Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Midweek Miscellania

An apology!
Due entirely to circumstances under his control, fbb has got into "a bit of a pickle"** with his time management (lack of!) skills. In the absence of Mrs fbb at a prayer and Bible study "do" in Hertfordshirew, the old man set himself the task of finishing preparation for his starring role (?) as guest speaker one week from today at Thorncombe Rail Activities Club. Other tasks are listed for today "thru" Friday.

Yesterday, the clock ran faster than fbb's preparation skills; leaving inadequate time to do justice to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Hence this "unscheduled" blog.

** A reminder of the late great Jimmy Young, who, when interviewing a politician who had found themselves in deep trouble, would explain the debacle as "a bit of a pickle"!
Talking of Being in a Bit of a Pickle
In 2013 Notwork Rail (NR) announced the best thing since sliced bread in its plans to electrify the GWR main lines on time and on budget. Indeed, even yesterday, the NR web site was still adulating its new toy.
We all know that this huge project is running well behind schedule and well over budget, so yesterday's announcement by this week's rail minister, Paul Maynard, should not come as a great surprise.
And the NR toy seems to be getting the blame all round.
The press reports about exactly what is being paused seem unclear.
Oxford to Didcot, Filton Bank and the Thames Valley branches are fairly clear. But Thingley Junction "linking Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads"
.There it is (lower left on the map extract above), well EAST of Bath. Alternatively, here it is on the Greater Railway route diagram.
It is where the line via Melksham leaves the Bristol main line. It carries the service from Swindon via Melksham to Westbury and beyond.
It seems illogical that catenary should stop short of Bath and Bristol to save money. fbb needs help!

fbb is not qualified to offer an opinion on what has really caused the "pause" (or is it a cancellation in disguise) but it does seem to make very little sense.

It does seem, however, that this nation has a history of pausing and/or cancelling rail projects then, in a few years, having to do them anyway at significantly more than the "cancelled" cost. See Thameslink 2000 - now Thameslink 2018.

The trains are running a little late!

We await developments with considerable interest.
Another Small Nostalgia-fest for fbb
What links two preserved Northampton Corporation buses ...
... a Park Royal bodied Atlantean from Sheffield ...
... and a Doncaster Corporation single deck.
The unusual purple-and-white squiggle was an attempt by DCT to "modernise" its dull all-over red livery. It was certainly "different". But we had barely got used to it when the PTE appeared and all went cream and brown.
Livery is always a subjective matter, but fbb felt that South Yorkshire's PTE was one of the least satisfactory. But then it was BRS!

The First bus double decker in the purple squiggle heritage livery looks very smart.
The top three pics (courtesy of Alan from Northampton were taken at the recent Lincoln running day.

But back in Northampton a few weeks earlier ...
... a serendipitous camera man managed to recreate Northampton town centre of old as one beauty approaches from Bridge Street (right) and the other from George Row. All Saints Church is off-shot to the left. This inadvertent recreation was part of the town's "Heritage" weekend when several older buses ran services and tours from the aforementioned George Row.

George Row and All Saints Church

 Next Stratford (hopefully!) blog : Thursday 10th Nov 


  1. Although no one has said it directly, I think the reason for the deferment of the electrification to Bath and Bristol is the need to rebuild the track and signalling at Temple Meads against a background of a severe skills shortage in the signalling specialism.
    Having made that decision, logic (if that's the right word in the circumstances!!) would then suggest that the wires should end (temporarily, one hopes) at Wootton Bassett Junction. However, Thingley is the location of one of the 3 National Grid feeders on the project (there is a 4th, but it's under the CrossRail scheme) so they need the wires to stretch that far at least. And indeed the piling trains were in action east of Chippenham overnight.

  2. Will I be the only person who doesn't know what BRS stands for?

    1. No you are not. BRS that I knew was 'British Road Services' the nationalised road haulage company of the 1950's and 60's. After privatisation it de-generated into BRS Rentals and eventually died.But I couldn't see a connection with the picture posted - so I don't know what BRS stands for in this context.

  3. While BRS were mainly green (and previously red), some at least were brown, as in this photo: Another website suggests that brown was a regional livery, used at least by the Eastern and North Eastern divisions - quite possibly those with which fbb would have been familiar in Northampton and Sheffield.