The Anonymous Widower

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 | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Between Lucerne And Interlaken Ost Stations On Die Zentralbahn

The Zwntralbahn is the scenic railway, that connects Lucerne and Interlaken Ost stations along the Brünig Line. Wikipedia says this about the ownership of the railway.

The Zentralbahn is a Swiss railway company that owns and operates two connecting railway lines in Central Switzerland and the Bernese Oberland. It was created on January 1, 2005, with the acquisition of the independently owned Luzern–Stans–Engelberg line, and the Brünig line of the Swiss Federal Railways.

I don’t know, but as the railway is metre rather than standard gauge, I do wonder, if it was to Swiss Federal Railways, a bit like the Settle-Carlisle Line was to British Rail; Expensive to run, loved by locals and tourists and in need of new investment.

These pictures show the railway.

As some of the pictures show, the line was busy in places. and judging by the number of Asian groups on the train, a lot were tourists.

The trains are modern Stadler SPATZ trains.

  • Fully-electric.
  • Metre gauge.
  • They are able to use sections of the line which have a rack to assist climbing.
  • Large panoramic windows for good views.

It appears that the three-car train has been designed with all the electrical gubbings in the middle car, with the end sections similar to the Stadler GTW.

Stadler seem to be able to shuffle their ideas and especially, the central power-pack to produce trains for all purposes.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, and the tri-mode Flirts of the South Wales Metro, will be just more variations on the same theme.

Next Time I Go To The Area

There are two groups of mountain railways grouped at Interlaken and Lucerne, which are linked by the

Brünig Line. The route is not simple and there is a reverse about half-way at Meiringen station.

Searching the web, it appears that there is reasonably-priced accommodation in and around Meiringen.

With a Swiss Pass, which gives a worthwhile discount on the expensive mountain trains, I shall be staying around there on my next trip to Switzerland.

Consider.

  • You could fly in to Zurich Airport and buy your Swiss Pass there.
  • Lucerne and Interlaken are about an hour away on the scenic Brünig Line.
  • Bern and Zurich are close enough for a day trip.

I didn’t explore Meiringen, so check the guides first. But it looked OK from the train.

 

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Opening Date Set For Hong Kong Section Of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

From September 23rd, passengers will be able to take 300 kph trains between Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will give access to the Chinese High Speed Rail network for onward travel to places like Beijing and Shanghai.

I can see a whole new tourism market opening up.

  • Fly to Hong Kong
  • High Speed Rail to Beijing via Guangzhou and other places.
  • Fly Home from Beijing.

Only two long distance flights and a wide-ranging itinerary, without the hassle of airports.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Morecambe Bay Eden Project

When the BBC reported this on Friday, they got a generally good reaction from the local residents they interviewed.

Articles in the Guardian and The Times have been positive, with support from local and national politicians and other worthies. The Times too, has extensive positive comments from readers.

For a project like this to be built, let alone be successful, it needs to have this sort of response on the first day.

It is a project that obviously touches a happy nerve, sirs memories or just ticks all the right boxes with lots of people.

So where will the Eden Project be built?

This Google Map shows the town of Morecambe and psart of the coast and bay to the North of the town.

Nothing has been said about the location, but there would appear to be plenty of space.

I’ve only ever been to Morecambe once, when I visited the town on my trek to visit all 92 English football clubs to raise money for pancreatic cancer research at Liverpool University. My brief visit to Morecambe is described in 92 Clubs – Day 21 – Milton Keynes, Morecambe, Newcastle. This was my initial comment on the town.

The town was a bit of a surprise, as I thought it would be like Blackpool only smaller. It is smaller, but it is in much better state than its larger resort down the coast. You wouldn’t see anything as tasteful as this on a roundabout in Blackpool.

My previous visit was very much a quickie, as I had to continue to Newcastle.

The Eden Project By Train

On their web site, the Eden Project, says this about getting to their Cornish attraction by train.

We are just a few miles from St Austell railway station, which is on the main line from London Paddington and is well served by buses to Eden. You could also take the train to Luxulyan, Bugle or Par, for a more scenic journey or to continue your trip on foot or bike.

They also give a discount for visitors that arrive by public transport. As they should!

If I was going, I’d take the Night Riviera to St. Austell and then use a bus to the Eden Project from the bus station at St. Austell station to complete the journey.

The Proposed Morecambe Eden Project By Train

So how would getting to the proposed Eden Project at Morecambe compare?

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.

The line has two stations in the town at Bare Lane and Morecambe and another at the nearby Heysham Port.

Service between Morecambe and Lancaster seems to have a frequency of two trains per hour (tph) and a journey time of around ten minutes.

There are also upwards of three services a day to and from Skipton and Leeds, which reverse at Lancaster.

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.
  • One tph 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.

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 and others to Leeds and Barrow might use hydrogen power after they left the electrified West Coast Main Line.

Morecambe to Windermere could even be a 125 mph electric train on the West Coast Main Line, that used batteries on the short ranch lines at either end.

  • 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.

 

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

In Bruges

I thought that I was passing the city, I should take a pit-stop in Bruges, with perhaps a gluten-free breakfast.

If you go to most cities in Germany, there is always a handy tourist office at the station.

As I didn’t know the city, I needed information on how to get from the station to the centre, which was a twenty minute walk.

If it hadn’t been for a helpful local man, who spoke impeccable English, I wouldn’t have found out that the buses were convenient, but you had to buy the tickets from the paper shop inside the station.

In addition, there wasn’t any visible staff at the station.

How tourist-friendly is that for a welcome to one of the most important sites in Belgium?

My gluten-free breakfast wasn’t very good either!

It came with ordinary bread and only the tea was good.

My argument is that if you advertise gluten-free, then make sure you can do it properly.

Finding a bus back to the station wasn’t easy to cap it all.

Conclusion

Don’t expect to turn up in Bruges on a train and spend a pleasant hour or two before moving on.

Unlike many cities in The Netherlands, Germany and Italy, the information lets you down.

 

May 16, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Windsor And Eton Central Station – 26th April 2018

These pictures show Windsor And Eton Central station.

In some ways it is more of a Shopping Centre than a railway station.

The current service to Slough station, is one two-car Class 165 train every twenty minutes.

Consider.

  • When Crossrail opens to Slough in December 2019, there will be at least six Crossrail trains per hour (tph), between Slough and Central London.
  • There will also be at least four GWR tph between Slough and Paddington.
  • The upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel, will give Windsor masses of world-wide publicity.
  • Passengers to Windsor increase significantly on a day with good weather.

I also reckon, that getting to Windsor via Crossrail and Slough could be up to twenty minutes faster, than using Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations. So which way, would all the tourists use?

Increasingly, the current train service from Slough will become inadequate.

GWR have ordered nineteen Class 769 bi-mode trains, one of which could be used on the line to increase capacity.

  • They would offer a doubling of capacity, from two-cars to four.
  • Their slightly faster speed, might enable them to run at a frequency of four tph.
  • The trains would probably fit Windsor and Eton Central station with selective door opening or a small platform extension.

Windsor and Eton Central station is going to get very busy.

Those tourists, who just want a selfie with the castle, should be able to take one, between successive trains.

Windsor could become a Tourist Hell!

 

 

April 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Would Third-Party Rail Ticket Machines Be A Good Idea?

I travel extensively on the UK rail network and my journeys are generally of three types.

  1. Local journeys within the London Zone 1-6 Travelcard area, for which I use my Freedom Pass.
  2. Journeys to places like Brighton, Hastings,  Ipswich and Rochester, where I generally buy a ticket from a machine.
  3. Long distance journeys, where I use the Internet and pick up the ticket at a machine.

I suspect that many travellers across the UK, have a similar pattern of use.

The Changing Nature Of Cash Machines

Forty years ago, there were an adequate number of cash machines, but they were generally associated with bank premises.

I can remember my delight, when I first found a machine in a motorway service area.

Now, cash machines are everywhere and all are free. Although, there are mutterings, that charges might be made and the number of machines will drop, due to contactless cards.

A Third-Party Rail Ticket Machine

At present, the nearest to this are the ticket machines on the London Overground.

The latest ones allow you to do all the normal ticketing functions, with these valuable additions.

  • Buying a ticket between any two stations in the UK.
  • Buying an extension ticket from the London Zone 6 boundary.
  • Prices are generally the lowest you can purchase, on the Internet without using Advance Tickets for specific trains.

These feature means, that if say I’m going to a football match outside London in a few days, I’ll buy my ticket from the Overground.

Ticket machines will add more and more features.

  • Train information.
  • Itinerary printing.
  • Buying Advance tickets for a specific train.
  • Seat reservations.
  • Special tickets like Plus Bus, Plus Tram and Rover and Ranger tickets.
  • Selling railcards

Imagine turning up in a city and being presented with a screen on the same machine, which allows you to buy Travelcards and tickets for local attractions.

As the machines get more sophisticated, I believe there will be less need for ticket machines to be at train stations.

So could we see companies like The Trainline putting ticket machines in places like shopping centres, superstores and the smaller shops that service Oyster in London?

If the financial model stacks up, I’m sure we will see ticket machines everywhere!

Ticket Machines On Platforms And In Ticketed Areas

In Germany, there is often a ticket machine after you have passed the gate.

I find it very useful, as they can be used to buy tickets for a later journey or look up future connections.

I only know of one ticket machine inside the ticketed area in the UK and that is on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

We need more of these!

Would a third-party company be more likely to provide them? Especially, as they’d quickly identify the most profitable places, where there were large numbers of interchange or waiting passengers.

Collateral Benefits

Making rail tickets more available will surely increase sales. Suppose you live in Nottingham and your mother lives in Peterborough. You’ve just had a bad drive across the Midlands to see her for her birthday.

Will a ticket machine in your local superstore, lead youto investigate the trains as an alternative?

If it does, it must surely lead to more passengers on the trains.

Train companies are notoriously bad, at making sure that a weekend service has enough carriages.

Making it easier to buy tickets would surely give them a better estimate of passenger numbers.

But would the train companies make use of the information?

Conclusion

We’ll see a lot more ticket machines.

Some will be from third-party operators. Just like cash machines!

 

 

January 4, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , | 1 Comment

Could The Wensleydale Railway Become A New TransPennine Route?

Yesterday, The Times had a nearly full page article with a title of The Village With Nowt Taken Out.

It describes how the small market town of Hawes has by its own efforts turned itself from a very much declining town into a thriving community.

The town’s latest project is to take over the only filling station in the town, to avoid a 36-mile round trip to fill up.

The Times was also very impressed, as the newspaper published a Leading Article, which was entitled Hawes for Thought. This is said.

Hawes is a phenomenon, a case study in self-sufficiency, community spirit, bloody-mindedness and the awesome power of bootstraps.

The Leading Article said that Hawes station closed in 1959, which would have been when I was just twelve.

The station buildings are now part of the Dales Countryside Museum.

I got to wondering as I do, where the railway used to run.

Hawes station used to be on the Wensleydale Railway, which connected the East Coast Main Line at Northallerton station to the Settle-Carlisle Line at Garsdale station.

The Wensleydale Railway is now a heritage railway running trains between Northallerton West and Redmire stations, with up to six intermediate stations.

This section from Wikipedia, details their future plans.

The company’s longer-term aim is to reopen the 18 miles (29 km) of line west from Redmire via Castle Bolton, Aysgarth, Askrigg, Bainbridge, Hawes and Mossdale to join up with the Settle-Carlisle Railway Route at Garsdale. A study commissioned by the railway indicated that an initial extension to Aysgarth from Redmire (3 miles (4.8 km)), would generate an extra income of £3.1 million into the local economy with an additional £500,000 in ticket sales for the railway.

There is also this in the Wikipedia entry for Northallerton West station in a section call Future.

The aim of the Wensleydale Railway in the long-term is to extend the line to Northallerton station and allow passengers to interchange with National Rail services. As this will require an agreement with Network Rail, the provision of the platform is an interim solution which will allow the track to be brought into more regular use whilst also bringing in extra income for the heritage railway.

I’ve have looked on at Ordnance Survey map at the track at the Western end and its original position is clearly visible.

Surely, this is the sort of project that rural areas with a high level of tourism need, if the sums add up in the right way!

Consider.

  • The line will have a full length of about forty miles. So it could be a Grand Day Out?
  • The line would connect to the iconic Settle-Carlisle Line at its Western end, with connections to Carlisle, Carnforth and Cumbria and Black and Lancashire.
  • The Line would connect to the East Coast Main Line at its Eastern end, with connections to Darlington, Middlesbrough, Newcastle and York.
  • Network Rail have spent a fortune on the Settle-Carlisle and this would feed in more passengers.

An extended Wensleydale Railway would greatly add to the tourism infrstructure in the area.

Conclusion

If the residents of the area, show the grit and determination, that has been shown by the residents of Hawes, this railway will get built!

There would be another slow-speed TransPennine route.

 

 

November 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 4 Comments