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1  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Report - packed public transport and road in London. How are GWR trains? on: May 18, 2020, 08:46:58 pm
It was just a theory, I apologise.
That's fine! Unfortunately it didn't read like one - it was more like a statement of fact. Sad

It's one of things I'm probably oversensitive about. There exists a school of thought that claims that foreign railways do things so much better than we do - and my experience of having lived in three continental countries shows that 'it ain't necessarily so' to quote the song.
2  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Report - packed public transport and road in London. How are GWR trains? on: May 18, 2020, 05:15:40 pm


Once upon a time, many years ago .... it did happen.   One of the big concerns with the "10 car scheme" replacing 8 car trains with 10 car ones to places like Dartford and Sevenoaks was that it wasn't adding 25% capacity because the country end of the train was always much quieter.  And, yes, there were those of us who used to travel in the back of the train in the morning and the front in the evening, and wish that 10 car trains ran into Holborn Viaduct toot for some reason they never did.

Fascinating. The large rail terminus has never really been built for everyday journeys. London Waterloo is probably the one which handles everyday best. Germany has replaced many of it's termini, largely to benefit through running I guess, but with the added bonus of better crowd control.
The only termini in Germany which I can think of which have been replaced by through stations are Stuttgart (still being built) and the deep level lines - essentially the north-south routes - at the Berlin Hbf. Leipzig Hbf has had an S-Bahn tunnel dug underneath it but remains a terminus for main line trains and München Hbf is still a terminus and is likely to remain so, its S-Bahn tunnel having been built some 50 years ago. Frankfurt-am-Main is still a terminus.

The Hauptbahnhöfe in other cities: Hamburg; Köln; Hannover; Essen; Dresden; and so on are through stations and have been since time immemorial, so to speak!

Heidelberg and Braunschweig were two examples I had in mind.

Hmmm! I'm not sure they are particularly good examples. Planning for the replacement of both these terminal stations started in the 19th Century and work started in the 20th, in the case of Heidelberg in 1902. Both were held up by two wars and a lack of money between them. Heidelberg finally opening in 1955 and Braunschweig in 1960.

As eightf48544 pointed out http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?action=profile;u=228 Kassel was also rebuilt. But this was because the division of Germany had shifted the traffic flows from bring, at least in part, radial flows to Berlin to being largely North-South. The Neubaustrecke Hannover-Würzburg largely built in the 1980s used the rebuilt Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe to avoid time loss in reversing at the Hauptbahnhof.

So we have a total of four termini (five if we include Kassel), which is hardly 'many', and these were rebuilt over a period of a hundred years or so. In all cases it was to improve train running and in the cases of Heidelberg and Braunschweig one of the main driving forces was the desire to remove road level crossings at the throat of the stations which even in the days of horse-drawn traffic were a PITA.

It doesn't look as if crowd control was in the minds of the architects at all - apart from trying to make the stations pleasant places to be in.

Edited: Forgot the NBS Hannover-Würzburg in my original post! Doh!
3  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Report - packed public transport and road in London. How are GWR trains? on: May 17, 2020, 11:15:42 pm


Once upon a time, many years ago .... it did happen.   One of the big concerns with the "10 car scheme" replacing 8 car trains with 10 car ones to places like Dartford and Sevenoaks was that it wasn't adding 25% capacity because the country end of the train was always much quieter.  And, yes, there were those of us who used to travel in the back of the train in the morning and the front in the evening, and wish that 10 car trains ran into Holborn Viaduct toot for some reason they never did.

Fascinating. The large rail terminus has never really been built for everyday journeys. London Waterloo is probably the one which handles everyday best. Germany has replaced many of it's termini, largely to benefit through running I guess, but with the added bonus of better crowd control.
The only termini in Germany which I can think of which have been replaced by through stations are Stuttgart (still being built) and the deep level lines - essentially the north-south routes - at the Berlin Hbf. Leipzig Hbf has had an S-Bahn tunnel dug underneath it but remains a terminus for main line trains and München Hbf is still a terminus and is likely to remain so, its S-Bahn tunnel having been built some 50 years ago. Frankfurt-am-Main is still a terminus.

The Hauptbahnhöfe in other cities: Hamburg; Köln; Hannover; Essen; Dresden; and so on are through stations and have been since time immemorial, so to speak!
4  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Heritage railway lines, Railtours, other rail based attractions / Re: Listed building - GWR? on: May 10, 2020, 11:28:18 am
The Eldon Square Conservation Area Appraisal published by Reading Borough Council which can be found on RBC's web site https://www.reading.gov.uk/media/8388/Eldon-Square-Full/pdf/Eldon_Square_Full.pdf has this to say:
Quote
4.2 The effect of historical development on plan form; settlement pattern
One of the catalysts for the expansion of the Eldon Square district was the decision of the Crown Estates to sell of much of their land to the east of the town centre. Since the dissolution of the abbey, much of the land which had belonged to the abbey had been taken over by the King’s (Crown) Estate. The first stage of the development was the building of two new roads across this land in 1834, King’s Road (named after King William IV) and Queen’s Road (after Queen Adelaide). High class houses were built on some of this land, at Eldon Square and in King’s Road, built out of Bath Stone brought to Reading by the Kennet and Avon Canal. The prestigious new houses were to become popular with doctors at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, the first stage of which was completed in 1839.

These houses were originally part of the area known as Waterloo Place which would suggest that they were built in the years immediately after 1815. This tallies with the opening of the Kennet and Avon canal right through from London to Bristol in 1810 - the buildings are only some hundred yards from the bank of the canal which would make shifting the stone over such a short distance quite feasible.

I still can't see any definite railway connection, the only thing I can think of which might have a connection was the MP for Reading, Charles Russell (1786-1856) was also Chairman of the Great Western Railway between 1837 and 1855. Could he have had some interest in the building?
5  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: East - West Rail update (Oxford to Bedford) - ongoing discussion on: May 06, 2020, 03:22:26 pm
...According to a recent artist's impression I have seen somewhere - don't ask me where, please! - the part over at least the Fast line of the LNWR's main line is being replaced by a long bridge on the roof of which the flyover lines will be replaced. It looks a bit like the structure used on the Trent Valley flyover just north of Rugby station.
Here’s the drawing (pdf attached below) of the intended box structure from the planning application.

Paul

Thank you, that's the drawing I remembered.
6  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: East - West Rail update (Oxford to Bedford) - ongoing discussion on: May 03, 2020, 12:35:36 pm
Doesn't this current work sound typical of the way NR always come up with costing many times higher than expected? As in "Ah, yes, the viaduct does already exist. But it's falling apart, so we'll have to replace several spans, and all the bearings, and most of the parapet and a new one will need new fixings. And you said you wanted new platforms too? Well, that looks like a new station, and if you want it upstairs that'll cost even more than a normal downstairs one ... though if the trains are short enough we can squeeze it onto the embankment which will save a bit. Until you need to lengthen it, of course."

To be fair, those are all genuinely necessary extra costs, whatever the actual price tag.
According to a recent artist's impression I have seen somewhere - don't ask me where, please! - the part over at least the Fast line of the LNWR's main line is being replaced by a long bridge on the roof of which the flyover lines will be replaced. It looks a bit like the structure used on the Trent Valley flyover just north of Rugby station.
7  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: DfT sifts 60 new rail plans on: May 03, 2020, 11:54:29 am
This is interesting. Even if it only results in one or two ideas being taken forward this time, it could provide a channel for reopenings. It could also, of course, just add an extra layer to the aleady tortuous road to refusal.
I have to agree. Whether any proposals get taken forward or even, heaven forbid!, be implemented will depend not so much on the need for any of the proposals but on the political and economic situation when the time comes to spend serious money. At current prices new or re-opened railways cost in the order of £20 million to £40 million per mile. Roads can be a bit cheaper, although they take more land, because the expensive bit of the railway - the signalling and control systems - are in the individual vehicles so don't count. The planning and legal palaver is very similar for both modes.

In any case, don't hold your breath. Even if a scheme is selected and funded for development it will take a minimum of five or eight years before the statutory, legal and parliamentary stages are completed. Allowing three years for construction the first schemes won't operational until 2031 or 2032 at the earliest.

That's probably two General Elections away...
8  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: BA and Gatwick on: May 02, 2020, 11:49:04 am
Gatwick strikes me as easier to reach by train from the south, west (via direct train from Reading) and much of the north (via Thameslink) than Heathrow.

Heathrow is ... OK ... from Central London. From the West, you can double back at Paddington or struggle over a footbridge (or is there a lift in yet?) off a local train at Hayes and Harlington.   Come Crossrail it will be much better the with branches into Essex and Kent.

Which will be first - through opening of Crossrail or full recovery of air travel (assuming we want that latter rather tan more selective us with many UK and near Europe journeys by train).
The is also the long established and until Coronavirus quite frequent Railair (every 20 mins or half an hour depending on the time of day) coach service direct from Reading station to Terminal 5.
Very convenient even for those of us starting from Reading - almost as convenient as a taxi and ticket prices, especially with the Railcard discount, were very competitive.
9  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Comparative Costs of Reinstating Services on: April 30, 2020, 01:06:00 pm
I have no direct knowledge of the line, but www.openrailwaymap.org shows it as a branch line, with line reference number 9283 but shown out of use. There is a description on the German Wiki page here <https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahnstrecke_Neheim-Hüsten–Sundern>.

Briefly, it runs up a valley parallel to the road in the Sauerland from Neheim to Sundern past the Sorpe dam (one of the targets for the Dam Busters raid) which is now an area for outdoor recreation.

It was a private line which was passed to a bus operator in 1966 and by 1977 all passenger trains ceased as the bus and the railway run parallel to each other. There are some 50,000 people living close to the line which was used for freight until DB rationalisation in 2002-4 caused much of it to be lost although much timber was moved in 2007.

The legal framework for branch lines in Germany is different to the framework for main lines and leads to a lower cost base.

Local government has been active since 2010 in trying to get the line reopened.

So it would seem that most, if not all of the infrastructure, still exists and no part of the right of way has been lost. I have no idea if anything needs replacing after so long out of use - but I would be surprised if it didn't!
10  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Haines: electrification must start soon and progressively on: April 30, 2020, 11:03:42 am
The very fact that Andrew Haines has made such a statement is encouraging - he was only recently (in railway terms!) appointed to the job by this Government. I would have thought that it is unlikely that he would be espousing a plan/aspiration/whatever that is not reasonably closely aligned with Government thinking[1] as that is unlikely to help him win friends and influence people in other areas where he has to be persuasive.

[1] Assuming 'Government thinking' is not an oxymoron...
11  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: Member Roll call on: April 29, 2020, 11:14:46 am
The spare time generated by this Covid-19 thing encourages vacillation which has kept me put off applying my fingers to the keyboard - but as it pouring with rain today I have finally taken myself by the scruff of the neck…

Please remember there are some of us who have no more and possibly less spare time during Covid-19.  Yes I have saved the travel time (only occasional hold ups on the way through the dining room), but some things take a bit longer. 
Do you think I don't?

I was describing my position - I am male, over 75 and have received The Letter encouraging me to stay at home. I can't do the things I would normally do out of the house and I am discouraged from meeting people as there are two other people in my household who are even more endangered than me.

Your mileage may vary.
12  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: Member Roll call on: April 28, 2020, 09:20:04 pm
The spare time generated by this Covid-19 thing encourages vacillation which has kept me put off applying my fingers to the keyboard - but as it pouring with rain today I have finally taken myself by the scruff of the neck…

My name is Robert and I am a war baby, born in Reading. Until I was at grammar school I only had a passing interest in railways but one or two earlier memories stand out. One was walking with my grandfather who was pushing a pram with my younger brother in it to watch the shunting engines in Reading Central Goods Depot beside the Kennet. The bang-bang-bang-bang is a sound which I can still hear in my mind’s ear.

My mother, together with one of her friends who had a son the same age, used to take us once each school holiday somewhere ‘educational’ which would appeal to three young boys. So we went to Navy Days at Portsmouth by train, to London Airport by bus (the Thames Valley Victoria 'B' service), the Tower of London and, of course, to the Science Museum in South Kensington. On one of these latter trips we were were waiting on Platform 5 at Reading when one of the two ‘Kerosine Castles’ whistled through at speed. Was that noisy! And it left the same smell behind it as the Vickers Viscounts did at London Airport when seen from the top of the Queens Building. It was obviously the future…

At the age of 14 I went on a school holiday trip to Rome, by train. We left Reading one chill morning in April for Paddington and carried our suitcases round to Victoria on the Circle. We were steam hauled on what I assume was the Golden Arrow, but in an ordinary coach, to Folkestone Marine - I remember reversing and a row of little tank engines - and crossed to Calais. I have very little memory of the ship, but the train was the Train CB (overnight Calais - Bâle, in compartments each with six boys, two lying in the luggage racks) where we had breakfast in a cavernous cafeteria at about 6 o’clock in the morning. We changed trains there, went over the Gotthard to Milan where our coach was shunted between trains. On the adjacent platform was one of the Settebello trains looking like something out of Dan Dare - even more of the future than the Kerosine Castle. We arrived in Rome Termini in the evening, some 36 hours after leaving Reading - the corridors of the youth hostel still rolled and rocked and clicketty-clacked for another couple of days. After getting home I still didn’t really appreciate railways, they were very exhausting, but the scenery I saw was spectacular and I think the travel bug infected me.

A couple of years later I did an exchange visit to Sweden for a month, by ship from Tilbury having got there by train from St. Pancras. During the time I was away my younger brother was at a loose end and was persuaded by some friends to go train spotting at Reading. As a result he was seriously bitten by the railways bug and later won an engineering scholarship from BR and read mechanical engineering after spending a year being an engineering apprentice at Swindon and afterwards at Bath Road depot. He left the railways some ten years later as the bureaucracy was getting him down, but still remains in touch with many of the people he met.

Back from Sweden he persuaded me to go with him to the station and I saw the first of the diesels, Ark Royal and the like. Somehow I must have realised that I was lucky enough to be present at a time when the world was changing for ever and also got bitten by the bug. But in my case it was more to do with finding out about the history, the technology and the social impact the railway had made. The Great Western’s locomotives, although mostly terribly run down by the time I started to appreciate them, were elegant; the sights, sounds and smells were primeval. Paddington was breath taking when I saw it with new eyes.

After that I read Physics at Battersea College of Advanced Technology (now the University of Surrey) under Professor Lewis Elton - a polymath and mind opener. One of the most inspiring people I ever met.

I never lived up to his intellectual abilities but stayed an experimental physicist, working first in Chelmsford on TV camera tubes and then on scientific vacuum equipment in Crawley. Then came the three-day week; a bit like now business was on hold with no chances of promotion or a pay increase - and this after some years of stagnation. In the early autumn of 1973 The Daily Telegraph carried an advertisement for ‘Vacuum Technology in Bavaria’ with interviews in the first instance to be held in Slough. I wrote in, received a postcard saying that my application had been received and they would contact me. A couple of months went by without hearing anything and I assumed that the whole thing had died until, sometime in November I received an invitation for an interview in Ulm. I trotted off to a travel agent and asked how I could get to Ulm, I was asked where it was and I said ‘Southern Germany’. ‘Then you want Munich’ was the reply. This was now in the run up towards Christmas, then there were only about three flights per day in each direction and they were all full. I made an international phone call (the excitement and the expense!) expecting not to understand a word but I was answered in perfect English and was told they would be quite happy to see me in the New Year. So I did, and I knew I had landed the job before I was on the plane home. Then the Doubts set in…but I started work there a couple of months later and found out that the advertisement had lied - Ulm is in Baden-Wurttemberg!

I got married in Germany, my late father in law was a country GP and I think most of Schleswig-Holstein turned up for the Polterabend! After nearly eight years in Ulm we moved to Belgium following a job offer from a technology consulting company. Five years after that we found ourselves in the Île de France as I took up a position with Apple Computer Europe in European R&D in Paris. I said to myself as I drove to Ulm in my Cortina that whatever happened I would stick it out for six months - I got back to the UK some twenty years later…

So, I have never worked for the railway, but I get great pleasure these days in swanning around in trains. I still enjoy the sights and sounds of the railway, but electric railways are a bit short in the smells department.
 
One of the legacies of Lewis Elton was his insistence that physicists should not be narrow-minded technicians and to this end hung artistic works in the corridors of the Physics department in Battersea and insisted that we all take ‘Liberal Studies’ for a couple of periods each week. This covered subjects such as literature, industrial relations and trades union history, geography and economics, for which one of the tutors was a lady who wrote for The Economist. Beeching’s report on the ‘Reshaping of British Railways’ was published while I was at Battersea and this was an ideal subject for discussion and debate. I think this is where my interest in the complex interplay of economics, financing, politics and social policies where they affect the railways and their business had its roots.

But I still hanker after the shrill scream of a Landore Castle dipping and rolling at speed across the Westbury Line junction at the head of the evening Up ’South Wales Pullman”…
13  Journey by Journey / London to Reading / Re: Crossrail - The Elizabeth Line - ongoing discussion, merged topics on: January 30, 2020, 09:56:08 pm
OK Reading Local Stopping service then
Because not everybody reads to the bottom of the screen, assuming you mean that 'Reading Local Stopping Service' is scrolling along at the bottom.
There are at least two problems:
  • especially if people are in a hurry they search for the information they are looking for and stop as soon as they have found it.
  • especially if people are unaware of local geography, 'railway-speak' and stopping patterns. For them 'Reading Local Stopping Service' means nothing. All this statement does is code the basic data into a form that needs de-coding for it to be useful. If you don't have the key it's gobbledegook.
14  Journey by Journey / South Western services / Re: SWR - Threat of Franchise Removal on: January 08, 2020, 12:37:17 pm
... and Northern ...and Transpennine Express.

The franchising model, and the great Tory privatisation adventure is completely broken.

Concession models, as used in London, or full renationalisation are the only answers.
The current franchising model with the DfT specifying many things - service intervals, seats, and so on and so forth - while still demanding the payments of premiums well into the future is broken.

Nobody tried renewing the first model of franchises - the 'shadow' SRA and then the SRA started fiddling as soo as they could and since then the franchises have become every more prescriptive. Over a seven to ten year time span the initial assumptions may no longer reflect the actualité - but the DfT seems incapable of adapting.

Why this should be so I leave to the reader!
15  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture Overseas / Re: Rail fare price cuts - Germany on: January 08, 2020, 11:54:55 am
Effectively this only concerns the IC and ICE services run by DB Fernverkehr. The Länder are now responsible for specifying and funding services (suburban services, IR and so on) within their area and the VAT reduction does not apply to these services.
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