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1  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Railway History and related topics / Re: Somerset and Dorset Devonshire Tunnel flood on: Today at 18:31:59
Several months later and today the water level had finally dropped to zero - Devonshire tunnel's gates have been reopened so the entirety of the route to Midford is open.

2  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Rail delay compensation payments hit £100 million on: Yesterday at 10:50:01
Yup, It was a while ago but I recall that at one point GNER (Great North Eastern Railways) of all franchises was having a bit of a moan as its profits had fallen because... Network Rail had greatly reduced the amount of infrastructure related delay on the London to Edinburgh line. A bit awkward.
3  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Signage - not making it easy ... on: April 17, 2024, 12:50:46
I often see* a large scale photo of Salisbury Cathedral's spire and think 'What that needs is a couple of squiffy display screens mounted 7/8 of the way up the image'.


4  Journey by Journey / London to the Cotswolds / Re: 2024 Delays and Cancellations - North Cotswold Line on: April 15, 2024, 20:19:32
Sea state visualisation...

5  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Ferry just cancelled - train tickets will be useless - advice? on: April 14, 2024, 18:30:50
Does the following mean that as long as your journey's been started, the ticket you have is valid for travel the following day, as long as it's not been possible to complete the journey on the first day?


4.4 Off-Peak Singles and the outward portion of Off-Peak Returns are valid for travel on the date shown on the ticket and until 04:29 the following morning. If the journey cannot be completed in this time, the ticket may be used to continue the journey on the following day. Unless otherwise indicated in the relevant restriction code, time restrictions apply as from the initial origin station on both days. The appropriate restrictions for the actual day on which travel is being undertaken apply (for example, it may be that if day 1 is on Sunday, no restrictions apply, but on day 2, the Monday-Friday restrictions apply). All travel must be completed by 04:29 in the morning after this second day. Please note that break of journey is not permitted on some journeys, as detailed in the ticket restrictions.
6  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Railway History and related topics / The two extinct rail lines serving Lagonegro, Italy. on: April 11, 2024, 16:23:54
Something that came up on the former Twitter, Lagonegro was served (briefly) by two rail lines of different gauges, from two different directions.

Using Google Earth, exploring what was built to create the partly rack-operated narrow gauge route to the south east - all 100km of it, is... sobering, starting off with this viaduct by which it left Lagonegro in dramatic style, into a tunnel that involves a ~300 degree turn, exiting via a portal in the face of a cliff to rack itself uphill on a viaduct and into another tunnel. The viaduct still stands, by the skin of its teeth, having been racked by Bradyseism. It stands, precarious, above a void...

7  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Train swap from Crosscountry Trains on: April 11, 2024, 16:02:32
Thinking about it, I'm hoping the 'Rice bowl' phrase isn't racist - I intended it to reference systems in which, in order to get a simple task done, it's necessary to fork out for a series of other tasks that can be somewhat distant/irrelevant to the primary but which generate space for a galaxy of people to make a living. It's not ok to throw that shade at parts of the world where rice is a staple of the diet though. It's easy to suspect that all societies might tend to evolve such practices though.

8  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Customer surveys from train operating companies on: April 11, 2024, 14:29:25
Good point. I'm happy to provide information to allow SWT (South West Trains), the moment they rediscover their interest in it, to realise that as an when political forces permit, they have the opportunity to build on the 'Less than daily' flow of people travelling to and from stations that aren't on their network, including the likes of  Trowbridge, Bath, Bristol, Cardiff as well as destinations through Devon and into Cornwall.

9  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Train swap from Crosscountry Trains on: April 11, 2024, 11:41:35
Allows the traveller to switch an advance ticket on one train to a different train that has capacity - but on that journey a rice bowl has to be filled. Would it be good if the rice bowl belonged to the railway, and would it be even better if the national ticketing system handled the task in house with the cost wrapped into the initial advance booking payment.

10  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Customer surveys from train operating companies on: April 11, 2024, 11:29:27
Thinking here of South West Trains - connecting to their on train wifi means that the TOC (Train Operating Company) then has your contact details - fine by me - and after travelling the TOC often sends out a customer survey - also fine by me. Trying to think if I've seen the same from other TOCs, it's certainly more common with South West Trains.

An observation on the the information the survey is after - it's focussed purely on the customer experience on their network, their stations and with their own staff, and avoids even the opportunity to collect journey start and end points. This reinforces the impression that a TOC evolves to provide an island of services in their own geographical area and undervalue the principle of the rail network as a coherent whole.

That immediately puts me in mind of different times, and Gordon Pettit's book covering the story of the battle to transform the Regional Railways ugly duckling into something considerably more swan-like. Nearly forty years later, some of the current TOCs still benefit from the trains purchased by Regional Railways even if the opportunity of the inter-regional services that were pushed at that time has in some cases withered away. In an age of the DfT» (Department for Transport - about)'s spectre of "Minimum viable product" inter-regional services are some way away from regaining that edge.

11  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: From Melksham to Tallinn (and back round The Baltic) by train on: April 11, 2024, 11:10:41
Did you know that Tornio has a Wiltshire connection? It's twinned with Devizes. It's clearly done a bit better, rail-connection wise than It's Wiltshire twin.

I have found this section fascinating.  I visited some of the places you have visited, although not by train,  on a birding trip back in 1988. I admit I didn't even know that Tornio was on the rail network.

Looking forward to the next installment.

I feel sorry for Devizes: a station in a good location for the town centre and close to buses that involved some heavy lifting to put it down there, all swept away in the sixties turbulence before electric traction gained a foothold* as that's something that would have had the haul up Caen Hill for breakfast.

At the present day if the line had survived, and Melksham having grown to almost envelop it, people might be campaigning for a second station for Melksham too.


*Setting aside the issue that electric traction, while it may have gained a foothold...
12  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: From Melksham to Tallinn (and back round The Baltic) by train on: April 10, 2024, 17:09:34
Particularly good to look this morning of yours out on Google Maps + streetview.

13  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Montpelier, Bristol, now in Oystercard area. on: April 10, 2024, 12:00:33
Looking back at yesterday's travel, the SWR» (South Western Railway - about) train from Reading started out from there very quiet, picked up people and became busy on its way up, I left it at Clapham Junction - one of the effects of the industrial action was that all the information screens were stating 'Refer to timetables' and not many people travelling.

My destination being a bus ride from at least four stations on different lines, the travelcard allowed flexibility and it was a relief not to have been a couple of hours behind time. There's a whole discussion to be had on the ticketing for this of course, the travelcard option not being available from Bath at all I think (and the industry having recently attempted to dump it entirely).

The return trip started with a short leg on a train to St Albans from Carshalton, where there wasn't so much as a gap between platform and train, more of a void.

The 8:20 Exeter train from Waterloo, 6 carriages, terminating at Honiton with a rail replacement bus from there. Busy as it left Waterloo, many off at Woking so quieter after that, still a fair few off at Salisbury where three  carriages were dropped too.

This train has a 20 minute connection into a GWR (Great Western Railway) service that arrives from the direction of Westbury around 10, which it did, in service, but I think no passengers aboard - and I was the only person waiting for it, Salisbury's large station being devoid of other passengers.

On 'Cross Salisbury' travel, not sure what it's like at other time of day, and a single snapshot is anecdote not data,  it might be that in the evening the cutbacks to the rail services there and then the year or so of very poor timetabled connections have just about slain what traffic there was. The connections are now much better than they were but the trains look to be carrying a lot of fresh air, something that could be addressed by marketing.

Off we went, the GWR train heading for Bristol. Just a couple of people boarding at Warminster, a few more at Westbury and then as many as 20 perhaps at Trowbridge.

Approaching Bath Spa, the usual *very*  upbeat recorded announcement that announces the extensive connections available by bus from the nearby bus station - but - the train arriving into Bath at 11:15pm, a quarter of an hour after the last bus local to me, and around thirty seconds before the departure of four or five 'Last buses' for various longer distance distance destinations - a couple of passengers did immediately dash for the bus station and were held up by the sight of this convoy of five or so buses as they departed across the pelican crossing at its exit (none of which stop at the Manvers Street stop opposite the station). Taxis available but I walked.


14  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Montpelier, Bristol, now in Oystercard area. on: April 09, 2024, 10:09:09
Update on the tree: it was removed in time to let the 8:38 from Bath through to Portsmouth, out of which connections to Waterloo are not brilliant offering an arrival time there of mid-day.

15  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Montpelier, Bristol, now in Oystercard area. on: April 09, 2024, 09:17:07
Ok, so, for today's trip, and what might by the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) be called a 'Minimum viable ticket' travelcard in hand, I headed for the 07:35 from Bath Spa to Salisbury.

At the station, the train was up as the 7:35 to Westbury rather than Portsmouth, and in due course there was an announcement that there was a tree on the line between there and Salisbury but not a lot by way of advice for onward travel.

GWR (Great Western Railway) twitter feed had the disruption from this lasting till the end of the day - good that they're starting with a worst case scenario and then pulling it in as the issue is solved - but this wasn't encouraging as the advice from station staff was of the form 'Go to Westbury and catch the following train to Salisbury'. Fielding a question, they advised that ticket acceptance wasn't in place via Reading.

After watching the tail lights of the 7:35 to Westbury disappear round the bend, the 7:43 to Paddington came in, rather full, 50% of the morning peak trains being cancelled. It looked as though it was going to be an issue to find the train manager as the service was, unannounced, in reverse formation, but found they were and thankfully had no issue with taking me to Reading on their traind - and the SWR» (South Western Railway - about) train manager there has no issue with taking me on to Waterloo so thankfully I'm not even going to be particularly behind time.

So, pragmatism / front-line staff empowered to make decisions saves the day.

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