The Anonymous Widower

A Short Cruise At Greenwich

I had taken the Emirate air-line to North Greenwich with friends and we decided we needed to go to the Cutty Sark.

So we took one of the Thames Clippers, from where I took these pictures.

About the pictures.

  • The first pictures show Greenwich Power Station, which generates electricity for Transport for London on a standby basis. It must be one of oldest power stations still producing electricity, although nowadays it doesn’t use coal, but six massive gas turbines.
  • The rest of the pictures show the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.

The trip between the two piers took only a few minutes.

A Tourist Route Between Bank/London Bridge/Tower of London And Maritime Greenwich

I do this route on a sunny day, when I perhaps want to show a guest around London.

  • Take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Bank or Tower Gateway stations to Royal Victoria station.
  • Take the Emirate Air-Line across the Thames to Greenwich. Peninsular
  • North Greenwich isn’t overloaded with attractions, unless you’re seeing a show or event at the O2. But it’s getting better!
  • Take the Thames Clipper one stop to Greenwich. They run every twenty minutes.

If you want to be boring you can always catch the DLR to Cutty Sark station.

A few points.

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway is often thought by Londoners, commuters and visitors as a bit of a Cinderella.

However, like Cinderella she works hard all day and provides reliable and efficient transport, where the only alternatives are buses, bicycles,  taxis and Shank’s pony.

Just after the 2012 Olympics, I met a big cheese in Transport for London on a DLR train. He felt that the DLR had been the star in getting everybody to the games.

It must be one of the most successful light railways in the world!

And yet, no-one has ever thought to build another running on the same principles.

  • Mainly elevated track.
  • Mainly step-free stations
  • Universal step-free train-to-platform access.
  • High-visibility trains for passengers.
  • Trains every three or four minutes.
  • Friendly, interested, visible staff.
  • Driverless operation with a train captain looking after passengers and driving in emergency.
  • Contactless ticketing

Perhaps the lack of a full-time driver on every train, means that many other places would have massive union problems.

Emirates Air-Line

I’ve taken many people on the Emirates Air-Line and few haven’t been impressed.

The best time in my view is just as the sun sets, as these pictures show.

Note that unless you want a souvenir ticket, just use your bank card to touch-in and touch-out! My last one-way trip cost me £3.50 and appeared on my credit card statement labelled TFL TRAVEL CH Conractactless.

Thames Clippers

Since I moved back to London in 2010, the Thames Clippers have been continuously expanding and improving.

  • .Five new boats have been delivered since the Olympics.
  • Several piers have been improved, rebuilt or added in recent years.
  • Cpmtactless ticketing can be used for all services. Payments are labelled THAMES CLIPPERS.

It should be noted that if you are a holder of a London Freedom Pass, you can get a discount on tickets at a machine.

Plans exist for the following.

  • Extending the route to new housing developments at Barking and Thamesmead in the East.
  • A new pier at Silvertown in October 2019, which could have a walking or bus link to the City Airport.

I can also see the following.

  • Extensions to the West past Putney Pier to places like new housing at Brentford and Kew Gardens.
  • Further extensions to the East to support the massive housing developments.
  • Better connections to the London Underground, London Overground and National Rail stations.
  • More use being made of the Thames Barrier as a tourist attraction.
  • Thames Clippers becoming a river tube line.
  • Thames Clippers appearing on the Tube map, just as the Emirate Air-Line does!
  • A quick and easy connection between the City Airport, Canary Wharf and the Cities of London and Westminster being developed.

The last would surely appeal to City businessmen and those wanting to celebrate a special event.

If Venice can run a boat between the Airport, and St. Mark’s Square why can’t London do the equivalet?

Crossrail

Crossrail is the Elephant-in-the-Room, that will surely make its presence felt along the South Bank of the Thames, when it is extended to Ebbsfleet, as it surely will be.

  • There will be a short walking interchange at Woolwich between Crossrail and the Tghames Clippers.
  • If Crossrail build a station at Silvertown for London City Airport, this could be another interchange.
  • If Crossrail eventually terminates at Gravesend, there could even be possibilities that far East.

The possibilities of designing the Crossrail Extension in conjunction with the Thames could open up the river has as both a leisure attraction and a transport artery.

Conclusion

London will reach towards the sea, to further enhance and add space to the undoubted Capital of the World!

 

 

A

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting To The Proposed Morecambe Eden Project By Train

I originally wrote this post as part of Thoughts On The Morecambe Bay Eden Project, in August 2018, but I now feel it is better as a standalone post!

Current Train SAervices To Morecambe

Morecambe is served by the Morecambe Branch Line, This diagram from Wikipedia, shows how Morecambe is well-connected to Lancaster and the West Coast Main Line.

Note.

  1. The line has two stations in the town at Bare Lane and Morecambe and another at the nearby Heysham Port.
  2. Service between Morecambe and Lancaster seems to have a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) and a journey time of around ten minutes.
  3. There are also upwards of three services a day to and from Skipton and Leeds, which reverse at Lancaster.

I don’t think that a train every half-hour, is sufficient to serve a major attraction.

Possible Expansion Of The Train Service

As both Bare Lane and Morecambe stations have two platforms and there used to be extra tracks along the route, I think it would be possible to create a railway system to Morecambe that could include.

  • Two tph to and from Lancaster.
  • Trains to and from Leeds via Lancaster, Carnforth, Hellifield for the Settle & Carlisle Railway and Skipton
  • Trains to and from Windermere via Lancaster, Carnforth and Oxenholme Lake District.
  • Trains to and from Carlisle via Lancaster, Carnforth, Barrow and the Cumbrian Coast Line.

There is tremendous scope to expand rail services in an area of scenic beauty, that includes the Lake District and the Pennines.

Creating an iconic attraction at Morecambe could be a catalyst to develop the rail services in the wider area.

A decent rail service with good provision for bicycles and wheelchairs, might also encourage more tourism without the need for cars.

The West Coast Main Line And High Speed Two

The West Coast Main Line, which will also be used by High Speed Two trains in the future goes between Lancaster and Carlisle.

  • Trains to and from Morecambe, Windermere and Barrow will have to share with the 125 mph trains on the West Coast Main Line.

For this reason, I feel that the specification for local trains must be written with care.

Battery Trains Between Morecambe And Lancaster

In my view, the short Morecambe and Windermere Branch Lines are ideal for services that use battery trains, which would charge the batteries on the electrified West Coast Main Line.

  • All trains between Lancaster and Morecambe could use battery power.
  • Morecambe to Windermere could even be a 125 mph electric train on the West Coast Main Line, that used batteries on the short branch lines at either end.

Consider

  • Bombardier are talking about a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries. Diesel power would not be needed, so add more batteries.
  • Battery trains are talking about ranges of thirty miles, in a few years.
  • Batteries would be charged on the West Coast Main Line.
  • The trains would not be slow enough to interfere with the expresses on the West Coast Main Line.

How cool is that?

The battery-powered trains would surely fit in well with the message of the Eden Project.

Hydrogen-Powered Trains Between Morecambe And Leeds

In my view these routes would be ideal for environmentally-friendly hydrogen-powered trains.

  • Morecambe and Leeds
  • Lancaster and Carlisle via Barrow and Workington
  • Carlisle and Newcastle
  • Carlisle and Leeds via the Settle and Carlisle Line.

All passenger trains in Cumbria would be zero-carbon.

Conclusion

Morecambe and the Eden Project could be at the centre of an extensive zero-carbon rail network.

These major cities would have direct electric trains to Lancaster, which would be a short local train ride away.

  • Birmingham
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Manchester

All journeys could be zero-carbon.

July 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Promoting The Highland Main Line

On Wednesday, the Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership were in Kings Cross station promoting the Highland Main Line as a tourism destination.

I very much agree with the Partnership’s objective of encouraging more visitorsto the Scottish Highlands.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership Web Site

The Partnership were giving out an excellent brochure brochure which documents the wide range of attractions along the line between Perth and Inverness.

The Highland Main Line Community Rail Partnership web site has an on-line copy of the brochure.

The web site is also a valuable resource about the line and the area.

An Improving Domestic Rail Service

There is an approximately two-hourly service between Perth and Inverness and it is planned that this will be improved in the next couple of years.

  • Reducing journey times is an objective.
  • An hourly service is also an objective.
  • Inter7City trains, which are shortened, refurbished and modernised InterCity 125 trains will be introduced.

This service will enable visitors to base themselves close to one of the stations along the line and use the trains to visit other places.

Azumas To Inverness

LNER currently run InterCity 125 trains between London and Inverness

  • There is a single service each day in both directions.
  • The Northbound train leaves London at midday.
  • The Southbound train leaves Inverness just before eight in the morning.
  • The journey currently takes around eight hours.
  • The trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.

The service needs two trains to run one train per day in both directions.

LNER have just launched the new Class 800 trains, which they are marketing as Azumas.

My observations show that Azumas could save between thirty and sixty minutes on the trip.

The following improvements will all help.

  • Improvements to the Highland Main Line.
  • Steo-free access between train and platform at all stations.
  • Faster acceleration and deceleration at all stops.
  • Electrification to Stirling and possibly as far as Perth.
  • As digital signalling is introduced South of Edinburgh, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible.

Many of these improvements are currently planned and most will be completed by 2024.

This video was one I made travelling in the cab of an InterCity 125.

Will LNER invite to take one from an Azuma?

The Possibility Of Extra Services

The journey time between London and Inverness will surely get shorter in the next few years.

If say it was seven hours, then allowing an hour for cleaning, loading supplies and refuelling in Inverness would mean that a round trip from London would take fifteen hours.

  • A train leaving Kings Cross station at 07:00 would arrive in Inverness at 14:00.
  • The return journey would leave at 15:00 and be in London by 22:00.
  • A second service could start in Inverness and mirror the service starting in London.

The service would need two trains.

So it appears that by saving time on the journey, the possibility of extra services is opened up.

The Improved Sleeper Service

I have taken the current Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and it is a spectacular ride through the Highlands in the early morning.

But the elderly trains are being replaced and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more passengers decide to  use the sleeper to the Highlands.

Over the last few years, the Austrians, the Swedes and the Scots have all ordered new rolling stock for their sleeper trains and I believe that we’ll see a revival in this form of transport, throughout Europe.

A Caithness To Edinburgh Sleeper

This has been proposed and I wrote about it in Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh.

This was my conclusion.

I feel that not next year, but once Scotland’s rail system is fully developed, with the shortened Inter-City 125s serving the longer routes and electric trains all over the Central Belt, that a Sleeper Train between Edinburgh and Thurso will be viable.

The proposed increase in capacity between London and Edinburgh, probably adds to the viability.

Sleeper One Way And Azuma The Other

I can see this becoming a popular way to visit Scotland.

  • It will be new trains both ways.
  • Both trains stop at all stations between Perth and Inverness.
  • The price of a sleeper ticket compares well with the cost of a reasonable hotel.

The combinations are many and varied.

Cycling

Cycling holidays seem to be increasing everywhere and Scotland is no exception.

On the West Highland Line between Gl;asgow and Oban, passengers with cycles are increasing in number, so Scotrail are converting redundant Class 153 trains into multi-purpose carriages to add capacity to the trains.

On the Highland Main Line, for those, who want to explore the area on their bicycles, the Inter7City trains should be able to provide enough space for bicycles in the back of the two Class 43 locomotives.

Conclusion

The more I look at the Highland Main Line, the more I think it has a rosy future.

All it needs to seal its future is a visit from Michael Portillo and his camera crew.

 

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

50 Secret Islands In Europe

The title of this post, is the same as an article in Travel section of The Times for May 4th 2019.

These are the islands.

Italy

  • San Nicola, Termiti Islands, Puglia
  • Ponza, Pontine Islands, Lazio
  • Favignana, Egadi Islands, Sicily
  • Capraia, Tuscany
  • Salina, Aeolian Islands – My favourite island!
  • Pellestrina, Venice
  • Panarea, Aeolian Islands – Been there!
  • Palmaria, Liguria
  • Budelli, Maddalena Archipelago, Sardinia

France

  • Ile de Batz, Brittany
  • Ushant, Brittany
  • Ile d’Arz, Brittany
  • Iles Chausey, Normandy
  • Ile de Behuard, Western Loire
  • Ile d’Yeu Vendee
  • Ile d’Aix, Charante-Maritime
  • Ile de Vassiviere, Limousin
  • Port-Cros, Provence
  • Ile Saint-Honorat, Provence

Croatia

  • Lastovo, Dubrovnik-Neretva
  • Vrnik, Korcula
  • Dugi Otok, Zadar
  • Prvic, Sibernik
  • Susak, Kvarner Islands
  • Palagruza

Spain

  • Illa da Taxa, Galicia
  • Illes Cies, Galicia
  • Tabarca, Valencia
  • La Graciosa, Canary Islands
  • Espalmador, Balearic Islands
  • Isla del Burguillo, Avila
  • Isla de Lobos, Canary Islands
  • Isla del Baron, Murcia

Greece

  • Anafi, Cyclades
  • Monissos, Cyclades
  • Folegandros, Cyclades
  • Fourni, Eastern Aegean
  • Ios, Cyclades
  • Kea, Cyclades
  • Kimolos, Cyclades
  • Kythira, Ionian
  • Tinos, Cyclades
  • Tilos, Dodecanese

Best Of The Rest

  • Helgoland, Germany
  • Sejero, Denmark
  • Ameland, Netherlands
  • Great Blasket, Ireland
  • Cape Clear, Ireland
  • Muhu, Estonia
  • Ada Bojana, Montenegro

I shall keep the pages, as some of these islands are worth visiting.

May 12, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hanwell Station – 19th April 2019

These pictures show Hanwell station.

Hanwell station will be unlike any other station on Crossrail.

  • It is Grade II Listed.
  • It doesn’t have a high passenger usage.
  • Platforms will be too short for the Class 345 trains and selected door opening will be used.
  • The stairs up to the platforms must be some of the most Victorian in any station.
  • To complete the station, two lifts are to be installed on the Crossrail platforms.

I do wonder if it could become a tourist attraction for those interests in modern metros and Victorian architecture.

Crossrail To Reading In December 2019

As current rumours are that Crossrail will open in December to Reading, it looks like the station will be ready in all its Victorian splendour..

It is planned that Hanwell station will have a train every ten minutes.

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

DfT Consulting On Plans To Expand Pay-As-You-Go Rail Travel Nationwide

The total of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

I can’t see what the problem is.

  • My bank card would be linked to my Freedom Pass and Senior Railcard on either a ticketing web site or even better on my on-line bank account.
  • If it were the latter, then when I checked my bank account, as I do regularly, I could also check my travel.
  • I would then just touch in and touch out for each journey.
  • The central computer would then give me the best price for my journey.

As an example, if I went to say Oxford, I would only be charged between the Zone 6 boundary, which is my Freedom Pass limit and Oxford station.

I would not need to buy an extra ticket.

This is all well and good for those with UK bank accounts, but how would it handle other eventualities?

Overseas Visitors

If say one of my overseas friends was in the UK, they would just use a contactless bank card.

If they had a Railcard, as several do, they would register the link on a ticketing web site.

Advance Tickets

These could still be bought on-line or at a booking office as now.

Buses, Taxis and Trams

The system should be extended to buses, taxis, traims and any other future transport systems like cable-cars and pod systems.

Conclusion

It would be a very complicated computer system to program, but most of the work has already been done for London and is working successfully.

It would make the UK’s public transport system one of the most passenger-fruendly in the world.

What would that do for ridership? And tourism?

 

February 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Detailed Look At The Space Between Farringdon Station And The New Museum Of London Site

I took these pictures as I walked up Charterhouse Street beside the new site of the Museum of London.

Note.

  1. The buildings to be used for the museum need a lot of work.
  2. The two  buildings which could both be cold stores on the railway side of Charterhouse Street wouldn’t appear to have much architectural merit.
  3. Once Crossrail works are finished, there will be two big gaps leading to the railway lines and Farringdon station.

This picture from Crossrail says it is the Chaterhouse Street ticket hall.

So it looks like that box in the third picture is an entrance to the station and it’s bang opposite the museum.

This Google Map shows the space on the railway side of Charterhouse Street.

Note.

  1. Farringdon station at the top of the map towards the left.
  2. To the left of the station is the site I talked about in TfL Gives Go Ahead To Build Above Farringdon Station.
  3. Below that site, is another site on the corner of Charterhouse Street and Farringdon Road, that could either be developed in conjunction with the site above it or on its own.
  4. The Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines curving between Farringdon and Barbican stations.
  5. What appear to be a couple of sidings are the remains of the Widened Lines, which used to lead to Moorgate.
  6. There is also a large curved space, which used to be which was used by services between Bedford and Moorgate, before Thameslink was created.

There’s a lot of space in the area to create a building or series of buildings that provide.

  • A worthwhile amount of office space.
  • A landmark hotel on one of the best-connected sites in London.
  • The right amount of retail space, bars, cafes and restaurants.

But above all a short and pleasant walking route between Farringdon station and the new Museum of London could be designed.

 

 

 

 

 

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Morecambe Eden Project Gains Chancellor’s Backing

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

This is the first paragraph.

Plans for an Eden Project in Morecambe have received official backing from the Chancellor today as he pledged £100,000 in today’s budget to support the development of the proposals being led by Eden Project International.

This is surely good news for the project.

 

October 30, 2018 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

ScotRail Finds A Use For The Unloved Class 153 Trains

Class 153 trains are the unloved members of British Rail’s Sprinter family. I occasionally use one on excursions to Felixstowe, but they are cramped, noisy and slow.

As the pictures show, some are not in bad condition and to be fair, some train operators have tried hard to provide a better level of service.

Greater Anglia still has five Class 153 trains in service and the fact that they will be replaced by three-car Class 755 trains by the end of 2020. You don’t increase capacity by that amount, unless the current one-car trains are overcrowded or you know that there is a lot of untapped demand on the route.

If on the Felixstowe Branch, a doubling of capacity would have been sufficient, then surely a refurbished two-car Class 150, 156 or 170 train, would have been a more than adequate replacement.

Currently, there are seventy of these trains in service and many of them, like those in East Anglia are being replaced with new or refurbished trains.

Greater Anglia’s five units are going to Wales, where they will join another eight on rural lines in West Wales. Nothing has ben said about how they will be used, but they could be used singly, in pairs or in multiple with Class 15x or Class 17x trains.

So they could be useful to the Welsh in providing extra capacity.

In the November 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, Alex Hynes of ScotRail talks about how a number of Class 153 trains will be used to add bicycle space to trains on some of Scotland’s scenic routes. Alex Hynes is quoted as saying.

The interior format is yet to be fixed, but is likely to include a large amount of space given over to bicycles. Bike tourism is a growing area and the aim would be to allay fears about whether or not you’d get your bike on a train by providing plenty of space. Part of the vehicle might be given over to a lounge car layout to make the most of the magnificent views on these routes.

Transport Scotland sees the scenic routes as a key part of the rural economy for the part they play in stimulating tourism.

Our inspiration is to get “158s” on the West Highland route.

So it looks like ScotRail could be running Class 158/Class 153 pairs to provide increased capacity on the West Highland Line.

Wikipedia says this about the use of the Class 153 trains on the West Highland Line.

These single car units are to be completely adapted to accommodate bikes, skis and other outdoor equipment.

They will be attached to the Class 156s either as centre cars, or as extra coaches at either end.

If ScotRail’s scheme is a success, I suspect more of the Class 153 trains could end up doing the same task, in Wales, the South West and North of England.

It should also be noted, with respect to bicycle tourism, that ScotRail’s shortened HSTs will hopefully retain their bicycle swallowing abilities in the back ends of the power cars, thus enabling bicycle tourists to do the longer Scottish journeys with ease.

My one worry about bicycle tourism in Scotland and Wales is not concerned with trains internally, but with getting there from other parts of the UK with a heavily-loaded bicycle.

With the replacement of the HSTs and InterCity 225 from the London to Edinburgh and London to Wales and the West routes, will the new Class 800 trains have enough bicycle capacity? The bicycle storage on these trains look to be a good design for a racing bicycle, but some of the heavily-loaded bicycle tourists I’ve seen in Suffolk, would find them inadequate.

This article in The Guardian is entitled New High-Speed Trains Go Slow On Provision For Cyclists.

The article is critical.

I wonder what provision has been made for bicycles on the new rolling stock for the Caledonian Sleeper?

 

 

October 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Stunning New Public Space Under The Ordsall Chord Might Not Open To The Public For Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Manchester Evening News.

As I understand it, the new Orsall Chord in Manchester has been designed to open up a public space by the River Irwell.

The headline says it all and there appears to be no-one who knows when it will open.

For one time too, it doesn’t seem that Network Rail is the villain of the piece.

I suppose the trouble is that this development has nothing to do with football!

Come on Manchester, get your act together!

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments