The Anonymous Widower

LNER Tickets For Christmas Getaway

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Edition 939 of Rail Magazine.

These are the first two paragraphs.

LNER has made available thousands of Advance tickets for the festive period.

It follows research by the operator suggesting that some 48% of people are planning to travel this Christmas to see family and friends, with 30% of them looking to book at least six weeks in advance.

This is surely a good thing and will LNER eventually copy Lumo in allowing ticket purchases longer in advance?

The article says that LNER Internet enquiries and ridership are on the up, with the latter at over 90 % of pre-pandemic levels.

 

September 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

My Ticket To Ride

I’ve just picked up my ticket to ride to Edinburgh on the 27th of next month from Dalston Junction station.

All very conventional!

September 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 5 Comments

LNER’s Terrible Tickets

On my last trip on LNER to Spalding, I had to buy the tickets in the Booking Office, as I can’t get the hang of their machines at King’s Cross.

Like several other companies, they have changed to thermal tickets.

They are awful!

  • You can’t put them in a typical pocket in a wallet.
  • They curl up.
  • I constantly drop them, because my left hand doesn’t work properly.
  • Is thermal paper as environmentally-friendly as the credit-car-sized card tickets?

They should be banned as soon as possible!

 

September 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 5 Comments

ScotRail Offers 1st Class For £3 As Luxury Travel Reintroduced

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

To encourage passengers back after the pandemic, Scotrail have introduced a three pound onboard upgrade to First Class on services on Inter7City and Class 385 train services.

This sounds like a good idea!

August 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Tourism Pass To Be Explored

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

The government is to pursue plans for a new domestic rail tourism product, building on the success of products such as the BritRail pass, only available to visitors to the UK from abroad.

I am basically in agreement with the proposal, but before anything too drastic is brought forward, it might be a good idea to build on what we already have.

These are a few thoughts.

Railcards

I am surprised at the number of people I talk to, who don’t have a railcard, despite the fact, that it would save them money.

So make sure, you have the right railcard.

Rangers And Rovers

Rovers and Rangers are tickets that allow you to wander about an area on the trains for a given period.

You may often find there is a ticket that will be ideal for exploring the area, where you are staying.

Breaking Journeys

This is a rule, that many travellers don’t know about and it can be very useful.

Suppose you are going between Ipswich and Cambridge and you want to break the journey at Newmarket to have lunch with a friend.

You can buy a ticket between Ipswich and Cambridge and break your journey at Newmarket and after lunch continue your journey.

This is allowed on most trains, but I would ask someone, in case there is a problem.

London Terminals Tickets

Often tickets will be labelled something like London Terminals or Manchester Stations.

A simple example would be a return to Cambridge from London, which might be labelled London Terminals.

This means that you can use the ticket to go out from Kings Cross and come back to Liverpool Street.

The London Zone 6 Extension Ticket

Often on a trip to London travellers will buy a Travelcard for London’s local transport.

Supposing on your trip to London, you needed to make a trip outside Zone 6 to visit someone.

Not everybody knows, you can buy a ticket from the Zone 6 boundary to a station outside the zone.

Conclusion

A Rail Tourism Pass may be a good idea, but I think it’s also important, that travellers learn to use what ticketing options are already in place.

 

August 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 6 Comments

Hull Trains Seat Allocation System

When I went to Hull recently, I used Hull Trains.

 

These pictures show the train as I boarded at London Kings Cross.

When I got my ticket out of the machine, I was very surprised to see the phrase No Specified Seat on the ticket.

I queried it with one of the LNER staff and they said, it will be alright and anyway, it is nothing to do with them.

When I got to the gate, I asked the guy from Hull Trains and he said, you’ll see when you get inside and something like. “Sit in any seat with a green flag!”

You can see the coloured flags on the seats in the pictures. The different colours mean.

  • Green – For single travellers
  • Red – Do not sit here
  • Yellow – For two or more travelling together.

So I choose a window seat with a green flag on it.

Did it work?

  • There were no families, but several  pairs of travellers and I suspect about sixty percent of the seats were taken.
  • Everybody was socially distanced and either had a spare seat or someone they knew next to them.
  • At one table, I could see four guys all sitting together,
  • The system deals with no-shows and leaves their seat for someone else.

Until proven otherwise, I think it worked well.

  • I didn’t get allocated a seat, but I’m certain the system would work well if say some seats had been allocated by the booking computer.
  • Seats could also be indicated by coloured lights.
  • But as Hull Trains had only just restarted after the attack of the covids.

I had to have a quiet smile though.

My father was a master at designing production control systems and coloured cards were one of the tools in his box.

Often cards for his big customers like Belling, Dunlop and Enfield Rolling Mills were intricate and numbered creations, all produced with letterpress and his two faithful Original Heidelberg Plattern Presses.

 

Original Heidelberg

With the right gadgets in the chase, that held the type, they could number, score and perforate. You couldn’t do those operations with litho, in the 1950s and 1960s.

I hadn’t realised much about this side of my father’s work, until I met Ray Askew, whilst walking our basset hound. He had a basset too and on talking,  it turned out he had worked for Enfield Rolling Mills and it was part of his job to source production control documents and he used to design them with my father, whose firm, then printed them!

Could This System Be Used On East Coast Trains?

East Coast Trains are another First Group company like Hull Trains, who will be running services between London and Edinburgh from some time next year.

I can’t see why they could use a developed version of this system, with tri-colour lights on the seats.

East Coast Trains will be aiming for a four hour service and I suspect they’d like people to just turn up and go, so quick ticketing would be needed. A simple app, where you said how many tickets and what train and then you just turned up in time for your train would do.

 

 

October 13, 2020 Posted by | Design, Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

LNER’s Cheaper Advanced Tickets Can Be Bought Just Before You Travel

Yesterday, I had a ticket on the 15:47 train, back from Doncaster to London Kings Cross. I had bought it on-line a few days ago for £23.50.

But, I was unable to complete what I wanted to do, so found myself at Doncaster station, with three hours to wait for my train.

Usually, I buy open returns, but LNER have stopped that because of the covids!

So rather than wait, I decided to buy another ticket.

A new Off Peak Single with my Railcard would have been £60, but I found the machine could sell me an Advance Single Ticket for £31.

So I got home in time for the cricket. My ticket also got me two seats, including a window.

LNER seem to be getting their act together.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Coronavirus Pushes Switch From Cash To Card Payment

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Cash sales of tickets on the Metlink transport network in Greater Wellington will end on March 23, in a move which Metlink said was designed ‘to stay one step ahead of Covid-19 and give our passengers and staff more peace of mind’.

Should all buses, trams and trains go cash-free and contactless in the UK?

 

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Economics Of Very Light Rail Between Cromer And Sheringham

In Very Light Rail Research On Track, I reviewed an article of the same name on Railway Gazzette International.

The article ,mentioned that the route between Cromer and Sheringham stations could be run by very light rail vehicles.

Very Light Rail Vehicles

Very Light Rail vehicles are defined as weighing less than a tonne per linear metre.

  • Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) found the most efficient propulsion system, was diesel-electric hybrid with battery storage. Was it nicked from an LEVC taxi?
  • An eighteen metre long vehicle will hold 56 seating and 60 standing passengers.
  • Will turn round times at the end of a shuttle route be reduced to perhaps two minutes as the driver only has to walk eighteen metres?
  • The article doesn’t give any speed estimates for very light rail vehicles. But I suspect 50-60 mph would be possible, as this is the operating speed of a Class 399 tram-train and very much the speed of typical single-decker buses.

If seated passengers weigh 90 kilograms with baggage, bikes and buggies and standing passengers perhaps 75 kilograms, this gives a vehicle weight of around 27.5 tonnes.

I estimate that a three-car Class 755 train, with the same passenger load would weigh around 108 tonnes or about 98 tonnes empty, which is about a tonne and a half per linear metre. A single-car Class 153 train is about 1.8 tonnes per linear metre.

Very light rail vehicles appear to be considerably lighter.

Cromer And Sheringham Line

This section of the Bittern Line can be considered a branch of the main section of the line, which links Norwich and Cromer stations.

  • It is single-track.
  • There is a simple cross-over outside Cromer station
  • It is just over 3.5 miles long.
  • Sheringham station is a single platform, that has recently been extended to take four-car Class 755 trains.
  • The only intermediate station is West Runton, which is a single platform.
  • Cromer station has two platforms.
  • Trains take eight minutes to go between Sheringham and Cromer stations.
  • The average speed of the train between Sheringham and Cromer is just 26 mph.
  • The maximum speed of the route is given in Wikipedia as 75 mph. As it is fairly straight it could probably be improved.

As four trains per hour (tph) between Cromer and Sheringham would take a total of 64 minutes, it would seem to be impossible to run such a schedule with current trains, given that the driver would have to change ends eight times in an hour.

Cromer Station

This Google Map shows the two-platform Cromer station.

Note the Northern platform, which is directly connected to the route to Sheringham.

A Split Service

Operation of a split service could be as follows.

  • A shuttle using the Northern platform 2 to Sheringham via West Runton.
  • A service to Norwich using the Southern platform 1.

I suspect to save signalling costs, that the Sheringham service could be run for most of the time under the principle of one-train on the line.

Could Four tph Run Between Cromer And Sheringham?

I suspect that a driver in running shoes could squeeze four tph out of a three-car Class 755 train.

Consider.

  • Three-car trains would save 160 metres of walking over four-car trains.
  • The Class 755 trains are designed for quick stops and have fast acceleration.
  • Versions of the trains are to be fitted with batteries.
  • Two crew working together with some automation might mean that the driver doesn’t have to change ends.
  • Three tph would be easier, as it would give more time for the driver to change ends.
  • Automation with the crew having an override could surely be used.

I don’t believe it would be impossible for a system of operation for this shuttle to be run using a Class 755 train.

Certainly, three tph is easier, but four tph is much more passenger friendly.

Could Two tph Run Between Cromer And Norwich?

Currently, trains take fifty-seven minutes between Norwich and Sheringham, which means that two tph would be very complicated, but not impossible.

Running the Cromer and Sheringham section independently, would mean that the time between Cromer and Norwich could be as low as forty-six minutes.

For a start, this means that a single train could work an hourly service between Cromer and Norwich.

It probable means that two trains could run a two tph service, provided that they could pass at a suitable place, where there are two tracks, as at North Walsham or to the South of Hoverton & Wroxham station.

Possible Service Patterns

I think the ideal service pattern would be something like this.

  • Two tph between Cromer and Norwich.
  • Three or four tph between Cromer and Sheringhan.

Currently, there is an hourly service along the whole route, which needs two trains to operate.

Two tph to and from Norwich and a shuttle would only need one extra train.

Savings With Very Light Rail

There are various ways cost savings can be made.

Cost Of The Vehicle

Leasing a single very light rail vehicle will be much less than leasing even an ancient one-car Class 153 train.

Obviously, for a reliable service, a spare will be needed, if a company had several routes that could be developed using very light rail, then the spare could be shared.

It looks like Greater Anglia are also thinking about other routes, so this may be an economic proposition.

One Train On Line Operation

Cromer and Sheringham could be run with a single train shuttling between the two stations and the points set, so that no other train could use the track.

This must surely reduce signalling costs.

Track Access Charges

Lighter trains have lower track access charges.

This could be a substantial saving, especially if there were four tph in both directions.

Cost Of New Infrastructure

Some routes that will be proposed for very light rail operation will need bridges and embankments to be built.

If the maximum weight of the vehicle is lower, this must surely reduce costs, as lighter structures could be used.

Fast Turnround Times

One of the limiting factors in providing frequent services over a short branch line is the time it takes to turn the train at each end of the route.

But in a very light rail vehicle, which is only eighteen metres long, the driver can probably change cabs in under two minutes, which is of the order of the time it takes to load and unload the train with passengers.

The only high frequency shuttle service over a short route in the UK is the one between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town stations.

  • The route is just 0.8 of a mile long.
  • It is served by Class 139 trains, which are just 8.7 metres long and can carry 20–25 seated, 30–35 standing passengers.
  • Trains run every ten minutes
  • The turnround time appears to be about two minutes

It is reputed to be the shortest operational branch line in Europe.

I can’t see why, that in a well-designed very light rail vehicle that is only twice the length of a Class 139 train, that the turnround time could not be the same time of two minutes.

It probably can’t be any shorter, in case several people turn up in wheel-chairs at the same time.

If we look at the Cromer and Sheringham route, I can see the following timing being possible for a well-designed shuttle train on the route.

  • Cromer to West Runton – two minutes
  • Stop at West Runton – one minute
  • West Runton to Sheringham – two minutes
  • Turnround at Sheringham – two minutes
  • Sherington to West Runton – two minutes
  • Stop at West Runton – one minute
  • West Runton to Cromer – – two minutes
  • Turnround at Cromer – two minutes

Note.

  1. The round trip would take fourteen minutes.
  2. I have assumed that the train is running at around 50-60 mph.
  3. The West Runton stop could be by request.
  4. There is only one train on the route at all times.

The round trip could be scheduled at four tph.

It must surely be an affordable way to provide a service.

I would also do the following.

  • As at Stourbridge have a second train on standby, to guarantee a reliable service, rescue a failed train and perhaps double the capacity at busy times.
  • Services between Cromer and Sheringham would be free.
  • Cromer, West Runton and Sheringham would be part of a group called Cromer stations, like Birmingham stations and Manchester station. So to book to any of the stations, you’d buy a ticket to Cromer stations.

If the latter ideas didn’t attract passengers then nothing would.

Greater Anglia would get their revenue on the onward services from Cromer.

Could The Cromer And Sheringham Shuttle Be Extended To Holt?

If the train crosses the level crossing at Sheringham station, the track extends all the way to Holt on the North Norfolk Railway.

This Google Map shows the two stations at Sheringham on either side of the level crossing.

The National Rail station is on the East side, with the heritage railway on the West.

Some heritage railways are certified to be able to run scheduled services to and from the main rail network.

This may even be possible here, to allow a service between Cromer and Holt.

Although the North Norfolk Railway seem to run a frequent timetable, I’m sure if there was the necessary coming together, that a service that was beneficial to all parties could be arranged.

Conclusion

Very light rail could be very exciting!

February 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Overground Ticket Office Closures As 2% Of Tickets Are Bought Through Them

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in Rail Advent magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Transport for London has announced that the hours at some London Overground ticket offices will start to change over the next few weeks to match the times customers use them.

That sounds fine by me, as any company or organisation, should make best uses of resources.

It should be born in mind, that London Overground’s policy is to always have staff visible, when the trains are running.

 

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 2 Comments