Sunday 31 March 2019

Sunday Oddments

Over-running Engineering Work
Just like the real big railway, fbb's feeble little outdoor model has been beset by weather and inadequate staffing (fbb doing other things) over the winter period. Now spring has sprung it is time to return to the work that was abandoned last autumn. 

The double track main line is, at last, complete and a new piece of track leads direct from the station "throat" to the carriage shed. This means that stock can trundle from shed to platform without venturing out onto the main line. More realistic.
But that creates a snag. The convention is that you only feed electricity from the "toe" end of a set of points. 
So here, red and black wires run to the toe of the turnout on the main line and pink (was red but it has faded) and black wires run to the toe of the turnout leading to the carriage shed.

But that creates another snag. Depending on how you set the points, you could send "red" electricity up the same piece of metal rail while "black" electricity is approaching from the opposite direction. An instant complete short circuit, spirals of acrid black smoke and nothing works!

So, to prevent that, you put insulating (plastic) rail joiners in place (called fishplates on the real big railway) to prevent red and black electricity ever meeting.
But that creates another snag. To stop trains starting when you want them to stay stopped, you need to put switches into the feeds going to the track.

But that creates another snag. You really need some sort of control panel to keep everything tidy and reliable. That is easy in the loft or the spare room, but outside in the rain, snow, hail and gales it is not quite so straightforward.

Until that control panel is in operation, fbb has joined all the sections together (green and yellow wires - temporary) to allow him to play with his toys!

Thus it was that last Friday Thomas with an LNER coach  and Toby, all lonesome, were trundling up and down the rewired layout to test that all was well.
Amazingly, considering the winter's neglect and fbb's stubby fingered electrical non-skills, all was almost hunky and completely dory.

And, Talking Of Delays ...
Dedicated blog readers may remember a piece about a new App based minibus service running between Luton Airport and London (read again here).

After some delay it started at the end of February. Initially branded "Blue Bus" with a supposed fleet of five vehicles ...
... it has now become B-Bus because "another operator" objected to its registered name being used. An effusive article in one of the advertorial trade magazines shows three blue buses with the new name ...
... but quotes a fleet list of six!
The article suggests that MD Tazio is "bringing Italian flair" to the UK bus scene.
Flair maybe, but will the business succeed?
Apparently Taz is "positive" about the launch.
Roger French (former boss of Brighton and Hove buses) has the time and money to travel widely, enjoying (?) the UK's public transport systems. He has "downloaded the App" and is aiming to try the service out.

In reply to fbb's email informing him of of Taz's emergence from his preparatory obscurity, Roger replied:-

I’ll give it a try in the next few days.

I’ve downloaded the app (yet another one) but it only seems to let me book a ride ‘from’ the airport not ‘to’.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

It's A Gas, Man!
fbb gathers that the above phrase was common in the Swinging Sixties. Worry not, fbb never swung!
First Bristol's staff "weekly" reports that the company is investing in a fleet of gas buses plus a filling station at their Lawrence Hill bus depot.
The news panel can be enlarged with a mouse-click, but to save all that effort (!) James Freeman tell us that the order is for 77 vehicles, ten physically similar to those running on Mertrobus routes and the rest similar to the trial vehicle that been on routes 1 an 2 for some time.
It will be 2020 before the operation kicks off. Maybe fbb will get an invite to the launch (possibly) and a lavish lunch with First Bus "biggies", the men from the Ministry and other omnibological glitterati (very unlikely!).

In Celebration Of Non-Brexit Day?
A chum sent this picture of an ancient VR adorned in a swish livery promoting a music festival in Lille, France. Neither chum nor fbb can identify it. Can blog readers help the old man out?
And yet more shock news from the Eurozone!

After at least two years of rumours, Deutsche Bahn has finally announced ...
... that it wants to sell Arriva.

Who might want to buy? Presumably, for competition regulation reasons, none of the UK big three bus barons will be interested. National Express?

And rail is regarded as a financial and regulatory millstone these days. Offers on a postcard to DB HQ, please.

Et "Vive La Différerence." Hein? - Pas De Différerence!

Meanwhile in France ...
Perhaps British railways (as opposed to British Railways!) ain't doing so bad?

K4 Located
A few days ago fbb included Northampton Alan's picture of a rare telephone kiosk; a mini post office, in effect.
It is at Cranmore station on the East Somerset Railway.
Come and meet our friendly staff and take a relaxing ride on our heritage steam train through the beautiful Mendip countryside. The train journey is approximately 40 minutes over our 5 mile round trip. Ride as many times as you like on your visit!

We are one of very few steam railways where you can visit our engine shed and workshop, as well as enjoying our small museum, signal box, miniature railway, shop and café serving delicious home-made meals each day we are in steam.
Alan was there on a through excursion from the National Rail system!

As well as "proper" trains, they have a miniature railway with several locos including a scaled down Toby!

Tomorrow, as our well-read readers will know, is April 1st. Will fbb have a "canard" or two for his excited clientele?

 Next foolish blog : Monday 1st April 

Saturday 30 March 2019

Swish Swiss Schaffhausen Safari (2)

Industrieplatz at Neuhausen im Rheinfall is a short walk from the town centre ...
... and from here we can cross a footbridge (straight ahead) ...
... and find our way ...
... onto the simple stop, called Neuhausen Rheinfall, on a single track railway.
The station opened in 2015 specifically to serve the falls. And to get down to water level there are walkways and two flights of lifts ...
... wonderfully impressive at night when the falls are illuminated. Trains are every 30 minutes ...
... with one an hour continuing all stops to Zurich.

We could have taken a coach trip ...
... or parked our car in the extensive car parks.
But we are here to see the falls, the biggest expanse of falling water in Switzerland; not the highest of course, but most definitely the widest! 
One way of getting up-close and personal with the raging torrent is to take a boat trip.
These people are about as up-close as you would want!
The boat will drop you on the (sort-of) sheltered face of the rock ...
... whence there are steps to the top.
An alternative is to get up-close by train. Yet another line leaves Schaffhausen calling at the "main" Neuhausen station before crossing the river above the falls (as seen on the "falls" picture above).
Service S33 calls at Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall ...
... on the south bank (Zurich side) of the river. There are two stopper trains each hour to Winterthur, one of which runs through to Zurich.
There is a footpath on the bridge alongside the railway ...
... with a view of the top of the falls.

You can visit the Schloss (lifts provided) or descend to viewpoints close to the falls ...
... and enjoy a scary watery view point.
fbb has always been somewhat frit of fast flowing wetness, worrying that it might slosh over him at the foot of the Schloss! If the old man were to visit for real, he might just give this bit a miss! As they say often on the BBC, "other viewpoints are available".

Hopefully this aerial view will pull it all together, but it was taken before the lift shafts were installed and operational.
The building bottom centre is the Schlössli (little schloss) Wörth, a restaurant and departure points for the boats.
55 Swiss francs (£42.16) for a fillet of Water Buffalo?
Maybe not. Back to the main station for snacks at the "Avec" shop; a more likely source of essential provender!
Yummy and somewhat less expensive?

And a correction. Yesterday fbb referred to a train as "turbo". Learn to read, fbb. It should have read:-
thurbo is a railway company in eastern Switzerland, jointly owned by Swiss Federal Railways (90%) and the canton of Thurgau. It was founded in September 2001 by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FFS) and Mittelthurgau-Bahn (MThB).
Its main business is regional passenger traffic. Infrastructure Kreuzlingen - Weinfelden - Wil SG, taken over from Mittelthurgau-Bahn, is operated by thurbo but maintained by SBB.

Several ZVV lines of S-Bahn Zürich, for example S26 in the canton of Zürich between Winterthur and Rüti ZH, are also operated by thurbo.

And here is a thurbo on the aforementioned Rhein bridge.
To conclude our Safari, we need to take a look at Schaffhausen's bus services and one route in particular. This will follow next  week after some catch-up bits and bobs.

 Next oddments blog : Sunday 31st March 

Friday 29 March 2019

Swish Swiss Schaffhausen Safari (1)

And this time, NOT suggested by No 3 son! Indeed, this time fbb has recommended a visit TO the lad on one of his weekends-off from the bear-pit of computer activity in Basel.

We are going to Schaffhausen ...
...  which is on the river Rhein and approx 80 miles east of Basel  - by an indirect road route!
It is the capital of the Canton which bears its name and sits at the base of a bulge in Switzerland that is (a) discontinuous and (b) almost totally surrounded by Germany.
As with all these border communities, its history is complex, difficult to unravel and beset by weird politics and several outbreaks of vicious bloodshed.

The town has a bus service, of which more later, and a busy and well-maintained railway station ...
... with, naturally, all the buses stopping outside.
Impressive as always.
Actually the buses used to stop on-street, literally outside, but have recently moved to a purpose built bus station a few yards down the road.

But we are off to what is, in effect, a suburb of Scaffhausen, but don't say that to the residents who regard their locality as a totally separate community.

We are going to Neuhausen am Rheinfall, which, being interpreted, is the New Houses on the Rhein Falls. We will look at the Falls tomorrow. But for now we need to decide which station in Neuhausen we might want.

The THREE stations are:-

Neuhausen am Rheinfall
Neuhausen Bad Bahnhof
Neuhausen Rheinfall

And you are right to notice that TWO have very similar names.

You would probably say that Neuhausen am Rheinfall is the main station, although it is only served by local trains from Schaffhausen.
It only has one bus service, route 6, with an unimpressive stop, but just across the road from the station exit.
The station does have an "Avec" ...
... one of a chain of station food shops.

Next we have the "Bad" station. Regular readers with retentive memories will remember Basel's Bad Bahnhof (Bad for Badisher, reference to the Baden region of  Germany). Like the Basel stop, Neuhausen's version is on a line run by Deutcshe Bahn (DB) ...
... which ultimately does arrive at the Basel DB station. It is little more than a suburban unstaffed "bus stop" station but with a bit more class than similar facilities in the UK. It has a half hourly service of "stoppers" ...
... which offer a leisurely ride on a "turbo" branded train ...
... and a connection to Basel at Erzingen. It used to be very much a seedy branch line ...
... although some of the traditional station buildings still stand but are no longer in railway use.
Yonks ago it used to look like this ...
... with a splendid timber "porte cochère".

Below we see the station in the midst of its rebuild ...
... which was provoked by the replacement of a traffic-delaying level crossing with a whizzo underpass.
This involved the temporary truncation of trolleybus route 1 ...
... which has well-placed stops for interchange.
You can just spot the station canopy beyond the big tree.

But it is the third Neuhausen station to which we will be travelling in a "virtual" way. Or we could catch bus number 6 to Industrieplatz.
Our ultimate aim is to have a butchers at the Falls themselves.

 Next Waterfall blog : Saturday 30th March