Monday, 16 July 2018


Weariness Obligates Brief Blog
on Limited Expedition to Sheffield
The trip was to visit lorry-driving Dave in hospital, OUT on Saturday and BACK on Sunday. This blog is not the place to delve into Dave's debilities, but suffice it to say he has undergone a long period of surgery and recuperation, the last "op" being on Wednesday 11th. So the trip was exhausting, emotional and extremely hot; far too hot to be bothered with pictures of buses or trams.

Ticket Travesty
The very nice man at Axminster Station offered fbb "split ticketing" using five legs of off peak returns ...
... and issuing fbb with twelve bits of tangerine and pale green cardboard with a saving of £18 on the normal through fare. Of course such "deals" on a Saturday and Sunday have no time restrictions and fbb's plans to travel by Arriva (Deutsche Bahn) were fixed in stone, so no stress about the two-day schedule.

Why not simply reduce the price of the through ticket to match? Wasn't the "Rail Delivery Group" supposed to be sorting this out?

Diverted via Swindon
(click to enlarge the map)
CrossCountry could not whizz straight "up" (northbound) from Bristol because part of the orange army was doing something exciting to the tracks at Bristol Parkway. Rather than use buses, the clever people at Notwork Rail had arranged for trains to divert via Swindon between Bristol and Cheltenham. CrossCountry trains, as taken by fbb, do not serve Gloucester; the above is a GWR map.

This gave fbb the delights of Bath ...
... Box tunnel, and some of the remaining evidence of Brunel's "Railway Town" of Swindon.
But what ruffled the fbb feathers more than a twitch was this ...
... the really ugly, desperately over-engineered overhead structures that accompany the unfinished (never to be finished?) Great Western electrification. Surely all this metalwork is overkill? Compare it with the former standards on the Birmingham Cross-City line ...
It is no wonder that DaFT have declared that electrification is "unaffordable"!

But journeys both ways via the mega diversion were on-time.
The return run had the bonus of being an HST on a very leisurely schedule; with 30 minutes to enjoy the view of the platforms at New Street station ...
... and a further 15 minutes "waiting time" at the slightly more picturesque Bristol Temple Meads.
Exciting, eh?

Despite elongated timings, a thoroughly acceptable set of journeys. Once again the UK's railways were doing an excellent job under complex and difficult circumstances.

Hospital Horrors OR ...
If you thought Public Transport Information was rubbish ...
fbb entered the campus at the bottom right, having arrived on a service 88 (Stagecoach) at the Barnsley Road entrance to the Northern General Hospital.
Spot the mistake on fbb's first draft underground-style map!
David was in the "High Dependency Unit" (HDU) for recovery from surgery.

But there is no HDU on the map and no HDU on any direction signs! Help!

A very nice lady directed fbb up the "blue-grey" road towards the dark blue block. "When you get there," she advised, "ask someone to direct you round the outside, you'll get completely lost if you try it inside". But there was no one to ask; it was, after all, Saturday afternoon when. as a general principle, the NHS doesn't really like you to be ill.

fbb went inside and (entrance 11 - white on green blob) met another very nice lady who directed him back down the long yellow corridor towards here he had started; and advised, "when you get to the very end you are almost there".

Almost there, but sign-less.

Another nice man. "You've come too far! Go back up the (yellow) corridor, turn left past the lifts and you want Vickers.

Help! That seemed to be the whole of the purple area - absolutely huge!

But, after two further enquiries of very nice people he found himself at the end of a corridor.

"You just go up the stairs and ask in reception." was the final piece of advice.

And there, at the bottom of the stairs was THE VERY FIRST (and very last) sign to the HDU.

Thanks a bunch! All this peripatetic perambulation was in an atmosphere slightly more heated that the surface of the sun. fbb thought he might end up IN a bed, not alongside one.

The HDU, it turns out, is part of the Critical Care Unit - everybody knows that, of course.

fbb came out at exit 24 (or maybe 22 - they are not numbered on the building) with no idea where he was but, using his consummate sense of direction and his encyclopaedic knowledge of Sheffield's road network (i.e. by a pure fluke!!) made his was to a completely different entrance to the hospital.
It makes Sheffield's atrocious public transport information seem positively welcoming and helpful by comparison.

Just opposite were bus stops on Norwood Road ...
... where the old man was able to catch a service 97 (or was it 98?) back into the city, there to dine with the Colonel ...
... before catching a service 24 out to the Travelodge Richmond, which isn't at Richmond - it is not even at the Richmond in Sheffield. But, thankfully, fbb had been before - TWICE!

Despite the frustrations of the Northern General Hospital, the whole visit went well and much chat was had with Dave, albeit weakly from time to time from his and wheezily for most of the time from an exhausted fbb.

Tomorrow we will look again at some of the bus information frustrations in the centre of Sheffield.

Today's blog was not as brief as your author originally intended.

Oh, yesterday's puzzle pictures.
The bus was at Didcot Parkway providing a replacement service to Oxford so that Notwork Rail could work on the cancelled electrification for this route.

The bag, shown below with full multilingual detail is explained below.
Meerschweinchen    )
Cochons d'Inde     ) Guinea Pig
Porcellini d'India )

Futter    )
Aliment   ) Feed (for animals)
Alimento  )

fbb's No 3 son is fascinated by the propensity of the German language to create long concatenated words. Four separate works in French and Italian, just one on German.

 Next Sustainable Information blog : Tuesday 17th July 


  1. Ref the electrification equipment. At least compare like with like before making your unqualified pronouncements: masts supporting wires for both lines on a curve against a mast carrying one wire on straight track.
    The GWML scheme is far from perfect, but it doesn't need uniformed bloggers taking pot shots at it.

  2. Andrew Kleissner16 July 2018 at 14:26

    Two thoughts. 1. The electrification masts on the ECML were done on the cheap and under-engineered and have caused a lot of trouble. 2. The specification for the GWML is surely going to be more robust than for a lower-speed suburban line.

    Having said that, I do agree that they're ugly (perhaps not as bad as the original WCML gantries), I know some folk in the Thames Valley complained about them. Here in Cardiff we just wait for the power to reach us (and Swansea must dream on). It's very noticeable how much more "oomph" the bimode trains have once they reach Didcot and get on the juice. Mind you, the seats don't get any softer!

  3. To Anonymous above. Comparing like with like gives EXACTLY the same result. The GWR structures are unnecessarily over engineered throughout; even respected engineers have said so, not just fbb!

  4. Really nice and definitely it will be useful for many people. Kindly keep update like this.

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