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 30/03/23 - Railfuture Annual, Leeds

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1  Journey by Journey / South Western services / Re: Calls for trains from Reading to London Waterloo to be made faster on: July 21, 2022, 10:48:51 am
The main limitation in reducing journey times is that, as far as the Reading services are concerned, it is essentially a two track railway all the way to Waterloo. Track occupation from Staines eastwards is very high and combinations of the various service groups stop at all the stations.

The only way to speed up services from the outer areas is to

Four Track, Now!
2  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 / Re: Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail / Great British Railways on: July 17, 2022, 08:57:02 pm
It’s simply a guide vote, not a public winner.
So what is the point of it? Will the choice of site have an effect on the quality of the decisions emanating from it?
3  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Office of Rail and Road | Annual Rail Consumer Report - July 2022 on: July 17, 2022, 08:53:30 pm
How self-centred..."We have made good progress in reviewing our expectations". Wow!

Waste of money and space.
4  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: Melksham Transport User Group wins Railfuture award on: July 17, 2022, 08:28:58 pm
Yes, I would like to add my congratulations on winning a well earned award. Demystifying public transport has to be a good thing for everybody.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: IET return to full availability. on: June 16, 2022, 04:27:22 pm
More time has passed, and the "between 6 months and a year" possibility has not been achieved.

We do now have a timetable for repairs, but it is a multi year program.

It is now beginning to look as if the last option of "never, alternative stock required" is going to be at least partly correct. The ORIGINAL idea of the IETs (Intercity Express Train) was that as routes were electrified, that all but one engine would be removed so as make them electric trains, with limited emergency "limp home" diesel power.
I am not sure that this statement is entirely correct and I can't remember any authoritative body making that claim at the time.

In order to supply more bi-modes to the Western the 'electric' versions of the IETs which were subject to the change order had to have a considerable number of modifications made to accept the diesel gen sets. For example wiring looms needed modification, the underbody areas needed modifications to allow exhaust systems to be fitted and so on.

It is indeed possible to convert a bi-mode IET to an electric version, but going the other way is only economically possible if the coach body is built as the bi-mode version in the factory. In view of the additional costs involved, throwing away the gen sets and all their associated gubbins to get electrics after a few years seems a very expensive way to go about it.

Yet elsewhere on these forums we read that 387s or similar EMUs (Electric Multiple Unit) could be used in place of IETs for Cardiff services and possibly also Oxford services when electrification reaches that place.
It was always intended that 387s would make up part of the Paddington service when the wires reached Oxford - they would operate the outer-suburban semi-fast and stopping services which now terminate at Didcot. The IETs would continue to operate the Cotswold line services as now. And there always was an intention to use 387s to Cardiff as crowd busters for events at the nearby stadium. So nothing new there.
6  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture - related rail and other transport issues / Re: Direct services map on: June 09, 2022, 03:54:09 pm
This is fascinating. It's easy to see where gaps in the coverage are - for example choosing Aberdeen it's obvious that there are no direct services to anywhere in North West England but there are to Devon and Cornwall which are a lot further.

It's also quicker to get to London from the Gare du Nord in Paris than it is to get to Boulogne-sur-Mare or Calais Ville...

This is going to be a real time waster....!
7  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: 5p cut in tax on fuel. on: March 26, 2022, 05:53:55 pm
This whole debate hasn't really moved on since the oil price shock of 1973 following the Yom Kippur war.

At the time there were calls for houses to be better insulated,; it was predicted that car use would fall as costs rose and so on and so forth. In the event people adapted to the new prices and cars became more efficient (anyone remember the motor manufacturers emphasising the new low Cd values of their latest models...?) Building regulations have made the modern UK (United Kingdom) house much more energy efficient that the 1960s and 70s equivalents - why else does so much modern construction have such undersized fenestration?

For the last 100 years the new growth of towns and cities has been based on the use of the motor car and the organisation and spatial arrangements are largely no longer suitable for people to do most of their business within walking distance. Towns are now zoned for industrial or commercial or leisure or residential uses separating these various activities.

Without a fundamental re-organisation of built-up areas calls for people to walk or cycle more, or use the buses or trains (which for most towns up to about 100k inhabitants have little or no relevance for intra-town journeys anyway) will be ignored as these alternatives are simply not relevant for most people's transport needs.

A case in point. Until a way is found for the local corner store 10 minutes walk away can supply goods as cheaply as a supermarket 10 minutes drive away, the supermarket will continue to be preferred.
8  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Building Car dependency on: February 09, 2022, 10:09:07 pm
Thank you for the reference, it's nice to see some of my opinions/observations/prejudices confirmed by others!

I would just add that elsewhere I have read that one of the reasons for sameness are the design guidelines for access for refuse collecting lorries and their swept curves with the result that all roads are the same.

It's happening near me at Shinfield, just south of Reading in the Loddon Valley. Spread-out sprawl with the buses to Reading being caught up in the traffic and it's really far enough away for a light rail/tramlink to the town. But comparatively easy to reach the M4 so I fear that nothing will happen.

9  Journey by Journey / Shorter journeys in Devon / Re: Okehampton on: October 14, 2021, 09:54:08 am
Not wishing to put the knockers on it but surely gauge clearance on all stock will need rechecking due to the replacement of track along the entire length. The line to NR» (Network Rail - home page) is essentially a whole new piece of engineering so the laying down of the new wouldn't necessarily be in the precise same location as the former 'heritage' track.
Hmm! In view of all the modern planning, measuring and control techniques now available, is it likely that Network Rail installed so much new track in the 'wrong' place?

And, if necessary, it shouldn't take long to check the track positioning with relation to any critical points - a laser scanner on the front of a train ought to be able to get up and back within the hour. Add a day for evaluation - and Bob's your Uncle!
10  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: GWR Performance Figures on: October 13, 2021, 03:46:48 pm
I think the biggest change for the LTV (London [and] Thames Valley) sector is that there are far fewer trains now being counted since TfL» (Transport for London - about) took over.  COVID muddies the water of course, but there can be little doubt that dwell times have reduced on the suburban trains into Paddington now.  The three doors per carriage of the Class 345s helps in that regard.
Ah! That's a point I hadn't considered - fewer trains being counted.

Does that mean that there will be no numerical published results for the FfL services in future? We'll have to make do with 'Good Service' or 'Delays' as classifications...?  Sad
11  Journey by Journey / Thames Valley Branches / Re: Reading Green Park on: October 13, 2021, 03:20:09 pm
I know this example is regularly trotted out for comparison, but in my defence I have to say that I first came across it in reality when I lived in Belgium and my wife and I went out for a drive one Sunday.

Search a large scale map for Baarle-Nassau or Baarle-Hertzog on the Belgium-Dutch border just north of Turnhout in Belgium, for example <https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Baarle-Nassau,+Netherlands/@51.4367821,4.8532009,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x47c6a5342570ab1d:0x808696d1e9939744!8m2!3d51.4451366!4d4.9295231>

There the exclaves have exclaves...!
12  Journey by Journey / South Western services / Re: South Western Railways Waterloo - Bristol services axed on: October 11, 2021, 12:07:24 pm
I could of taken you're advise, but I had no time too loose - so ignored it.  Wink
Ouch!
13  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: GWR Performance Figures on: October 11, 2021, 12:02:39 pm
Thank you for all this work - statistics beat anecdata any day of the week!

Looking at the numbers it would appear that the 'new normal' has a close similarity to the 'old normal' for the longer distance trains. Having said that the reduced numbers of IETs (Intercity Express Train) available have clearly had a strong influence on the results.

For the London and Thames Valley services is there any evidence that longer trains have had an influence in reducing boarding delays compared to the shorter Class 165/166 operated services? The 9 coach long Crossrail trains must also have had an effect even if they are not directly included in the GWR (Great Western Railway) statistics.
14  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Southeastern accused of acting "in bad faith" by DfT on: October 06, 2021, 07:00:29 pm
Thank you for the reference. A very informed and informative article.
15  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: A home for Great British Railways on: October 06, 2021, 06:01:39 pm
My reading of the Williams-Shapps Plan is modified by profound doubts about the real reason for the document...and this reflects in the requirement for a new headquarters for Great British Railways.

A few senior civil servants in the Department for Transport (DfT» (Department for Transport - about)) have mentioned in the past that it has been asked to adjudicate on matters that really should not be in its remit, for example, decisions on the type and number of coffee cup holders in a new, or re-built, fleet of trains. This type of activity does not sit well with the DfT's overall job of setting strategy and funding for the railways and, reading the runes, my interpretation is that the senior management of the DfT would like to hive off the 'day-to-day' railways functions performed within the DfT. Essentially these are the activities concerned with monitoring and control of the Train Operating Companies whether as franchises or state controlled operators; details of the infrastructure side have generally always been handled at arms length.

I see it as a move to reverse the decision to wind up the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA» (Strategic Rail Authority - about)) made by Alastair Darling in 2006 which transferred the franchising functions (after the 1993 Act initially performed by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising) to the DfT. The effect was that more and more of the minutiae of railway operation required decisions to be made at the centre.

Not all of these were advantageous - think of the West Coast franchising fiasco; setting the frameworks for franchise bids but failing to check that the infrastructure could cope with the results; setting the rules for franchising the East Coast Main Line in such a way that it was uneconomic to run, not once but twice; trying to transfer so much risk to the potential train operators that most UK (United Kingdom)-based companies decided the game was no longer worth the candle; making timetable specifications part of the franchising contract and not being able to make quick decisions on contract changes which was part of the reason for the 2018 timetable melt down; having no plan fixed in advance for what it wanted out of the Great Western Electrification programme[1]; I won't mention the Intercity Express Programme...  Roll Eyes

As the body politic finds it so very hard indeed to say that it made a mistake I read the whole thing as a way for the DfT to get shot of the rump activities of the SRA so any future less than optimal decisions will not directly reflect on the Secretary of State. After all one of the main considerations in the Civil Service is 'Don't embarrass the Minister' and in future any awkward questions can be passed off to Great British Railways — 'Not me, Guv, try over there...'

So, basically, the train operating specifications and the infrastructure strategy will pass to the new body. Infrastructure is already devolved and day to day train operation always has been devolved for the past 180 years. So Williams/Shapps has in effect recreated the Railways Executive/British Railways and the top level organisation, the British Transport Commission/British Railways Board running trains, infrastructure, ships, hotels, workshops and a staff of half a million people, operated out of the Great Central Hotel at 222 Marylebone Road for many years.

Ships, hotels and workshops and most of the workforce are long gone - so all we need to look for is a smallish office building within walking distance of a station.

If the financial benefits being brought to a new location are seen as significant, then the headquarters staff is too big.


[1] This was in fact a logical decision as the National Audit Office strongly criticised the DfT's programme plan and handling of the West Coast Route Modernisation so it decided not to give another hostage to fortune and not have a plan at all for the Great Western.
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