Friday, 23 July 2021

Isn't Technology Wonderful? Episode 328!

But First A Consultation P.S.

As part of their consultation on the upcoming May 2022 timetable (one extra train path per day), L N E R have provided a useful list of changes from each of their stops. This is very revealing and might explain why the idea of a "consultation" is so important. Yesterday, fbb wrote in general terms that local links from the "lesser" L N E R stations had been sacrificed in favout of a fixed interval timetable and quite a bit of speeding up.

Here are just a few examples, showing the impact of the 2022 cunning plan.


Note the significant slaughtering of links from Stevernage to Peterborough, Retford and Lincoln. Obviously there is Thamelink to Peterborough, but a suburban cummuter train is not a patch on L N E R even if the seats on an 800 class are appalling. Grantham also suffers; and improvements from Stevenage are very minor by comparison.


Better to London and Peterborough but worse to Stevenage, Newark, Doncaster and Retford and destroyed utterly to Harrogate!


Mostly reductions.


Here a significant increase in trains to Stevenage and Grantham yet Darlington does not make an appearance on the list from Grantham! If it is not a mistake, it is daft! Maybe lots of folk from Darlington are emigrating to the town that gave us Margaret Thatcher!

And, finally ..


A whopping increase to Grantham (again??) and Stevenage, but desolation (again???) to Edinburgh.

Now clearly some of these are the unintended consequences of trying to establish a faster pattern of service and "make the best use of the resources".  It does seem odd that the "The Route Of The Flying Scotsman" offers so few links to Edinburgh from smaller towns whither all Scotsmen would be desirous of flying!

Of course, these are direct comparisons with only three years ago. But the pattern seems strange in some ways; obviously focused on London to Edinburgh, surely an attempt to thrash the pants off First Rail who will soon be adding five shiny blue 800 class trains to the mix.

So it is that a Modern Railways contributor has wrote (Ernie Wise style!) an article suggesting that the services on the East Coast main line should be subject to a massive re-think - a pull through with a very large and prickly Christmas tree.

The article is too technical and complex in concept to cover in a blog, so fbb recommends that ultra keen enthusiasts buy the magazine (just gone up to a painful £5.45 each month) and read it for themselves. Author Jonathan Tyler ...

... much in favour of integration ...
... has a very jolly diagram.
It makes up into a very nice fair isle jumper with a picture of Grant Shapps on the front.

Seriously though, folks, it would be even more controversial than the L N E R plan as it denudes Retford and Grantham of anything north of York (MAGENTA) and totally withdraws the top ranking "Inter City" services (GREEN).

Likewise Northallerton is left with a half hourly Trans Pennine service (RED) ...
... and the two-hourly Midlesbrough train.

The trouble with plans like this is that they tend to forget that the average Brit HATES changing trains and would rather go by car and endure the unreliability and stress thereof than face the trauma of seeking a different train part way or, heaven forfend, a different train operator!

At least the latter trauma will be mitigated by the eventual arrival of Great British Railways? 

Won't it? (and please, less hoots of disbelieving derision at thr back, there!)

Traumatic Tale Of Temperamental Technology (1)

No sooner had fbb wondered whether his two year bargain deal had run out, than a very nice man from Tesco telephoned to offer him an upgrade. fbb was vary. 

He did not want an iPhone 239g24/mark 17 (which does everything imaginable including cooking a full Englidh breakfast "on the go") for ONLY £150 a month.

And this is where phones get farcical.

The upgrade for fbb's account for two phones (his and hers) for a monthly £18.50 was to be a downgrade to £15 (which the fbbs did want) plus two brand new phones for nowt (which the fbbs neither needed nor wanted).

But the lure of sexually stereotyped shinies (blue for he, pink for she) was too great. "All you have to do," quoth the raven at Tesco, "is to swap your SIM over."

Yeah, right!

Removing the SIM (it is a small bit of electronics about the size of a finger nail) was easy as it pinged on to the carpet when fbb succeeded in wrestling with the back of his existing phone. But SIMs come in three handy sizes.

There is a mini SIM, which, as its name suggests, is the biggest; a micro SIM which has the same coloured gold bits but glued to a smaller bit of finger nail, and finally a nano SIM which is too small for human use! You guessed it. fbb's was a nano!

But in modern phones changing the SIM is "much SIMpler"!! That translates as "far more terrifying". You poke an eminently losable bit of wire into a hole in the side ...

... and a slide slides out. Pop the SIM into the little box at the end - it will only go in one way round.
Yeah, right!

It went in, fell out of the slide inside the phone and jammed everything up solid; and thereafter the SIM did not work! There are other folk who have had this experience and shared it on-line, so it is not just old age.

Seemples, take the back off and rescue the errant SIM.

Not seemples. The back is now glued on; yet another successful achievemnt in the field of planned obsolescence.

Of course there are videos on YouTube telling ham-fisted fbb how to get the back off. All you need is a fine nozzle hair dryer designed for gerbils ...

... a piece of plastic, a power rotovator ...
... and hours of self-induced terror. Other videos recomment a razor blade as well. 

Think what wobbly-handed fbb could ruin! Think of the blood!

The story will conclude tomorrow. (Too much excitement in one day is bad for our reader!)

A Mink For Only £37!

Panic not, dear reader, it is fake fur -  plastic mink! Surely it would be cheaper to wear a frock that covered up the bare bits, or perhaps a nice cardy?

But it's a railway wagon, innit! It is called an "Iron Mink" because the van body is made of - guess - and not wood. It is called a "Mink" because GWR named all its wagons after living things.

And there are three livery versions from Rails of Sheffield; original GWR ...

... 1937 GWR ...
... and British Railways.
And, to add to the fun, each livery style comes with three different running numbers so you could buy NINE "different" wagons for a modest £333. (Actually £332.55 - fbb rounded up the price by 5p per truck!)

Or you could buy a simple kit from Parkside Peco for just ...

... £9.25. But those Peco rivets look terribly over-scale, you know.

 Next Variety blog : Saturday 24th July 


  1. Leaving aside the contrafibulations suffered by fbb in re mobile phones (in passing, I recommend a handy teenager who will (1) understand the gobbledigooke and (2) have nimbler fingers!!). I'm being pestered daily by VirginMediaMobile to upgrade to a new phone at only treble my current package (which is £6.24 per month, and I don't use all the data ofered either!!).

    Back with the LNER consultation . . . there is a balance to be drawn between speed, frequency and stopping at all stations along the route.
    (Pre-Covid) London-Scotland trains seldom had spare seats available, even full-up in 1st class; so it is reasonable to minimise the stops on said trains in the timetable.
    I would hope that LNER will have looked at numbers travelling between intermediate stations . . . Stevenage - Retford or Grantham - Northallerton would be unlikely to have substantial numbers travelling, so in the interests of the many, perhaps the few should be inconvenienced.
    It might also be usefuul to add in the Grand Central and Hull Trains services . . . that's an extra 10 trains or thereabouts south of Doncaster which might well change the overall scores.

  2. We have a large Tesco store nearby which has an in house Mobile phone section. They have always been very helpful including setting up the new phone ready to go.

    Just hope they still provide the facility when we need to update in a few weeks time.

  3. Quite agree about the ludicrous SIM card nonsense. The mobile manufacturers seem to be blissfully unaware of this problem.

  4. You missed the second page for Stevenage and Grantham in the LNER consultation pack. They have enhanced frequencies to York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle.