Thursday, 23 January 2014

Buzzing off to Bradford [1]

Taunton's Train Tribulations

The funeral, a particularly sad occasion for some very long-term family friends, was arranged for Monday 20th January at 1400 at Nab Wood Crematorium, Bradford.
It would have been possible (just!) to do a very long day return ...
But with considerable risk if anything had gone wrong; risk of arriving after the event and risk of being stuck overnight on the return run. Then there's the fares calculation. Such an early departure from Axminster would trigger full "Anytime" fare with no old fogey discount and, whilst the fbb's would begrudge nothing to support their friends, the two hassles combined led to a rejection of the one-day option!

BUT ...

The alternative would involve overnight stays and (pause for the onslaught of a spate of tics douloureux) train travel on Sunday! The usual route would be from Axminster to Exeter thence Exeter north-eastwards by CrossCountry Trains. But the journey planner warned that something was very up between Exeter and Taunton.

Reference to Cross Country's web site revealed hat the upness of the something meant that there were no trains whatsoever between the two.
Poor potential travellers between, say, Newton Abbot and Dundee would be bussed between Exeter and Taunton, diverted via Lichfield between Birmingham and Derby ...
... and bussed between Edinburgh and Dundee!
To add to the CrossCoutry fun and games (although irrelevant for travel from Taunton etc.) there was yet another diversion between Sheffield and Donny.
Train tribulations indeed! As William Shakespeare wrote, when facing a similar railway journey:-
To go, or not to go, that is the question.
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of Sunday Travel,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of Risks,
And by opposing end them? To go, or not to go?
To go, perchance to arrive; Aye, there's the rub,
For in those days of Travel, what Risks may come,
When we have shuffled off Axminster's soil,
 Must give us Pause. There's the Respect
That makes Calamity of so long a Trail:

The work is centred in and around Whiteball Tunnel ...
... which is being relined using "Ram Arch" technology.
Whiteball Tunnel beween Taunton and Tiverton Parkway 
tunnel mouths top right & bottom left
main A38 runs from top to bottm

Whiteball tunnel has suffered through weathering, water ingress and sulphate attack leading to degradation of the mortar joints. Network rail’s standard tunnel repair methods were continually being carried out but the rate of deterioration was such that a completely new approach was needed.
RamArch on this project was fixed in position by using 200 mm long bolts, set in place using high-speed fast setting resin although there are other systems that could be used. The design called for further bolts to be fitted around the periphery of the arch again using fast setting resin to form a very robust structure.

Trackwork is also being renewed at the same time.

Whilst CrossCountry have a train hiatus between Taunton and Exeter, First Great Western are diverting some trains via Yeovil. First's web site is, as usual, baffling. Here is the map showing line disruption with its associated line updates note ...
... which suggests that all is well; but it obviously wasn't and isn't for three weeks. You have to delve a lot deeper to find the truth! Of course fbb knows that the map and tag shown above refer to unplanned disruptions whereas Whiteball tunnel and its associated works is planned and fully timetabled; but does the public understand the difference?

Planned engineering work will take place between Taunton and Exeter St Davids via Tiverton Parkway from 02:00, Saturday 18 January 2014 to 04:00, Monday 10 February 2014.  The line will be closed and buses will be replacing trains in the area.  Trains between London Paddington and the West of England will be operating to a revised timetable with some services diverted via an alternative route with extended journey times. Please check journey times before travelling.

So what did the fbbs do?

After several hours of research on the interwebnet the following plan was hatched. Drive to Taunton and park. Catch the 1351 from Taunton to Sheffield on Sunday, allowing time for a quick Sunday lunch at home. Stay overnight in Sheffield (£31 Travelodge) and proceed to the funeral on Monday morning. Return from Bradford for a second overnight stay and a leisurely return on Tuesday. A saving of £80 on the anytime day return.

The only remaining challenge was parking.
The ultimately successful plan will form the basis of tomorrow's blog. But fbb had never before met a "Pay by Phone" car park.

And - talking of Taunton!

This is a First Bus bus ...
... and so is this!
fbb saw the double decker on Sunday on service 21 (Sundays to Bunham-on-Sea, Monday to Saturday through to Weston-super-Mud).

What's going on?
 Next Rail Blog : Friday 24th January 

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhh. The great mystery of the green paint adorning Taunton's buses and bus station. And now box fills of green timetable booklets delivered to Taunton bus station today, and staff talking about a new website. All to emerge this weekend apparently!