Sunday 15 January 2023

Sunday Variety

Saving The Planet (1)

fbb has just received a parcel from Rails of Sheffield. The size can be gauged by an item of fbb footwear on the left. It contains a goodly wodge of bubble wrap ...
... now in a fetching shade of smoke grey. Iside the bubble there is ...
... a Peco right hand point (turnout) and a packet of rail joiners (fishplates). fbb had to pay £4 for his box of air. 

What is wrong with a padded envelope?

But the point was reduced by £4, so fbb saved a cup of fossil fuel by not driving to Beer and paying Peco the full price. Sorry, Peco.

Saving The Panet (2)
As well as the largely misplaced craze for electric vehicles, many local authorities are jumping on the CAZ bandwagon. It stands for Clean Air Zone but Sheffield's is anything but. 

First, let's look at the geography.

Sheffield's inner ring road was a long time coming. When fbb was a student there, this was it.
It ran from the foot of The Moor to St Mary's Church, Bramall Lane and, back then was a dual carriageway with a very narrow central reservation. Now, approaching 60 years later, the inner ring road almost goes right round the central city area. 
The red roads (bottom right) have yet to be turned into proper dual carriageway. So no rush them!
So the CAZ will apply to the whole of the area inside the inner ring road.

It all starts in just over a month.

Sheffield’s clean air zone will go-live from Monday 27 February 2023.

This is a class C chargeable zone for the most polluting heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), light goods vehicles (LGVs), vans, buses, coaches and taxis that drive within the inner ring road and city centre.

Private cars and motorbikes will not be charged.

If you or your business is based in Sheffield or Rotherham and runs LGVs then you could be eligible to apply for a temporary exemption until 5 June 2023. If you own a Hackney Carriage taxi licensed with Sheffield City Council you will not be charged until 5 June 2023 – the exemption will be set up automatically.

No doubt there will be a mad rush for exemption until June 2023!

And the cost?

£10 per day for polluting vans/LGVs and Taxis
£50 per day for coaches, buses and lorries/HGVs
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras will detect non-compliant vehicles entering the zone. This system is defined by the Governments CAZ Framework used for all clean air zones across the country.

First Bus have not exactly been diligent in upgrading their fleet in preparation, so the consequence may well be higher fares to pay for the multiple £50s and then, of course, a further reduction of passenger numbers and, almost certainly, an increase in private car usage in the Zone, an increase in congestion and an increase in pollution.
Of course, if the local politicians really cared about the environment in the centre of Sheffield, they should be banning all cars, motorbikes and light vans** from the centre and only allow buses in.

And while they are "at it" Sheffield City Council, always trumpeting their support for Public Transport (except when they increase its costs!), should make all buses with the Zone entirely free.

** OK, you might need to license some small delivery vans and Eric's battered Ford Transit as he turns up to mend burst pipes.

Sadly no politician would be brave enough.

Saving The Planet (3)
Or maybe not!
Above is Dan Morris, Metro Mayor of Greater Bristol. No doubt he wants to save the planet - that agenda is now compulsory for all local and national politicians whatever their (party) colour.

So the Government has just given Dan £3 million. Think how many bus routes you could improve for three million quid!

But this money is, guess what, for running demand responsive "Uber-style" minibuses in the outer reaches of Dan's domain.
Here are the green areas.
And to the south.
Sounds wonderful ...
... just as wonderful as in ...
... Oxford? - where the scheme was abandoned as being unaffordable. That is not unaffordable in terms of fares but utterly unaffordable in terms of the massive subsidy needs to pay the bills.

Another on-line article cites the success of a similar "fflecsi" scheme in Wales.

That would be like the "fflecsi" buses in Newport that have all been withdrawn and replaced by "proper" buses running to a timetable - at much less subsidy!

In fact it appears that all these Uber-style schemes have been proven to be "unaffordable".
Roger French has reported widely on his experiences of such services throughout the country and rarely observed . passenger numbers above two or three per trip. More often than not, he is the only passenger.

Saving The Planet (4)
It’s one year since Cardiff Bus went electric!

In January 2022 we proudly launched our very own fleet of electric buses with an event in the city centre, and it’s fair to say that they have been on the road to success ever since. Our decisions to go electric were motivated by:

Their positive impact on the environment
Cleaner air in our city
Quieter streets for Cardiff
Our aim to reduce our carbon footprint
One year later, these aims have undoubtedly been achieved. Take a look at our 2022 round-up and see for yourself…

Throughout 2022, our electric buses have:

Saved 1,000 tonnes of CO2
Spent 94,976 hours in operation
Travelled 1,403,604 kms
Consumed 91.8 kWh / 100 kms in energy

Impressive eh? Ignoring the fact that they run on juice at least partly (and a big part) from polluting power stations, some questions for Cardiff Bus.

How much did you pay for them?
How much did they actually cost?
How much are the batteries?
How long might the batteries last?
How will you dispose of them when they go phut?

Will the ultimate result be "greener" than diesels and better for the economics of the council taxpayers of Cardiff?

Saving The Planet Point!
fbb was really, really pleased with his efforts at ballasting the tracks at Peterville Quarry station. With a bit of "toning down" it will look good. Track has been pinned (i.e. nailed) to the baseboard ...
... and the ballast glued solidly in place with PVA (the white stuff).

So why did your eager ballaster rip out one of the points?
And, in doing so, make a right mess of the surrounding trackwork.

The answer was simple. fbb had bodged in a very aggranoying way.
The fishplate (rail joiner) on one piece of rail had slid under the adjoining rail and not, as it should have been, slid firmly ONTO said rail. 

Two consequences ensued. The power was not carried on to the rest of the siding, so a loco would simply come to a sudden stop. Secondly, even if, by prodding or poking, the contact could be made momentarily, the engine would jump up in the air at the step in the rail, derail itself and most of what it was hauling.

So, out came the point; not easy as all the surrounding track was pinned and solidly ballasted.

At that point, and from that point, the long curved rail fell off! 
Resigned to his incompetence, the old bloke sent off for a replacement point (hence item above).

Halfheartedly he did glue the rail back with two part epoxy resin.

Awful glurpy stuff that gets everywhere.

But, not only did the errant rail stick, but the point worked perfectly when tentatively replaced - and this time replaced correctly.
Thinks. Where can fbb use a surplus right hand No 2 radius Peco Setrack point in factory sealed packaging? 

Just the ballast to tidy!

Puzzle Picture
Two HO/OO flower pots (terracotta colour but shiny texture) and one ditto planter? What could they be? Here is a clue.

The original Type 6 shunter in fbb's possession looked like this
The "toy" version that fbb was up-fettling looked like this.
Something's missing. Actually there is quite a lot missing, but the "something" in question could be replaced (but not copied faithfully) by the flower pots.

All will be fully revealed tomorrow.

 Next Variety blog : Monday 16th January 


  1. All First Sheffield fleet is Euro V and compliant with the CAZ. A program to retro fit the older Volvo deckers with the necessary equipment was completed last year. Bad house point sir!

  2. Bristol - a minibus acting like a taxi but charging bus fares, that’s not going to work financially.