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1  Journey by Journey / Bristol Commuters / Re: Tardis - the latest way to travel around Bristol? on: Yesterday at 11:34:22 am
I think it might be the retro-fitted diesel engine and generator fitted to enable it to travel through the parts of the space and time continuum not yet equipped with power sources compatible with your on-board crystal
2  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Renamed trains on: July 18, 2018, 06:11:11 pm
Three historic west country services-

The Royal Dodgy

The Atlantic Ghost Express

The Devon Hell
3  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Stay at home Sunday on: July 15, 2018, 11:34:53 am

(Hopefully this will work - my first attempt to insert an image on this forum!)

Perhaps there is a subliminal message in this juxtaposition of posters on Platform 12 at Reading this week
4  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture Overseas / Re: Danish on-train catering on: July 13, 2018, 09:45:44 pm
I cannot remember if Danish Railways run the Oresund trains, but these run all the way across southern Sweden to Kalmar on the Baltic coast, a journey of over three hours. Refreshments would definitely be welcome!
5  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2018 to 2045 / Re: Making our rail corridors more productive on: July 13, 2018, 09:25:13 pm
o respond to the second part of your post.

The issue with placing buildings over the railway is that it puts treats the passengers as second class citizens by banishing them to the basement. There have been too many awful examples of over-track development over the years - Euston, Birmingham New Street, Sunderland - dark dingy places.

One of the better results in the last few years was not placing office developments over Paddington to replace the Edwardian Span 4. The glorious roof at Paddington is one of the things that helps make train travel civilised.

Specifically in Reading - I see no need for a major town centre development. There have been a number of recent developments for retail, accommodation and office use - and a considerable quantity of the office floor space is still not let. There was a proposal, involving Sir John Madeski, of rebuilding the area between the station and Friar Street on the site of the (now demolished) 1960s building which included Western Tower (the home of the Western Region's London Division) but both it, and another subsequent proposal, both died. In any event the station at Reading is on an embankment so any development would be very high. As the Council's Local Plan requires that certain views be protected

You have hit the nail on the head there - there was no way building over the new Reading Station was going to be viable in the aftermath of the last recession with many easier-to-build sites available in the town centre, and quite a lot of slack in the market to take up. Regrettably I do not think aesthetics have much to do with it, the the absence of buildings of historic significance like Paddington or St Pancras. In the case of Birmingham New Street it has remains a basement under a shopping centre, they have just renewed the shopping centre above it and refurbished the concourse of the station. At Guildford an unlovely victorian brick station was replaced by a not terribly attractive 1980s station (leaving inadequate overbridge and grotty rear exit), so there will be few tears shed when it is replaced. However I shall miss the view of Chalk Hill from platform 8 and the flocks of swifts chasing round the station in summer if I have not retired when (and if) the new station and associated development is built.
6  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Power car named after Mark Carne - 12 Jul 18 on: July 13, 2018, 09:09:32 pm
Isn't that the new Antimacassar testing train?
7  Journey by Journey / Bristol Commuters / Re: MetroBus on: July 12, 2018, 10:48:41 pm
Apologies for butting in on something out of my area, and a thread I have not been following, and repeating something that may have been said already, however today's post caught my eye this evening.

I have had a very peripheral involvement with new public transport schemes in Cambridgeshire, whose county council fell in love with guided bus lanes some years ago, concreting over the old Cambridge to St Ives branch - a scheme that ran hugely over program and budget, and ended up as a massive claim against the contractor.

In the course of my involvement I was informed by an experienced transport consultant that the bus companies do not actually  like them.They involve expensive additional fitments to buses and the additional risk of damage from the bus way structures. They would rather just have ordinary roads built with access restricted by barriers or signage.   

8  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2018 to 2045 / Re: Making our rail corridors more productive on: July 12, 2018, 10:35:35 pm
Surely there are a number of fundamental problems if you try to use the "spare" land either side of the track for solar panels crops etc? This space is largely a working area for infrastructure work, and normally cannot be safely accessed during operating  hours except with safety restrictions on trains. I cannot see the permanent way departments (are they still called that?) welcoming having to dismantle solar panels every time they have to carry out lineside works, store the panels during work somewhere and then have to reinstall before the possession can be terminated.

As regards a wildlife habitat - it already is! It is also a dynamic habitat, with a changing selection of species as the lineside area is periodically cleared, regrows and is cut again. There are though problems when some of our furry friends who like burrowing undermine embankments and the slopes of cuttings.

Beyond a better use of station buildings for solar panels and other similar use, I'm not sure there is much mileage in this.

There is another option which is superficially attractive, namely fund major station reconstructions, by putting a transfer slab over the top and building offices, flats or retail above. The problem is that the capital commitment needed by any private sector partner to build such structures undermines the viability of such schemes, which is why Reading station has remained a station with a few extra shops on the overbridge, rather than the heart of a major town centre redevelopment. However planning permission has been granted for a major scheme at Guildford - so it will be interesting to see if the funds can be raised to deliver it.  
9  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Govia Rail boss orders commuters OUT of first class on a late and packed train on: July 11, 2018, 08:56:13 pm say nothing about possible misuse of an antimacassar!
10  All across the Great Western territory / Who's who on Western railways / Re: Organisation in rail - a community partner / campaigner's view on: July 08, 2018, 09:11:22 pm
Grahame - there's another out there - Transport Focus, who sent me an unsolicited email with a simplistic questionnaire about whether I preferred travelling by diesel or electric trains earlier this week.

Have I just been spoofed/infected with an internet virus or are they a serious organisation? To be fair they have a relevant looking website
11  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Antimacassars - the travelling public demands answers on: July 06, 2018, 10:25:15 pm
Moderators please - this thread has drifted badly off-topic, from important railway equipment, via a sheep offal based regional food to vintage TV comedy.

Back on topic, I had a moment of inspiration while enjoying my antimacassar on a standard class only train this evening. The conundrum - why does GWR remove them (inconsistently it has to be said) when first class seats are downgraded on standard only services? As the main purpose seems to be protecting seat fabric, surely us standard class folk are as likely to wear hair product as first class passengers. The antimacassars are marked First Class on the outer side, so why not mark them standard class on the reverse, and turn them around when the trains run on standard only services.

Bi-mode antimacassars - just what the modern hi-tech railway needs! I feel a Dragons' Den pitch coming on!
12  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Antimacassars - the travelling public demands answers on: July 04, 2018, 09:07:22 pm
To try to cheer you all up when there seems to be so much misery around on the railways, and prompted by my post in the North Downs section, I thought I would draw your attention to a subject so  far sadly neglected in the coffee shop, and one to which there seem to be many unanswered questions - Antimacassars!

Is there someone at GWR in charge of them? I have a mental image of a retired serviceman, who still wears a bowler hat, based in a dingy office somewhere above Paddington Station who has never forgiven that upstart Hopwood for insisting he gave up his morning suit with stripey trousers for an ill-fitting dark green blazer.

What does the franchise agreement provide about antimacassars? Is there a whole schedule specifying which seats on which trains should use them, and a standard specification that the TOC must follow? Does OPRAF (sorry - ORR) have a department dedicated to monitoring each TOC's performance in discharging their antimacassar performance? Do they publish league tables? Is Govia only holding onto its Southeastern and Thameslink franchises because of its exemplary antimacassar record?

Was the BR antimacassar operation privatised in the 1990s? Was it sold to an overseas bank that now ties TOCs up in expensive leasing deals they cannot afford to break for the supply of ORR compliant antimacassars?

What happens to the antimacassars when a franchise comes to an end? Are they cascaded through the system like rolling stock? Do Cornish branch lines and northern rural routes still use BR era antimacassars with the double arrow symbol? Is there a large store of redundant antimacassars at Long Marston, with a particularly large section for the former East Coast Main Line operators?

Is there a Network Rail team that tests antimacassars, using a test train comprising two old diesel engines with a converted mark 1 coach between them testing antimacassars throughout the network painted yellow? Will it soon be replaced by two redundant HST power cars with an HST coach between them so we can at last test antimacassars under air conditioning? Do they use a British Railways standard antimacassar testing hair oil, formulated on nationalisation after extensive testing of the test hair oils of the big four companies?

Is there a well documented history of railway antimacassars? Can you find copies of books with titles like "Antimacassars of the Great Western Railway, 1923 to Nationalisation" in secondhand bookshops or Abe Books? What were the contributions of Churchward, Gresley and Stanier to the development of the antimacassar? Did BR test a tilting antimacassar in the 1970s., only to abandon the project when they discovered that their failure to return to the upright position caused well oiled journalists to feel ill?   

I think the travelling public is entitled to answers to these questions, and any more that your fertile minds may come up with. Coffee Shop members  we await your replies!
13  Journey by Journey / North Downs Line / Re: First and Standard Class on North Downs Line - tips for passengers on this line on: July 04, 2018, 08:20:32 pm
Yes - but the timetable refers to trains with First class accommodation, not services on which you can pay extra for First class travel!
14  Journey by Journey / North Downs Line / First and Standard Class on North Downs Line - tips for passengers on this line on: July 04, 2018, 06:48:40 pm
Can I share an experience on my daily commute that occurred not long before I joined this forum?

You may recall that a couple of years ago FGW/GWR announced with a fanfare that they were increasing standard class accommodation by converting all the first class seats on (then) non air-conditioned Turbos (165s) and one of the two first class ends of the air-conditioned 166s to standard. The relevant sections of trains were duly stickered, doors locked open and antimacassars removed.

Earlier this year I noticed that the stickers at the former "first" end of the 165 had a new sticker stating it was for first class only, and antimacassars were back. The train was a slow stopper, not a limited stop Gatwick service.

I queried this with the train guard, one I recognize as a regular. He asked me not to reveal his name, but then showed me on his smartphone a message from a manager at GWR (I think his name was  Harrison). In summary it said that following the introduction of class 387s (? - Electrostars), first class accommodation was being restored to North Downs "fast" services only. It went on to say that the stopping services to Redhill, Guildford and Shalford would remain standard only. If any passenger on these services in First queried the matter, they were to be offered a refund of the difference between the two fares. He therefore confirmed I could use the seats, and enjoy my antimacassars!

I did not understand the reference to Electrostars being reintroduced. They are all standard, but a better standard of accommodation than you get on a Turbo - 4 across seating throughout, a table at every seat (fixed or fold-down) and (so far) better and more reliable air cooling. However subsequently I googled the issue, and found that the re-classification of the first class accommodation was a response to pressure, backed by local MPs, about lack of seats pending the start of Thames Valley electric services. It was not though made clear at the time that it was only going to be a temporary measure. Mind you FGW's publicity at the time implied that they had paid for the electrification, new Reading Station etc!

However, I doesn't look entirely honest to sell first class tickets for services that are not meant to have such accommodation. The stock on the services, which used to be usually 166s for Gatwick faster trains and 165s for the slow stoppers now appears to be entirely random, too. Why bother offering first accommodation on these services? While I might now have the privilege of antimacassars when these are installed on trains on slow services, this just seems plain stupid, to say nothing of a waste of management time in considering this issue that might be better spent trying to deal with some of the problems filling other threads on this forum.

In the meantime, if you want the full Turbo First class experience at a standard class price, take a slow stopper on the North Downs Line ...don't all rush at once!

15  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: Defensive scheduling on: July 04, 2018, 06:08:13 pm
But Chippenham is station with a "footfall" of nearly 2 million a year!
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