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1  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Transport for North - Community & Rail User Group Online Conference on: Today at 02:51:43 pm
There are several silver linings to the cloud of Coronavirus around us as the moment.  One is the ability to attend (virtual) meetings that are Manchester based without having to travel all the way "up north" and another is the ability to not only listen to what speakers are saying, but also to pick up the questions and comments from other attendees via chat should they choose to address them to everyone at the meeting.

We [with railway lines in the South West and Thames Valley] are NOT in competition with those with railway lines in the North for passengers.  There is no choice that customers make on a daily basis "Should I catch a train from Warminster to Bristol today, or should I travel from Todmorden to Leeds?".  So we can listen and learn from the experience of others, and share what we are doing in case it is useful to them, and work together in schemes that commonly work across England (+ Wales / Scotland?). This is very much the spirit / approach of Community Rail Network, with the far and wide learning, support and commonality being tuned and tailored to meet more local - sometimes much more local needs.

A huge THANK YOU to Transport for the North in organising today's Community and Rail User Group online conference, and the ability to attend as an observer.  So fantastically useful - in what I learned, in the comfort of knowing that the other regions are in very similar through processes (all be it with different balances) to ours, and in the inspiration from a whole load of very well informed people.

TfN is a regional transport body (SnTB) - see a summary at which however needs a slight update.  The equivalents for areas covered by GWR's service are
* Transport for the South East
* Western Gateway
* Peninsula Transport
* England?s Economic Heartland
The page just quoted says "While they are normally led by local authority leaders, there is very little input, if any from the voluntary or social and environmental sectors." and so far I look in vain for any sign of a Western Gateway (my home area) Community Rail conference, or indeed for very much engagement with the community.  I wonder if we might look forward in a year or two to an event like the TfN one - addresses by half a dozen top notch speakers, listening to and answering questions from the best part of 200 volunteers and other participants, and looking forward to what and how things are being and need to be done to bring back rail from its current passenger volume depth to - and beyond - where it was a year ago.

I will follow up with two more posts - one to pass on the public messages from attendees mentioned above and the other - a report on content.  Incoming email on a deadline here ... off to other topics for a while - just got critical data for a consultation that closes next Monday.
2  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Re: "Suspicious top level domain" on: Today at 01:16:22 pm
All good this morning! Dunno if Grahame worked some magic or Malwarebytes gave up warning me.

Thanks for your explanations.

No magic worked.  It could be that your software also gets reports back from your system and understands that we're a safe site based on your experience, or is that metrics have changed based on wider experience - perhaps a server at a "nearby" IP address had been blacklisted, but the recent problems had faded so it's no longer a worry. No unusual for reports to be transient.
3  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Single vehicle passenger trains from .... on: Today at 01:12:32 pm
Are we sure 2 is France? It has English writing on the side (with American spellings).

No, well, I am not sure.  I had "most likely" in my mind for USA initially, but accepted the authority of members who know more than me to swing the pendulum to "probably" for France.  Jury still out.
4  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 / 10 Reasons that rail investment should continue on: Today at 10:42:24 am
From Politics Home - a clearly set out list of reasons why rail investment should continue with the long-term importance of the rail network

The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the trade body for the UK rail supply community, has called for the
Government to consider the long-term importance of the rail network, publishing 10 reasons why rail investment should continue, ahead of the Spending Review and in light of the debate over Coronavirus?s impact on the future of transport.

The ten reasons are as follows:

1. Rail is a long-term game ? Investments in infrastructure or rolling stock are usually delivered, and create continuing value for passengers and the wider economy, over years.

2. The reduction in passenger numbers is likely to be temporary ? Based on previous economic slumps in the 1980s, 1990s and post-2008, as well as past health crises, passenger numbers have always recovered to continue their pattern of growth.

3. Rail is not just for passengers ? It is also vital for freight, with over 4 billion tonnes being delivered annually before Coronavirus.

4. Rail travel is clean and safe ? A study undertaken by RSSB in August 2020 estimates that the risk of infection per passenger journey is 1-in-11,000 journeys, with similar results found in other countries.

5. Investment can support the whole of the UK ? The rail network touches almost every part of the country and has the potential to unlock a new generation of talent.

6. Rail can lead the green recovery ? It is not possible to meet zero carbon goals for transport without rail. Rail is a green mode of mass transit, contributing just 2.5% of greenhouse gas emissions from transport and only 0.6% of total UK emissions.

7. Rail cannot easily be mothballed - Once rail infrastructure is decommissioned, it is not easily reopened.

8. Rail investment has a knock-on economic impact - For every #1 spent on the rail network, #2.20 value is delivered in the wider economy.

9. Investment cannot wait ? Much of the rail spending planned cannot be postponed, in order to meet our decarbonisation and digitalisation targets.

10. There is a clear window to get work done ? The pandemic has provided an opportunity to get work done with less impact on services, which should be capitalised on before passenger and freight numbers return.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: Will you be travelling by train over the Christmas / New Year holiday? on: Today at 09:51:35 am
What to do this Christmas is going to be a very difficult and very personal decision for many families. 

Our own very personal decision is to meet family purely on line; agreed by the three "children".  One case of a very great distance and travel would not be allowed (and we don't get together each year because of the distance / logistics), one case of a household that needs to be oh-so-careful. In the third case just so much going on, so little time, and a visit to Grandma / Grandad with the little ones getting bored ("can we go now") - it will be a relief (and less hurtful) not to host at Christmas but rather meet up next year in a child-friendly environment.

For others [amongst readers] the decision is not so obvious - and I wish well to anyone who has to weigh up the risks of infecting one another or passing on to their wider family against the emotional risks of not meeting over Christmas.  Truly a difficult call in some personal circumstances.
6  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Re: "Suspicious top level domain" on: Today at 09:37:13 am
Interesting. Just logged out, accessed the Coffee Shop as "Guest", and had no problems when clicking on the lines to threads.

Interesting indeed ... and that's at the same top level domain.  Which gives an element of lie to the original message.

When users are logged in and moving from one page to another, the forum uses a tracking "session" which lets the software know where you are coming as you move around.  That's in addition to the cookie which remembers your login from one visit to the next.    In "real life" terms, this is rather like remembering who you are (cookie) and knowing what's in your shopping basket (session).

There is a concern that in some circumstances that people can do nasty things with shopping baskets - add things into them to get you to pay for things. A good example might be for a 14 year old to sneak a bottle of whiskey into your basket to get you to pay for it.   As our members post in public "after the checkout", there is no need for our under age drinker to steal the whiskey back - it's put on the bar by the "accidental" purchaser for anyone to read / drink with that purchaser's name re-assuring you that it really is whiskey and not something nasty.

I speculate that your "Malwarebytes" software uses a scoring system. A score for top level domain, a score for a session, perhaps a score for cookies and so on ... and if the score total passes a certain value, it flags a dangerous site.  And it is probable that it reports only one of the factors that influenced its decision and not all that have gone to the overall ranking.    Thus ... ".info" came out fine as a single uncooked, unseasoned visit, but got pushed over the software's concern threreshhold by the extra session / cookie stuff.

OK - I am aware of cookies and sessions and how they can be abused.  Our cookies provide a validation "this is my cart" at each stage and so the risk of cross site scripting (another long explanation) is minimised - however, that's something done on our server and the cautions / elements we have in place are not visible to your malware software  so your malware software is saying "you may have a problem" and I am saying "we are aware of the risk, and the code avoids it".

Having written all of that, there are clever people out there with too much time on their hands who will look for holes, and I'm not going to say "we are bomb proof" - there might be a weakness.  But it's not really been a problem over the years, and should a rogue post be made (for example) it would soon be spotted, cleaned up and analysed. Our server does NOT store you phone number, credit card details, NI number, home address, date of birth, inside leg measurement, etc ... so we have minimal personal details that could be stolen even if someone were to find a security hole in the main structure.

Which is all very well ... except it does not tell us how to reassure bits of software that tell you to "be careful with this site".   I hope at least my writeup re-assures members we have taken a look at these issues, that experience thus far has not shown any problems, and we don't have your secrets to disclose anyway!

7  Journey by Journey / South Western services / Re: Isle of Wight futures. on: Today at 08:47:39 am
Here's a bit about the likely future prospects for the outgoing Class 483 units.  I wonder how the battery conversion on the unit not staying in the IoW will be done?

I believe the East Kent has some experience - including use of an old MLV or the Gatwick variant attached to the preserved unit to carry the batteries. Of course, these vehicles were designed along the same lines as the EPBs, CEPs, BEPs and HAPs and look good running with them.  Coupled to a tube they would look ... odd.
8  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Single vehicle passenger trains from .... on: Today at 08:40:09 am
In 1961, the Isle of Man Railway purchased two railcars from the County Donegal Railways and they became IMR numbers 19 and 20 in their fleet. No. 3 looks like one of those vehicles but the location of the photograph is not the Isle of Man. We shunned them in the early '60s on the now long closed Peel line as they were 'dirty diesels' as as opposed to our beloved Manx Peacocks - one of whom shares our family name. The railcars have quite a cult following and I now regret not having had the experience of travelling in them. The driving cab - motor car part was built in Wigan - the carriage articulated bogie in Ireland.

I have seen No. 2 photo before and I believe it is on trial somewhere around Oxford but I haven't yet found my correct book.

I was updating while you wrote ....

1 - Madagascar
2 - France
3 - Ireland (Country Donegal)
4 - USA
5 - Switzerland (Lausanne)
6 - No guesses yet Stop press - not Oxford
7 - Not Germany; not UK either

The Ireland picture is Killybegs - 99.9% sure.  Pity they gave no more than a stay of execution to the Peel and Ramsey lines on the Isle of Man which remains a railway Mecca in spite of those losses.
9  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 / Re: Solar-powered trains are closer to reality than we might think on: Today at 08:20:16 am
Byron Bay Railway headline picture at but video majors on Aldershot direct feed and looks wider.   An important subject to bring back up

How sunshine can make the railways greener

A solar farm plugged directly into the rail network is just one way that the railways are using solar energy to power trains.
10  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Single vehicle passenger trains from .... on: Yesterday at 06:56:43 pm
This is a strange bunch I have put together.

1 -
2 - France (I didn't actually know this one, but I'm sure you're right
3 - Ireland though NOT on the Tralee and Dingle. In the final years of narrow gauge lines in Ireland, newer stock tended to be move on from one line to another as they closed or demand changed, and it's quite possible that this railcar ran for a time out of Tralee, or even originated on that line.
4 - USA
5 -
6 -
7 - Not Germany; not UK either
11  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Will you be travelling by train over the Christmas / New Year holiday? on: Yesterday at 02:49:05 pm
From Yahoo News

People have been told to consider avoiding travelling by train at Christmas because of planned rail engineering works.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Tuesday that people should "look very carefully" at their festive travel plans.

A number of engineering works are scheduled between Christmas and New Year, while coronavirus restrictions to ensure social distancing mean even less capacity on trains.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Shapps said: "I would appeal to people to look very carefully at their Christmas travel plans.

"It may well be the case that very, very long planned engineering works are scheduled. A lot of them take 18 months or two years to plan."

In a separate interview with BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, he said people should contemplate not travelling by train at Christmas because of the rail network?s "limitations".

He said: "We have got to understand there are limitations to the network caused by, for example, things like the need on some trains to pre-book tickets at this time, in order to prevent overcrowding.

"So we are going to be appealing to people to look very carefully at the transport route they take and of course even making a choice about whether they travel at all.

?It is the reality of the situation we?re in; we will try to do everything we can with the network to make it as good as possible, but I think it is worth people being aware that busy times of travel is a problem."

Will our members be making use of trains over Christmas?   Poll - with the full knowledge that our group is unlikely to be a sample that reflects the behaviour of the general population.
12  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Single vehicle passenger trains from .... on: Yesterday at 02:26:50 pm
Single vehicle passenger trains from .... well - can you place the countries?







13  All across the Great Western territory / Who's who on Western railways / Re: Journey Makers - recruiting for Swindon, Bath Spa and Newbury on: Yesterday at 01:29:32 pm
Nice to receive a copy of a letter from the DfT to Volunteering Matters thanking them for the exceptional support and committment provided.  It is particularly welcome because it includes the grass routes volunteers in the thanks, and has been passed on and circulated to reach us.

The letter talks of support and guidance provided by volunteers at Transport Hubs. In my view, any station which (in a regular year) has over 25,000 journey made could benefit from being considered to be a "Transport Hub", with an especial concentration on stations normally unstaffed, or staffed stations outside staffing hours.   Stations friends groups and where a station does not have such a group, then a Community Rail Partnership, are well placed so assist on management and security at a local level.
14  Sideshoots - associated subjects / News, Help and Assistance / Re: "Suspicious top level domain" on: Yesterday at 12:21:22 pm
I can access the home page without problem but when I click on links to individual threads is when Malwarebytes blocks. Slightly irritating that it refuses to accept my tick-in-the-box to indicate "Do not block this site again for scam" - and that "allowing a website" in settings is only available now to "Premium" users. (In 20 years, I've never felt the need to pay for extra security.)

I wonder if it something within the pages?

If you log out and visit / browse as a guest, does it still give the same message?
15  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Westbury to Swindon video, 1988 on: Yesterday at 05:05:28 am
Came across this - Westbury to Swindon video, 1988.   After Melksham station re-opened, but before the Bradford north curve was removed.

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