Friday, 6 September 2019

Tuesday Was Funeral Day ...

... and it was a Good Day!
The fbbs attended a Service of Thanksgiving for Audrey, a lady of mature years who had dedicated her life to service her Lord Jesus. Until her health declined too far, she was still running a Christian meeting in her home on Sunday afternoons, a meeting at which fbb often "performed"!

The service was powerful and positive as all funerals should be for Christian believers. Although there is obvious sadness at the final farewell, there must be rejoicing that the departed is now in a far better place and having a rare old party for eternity.

"Happy are those who wash their robes clean and so have the right to eat the fruit from The Tree of Life and to go through the gates into the (eternal) city." (Revelation Ch 22 verse 14).

Whether you take these words literally or figuratively, Heaven looks like a good deal!

"... and nothing that is under God's curse will be found in the city." (verse 3 ibid).

End of Christian bit!

Everything about the day was delightful - tiring for the old crocks - but delightful none-the-less.

The journey was standard ...

Axminster to Salisbury - South Western Railway (First)
Salisbury to Portsmouth Harbour - Great Western Railway (First)
Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Pier Head - Wightlink
Ryde Pier Head to Ryde Esplanade - Stagecoach
and return as outward route.

... and everything ran spot on time all the way. The day return fare for two "seniors" off peak was £89.40; whilst the cost of the car ferry alone would have been about £70; but erratically variable - upwards! And yippee - no driving!
Chum (and senior IoW correspondent) Alan treated the oldies to nosh at the White Hart Havenstreet. fbb had a healthy chicken and leek pudding and so was really fed up by the time the service started (!) The chauffeur dropped the replete "mourners" at St James Church  Ryde ...
... from where it is but a short totter back to the ferry.

Notable news on the journey.

Salisbury to Portsmouth was c/o a class 165/166 combo of FIVE cars.
The class 165 and 166 trains are similar externally and come in 3-car and 2-car units. Under Network SouthEast, they were introduced on the Chiltern line out of Marylebone ...
... and on (mainly) suburban trains from Paddington. After privatisation, the Paddington locals were run by GoAhead as "Thames Link" ...
... and later incorporated into the expanded Great Western Franchise won by First.
The grand plan is that the Turbos (165/166) will replace various Sprinter classes in the Bristol area and release them to oust the Pacers (Skippers?) further west.
The increase in capacity on the hourly Cardiff Portsmouth run has long been necessary, but, although fbb's train was a Turbo five car set, all the others spotted in passing were three car 158s.
The 165/166s have 3 plus 2 seating which is a bit tight for modern man/woman of ample girth and most definitely a lower standard than the 158s that they replace. New seats, please GWR!

Here is fbb's train upon arrival at Portsmouth Harbour.
And so on to the ferry.  The passenger-only catamarans are the third such set of vessels plying the route. They have a good view to the front ...
... better than both their predecessor pairs, but otherwise they are, effectively, buses on the sea. But you can enjoy the TV adverts if the view is less than inspiring. Well it is routine for the fbbs.

Up on-screen popped something that fbb had not been made aware of.
This is the first time in the history of humanity that there has been a 24 hour service on the Ryde run. The two hourly (sort of) frequency on Friday and Saturday nights ...
... complements the all-night sailing on the car ferry between Portsmouth and Fishbourne.
And so to Island Line.
Things are rapidly approaching crisis-point. The Line has just THREE two-car trains left in working order ...
... one of which is not looking as well a it might!
Ironically, according to an "informed source", the tatty one is in the best mechanical and electrical condition so they daren't take it our of service to repaint the roof! Two units are needed to run the timetable with trains spaced at 20 and 40 minutes apart.

The track layout does not allow a 30 minute frequency.

One of First's commitments when it won the franchise was to come up with a plan for the future of Island line. One persistent rumour is that Vivarail's re-fettled "surface line" London trains (Class 230) are the preferred solution, operating on battery or "hybrid" power.
Apparently they will fit through the critical Ryde tunnel ...
... as long as (a) it doesn't rain too much OR (b) the pumps don't fail!

Pictures exist of one of the trains creeping through the tunnel with a chunk of 230 sized plywood tacked to the front - so they have tried!

It would appear that the line has other problems.
Each train requires both driver and guard and, in recent months, there have been several occasions when the full set of staff was not available as on the fbb's return from the Island on Tuesday. Just one train shuffled back and forth connecting with the hourly ferry.

The line is heavily subsidised but there have been a number of policy statements assuring Islanders that their dinky little line will remain in place.

Nevertheless, there are some big decisions to be made very soon. One major breakdown an things would be grim for the service.

The fbbs will be back on the Island in December, but this time their journey will be by car for various logistic reasons. Maybe they will get a ride on the new car ferry, Victoria of Wight.

There is more to come from Roys photo album tomorrow amongst a variety of reports, but this Island blog must end with a place mat from the White Hart at Havenstreet.
Chortle chortle!

 Next weekend mixed bag blog : Saturday 7th September 


  1. Ref the Turbos - there were plans to change the seating layouts when the units moved west, but then someone noticed the equipment boxes hidden under some seats. This equipment can't be moved, and as far as I know there the ideas stopped.

  2. A late night post from Anonybus yesterday was:

    "There's more to life than shopping and commuting, and the roads are not exactly empty outside of peak times during the working week.

    If we look at the official road traffic counts just for average daily cars/taxis around Brackley, there are notably more people travelling north/south than east/west as follows:

    A43 north: 24,518
    A43 south: 24,889
    A422 west: 18,705
    A422 east: 4,652
    A421 east: 9,132

    However, this demand is not reflected proportionally in the public transport provision thus:
    North: hourly
    West: 20 minutes
    East: 5-7 journeys
    South: 1 journey"

    Now I don't doubt the voracity of those statistics but the interpretation of them is clearly wrong. That 24k car journeys north on the A43 is an interesting figure given that Brackley is only a town on c.15k (13k at 2011 census). Quite simply, the A43 is a major trunk road. The origin and destination points will be many and varied.

    More pertinent is that there have been several attempts over the years and an Oxford/Brackley to Northampton service has singularly failed - isn't that perhaps a more realistic indicator of the requirement from Brackley to Northampton than raw traffic flows?

  3. Thameslink was always the brand name for services across London via Farringdon, where the current was switched over. Starting with through services between Brighton and Bedford in BR days, the brand has since expanded considerably.

    The Turbo services out of Paddington were, on privatisation, branded as Great Western Link, until they were later absorbed into the Greater Western franchise.

  4. Not quite. They were initially separate from GW and known as "Thames Trains" (not Thameslink). As fbb says, they were owned by Go Ahead. I used the trains quite often to travel from Ealing to Discot. It was a mistake by one of their drivers (plus confusing signalling) that led to the Ladbroke Grove disaster. The franchise ran from 1996-2004 and after that the services were subsumed into GW.

  5. The itinerary makes no mention of the Seaton to Axminster leg. I presume from previous blogs that it was done by car and not the 885 bus. I would guess that the reason for that choice is the same as most of the population. That is why bus use is in decline and new routes do not attract lots of new customers out of their cars.

    The X91 is a good example of the newer breed of bus route serving housing estates to a desired destination which can be done in a timely manner with benefits.

    Under EU law the X91 is too long to be a bus service; it is required to be a long distance coach service. Hence the DFT suggestion that companies register bus routes in sections and then advertise them as a through route. If we leave the EU that can be fixed, otherwise we have to put up with it. (Problem applies mostly to UK and Netherlands due to geography and/or subsidies.)

    I would recommend that you stop using national traveline - its software is awful. There are others out there. I use as it covers the whole of the East and West Midlands and south thereof, plus general UK.

  6. The Turbos will get new seats at some point, but the budget is currently taken up with the 'Castle' refurbishments

  7. The Wightlink service from Portsmouth to Ryde had depatures up to 0015 and from 0415 in the morning up until the big cut back a few years ago. The only first time sailing is the 0215, which could presumanly have been operated on that old timetable as the crew worked an all night duty anyway.