Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Venturing to Vectis

The class 159 diesel units, which convey fbb to and from Axminster Station, first appeared in Network SouthEast livery ...
... then received a Stagecoach paint job.
There have been variations in minor detail i.e. yellow doors instead of orange and a few non-standard "swoops".  But the new South Western Railway colours look dull by comparison.
The "launch" train pictures did not do justice to the new paint job. Only there's no paint involved - the whole caboodle is sticky-backed plastic!
fbb did not think much of the new scheme and said so at the time; but your unobservant blogger had failed to notice the subtlety of the SWR design. The dark grey (it might be dark blue?) has got slightly lighter grey stripes on it, which, at  cursory glance, looked like reflections of the roof of the former Eurostar platforms at Waterloo.

But there's more. On the light grey there are stripes of a slightly darker light grey. This cannot be seen very clearly on the press release photo above.

But when the 0806 six-car train from Axminster on Saturday last pulled in to Platform 4 at Salisbury it coupled up to the two car unit (number 158888) IN THE NEW LIVERY.

fbb was able to take a better look at a real train bedecked in real vinyl ...
... and there were the grey on grey stripes at the cab end ...
... and the lighter grey on even lighter grey further down.

To fbb's perhaps jaded  eyes it looks even worse in reality; dull on dull plus light dull on light dull! Compare it with the Stagecoach front end!
As well as wrapping their trains in a poor grey plastic (shouldn't they be banning plastic anyway - what happens when the trains are un-vinyled?), First are plastering former Uncle Brian's trains with the company name in garish and over-large white lettering.
Now how will that look on Stagecoach's "white" trains? Here is a "white" train with the new lettering applied by way of demonstration.
But, sacrilege of sacrilege, look what First have done to the lovely (?) Isle of Wight trains!
Ugh! And double ugh!

Whilst the fbb's journeys (out and back) were all spot in time, there was one irritant which seems to be a growing problem for trains from London to Exeter via Salisbury. Yet again the on-board information screens were being potty.

What SHOULD appear is a list of calling points for the remaining part of he journey, followed by a "next station is ...".

On fbb's train, all the way from Axminster to Salisbury the screen was showing a full list of station from Pinhoe to Waterloo ...
... whilst resolutely identifying the next stop as ...
... Exeter Central. On-board staff have no control of these displays and often have to resort to making their own correct announcements.

At Salisbury, and unaffected by the toxins, the fbb's changed to a Great Western Railway three car unit that had been thoroughly refurbished. It looked good.
Equipped with power sockets and USB ditto (but not WiFi as far as fbb could tell) ...
... it also had seats with increased spacing especially for those with disabilities. fbb was impressed with seats specially for those with his particular corpulence!
Or had he misunderstood the picture?

The return journey was in an unrefurbished train and the contrast was notable. 
The higher backs to the seats, the "tired" lighting and the dark moquette made the old unit feel very gloomy. It might have been a tad brighter if someone had cleaned the windows in the last four weeks!
One irritant with the newer train, however was the information screens. They are bigger and brighter but seem to use the same text as scrolling displays. But they don't scroll!

This gave some very odd results. Here is the sequence photographed after leaving Salisbury.
Surely it should be possible to edit the information so that each screen made a bit more sense? And do we really need "We'll be ..." rather than just "calling at"?

And Finally
Yesterday, fbb referred to a clever "thing" on his phone (called Google Lens) which could extract text from photographs.

Here are a few successes and not-so-goods.

From a Great Western Railway super-duper screen:-

From the side of a train in Portsmouth and Southsea Station ...
... it gave up!

But, equally sloping, from the Island Line train.
It even tried to read the SWR logo, described by chum Alan as "The Umbrella"!

From  piece of "odd" font AND out of focus ...
... perfection.

But it really didn't like South Western Railways "spotty" lettering at all!
But the little "toy" gave fbb hours of pleasure and delight as he played with it on the train home (from Loridori via Clapham Jurictiori).

Little things please little minds ... as they say!

 Next cartographical blog : Wednesday 14th March 


  1. At least the trains had better spelling than the caff

  2. The screens on the SW units have always been a nuisance to work with - once it loses the GPS signal there is little hope of getting it back. But then it was the cheapest available model.

    The refurbished SWT/SWR units also have the seats with more legroom, but there was some concern about getting enough electric out of the alternator to power the sockets - hence why some First Class seats had them fitted and then removed!

  3. Each to their own. I quite like the SWR livery. However, the application of the SWR name to SWT livery does look pretty awful.