The Anonymous Widower

DfT Keen To Encourage Rail Travel For Football Fans

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 873 of Rail Magazine.

I was moved to send this letter to the magazine.

Was this title on page 17 of Issue 873 serious or an ironic joke?

I am a seventy-one-year-old Ipswich fan and Season Ticket holder, who lives in London, within walking distance of Liverpool Street station on a fine day.

Over the last six or seven years, I have been unable to see Home matches as often, as I would like, as on perhaps half of weekend match days, there have been no trains running on the Great Eastern Main Line, due to the constant maintenance. Or is it a complete rebuilding for 140 mph trains?

To be fair, I have occasionally used the replacement buses, but the problem is that they make the journey well over an hour longer. So on a match day, there is no time left for anything else!

I had to watch the two Ipswich-Norwich matches on television, as on both these Sundays to get to the match by mid-day was impossible and probably needed an overnight stay!

I accumulated my very adequate pension pot, by writing software to schedule resources on complicated projects. Surely, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, the Premier League and the EFL can agree a plan that is better than the current shambles.

Greater Anglia surely have the means to improve the situation arriving in their depots.

Pairs of  four-car Class 755 trains could run reduced services via Cambridge.

  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and London, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Ipswich and Cambridge.
  • If the line is blockaded between Ipswich and Norwich, then a direct service could be run between Norwich and London via Cambridge.

Although, this has nothing to do with football, pairs of Class 755 trains would also be useful for running a service between Peterborough and London, when the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line is closed.

I shall add a few extra notes to this on-line version of the letter.

Class 755 Trains

Points about Class 755 trains.

  • They are 100 mph trains on both electric and diesel, and probably have similar performance to the current Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coaches that run between Liverpool Street and Norwich.,
  • Capacity of a pair of Class 755 trains is 458 seats, as against the 514 seats of the current stock.
  • The interior will be suitable for services between London and Norwich.
  • The trains and their crews will probably be certified for all of Greater Anglia’s Network.
  • A single train is eighty metres long and a pair would be 160 metres.
  • The trains should fit all important main-line stations on the Greater Anglia Network.

I also suspect that these trains could run into Kings Cross station, either using the East Coast Main Line or the Hertford Loop Line.

They are blockade-busters par excellence.

February 26, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Network Rail Are Treating Norwich And Ipswich Fans With Contempt

Over the last few years, I have gone to perhaps half-a-dozen Ipswich-Norwich Derbies.

Last season, I didn’t get to either match, as Network Rail, thought that these days were ideal to do engineering work on the Great Eastern Main Line.

As if, there hasn’t been enough in the time since I’ve moved to London in 2010.

Normally, I would have bought a ticket for the match on February 10th in Norwich at 12:00 in the morning.

But I have just looked up the train times to get there for a match start at that time on a Sunday.

The only service leaves Liverpool Street at 07:08 and arrives in Norwich at 10:12! It also involves an hour on a bus. I would probably arrive back home at around seven in the evening.

I have other things to do, like getting something to eat and as a coeliac, I can’t just pop into the average take-away, unless I wanted to spend another three hours sitting on the toilet.

Why is there no liaison between Network Rail and the two football clubs, so that essential work is done on less important days?

To make things worse, on Saturday the 2nd, they’re getting the buses out again. So that’s another match I’ll miss!

This season it has been easier to watch Away matches than Home ones.

When are Network Rail going to stop treating regular travellers with such downright contempt?

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Greater Anglia Buying So Many Class 755 Trains, So They Can Run A Better Service During Constant Works On The Great Eastern?

Yet again, they were rebuilding the Great Eastern Main Line, so I didn’t get to football at Ipswich yesterday.

It’s not that I mind the buses, but it means two things.

  • I have to leave so early, that I can’t do my weekly shop before I go.
  • I also get back so late that I will miss Strictly on the television.

There is also the problem, that Ipswich is one of the worst places to find a gluten-free meal, unless you go to Pizza Express.

I often have my lunch before I travel or take it on the train from Leon or M & S.

For some time now, I’ve suspected that Greater Anglia have ordered a lot more Class 755 trains, than they need, based on a train-for-train replacement basis

It now becomes obvious why!

At weekends, they will link four-car trains together and run four trains per hour on the following routes.

  • Norwich to Cambridge
  • Ipswich to Cambridge

One train in four will continue to and from London after Cambridge.

On the other hand, it could be a plot by Norwich fans in Greater Anglia’s headquarters in Norwich to annoy Ipswich fans!



September 23, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OLE Upgrades Complete At Anglia As Part Of £46m Transformation

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

I hope this is actually the case.

  • I’ve had enough of rail replacement buses, when trying to get to football at Ipswich on a Saturday.
  • For at least the last three years, I’ve probably seen more away matches, than those at Portman Road.
  • Three hours each way to Ipswich, effectively means, the only pleasurable thing you do is see the match.
  • This work has probably hit attendances at both Norwich and Ipswich.
  • I’ve renewed my season ticket fort next season, but if it is as thin on home matches as this one has been, it will be my last season of travel.

What puzzles me, is why can’t Network Rail adjust their work schedule, so that at least important matches like the two Derbies have trains?

But then you wouldn’t rate Network Rail highly for Project Management!


May 8, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Football In The Fog

Surprisingly, the strongest team on the pitch; the fog, didn’t win this game.

The guy next to me was a teacher, whose duties included taking games, Never having been any good at ball games, I wouldn’t know, but he felt it was very difficult out there.

Strangely, Ipswich seemed to improve, when they substituted the blonde-harired Williams and two other lighter-skinned players, with three of a much darker hue in Bru, McGoldrick and Ward.

Perhaps, they were more difficult to pick out. After all, McGoldrick used his head to create one goal and score the other.

December 17, 2016 Posted by | Sport | , , | 2 Comments

Widowhood Is A Lonely Dark Club

And a dark club, that no-one asked if you wanted to join.

After forty years of a generally happy and vibrant relation, especially when it came like a thunderbolt from nowhere, makes it no easier.

It is lonely, but I do have the freedom to do what I want.

I could just throw my clothes on the floor each night and live on beer and baked beans. Which I don’t!

Today, I’m off to see Ipswich lose at Sheffield Wedneswday.

I’m then off tomorrow for four days in the Canaries! Nothing to do with Norfolk!

But both trips will be alone!

Surely, there must be widow, out there who feels like I do!

November 5, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Daryl Murphy To Newcastle

Daryl Murphy is leaving Ipswich to go to Newcastle United.

It is reported in this article on the BBC. This is said.

“It’s a really good move for him in his career, at his age, and it’s good for us,” McCarthy told BBC Radio Suffolk.

I agree.

Daryl is thirty-three and I’ve met him a couple of times and found him to be an intelligent man, who is a good talker at a meeting.

He must be seeing the end of his career and going to Newcastle is a simple way to get a pension pot.

Town also get some money in and given the new rules about loan players, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mick does another deal on the lines of Grant Ward from Tottenham at a reported £600,000, according to this article in the EADT. Someone said about that deal yesterday, that Ward came to Ipswich because he had worked with Bryan Klug, when he was at Tottenham.

Perhaps, a case it’s not what you know, but who you know!

Incidentally, living in North London, quite a few Tottenham fans have told me, that they sold the wrong player.

In some ways though, if Ward continues to contribute goals from midfield, Murphy won’t be missed so much.

When did Ipswich last have four quality midfield players in Bishop, Bru, Dozzell and Ward with a combined age of just eighty-five?

One of the rumours going around yesterday, was that McCarthy will be signing Adam Armstrong.

I don’t think he’ll be bought, as he’s just signed a new deal at Newcastle. But there is an interesting link between Ipswich and Armstrong. His father; Alun, played for Town for three years, leaving in 2004.

Could we be seeing a case of the son following his father?

Although, I suspect the son, could be a similar player to his father and quite different to Murphy.

But does Ipswich need a similar target man to replace Murphy? Perhaps, one on the subs bench, like Leon Best. Intriguingly, Ward and Best both played for Rotherham United last season.

As I said, it’s all about who you know!

I suspect that, if he thinks it is a possible deal for Armstrong, McCarthy will be using all his Yorkshire strength and Irish charm to bring it about.

We’ll know what is happening, when all is revealed late on Tuesday.

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Sport | | Leave a comment

The Future At Shenfield Station

There is an article on Rail Technology Magazine, which describes how Network Rail completed £14.5 million preparations for Crossrail over the bank holiday.

This is one of the comments by Andrew Gault, which describes the operation of Shenfield station after Crossrail opens.

Plus the new new bay platform (Platform 6) at Shenfield is soon to be built and once the new Platform 6 at Shenfield is built and opened then Crossrail Elizabeth Line trains will use Platforms 5 and 6 as a terminus with Platform 4 being used for Abellio Greater Anglia’s Southend Victoria trains to stop on Platform 4 freeing up Platform 3 for Semi-Fast trains and Stopping Commuter trains to Ipswich, Braintree, Colchester, Clacton-on-Sea and Intercity trains passing through Shenfield towards Norwich and Ipswich and yes Shenfield will see more passengers using Crossrail Elizabeth Line once the full service is in operation in late 2019/early 2020 and same with Abbey Wood, Reading, Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport.

Is Mr. Gault indicating that some or all fast Ipswich and Norwich trains will stop at Shenfield?

If he is correct, then it will certainly make getting to Portman Road for Tuesday Night matches a lot easier for me.

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , | 1 Comment

Ipswich Town’s title win in 1962 is a bigger underdog tale than Leicester City winning the Premier League

Who said that?

Ray Crawford, who scored thirty-three goals in Ipswich’s title win in 1962, did in this article in the East Anglian Daily Times. Crawford says this.

Town had been in Division Three South when England’s future World Cup-winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey took charge in 1955. There was promotion in ‘57, they were Division Two title winners in ‘61 and top-flight 
champions the following year. Five players were there throughout the journey.

“Leicester’s is an unbelievable story because it’s come in an era which, sadly, is dominated by money,” said Crawford. “I still think ours was a bigger achievement then theirs though.

“We were a bunch of nobodies who had never been in the top division. Everyone wrote us off. They said we didn’t have enough experience, they said we were lucky to win the Second Division and they said we were favourites to go straight back down. We didn’t have a single international until I was capped (just twice) towards the end of that season.

Ipswich declined after Sir Alf left for England. Under him, Ipswich had played a unique system suited to the players, which is what Sir Alf did to win the World Cup with England. You could argue, that Ranieri has got Leicester to play in a style that suits his players strengths and no other club has really found the answer yet!

I do wonder if Ramsey and Ranieri, who were both defenders, learned their management skills watching from the back, as the forwards wasted chances galore.

As an aside, hoe much would Chelsea or Manchester City pay for a striker, who scored thirty-three goals in a season?

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Sport | , , | 2 Comments

A Better Experience In Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes has never been my favourite place, since I used to take my late son; George, to his boarding school, which inevitably meant a trip round the endless roundabouts. I was then mugged in the city by the street furniture, that I wrote about in A Pedestrian-Unfriendly City.

So when Ipswich were playing MK Dons, I thought I’d give the city one more chance.

These are a few observations.

  • The London Midland train was filthy and swimming in beer. I would assume it was supporters going to London.
  • There is no information at Milton Keynes Central station, as to how you get to the ground.
  • Bus 1 from Milton Keynes Central station, drops you just a rather cluttered short walk from Stadium MK.
  • There are no signs or maps for Away supporters, as to what is the best route.
  • Someone told me, that if you drive to the ground, parking costs £7 and you have to pay on-line.
  • I’ve never been to a British stadium before, where burger vans and tea stalls outside the ground, were conspicuous by their absence.
  • Several of the larger restaurants outside serve gluten-free food.
  • The stadium has some of the best handrails I’ve seen in a ground.
  • Coming back I just missed a bus and had to wait half-an-hour for the next small but full bus in a freezing cold shelter. I’d have taken a taxi, but there was no sign of a taxi rank.

I’ve never seen a ground, where it is assumed that everyone comes by car or supporters coach before.

I would have been distinctly miserable if Ipswich hadn’t won!

Milton Keynes is going to have to improve the buses. The number one bus, that I caught links Stadiujm MK and Milton Keynes Hospital to the stations at Milton Keynes Central and Bletchley.

This Google Map shows the area of Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes Stations, Stadium MK And The Hospital

Milton Keynes Stations, Stadium MK And The Hospital

Milton Keynes Central station is in the North West corner, with Bletchley station st the bottom. The other station at the right is Fenny Stratford station on the Marston Vale Line, which will be incorporated into the East West Rail Link.

This map shows the route of the proposed line.

East West Rail Link

East West Rail Link

Wikipedia talks about extending the Marston Vale line to Milton Keynes Central, but although the track has been created, no trains have run.

Chiltern are also looking to extend their Aylesbury service to Milton Keynes Central via Bletchley, so hopefully this might prompt improvement in the bus services to Stdium MK and the Hospital.

I doubt it will, as Milton Keynes is one of those places where you’re a total loser, if you don’t have car and why should their taxes provide for better bus transport for the disabled, elderly and those that can’t drive.

I think we need a law in this country, that every hospital should have at least a four buses per hour direct service to the main railway and bus stations.

December 13, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment