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Most liked recent subjects
[78] meeting about crossing at Weston Milton
[58] Planning Incentives 'lead to housing estates centered on car u...
[53] Another curiosity for a Tilehurst rail user!
[49] Alarming rise in use of on-train alarm systems
[49] Unhappy of Melksham
[34] 2020 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log
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1  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2020 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log on: Today at 09:57:12 am
Didn't think 150s were supposed to be around these parts any longer?
Oh they are still around. ...

Yep, the 09:09 Melksham to Westbury was a 3 car 166 this morning ... rather than for the 09:47 back, it carried on to Weymouth and 150001 which arrived on the Bristol to Weymouth service took over the diagram.  75 mph unit on what's now supposedly a service run with 90 mph stock, but the new stock does seem to have time in hand. Welcome back the "old girl" 150 prototype to the TransWilts.
2  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / GWR to cease involvement with easitNETWORK, 31.3.2020 on: Today at 09:46:47 am
From the Reading Chronicle

GREAT Western Railway (GWR) will soon cease to be a part of a sustainable travel scheme, potentially forcing thousands of commuters in the Thames Valley area back into their cars.

From the end of March this year, GWR will stop involvement with easitNETWORK after 10 years.

For 15 years, the company has worked with train, bus and other travel providers across the south and south east, signing up major employers such as the University of Oxford, Virgin Atlantic, GSK and Hastings Direct – plus many local councils and hospitals – to save money for their teams and encourage sustainable commuting by providing discounted travel fares to their employees.

Dr Mel Mehmet, CEO and founder of easitNETWORK, said: "We have worked successfully with GWR for 10 years to get commuters out of their cars and onto the train, removing around 24,000 tonnes of CO2 each year from the atmosphere and reducing congestion.

"At this moment of climate crisis, we are bitterly disappointed that GWR no longer wants to be part of such a successful sustainable travel scheme."

According to a GWR spokesman, the train company's membership of the Easit scheme was designed to help encourage shifts from road to GWR services in the Thames Valley.

He added: "From December many of the services we were targeting with this offer transferred to TfL Rail, and we reassessed our involvement on that basis.

"We want Easit customers to continue to travel with us.

"We also want to see more shift to rail travel.

"To do that we have to focus our investment on what works - for example the mobile assistance service we launched a few weeks ago."

EasitNETWORK is at
3  Journey by Journey / London to Didcot, Oxford and Banbury / Re: Another curiosity for a Tilehurst rail user! on: Today at 09:35:54 am
It would usually be a through service and wouldn't normally involve a change of trains.

Ah - sorry - I misunderstood your previous post.    Took it as being an hourly (?) service with one particular hour having this swap each day, and not as an exception to daily procedure.
4  Journey by Journey / Bristol (WECA) Commuters / Re: 6th April 2019 - RailFuture Severnside AGM on: Today at 07:36:33 am
AGM followed by my talk - .  There are some significant chunks of text in there on individual services / stations which I will quote in appropriate places. 

Railfuture Severnside branch committee group meeting last night has selected 4th April 2020 for their AGM. This is the same date as our long-fixed date for the Coffee Shop AGM.  Clash noted prior to the decision being made; all other Saturdays in April (and late March and early May) were rejected because of [other] conflicts and none-availability.
5  Journey by Journey / London to Didcot, Oxford and Banbury / Re: Another curiosity for a Tilehurst rail user! on: Today at 07:05:59 am
If there is one train into Reading and a different one onwards from Reading on a daily basis, should the timetable not clearly show one service into Reading and then a different one from there?
6  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: Stonehenge tunnel - speeding up travel from London to the South West on: Today at 06:53:12 am
Local traffic on the A303 past Stonehenge is certainly not "minimal" - and a lot of it is freight traffic..........count the number of Home Bargains lorries you see around the county (and beyond) all of which start at Amesbury.   If you drive West past the stones, then right at Long Barrow Roundabout, then left (at the old Airman's Cross jct) you will see a steady stream of traffic heading along the A360 towards Devizes. This traffic used to pass the stones on the A344, now it just clogs up the stretch up to Long Barrow.

I used to use the A344 route as part of my regular commute ... now getting to be quite a time ago, and I fear that means that my previous comment was too much based on what's now history.  The old route was off the A303, passing to the right of the stones and the left of the car park and straight ahead at Airman's Cross towards Devizes, or forking off at Shrewton onto the B490 for Warminster.   Agreed, that traffic now stays on and clogs up the single carriageway, "I-see-the-stones" section of the A303.

Distribution from Amesbury, again, very much grown.  Not a great deal within Wiltshire to the west along the A303, but no doubt that feeds further west.
Upgrading the LSWR line from Salisbury to the West will improve (and probably increase) the flow along this route, it does need it - but, it will make no difference to the traffic flow past Stonehenge. The vast majority of visitors to the "Western Peninsular" need a car to get around having arrived there, the most sensible and cost effective way to do that is to take your own with you.

Which is why I wrote "the ideal solution is measures at Stonehenge and a decent, double tracked, modern, main line railway."

Many, many years ago there was an eminently sensible proposal to re-route the 303 well to the South of Amesbury where it would become part of a proper (A30/A36/A303) bypass system around Salisbury and sort out many of the traffic problems through the Wylye Valley. This "died a death". 

There was something similar in the latest round of "which route shall we go for" but it was clearly included in such a way as to show that the solution chosen (already!) was the right one.

What will happen at Stonehenge ? I forecast the road traffic version of HS2............... costs will rocket and people will still be arguing about it in 2100. Just look at how long it took to build a new visitors centre at Stonehenge to replace what had to be one of the most disgusting "attractions" on earth...........even Stone Age man would have thought twice about using the "facilities" there. 

Goodness knows; the article I quoted to start this thread suggests that final price bids are required so that costs can't go up later.  And as a result, all the UK prime bidders have pulled out leaving the field open to consortia from elsewhere in Europe.  Have they that extra wisdom to get it right, broad shoulders to take any hit if they find problems, or are the prepared to take on the government in court like some other companies and consortia are doing over franchise bids?
7  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2020 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log on: Yesterday at 08:29:18 pm
The Class 150 scheduled to work the service from Gloucester failed.  Part of a Portsmouth-Cardiff service detached at Westbury to form the curtailed service south from there.

Train, Swindon to Chippenham.  Wait for 19:06 (no taxi before to gather everyone) the a taxi chit.  Five minute wait for a taxi and four of us crammed in to Melksham - there not much different from 10 minutes late there.  Taxi drive told us that some of his colleagues don't like the chits because they have to wait to the end of the following month to be paid.  I suspect our driver doesn't like them either, and probably doesn't like what I suspect are very thin tips from these passengers.

Didn't think 150s were supposed to be around these parts any longer?
8  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2020 - TransWilts cancellation and amendment log on: Yesterday at 06:34:35 pm
17:50 Gloucester to Southampton Central due 20:36
17:50 Gloucester to Southampton Central due 20:36 will be started from Westbury.
It will no longer call at Gloucester, Stonehouse, Stroud, Kemble, Swindon, Chippenham, Melksham and Trowbridge.
This is due to a fault on this train.

Arrived at Swindon to catch this ... let's see how alternative works.
9  All across the Great Western territory / Broadcast media about railways, and other means of transport / Re: Pacers featured on BBC1 one show(wednesday) on: Yesterday at 12:41:52 pm
When it was announced that Pacers were to be donated for alternative use, I was at first under the impression that there would be large numbers of them made available. Is this still the case or is it just restricted to those 3?

From the Yorkshire Post

The majority of Northern's 102 Pacers, which are owned by Angel Trains, are to be scrapped and the metal recycled - it's likely to end up abroad. The specialists awarded the contract for dismantling the units are C F Booth in Rotherham, and pictures have already emerged of the redundant Pacers waiting in their sidings to be broken up.

The first of the Class 142 generation to be manufactured, 142001, has already arrived at its new home - the National Railway Museum. Several years ago it was decided that a Pacer should be preserved for the national collection. Angel donated one to the NRM, and last week it arrived at their Locomotion site in Shildon, where it is currently being stored in the sidings. It will eventually run on a test track and give rides to visitors. It will go on display at the main site in York following redevelopment work at the attraction. The NRM will also consider loaning it to heritage lines, including the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

- The emergency services have been offered Pacers for use as training vehicles in anti-terrorism and firearms exercises, although it's not known whether any have been requested.

- Heritage railways are likely to show an interest in running Pacers on their lines - two are heading to Chasewater in Staffordshire and other units may go elsewhere.
10  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Alarming rise in use of on-train alarm systems on: Yesterday at 08:48:58 am
From the BBC

More passengers are using emergency alarm systems on trains, causing increasing delays, figures show.

Rail users said crowded trains and a lack of help for disabled people would lead to alarms being triggered.

Delays caused by alarms, some of which can stop trains, rose by a third between 2017 and 2019, according to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

It said passengers should read onboard instructions, ask staff and "use common sense" before reaching for alarms.
In the year to August 2019 passenger communication, door and emergency alarms were activated on trains more than 8,500 times, causing delays totalling more than 174,000 minutes.

This compared with just over 7,000 activations causing just under 132,000 minutes of delay in the year to August 2017.
11  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Where does my pound go? on: Yesterday at 08:35:14 am
If I spend a pound on a train ticket, where does my money end up?

Pie chart drawn from data at last night's Melksham Rail User Group meeting - fares presentation and discussions with Guy Watts of GWR.  Such a useful evening we had to put more chairs out, and time ran out too ...

A couple of footnotes -
* "Staffing" was described as rail industry staffing - so I think that includes signallers
* "Track Maintenance" includes signalling and day to day Network Rail cost
* Investment cannot be (just) GWR direct - I suspect that includes money to HMG reinvested into rail
Lots more I could question "where does xxxx fall" but it gives a general idea
12  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Stonehenge tunnel - speeding up travel from London to the South West on: Yesterday at 06:59:10 am
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago ...

Former Shadow Transport Secretary Chris Grayling gives his view in the link below.

Quotes :

"Over the past 10 years, the South West has had promise after promise of improvements to its transport systems - such as getting on with the Stonehenge tunnel and improving services on the Severn Beach railway line.

Most of the bigger promises haven't happened because Gordon Brown's Treasury blocked them.

So will things change now he's Prime Minister? His first action on transport was to publish a White Paper on what our rail system should look like for the next 30 years. A revolution for rail commuters in Bristol?

Well no, not exactly. The word Bristol appears only once in 155 pages of text, and then, believe it or not, only buried in the small print. No change there, then."

Severn Beach still every 40 minutes (with half hourly possible in theory) but improvements in the Bristol Area so we have four tracks up Filton Bank (allowing superexprss trains for London, stock movements from Stoke Gifford, etc) and Metrobus (so that people can sit on a nicer, newer bus in traffic jams.  Let's call those things "work in progress" as we have been promised better - such as MetroWest.   Portishead would be nice, so would more than one train an hour calling at Keynsham, and a decent service from Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road to Bristol Parkway.

The other element quoted - here's an update from the New Civil Engineer - is the Stonehenge tunnel which is at bidding stage.   Unsurprisingly, no-one local is bidding to dig the thing:

Major UK contractors snub Stonehenge Tunnel as JVs revealed


Highways England is standing firm on its decision to procure the £1.25bn Stonehenge tunnel as a single-stage tender, despite all UK tier 1 contractors refusing to bid the job.

The roads body has opted to go for a single-stage tender – where design and build contractors must submit and then stick to their price for the job at the end of a competitive dialogue process, and before contract award - potentially before final designs and construction methods are agreed.

The 3.3km long, twin-bore tunnel is part of the plan to upgrade 13km of the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down road, which runs through the Stonehenge site.

The scheme has been mired in controversy with environmental and heritage groups objecting to tunnel portals inside the World Heritage Site. The scheme was due to be privately-financed, but will now be publicly funded after the government axed the PFI financing model in the Autumn 2018 Budget.

The three Stonehenge tunnel bidders are now entering a competitive dialogue process which will give a period of design development and dialogue during the tender phase when solutions are developed and tested for compliance with development consent order requirements prior to awarding a contract.

Critically there is no option to adjust prices at the end of the process. Highways England says the approach will allow for greater flexibility with the appointed team able to “hit the ground running” once the contract is awarded, which is expected to be in early 2021.

Works for the contractor will include design and construction of civil, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), technology and environmental components. Subject to approval, construction is due to start in 2021 and be completed in 2026.

I recall some 30 years ago visiting A&AEE (Aircraft and Armarments Establishment), Boscombe Down, Amesbury on business and seeing a map of all the proposals over the years to improve the road past Stonehenge - and a comment from my contacts there that if there were all built there would be nothing but tarmac for half a mile in all directions from the stones.

Local (within Wiltshire) traffic on the A303's current route past Stonehenge is minimal, with the big users being people passing from London and the Home Counties on their way west to Yeovil and Taunton, Devon and Cornwall.  Some stop to see the stones; many more on their first time past slow down and stare at the sight and that gawping alone is, I suspect, the cause of much of the jams and many accidents as the traffic slows down and the drivers fail to concentrate.

Passenger transport that's not in private cars along this part of the A303?  There may be some long distance coaches (National Express, Megabus, Berry's Superfast) and there are plenty of coaches headed for the visitor's centre on London - Stonehenge - Bath - London sightseers.  I don't see a huge rise in long distance coaches coming with the tunnel (and I wonder how other tight spots such as the Blackdown Hills are being dealt with).  I can't help feeling that for the future, enhancing capacity on the parallel railway through Salisbury, and electrifying it, would provide a more sustainable and quicker way of achieving the holy grail of getting masses of people from London to the Western Peninsular.  Having said which ... the ideal solution is measures at Stonehenge and a decent, double tracked, modern, main line railway.  Like we had (modern in its time) when LSWR ran it at the start of the last century, perhaps?
13  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Newhaven Marine. Closure consultation, January 2020. on: January 22, 2020, 10:36:22 pm
Here's a further explanation.  How many incorrect images can you spot?

Flag was upsidedown as a start ...

The 'weird, wrong-sided car' was definitely wrong-sided, as it appeared to be floating in the air just off the Dover Cliffs (or whatever cliffs those actually were), like Road Runner before he realises there's no ground beneath his feet.

I spotted ...
- the boat train for Newhaven leaving from Waterloo, and arriving back at King's Cross
- Southern refunding the taxi fare for passengers using the Newhaven Marine link in US dollars
- Overhead electrification to Newhaven!
14  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Veterans railcard for cheaper train fares to launch on Armistice Day on: January 22, 2020, 05:41:45 pm
I forget who it is who always asks "ooze gonna pay for it" .. but if you simply cut rail fares by a third and had (say) 5 million railcard holders no longer buying cards, you're going to be £150,000,000 down. As well as loosing the loyalty element of people wanting to "get the best value from my card" ...

Back of fag packet calculation - railcard sales perhaps account for 10p per ticketed journey (that's the fee for purchase of the railcard) .
15  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Veterans railcard for cheaper train fares to launch on Armistice Day on: January 22, 2020, 04:55:54 pm
More snippets from Forces Network

It is expected that the holders of the new veterans railcard will be able to use it at any time, peak or off-peak.

However, during peak times, as with existing railcards, a minimum fare of £12 would apply.

At the moment, there are only plans for discounted rail travel across England but the Government hopes to roll out a similar discount across Scotland and Wales.

The new railcard is likely to include similar standard terms and conditions as existing railcards but the veterans railcard is expected to also offer discounts to any spouse of family member so long as they are travelling with the card holder.

The new card offering discounted rail fare is the first step in the Government’s plans to do more to support those who have served their country and comes after the Government created a new Office of Veterans’ Affairs (OVA).

It is hoped the new railcard will help boost veterans’ job prospects and strengthen family bonds through cheaper travel.
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