffield, is less than Reading to Shenfield, which will be contactless when Crossrail opens, the problems can’t be technological.

If the leaders of the four major Northern cities can agree this advance in ticketing, they will do more for the North, than any other short-term  transport development will achieve.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments