Sunday, 20 October 2019

Weekend Variety (2)

The Sadness of Things
Leeds United are playing Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough Stadium on Saturday 26th. There was trouble with fan behaviour last year at a similar fixture. Sheffield Supertram suffered. So this year discussions on ow to cope were arranged. BUT ...
So trams will terminate the the Cathedral, depriving football non-hooligans and disinterested Sheffielders of their tram service to Hillsborough.

A on a (very) slightly positive note, Stagecoach Sheffield Supertram have published a timetable on-line and we can expect notices at all tram stops.
Will Supertram be sending a bill to the footy teams for compensation for loss of revenue?

Another 70th Birthday ...
... this time from Railway Modeller which was born in 1949 as The Railway Modeller and was published by Ian Allan. There is a souvenir booklet within the magazine which focuses on the people involved in its production over the years.

One picture is of long term editor Cyril Freezer ...
One of his contributions to Railway Modelling was a a designer of layouts. One in particular was his "signature" track plan. He called it Minories after a road near Aldgate Station in London.
There never was such a station, but Mr Freezer's idea was that a simple plan linked to a fiddle yard would enable to modeller to run an intensive "commuter" service to this small but imaginatively busy terminus.
The plan first appeared in 1959 and was repeated several times over the years. Up rolls Hornby Magazine (the competitor) with its November edition and their headline layout is a modern version of Minories.
The track plan is very nearly identical ...
... but of course the 1959 original would be served by steam trains whereas the more recent Minories is all diesel ...
... and, no doubt, a more recent model again would be served by electric trains!

But, whether by accident or design, Hornby gives C J Freezer and Railway Modeller a notable tribute by showing off its Minories.

Is Nothing Sacrosanct?
Last weekend was the Isle of Wight Bus Museum's beer and buses weekend. This has grown into a massive well attended event, and that is well attended by people and visiting buses.
fbb's senior Isle of Wight correspondent (there is no "junior" but he likes the status!) fleshes out these figures.

We were meant to have around 130 buses but with breakdowns etc probably ended up with 115ish . 93 were booked from mainland but 7 never made it!

We reckoned between 13,000 and 14,000 visitors last year and similar this year.

If you think the attendee numbers are a bit "woolly" bear in mind that travel on the day is free. Visitors are invited to buy a programme, but it is not compulsory, so there is no way of being absolutely certain that everyone is counted.

The web site invites comment with the following caveat.

If you are going to comment on A/ Not enough buses, or B/ Too many people or C/ It was raining. Can I explain here that -  we cannot "magic up" more buses, we cannot tell people to go away and we certainly cannot stop it raining. If we could, we would!

But this tweeted picture caused fbb to do a "double take"!
Well, fbb supposes that a bendibus is now a "classic".

What is the world coming to?

Having A Good Night's Rest - Then and Now
An interesting paste-up of a sleeper train at Fort William in the 1980s ...
... and its 2019 equivalent.
In the 1980s picture top, notice ETHEL, not the lady in the grey suit, but a former class 25 loco used to provide train heating - Elecrtic Train Heating Ex Locomotive!

Maybe Not The Best Advertising Slogan
A shout from Mrs fbb hard at work in the kitchen attempting to clean the shelves from the oven. Clutching a bottle of Cillit Bang in her hand.
After a few minutes if aggressive toil, she shouted in frustration from the catering department, emulating Barry Scott's memorable slogan, but with a slight change.
Maybe not the best slogan for a positiver business plan!

Meanwhile fbb himself was becoming really excited by yet another stunning offer from Ebay.

X70 Excellence - Almost
Hulley's new X70 doubles the frequency of buses between Chesterfield and Bakewell. More than that it gives a faster, direct service every hour eschewing a few rambles off piste.
(It's the excitement from the Ebay ski-pants offer inspiring fbb's choice of inappropriate vocabulary.)

Good News (1)
Hulley's have produced an excellent leaflet with full timetable.

Good News (2)
The leaflets are all ready, printed and "out there" for a 4th November start.
Good News (3)
There is encouragement for new customers to try the service.
Good News (4)
Hulleys have been distributing printed leaflets around and about; an excellent policy. Death to the "its all on line, paper not needed" philosophy!

Not So Good News (1)
The leaflets were not on display at Bakewell Tourist Information when Roy visited on Friday. When he enquired there was a distinct lack of positive response and, after some gentle persuasion the informista trudged "out the back" to search; and duly returned with the secret leaflet.

Not So Good News (2)
Toilets in Bakewell cost 20p!

Tomorrow : How to mess it up yet again!

 Next Sheffield Map blog : Monday 21st October 

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Weekend Variety (1)

Buses Mag 70 Not Out!
Buses magazine is celebrating its 70th Birthday as emblazoned on the cover of the November edition.
It has a wide variety of articles ranging from a review of the demise of Wrightbus plus a good selection of  pictures and comment on the recent Bus and Coach exhibition. Well worth the money even if you are not a regular buyer.

A Caledonian Coincidence
One of the highlights of the above periodical is an article by David Jenkins, occasional comment writer to this blog, comments which usually and helpfully correct fbb's ignorance and/or incompetence. 
He experiences first-hand the massive competitive onslaught on First Bus' West Lothain "territory". Comparisons are not favourable, particularly as regards publicity both on-bus and, for example at Livingston, the focus of operations.
What is telling is David's conclusion.
It challenges the "its all on line" brigade and makes it clear that a printed leaflet trumps a mobile phone or a laptop back home on the kitchen table every time. Well said, sir?

The bulk of the article concerns rides on the recently introduced EX1, provided with posh coaches, branded Green Arrow and operated "in partnership" with Citylink.
Coincidentally, and on the same day that Buses mag appeared in fbb's local newsagents, Lothian Buses was making announcements about timetable changes upcoming on 17th November.
Thanks to correspondent Roger for sending fbb the link.

Whilst First Bus deserves a good kick up the exhaust pipe for poor publicity and a mixed bag of vehicles, bus watchers have, for some time, been of the opinion that Lothian has bitten off more than it can operated successfully and profitably.

As fbb's dad was wont to say when facing competition on his company's fruit and veg wholesale rounds, "there's a living for one but bankruptcy for two".

Just as true for bus services as for fruit and veg lorries.

For the record here is part of the current EX1 publicity.

More Seats at St Pancras
The "new" London St Pancras is a stunning station, but is does have problems. There is insufficient room for the now obligatory queues for Eurostar and there are very few places to sit down anywhere except in refreshment outlets of various kinds.

The "East Midlands" circulating area is particularly annoying. After a lengthy trek from the underground, often encumbered with luggage, fbb has oft been in need of a sit down. Ideally that should be on his train north, but, so often, passengers are herded outside the barriers until only a few minutes before departure. When the vicious sheep-dogs allow the penned herds out, there is an ungainly rush for the train and a rugby scrum to get a seat.

But there is nowhere to sit down until the gates are opened! However, some more seating has appeared.
These are on the "balcony" at the entrance opposite the new bit of Kings Cross. Do you recognise them?

They are recycled from the memorable Olympic rings (which fbb had forgotten completely!) which adorned the station in 2012.
A nice touch from Network Rail!

Fire Finished off Failed Fell
This picture arrived via a Twitterer.
Known as the "Fell" loco, after one of its design team, it was an experiment by the London Midland and Scottish Railway, but did not appear in service until British Railways had been formed.

In Whytes steam engine notation using number of wheels, it was built as a 4-8-4. 
Under the different system for diesels (using axles) it was classified as 2-D-2, with "D" signifying four coupled axles. Subsequently a chunk of con-rod was removed between axles 4 and 5.
The loco was diesel mechanical with hydraulic transmission but had complex internal gubbins and was unpopular, expensive and troublesome to maintain. After a fire in its train heating boiler in 1958 it was withdrawn and finally cut up in 1960.

The Improving Railway
Again via Twitter, a joyous aerial picture of London Bridge Station (plus the Shard) by night ...
... and a similar daytime shot taken from the opposite direction.
This is what it used to be!
Not too bad from high up, but pretty grim from down below.

Environmental Extravagance?
Mrs fbb returned from a shopping trip yesterday morning with a new shirt from her hubby's usual shirt maker; where every little helps!

She refused to un-wrap it, leaving that frustrating task to her beloved.
Two cardboard strips, two plastic strips, one large piece of cardboard, one sheet of tissue paper, four plastic clips (assorted) and one pseudo but useless plastic hanger. And a label and plastic string.
Many moons ago, fbb remembers that, on one of the TV "magazine" shows (Tonight with Cliff Michelmore?) a guest showed how to fold and pack a shirt using just the shirt and no extra clutter. Is the skill still "out there"?

 More Variety in tomorrow's blog : Sunday 20th October 

Friday, 18 October 2019

E M T - An Overview (3)

EMT Buses - a P.S.

Observant readers will ave noticed that the idea of a "fixed interval" service is completely unknown to the residents of Tarragona. Even reasonably frequent services run at irregular frequencies.
Do Tarragonians check on their "device" regularly, or, more likely fbb suspects, do they turn up at a stop and hope. fbb will return to GB not-very-fixed interval services in a future blog, but we are still (despite irregularity "for operational reasons") far better off than many countries in Europe.

Also, the EMT web site has a ...

Planificador de Viatges.
Empleni les següents dades per a trobar en Google Maps les millors rutes per al seu viatge i premi el botó 'Consultar'. S'obrirà una nova finestra amb el resultat en Google Maps

At least two words in the above extract should be familiar to all blog readers!

fbb has had a go at the journey planner and found it worked quite well ...
... but seemed far too keen to offer you a walk rather than the bus. fbb tried a journey from Estació to Sant Pere i Saul Pau, which was the district that featured in yesterdays blog.
This time the car option appeared first ...
... followed by the bus a few minutes later.
A detailed journey plan, including unnecessary 1 minute walks from Station to Station bus stop, could be revealed.
It was a two leg bus journey but the technology insisted that the car was much quicker. Enquiries were limited to localities within the Tarragona area - which meant that it would not get fbb from Estació Tarragona ...
... to the town's other station.

Tarragona Travel by Train

Spain has developed a growing network of High Speed line, one of which runs from Madrid to Barcelona whither it continues to the border to give fast trains into France..
If fbb had flown, in in his private luxury helicopter, due north from the terminus of route 55 (see yesterdays blog) above the main road (TP2031), he would have passed over this line, at that point in a tunnel.
To the east, and in a very rural area, can be seen the tunnel portal and the start of the trackwork for for Camp de Tarragona station.
From here, for example, fast trains would whisk the passenger to Barcelona in just over 35 minutes but, as on the buses, with no attempt at the fixed interval frequency.
"Ordinary" trains from Estació Tarragona take about 1&frac1/4 hours except the faster Talgo trains which are timed for one hour.

But you have to get yourself to the High Speed Station and there is no rail link.

There are express buses ...
... taking a modest 20 minutes from the estació d'autonbusos which obviously negates and saving in "High Speed" time and adds to the expense. It is obviously aimed at motorists!

The super station is reached from the east with cars parked on the verges ...
... presumably to save parking charges at the station itself. It appears that the car park is under the station building ...
... which is odd as there is plenty of rough-ish land around the station site; Google translates the "Camp" in the station name as "rural area" ...
... and it is.

There are plenty of taxis.
The station block is swish as would be expected with a new building ...
... and includes a block for a d i f ...
... Spain's Notwork Rail equivalent; full name Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias. The train operator is r e n f eRed Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles, technically now Renfe Operadora. RED print is Spanish, not Catalan in the above parargraph)
Imagine all our UK train operating companies rolled into one British Railways plc, state owned and running all the trains.

The "Iberian Gauge" equates to 5.472 feet but was originally 6 Catalan feet. The High Speed lines are standard gauge of 4 feet 8½ inches. The existence of these two gauges gived the rail operators significant technical and operational problems which might form a later blog. Not also that there is a metre gauge network in Northern Spain coloured GREEN in the map extract below.
The metre gauge stock is modern and well turned out - also run by a division of r e n f e.

 Weekend mixture blog : Saturday 19th October