Saturday, 22 September 2018

Weekend World Of Fantasy 1

Cornelius Chuddery
It is passing possible that out loyal readers may not have heard of Cornelius, but he features in a two page spread in the October edition of Railway Modeller. Watchers of the social scene of the early 21st century will recognise a proponent of "Steampunk"! 

The garb, Victorian clothing plus goggles and gears on a top hat, is the "uniform" of this genre. The sitz-im-leben is that Victorian engineering and steam power continued to be developed and found its way into all avenues of daily life in the form of weird and wacky machines. 

fbb has some feeling for the concept when, in his early teens, he spent a weekend on a farm in company with a school chum called Jacob. Apart from helping with a few farmyard chores (moving a flock of cows from one field to the next - terrifying!) part of the fun was building a "thing".

It was to float on the pond and its non-working mechanism consisted of on eclectic collection of old clock parts, vintage electrical bits and oddments picked up in the farmyard.

It was a joy to behold as it floated gracefully in the goo at the pond's edge. 

A few weeks later Jake reported that a cow had trod on it and destroyed "The Thing" utterly!

So Cornelius has built a model railway replicating the fantasy world of Steampunk.
His fantasy world mixes dinosaurs with rockets and has track balanced precarious on poles. 

You can almost hear "traditional" railway modellers tutting into their mugs of tea!

But Cornelius Chuddery doesn't care - he enjoys his steam punkery! Sometimes he uses his 21st century persona of normality - Laurie Calvert

But surely ALL railway modelling is fantasy? We are creating our own world, bending time, size and fact to create something we enjoy. It may not be "correct" but it conveys an "impression" - in that sense our next item is just as fantastical ...

fbb Gets It Wrong - Again!
Another article in the RM caught fbb's eye. It is a layout entitled "Sonning" described by its creator Martin Kirkham. It is a large, long layout replicating the much photographed Sonning cutting on the GWR main line out of Paddington.

Martin has also included a lovely model of Sonning station ...
... complete with its four platforms and typical GWR foorbridge.
Whilst fbb's modelling skills are minimal, he does admire such skills in others. So he set about to find pictures of the real Sonning Station to compare excellent model with reality.

Sadly, there was nothing to be found on the interwebnet, which fbb found strange. Usually there is a wealth of corroborative material on line.

There was a possible reason for this information shortfall.

There never was a station at Sonning! It is pure fantasy!
Collapse of stout party!

Nearby is Twyford (to the east); where the new lifts and footbridge combo somewhat destroys the original GWR quaintness of the station.
Here the branch to Henley Upon Thames diverges. Henley is now just a single track station ...
... bit does have staff, a proper station building and, appropriate for your author ...
... a nice-looking caff!

fbb wonders what modernisation might have done to the fantastic (in the true sense of the word) Sonning station.

Eboracum Fantasticum?
Just as "fantastic" is a bit of First Bus news from York. "The lads" have repainted a single decker in Yorkshire Rider livery ...
... and very smart it looks. It is photograped on Station Road York, a road which never led to today's station. It did lead to the original station which was inside York's city walls.
The grand building was the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway and is now, appropraietly, The Grand Hotel. fbb went to a meeting there ...
 ... and it was - and still is - GRAND. fbb's jolly was in "the small meeting room" on the second floor. "Small?" - it was about the size of fbb's house. The sarnies were excellent and plentiful; the meeting was , as ever, a complete waste of time!

The privatised West Yorkshire PTE, re-branded as Yorkshire Rider, bought the privatised York-West Yorkshire business ...
... rebranded as York City and District ...
... and named it York Rider. It wasn't long before the whole lot was swallowed up by the expanding First Bus.
But the present manifestations are, of course, pure fantasy!

And So To Scotland S-L-O-W-L-Y.
At 0655 this morning the fbb will start/will have started (dependent on when you read this posting!) their journey to Scotland.

The rail line between Crewkerne and Exeter will be closed from Saturday 15th until Sunday 23 September. No South Western Railway services will operate between Crewkerne and Exeter between those dates. This does not affect Great Western Railway services between Exmouth to Exeter and Paignton which will operate normally. The closure is to allow Network Rail to carry out works to reduce the impact of flooding on rail services in the future. 

Hooray for South Western Railway! They have published the timetables on line (and on display at stations) to include the replacement buses.
Thus it will be/was that the fbbs drove to Axminster and will catch/have caught the replacement bus to Crewkerne.

That will be a three hours and twentyfour minute grind to Waterloo instead of two hours and forty three minutes, although, to be fair to SWT, the fbbs would have caught the 0724 which stops EVEYWHERE and takes two hours and 54 minutes on a normal Saturday.

A report on the whole journey will follow - possibly in tomorrow's blog if the old crusties get there at a reasonable time.

 Next fantastic blog : Sunday 23rd September 

Friday, 21 September 2018

Joyeux à Genève - Cinq

Diagram or Geographical?
That is the question! T P G (Geneva Public Transport) produces an excellent map of two parts. One side covers the outer suburban routes of the Canton of Geneva. So at the airport, it only shows those routes which venture outside the city area.
T72 and T74 are Train routes, presumably? No. It isn't T for train but T for long distance coach!
Both FLIXBUS and OUIBUS have stops marked nearby, but the T in T72/T74 may either be T for Transdev or even T for Transalis. Yep, Transalis it is.
But back to our bus ride:-

So, if we want to check out bus route 5, we need the "city" version. Both are diagrammatic, which is OK for people "in the know" but may not be the best for curious visitors. fbb certainly prefers a geographical map, or something that makes a valid attempt to reproduce the geography as accurately as space and complexity might allow.
The first calling point after the airport is "Arena-Halle 7" ...
... where fbb could only find (courtesy of Streetview) the TO airport flag and stop.
Service 5 then runs via roads unviewed by Google, calling at this block, named Palexpo.
The infrastructure is typical of airports with loads of new buildings of indeterminate use (in this case for exhibitions) and little sign of anything resembling normal life!

But soon we find ourselves on a real road ...
... Route de Fernay in the district of Le Grand Saconnex. Palexpo lurks in the blank white block.
Most stops have simple names, not burdened by the unnecessary complexity of the UKs NaPTAN database. Here is "le Pommier" (the apple tree) ...
... rear view and Le Pommier ...
... from the main road. Note the clear "flag" showing colour-coordinated route numbers for 5, 28 and F, a large timetable frame being viewed by passenger and the neat and simple ticket machine.

One stop is called "intercontinental" named after a hotel.
At "Nations" we have one of those delights of European transport networks, a mini-interchange where trams terminate and buses call alongside.
Whilst Google Maps shows all services at "Nations" as normal, the Michelin Streetmap only indicates the tram stops.
Readers familiar with the environs of Geneva will know that there is a railway station at Sécheron accessed by a splendid "tube".
Service 5 now veers away from "the main drag" ...
... via Rue de Vermont and Rue de Vidollet before turning south to get to Gare Cornavin.
The T P G route diagram makes a reasonable fist of showing this ...
... again, please note the simple stop names, "Vermont" and "Vidollet". At least it is easy to see why the stop "Poste" is so called ...
... as it serves the massive Postal HQ for the City. The stop itself is a minimalist offering with no shelter and no ticket machine.
fbb's perception is that bus stops are more widely spaced than in the UK - more like tramstop distance - but others may interpret that maps differently. There are eleven intermediate stops between Aéropoprt and Gare Cornavin for a daytime running time of 19 minutes.

Clearly, regular users and those familiar with their route will have no trouble dealing with a city wide route diagram; BUT fbb confesses that he would prefer a proper geographical map - with the same detail, of course - to allow him to follow the route from his bus seat. See Paris.

Using a combination of T P G diagram, Google's Maps and Streetview and the Michelin map of Geneva, it was possible to follow the route and know what to look out for. It goes without saying that the Gare Cornavin stop is mightily obvious; but would a newcomer be quick enough to spot the difference between Grande-Saconnex-Place ...
... and Crêts de Morillion?
What is absolutely clear is that each stop name on the map, on the bus stop flag, in the timetables and via the journey planner is THE SAME no matter where the name appears. What a refreshing idea and oh so rare in the UK!

And, doubtless, there will be on-bus next stop screens and audio announcements - also using the same stop names? Maybe a Geneva visitor (or resident) can confirm this.

A bit more on the fares debate will follow later - needs a bit more researched after some of ther comments received.
Tomorrow at 0655 the fbbs will be departing from Axminster Station aiming to arrive at Glasgow Central at 1559. Seems a long journey and a future blog will explain all. Saturday night is c/o Travelodge and Sunday they will be joining a Rail Discoveries Holiday at 1600 at the Holiday Inn Express.

Blogs may perforce be abbreviated, depending on quality and quality of interwebiness.

 Next fantasy blog - Saturday 22nd September 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Joyeux à Genève - Quatre

PDF - Pretty Difficult to Find
We move now to the TPG web site. There are three panels at the very head of the home page, putting a priority for enquiries rather than advertorial twaddle that bedogs so many UK public transport sites.


Typing in Aéroport brings up a list of all services.
Ticking, for example, 5 and 10 delivers next departures.

Next we have a bog-standard journey planner ...
... which does what you would expect. At first fbb thought something was awry as there appeared to be duplicate answers ...
... but fear not, oh suspicious and tubby one ...
... one 2014 departure is route 5 (bus), the other is route 10 (trolleybus).

The next panel is headed "horaires" - timetables ...
... i.e. fbb's least liked departure lists.
Alongside is a list of stops showing "correspondances" (connections) at each one, as appropriate.
Clicking on the route numbers/letters takes you to their departure lists, stop lists etc. A further click will provide you with the full list of departures for the whole week ...
... and yet another link takes you to the stops location on a street map ...
... courtesy of the determined drive for World Domination by Google!

It all goes very smoothly and lacks the clunky clutter of so many bus and train sites in the UK that are trying to sell you something. The main thrust of the TPG site is providing information. How refreshing!

Now you will know what fbb is going to ask about next, won't you?

Can he obtain a proper timetable?
There is another menu which lists "Horaires" - where might that lead? Perhaps back to the pages we are looking at.

But no!

As well as "affiches" horaires, (timetable "posters") we can also look for "tableaux" horaires (timetable "tables").
We have already seen the stuff in "affiches", so let us now click on "tableaux".
Abnormal timetables, by the way, are ones operating at holidays times - which are defined.

With eager anticipation, fbb click on his "fave", service 5. And this happens:-
No amount of prodding and poking the "tpg_ligne_5" produces any tangible result.


Now fbb is no computer expert - you may have noticed - but he is profoundly disturbed by that underscore after the "pdf".

Summat's up!

But if the old man stirs around in the "downloads" section of his confuser and "renames" the file by deleting the underscore, lo and behold, sim-salabim and open sesame, he gets a "normal" PDF file type and a "normal" PDF file.
And what does this lead to? Drooling with joy, fbb has found a "proper" timetable for the service 5.
There, for example is the 2014 that appeared in the journey planner example above/

But it gets better.

By performing the same strange computational manoeuvre, fbb can download a PDF of the WHOLE TIMETABLE BOOK ...
... all 208 pages of it. From route 1 to route Z ...
... to Bossy.
It's a small village north of Geneva and close to the border with France.
Occasional journeys (i.e. the 1212 from Cornavin) continue across the closely guarded border ...
... and into France. The bus continues through open country ...
 ... to a sweet little turning circle at Bois-Chatton ...
...  complete with a splendid bus stop "flag" and up-to-date timetable frame.
Ah, the joy and delight of a timetable book.

But why, please, do we have those "corrupted" PDF files. Maybe the TST gang are at work again - the Timetable Secrecy Team - even in Switzerland!

Or has fbb got something wrong, yet again?

Tomorrow, we return to the network map and the fares leaflet for a more detailed perusal of both.

 Next Geneva blog : Friday 21st September