Friday 30 April 2021

Hardship At Hammersmith (5 - Good Idea, Eh?)

Rebuild - New Build - Temporary Build

Given that Mr Shapps could give Hammersmith and Fulham Council a large sack of money, but has said he won't, a number of solutions have been proposed to overcome what will certainly be a long term closure. The length of the closure, of course, depends on when the money arrives. Everybody seems to agree that, once approved, the work will take at least seven years.

So what happens until then?

Cunning Plan Number 1
This from Transport for London (TfL)
A temporary footbridge - certainly better than the ferry and, hopefully, free! It would take walkers and cyclists from this greenery on the Richmond bank ...
.. to the bottom of Queen Caroline Street on the other side, where a footpath will take you back to the bridge itself.
Fine for cyclists and pedestrians and loads better than an inconvenient ferry, But then we find ...

Cunning Plan Number 2
Consulting Engineers Beckett Rankine reckon they could have a temporary road bridge up and bridging in three months. They are basing their scheme on bridges installed for military and emergecy purposes elsewhere.
It would follow the line of the TfL footbridge idea (above) and would be capable of carrying big double deck buses.
Ay Hammersmith, traffic would use Queen Caroline Street ...
 to reach the scary Hammersmith squareabout.
Here fbb can foresee a snag. Queen Caroline Street is a quiet (if anwhere can be quiet in the shadow of the Hammersmith flyover) residential street ...
... which ends abruptly just short of the river.
Would there be punch-ups between those who are desperate to reinstate the bridge and those who are desperate to preserve their tranquillity on Queen Caroline Street. You bet there will!

And for trivia fanatics; on the river bank at the bottom of Queen Caroline Street is a block of flats called "Riverside Studios".
This is on the site of the BBC's Riverside Studios ...
... the home of many BBC classic programmes. Redevelopment of the whole site means that TV productions still happen, but under independent management; there is live theatre and, inevitably, residential units.

Cunning Plan Number 3
Norman Foster and Partners. As we have come to expect from Norm and his gang, this is a radical solution. Readers may remember that Mr Bazalgette built his new bridge on Mr Tierney Clark's old bridge stone piers (see inset in picture below).
So this plan builds a temporary bridge on top of the existing bridge, using the strength of the piers to support the weight of the steelwork.
The lower tier would be for cycles and pedestrians, the upper for motor traffic.
It is not clear whether there is room for double deckers, but you can't have everything!
The scheme would mean that work could take place on the failing bridge unimpeded by passing traffic and there would be no need for any other construction, except, presumably, for access to the towers. The contractors could get out their superglue, gaffer tape and soldering irons while traffic trundled by normally.

Seems a good idea!

Will any of it happen?

First the funding dilemma needs to be resolved. Then, no doubt, there would have to be a period of consultation. There would be objections to any or all of it, but you would think the Foster decks would create les opprobrium as they are within the existing "footprint".

What is difficult for fbb's decaying grey cells to grasp how either of the Beckett Rankine or Foster plans will save money. Both proponents are suggesting savings of up to £40 million on the total cost. Such a saving, if nothing else, might cover the inevitable cost overrun which seem standard these days for any big project.

All three schemes are offering the return of foot power within months and vehicle transport (where included in the offer) some time in 2022.

So, politicians, bean counters and engineers - get cracking!

Pinking Is Pretty
When fbb was just a littler sprog, the was transfixed by the idea of  pinking shears, a device for cutting a zig-zag edge to cloth. To "pink", in this sense dates back to the 15th century and was used for making decorative patterns in leather. fbb, much to his childhood chagrin, was never allowed to pink for himself.

As a descriptor of "shears" it is much more modern, arriving in the early part of the 20th century.
Should fbb borrow Mrs fbb's pinking shears to do a bit of model railway pinking? Would it be allowed or, horror of horrors,  might the blades be blunted by sheet polystyrene.

Typical of the deep philosophical challenges facing a model railway bodger-par-excellence.

The "pinking" of a badly adjusted car is, fbb thinks, an attempt to replicated the sound of the mini explosions taking place where they shouldn't - not, sadly, the effect of the problem on the vehcile's trajectory.

Do modern cars pink?
Pinking can also be a problem with lettuce; but that refers to the colour!

What might fbb want pinking shears to pink?

Puzzle Picture
It shows an East Midlands Railway train, as you can tell from the LNER colours on the carriages and the British Railways liveried HST power unit on the front.

But where is it?

Answer tomorrow

Side By Side In Sheffield
The two new First South Yorkshire liveries are seen together at the Sheffield Interchange. The bus in Doncaster Red is on the lengthy X78 to Doncaster whilst the Sheffield blue is about to depart on the X5 to Dinnington.

When are we going to see a Rotherham livery? The new Rotherham web site is currently in First Bus pink. How about a revolutionary green for Rotherham?

 Next variety blog : Saturday 1st May 

Thursday 29 April 2021

Hardship At Hammersmith (4 - Who Pays?)

But First, A Birthday

Today Hulleys of Baslow reach the ripe old age of 100. The first route was started in 1921 by Henry Hulley, after a few years of taxi operation, and ran from Bakewell to Chesterfield. In essence the route still operates as today's service 170.

In 1978 the Hulley family sold out to the Wooliscroft family who owned Silver Service of Darley Dale. Strangely, in the eyes of some enthusiasts, the Silver Service name was gradually removed and the new operation became totally Hulleys. The "new" Hulleys did, however, adopt the later Silver Service blue livery.

Only last year, ownership changed again, passing to Alf Crofts and former Hulleys driver. In just one short year, there has been a notable improvement in the presentation of vehicles and an expansion of service, notably the X57 between Sheffield and Manchester.

A more detailed history can be found on Hulleys web site.

The Bridge's Big Bill!
Two figures have been bandied about. It will, say Hammersmith and Fulham Council, cost £46 million to make the bridge fit for cyclists and pedestrians and £141 million to make it fit for motor vehicles. It is not at all clear from the press extracts whether this is an extra £141 million or merely an additional £95 million. And it would cost £163 million if the Council want the job doing more quickly.

But clearly these numbers are guesses, depending upon a detailed investigation of the problems. Of course, by the time you have stripped a bridge down to do a detailed investigation, you have only two options; either demolish it or rebuild it.

All parties seem determined that the bridge should be repaired and made fit for use.

The Council is pleading poverty..
The government is not happy.
What Michael Ellis does not say is the the Council is strapped for cash because governments of all colours have cut their grants to the councils and refused permission for them to put up Council tax by more than an arbitrary limit.

And, of course, Mr Khan the London Mayor is already agin Transport for London for exceeding their budget.

So it would appear that there is no money. HMG has a few financial problems at the moment so a stalemate is reached.

Meanwhile the reports still roll in ...
... and, every so often, the press spread doom and gloom, as it their wont.
But the good news is the HMG has written a report. So that's all right then!

Engineers working for LBHF (London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham) established that the roller bearings on top of the pedestals, which support the bridge’s suspension chains at either end of the bridge, had seized.
This prevents some necessary movement in the structure and resulted in loading of the cast iron pedestals ...
... which isn’t what they are designed for. This has caused tensile stresses in the pedestals and resulted in some additional micro-fractures appearing in some of the pedestals.

In laymen's terms, the rollers don't roll so the towers sort of wiggle which is causing them to crack - a bit. Too much cracking and the bridge will, eventually, fall over.
The present situation is way, way short of that, but ...

The bridge is monitored using an acoustic monitoring system. There was an acoustic event recorded on the north-east pedestal in August 2020 and one of the 13 cracks already in the pedestal was found to have grown. As a result, LBHF, after consulting its engineers, decided to close the bridge to cyclists, pedestrians and river traffic.

With the enhanced monitoring regime and better knowledge of the structure’s behaviour, we believe that – following blast cleaning and visual inspection, and if no further fractures are found on the western pedestals – evidence supports the potential reopening of the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists, in limited and controlled circumstances.

So no bill for £46 million?

As well as a report, HMG has set up a Task Force.


The taskforce brings together key stakeholders: LBHF, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Transport for London (TfL), the Greater London Authority and the Port of London Authority.

BUT ...

The government is not responsible for maintaining the bridge or its reopening, nor has the powers to make decisions on its repair.

Nuffink to do wiv us, Guv (actually Gov)

Emergency mitigation includes removing the ornate cast iron casings from, and blast cleaning, the 2 western pedestals, enabling an assessment of the full extent of the cracks in those 2 pedestals.

This work has already been undertaken on the eastern pedestals. These works have been procured by TfL, with agreement from LBHF.

The funding of £2.3 million for the works was provided by the government as part of its Extraordinary Funding and Financing package agreed with TfL on 31 October 2020. The work will be completed by April 2021. (Has been??)

The first and quickest option is to put a temporary ferry in place for pedestrians and cyclists, although it is recognised that this does not assist river traffic.

It is expected that boats will start taking passengers across the river by the end of summer 2021.

BUT ...

The precise timeline for the service being operational is dependent on the necessary approvals being given by the consenting authorities such as, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Port of London Authority, and Marine Management Organisation.

Everyone has got to agree.

Which, it appears, they have; with the contract gong to Uber Boats (formerly Thames Clipper).
Sounds hopeful?
BUT ...
The core of the objections is that, with a ferry in place, there will be every excuse to delay the refurbishment of the bridge. It is also proposed that there will be fares of £1.50 to pay, which has not gone down well with likely bridge crossing folk who could previously totter over free of charge.

You can see their point.

Harrods Wharf is in front of the former Harrod's Depository, an icon of years and years of boat race commentaries.
It is on the Borough of Richmond side of the river some distance from the bridge. (Below, bottom right : the busted bridge is upper left)
There is a rudimentary landing stage on the Hammersmith side (above, right, next to the two oval towers.) But rudimentary is the word.
At first glance, the proposed ferry is a very poor alternative to the bridge.

Then there is the big question : how do you return traffic to the crossing while the lengthy repairs are being made? All parties do imply that their aim would be just that - to get traffic moving again and then repair the real Hammersmith Bridge.

Back to the key question : where's the money coming from?

Another Tank Wagon for fbb?
This is the third Rails of Sheffield "silly" wagon livery, following on from 'Endisons Relish and Yorkshire Puddings. fbb is told that Uncle Joes Mint Balls are a Lancashire delicacy, but t'old fellah had never heard of the them - until now.

The wagon is a standard six wheel milk tanker ...
... and it comes, for a modest (?) £24,95 and the pack includes a very small bag of the mints. Bigger bags are available on line without a tank wagon!
fbb does not collect livery variants, so Uncle Joes tank wagon (full of mint syrup, one supposes) will not grace the collection at fbb mansions.

A big bag of mints would be nice, however.

 Next Hammersmith blog : Friday 30th April 

Wednesday 28 April 2021

Hardship At Hammersmith (3 - Increasing Irritation?)

 What's Going On?

Yesterday we left Hammersmith Bridge with a 7.5 tonne weight limit after a long running saga of inspections, repairs and failure to repair. This meant that some double deck bus routed had to be converted to single deck. 

fbb has attempted top unravel the on-going saga, but has found it complex and difficult to follow; one problem being that the press are wont to add any old picture of the bridge to their reports whether it is the correct one or not.

But here's the old man's attempt!

Next comes a move to one-bus-in-steam on the bridge with traffic light control and width restrictions for all other vehicles - effectively cars only but buses heavily restricted.
As the weeks tick by in 2019 and 2020, further investigations find more and more cracks in the towers that hold up the chains that hold up the bridge.
The cracks are tiny but growing and growing a bit faster in a summer heatwave. Diagrams are published showing where the cracks have appeared.
Thus it is that the bridge is then closed to ALL motorised vehicles but remains open for pedestrians and cyclists.
To most people's surprise, the Hammersmith and Fulham Council then received more "expert" advice ...
... so the bridge closed to even pedestrians and cyclists. River traffic is banned from passing underneath and the two "tow paths" the pass under the bridge ...
... are also closed, thus depriving Londoners and visitors alike of the full pleasure of Thamesside saunters.

With the bridge totally closed bus routes have had to be changed completely. It was bad enough when pedestrians were still allowed to traverse the apparently rickety structure ...
... but now there is no way over for people and/or pedal power. Protests have grown ...
... because the inconvenience is significant. Bus 533 takes a circuitous route via Chiswick Bridge ...
... and, as usual, Transport for London's information is less than helpful showing the bus as running from stop K to stop K (confusing) and implying that you can only get from Hammersmith to Barnes and not back again. OK, only a complete wally would be totally flummoxed by this, but that is no excuse for poor quality maps.

Mike Harris (as ever) gets it right ...
... showing a large loop via Lonsdale Road (remember?) and Castlenau before joing the outward route at Barnes Bridge station. 

TfL does not bother with timetables, but even the departure list is unhelpful.
It tells you that the first bus is at 0448 and then lists it as 0450. And what do harassed Hammersmithians make of "every 9 to 12 minutes". And, as usual, if your were hoping for an onward journey from Barnes, you have no idea how long the 533 tour will last.

As usual Robert Munster rides in on his white horse of common sense to proivide us with a proper timetable ...
... yet again breaking the TfL code of secrecy.
To add to the passenger's troubles, TfL is not averse to heaping further difficulties on to the weary heads of passengers seeking to cross the Thames at or near Hammersmith.

When Diamond Geezer (blogger superb) visited the wondrous Hammersmith bus station in the first stages of bus 533, he found no information whatsoever except a harassed TfL person in hi-vis vest attempting to inform the utterly confused using just one sheet of photocopied information.  She failed most of the time.

Whilst there, he noticed an intriguing bus stop flag.
It shows route N (for night) 782 which does not exist, never has existed and never will exist. Numbers in the 7xx series were for Green Line express routes

Have things got better? Roger French visited the Castlenau bus stops a couple of weeks ago whilst investigate another badly publicised route in the area and discovered ...
... a spider map for buses from East Sheen, which is a frantic jog  between Castlenau (map below, road junction top right) ...
... and East Sheen (map, bottom left). There was also a helpful TfL notice ...
... which did appear to give up-to-date information but accompanied by a complete lack of timetables (not even departure lists) and, of course, no map.

Beyond belief!

But Hammersmith Bridge MAY be falling down (not all experts agree with the doomwatch reports) so what is being done to put it right?

Ah, Hammnersmith, we have a problem!

Shoreline At Scarborough
Always anxious to be even handed in his blogging, fbb needs to remind his readers that there has been competition on the Scarborough sea front service for many years. At one stage this was very aggressive but latterly a friendly (?) agreement has been brokered to share the business.

Shoreline use second-hand buses usually in a blue and yellow livery ...
... this one formerly trundling around London for Transdev.
A recent arrival is not blue and yellow ...
... but its paint job is familiar. The bus began life as part of the huge tour business in Edinburgh wearing two liveries ...
... including this for the generic city tour.
It ended up, still with Lothian Regional Transport, in "traditional" madder and off-white garb.
It is these colours that shoreline have retained.

fbb did try to see if Shoreline were matching East Yorkshire's route extended further north to the Sea Life Centre. 

The Shireline web site says a timetable is "coming soon" ...
... but does imply the original route. The photo is taken, as usual, at the Spa turning circle.

Brand Awareness
Remember this Company? fbb often remarks about branding, but Consignia was universally accepted as an utter disaster. It was introduced with many fanfares as "the new name for The Post Office". More or less everybody laughed derisively and the name was very quickly dropped.

So what would our readers make of ...
... which, so its proponents propone, is pronounced "Aberdeen"? Of course it is.
So that explains it!
So you have guessed correctly (??!!!). It is a brand of insurers and investment operators Standard Life. Obvious isn't it?
fbb looks forward to a modern and dynamic bus operator called ...
... or maybe one called :-
Easily recognised, very dynamic, very modern, illiterate and utterly potty.

 Next Hammersmith blog : Thursday 29th April