The Anonymous Widower

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

Dunfermline

I’d never been to Dunfermline before, so my friend and I took a look round before returning to Edinburgh over the bridge.

It would certainly be worth another visit.

Dunfermline certainly needs an electrified rail line from Edinburgh, as I talked about in Running Electric Trains Across The Forth Bridge.

This Google Map shows the centre.

Note Dunfermline Town station in the South-East corner of the map.

September 11, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , | Leave a comment

Scenic Rail In Britain

The Association Of Community Rail Partnerships have put all the scenic rail lines on one web site called Scenic Rail In Britain.

Links to  Heritage Line websites are also included.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Ascending The Heights Of Abraham

The Heights of Abraham is a tourist attraction at Matlock Bath, close to the station.

I walked down, as I needed to get a train back to Derby. I did it in sensible trainers and don’t do it in anything less!

I’m sure this attraction would benefit from a better train service from Derby and Nottingham.

June 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

How Times Change

Several hundred years ago, those living in the North of England, would have waited with fear and trepidation at the thought of invasion from those living across the Border.

But not anymore!

According to this article in the Cumbria Crack, which is entitled Settle-Carlisle groups welcome Scottish rail study.

This is said.

Putting this into historical context, Mark Rand, Joint Vice Chairman of the 3500-member Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line said: “People often ask why did the Victorians build a railway line from tiny Settle to the border city of Carlisle. It was part of a much greater whole – the Midland Railway’s main route from London St Pancras to Scotland via Leeds and Carlisle, from where what is today called the Borders Railway continued to Edinburgh. What opportunities the full Edinburgh-Carlisle re-opening would enable! The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line welcomes this study with open arms.”

Further, the full re-opening would give a railway offering world-class scenery for much of the 211 miles from Leeds to Edinburgh, attracting huge numbers of international tourists, as happens in countries such as Norway and Switzerland, an industry so vital to the UK economy.

Unlike many railway projects, this project only needs the railway to be built, as the trains that would be ideal for Leeds to Edinburgh via Caelisle, were built forty years ago.

What better route would there be to serve with refurbished examples of Terry Miller‘s masterpiece, the InterCity 125?

May 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Would I Go Back To The Harz Narrow Gauge Railways?

The Harz Narrow Gauge Railways is not a small system and if I was in the area again, I would certainly pay the railways a visit.

The trip I took from Nordhausen to Wernigerode between two Deutsche Bahn lines is possible on almost an hourly basis througthtout most of the year, although it would be a better trip in sunny weather.

I didn’t do the trip up the Brocken, which is a peak of over a thousand metres high. That is best accessed from Wernigerode, if you only have a short amount of time available.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Wernigerode Station

Wernigerode station is the Northern terminus and main depot of the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways.

It has an interchange with the Deutsche Bahn, that runs between Goslar and Magdeburg.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

It appears to me that the station has a common layout for this part of Germany, where there is a loop that serves the platform closest to the station building.

Trains on Deutsche Bahn seem to be about every hour and although the local diesel services seem to link together fairly well, the information isn’t as good as it might be.

I certainly think that if the weather had been better, it would have been a more interesting town to visit.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment