Wednesday 30 December 2015

To Boldly Go ... (2)

Alan Takes a Butchers ...
Although brand new railway stations have opened recently at Cranbrook and Oxford Parkway with much corporate jollity we await news of two more; Coventry Arena and Bermuda Park on the line between Coventry and Nuneaton. The line at Coventry Arena also passes right beside the Ricoh Arena, home to Coventry City Football Club and the Wasps Rugby team. It has done this for many years so the reaction to the opening of the station might be "better late than never". However, Euston we have a problem. Two in fact.

London Midland's pocket timetable booklet for December 13th 2015 to 14th May 2016 ...
... has a timetable showing departure times from both Coventry Arena and Bermuda Park.
But yesterday (December 16th) the station was closed while the public address system played patronizing announcements to no one.

The soccer and rugby fans have no chance of catching a train to the match because although Thomas the Tank Engine has two carriages, that is one more than Coventry Arena station is currently planned to have. The line has but one Class 153 single car unit which shuttles between Coventry and Nuneaton, taking a hour for the return trip. 
The delayed Coventry Arena station, when it opens, will remain closed for an hour after the final whistle. The train operator has advised the travelling public to stick to the roads on match days. Despite a £13.6m investment to upgrade the Coventry-Nuneaton line with the new station, only one hourly, single-carriage, diesel train will trundle along the track. While the Ricoh arena has 32,600 seats, the train has just 75. 
Francis Thomas, Head of Corporate Affairs for train operator London Midland, said: "We only have the one diesel train. It only has 75 seats. Until further infrastructure changes are made, we are limited. There just aren't the trains available"

This is a picture of the one class 153 one car 75 seat diesel unit pictures some days after Alan's visit.
Perhaps Mr Thomas would like to count it (or them).

And those infrastructure problems. There's plenty of infrastructure at Coventry where the standard 1 car train (sometimes 2?) just manages to squeeze into Platform 1 ...
... where it sits for 9 minutes. It arrives after a London train has departed and leaves well before the next one needs to. There is plenty of infrastructure at the Arena Station ...
... capable of taking the promised six-car trains. there's oodles of queuing space complete with hefty railings in profusion.
Just one thing missing.


But surely, you ask intelligently, couldn't London midland borrow a train for match days. Mostly these will be in the evenings or on Saturdays when commuting is commuted. Even if the company really  really hasn't got a train, there is bound to be some stock somewhere.

 (Come to think of it, wouldn't London Midland have a spare set or two at match times?) 

Oh no, sir, says the ever supportive Management in a report from the local paper, chartering is a no-no:-
Ricoh Arena matchday train ticket
would cost fans £17!

Hopes of a short-term solution to the Ricoh Arena railway station fiasco appear to have been derailed after it emerged fans could be forced to fork out £17 for a train ticket.

The committee heard that there were hopes six-carriage trains could be chartered to run every half-an-hour during weekends to serve sports fans. But it has emerged that any charter operator would likely have to charge about £17 for a return ticket in order to make the service financially viable.

Sounds mighty expensive; but then we are privileged to have a privatised railway where every privatised bit of it MUST make a privatised profit. So the passengers who might want to travel to their footy game in an environmentally accetabl manner can get *******!!
Richard Brooks, commercial director at London Midland, said: “It is feasible that six-carriage charter trains could run every half an hour between the Ricoh Arena and Coventry on matchdays.

“But at the standard £2.40 fare, it’s not going to wash its face. It’s not going to be financially viable.”

He added: “You would have to multiply the day return fare six or seven fold.”

Daft is too mild a word for all this. And we still don't know why the station isn't even open yet. Back in September (yes, September), the local paper reported:-
It has emerged that the stadium’s safety advisory group, which rubber stamped a recommendation to close the station for an hour after major events at the Ricoh Arena, was chaired by the council.

So lets get it right. The Council which wants trains approved the decision not to have trains. Cool.

Francis Thomas, from London Midland, said: “We are just waiting for the keys from Coventry City Council.

Yes, here we go again. According to London Midland it's the Council's fault.

“When they think it is ready, they would arrange a meeting with Network Rail and us. There’s no schedule for a handover as far as we know.”

During a recent Warwickshire County Council meeting it also emerged that a new platform at Bermuda Park, in Nuneaton - which is part of the same project - would not open until at least November due to problems involving Network Rail.

Ah yes, it's all the fault of Network Rail.

Or perhaps some secretive international spy organisation is working to disrupt (a) the railways, (b) Coventry council, (c) Wasps Rugby Club, (d) Coventry City Football Club and (e) Common Sense. They are succeeding.

Thanks to our Northampton correspondent for providing most of the material for this blog. 
beyond the
It's the gifts which make all the difference.

What would you take to a new-born baby? A rattle; a cuddly toy or perhaps a woolly jumper. But Gold?

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Maybe a richly decorated gold ring.
Useless for a baby but full of meaning for adults - especially magi. Emmanuel, God With Us, would be a King, a Divine Authority on earth and in heaven.

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high
The role of a Priest was to act as an intermediary between Man and God and incense was a sweet smell to carry prayers heavenwards. "Frank" incense was the very best that money could buy, a strongly perfumes resin ...
... that would be ideally suited to a great Priest. But useless for a baby. Emmanuel is thus shown to be the means for each one of us to make approaches to God.

But the third gift is the spooky one.
       Next bus blog : Thursday 31st December  


  1. The story of the Coventry Arena station reminds me of one of the Irish narrow gauge railways, which built the track and stations, but then found it had run out of money to buy any trains! I believe it remained closed for several years before the company could afford any trains!

  2. You really couldn't make it up. Happy New Year!