The Anonymous Widower

Blackpool Tramway Is Reaching Towards The Station

On Saturday, I went to Blackpool and rode the Blackpool Tramway to Fleetwood to see Ipswich play.

This Google Map shows the current walking route between Blackpool North station and the North Pier tram stop.

Note.

  1. The station is in the North East corner of the map.
  2. The North Pier tram stop is by the North Pier!
  3. The main tram route passes North-South across the map, close to the shore end of the pier.
  4. The walk is along Talbot Road.
  5. Close to the station is a branch of Wilko.

The new tram tracks will be laid along Talbot Road and these pictures show the current progress of the new tracks.

Note.

  1. The spur is twin-track.
  2. The first two and the last pictures appear to show the tram tracks going into Wilko.
  3. The tram tracks appear to share the road with other traffic.
  4. There is a full triangular junction where the spur meets the main North-South tramway.

A few extra facts and thoughts.

What About Wilko?

The Wilko store will either be demolished or modified and the space will be used by a tram stop.

  • It will be reached by an underpass from the station.
  • I suspect it will have two platforms.
  • One platform might be for trams to the North and the others for trams to the South.
  • There will probably be a few kiosks and small shops.

Done well and it would give passengers a good welcome.

The Track Layout

The track layout with the full triangular junction and a double-track to the station gives a lot of flexibility.

  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the North.
  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the South.
  • Trams could even come from the North, reverse in the station and go out to the South! Or vice-versa!

I also think it has been designed to be ready for expansion of the Blackpool Tramway.

A Tram Stop At Talbot Square

I have found a document on the Blackpool Council web site, that says this.

A tram stop on Talbot Square would be developed while road layouts are being examined so the new scheme would interfere as little as possible with drivers.

There is certainly enough space.

Could Tram-Trains Connect At Blackpool North Station To The Blackpool Tramway?

This Google Map shows Blackpool North station and the nearby Wilko.

I think it would be possible for tram-trains to come straight through the railway station and connect to the Blackpool Tramway.

  • I would suspect that a frequency of between four and six trains per hour (tph) would be possible.
  • The Tram-trains would have a battery capability with a range of perhaps twenty or thirty miles.
  • The tram-trains would obviously come from Preston.
  • But would they go on to Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Ormskirk, Southport and/or Todmorden.

The designs of the tracks, Blackpool North station and the proposed Blackpool North tram stop, would not seem to rule out the creation of a tram-train network with the Blackpool Tramway as the Western terminus.

Tram-Trains To The South

The new tram link at Blackpool North station will link the station to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and other attractions South of the North Pier.

To not annoy and discourage visitors, the frequency should be at least six tph or one tram every ten minutes. as little Harry and little Summer won’t late any longer!

Tram-trains to and from Preston and beyond, would have the following effects.

  • A lot of visitors wouldn’t have to change between train and tram.
  • They would reinforce the service between Blackpool North station and the Southern terminus at Starr Gate.
  • They might cut the number of cars needing to park in Blackpool.
  • Blackpool would become the only place in the world where you could see heritage trams, modern trams and tram-trains using the same system.

This tram-train link would surely improve the economy of Blackpool and the \Fylde Coast.

But the tram-trains don’t need to terminate at Starr Gate.

This Google Map shows the Blackpool Tramway’s Southern terminus and depot at Starr Gate and the nearby Squires Gate station.

Note.

  1. Starr Gate Depot on the West side of the map.
  2. The turning loop for the trams outside.
  3. Squires Gate station four hundred metres to the East.

I don’t think it would be difficult to connect the two rail systems.

  • Tram-trains would be able to more freely between the Blackpool Tramway and the South Fylde Line to Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations.
  • The route between Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations is electrified.
  • The length of the section without electrification between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South stations is just over twelve miles.
  • The route West of Kirkham & Wesham station is single-track, but could probably be capable of handling more trains per hour, with some improvements like sections of double track.

I can’t see why tram-trains with a battery capability, which could be similar to those destined for the South Wales Metro, couldn’t run an extended service between Preston and the Blackpool Tramway.

  • Tram-trains would change systems at Blackpool North station and Squires Gate/Starr Gate.
  • Tram-trains would call at all stations and tramway stops in both directions.
  • A frequency of at least two tph in both directions would be my preference.
  • Tram-trains could easily handle the section without electrification on batteries charged on the existing electrification.
  • It would provide improved public transport links to the important golf course at Royal Lytham.

I also feel that running battery tram-trains on the South Fylde Line could be an affordable solution to improving public transport in the area.

Tram-Trains To The North

The same arguments that can be used to allow tram-trains to go South along the Blackpool Tramway, will also work, for allowing tram-trains to go to the North.

But there is no railway in good condition to create a loop, as can be done to the South.

Perhaps, two tram-trains per hour could go to Fleetwood Ferry tram stop and use the loop to return to Blackpool North station.

Fleetwood would regain a rail service to Preston, that appears to have been discontinued in the 1960s.

Reinstatement Of The Fleetwood Branch Line

The Association of Train Operating Companies has proposed the reopening of the Fleetwood Branch Line, which would connect Fleetwood with Poulton-le-Fylde on the electrified line to Blackpool North station.

The branch is also being developed for heritage purposes.

I do wonder though, that a tram-train solution, where tram-trains run between Preston and Fleetwood via Kirkham  & Wesham, Blackpool North and the Blsckpool Tramway, may give a higher return.

Obviously, a full study needs to be done.

Other Issues

On my trip to Fleetwood, two other issues were obvious.

A Distinct Lack Of Shelters

I took this picture, as I returned to the trams after the match.

At the time it was chucking it down!

Perhaps, they’d increase ridership, if passengers had some more shelter.

Bank Card Ticketing

I rarely carry cash these days, as I generally use contactless payments, for all payments under thirty pounds.

But on the Blackpool Tramway, you have to use cash!

That is so Nineteenth Century!

Conclusion

Blackpool Tramway can be built into a much more comprehensive and more customer-friendly tram and tram-train network.

 

 

 

 

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simpler LNER Train Fares Will Make A Single Half The Price Of A Return

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

This is a paragraph from the article, that explains what is being done.

As part of a trial London North Eastern Railway (LNER) will abolish the £1 price difference for return tickets on some routes and require passengers to buy two singles. It is designed to remove an anomaly whereby singles on some long-distance routes are overpriced in the expectation that most people will buy a return.

I’m all for it, as I often go on a wander around the UK and I’m not sure of the route, that I will take.

A couple of times, I’ve gone up to Scotland on a Sleeper, visited a few places and friends and then turned up in Edinburgh station needing to get home. I don’t generally use an Advance ticket, as I don’t want to be tied to a particular date.

I can think of lots of scenarios, where this new ticketing will be very convenient.

Yesterday, I went to the football in Ipswich.

As I do normally, I bought a zone 6 to Ipswich return to take advantage of my Freedom Pass. Sometimes, a friend brings me back to London, so to be able to buy a single ticket to Ipswich would be very useful.

 

Conclusion

This move by LNER is a good start, but we need a Universal cCntactless Ticketing scheme based on bank cards and mobile devices for the whole of the UK.

As an example, on the short London and Ipswich route, I should be able to use a contactless bank card linked to my Freedom Pass and Senior Railcard, which would automatically charge me for the cheapest fare.

If everybody could get best value Universal Contactless Ticketing with their American Express, Mastercard, Visa or mobile phone, think what the effects would be.

Many Would Not Buy Traditional Tickets

Obviously, if you wanted to buy tickets for a particular train or wanted best value, you could still buy an Advance ticket over the Internet and use it in one of the following ways.

  • As a traditional paper ticket.
  • As a download on your phone, mobile device.

It might also be associated with your bank card.

The Tyranny Of Ticketing Would Be Abolished

Suppose a close relative lived about a hundred miles from where you lived.

Taking a train to visit say your mother, might involve a lot of planning to get a keenly-priced ticket.

If you can just turn up and touch in and out and know the price of the tickets, you will probably be more likely to do the journey by train.

 

Coming back, you would not be limited to a particular train, which could mean cutting a visit short.

More People Would Travel By Train

Contactless travel has certainly boosted the use of public transport in London and it would certainly do the same for the rest of the UK.

More Passengers With Limited Mobility Would Travel

Pensioners are always quick to see a bargain and my generation of pensions are much more tech-savvy than those, who are perhaps ten years older.

Universal Contactless Ticketing will appeal to this large group of travellers.

There Would Be More Train Services And Trains

More passenger would mean that train operating companies would need to run more services and acquire more trains.

Some train operating companies are already obtaining extra trains to increase capacity and frequency.

Many Stations Will Need Updating

Quite a few stations are struggling with current passenger numbers and they are not ready for the increase in passenger numbers, that will surely happen with Universal Contactless Ticketing.

Universal Contactless Ticketing Will Promote Competition Between Train Companies

Suppose you are going from London to Birmingham for a meeting or a leisure activity.

You know because of advertising or past experience, that Chiltern is more comfortable and cheaper, than the faster Virgin.

You might travel up using Chiltern, as you can lay out your paper and give it a good read, but travel back by Virgin, as your want to get home for supper.

Universal Contactless Ticketing will enable the choice of return journey to be made at the last minute.

You might argue that companies like Greater Anglia have no competition.

But in the leisure market, the competition is twofold.

  • The private car.
  • Passengers can spend a day in the countryside or at the coast in places served by other train companies.

If Greater Anglia embraced Universal Contactless Ticketing, travellers would be more likely to use their train services.

Will Train Operating Companies Offer More Special Deals?

In the next couple of years, Greater Anglia have said they will bring in the following new services, amongst others.

  • A third hourly service between London and Norwich via Ipswich.
  • Four direct trains per day between London and Lowestoft.
  • A direct hourly service between Norwich and Stansted.

With Universal Contactless Ticketing, it would be easy to ofer promotional fares or offers to promote these new routes.

Will Fare Prices Go Up Or Down?

London has been able to bring in various cost-saving measures, like the closure of Ticket Offices.

The Mayor has decided to spend all saving and more on a fare freeze. As his decision, was more about politics and winning an election, make of that what you will.

Whether we like it or not, and some politicians on the Left don’t, Universal Contactless Ticketing will happen sooner rather than later.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

An Early Bird Catches A Train!

I needed to go to Norwich today, so I caught the 06:00 out of Liverpool Street.

It cost me just £6.60 and arrives a few minutes early!

I also bought the ticket yesterday afternoon!

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Do Tourists To The UK Get Bad Advice On How To Use The Trains?

I travelled out to Oxford with a Chinese family from Hong Kong.

  • They were going to Oxford and home via Bicester Village.
  • They had actually flown into Edinburgh and after spwnding a few days in the City, they had taken the train to London, where they were spending another few days.
  • They were going to spend a day in Paris using Eurostar.

I think they had booked most of the tickets in Hong Kong before they left.

Knowing, what I know about ticketing, I would have organised things a bit differently.

Family And Friends Railcard

Purchase of a Family and Friends Railcard can give discounts for a one-off fee of £30.

To find out ticket orices with the Family and Friends Railcard web site.

Splitting A Journey

Most tickets other than Advance tickets allow the ticket holder to break a journey and then carry on later.

Because I am a coeliac and need gluten-free food, if I’m travelling a long distance, I may break the journey in say Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds or Manchester, where I know I can get a quality gluten-free meal.

Tourists might want to break a journey between Edinburgh and London at York or Durham. This is possible on an Off Peak or Anytime ticket.

Tickets To Or From Stations Or Terminals

This ticket is a First Class Off Peak ticket between Manchester Stations and London Terminals, using Any Permitted Route.

I actually used it between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston stations, but I could have used the ticket to go via Birmingham and then take Chiltern Railways from Birmingham to London Marylebone.

I think the general rule is if your ticket is marked Any Permitted Route and you keep going in the same direction, most routes are possible.

I always ask first, as some companies have different rules.

Visiting Bicester Village, Oxford And Windsor In One Day

The Hong Kong family I met were visiting Oxford and Bicester Village.

The best way to do this is to make sure you have a Day Return ticket  between London Terminals and Oxford, which is marked Any Permissible Route.

This will enable you to do the following three journeys.

  • London Paddington to Oxford.
  • Oxford to Bicester Village
  • Bicester Village to London Marylebone.

With a Railcard, this ticket will cost £18.10.

If you want to visit Windsor, this can be done on the outward journey, by splitting the trip at Slough. There is a branch line to Windsor at Slough worked by a shuttle train, which costs £1.90 for a return trip with a Railcard.

Ranger And Rover Tickets

Check these tickets out, if you’re staying in a town or city for a few days, as they may be a cheaper option.

The various Rovers and Rangers are detailed on this web page.

London

The Oyster card in London is dying.

  • But don’t worry, as the same prices are available by using a contactless bank card.
  • Contctless bank cards have the same daily and weekly cap as Oyster.
  • Contactless bank cards also work on the Underground, Overground, buses, Docklands Light Railway and the Emirates Air Line.
  • You can now use contactless bank cards at London City, Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton Airports.
  • If you want to use Gatwick and Heathrow Express services, these can be accessed using contactless ticketing too!

It appears there are very few complaints.

If you want to read a detailed analysis of London ticketing, read this page on the Finding The Universe web site.

Summing-Up

I shall be adding to this page, as it is only a rough general guide.

Use the Contact form to send any suggestions or questions.

 

 

 

July 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

And The Wires Came Tumbling Down!

Today, I intended to go to Doncaster on the 11:03 train to Leeds from Kings Cross.

I had intended to travel in First on an Azuma, to see what the quality was like.

So I booked an Advance ticket online for around £50.

But then the train didn’t run, as the wires had come tumbling down!

This must be the third time, I’ve been affected by faulty overhead wires on the East Coast Main Line in the last few years.

In one case, we were delayed for about two hours and in the other, it didn’t affect me for long, as I was in an InterCity 125, which drove through the problem.

I have lost my fifty pounds, as you take the risk with an Advance Ticket.

Conclusion

The electrification on the East Coast Main Line seems to be built and maintained by morons.

Next time, I take the train on the East Coast Main Line, I’ll check trains are running before buying a ticket.

 

 

May 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 13 Comments

Mayor Drops Plans To Close London Overground Ticket Offices

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The Mayor of London has dropped plans to close ticket offices at 51 London Overground stations.

Busy stations will continue to operate as usual, though many will have opening hours reduced to just two-and-a-half hours per day, City Hall said.

Although the Unions objected to the Mayor’s original plans and this has probably prompted the Mayor’s U-turn, I think that staff in ticket offices will disappear within perhaps five years.

The only time, I see anyone use the Ticket Office at Dalston Junction station, is probably to sort out a ticketing issue with the machines, which are becoming increasingly rare, as Transport for London are increasing their numbers and replacing older machines with better designs.

Also as Dalston Junction is a busy station, there is usually someone manning the gate-line, who can help.

But over the next few years, the following will happen.

  • More and more passengers will use contactless ticketing with bank cards.
  • Contactless ticketing will expand widely, so that for most journeys in the UK, you would just touch-in and touch-out.
  • Oyster will cease to be used and be withdrawn.
  • Gateline technology will get better.
  • Staff working on the gateline and platforms, will be better equipped with mobile technology to sort out problems.
  • Ticket machines will develop into sophisticated multi-language help points.
  • Cash will disappear from daily life and stations.
  • Train companies will continue to be short of drivers and will look for other staff that can be retrained.

On a related note, increasingly, London Underground and Overground are being targeted by organised gangs of beggars. This means they need more staff on the gateline to control the problem.

I can see a time, when working in a ticket office will be a very lonely and boring job, that no-one will want to do.

So like the dinosaurs, they will just die out!

 

 

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Rip-Off Ticketing At Bremen Hauptbahnhof

I am experienced user of Deutsche Bahn and generally buy my tickets at one of their reliable machines.

Note that queuing up at a Ticket Office sometimes takes up to thirty minutes and quite frankly I have better and more important thingfs to do with my life.

This picture shows a typical German ticket.

The two stations; Buxtehude and Cuxhaven are clearly shown.

But imagine my surprise at Bremen Hauptbahnhof, when the ticket machine dispensed this.

It is about one by four centimetres and the only readable writing on the front is EErw.

  • Does it look like a ticket to you?
  • There were no notices up about the change of ticket.
  • How do you sort out today’s ticket from yesterday’s?
  • What if you’re partially sighted?

I thought the machine had failed and curt off the ticket early.

So I tried again. With the same result!

I then tried the Ticket Office for an explanation, but the guy just played stumm, as Deutsche Bahn employees always do, when they know, there’s been a customer relations failure.

I did ascertain, that I had to put the ticket in a machine to validate it before travelling.

I did think about not doing this, so that I would get arrested on the train, but in the end, I can’t remember whether I did.

However, as tickets were not checked on the train, it didn’t matter.

It is the most arrogant system of ticketing I’ve ever found.

When I got home, I found I had been charge for two tickets.

My bank;Nationwide are trying to refuse one of the psyments.

I’ll update this post, to give you the result of their argument.

 

 

 

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

DfT Urged To Make Operators Reveal If Trains Are Electric Or Diesel Due To Carbon Concerns

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on |Engineering And Technology.

This is the first paragraph.

Nearly half of rail passengers would like to know how their trains are powered according to a new poll of 1,025 regular rail users from train ticket retailer Loco2.

I think that loco2 are on the right track.

London And Birmingham

For instance take the route between London and Birmingham, where you have three different train operators.

  • Virgin Trains – 125 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Fast, cramped and the most expensive
  • West Midland Trains – 110 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Slower, more space and reasonably priced
  • Chiltern Railways – 100 mph diesel trains between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations – Slower, most comfortable and reasonable priced

If I need to get to Birmingham in a hurry, a use Virgin, but if I want a comfortable journe at a lower pricey, where I can spread my paper on a large table, I take Chiltern.

Those that pay the money make their choice.

Knowing the carbon footprint might persuade some passengers to take a particular train operating company, but I think it would have an effect on train operating companies, if they were perceived to have a low carbon rating.

In my example, the only diesel operator of the three; Chiltern Railways, probably can’t switch to electric traction, as electrifying the route would be prohibitively expensive.

  • They can offset their carbon footprint, by perhaps planting trees.
  • There will also be technology that will cut their diesel consumption.

After that it’s down to the strength of their marketing.

London And Scotland

The competition for trains between London and Scotland is the airlines.

Publishing carbon footprints would favour the trains, as there is a lot of electrification on Scottish routes.

The Man In Seat 61 gives his view on this page of his web site.

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | 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

They’re Supposed To Be No Frills Airlines

I am going to Switzerland next week and needed a ticket from Geneva to London to get back.

The process to buy a ticket has grown from a simple choose a flight, put in passenger details and pay, to a complete conversation with the Devil.

I don’t want a hotel, car hire, to pay extra for anything, so please can we have a secret door to by-pass all that junk?

And whilst I’m at it, why not abolish duty-free, as this slows down boarding and costs everybody on their ticket.

I would have taken the train back, but Eurostar is almost sold out and I might not have the flexibility I need in Switzerland.

At least Eurostar has a fairly streamlined booking.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment