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1  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2019 to 2045 / Re: Great Western Powerhouse - waiting to happen? on: Yesterday at 08:47:15 pm
SubNational Transport Bodies are said to intended to be the future approach and indeed TfN / TfW / TfWM and England's Economic Heartland (Swindon, Oxfordshire and northern Home Counties right across to Cambridge) and the government's way forward. 

I am not sure that this agglomeration is well thought out. Indeed, we do have a habit of using old shire county boundaries or the botched local government boundaries that 40 years of piecemeal reform driven by political expediency has left us with rather than the much more well-thought out system that produced the postcode areas. These reflect much better the communication networks, economic and travel to work areas. For example, a strategic planning area for the Thames Valley area comprising postcode areas RG, OX and SL, another for the Solent area comprising SO, PO, BH and SP, another for greater Severnside comprising BS, BA, SN and GR all make a lot of sense. There's hours of fun to be had with a postcode map dividing up the country in this way.......

These area divisions do seem have stood the test of time since they were first drawn up in the late 1960s
2  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Helping to keep trains on schedule when timetables tighten up in December 2019 on: Yesterday at 08:33:56 pm
There's one thing that would help - eliminate dividing trains mid-journey. One of the regular trains on my evening commute is the 18-57 ex-Reading stopping train for Didcot Parkway, which arrives as a 12 car train, "sheds" the last 4 and continues as an 8 car train to Didcot. The dividing procedure almost always takes longer than timetabled (although no longer as bad as the early days of Electrostar use, when 20 minutes was not uncommon), and this on a train which probably is the one that is the poorest time-keeper on the Reading - Goring leg of my journey. Yet while it fumbles with the manoeuvre, another stopping service usually arrives alongside from Paddington and terminates. Why not put the extra coaches on that one?

(No doubt someone out there will know and tell me......!)
3  Journey by Journey / Bristol (WECA) Commuters / Re: Summer Uprising Bristol Occupation by XR Southwest on: July 17, 2019, 09:01:16 pm
Having largely been away from the forum attending to family business in the north, I am catching up with the posts on this issue.

I largely agree TonyK's points. It is not the case that government/industry/the sectors of society who make decisions etc ignore climate change, and indeed other pollution problems. Although there is still a minority of climate change deniers, the problem is now largely part of public consciousness and policy. It is though a very difficult, almost intractable problem, as to how these are fixed without considerable hardship to many, often those most vulnerable economically.

Personally I do not think these protests add much to help solve the problem or promote the cause. Indeed, a well-produced Attenborough documentary would be more effective. The message could be delivered in a measured way causing no-one unnecessary inconvenience and not alienating members of the public who may not be so engaged. If we are going to have mass shows of support, orderly marches and rallies please.

The real heroes of the search to solve this problem will not be these people.They will be the climatologists and meteorologists who monitor and provide the weather evidence, the zoologists, botanists and ecologists who will monitor the effects and model and predict them in future, the engineers and scientists who will (hopefully) develop the technology and new ways of doing everything (food production, power production and transmission, transport and all the other activities currently creating the problem) to solve the problem and those who will make the decisions and implement them. Thugs advocating breaking the system will not. Those serious about engaging the young in this issue should be encouraging our brightest and best to embark on careers in these fields if they want to do something constructive to help.

There is a dark side to all this. The human instinct being engaged by those encouraging participants to join in activities like this is the same harnessed for Kristallnacht. Get a crowd whipped up with some kind of "righteous" rage and get the adrenalin flowing, then let rip a destructive force.

Alexander Fleming, Joseph Bazalgette, Edward Jenner and Joseph Lister did not to do this to save millions of lives. Hitler, Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot used these methods, and their actions cost millions of lives 
4  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Free train tickets to university open day on: July 14, 2019, 10:05:15 pm
I wonder if I smell a marketing opportunity more than real long term help?

If it brings rail travel to the attention of youngsters and gets them into the habit of using rail transport, it sounds like a "win-win" to me.

Let's hope the TOCs and all HE institutions get together to make this a nationwide scheme for all prospective students
5  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2019 to 2045 / Re: Providing public transport as soon as people move in to new houses on: July 07, 2019, 07:46:17 pm
If we plan areas on the assumption that most people will have easy access to a car

But we no longer do RS for new schemes. National and local policy has been to plan any substantial new development with the aim of ensuring that it can served by public transport from the start of the design process. The "spine road and cul-de-sac" model has not been current practice for over a decade, the lead publication being "Manual for Streets" that came out in 2007. There are (in my view) shortcomings in other respects in current policy and design "fads" that I personally don't think work well, and on the way to Manual for Streets there was a period of "worst of both worlds" when there was neither adequate transport provision nor provision for on-site parking.

I can bore for Britain on the subject - so it I ever make it to a Coffee Shop event I recommend you make your excuses and leave if I start to talk about it!
6  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: 260m Oxford-Witney Rail Proposal on: July 06, 2019, 06:31:07 pm
Hpw do cyclists manage in places like Amsterdam and Rotterdam? Full of cyclists and full of trams.

Or are our cyclists simply thicker than their Dutch counterparts, or indeed thicker than their grandparents and great grandparents who were riding their bikes amongst the tram lines all over the UK pre-WW2?

You might want to have a look at this -

Wallingford would be rather circuitous

The surviving Cholsey and Wallingford "points the wrong way", so if reinstated as a "real" railway could form part of what is in effect the "Reading Metro" formed by all the existing rail services that radiate out from the town. Perhaps we could then right the wrongs of the 1974 local government reorganisation and repatriate Wallingford to Berkshire!

My dad recalled cycling over tram lines in Reading's King's Road in the 1960's. They were never a problem as he had eyesight.

Tram rails appeared breaking through the surface of the Duke Street bridge until the late 1970s, but the gaps alongside where the wheel flanges used to run were long since filled with tarmac, and I expect the same was true in Kings Road too bearing in mind the last tram ran in Reading in 1939.
7  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2019 to 2045 / Re: Providing public transport as soon as people move in to new houses on: July 05, 2019, 11:29:14 pm
Many appropriate measures are already in place. Some authorities require "transport packs" or similar to be provided to all first occupants. Essex County Council is an example - the packs typically should comprise timetables, information on "non-private car" modes of transport, walking routes etc and if available bus tickets. This has been standard there for over a decade.

Other authorities ask for transport plans to be submitted, with transport plan coordinators appointed to monitor effectiveness, and a review and revision mechanism. Funds are often paid to highway and transport authorities to subsidise existing or new bus services or their enhancement.

I am not sure how effective all this is though, but it would be interesting to see if anyone has assessed what the long term (5 years plus) results of this initial investment are. I think there is some suspicion that there is an element of transport consultants making work from themselves rather than really achieving the "modal shift" in transport use habits. 

8  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: 260m Oxford-Witney Rail Proposal on: July 05, 2019, 11:01:42 pm
On a slightly more serious note, I am not sure I endorse all RG's suggestions.

Oxford is a great candidate for tram and tram train operation with all the available track bed in the area
Oxford is different to other cities, it hasn't evolved with suburbia in the same way.

Oxford still has substantial suburban areas with no old track bed available - most of the eastern suburbs north of Cowley for example, where much of the early to mid 20th century growth took place (Headington, Risinghurst, Barton, Marston) are all well away from any old rail routes, with nothing between the Bicester line and the Cowley branch/old Thame line).

I am not sure Oxford is suitable for on street trams either - the town centre streets are surely not wide enough, and if we can no longer countenance level crossings out of town, why is it thought trams in streets (especially ones heavily populated with students on bikes!) are acceptable?

Shouldn't we be looking at trolley buses instead? There will still no doubt be objections to the overhead lines, but there would not be the additional substantial capital investment in laying rails in streets which would trap cyclist's wheels. A rail trolley/ bus interchange at the station, between "real trains" from the current network and Witney and trolley buses on the routes radiating to Oxford's suburbs and its park and rides, their routes safeguarded by bus only lanes in appropriate places would surely be more cost effective, improve Oxford's poor air quality and benefit most of the commuters and visitors to Oxford.

[it's also nice for us Reading folk to be able to be able to tell those Oxford folk how to run their city!]
9  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: 260m Oxford-Witney Rail Proposal on: July 05, 2019, 10:17:08 pm
OK - I can crayon that on the map too - in orange.   

Steady on Isambard Kingdom Ellis!

Richard S is right, and I think the East Gloucestershire Railway promoters, who started what ended up as the Fairford branch (red and blue lines on your plan) got the first stage of their proposed direct route from Oxford to Cheltenham route, the red bit, right. I think it was originally intended to go via Burford and Northleach, and through a tunnel under the Cotswolds. The money ran out, so they changed the route to provide a single line branch to Fairford instead.

Now, wouldn't the original proposal now make a project of Victorian grandness! It would of course have to be broadgage (7ft 0.5 inches between rails, not meat and two veg catering on all trains...) for a smoother ride and larger trains - the New East Gloucestershire Railway!

I am off to get my stovepipe top hat, waistcoat and watch chain, grow some muttonchop sideburns and buy a carriage and four so I can ride around visiting the landed gentry and town merchants raising support. New East Gloucestershire Railway three and a half percent preference loan stock, anyone?
10  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Re: National Rail Enquiries app on: July 04, 2019, 10:06:52 pm
I've also found Journey Check goes AWOL (with a message that its server cannot be reached) more frequently lately. Is this linked?
11  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: 260m Oxford-Witney Rail Proposal on: July 04, 2019, 10:02:54 pm
I am afraid this attitude is endemic among local politicians of all stripes in Oxfordshire - no development of any type thank you in our backyard unless it's Didcot, Bicester or Witney. I was not surprised (but disappointed) to see a spokesperson for the new Lib Dem/Green ruling group in South Oxon proudly announce on TV that they hoped to halve the number of new homes in their area. Presumably they will deliver their old cardboard boxes to Oxfam for young couples to use as family homes instead.

At least Didcot and Bicester have rail links. Witney has grown enormously over the last generation, and now long queues of traffic sit on the A40 each rush hour. There cannot be many stronger cases for reinstating a rail link than this.
12  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Preserved railway lines, Railtours and other rail based attractions / Re: West Somerset Railway - heritage line, Bishops Lydeard to Minehead - possible link to main line on: July 04, 2019, 09:53:21 pm
Perhaps (if and?) when the 769s arrive they could be run for testing on this route as part of their acceptance trials?

If they do not arrive on time presumably the GW fleet will be under strain.
13  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture Overseas / Re: If it's an August weekend, there must be a TGV on fire ... on: July 03, 2019, 03:54:14 pm
Does it really look such a huge heap as that?

....but it might be because of what's still about to slide down the hill/mountainside above the track that they will need to stabilise first!
14  Journey by Journey / Bristol (WECA) Commuters / Re: Cheddar Valley Line and Borders Railway - a comparison on: July 02, 2019, 11:27:18 pm
Stow fills a large gap between Gorebridge and Galashiels, and is the nearest point to Lauder, although the latter has a population of only about 1800.

RS's point though is well made. This link could restore a reasonable Bristol link for quite a number of Somerset communities. How much of the formation remains? Presumably this would also involve taking over the East Somerset Railway? 
15  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Concern over diesel powered vehicles on: July 02, 2019, 11:07:03 pm
I would imagine that Edinburgh Waverley is particularly vulnerable to high levels of pollution accumulating, being both in a valley and under a roof. 
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