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1  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2018 to 2045 / Re: Rise in car dependency - unintended consequence, or expected effect of policy? on: Yesterday at 05:16:18 pm
Posted by: broadgage
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Does say a sprinter actually burn 4 times as much fuel per mile as an SUV ? That seems surprising to me.
Estimating 30 miles to a gallon for the SUV, does a pacer really only go 7.5 miles on a gallon ?

I have heard, but can not substantiate, that the fuel consumption of a pacer is about the same as an SUV, and therefore that the pacer saves fuel with only two passengers.

Perhaps we need some new 2 car battery multiple units ?

Those fuel consumption figures look pessimistic (for the SUV) and about right for the Pacer.

A typical modern diesel 2 litre SUV can manage 40MPG plus, has an engine of about 150 bhp moving a vehicle of 2 tonnes. A Pacer has two 225 bhp engines shifting about 50 tonnes of metal. Googling bus fuel consumption I found someone claiming 14 MPG as a good figure for a 29 seater midibus.

If you have a midibus tootling around rural Oxfordshire with an average of two passengers at any one time, and I think you can see how the "Freelander myth" came about!

All strengthens the case for electrification for me!
2  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - 2018 to 2045 / Re: Rise in car dependency - unintended consequence, or expected effect of policy? on: Yesterday at 12:55:59 pm

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Re: Rise in car dependency - unintended consequence, or expected effect of policy?
Reply #2 on: Today at 11:16:22 am
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Here in North Somerset, bus services have noticeably worsened.
Local employers have got fed up with staff turning up late due to bus problems, and almost all local job adverts now state "must have own transport"

Speaking more generally, I blame a lot of the problems on new housing developments that have no effective public transport provision. Residents of such estates therefore have to drive, often needing multiple cars per household.

There seems to be a general view that new housing developments cant be served with public transport until a proven demand can be demonstrated. By which time of course every resident has purchased a car and got used to driving.
IMHO, new housing developments need an effective bus service from before the first resident moves in.

A comparison could be made with electricity supply. Who would build a new housing estate without an electricity supply ? No one ! Despite the fact that INITIAL electricity demand is probably insufficient to justify the costs.
Similar arguments apply to mains water or roads within the estate.
"here is your new home. Sorry about the walk across a muddy field to get to your front door. But don't worry, we will consider building a road once enough demand exists"

Actually for about a decade planning policy has resulted in most new developments of any size contributing financially or by way of physical infrastructure in larger schemes to non-car transport (although usually nothing for Rail related infrastructure), and require travel plans to be provided. The former may be by way of payments under planning agreements (the "Section 106 agreements" you hear about in the media) or as part of the infrastructure funded by a levy known as Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) that some local planning authorities levy instead, or physically providing cycling facilities, bus stops, bus shelters, information etc, and ensuring that appropriate pedestrian routes to shops and schools are provided. The latter usually comprise information about public transport, walking routes and cycle facilities, sometimes with tickets or vouchers to each first buyer or tenant, possibly backed up by appointing someone to provide advice or to monitor use of different modes of transport on large schemes and an obligation to change what is offered if it does not demonstrate a "modal shift" away from private car use.

It cannot really be compared to usual mains services. You cannot occupy a new house unless it is connected to its sewer, water, electricity and other services. A new buyer or tenant will come with their own transport. The availability of transport may be a factor influencing where you buy or rent (look at the premium in house prices for areas with good rail connections), but for many it will be a case that the buyer/new tenant would like or needs a larger house/one near a new job or a school they would like their children to attend/to be near relatives, not - "can I move to a place with better bus services".

The problem is that we are trying to wind back the clock on nearly a century of getting used to private road transport. Whatever its downsides and problems, it also has flexibility that public transport cannot match.

I am not convinced that some of the planning measures (particularly travel plans) are particularly effective. What we need is more integrated infrastructure and general planning. Even when you have heavily subsidised bus transport, it needs to have sufficient volume of use to justify the expenditure, and dispersed settlement patterns mitigate against this. Use of some of the subsidised services in Oxfordshire that are no longer supported was often very low. My wife, who was involved in community transport for a while, went to a conference before the cuts when a speaker made the comment that it had been calculated that it would produce less carbon emissions of they stopped the buses in rural areas and bought each passenger a Landrover Freelander to use for the journeys instead! Concentrating development along current lines of communications helps, but immediately conflicts with  Green Belt policies in those towns and cities which have them.

Recognising these problems though, we are not going to encourage more to use public transport unless its a user-friendly experience, provided at convenient times serving the places that many want to get to and reliable. The continued increase in rail use until this year shows that passengers were prepared to pay. Is it now the cost or the quality of the service that has reversed this?    
3  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Control, and communication to passengers when things go wrong on: September 21, 2018, 10:15:18 pm
A classic illustration of how GWR falls down badly in providing information when things go wrong this morning on the North Downs line.

I arrived at Reading expecting to catch the 8-04 to Redhill for Guildford. Perhaps as an experienced commuter, I should have checked Journey Check after strong overnight winds, but on the overbridge the signs (in principal destinations in alphabetical order mode) indicated a train for Guildford at 8-04 on platform 5. However when I got down to platform level it was shown as cancelled, and on arrival at the end of platforms 4,5 & 6, the signs showed the 8-20 to Guildford also cancelled and the 8-32 to Gatwick "Delayed". There was a growing group of passengers, inevitably including some worried looking holiday makers with luggage worried about missing their Gatwick flights.

Two GWR platform staff stood at the entrance. They explained that the line had been closed by fallen trees in the Crowthorne area but these had now been moved and trains were running again. Journey Check showed the 5-10 from Gatwick due at Reading at 8-33, and the 6-19 from Redhill at 8-38. The two staff members were waiting to hear from Control if there were train crew available to restart services and take out one of these as a delayed 8-32 to Gatwick.

A fellow traveller with whom I often chat to arrived - we discussed if we would take the 8-20 XC to Basingstoke to do the Basingstoke/Woking/Guildford "zigzag". No information was being given to the two GW staff, so I tried phoning 03457 000125. I got a helpful operator. After the usual "we can't speak to Control", I held on while he made some enquiries, and came back to me to tell me it was hoped that the 8-32 would leave at about 9 am. I went to the two GW staff to let them know (they were still without any information), and they had been joined by a train manager who said he had agreed to extend his shift to take the train, but had no information as to whether a driver was available or (if one was) when he or she would be available. By this time the Basingstoke train had gone.

Throughout this period there were several announcements about the delays caused by the signal failure between Didcot and Swindon, but no mention of the North Downs line problems

As we waited, Journey Check showed the arrival time of the first delayed train from Gatwick drift back past 8-50, but in fact it arrived at 8-38. The GW staff were then told that it would form the 9-04 to Redhill, and the 8-32 went from "Delayed" to "Cancelled" on the boards.

We all boarded, but as we sat on board, Journey Check showed to the departure time as 9-28 or 9-29! Keeping faith, we stuck it out, but as 9-04 approached my colleague contemplated giving up and going home, until he checked his smartphone which reminded him he had a meeting in his office at Guildford at 10 am. Mercifully we were underway at 9-06, despite Journey Check insisting we would not leave until 9-29, although once we were under way it refreshed to give a departure time of 9-06, and that the following 9-34  to Gatwick was now cancelled. I hope no-one decided not to join our reasonably full train for this one, the third consecutive Gatwick one to be cancelled. In addition the travel advice was updated - two sections, one saying that the line was open and running, the second saying that two trees were down across the line between Reading and Guildford and they were waiting for a chainsaw gang - timed at 9-06, with the promise of an update in two hours time.

Eventually I arrived at Guildford an hour and 10 minutes later than planned. Not the biggest travel disaster of the year, but what about those poor folk trying to get to Gatwick to get a flight - they must have been beside themselves with worry, and presumably would not be keen to repeat the experience.

It is difficult to describe the information provision throughout this episode as anything other than thoroughly appalling. Almost all the information about any trains actually moving was totally wrong. I appreciate that Control may have been experiencing a bad morning, but GWR is there to provide a service to its customers, and someone should have been monitoring events as they unfolded and ensuring that the information was promptly cascaded to platform staff, announcers and the on-station and on-line information systems. In particular, if you run a service to a major airport, surely you should appreciate that some of customers have flights to catch which will not wait so take extra care to keep them informed and secure alternative transport?

What are GWR going to do about it?   

I have sent a complaint by email to MH. I will let you know what response I get (my bet is a brush off).

4  Journey by Journey / Cross Country services / Re: CrossCountry Franchise Competition "Will Not Proceed" on: September 21, 2018, 08:20:42 pm
Topic Summary
Posted on: Yesterday at 09:45:07 am Posted by: Zo
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Quote from: grahame on Yesterday at 09:23:37 am
However fit for purpose the current setup was when it was put into place, it is now very clearly creaking around some of the seams (if not most of them) and it needs an update to the setup - and perhaps to the definition of process - and not just "carry on as you are" into the undefined and perhaps distant future.

I do hope that all the work and analysis on what's needed for the future is heeded, implemented as appropriate and not just parked for "sometime/perhaps/aspiration" as the current service creaks onward untuned for the future.
In the future HS2 will take a significant amount of intercity travel away from the XC core.  I just hope it does not get decided to leave XC as is until then.

I am not so sure. HS2 does not affect the considerable XC traffic on the Bournemouth/Southampton/Basingstoke/Reading/Oxford/Birmingham axis, nor the Plymouth/Exeter/Bristol/Cheltenham/Birmingham one either. It will not serve the Trent Valley, nor Derby or Sheffield.

If it does kill off the viability of XC routes north of Birmingham there will still be demand on the two southern "legs". In such circumstances these might make a logical addition to the GW franchise - there might even be some mid-life 5 coach IETs ready to be cascaded to replace the Voyagers...
5  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: Reading Buses expand their area on: September 21, 2018, 07:57:33 pm
Reading Buses did have a Newbury operation in the past. They acquired the Newbury operations of Bee Line (which started off as the privatised operations of Alder Valley) in about 1992, repainted their buses in a variation of the then-current Reading livery, but closed this in 2011. (source -my memory as a local reinforced by Wikipedia!).

Hayward are a coach hire outfit based at Greenham, on part of the old airbase. They also operate under the Weavaway brand, and acquired the old established Wallingford and Didcot Tappins business, whose coaches had a distinctive orange and black livery and had a big school transport operation, some years ago. Presumably they found the fare stage business unviable.

A new bus station is being built in Newbury by West Berks Council at the Wharf, which was the old site of Newbury's bus station when I was a lad, and the buses were post box red Thames Valley ones. It also featured (if my memory does not fail me) thatched roof shelters. It's development is not linked to any improvement at the station, and it's further away from it than the current one.

Hope that helps!
6  All across the Great Western territory / Smoke and Mirrors / Re: Trains reversing beyond the station on: September 19, 2018, 10:39:30 pm
In practice, Shalford has served as a turnback for Guildford - hence why this obscure station few have heard of appears as a destination on the North Downs line.
7  All across the Great Western territory / Broadcast media about railways, and other means of transport / Re: Channel 5 series - Paddington Station 24/7, starting 11 September 2017 on: September 19, 2018, 10:33:04 pm
Re: Channel 5 series - Paddington Station 24/7, starting 11 September 2017
Reply #72 on: Today at 06:09:17 pm
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Quote from: CharlieGCR on Today at 07:11:27 am
They should film in the control room at Swindon, where GWR announce 5 vice 10 services. It would be a great laugh in the offices.

I have seen previous film of the control room at Swindon during difficult periods and it produced sympathy for the staff working in very difficult circumstances not of their own making. I was not in the least tempted to laugh.

It is easy to believe that all the staff are conspiring to make our lives as difficult as possible, but the truth is far from that.  Even the examples of bad attitudes by some staff may sometimes be the result of people pushed beyond their tether.

Please also remember that some staff go to unexpected levels (in one example recently discussed on this forum heroic levels) to provide good customer service in difficult circumstances.

To be fair, one of the major sources of annoyance during meltdown incidents is the lack of communication between "Control" (which always strikes me as a name invented by John Le Carre) and the travelling public. When you are stuck on a train which is going nowhere, whose train crew tell you that Control, l cannot  tell them what is happening, Journey Check has a list of red "Delayeds" but no further explanation, and if you get through to the helpline 03457 000125 to be told you cannot be told what is happening because they cannot speak to Control, then sympathy for them wears thin.

I appreciate that the individuals have to work in the system set up by their employer. But GWR seem to forget that they are delivering a service to their passengers, and they really should prioritorise getting information out to them.

I do not tune into the Channel 5 series regularly. If I have just got home after a long day at work and an unsatisfactory journey home (especially if it has included an unwanted 25 minutes stranded in Reading because a connection has been missed), I do not have much appetite to watch this on television. However when I have caught it, a running theme seems to be various people in  the system not knowing what is going on when problems occur.  There does seem to be a communications problem, with Control at the heart of it. There is a challenge for GWR (or, I expect, the railway industry as a whole) to address.
8  Journey by Journey / London to Didcot, Oxford and Banbury / Re: Trimode cl 769 to operate Reading to Oxford and Gatwick. on: September 18, 2018, 06:03:28 pm
I agree with BNM on this one, especially if they prove unreliable, and money is not spent on upgrading the interiors. Are they likely to be 5 across seating? But for what appears to be a shortage of suitable diesel units, we maybe better of keeping the Turbos for the duites for which they were designed and looking for some more comfortable stock for longer distance GWR services further west.

Incidentally, I assume the old green diesel shunter at one end is not part of the "trimode" element!
9  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: IETs into passenger service from 16 Oct 2017 and subsequent performance issues on: September 17, 2018, 09:31:34 pm
Quote from: ChrisB on Today at 10:08:36 am
Other TOCs have enquired about those Ely HSTs and been told that they're spoken for apparently. So I'm guessing they're not interested in spot-hire either.

My understanding was that they're in a queue for Wabtec in Doncaster for automatic door and retention loos.

Really? Bearing in mind that these are 40 odd year-old stock, presumably with a surplus of coaches from shortening of units for re-use, and (from what I could see) many suffering from corrosion evident around window and door apertures, I would have thought that the breaker's yard was the likely destination.

Perhaps the seats could be recycled for upgrading a few Turbos for cross-country routes!
10  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: IETs into passenger service from 16 Oct 2017 and subsequent performance issues on: September 16, 2018, 06:41:45 pm
And we have to stir into this mess another depressing thought.

If the electrifcation had not been cut short by (let's blame the real culprit) HM Treasury, the potential of 110 mph Electrostars to step into the breach in emergencies could have been considered too
11  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: East - West Rail update (Oxford to Bedford) - ongoing discussion on: September 14, 2018, 09:53:52 pm
beg pardon.....! Grin
12  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: When and where, and John's, mine or print? on: September 13, 2018, 10:32:53 pm
4 - Crich Tramway Museum
13  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: East - West Rail update (Oxford to Bedford) - ongoing discussion on: September 13, 2018, 10:28:25 pm
....and the last part of the old Bedford - Cambridge Line has been converted to a guided busway running out to the Trumpington park and ride.

I have heard rumours of using the A428 corridor as a possible rail corridor. There's quite a lot of land potentially available, as much of the alignment of the old single carriageway A428 (former A45 for those old enough to remember when it was the Felixstowe to Birmingham trunk road) has been left when the dualling has changed the alignment of the road. However the former alignment is being used for strategic cycle routes out to Cambourne, and as a route for buses to connect Cambridge with Cambourne, other possible new settlements west of Cambridge and St Neots.

A rail link along this route really would be an example of forward thinking infrastructure provision. But Cambridgeshire is the spiritual home of the guided busway, so I expect there may not be local political/council bureaucratic support.
14  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: East - West Rail update (Oxford to Bedford) - ongoing discussion on: September 12, 2018, 10:38:36 pm
No - the section of the road east from Bedford is the A421/A1/A428 route, just missing the Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet section - see my post yesterday
15  Journey by Journey / Portsmouth to Cardiff / Re: Should there be seat reservations on the Cardiff - Portsmouth service? on: September 12, 2018, 10:33:00 pm
How would this work on Turbos which do not have numbered seats?

There's surely not enough room on the reservation ticket to put "In the front coach, section between the first doors and the driver's cap, second row of seats from the front on the left, non-window seat with well worn seat cover and small lump of chewing gum on the seat"
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