Sunday, 4 June 2023

Sunday Variety


It will just be a 9 minute bus ride on the L1 from Leighton Buzzard station (at Linslade) to the eponymous railway. Thanks to the loopy route it is 19 minutes back to the station. 

There is a very swish terminal building doubling as a community facility at Pages Park.
The line is based on the industrial railway heritage of the area, but if you expect to trundle amongst old sandpit workings and decaying industrial buildings, you would be surprised. 

It is a line of multiple level crossings ...
... and the multiple is unusually large ...
... but running through modern housing estates. Somehow it feels as if it doesn't belong!! But once, it did belong. It took loaded wagons from numerous small sand pits ...
... to an interchange with the standard gauge Leighton Buzzard to Dunstable line just opposite the present Pages Park terminus.
Nothing significant remains of this Interchange but the new terminus building is the white rectangle top right ...
... and the undergrowth market of the former BR branch runs diagonally across the lower left of the Google Earth view above.

Trains looked like this ...
... but, away from the quarries, the route was through open country. Leighton Buzzard simply expanded around it!
There will be a bit more from this intriguing little line in tomorrow's blog.

Meanwhile, from the ridiculous to the sublime?

European Sleeper
We are all familiar with Poirot (in various shapes and sizes with various shapes and sizes of moustache) as he toured Europe c/o Wagons Lits. But over the past few years Sleeping Car trains have almost disappeared from lands across the Channel.

But there is pressure from the "save the planet" lobby to bring them back ...
... and European Sleepers (dig the squiggly logo) has just made a start by running three nights a week from Berlin to Bruxelles.
Timings are as below ...
... with returns on alternate days.
In fact the train is currently using a different terminus in Berlin ...
Nobody seems to want to tell you why. Whilst Germany was divided, Lichtenberg was the main station for East Berlin.
ES operates a motley collection of old hired-in stock ...
... hauled by a hired-in freight loco!
Already some trips have been running full. Accomodation is offered in normal seated coaches ...
... in three tier couchettes ...
... and traditional two berth cabins.
Although the pictures above appear on their web site, the company's blurb warns that the facilities may not be exactly as shown.

If further stock can be sourced a six day a week service will be introduced. The medium term aim will be to obtain withdrawn passenger coaches, stripped and refitted as high quality sleepers.

For the time being you still have to trudge along the corridor for "les cabinets"!

The first of many sleepers?

London Bus In Seaton
Yesterday fbb was supping his double shot americano (a k a  his cup of coffee) in a sea front caff at Seaton when an obviously "London" bus whizzed past. It had to be; it was red!
It was working an Axe Valley route but in a very different red livery - London Buses red. Axe Valley's red is deeper, more maroon.

But there he/she/it is zooming off to Beet.
And here is the same vehicle with Metroline in London!

A Big Disappointment
Some time ago, fbb was in receipt of a Haynes Maintenance manual - but not, fortunately for any of his motor vehicles. Apart from putting in fuel and occasionally water of various kinds, fbb is totally ignorant of the finer points of motor maintenance. No, further, he is almost totally ignorant of all the coarser points as well.

The gift was a manual for Captain Kirk's "Enterprise" NCC 1701.
Although not yet quite up to the skills of Montgomery Scott, fbb could now identify a Jeffries Tube and recognise the consequences of a failure of the dilithium crystals!

So when he saw this at a cheap price on EBay, he sent of his £7 pronto.
What a disappointment! It was a very simplified history of London's Underground with no technical stuff whatsoever.

There were a few exploded diagrams famously part of a real Haynes manual's content ...
... but there was no "naming of parts". **

Not worth £7, let alone the cover price of £21.99!

A Treat For Fathers' Day
Cheap as chips! It is the same design as last year, so Rails probably had too many made in China. The sweets are, however, made in Sheffield and are yummy.

More Model Railway Happenings
The low relief townscape that sat against he garden fence when the railway languished outside has begun to move inside. Which has been a tricky job because there was no fence for it to sit against.

More tomorrow. Bet you are all excited. And that L1/D1 steam loco puzzle will be resolved as well.

** Fascinating (?) Literary Note
"Naming of Parts" is a 1942 War Poem by Henry Reed in which a lecture about the Enfield Rifle is juxtaposed with observations of the beauty of the natural world. fbb remembers the title and the sentiment from A Level English about 100 years ago!

 Next Variety blog : Monday 5th June 

Saturday, 3 June 2023

L1 Lets Wonder Where It Runs!

Arriva Knows All? Arriva Knows Nothing!

Here is the Arriva supervisor for Leighton Buzzard hard at work.
There is no doubt that the D1 Dash Direct no longer dashes to Sandhills; it has been replaced by the L1 Lurching Indirect, as it happens.. fbb does wonder whether there were plans for more Ds dashing around Leighton Buzzard. 

Instead, the new network uses L route designations with no brand. And no orange!

If you are clever enough, or maybe lucky enough in the Arriva web site journey of mystery and misdirection, you may be fortunate enough to find a timetable for the L1. If you do you will note that its heading explains ...

... that it runs "through" Sandhills and Roman Gate. The network map confirms this.
Indeed the above map confirms what Arriva suggested was happening to the D1 ...
... but never did. Indeed (again!) Arriva has an on-line map showing the D1 as indubitably running via Roman Gate!
Of course it never did!

Arriva's timetable shows an hourly service on the L1, so it is a 50% reduction from the heady homely days of the D1. 

This is not quite the meaning of "improved services" in fbb's understanding of the English language. And he should know - he used to be an English teacher!
There is now a Sunday service but no mention of train connections!

But, here it is again; Arriva's CURRENT map showing buses via Sandhills and Roman Gate.

And that is the way Roger French's L1 went as he tried out the new network back in May. His bus ambled gently along Bellona Way ...
... veered right into Moneta Way ...
... and ran out of road!
The above is what appears on Streetview but for Recent  Roger, the barriers were a bit more obvious.
Grovebury Road leading to Grovebury Road, another bit thereof, (and, eventually, to the retail park) was simply and obviously  not there. All the L1 could use was a thin and unsuitable track. Had Roger explored Grovebury Road from the other end ...
... he would have been equally frustrated.
There is no road; which is why Roger's L1 was sadly impeded. Why the driver of said L1 had not been informed that the L1 could not go that way is both a mystery and oh so typical of modern bus management. 

In due course Central Bedfordshire council is creating a "Bus Link" with an L1 bus stop attached ...

... bit it isn't quite ready yet!
Maybe someone should have told Arriva, then their timetable and the driver would show and go the right way, respectively.

But, hey, it IS Arriva!

But somebody knew. Roger spotted "closed" bus stop signs at Roman Gate ...

... and several on-line timetable mongers get it right ...
... and even the sainted Traveline shows that the L1 as using the old D1 route via Chartmoor Road.
The time point is at "Eden Way (opp)" but it is Chartmoor Road, honest.
Really, somebody should have told Arriva! 

Perhaps they have, now.

As a result of the incompetence, Roger's bus was back at the station 19 minutes late. The L1 becomes an L4 so that was very late as well. Did the service ever catch up?

In his blog Rog asks a pertinent question. "Where were the supervisory staff to supervise these new services?' Where was Blakey when he was most needed?

Good Question.

Of coure we don't need on-the-road inspectors any more; we have satellite tracking and very clever ticket machines plus sophisticated computer scheduling, so nothing can possibly go wrong.

Just like the new network in Leighton Buzzard.

fbb's "contrast and compare" will continue later in the week. Hopefully it will be less complicated.


Another L1?

Of course, all our readers are familiar with the crest of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Company Managing Committee and its locomotives.

Surely our readers will recognise instantly their class D1 ...

... and their very different class L1.
Older readers with good model railway memories may remember that Triang made a model of the L1 which was introduced way back in 1960.
It only lasted until 1967, just creeping in to the Triang Hornby era; but it was never re-issued after that.

Anyay, all will be revealed in one or other of our Variety blogs, due on Sunday and Monday.

 Next Variety blog : Sunday 4th June