The Anonymous Widower

New Express Bus Improves Links Between Skelmersdale And Liverpool

The title of this post, is the same as that of this news item from Lancashire County Council.

This is the sub-heading.

A new bus service launched this week makes it quicker and easier to travel between Skelmersdale and Liverpool using public transport.

And these are the first two paragraphs.

The 319 Trainlink service, operated by Stagecoach on behalf of Lancashire County Council, runs between Skelmersdale Concourse, Kirkby railway station and Kirkby bus station for onward transport links into Liverpool reducing the travel time between Skelmersdale and Liverpool Central Station to under 50 minutes.

The express service, which launched on Sunday 22 January, operates every 30 minutes throughout the day Monday to Saturday, and every hour in the evening. There is also an hourly service on Sundays. Buses are timed to connect with Merseyrail train services from early ’til late.

Note.

  1. Once the new Headbolt station opens, it will serve that station.
  2. The express bus service has started two days before Merseyrail introduce their new Class 777 trains.
  3. I hope the quality of the buses are up to that of the new trains.
  4. The service is probably the best that can be done, until a train service is built.
  5. There will be integrated fare options between Skelmersdale and Liverpool.

Transport planners need to do more to use buses to extend train services.

January 24, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Long Journey Home

A friend had booked between London and Edinburgh today on the 13:00 LNER train from King’s Cross. She was also travelling with her miniature Schnauzer.

.We had arranged to meet at Marylebone, so I could help them across London to King’s Cross and have a much-needed hot chocolate in King’s Cross before they caught the train North and I went to a meeting organised by my cardiologist.

I had checked out King’s Cross earlier and there was trouble with srveral delayed and cancelled trains.

It wasn’t strikes or bad management from LNER and the problem is explained in this article from the Yorkshire Evening Post, which is entitled Trains From Leeds To London Cancelled Or Delayed After Thieves Steal Signalling Cables From Railway Tracks.

In the end we made the train in time and also had time to have a hot chocolate in LEON, whilst we sat out the back with the dog.

We were texting each other most of the afternoon and with assistance from Real Time Trains, the journey went as follows.

  • The train left King’s Cross at 13:08, which was eight minutes late.
  • By Peterborough, the train was running seventeen minutes late. 
  • The driver kept this delay until Retford, where he lost another eighty minutes.
  • The train was now running 97 minutes late and this grew by four more minutes by Newcastle.
  • My friend reported that they stopped at Newcastle, as they had no driver.
  • In the end, LNER found a driver or a way for the current driver to continue to Edinburgh and the train left Newcastle after a thirty minute stop.
  • The train was now two hours and ten minutes late.
  • Eventually, it pulled into Edinburgh, two hours and five minutes late, after the driver had picked up a few minutes on the approach to Edinburgh.

Note.

  1. The incoming train that formed this service arrived in King’s Cross from Edinburgh seventy two minutes late, mainly because of the cable theft. It should have arrived and returned to Edinburgh an hour earlier. But it arrived conveniently to form the 13:00 to Scotland.
  2. As the train presentation team turned the train in nineteen minutes instead of twenty-one, they saved a couple of minutes.
  3. I suspect the delay at Retford was getting through the area without any signalling.
  4. Had the driver run out of hours by Newcastle, as he had been in the cab for four-and-a-half hours?
  5. Normally, four-and-a-half hours would have enabled the driver to have driven to Edinburgh.

These are my thoughts.

Cable Theft

In the days of British Rail, I did some work for British Rail using my software called Daisy, which led to a report entitled Failure Reporting And Analysis On British Rail, which was written by J. S. Firth CEng, MIEE, MIRSE, who worked for SigTech, which was a Business Unit of the British Railways Board.

If anybody who has a legitimate reason to read the report, I still have the complimentary copy sent to me by Mr. Firth and would be happy to provide a copy.

I did flag up a project called Unauthorised Cable Removal And Fault Triage, as one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition organised by the Dept of BEIS.

If there is anything I can do to help, let me know.

Problems In France

A friend in France told me that there is a problem with stealing overhead electrification cables in France.

This article on RFI is entitled Copper Wire Thieves Force France’s High-Speed TGV To Go Slow.

There are several similar stories on French and other European web sites.

Signalling Using Radio

The East Coast Main Line is being signalled using modern ERTMS digital signalling, where drivers read the signals on an in-cab display, which is connected by radio to the signalling system.

This extract from Wikipedia describes the first project.

In June 2020 it was reported that the UK government would provide £350 million to fund the UK’s first digital signalling system on a long-distance rail route. The signalling is to be fitted on a 100-mile (161 km) section of the East Coast Main Line between Kings Cross, London, and Lincolnshire, which will allow trains to run closer together and increase service frequency, speed and reliability. No date for when the new technology, already in use on the Thameslink lines at London Bridge and some London Underground lines, has been given.

If the cables are removed will this reduce crime?

LNER Delay Repay

My friend will be entitled for a full refund of her single ticket.

This page on the LNER web site gives full details.

Note.

  1. You have 28 days to claim.
  2. If you have a return ticket, you may be entitled to something for that leg of the journey.

I would add, that you should always keep all your tickets, in case the return journey goes belly-up.

December 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Affordable Trip To Doncaster

If you want to get a train, the way to not get a cheap ticket was to turn up at the last minute and buy a single ticket to your destination.

But not any more.

On Wednesday, I needed to go to Doncaster.

  • I knew that the latest train, that I could catch to get me to my meeting on time, was the 13:03, so I arrived at Kings Cross about 12:30.
  • I tried to buy on the ticket machine, but I unable to complete the transaction.
  • In the end, I got an Advance Single ticket with my Senior Railcard for £22.60 from the Booking Office.
  • I had two backward-facing seats to myself, as the train, which was going to Leeds wasn’t very full.
  • Coming South later in the day, I repeated the exercise in the Booking Office at Doncaster for £23.85.
  • The train was full, but I did have a seat with a table.

I consider just under fifty pounds to be good value for the return journey.

I’m fairly sure, that this is a method being used by LNER to fill seats. as after all, forty tickets at an average of £25 a time is a grand.

I think we should applaud, what they are doing.

It should be remembered that LNER are facing increasing competition on the route, including against planes to Newcastle and Edinburgh.

I went to King’s Cross this morning and had a play with the ticket machine. I could have bought tickets as follows.

  • Edinburgh – £52.10
    Hull – £27.05
    Leeds – £32.90
    Newcastle – £51.50
    All trains included a seat reservation and left within half an hour.

Note that the Hull ticket was a direct one on Hull Trains, that I could have bought on an LNER machine.

 

November 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Should Oyster Be Combined With A Freedom Pass?

Consider.

  • This morning I wanted an early start, so to get to Moorgate, I left before 0900, which meant I couldn’t use my Freedom Pass on the buses and Underground.
  • So I used my Oyster Card, which still had some money on it.
  • After breakfast, it was nearly ten, so I swapped my card back to the Freedom Pass.

I believe it would be more convenient, if I had one card that handled both ticketing modes. It would be an Oyster card, but when I used it outside of the morning Peak, the card wouldn’t be charged.

October 18, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Great Western Railway Get Innovative

This article on Rail Advent, which is entitled Great Western Railway Trial New Long Weekender Ticket Between London Paddington, Bristol And South Wales, caught my eye.

This is the Long Weekender page on the Great Western Railway web site.

This seems to be the basic rule.

Leave on a Friday or Saturday, return on a Monday and save over 60% compared to an Anytime Return.

You can also apply your Railcard.

This sounds very useful to me.

As an example, I spent an enjoyable couple of days in Swansea, where I explored the area on the rail network. This could be made to fit in with one of these tickets, even if it meant buying a return from Cardiff.

I shall investigate further, as the website booking doesn’t seem to know about the Long Weekender ticket.

I visited Paddington this afternoon and asked one of those guys in a green uniform.

He told me that at the moment you have to buy them in the Booking Office and that they will be available on the web site.

He also thought they were a good idea.

There is also this post on Ian Visits, which is entitled GWR Launches “Long Weekend” Train Tickets.

Ian says this.

GWR added that if the trial of the Long Weekender proves successful, it will be extended to other parts of the network.

Does that mean GWR’s or the National network?

September 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Advance Single From London To York For £32.90 Bought An Hour Before The Train Left

I went to York and Manchester yesterday.

I had been planning to do this trip for a week or so, but as I have lots of other things to do, I didn’t want to decide on a date.

So on Monday, I went to King’s Cross and investigated how much a London to York single ticket would cost.

I was surprised to find, that if I bought it last minute from a ticket machine with a Senior Railcard, that travelling about eleven in the morning I could get a ticket for £55 on the 11:06, which is a service that terminates at York, but is a few minutes slower.

Everything was clear for a trip yesterday and just after ten, I turned up at King’s Cross.

The machine offered me tickets at £81.90 on the 10:30 and 11:00 services, but I was able to get a ticket for £32.90 on the 11:06.

I was also able to ask for and get a forward-facing window seat with a table.

It looks like LNER are trying to sell as many seats as possible and they have developed, an algorithm that does this.

If I look at buying a ticket for today on the 11:06 on the Internet, I’m offered the following prices.

  • Advance Single – £32.90
  • Super Off-Peak Single – £81.90
  • Anytime Single – £94.35

There is even a First Class Advance Single at £45.90.

Conclusion

It pays to do your research.

It looks like a one-way journey by an electric car would take four hours and cost around £20.

August 10, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

My First Ride On The Midland Metro To Edgaston Village

I went to Birmingham today and took the Midland Metro to its new terminus at Edgbaston Village.

I have a few thoughts.

The Edgbaston Village Tram Stop

The Edgbaston Village tram stop is the new terminus of Line 1 of the West Midlands Metro, which is shown in the first eight pictures.

  • The station has two tracks and two platforms, which would obviously allow extension to a new terminus.
  • Plans exist for a terminus at Quinton, according to Wikipedia.
  • As each platform could probably handle between four and six trams per hour (tph), the current layout could probably handle up to 12 tph.
  • The Edgbaston Village tram stop is fully wired.
  • I watched three or four trams come and go and both platforms are used.

As the pictures show there is still work to do and it looks like this will create a bus stop on the main road by the side of the main road.

Edgbaston Village Tram Stop To Edgbaston Stadium

This Google Map shows the area between the tram stop and the stadium.

Note.

  1. The Edgbaston Village tram stop is on the A456 to the North of the of the red arrow marking Edgbaston Village in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Edgbaston stadium is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. I estimate that the distance between the tram stop and the stadium is a little over two kilometres.

I have a feeling there are more direct routes by bus, but I feel that for many people, who take the tram to Edgbaston Village. the walk wouldn’t be too much, especially with a refreshment stop.

Brindleyplace

The tram now gives access to Brindleyplace, where I had lunch.

Note in the the pictures of this stop, there are overhead wires.

Library Tram Stop

Library tram stop is now a through stop, as the pictures show.

Charging Trams At The Edgbaston Village Tram Stop

Not all trams seem to put their pantograph up, so I would assume a double trip between Grand Central and Edgbaston Village is possible on a full battery, that has been charged on the trip from Wolverhampton, with a bit of assistance on the wires through Brindleyplace tram stop.

The Dreaded Advertising Wrap

One of the trams I rode, had one of those dreaded advertising wraps, that ruin the view from the tram.

When will the dunderheads, who decide these things, that to many travellers on trams, they are a complete no-no.

Whenever, I arrive in a new city, I will often take a city-centre tram to get a feel of the city.

When I see advertising wraps on trams, I don’t.

Ticketing

If you go to Liverpool, which has no trams, the term Liverpool Stations on your train ticket includes the stations on the Wirral Loop, so you can get to any of the stations in the City Centre.

Manchester Stations, on a ticket also allows you to get around the city, when you first arrive.

London allows you add a Travelcard to your ticket, but because of contactless ticketing, you don’t need to.

A common scenario for visitors to Birmingham, is probably to use the tram to get somewhere in Zone 1.

So I had to buy an all-day Zone 1 ticket on the tram, which cost me £2.80

This is not good enough.

My preference would be to create a destination called Zone 1 Birmingham, which would allow unlimited trips in Zone 1 on the trams.

Sort it out Birmingham!

 

July 26, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

A Trip To Northfleet

Yesterday, I went to Northfleet station.

Partly, it was to have a drink with my old friend; Ian, but mainly it was to take some pictures to add to Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion.

Normally, when I go to see Ian I take the HighSpeed service out of St. Pancras.

But this service is expensive and as I was leaving from Moorgate, I decided to take the Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood and get a train to Northfleet station instead.

I have a few thoughts on my journey.

Cost

I used my Freedom Pass to Abbey Wood and then bought an Off Peak Day Return between Abbey Wood and Northfleet for just £4.95 with a Senior Railcard.

Convenience

As you have to use one of the bridges at Abbey Wood to change to and from the Elizabeth Line, I used the one at the station end and popped through the barrier to buy my onward ticket from a machine.

Surely, Freedom Passes should be linked to a bank account, so if you want to stray outside Zone 6, you are automatically charged.

Elizabeth Line Messages On Southeastern

At Swanscombe station today, whilst waiting for my Thameslink train to take me back to Abbey Wood, I noticed that the displays were telling passengers to change at Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth Line.

You certainly wouldn’t use the dreadful Swanscombe station with heavy cases, but stations like Abbey Wood, Dartford, Gravesend and others would enable granny or grandpa to take a sensible-size wheeled case to Heathrow Airport with reasonable ease, once the Elizabeth Line becomes a fully-connected railway between Abbey Wood and Heathrow.

Onward Trains At Abbey Wood

There are two easy onward Thameslink tph at Abbey Wood, that run at sixteen and forty-six minutes past the hour.

You can also take the first Dartford train and then take the first train from there.

If you get the Thameslink train from Abbey Wood timings are as follows.

  • Slade Green – 6 minutes
  • Dartford – 11 minutes
  • Stone Crossing – 16 minutes
  • Greenhithe – 18 minutes
  • Swanscombe – 21 minutes
  • Northfleet – 23 minutes
  • Gravesend – 27 minutes
  • Higham – 33 minutes
  • Strood – 39 minutes
  • Rochester – 42 minutes
  • Chatham – 45 minutes
  • Gillingham – 50 minutes
  • Rainham – 55 minutes

Note.

  1. There are also two Southeastern tph between Charing Cross and Gravesend, but they don’t serve Abbey Wood.
  2. The timings appeared sensible in my two trips; yesterday and today.
  3. Travellers also have a choice in that they can use the more expensive HighSpeed services to selected stations.

After just missing a Thameslink train today by a few seconds, and then had to wait thirty minutes for the next train, I am convinced that there needs to be a four tph service between Abbey Wood and Rainham.

Four tph Between Rainham And Abbey Wood

In Crossrail Ltd Outlines Plan To Complete The Elizabeth Line, I said this about Western branch services.

When Crossrail is fully open, the Western Branch frequencies are planned to be as follows.

  • Reading and Abbey Wood – 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood – 4 tph all day.
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day.

This includes 6 tph between Heathrow and Abbey Wood all day.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet is proposing that the South-Eastern branch will terminate as follows.

  • 4 tph – Abbey Wood
  • 4 tph – Northfleet
  • 4 tph – Gravesend

So will this mean that the six tph to Heathrow will be split equally between Abbey Wood, Northfleet and Gravesend, with two Heathrow tph terminating at each terminal?

The North Kent Metro

My naive mind thinks, why don’t the two Heathrow and Gravesend services terminate at Rainham?

This would give the following.

  • The minimum four tph between Abbey Wood and Rainham.
  • Rainham should be able to turnback for tph.
  • Services would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.

North Kent would have its own metro running under London Overground rules.

It could even start as soon as Class 345 trains are allowed to run to Rainham.

Airport Connect

Consider

  • The Elizabeth Line service between Abbey Wood and Rainham could serve Heathrow at its Western end.
  • The Thameslink service would serve Luton Airport Parkway.
  • Both services would serve Liverpool Street for the Stansted Express and services to and from Southend Airport.
  • Both services would serve Farringdon for services to and from Gatwick Airport.
  • An extra station at Silvertown could serve London City Airport.
  • In future, there could even be a connection to High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

One service on the Elizabeth Line would connect all these together.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LNER Launches International Website Making Travel Simpler For Overseas Tourists

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on LNER.

These four paragraphs describe the new website.

The new website coincides with the removal of pre-departure testing and quarantine rules for vaccinated people arriving in England or Scotland from 11 February 2022.

In a move that expands LNER’s global market, customers in 10 countries, including China, Japan, Spain, South Korea and Italy, are among the first to benefit when booking directly online.

LNER’s new search and booking engine offers international customers in those countries an option to purchase train tickets using their language and currency. The LNER.co.uk website will automatically detect those customers who are searching outside of the UK and will redirect them to the customised site to improve their online booking experience. The website launch comes as LNER reintroduces its full timetable, excluding pre-planned engineering works, meaning customers can discover destinations across the full 956-miles of East Coast route.

LNER has been working with travel tech company and rail retailer, Omio, to develop the site, which has the capability to operate in up to 20 languages and 26 currencies, including Euros, Korean Won and Japanese Yen or by using a payment method recognised in the home country.

Surely, if you run a travel company, your web site must be accessible to buy tickets from everywhere.

February 20, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

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