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[85] Didcot towers to be blown up
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1  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: West Somerset Transport Survey on: Today at 12:12:00 am
Completed, despite my views not entirely aligning with any of the given answers to some questions.

BTW, I an not aware of any heavy representatives from this area.
2  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Great Western Railway: on-board catering, buffets, Travelling Chef, Pullman - ongoing discussion on: Yesterday at 03:41:10 pm
It will all get much better.
About 2 years ago, Ben Rule re-assured us that the trolley service would be splendid and a great improvement on buffets.
More recently Mark Hopwood re-re-assured us that it will all get much better.

3  Journey by Journey / London to Swindon and Bristol / Re: IEP between Bristol and WSM on: Yesterday at 03:34:32 pm
Because then if the first class coaches are at the front and back there would be no wheelchair access to the train.

Just goes to show the stupidity of cobbling two 5 car DMUs together and calling it a 10 car train !  Did no one think of this problem ?

Careful now, I have been told off for calling them DMUs. Even the MD insists that they are electric trains that can also use diesel power.
DMU is considered a negative term that might in passengers minds be associated with shorter trains that lack buffets, padded seats, luggage space and other facilities found on inter-city trains.
The sort of thing that used to be confined to branch lines or secondary routes, but these days they are infesting main lines.
4  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Suggestion: IET internal modifications to make them more buggy friendly on: Yesterday at 03:17:39 pm
I can see the merit of this suggestion, the only real drawback IMHO is that it panders to those who refuse to fold buggies and thereby occupy excessive space.

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed "buggy inflation" whereby the contraptions become steadily larger as the years go past.
5  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: East Midlands, South Eastern & West Coast Franchise Updates April 2019 on: Yesterday at 01:52:19 pm
Another batch of 5 car units replacing full length HSTs, progress I know but still regrettable.
And whilst of course these MIGHT be better specified than the GWR ones, it seems unlikely.
6  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The West - but NOT the West's trains / Re: Didcot towers to be blown up on: August 18, 2019, 07:42:48 pm
Oscillation caused by the blast wave is IMHO the most likely reason for the failure, or of course it might be unrelated and simply be coincidence.

The dust cloud seems unlikely to be the cause as the arcing appeared to start before the dust cloud reached the area. Also concrete dust is not conductive, unlike say carbon dust, AKA soot, as might be spread by demolition of say a chimney.
7  All across the Great Western territory / Meet the Manager / Re: Welcome to "Meet the Managing Director" on: August 18, 2019, 11:12:46 am
Challenge for Broadgage - can you go a day without mentioning 'Buffet', 'DMU' or 'Proper Intercity Train'?

Yes, and I have done so.
The absence of criticism should however not be taken as an indication that I am converted to liking IETs. 
8  All across the Great Western territory / Meet the Manager / Re: Welcome to "Meet the Managing Director" on: August 16, 2019, 08:13:35 pm

I am a great fan of the HST and will miss them. However, should we be defining Intercity travel in the same way we did 40 years ago?

In my view, yes we should be defining intercity travel in broadly the same way as 40 years ago. Not EXACTLY the same, but generally similar as regards comfort and facilities.

It seems unlikely that rail be will ever be as cheap as driving or as quick as flying, so rail should be competing on comfort and facilities.
9  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Do longer duration journeys need longer trains? on: August 16, 2019, 04:54:41 pm
As soon as you increase their length you lose the ability to double up. So unless you have a magic money tree to increase them to 9 coaches that could be very expensive.

Yes, and for this reason I would not be in favour in lengthening 5 car units to 6, 7, or 8 cars.
I would however support increasing some of the 5 car units to 9 cars. This would retain the advantages of a fleet with only two train lengths, rather than adding a third variant.

Even a handful of former 5 car units made full length would provide useful extra capacity.
10  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Do longer duration journeys need longer trains? on: August 16, 2019, 04:21:35 pm
As a currently relevant example, it is now becoming fairly widely admitted that the order for GWR IETs included too many 5 car units. 
Admitted suggests an acknowledgment by those responsible that they got it wrong. Could you back this statement with examples of where people in the rail industry or government (as opposed to armchair pundits, enthusiasts, who don't have to admit anything as they didn't make the decision) have "admitted" that too many short sets were built. 

By "fairly widely admitted" I meant among members of this forum who are otherwise supportive of the IETs. I recall several posts suggesting that IETs are actually not bad, but that too higher a proportion were the 5 car ones.

I cant imagine HMG or GWR ever saying "we got it wrong"
11  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: First Trenitalia win West Coast Partnership on: August 16, 2019, 03:36:09 pm
I feel that the potential impact of HS2 is of very little relevance to operation of the West Coast route for some years yet.
To those quoting varying but still near term opening dates for HS2, I put the following question.

"How many route miles of new construction are proposed, and of these, how many miles have built"

I am not opposed to HS2 but I am cynical, or some would say realistic, about the opening date. I do not expect the first phase to open before 2030 at the very earliest, and 2040 might be more realistic.
12  All across the Great Western territory / Meet the Manager / Re: Welcome to "Meet the Managing Director" on: August 16, 2019, 03:21:15 pm
As I have previously stated, I would forgive or at least forget the underfloor engines of an IET if the trains were otherwise of proper intercity specification.
The present offering feels like a local train.

I accept that we can not live in the past and understand that a certain amount of downgrading is unavoidable when new trains are introduced. IETs however contain so many backward steps.

No buffet, arguably just about acceptable if the trolley was provided reliably, frequently, and in both portions of the train, even on Sundays.
Fewer tables, and yes I know this is better than the downgraded high density HSTs, but I can remember when HSTs had 16 tables per coach. and when mark 2 coaches had almost all seats at tables.
Shorter trains. Single 5 car units are still appearing all too often in place of a 9 car or a pair of 5 car units. Whilst this might get better in time, we have had a couple of years of routine short formations.
Hard seats, simply nasty.
Unreliable reservations
Unreliable toilets.
And underfloor engines, which together with the above makes the whole thing feel like a regional DMU and not an inter-city train.

I apologise for again posting about buffets, and will avoid frequently posting about this.
13  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: First Trenitalia win West Coast Partnership on: August 15, 2019, 05:35:42 pm
I don't know about First losing Greater Western, no one does yet. But I can foresee a brain drain to West Coast of the brighter management talents currently at GWR.

I agree. I can foresee proper railway managers deserting GWR for the exciting new opportunities offered by the new West Coast operation.
Mark Hopwood for example. Whilst I disagree with some of the views of Mr Hopwood, he is IMO, to be commended for joining this forum and answering questions.
He also appears to understand railways, which is more than can be said for some managers, who believe that possession of an MBA* means that they can run ANY business, without knowing much about it.

*Master of Business Administration, a type of degree often held by young keen managers with little knowledge of the business that they are running.
14  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: The Annual outrage............. on: August 15, 2019, 01:59:46 pm
I would expect fares to rise in line with inflation, and don't mind paying a bit more for actual improvements. Unfortunately, I and many others consider that things have not improved recently, and on GWR have actually got worse in many respects.

We keep hearing how efficient the IETs are without space wasted on features previously provided on intercity trains, so should not fares be reduced without all that wasted space ?
Likewise we hear how efficient it is to run a pair of 5 car units between London and Plymouth, with a single unit west of Plymouth. Presumably this great improvement in efficiency should be reflected in reduced fares.
15  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Do longer duration journeys need longer trains? on: August 15, 2019, 07:35:30 am
In my view, many longer duration journeys DO need longer trains than those used at present.
Comfort and facilities become more important as journey times increase, and providing these requires a longer length train.
Also peak passenger numbers need considering, not just averages. Suppose that a short journey is operated by short trains with 200 seats and an average passenger count of 150. That might imply a fair bit of standing at busy times, which is far from ideal but arguably just about acceptable for a short journey.

If however the same 200 seat train is used for a 2 or 3 hour journey with an average passenger count of 150, then that is likely to be regarded as too short by those have to stand for hours, rather than for minutes.

Also breakdowns happen, whether of the train itself or infrastructure problems. On a local service, standing for 20 or 30 minutes on the following train is just about acceptable. On a journey of several hours, standing on the following train is not really acceptable.

There are of course services for which short trains are ample, but there are also IMHO far too many short trains running on routes that should have longer trains.

I am in general opposed to the building of any more short trains, unless some truly exceptional need for these can be demonstrated.
It seems to me that considered nationally, that we have plenty of short trains but not enough longer ones.
Suppose as an example, that a TOC perceives a need for some new 4 car or 5 car trains. I would prefer that they make use of some of the EXISTING voyagers or IETs, and that new full length trains be built to replace some of these.

As a currently relevant example, it is now becoming fairly widely admitted that the order for GWR IETs included too many 5 car units. It has also been suggested that people like me should not criticise this because it is a done deal and cant be altered.
If another TOC wants perhaps a dozen 5 car IETs, then in my view another 6 full length units should be built for GWR and 12 half length units transferred to where needed.
The 6 nine car units should be cheaper to build than 12 units each of five cars. 54 vehicles instead of 60 for a start, a 10% saving.
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