The Anonymous Widower

Why Aren’t There More Street Signs Like This?

I took these pictures in Walthamstow Village.

It is such a simple idea to put direction indicators on the street name signs.

But I’ve never seen it anywhere else before.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Swiss Pass And Swiss Pocket Timetables

I used a Swiss Pass on my three day trip to Switzerland.

Wikipedia describes it like this.

The Swiss Travel Pass allows unlimited travel on the Swiss public transport network (trains, buses, ships and tramways) for a certain number of days (3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days), as well as free or discounted entry to most Swiss museums. Discounts apply to mountain transport (lifts, funiculars, cogwheel trains). Some mountain transport is free of charge.

The Swiss Travel Pass Flex works exactly like the Swiss Travel Pass, but can be used to travel on 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive or non-consecutive days within one .

Research the pass you need before you go.

I bought mine from athe SBB ticket office in Zurich Airport.

It also came with a map, where it could be used.

 

In the picture, there are four of the mini-timetables that seem to be available at most major stations.

These timetables give the times of trains from the station to other major cities. They also give the return trains, so are ideal for planning a day out.

The train companies in the UK, should copy this.

One thing that I found out about a Swiss Pass after I bought it, is that you can buy extension tickets for a journey from the Swiss border to say somewhere like Innsbruck, which is a few kilometres further on. It’s a bit like the ticket, I’ll buy in a few minutes to extend my Freedom Pass to Rayleigh.

The Swiss Pass may be pricey, but it’s worth it and is probably a lot cheaper than hiring a car.

 

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Naming Of Swiss Trains

Unlike most countries, a high proportion of Swiss trains seemed to have names.

I like the idea, but there was no explanation on the trains, as to who these people are or were.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Class 700 Trains Don’t Have Destination Boards On The Side

I was intending to go between St. Pancras and London Bridge stations, so as I was close to the Thameslink platforms, I decided to use London’s hidden North-South link.

As I approached the platform, I saw a train had just arrived and it would either be going via London Bridge or Elephant & Castle stations.

So I looked on the side of the train for a destination board, which is present on many trains in the UK.

But there wasn’t one!

Luckily, a station man was on the platform and I asked him. He said it was a Rainham train, which meant it was via London Bridge.

So it was a train I wanted and I duly boarded, after taking this picture.

As Thameslink is a complicated route, surely there should be displays on the side saying things like.

  • Rainham via London Bridge and Greenwich
  • Brighton via Gatwick Airport
  • Cambridge via Finsbury Park
  • Sevenoaks via Elephant & Castle

It would make boarding safer and quicker, if all trains had details on their sides.

I know there are excellent displays on the platform, but I couldn’t see one from where I stood.

 

 

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

In Bruges

I thought that I was passing the city, I should take a pit-stop in Bruges, with perhaps a gluten-free breakfast.

If you go to most cities in Germany, there is always a handy tourist office at the station.

As I didn’t know the city, I needed information on how to get from the station to the centre, which was a twenty minute walk.

If it hadn’t been for a helpful local man, who spoke impeccable English, I wouldn’t have found out that the buses were convenient, but you had to buy the tickets from the paper shop inside the station.

In addition, there wasn’t any visible staff at the station.

How tourist-friendly is that for a welcome to one of the most important sites in Belgium?

My gluten-free breakfast wasn’t very good either!

It came with ordinary bread and only the tea was good.

My argument is that if you advertise gluten-free, then make sure you can do it properly.

Finding a bus back to the station wasn’t easy to cap it all.

Conclusion

Don’t expect to turn up in Bruges on a train and spend a pleasant hour or two before moving on.

Unlike many cities in The Netherlands, Germany and Italy, the information lets you down.

 

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Thameslink Information At London Bridge Station – 3rd March 2018

This picture was taken at the foot of the escalators leading to the Thameslink Platforms 4 and 5 at London Bridge station.

Thameslink Information At London Bridge Station - 3rd March 2018

The trains were fairly crowded, although it was mid-afternoon.

But at the bottom of the escalators under the tracks going through the station, in the vast space, there were relatively few travellers.

I should visit in the Peak.

But it does seem the design is working.

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

HS2 Need To Get Their Act Together

Crossrail has been good in keeping Londoners and others informed about designs and what is happening, with constant updates to the News page on their web site.

Last month, HS2 started the contractual process to find a builder for the HS2 station at Old Oak Common.

But there is nothing about it on their News page, which is just a load of press releases.

I have found this picture of the proposed station in several places on the Internet.

But where is the detailed information page, which explains it all?

I found this map of the rail lines in Wikipedia Commons.

 

Note.

  1. It would appear that the rail line going along the North side of the common in the visualisation is the Great Western Main Line, which will also be used by Crossrail.
  2. It appears that the rail loop in the foreground of the visualisation, which is not shown on the map, is to allow Crossrail trains to access the North London Line.
  3. There must be another proposed loop or viaduct to allow trains to connect to the Northbound West Coast Main Line. This would allow Crossrail to be extended to Watford and Milton Keynes.

Where is the definitive map and information from HS2?

Old Oak Common station will affect travel plans for millions of travellers to and from most parts of London and a lot of places in the wider South East.

No wonder, there are people who don’t want HS2 to be built, if they have no information!

So why aren’t HS2 following the same news and information route, that has been successful for Crossrail?

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Custom House DLR Station Reopens – 10th January 2017

Custon House  DLR station has now reopened and trains are now stopping again.

As the pictures show, there is still a fair bit of work to do.

I’m curious, as to what the structure on top of the station is for.

At the moment, it’s just a framework of steel beams, but is it for retail or a ticket office for either Crossrail or Excel.

Crossrail’s information on the design of the station is non-existent.,

 

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Do A Lot Of Other Cities Need An Overground?

This article on the MayprWatch web site is entitled London Overground Celebrates Ten Years Of Transforming Rail Travel In The Capital.

The principles behind the Overground are simple.

  • Bring run-down suburban railways under local control.
  • Clean everything like crazy.
  • Run four trains per hour on all routes.
  • Introduce contactless ticketing with Oyster and bank cards.
  • Have lots of visible well-trained staff.
  • Upgrade stations and step-free access, when money allows.
  • Increase train length to match passenger numbers.
  • Allow disabled passengers to just turn up and get the assistance they need.
  • Add lots of passenger information.

The principles certainly appear to have worked. This is from the MayorWatch article.

This investment, which started under Mr Livingstone and was continued by his successor Boris Johnson, has helped the London Overground become one of the UK’s most successful rail services, with independently measured passenger satisfaction scores routinely above 80%.

Since launch, more than a billion passenger journeys have been made on the network which now serves 23 of the Capital’s boroughs as well as southern Hertfordshire.

The investment is continuing.

  • In 2018, new Class 710 trains will replace the thirty-year-old Class 315 trains on West Anglia routes to Cheshunt, Chingford and Enfield Town.
  • In 2018, the newly-electrified Gospel Oak to Barking Line will change over to four-car Class 710 trains to double capacity.
  • In 2018, Friday and Saturday night services will start on the East London Line.
  • By 2020, service frequencies on the circular North, East, South and West London Lines will have increased to decrease the overcrowding.
  • In 2021, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line Extension to Barking Riverside will open to serve ten thousand new homes.
  • In 2026, the North London Line will join the big party at Old Oak Common station, when HS2 opens.
  • Could the West London Orbital be the next project?
  • Transport for London would love to get their hands on the Northern City Line. This proposal is supported by many Londoners, polticians and rail professionals like Chris Gibb.

So long as passengers turn up, we will see increasing amounts of orange on London’s Rail and Tube Map.

Celebrating Ten Years

To celebrate ten years, London Overground have released a map showing attractions that are accessible from the Overground.

The Overground could become a tourist attraction in its own right.

  • No special ticket required – Just touch in and out!
  • Many of the attractions served by the Overground are affordable or free.
  • Trains have a frequency of at least four trains per hour.
  • Stations generally have good directions to local attractions.

In addition, Overground trains have better views from the windows than Underground trains.

The Overground Has Certainly Been A Success

When I moved to Dalston in 2010, the Overground had just opened to four station within walking distance; Canonbury, Dalston Junction, Dalston Kingsland and Haggerston.

New three-car Class 378 trains ran to Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, New Cross, Richmond, Stratford and West Croydon, every fifteen or so minutes.

Now the trains have grown to five-cars and there is an extra route across South London to Clapham Junction to complete the circlke around Central London.

Passenger numbers have grown with the capacity and the railways have transformed Hackney and Dalston in particular.

Other Overgrounds In The UK

Several cities in the UK have their own local rail networks that are heavily used for commuting, leisure, shopping and tourism.

I’ve rode on systems in Birm,ingham, Glasgow and Liverpool, but none of these railways is as easy to use and as travel information-rich as the London Overground.

Not one of the UK’s local networks for instance, allow ticketing by using a contactless bank or credit card.

But then, with only a couple of exceptions, European networks are no better than the abysmal norm!

Contactless Ticketing

I believe that every local rail or Metro network, should support ticketing using contactless bank or credit cards.

  • There is no need to buy a ticket or a special electronic travel card.
  • A maximum daily, weekly or monthly cap can be applied.
  • \Entry and exit at stations is quick and easy.

I also feel that cities that don’t go this route will lose out, as tourists will go elsewhere.

Network Maps

New Metros in Europe and the rest of the world, shameslessly copy the features of London’s iconic Tube map for one of their networks. But often for various reasons, they position them high-up and make it that you need to be over six foot tall to read them.

Every network, should have a large map, that is at least the size of London’s with the stations laid out in an easy-to-read format, that can be read by anybody from an eleven-year-old child to an eighty-yrear-old with failing eyesight, sitting in a wheelchair.

London’s maps aren’t perfect, but they are a good start!

Merseyrail

I know the Merseyrail network well and it probably comes closest to the London Overground in terms of operation.

But, in terms of Marketing, I don’t think it does is best to sell itself to visitors.

Birmingham

Is a big change about to happen in Birmingham?

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled West Midlands Trains Announces London Northwestern Brand.

This is also said about services in Birmingham.

Services operating around Birmingham are to use the West Midlands Combined Authority’s West Midlands Railway branding, with a view to facilitating the possible future devolution of responsibility for these services from the national Department for Transport to the authority.

So will Birmingham improve its local rail offering?

It’s certainly going to have new trains and an expanded service, so will they add the following.

  • Contasctless bank card ticketing.
  • A route pattern and map, that is understandable to non-Brummies.
  • Dedicated local platforms at New Street station.
  • More visible staff on the platforms.
  • More information.

The bare bones are there, but they need a lot more flesh!

Conclusion

The world needs to develop more Overground networks as London has done!

 

 

November 11, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Hippest Train Status Displays?

In Technology Doesn’t Have To Be Complex, I described how Transport for London were using the suspension to assess how crowded trains are on the London Overground.

In my post, I suggested that the information could be used in modern station displays to show the train loading.

Yesterday, this article in the Standard, had a picture of such a display, at Shoreditch High Street station.

So today, I took one of my own.

According to the Standard, passengers like the display.

It should be born in mind, that this is only the first version and I’m certain the information captured from the train suspension will find be used in several innovative ways.

 

October 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment