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November 14, 2019, 12:51:02 pm *
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1  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Reading Station improvements on: November 10, 2019, 07:04:43 pm
Yesterday afternoon, due to the line closure, each screen was also timesharing with a message about that. This involved each whole screenful whizing off sideways and the message whizzing in for a few seconds. Annoying for one screen, as the cycle time didn't allow long enough to find what you were looking for. With a bank of them doing it, apparently, asynchronously, it's rather distracting.

I also find these new screens markedly less clear to read, due to the use of a minimal 7x5 matrix instead of the 9x7 (I think) previously. Not too bad for a canopy-dangler, but these ones are higher up and a lot of people will struggle to read them. So more useful information, but at a cost.

Oh - not so keen on the emergency message system (although I've yet to see it in action, but understand the point you are making). However I recognise that there's a damned if you do, damned if you don't element to this. If there's not prominent notification of major problems there's bound to be complaints. Perhaps confining this to the middle screen might be preferable, but this immediately raises the issue - should those after destinations in the first third of the alphabet lose out when a major incident triggering such a message occurs?

As to the legibility/pixel issue, I still have reasonably good distant vision, so didn't notice this. Is it a feature of what appears to be a new generation of "white" electronic signs? Stuving - do you also find this with the new platform signs at Wokingham?

I still rate the new signs at Reading as a step forward, though. 
2  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: November 10, 2019, 05:51:13 pm
Posted by: Reading General
Insert Quote
Where Reading is concerned, the boundaries simply need to cover the urban area north of the M4 and from Purley to Woodley. West berks is fine controlling rural areas west of Reading and split what’s left of Wokingham’s district between Bracknell for south of the motorway and Windsor & Maidenhead to the north. None of this will ever happen though unless central government steps in, and it’s a very low priority. Bristol has a similar problem with leech like suburbia.


I am not so sure - I think that you really need to add the Winnersh to Wokingham area into this too. The ONC regards this together as one conurbation, and I think it is logical, making the (now diminishing) break between Wokingham and Bracknell the eastern boundary. Won't go down well with Reading Labour as it dilutes their powerbase. Add largely "blue" (at least pre-Brexit) Purley, Caversham and Wokingham together and you might have a real political battle ground!

And RG11 areas should really belong with an East Berks authority, RG8 with a West Berks authority.

Is it time to set up a separate local government boundary area thread?
3  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2020 to 2045 / Re: Derogations - allowing uncompliant stock still to be used in 2020 on: November 10, 2019, 01:50:59 pm
Thanks for that further information.

This looks like a matter that might usefully be subject to consultation with passengers and passenger groups. Re-reading extracts, I would think many (most?) passengers might not agree with the classification of some of these items, and others as "E" and "D" in particular.
4  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: November 10, 2019, 01:16:01 pm
Newbury and Wokingham were too  small so had bits of Reading transferred to them. But, as we've seen, that boundary does not even minimise the need for joint working.

I don't think that is the reason Stuving. Reading is a classic example of an underbounded settlement, which has outgrown its original borough boundaries, and where the many (in my view) badly thought out, politically manipulated local government boundary changes have not addressed the issue. The current boundaries represent old parish boundaries going back centuries, the boundaries for counties, boroughs, urban and rural district councils set up under the 1888 and 1894 local government legislation.

Those rural and urban districts adjacent to larger boroughs (Bradfield RDC, Henley RDC, Wokingham UDC in the case of Reading) ended up providing/hosting much of the post-war suburban development. An attempt was made to put a more sensible regional structure to local government, but it ran into a lot of local opposition, so we were left after the implementation of the 1972 Local Government Act with many of the anomalies referred to in this thread left outstanding, or at least anomalous partial addressing of them. They are still endless - Newmarket in Suffolk is almost impossible to get into without driving through Cambridgeshire, you lose count of the number of time you pass back and forth between Bucks, Herts and Beds if you drive up the Icknield Way (B4009/B489) from Princes Risborough to Dunstable, and so on.

The only changes made to Reading's borough boundary are where suburban Caversham and Mapledurham have encroached into Oxfordshire, and those built up areas have transferred into Reading. But influential folk in Oxfordshire lobbied against the eminently sensible move of the RG postcode areas of Oxfordshire moving to Berkshire, so it didn't happen, so those gravel pits converted into a marina you see on the other side of the Thames as you leave on a train towards Paddington, which you cannot access by road except from the borough, are in Oxon - county authority base in Oxford, second tier authority in Abingdon.

The more recent local government changes, and the haphazard spread of unitary authorities has been (in my view) and badly thought out botched result of political pressure on the Boundary Commission. How else can you justify all of Wiltshire being in one unitary authority but it's largest settlement, Swindon, isolated in the middle as a separate authority. It all makes cross-boundary working difficult. It does though suit the Labour Party - underbounded towns and cities means there are still local authorities they have a hope of keeping under their control in southern Britain, while the Conservative and Lib Dems benefit from suburban and rural second-tier or unitary authorities where Labour voters have largely vanished since the 1960s.     

For sensible planning, we need to tear up all this, and start again based on travel to work/communications networks - already reflected in the postcode district system.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2020 to 2045 / Re: Derogations - allowing uncompliant stock still to be used in 2020 on: November 10, 2019, 12:37:23 pm
Thanks Rhygaled - most interesting.

A couple of questions for any forum members who might have the information-

1 - Were the IETs ordered and specified before requirement of seats to align with windows sufficient to provide a view?

2 - How could CAF/their commissioning ROSCOs and the franchise operators "get away" with specifying fewer toilets than the requirements? I'm not sure that a derogation for this (if granted) is more acceptable than allowing stock without disabled access toilets, or lack of retention tanks for a further year or two. These are after all new stock that will be with us for the next 30-40 years. 
6  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Reading Station improvements on: November 09, 2019, 11:50:00 am
Getting this thread back on subject, I am pleased to report (at last) some improvement to the destination/information signage.

The electronic board by the town entrance was replaced this week with a new one with white lettering, two panels of departures in chronological order that manage together to give nearly an hours worth of train information, and three panels of destination by destination information. Better still, each line of information shows platform number, timetabled departure and estimated time continuously (not alternating), and when a train departs the information whizzes off to the side in a rather fetching manner and the information below moves up without any great blank gaps in the display. A (very poor with the phone which doesn't do it justice) snap attached.

Now lets roll out signage of this standard throughout the station and finish the job properly!   
7  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: November 09, 2019, 12:16:10 am
It was a DB class 60 pulling tankers sat in the green gap between the edge of Reading and Pangbourne.

The green gap aka Purley on Thames!

When I saw these posts while "lurking" on my smartphone leaving Guildford after an after hours strategic meeting with a senior colleague I thought I had been fortunate in missing the aftermath of this. Sadly, the train I was aiming for (the 20-22 ex Reading, immediately preceding one of those annoying 35 minute gaps in the stopping service timetable) was cancelled, so there was an unwanted 50 minute wait at Reading, with not even a pretty sunset by way of compensation!
8  Journey by Journey / London to Reading / Re: Person hit by train 06/11/2019 on: November 06, 2019, 10:42:21 pm
Not a good day for this today.

I had a meeting in Peterborough, and drove. Other attendees were stuck in trains on the ECML for a couple of hours as a result of another similar incident
9  All across the Great Western territory / Meet the Manager / Re: Availability of staff and trains (Qn.1 5/11/2019) on: November 05, 2019, 05:12:20 pm
In relation to class 769 deployment, are there any contigency plans if the testing is not satisfactory and deployment further delayed. Presumably this will have an adverse impact on the cascade of the Turbo stock. Will it mean retaining Pacers for a further period? Is there any other suitable diesel stock coming off-lease that might be available to fill  the gap?
10  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Another 10 years and would it still be with us?? on: November 04, 2019, 11:39:05 pm
..and Abingdon and Wallingford which closed to passengers in 1959 and 1963, but the track was not lifted for many years (1984 in the case of Abingdon). Both might now be viable destinations or feeders into Thames Valley services into Reading and London.
11  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Re: Snapshot - 2 days on the forum (and at Melksham) in numbers on: November 03, 2019, 12:35:51 pm
Looking at where those visitors have come from, 90% are UK

That's intriguing - where do our 10% of overseas visitors come from?
12  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2020 to 2045 / Re: Derogations - allowing uncompliant stock still to be used in 2020 on: November 03, 2019, 10:16:35 am
Just a sample - expect to see quite a bit more of this stuff ... this for Heathrow Express units class 332 from the DfT

Dispensation - Description - Platform step/gap para 1 - Bodyside passenger information displays para 10 - Width of wheelchair backstops paras 6 & 7 - Minimum clearance space inside the toilet compartment paras 1, 2 & 3 - Baby change facility

Reflecting on this, it perhaps shows how there is a gap between those who prescribe what should be provided and the passengers who use trains.

Putting on one side catering facilities on trains that travel more than a specified distance or undertake journeys of more than a specified time (off you go Broadgage!) are any of the following covered?-

Maximum and minimum volume of on train announcements

On board electronic signage that works reliably and automatically, linked to a system (eg GPS) which can track where the train is an pick up obvious problems (such as a recent case where internal signs on an IET to Oxford insisted that it was stopping at Theale and Thatcham and the next station was Theale all the way from Reading to Goring)

On board WiFi that does not require daily commuters to sign in every time they change trains (including filling in all my personal details usually in the case of the system on Electrostars)

Carpet materials that clean easily and don't show dirt.

Tip up seats for use by able bodied passengers in disabled/wheelchair spaces when not required for such use

No seats which do not have full window views

Somewhere by each seat to rest drinks container/book/laptop etc

Minimum reliability standards for air cooling/conditioning and adequate emergency window opening when they breakdown.

Minimum standards of hand washing and drying facilities in toilets

Minimum number and size of rubbish bins, and standards of distance from each seat and door/vestibule

No more than 4 seats across

Arm rests capable of being raised where fitted to ease access/egress from seats

First class signage that is disabled/removed when the stock operates on services that are standard class only

Minimum standards (design/dimensions) for cycle storage  - current provision does not seem to work, possibly also provision for storage for folding bikes too.

Door release buttons on both sides of the doors

Communications systems between drivers/train managers and signallers/control to enable instant provision of delay/problem information to passengers on board (no more "We are at a red signal, unfortunately I have not been told when we might move, but I hope to hear in the next 10 minutes and I'll let you know when I have any more information")

I'm certain other forum members can add to this list!

13  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Through the window - but where was I? on: November 02, 2019, 11:48:20 pm
Is 12 Acton?
14  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: GWR passengers slam totally disgusting morning train covered in vomit & rubbish on: November 02, 2019, 11:42:42 pm
Maybe a systemic problem here.

On Friday morning my train (can't remember which, think it was 07-45 ex Goring) on this line had not been cleaned and had a lot of the previous night's fast food rubbish on it. The train manager apologised after each station stop on the way into Reading, saying he had summoned a cleaner to join the train at Reading.

Could this be a problem with trains sent on to be stabled overnight at Swindon? Is there a train cleaner problem at present in Reading or Swindon?
15  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: New Reading Buses route 459 Iver to Heathrow T5 from 04/11/2019 on: November 01, 2019, 09:49:42 pm

Ironically, quite a large part of the route looks like it will disappear if the proposed Heathrow extension is implemented!

And I don't quite follow how a Euro 6 compliant bus emits less than a much smaller Euro 6 compliant light passenger car either.
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