Saturday 4 January 2014

Santa's Stocking Surprises [1]

Regular blog readers will remember that fbb had spied the recently re-introduced series of "I-Spy" books at Otter Nurseries. A pleading note to Santa accompanied by an un-subtle hint to Mrs fbb ensured hat two of these intriguing little books appeared on Christmas morning.
"On a Train Journey" was much as expected. I-Spiers were encouraged to collect train interiors ...
... and assorted lineside acoutrements.
fbb was greatly impressed by the use of the technical term "feathers" for junction signals!

Amongst the train types on the list were the now-denosed Darth Vader Gatwick Express units. 

On 23 December 2011 the Department for Transport announced that the Class 460s would be split up and sixty carriages rebuilt to be incorporated with South West Trains' one hundred and twenty Class 458 carriages resulting in 36 five-car Class 458/5 sets.
The remaining four carriages will be stripped for spares. This £42m scheme was devised by Porterbrook Leasing, the owner of both fleets. The new 5-car sets will be designated Class 458/5 and coupled together to form 10-car trains to provide extra peak capacity on suburban services into London Waterloo.

In one of those inexplicable weirdnesses of the loony privatised railway, Gatwick Express trains are being prepared for transfer TO Southwest Trains having been replaced by alternative stock ...
... transferred FROM Southwest Trains. All at vast expense, no doubt, plus mega-fees for consultation and legal eagles drawing up incomprehensible leasing contracts.  It must make sense to someone. But this subtlety is not explained by Big Chief I-Spy! (Thankfully!)

Likewise, Barry Putty's departure platform sign has now been moved outside the station, thus ensuring that enthusiastic but misguided Muggles will be unable to ram their "liberated" luggage trolleys into an internal brick wall! Of course all Putty fans will know that neither location is correct.
The subtle subway to scholastic success from Severus Snape and sidekicks must survive in secrecy!

There are one or two howlers in the I-Spy book. This, for example is captioned as a train making a connection with "a big ferry boat". 

fbb feels that Cunard may be somewhat miffed at the idea that one of their top cruise liners might be called a "ferry".

Less trivial, considering the history, is the caption to this picture.
It entreats I-Spiers to look our for a viaduct "like this one, made of stone." Of course this is Glenfinnan, not made of stone, also familiar to Barry Putty fans.

Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line in Glenfinnan, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland. It was built between July 1897 and October 1898 at the cost of £18,904. Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands of Scotland, the viaduct overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel. The 21-arch single track viaduct was one of the largest engineering undertakings using concrete without reinforcing when it was built by Sir Robert (Concrete Bob) McAlpine.
Young I-Spy enthusiasts might also have trouble in spottting "Tornado" ...
... just one single locomotive (NOT "train" - agh!) and an infrequent performer at that. 30 points seems a bit mean. She will not re-appear until April!

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is delighted to announce the first train of its 2014 season with the recreation of 'The White Rose' express. 'The White Rose' was the premier train from London to Yorkshire in the post-war period and this railtour will showcase Tornado at her best, providing nearly 400 miles of travel behind the now famous star of BBC Top Gear's 'Race to the North'.

Following her winter maintenance period, new build steam locomotive Tornado, which was completed in 2008, will be hauling her first main line railtour of 2014 on the Saturday 12th April from London King's Cross to York and return. We are pleased to confirm that the carriages will be in the historic carmine and cream livery and those passengers in premier dining on 'The White Rose' will receive a traditional silver service throughout the journey. We expect there to be much fast running at the permitted maximum speed of 75mph

Surely worth 100 points!
And it (she?) keeps changing colour.

Maybe it is being picky to challenge these matters, but in this Wikipedic age, young people are much more savvy than they were in fbb's youthful days! fbb's two grandsons are always ready to expound corrective explanations to their slow witted and chubby Pops!

Despite this picking of nits (or, morelike, picking by a nit!) the book is excellent value and any potential young railway enthusiast (or elderly ditto in need of further education) should have a copy! fbb is off on a day return to Birmingham today and will be seeing just how may points he can score. Such excitement!
And happy memories.
"I Spy on a Train Journey"
published by Michelin
full colour throughout
Tomorrow : "I Spy London's Transport"
 Next book review blog : Sunday 5th January 


  1. Have a good trip to Brum. I hope Seaton won't have been washed away on your return.

  2. As well as the lunacy of the 458/460/442 swaps, the new 458/5, already well over six months late,are apparently so unreliable that there appears to be no confirmation that they will ever actually enter service.