The Anonymous Widower

Belfast To Dublin By Train

I took the 08:00 train between Belfast and Dublin.

All went fairly well and the train arrived into Dublin Connolly station on time.

But information about travel to my hotel near St. Stephen’s Green was non-existent.

So I walked and got lost several times. Where were the maps?

At least in a couple of weeks, the journey will be possible using the trams with a change between the Red and Green Lines.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Circular Walk In Derry

In Derry, I took the following circular walking route.

  • I crossed the double-deck bridge Craigavon Bridge, that is South of the station.
  • I  walked along the Western bank of the River Foyle, stopping  at the SFoyleside hopping Centre to pick up a sandwich.
  • I crossed the Peace Bridge.
  • I walked back to the station on the Eastern bank of the River Foyle.

If it had been a bit warmer, I would have probably spent more time on an explore.

But after taking these pictures, a warm train beckoned.

I shall return in the summer sun!

November 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations

Burnley Barracks and Burnley Manchester Road stations are not that far apart.

This Google Map shows Burnley’s three stations in relation to the Town Centre and Turf Moor.

The various locations are as follows.

  • Turf Moor is indicated by the red arrow in the East.
  • Burnley Barracks station is in the North-West corner.
  • Bunley Central is at the North.
  • Burnley Manchester Road is at the South.
  • The Leeds and Liverpool canal weaves its way through the town passing close to Burnley Barracks station.

What the map doesn’t show is the terrain. The main station at Manchester Road is on one stretch of high ground and Central station and Turf Moor are on another.

So I walked between Barracks and Manchester Road  stations along the canal.

It was a pleasant walk, but I still had a stiff climb up to Manchester Road station.

The East Lancashire Line

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs through Burnley Barracks station.

One train per hour in each direction runs between Blackpool South station on the coast and Colne station in the hills.

The line joins the cross-Pennine Calder Valley Line at Gannow Junction to the East of Rose Grove station.

In the Wikipedia entry for Colne station, this is said.

The remainder of the branch from Gannow Junction (near Rose Grove) to Nelson was also reduced to single track in December 1986 and so the entire line from there is now operated as a 6 1⁄2 miles (10.5 km) “long siding” with no intermediate passing loops (this restricts the service frequency that can operate along the branch, as only one train can be on the branch at a time).

It would thus appear that without major engineering works, the service along the line will be restricted to an hourly train.

To make improvement of the line ore difficult, the line crosses Burnley town centre on a high viaduct. This picture was taken from a train crossing the viaduct.

However, I have been in a four-car train on the line, so I feel it could be theoretically easy to double the capacity by running four-car trains instead of the current two-car Class 150 trains.

The November 2017 Edition of Modern Railways indicates that the Sunday service on this line will increase from two-hourly to hourly.

Burnley Barracks Station

There would appear to be a lot of development planned along the canal.

Surely, this development will generate passenger traffic, as many will prefer to walk along the level canal tow-path, rather than climb the hill to Burnley Manchester Road station.

Burnley Barracks station needs improvement.

  • Better shelter.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Better means of requesting the train to stop.
  • Ideally, there would be a lift to street level.

But at least Network Rail are replacing the bridge over the canal and the platform can already accommodate a four-car train.

Trains For Between Blackpool South And Colne

Four-car trains could be made by running Class 150, Class 156 or even new Class 195 trains as pairs.

Currently, the line uses three trains, so would the extra expense of six trains by justified.

But there is an alternative.

Current plans will see electrification of the route between Preston and Kirkham and Westham stations.

This would men that nearly ten miles of the Blackpool South to Colne route will be electrified.

So would it be more advisable to call for Bedpan Specials or Class 769 trains, which could make use of the electrification?

Consider.

  • According to a technical specification that I’ve seen, the trains have been designed to handle the Buxton Line, which is stiffer than the hill up to Colne.
  • The trains are four cars.
  • I believe, that three Class 769 trains would replace the current trains, which could then be appropriately scrapped or refurbished.
  • If more electrification is added between Blackburn and Blackpool South, the trains will take advantage.

I also believe that with perhaps a passing or two and modern signalling, that the extra performance of the Class 769 trains might make it possible to run two trains on the route with careful planning and precise driving.

But above all, the Class 769 trains are affordable and are probably available within a year.

An interesting observation, is that Northern have increased their order by three trains recently. So have they decided to use them on the Blackpool South to Colne service?

Conclusion

If new four-car Class 769 trains replace the current two-car scrapyard specials on the East Lancashire Line, the following will happen.

  • Capacity on the route will be doubled.
  • The service will be faster, due to the increased speed and power.
  • No expensive platform lengthening will be required.
  • An hourly service between Blackpool South and Colne will have no problems operating seven days a week.
  • Some stations, like Burnley Barracks, will need improvements to handle the extra passengers.

Two trains per hour will need track work to add passing loops and modern signalling, and a few more trains.

 

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Walking Along Oxford Street

I took these pictures this morning, as I walked along Oxford Street from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road.

Note.

  1. I was surprised at the number of trees.
  2. The large number of buses.
  3. The rather small numberr of private cars.
  4. The large amount of new development to the East of Oxford Circus.

I might have got a different set of pictures later in the day.

November 7, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Walking Between Glasgow Queen Street And Central Stations

I arranged my trip through Glasgow so that I arrived in Glasgow Queen Street station around lunchtime, so that I could have lunch at a restaurant on my way to Glasgow Central station.

I took the side entrance to Queen Street station and walked to West Nile Street, where I had lunch in Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

From the restaurant, I continued down West Nile Street, before turning right for Glasgow Central station.

This Google Map shows the two stations and the area in between.

There’s probably a cafe or restaurant to suit everybody on the walking route.

Walking the way I did was slightly down hill and parts were in pedestrianised streets.

I know Glasgow’s two main stations fairly well, but there should be a signposted walking route.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Coastal Communities Among Worst Off In UK, Report Finds

The title of this post is the same as an article on the BBC web site, which they are covering on BBC Breakfast.

When I was fifteen my parents partially-retired to Felixstowe and I remember a very boring couple of summers in the town. In summer 1963, I spent most of it reading Nelkon and Parker in preparation for my A Level Physics course.

In those days, public transport to Ipswich was dire with nothing back after working hours and I can remember that I only ever went to the cinema in Felixstowe once!

Today, the last train from Ipswich is 22:28, but in those days it was about 19:00.

So one factor that applied, was you needed a car to have any social life outside of the dreary town. The few people of my age, I knew in the town couldn’t wait to leave school, so they could earn money to buy a car.

If you look around the country, the coastal areas that are vibrant and successful like say Bournemouth, Brighton, Liverpool, Southend and Swansea, tend to be larger, with excellent external and internal public transport links.

Other non-successful coastal towns like Felixstowe, Hastings, Hull, Lowestoft, Redcar, Skegness and Ysrmouth don’t have the same quality of external transport links, although some like Hull have good bus networks.

I may be being selective, but I believe it would make a big difference to a lot of coastal towns, if they had a first class rail service to the nearby inland larger towns and cities.

If there is no rail route, then a first class bus connection is needed.

Felixstowe

I’ll take Felixstowe as an example.

  • The train service is one train per hour and it finishes around ten in the evening.
  • The length of the line is such, that one train can do the return trip in an hour.
  • Most of the rolling stock used on the line are past it, although I’ve done the trip in a passenger-friendly Class 170 train.
  • If it is a sunny Saturday or Sunday, the train can get overloaded at times.

Hopefully, the train service will get better.

  1. Greater Anglia have ordered new three-car Class 755 bi-mode trains.
  2. Network Rail are improving the Felixstowe Branch Line.
  3. Ipswich station is to be upgraded with an extra bay platform for Felixstowe and Lowestoft services.

Point 1 would probably attract more passengers and points 2 and 3 would allow a half-hourly service at selected times of the day.

The increase in capacity and quality, should be enough, so that on a glorious day if people in Ipswich decide to go to the coast, the trains can make it a good experience.

It will be interesting to see how the number of rail passengers to Felixstowe change in the next few years.

Incidentally, Felixstowe station shows how you can create a quality station for a town of 24,000 people.

  • The Grade II Listed station buildings have become a Shopping Centre with a cafe and bar.
  • There is just a single platform that can take a four-car train.
  • There is a ticket machine and a basic shelter.
  • The station is on the High Street.
  • The car park is shared with the local Co-op supermarket.
  • The station is unstaffed, but the trains are double-manned.

How many coastal stations could be Felixstowed?

Felixstowe used to have a second station at Felixstowe Beach, which is near to the Port of Felixstowe and Landguard Fort.

Some might argue that reopening the station would be a good idea, especially as it could be a modern single platform station.

But surely, it would be better to improve the bus services in the town or provide quality bike hire at the station.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains

Greater Anglia have ordered 24 x four-car and 14 x three-car Class 755 trains.

  • The trains are bi-mode.
  • In terms of carriages, the new bi-mode fleet will be at more than twice the size of the current diesel fleet.
  • Greater Anglia have said, that they will use electric power from overhead wires, even if it’s only available for short distances.
  • The trains are probably large enough for an on-board full function ticket machine and lots of buggies, bicycles and wheel-chairs.
  • They will probably carry their own wheelchair ramp, as I saw in What Train Is This?

This article in RailNews is entitled Greater Anglia unveils the future with Stadler mock-up and says this.

The bi-mode Class 755s will offer three or four passenger vehicles, but will also include a short ‘power pack’ car to generate electricity when the trains are not under the wires. This vehicle will include a central aisle so that the cars on either side are not isolated. Greater Anglia said there are no plans to include batteries as a secondary back-up.

So Stadler are using their well-proven design, which I saw in Germany.

What surprises me is the ruling out of batteries by Greater Anglia.

The central powercar would surely be the ideal place to put energy storage, for the following reasons.

  • It could be easily integrated with the diesel power-pack.
  • The weight of the battery is probably in the best place.
  • It could be part of an energy saving regenerative braking system, which would work under electric or diesel power.
  • In Battery EMUs For Merseyrail, I wrote how Stadler were fitting batteries in Merseyrail’s new fleet.

When the trains arrive, it’ll all be explained. Perhaps, Greater Anglia’s words were carefully chosen.

How will these trains change the coastal towns of Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Sheringham and Yarmouth?

If it’s positive, Greater Anglia will be setting a strong precedent.

What Needs To Be Done To Railways To And Along The Coast

In no particular order, there are various topics.

A Coastal-Friendly Train Fleet

From personal experience on East Anglian trains, I feel that the passenger profile is different with always several bicycles on a train. Greater Anglia will have researched their passengers’ journeys and this has resulted in their choice of three- and four-car bi-mode Class 755 trains.

  • One- and two-car diesel multiple units are being replaced with three-car bi-modes
  • The Class 170 trains appear to be being replaced by four-car bi-modes.

So it would appear that Greater Anglia are expecting more passengers on the coastal routes to Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft and Yarmouth, as they are always running at least three-car trains.

I also suspect they will be allowing for more bicycles and buggies, with higher traffic at weekends with good weather.

Their fleet choice will also allow them to use a four-car train instead of a three-car.

Looking at the fleet choices of other train operators like Northern working over a wide area with a large proportion of leisure traffic, they seem to have a degree of flexibility.

Stations In Coastal Towns

Many  stations in coastal towns were built in the grand manner. This is St. Leonard’s Warrior Square station.

Felixstowe station was built in this way and the station buildings are Grade II Listed. This is the single platform.

But it also shows how you can create a quality station for a town of 24,000 people.

  • The station buildings have become a Shopping Centre with a cafe and bar.
  • There is just a single platform that can take a six-car train.
  • There is a ticket machine and a basic shelter, underneath an ornate 1898 canopy.
  • The station is on the High Street.
  • The car park is shared with the local Co-op supermarket.
  • The station is unstaffed, but the trains are double-manned.

How many coastal stations could be Felixstowed?

These are a few pictures of other stations in coastal towns.

Some are grand, some are simple and some need a lot of improvement.

But if you want to improve the fortunes of a coastal town, or any town for that matter, you must give it a decent station, which will be one of main entry points for visitors.

The larger stations must have the following characteristics.

  • A certain style.
  • Good understandable information and perhaps a proper Tourist Office.
  • A cafe or a bar.
  • Decent bus connections to the rest of the town.
  • Bicycle hire
  • A shop for a paper and some chocolate.
  • A cash machine with no extra charges.

Hopefully, the station needs a central location in the town.

But Felixstowe station shows what can be created, with its Victorian canopy and a single platform, tucked away behind a shopping centre, built around the original Listed station building.

These days with modern signalling and double-ended multiple units, single-platform stations like Felixstowe, could probably handle four trains per hour.

New Stations

In DfT Names Five Winners Of Fresh £16m Stations Fund, I talked about new stations funded by the Government’s New Stations Fund. Two of the five stations are near the coast; Bow Street and Horden Peterlee.

So does the Government realise the value of good rail links to coastal areas?

The Walkers’ Halt

Some of the coastal lines go along some of the most spectacular coast-lines in the UK.

This Google Map shows the Durham Coast Line just South of Seaham station.

A modern train like a bi-mode Class 755 train could have the following characteristics.

  • The ability to execute station stops with a short dwell time.
  • In-cab radio signalling.
  • CCTV to aid the driver at a station stop.
  • On-board ticketing machine.
  • On-board wheelchair ramp.
  • Two crew members.

So would it be able to stop to pick up and set down at an old-fashioned halt with perhaps a single platform?

The England Coast Path

The England Coast Path will be 4,500 kilometres long and go round the whole coast of England.

In places, it must go near to railway lines, so will we see simple walkers’ halts, as I described in the previous section?

It strikes me, that we need a large helping of careful design to make sure that the England Coast Path and our costal rail routes would well together.

I used England as an example, but I suspect, the same logic applies in the rest of the UK.

Conclusion

This post isn’t complete yet!

I do feel though based on my East Anglian experience, that improving the train service to coastal towns could be the first step in improving their prosperity.

Too often going to the coast by train is a second-rate experience. Greater Anglia with its train fleet renewal seem to be creating a new era of getting to the coast in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Other companies should be made to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Waterloo Upgrade August 2017 – Walking Between Wandsworth Common And Clapham Junction Stations

These pictures show my walk this morning.

These are my thoughts on the various things I saw! Or in some cases didn’t!

Wandsworth Common Station

Wandsworth Common station is a curious station in some ways, as it certainly wouldn’t be built in the middle of Wandsworth Common in these conservation-minded days.

It also has an eleven trains per hour (tph) frequency to the next stations; Balham and Clapham Junction. Some trains take as little as two or three minutes.

Passenger numbers in 2015-16 at the three stations are as follows.

  • Balham – 10,115,000
  • Wandsworth Common – 1,690,000
  • Clapham Junction – 32,282,000

Wandsworth Common station would appear to be just an overflow station to take pressure from the other two much busier stations.

In the Gibbs Report, one of the things that Chris Gibbs says is that there are too many Off Peak services.

Surely four or six tph stopping at Wandsworth Common station is enough, given that there’s only 24 parking spaces and bus stops are 450 yards away.

Currently, there are six tph between Victoria and West Croydon stations and all stop at Wandsworth Common station, with the fastest journeys  taking thirty two minutes.

There are also six tph between Wandsworth Common and Norbury.

Surely on both these services stops can be eliminated, which would save a couple of minutes per stop.

Timing the trains for something like a Class 377 train and using a more efficient stopping pattern, might reduce timings between Victoria and West Croydon to under thirty minutes, which must help Southern to run a better service.

But would the good burghers of Wandsworth allow the simplification, even if it became a faster service?

The Cat’s Back Bridge

The Cat’s Back Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the railway to the North of Wandsworth Common station.

The replacement of this bridge is described in this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled A Trio Of Southern Bridges.

The article has some clear before and after pictures taken from the railway.

Wandsworth Seems An Information-Free Borough

Walking from the bridge to Clapham Junction station might have been quicker, if there had been some maps or information.

Perhaps, Wandsworth doesn’t welcome walkers!

At least I found a couple of helpful policemen!

Breakfast At Revolution

I had a hearty gluten-free breakfast at a bar-restaurant called Revolution in Clapham.

Incidentally, Clapham surprised me with the quality of the shops.

There were also a couple of interesting cafes, including one that was gluten-free and vegan called Without.

Clapham Junction Station And The Waterloo Upgrade

Again there was a lack of information.

Plenty of helpful Customer Service personnel were in attendance at the station, but some better signage was needed, for those unfamiliar with the station.

Conclusion

Wandsworth Council need to get their act together with regard to information.

I live in Hackney and the maps are so much better!

August 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Temporary Barriers On London’s Bridges

Barriers to protect pedestrians have been installed on some of London’s bridges.

I hope these monstrosities are only temporary and they are replaced with something more in keeping with the historic bridges.

I still feel that we should shut Southwark and Lambeth Bridges to all traffic except buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Protecting Pedestrians From Vehicles Driven By Imbeciles

Look at these Google Maps of part of various bridges across the Thames.

London Bridge

Southwark Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge

Waterloo Bridge

Westminster Bridge

Note.

  1. How the pedestrians can are easily seen in the images.
  2. All the bridges have wide pavements, which are designed for easy walking.
  3. All images were probably taken at the same time and are to the same scale.
  4. Westminster Bridge is much busier than the others.

There is no protection to stop a bin lorry  with a driver who has a high risk of collapse, wandering off into the crowd. Given that that has happened in recent years, surely we should develop a protective system, that stopped vehicles getting on the pavement.

You wouldn’t need it on every road, as very few are likely to suffer an attack from imbeciles. But there have been a couple of pedestrians killed by drunks or drivers who should have given up because of health or advanced age.

Many roads too already have massive protection for pedestrians, as rows of vehicles are parked nose to tail alongside. I’ve never heard of an out of control vehicle going through a line of parked vehicles to kill someone. It must have happened surely!

Perhaps on London’s bridges and the wide pavements of streets like Regent Street and the Embankment, bollards or something physical will help.

But we should think creatively!

Something that could be done in London would be to follow on from the action at Bank Junction, where between seven and seven, the junction is for buses and cyclists only.

As there seems to have been little protest about this action, perhaps it could be done elsewhere and for twenty-four hours.

Look at the image of Southwark Bridge and the bridge is showing its reputation as London’s least used bridge.

So why not make the bridge pedestrians and cyclists only?

That could be done tomorrow and it would take some pressure from London Bridge, especially in the rush hour.

Also, at Blackfriars Bridge, it should be that pedestrians could use Blackfriars station, by just touching in and out and not being charged.

Pedestrian-only routes must be much safer.

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

Bank Junction Goes Buses And Cyclists Only

On Monday, the 22nd of June 2017, the City of London brought in an order making the busy Bank Junction buses and cyclists only between seven in the morning and seven in the evening from Monday to Friday.

I took these pictures soon after ten in the morning.

The first few pictures were taken from the top of a Routemaster bus on Route 21, as it travelled from where I live across the city to London Bridge station.

Note.

  • Most drivers seemed to be avoiding the area.
  • The City of London Police were telling drivers, but didn’t appear to be ticketing anybody.
  • Much of the congestion seemed to be caused by half-empty polluting Tour Buses.
  • One pedestrian was moaning that he couldn’t use his car to get around the City.

Overall, it appeared to be a calm start.

The Upgrade Of Bank Station

I have only shown the area on the surface, but under the ground around Bank Junction, a massive construction project is starting in the City of London’s twin goals of more and better office accomodation and transport links.

Bank station is getting a major upgrade, which will include.

  • In The New Tunnel Under Bank Station, I wrote about an upgraded pedestrian tunnel that crosses the area.
  • In Between Bank And Cannon Street Station, I wrote about how Bloomberg are helping develop a new step-free entrance to the Waterloo and City Line and Bank station, which will open by early 2018.
  • A new Northern Line tunnel to create more space on the platforms and increase frequency on the line.
  • The station weill receive a forty percent increase in capacity.
  • Full step-free access with thirteen new escalators and three new lifts.
  • A new entrance to Bank station opposite Cannon Street station.
  • Two North-South moving walkways.
  • Some of the £600million project cost will be funded by oversite office development.
  • Hopefully, much of the work will be finished by 2021.

There’s more in this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Bank station upgrades point to London’s bigger, busier future.

Bank Station And Crossrail

You may wonder, why if Bank station is so important, that Crossrail doesn’t call and Crossrail 2 won’t either.

It may not, but the Central Line will have good connections to Crossrail at Stratford, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations.

So passengers for Bethnal Green, Bank, St. Paul’s, Chancery Lane and Holborn will change from Crossrail to the Cwntral Line at a convenient station.

In addition, Crossrail will feed passengers into loops in the District, Hammersmith and City and Jubilee Lines.

Travellers will pay their money and take their choice.

Other Developments At Bank

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pedestrian routes linking the City stations of Bank, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street and Moorgate; both on the surface and possibly underground.

I would also make sure that all buses in the centre of London are low-emission vehicles. That certainly doesn’t apply to those polluting and jam-creating Tour Buses and tourist coaches.

 

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment