The Anonymous Widower

Coulsdon South Station Has Gone Step-Free

Coulsdon South station went step-free a couple of months ago, so I went to take a look.

These are my thoughts.

The Bridge

Mechanically, the bridge is typical of many in the UK, but someone has taken care over the design, by the use of well-chosen colours and bricks.

The Café

We need more station cafes like Jaconelli’s Espresso Bar.

  • Full range of proper coffee and other drinks.
  • Cakes and snacks.
  • Gluten-free options.
  • Wude selection of alternative milks
  • Knowledgeable and friendly staff.

I suspect it is also owner-managed, as most cafes of this type would be in Italy.

It’s one of the best cafes of its type, that I’ve found in a long time.

The Old Bridge

According to one of the guys in the café the old bridge needed replacing.

But leaving it intact, gives the young, fit or agile a second route across the tracks.

Local Walks And Attractions

There are walks nearby in the Surrey Hills and on the London Loop.

I was also told, that you can get a bus to the Lavender Fields.

Zone Six Station On Thameslink

The station is in Zone Six, which puts it in Freedom Pass territory.

It also has two Thameslink and two Southern trains per hour, so it is easily reached.

Car Parking And A Taxi Service

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the car parking and a taxi service, which is called District Cars.

Conclusion

Coulsdon South is now a very well-equipped station and it must be an ideal place to meet a friend, family member or work colleague to either have a chat or a serious discussion.

Surely, with more people continuing to work from home, the need for meetings between those in the office and those at home will grow! Zoom etc. can only do so much and the cpncept doesn’t suit everybody!

So perhaps we’ll see more community-managed meeting rooms, like the one I described in The Newly-Decorated White Horse Room In Westbury Is Open For Bookings.

 

August 14, 2020 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

The Coolest Trains In London

It was hot in London today, so I thought I’d investigate how well the New Class 710 trains on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

I did the following journeys.

  • A 141 bus from my house to Harringay Green Lanes station.
  • A Class 710 train between Harringay Green Lanes and Gospel Oak stations.
  • A Class 710 train between Gospel Oak and Blackhorse Road stations.
  • A Victoria Line train between Blackhorse Road and Highbury & Islington stations.
  • A Class 707 train between Highbury & Islington and Moorgate stations.
  • After doing some shopping, I took a 141 bus to my home.

I took these pictures on the route.

Some observations.

Passengers Towards Gospel Oak Weren’t Numerous

The train going to Gospel Oak station wasn’t very full, wil only about half the seats taken.

The Train From Gospel Oak Was Packed

It was rather different going back, as every seat on the train was taken and there were passengers standing.

The Seats And Air In The Train Were Comfortable

I would certainly recommend a trip in a Class 710 train on a hot day, as a means to cool off.

Let’s hope that all the other classes of Aventras have the same quality of air-conditioning.

The Victoria Line Wasn’t Busy

The air and temperature ion the Victoria Line wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t of the same quality as the Class 710 train.

But the trip made me think that passengers avoid the deep tube in hot weather.

Class 707 Train To Moorgate

I used the cross-platform interchange at Highbury & Islington station to switch to a Class 707 train, running a Great Northern service to Moorgate station.

The air-conditioning was working well and the two other passengers remarked that it was good in this hot weather.

It’s a pity that these trains have ironing-board seats.

Will These Trains Cut Crime?

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, the service along the North London Line was just being launched and wasn’t fully running until May 2011.

Dalston was the haunt of aimless youth and it wasn’t the best place to live.

Nine years on and it has all changed.

The youths have disappeared and the perceived threat of crime seems down. So where have they all gone?

From stories I have heard, public transport has improved so much, that a large proportion of the youths, have discovered something better to do! It’s called work.

  • New Class 378 trains
  • North London Line trains have gone from four trains per hour (tph) to eight.
  • East London Line trains didn’t exist in 2010 and are now sixteen tph.
  • There are several fleets of new buses.
  • Increases in train frequencies are planned.

Dalston is now a much better place to live.

The new Class 710 trains will soon be running on the following routes.

  • Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • Liverpool Street to Cheshunt
  • Liverpool Street to Chingford
  • Liverpool Street to Enfield Town

And the new Class 707 trains will soon be running on the following routes.

  • Moorgate to Hertford East
  • Moorgate to Stevenage
  • Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City

Most new trains will be in service by the end of this year.

The following will be delivered.

  • More capacity
  • Increased frequencies
  • Better comfort
  • Wi-fi and power sockets
  • On-train CCTV

A lot of the previous ancient trains will be scrapped.

Will the new trains cut crime and the perception of crime in the areas of North-East London, that they serve.

It is too early to tell, but good public transport has had a remarkable affect on Dalston.

So will the same thing happen in Enfield, Hasringey and Wathamstow?

 

Conclusion

I wonder how many people with a Freedom Pass like me are cooling off in this weather by using these and other trains.

July 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Strong Business Case For Proposed West London Orbital Overground, TfL Says

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

West London is one step closer to a new train line which will connect the outer boroughs and relieve pressure on existing transport infrastructure.

The proposed West London Orbital would run from Hendon or West Hampstead through Acton to Hounslow.

It is my view, that now TfL have got a strong business case, they should get this project started.

  • The only problem is money and that could be raised by abandoning the fare freeze.
  • Or increasing the size of the Congestion Charge Zone.
  • Hard on some, but we should be less selfish.
  • I would accept a few restrictions on my Freedom Pass.

There has been too much waffling and it is now time for action.

 

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Plaintiff Plea On Wake Up To Money

I regularly listen to Wake Up to Money on BBC Radio 5 Live.

One morning, they were talking to Kentucky Fried Chicken about their new vegan burgers. As a coeliac, I say Yuck! to that!

Somebody else texted the program and said something like.

I’m a coeliac, how about more gluten-free food.

In fact it was a bad week for me as a coeliac last week.

  • I found Beyond Bread had closed on Upper Street.
  • Le Petite Bretagne  closed in Dalston.
  • I spent about twenty minutes looking for a coffee and a gluten-free cake in Liverpool Street.

All this passion for vegan and vegetarian food, is marginalising those like me, who have to avoid gluten.

I’ve still got a couple of cafes in Dalston, where this is possible and I could always go to M & S and take a cake home.

But I refuse to buy an expensive coffee maker.

After Liverpool Street, I ended up in Leon in Moorgate.

Note the excellent gluten-free cake and the posh cup and saucer.

Note, that because of my stroke, I like a proper china cup or mug

I tend to avoid American-owned chains like Costa and Starbucks, as some American gluten-free practices are suspect to say the least. I used to like Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate, but now I believe it uses addictive wheat-derived glucose, I wouldn’t dare touch it.

As I said finding good cafes and restaurants that do gluten free well is becoming more difficult.

  • Carluccio’s is creaking and many that I used regularly like Glasgow, Islington, Liverpool and Westfield have closed.
  • Pattiserie Valerie is struggling and has closed a lot of outlets.
  • Jamie’s Italian has gone bust.
  • If I go a bit upmarket, there is Bill’s and Cote, but they are not ideal for a fast pit-stop.

As last week, I suspect that most coeliacs hope that Leon or others following their relaxed, quirky and customer and diet-friendly model, prosper.

Freedoming

These days many pensioners like me, get free public transport in their local area.

Londoners like me, get a Freedom Pass, which gives free buses, Underground, Overground, trams and trains, within the M25.

I will often get up, look at the BBC London News, the weather and other sources. I may then decide to go to Canary Wharf, Richmond ir wherever  to have a walk, see an exhibition or whatever.

London is an amazing cornucopia of delights, which is a sentiment echoed by others who live close to our other great cities.

Free public transport enables this lifestyle.

I think the various cafe and restaurant chains can tap into this lifestyle, as often one of the reason to go to a place is to have a good meal or a drinki.

If like me, you like particular chains, I believe that their web sites could be an important part in planning how to waste a few hours.

Suppose, their web site  had the following features.

  • A simple list of all their cafes and restaurant, with st most a short description like “Close to Pierhead”
  • The ability to sign up to a simple e-mail alert of new openings and closures. Note the word simple!

I believe that if I got a message saying a chain had opened in say Kingston, it might prompt me to go and have a walk and perhaps lunch, with a friend I haven’t seen for years.

Note.

  1. Lists are much better than maps, if you don’t know the area.
  2. Companies are relying too much on apps, which are OK for finding places near where you are, but are useless, if you are using the cafe or restaurant, as the resewn to go or the starting point for an explore.
  3. I believe Carluccio’s troubles started, when they abandoned their list on their web site. I told them so in strong terms.

Patteriserie Valerie has an excellent list.

 

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monetarising The Freedom Pass

I find my Freedom Pass extremely valuable and I’m extremely grateful for it, as I can’t drive after a serious stroke, that left me with eyesight problems.

But I feel Freedom Pass use could be expanded, to improve the efficiency of London’s transport network and generate some much needed cash flow for Transport for London.

Some Principles

What I am proposing here will obey these principles.

  • Charges will only occur, when the card is used in conjunction with a bank card to buy tickets or services.
  • Any tickets or services bought through the Freedom Pass system, will be at the best possible price.

But the major principle will be that if a Freedom Pass holder continues to use their card as they do now, they will not pay any charges.

An Updated Web Site

The current web site at www.freedompass.org is mainly for information only.

This function could be increased, but I also think the website could be extended in several ways.

A Personal Profile

Some pass holders might like to add a personal profile with perhaps a photograph and selected personal details, next of kin and some medical details.

Obviously, creating a profile would be at the pass holder’s discretion.

Journey Logging

I believe that with Oyster, you can check where you’ve been on a ticket machine.

Some Freedom Pass holders might like to have a similar facility on a web site.

Railcard Management

If you have a Freedom Pass, the site will know if you are over a certain age or have a qualifying disability. I would actually get a Freedom Pass, even if I wasn’t quite as old, as my eyesight was deemed not good enough to drive.

So the Freedom Pass web site could prompt you when you needed to renew your Railcard.

Adding A Bank Card To A Freedom Pass

To get between Dalston Junction and Gatwick Airport stations, I need to buy a ticket from the Zone 6 Boundary to the Airport. It would be very handy, if a Freedom Pass could be linked to a bank card, so that there was no need to buy an extra ticket. The few pounds to get to the Airport, would be automatically charged to the linked bank card.

I would not need to buy a ticket and would just touch in at Dalston Junction station and touch out at Gatwick Airport. My bank card would be charged a few pounds.

The link would also work, where a journey was done before the 09:30 start time of Freedom Pass on many routes.

So if Esmerelda, who lived in Camden wanted to get to Orpington to walk her grandchildren to school., she would be able to use the Freedom Pass for a normal fare, which would be charged to her bank card.

I would assume that Transport for London would pick up a small commission for the National Rail tickets.

A Ticket Buying Web Site

Depending on the company, the rules for using Freedom Passes with National Rail tickets aren’t always simple.

Yesterday, I went to football at Ipswich and bought a return ticket between Harold Wood and Ipswich stations.

  • Harold Wood is the Zone 6 boundary.
  • I was also able to get on a Liverpool Street to Norwich train, despite it not stopping at Harold Wood.
  • As a Greater Anglia ticket inspector told me off for not doing this about six months ago, when he saw my Freedom Pass alongside my Senior Railcard, when he checked my tickets, I feel it must be right.

But I don’t think all train companies are so accommodating.

Suppose you were able to buy any rail ticket on the Freedom Pass web site and I wanted to buy a return ticket on a Saturday from Dalston Junction to Ipswich.

  • Logging in, the site would know I had a Freedom Pass and a Senior Railcard.
  • I would ask for my ticket and then the web site would find my cheapest ticket.
  • I would pay for it as one does on any of the numerous rail ticket web-sites.

But it would probably add a third orange ticket, giving my route and conditions.

Should Ticket Buying Be Limited To Freedom Pass Holders?

If you are a London resident, would you use a trusted ticket buying web site from Transport for London, where you knew any profits would be reinvested in London’s transport network?

If it was a best price, I would!

Conclusion

The right design of web site could be a nice little earner for Transport for London.

Or any other regionalised transport organisation, like Transport for Wales or Merseytravel.

December 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Oyster Card Scheme Extension Agreed

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

This paragraph describes the extensions.

Its extension, due in early 2019, will include Hertford North, Welwyn Garden City, Luton Airport Parkway and Epsom.

As the Oyster Card extension will also include intermediate stations, the following stations will be included on the four routes.

  • Hertford North – Crews Hill, Cuffley and Bayford.
  • Luton Airport Parkway – Radlett, St. Albans City and Harpenden
  • Welwyn Garden City – Potters Bar, Brookmans Park,Welham Green and Hatfield

All intermediate stations to Epsom are already in the Oyster Card Scheme.

Fourteen new stations will be added.

These are a few random thoughts.

Contactless And Oyster

Oyster card and most contactless payment methods with a card or mobile device can be used on Oyster Card reader, so in this post, I will use contactless to cover all methods.

I believe that in a few years, Oyster could be phased out, as cards and mobile devices will take over the ticketing.

Luton Airport Parkway

Adding Luton Airport Parkway station to the network, brings Luton Airport in line with Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.

This is very much a logical extension.

Airport Services

This is a list of the current times for airport services from London.

  • Gatwick – Express – 29 minutes – Thameslink – 39-60 minutes
  • Heathrow – Express – 15 minutes – Crossrail – 28 minutes
  • Luton – East Midlands Trains – 21 minutes – Thameslink 30-47 minutes
  • Southend – 52-53 minutes
  • Stansted – 49-52 minutes

If you look at the passenger statistics for Gatwick Airport station, they have been rising at around a million passengers a year for the past few years. How much of the recent rises have been due to the station going contactless in January 2016?

Certainly, if you’re late for a plane, contactless ticketing might save a couple of minutes.

I always remember an incident at Southend Airport station.

My plane was late and arrived very close to the departure time of the last train to London. There had recently been a lot of arrivals and the queues for tickets were long.

So a Greater Anglia employee took the decision to tell everybody to get on the train and we all went to London without tickets.

If ticketing had been contactless, Greater Anglia might have collected some fares.

But contactless at an airport is not solely about making money, but getting the passengers away from the airport quickly.

Hertford East And Hertford North Stations

Hertford East station accepts contactless cards.

Adding the facility to Hertford North station may open up some journey possibilities and ease ticketing.

The National Rail web site recommends that to go between Ware and Bayford stations on either side of Hertford, that you walk between the East and North stations.

An anytime ticket will cost you £19.50.

But buy two separate tickets between Ware and Hertford East stations and Hertford North and Bayford stations and it’ll cost £6!

Using contactless ticketing and touching in at all stations will save £13.50! Will this cost difference encourage more journeys with a walk in the middle?

When I visited the Hertford East Branch recently in mid-morning, I thought that it was surprisingly busy. Does lower-hassle contactless ticketing encourage more passengers?

Analysis of contactless touches will provide the answers to my two questions.

St. Albans City And St. Albans Abbey Stations

The Abbey Line between Watford Junction and St. Albans Abbey stations is not contactless, although Watford Junction station is so enabled and St. Albans City station will be.

There is surely a case for adding contactless ticketing to this short line of five intermediate stations.

Welwyn Garden City Station

Enabling Oyster on the route to Welwyn Garden City station, will mean that all stations on the Great Northern Route from Moorgate station will be enabled except for Watton-at-Stone  and Stevenage.

This would surely be less confusing for passengers, than the current arrangement, where Oyster tickeing is stopped at Hadley Wood and Gordon Hill stations.

Hopefully a suitable announcement would wake-up accidental fare avoiders at Hertford North station.

Epsom Station

The two routes to London from Epsom station are both fully Oyster-enabled, so surely adding one station to the routes shouldn’t be a difficult problem technically.

Further Routes For Oyster

Distances of the new Oyster-enabled stations, with a few existing ones, by rail from Central London are as follows.

  • Epsom – 16 miles from Victoria.
  • Gatwick Airport – 26 miles from Victoria
  • Hertford North – 20 miles from Moorgate
  • Luton Airport Parkway – 29 miles from St. Pancras
  • Shenfield – 20 miles from Liverpool Street
  • Welwyn Garden City – 20 miles from Kings Cross

So what other stations could be added?

Southend And Stansted Airports

Airports seem to like Oyster and as I said earlier, it can help to sort out ticketing problems at certain times.

  • Southend Airport station is 39 miles from Liverpool Street and there are five other stations between Southend Airport and Shenfield stations.
  • Stansted Airport station is 36 miles from Liverpool Street and there are six other stations between Southend Airport and Broxbourne stations.

This story on ITV is entitled Rail Minister Urged To Roll Out Oyster Card Payments To Stansted, Luton And Southend Airports.

Luton Airport will soon be Oyster-enabled, so hopefully Stansted and Southend Airports will be enabled soon.

Thirty Miles From London

There are a lot of places within thirty miles of London on commuter routes, that I’m sure eventually will be Oyster-enabled.

  • High Wycombe and Aylesbury – Chiltern have ambitions for this.
  • Rochester – 30 miles from London and on Thameslink.
  • Windsor

There will be other suggestions.

Extending Freedom Pass

I’d like to be able to just touch-in and touch-out to go to any station in the Oyster card area.

My Freedom Pass would be connected to a bank or credit card and I would be charged beyond the Freedom Pass area.

If Oyster cards can be linked to a bank or credit card, surely London’s control computer can be programmed to do something very powerful for Freedom Passes.

It could be a nice little earner for cash-strapped Transport for London.

Conclusion

Oyster is extending its reach and after this flurry of extensions in the next few months, lot of places will be wanting to be Oyster-enabled.

I suspect the only objector to this roll-out, will be the RMT, who have made the Luddites look like pussycats!

 

 

 

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Freedoming

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been asked out to lunch, coffee or a drink by several old and new friends, who live in towns and cities outside of London’s Zone 6 boundary.

I have also visited several places for my own purposes.

The Zone 6 boundary is important, as I can travel there using my Freedom Pass.

So to get to these towns, I need to buy an extension ticket from the Zone 6 boundary.

Some of these are extremely good value if you use a Senior Railcard,

  • Bishops Stortford – £7.00
  • Hertford East – £5.80
  • Uckfield – £9.25
  • Woking – £5.35

These prices are all for Off Peak Day Returns.

What Are My Objectives?

I am not really sure at the moment, but I do like travel, good food, visiting museums and galleries, looking at old and modern engineering.

So it may just be a load of old rubbish, but it will also be fun!

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

What Is Most Important In A Train Service?

I am prompted to ask this question after my trips on the reopened Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin), which I wrote about in Along The Reopened Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

These are my thoughts on what is important in a train service.

Clean And Tidy Trains And Stations

London Overground is a network of nine lines and 112 stations and the operator makes sure that everything is clean and tidy.

Also unlike many rail lines in the world, it is very rare to find any graffiti on trains or inside stations on the Big Orange.

I’ve only ever seen one example of spray paint on a train, in the seven years, that I’ve used the Overground.

So what is it, that enforces the good behaviour?

I don’t know, but even on a crowded train, I’ve never seen any anti-social behaviour.

Could it be that the clean, practical environment of the trains and stations discourages it? Perhaps it has just been designed out?

Remember that stations are the marketing or retail face of the trains.

Would you buy your supper, clothes or household goods from a badly-designed and scruffy shop?

You wouldn’t!

And you didn’t buy much from BHS, Blockbuster, Comet or Woolworths either!

The Size, Quality And Type Of Trains

My fellow passengers on my GOBlin trips, didn’t seem bothered about the quality of the Class 172 trains., but a couple did say that four-car trains would be welcome, as overcrowding on the line can be a problem.

But I do wonder if you have a quality train of the right size and performance, does it matter what  method is used to power the train, so long as it is reliable.

I also think that if you asked a selection of users and residents by the line, that electric trains would be fasvoured on noise grounds, but some would object to gantries marching along the line in a sensitive area.

It should be noted, that one of the reasons for electrifying the GOBlin, is so that freight trains can be electric-hauled, which is preferable for environmental reasons, of which diesel locomotive noise is very prominent.

The Number And Quality Of The Stations

More and higher quality stations are a sound policy, that is only limited by the budget.

Many recently opened stations, like Dalston Junction, Galashiels, James Cook, Oxford Parkway and Southend Airport have been a success, as like most new stations, they’ve built to fulfil a perceived need!

In addition, stations like Deptford,  Hampstead Heath and Lower Edmonton have also shown an increase in patronage after upgrading with lifts and a refurbished  building.

A cynic might say, that Network Rail’s Access for All program is not just about passenger needs but more about getting more people  to ride in trains to generate revenue.

But the outcome is the same for those with special travelling needs.

A Turn-Up-And-Go Service

One lady of a certain age, I met yesterday, said she’d never used the GOBlin before and as she’d heard it was running again, she thought she’d give it a try, as she fancied a walk on Hampstead Heath.

Since, it was taken over by London Overground, the short line has been running four trains per hour (tph) in both directions, which is what London Overground, Merseyrail and other operators would consider a Turn-Up-And-Go-Service for an urban route.

If you just miss a train, then you only have to wait a maximum of fifteen minutes for another train.

But to be an efficient Turn-Up-And-Go Service other things are needed.

Contactless Ticketing

My fellow traveller was  like me, travelling on a free Frredom Pass, which means we just touched in and went on our way. But in London, I actually carry two other valid tickets as two of my credit/debit cards are contactless. I use one of these, when I’m travelling to Gatwick Airport, as it is outside the Freedom Pass area, but inside London’s contactless ticketing area.

, Surely when you use a line like the GOBlin, be it in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Paris or Zurich, you shouldn’t have to buy a ticket if you have a contactless debit or credit card.

These days with modern technology, no-one should not have to do anything more than touch in and touch-out with a contactless bank card to use a local transport network; based on bus, tram or train.

Operators that don’t embrace this contactless bank card route and insist you buy a separate card or download an app to your new Nokia 3310 are Luddites of the worst kind.

Getting To And From The Station

Efficient Turn-Up-And-Go also needs enough car and bike parking and/or well-documented bus links.

Tea And Coffee Kiosks

London Overground also like to add good tea and coffee kiosks into their Turn-Up-And-Go mix, often using very independent operators.

If you do miss that train, you might as well take your caffeine fix!

 

 

March 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Platforms 13 And 14 At Paddington Station

These pictures show work at Platform 13 and 14 at Paddington station.

It looks like they’re being tidied up and lengthened, so that when in 2018 Heathrow Connect is transferred to Crossrail, the platforms can be used by the 200-metre long Class 345 trains.

It will only be a temporary arrangement as in 2019, Heathrow Connect trains will use the core tunnel under London.

  • 4 tph between Abbey Wood and Heathrow Terminal 4.

There will also be 4 tph on Heathrowc Express from Psaddington to Hrathrow Terminal 5.

So it looks Heathrow will be trying to con passengers to use the expensive Heathrow Express. Edpecially from Terminal 5!

It is only continuing to fleece passengers, as it is totally pointless for savvy travellers.

Quite frankly, if you’re anywhere to the East of Paddington, would you change at Paddington to waste money, when a change at Heathrow Central will be free?

It would be far better to run 8 tph to the Airport, with four tph going to each of Terminal 4 and Terminal 5. Four tph could start at Shenfield and four tph at Abbey Wood.

And then there’s the problem of vFreedom Passes. Will I be able to use my pass on Crossrail to get to Heathrow?

January 7, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments