Monday, 21 August 2017

At Largs in Large (2)

Alarming Approximate Algorithms
16 minutes late at Milton Keynes was not looking good for passengers at Birmingham New Street. Normal running time between the two is about 56 minutes.
Surely even the most optimistic efforts of Mr Branson's minions could not pick up 16 minutes, or even ...
... nine minutes to arrive at 1121. As the wait on the unlovely platform 6 continued, expected had become later and later. The train arrived at 1122, no mater what the screen said and, after some slick station management, left about 1126, 11 down (again!). The fbbs had not even sat down by the time the train started moving. Well done Virgin, well done New Street.

Never mind, eh? Better than 19 down as shown at Birmingham International.

The electronics was ever optimistic.
But the electronics knew nothing!

Despite repeated optimism, the train became later and later.

20 minutes down at Wigan but on time at Glasgow.
Get real Mr Computer System. On the basis of these wildly optimistically estimates, fbb calculates that Virgin could save 40 minutes on the journey time from Euston to Glasgow via Birmingham.

Maybe "the system" is programmed to be optimistic in the vain hops that time will be made up. But it usually isn't and it wasn't.

Not at all. Here is the log for the run as far as Preston.
But fbb must record some positives. As far a Preston we were regaled by Virgin's recorded announcement system, three times for each stop; each time complete with a loud bingle bongle right in the fbbs' ear. The travelling twosome we positioned right next to one of the very loud speakers.

But at Preston we were joined by a new train manager, WHO MUST HAVE SWITCHED IT OFF!


Instead came exceedingly helpful announcements about onward connections and, equally blissful, reminders to apply for compensation. The young lady did everything possible to ease and appease folk who would miss their trains from Lancaster and Carlisle, giving details of alternatives, accompanied by what sounded a very genuine apology.

Excellent customer service in every way.

Far, far better than dubious electronic stuff; but, for the record, here is the log of the full journey.
Never did we make up time as promised electronically.
Thankfully, the fbb's had enough time to nip from platform 1 (top right) to platform 13 (bottom left) ... 
... and join their Dutch Railways train for Largs. Although Abellio have been making a bit pf a mess of things, the Scotrail front line management always seem to do a good job.
Despite the alarming complexity of Glasgow Central station, it all seem to work. The train was ugly ...
... but clean and offered plenty of room.
And it was spot on tine all the way!
Even "deep throat" agreed!

Collect the keys to the gaff from the weird hardware shop, send Mrs fbb around the corner and over the railway footbridge ...
... to Morrisons for victuals and soon a truly Scottish supper was being enjoyed.
Ten hours travelling from Axminster to Largs and it all worked - just.

Of the four trains and four train companies, which journeys were the best? No contest. Equal first come SouthWest Trains (from yesterday First South Western Railway) ...
... and Abellio Scotrail; both with slick service,  good views out of the window (below, Mrs fbb in the rserved seats on Cross Country!) ...
... and ON TIME!!

Wonder how No 3 son got m on, yesterday, travelling by one of they new fangled aeroplanes?

 Next Largs blog : Tuesday 22nd August 


  1. Largs challenge: where can you get bus timetables? The last time I was there the answers were (a) not at the railway station (b) not at the ferry terminal (c) allegedly at the Tourist Info Centre, which I couldn't find.

  2. Such are the problems of the CIS (Cust information System), which are well known, but nobody seems the slightest bit bothered to deal with.

    The system does not know the difference between necessary station time and padding, thus Late trains get ALL their time at stations stripped, so, in your example, are expected to arrive and then depart immediately from places like Birmingham New Street and Preston etc!! Also, if control advise that stops are to be missed to try to make up time, this time saved is NOT taken into account in its predictions, so a service might be shown as 20 mins late but then having missed stops (which CIS knew was going to happen) then turn up only 5 late suddenly! Throw this in with CIS's belief that if it doesn't know any better it thinks a train will be ON TIME, and has very little concept of turn around times, or a late arrival at a terminal meaning the next working is going to be a late departure, and you have the current recipe for predictions nonsense.

    It is my belief that CIS predictions on stations are only any good when everything is running to time, which is of course, the only situation when you DON'T need its help!! As soon as there's any problems you may as well Keep the screens blank as it tends to cause more confusion than it solves but, aaah, there's another problem with it... there's no facility to turn it off, no matter how much nonsense it displays!!