The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

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 | Transport | , , , , , , , | 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 | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment