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1  Journey by Journey / London to the West / Re: Class 802s on: Yesterday at 07:30:13 pm
And it's not just in Cornwall that 802s are now in passenger service - I came across a pair at Reading on 1C89 (16:33 London Paddington to Exeter St Davids).
2  Journey by Journey / London to Reading / Re: London to Reading, London to Heathrow, service patterns under Crossrail on: August 19, 2018, 08:13:05 pm
What I found most confusing was the use of the term semi-fast. This has always had a lot of meanings, different on different lines and to different people. But for NR's futurologists and timetable planners, on this line, the semi-fasts run and make station calls on the Reliefs, but also run part of the way on the Main Lines. At times, I think, NR also include fast trains that make one call on the Main Lines, but only in the context of the service pattern out to Reading.

If you travel from Twyford or Maidenhead, you're more likely to call your train "fast" if it switches onto the Main Line straight away, and use semi-fast for something between that and the slowest stopper in speed. SWT/R have called the Reading-Waterloo trains semi-fast at times, as they skip stops and use the Fast Lines from Richmond. However, since there are no fast or slow trains as an alternative, the term has never had any real use.

TfL (are they doing the planning or are MTR/Crossrail?) evidently started using this term for the GWR residual services some time ago, though GWR are still due to run what we used to call the peak semi-fasts. That led to a lot of puzzlement when we were trying to understand last year's TfL announcement of the increased service levels. And both that and the London Reconnections article assume the GWR service without ever defining it. Of course I may have missed this information appearing elsewhere.

Reading between the lines, the plan that eventually emerged following the Crossrail extension to Reading has both the peak semi-fasts (using the Main Lines) and the residual services (which at one stage looked likely to disappear) but only off-peak and only stop at major stations (Twyford/Madenhead/Slough/Hayes/Ealing). The current service has no trains like that, and I'm sure a lot of people would say "why not". As a stopping pattern, semi-fast would fit that quite well - if the speed corresponds too.

Currently the service at Paddington on the Reliefs is pretty irregular, with some big gaps for a non-stop train to run into. Crossrail will have a regular 3 minute interval in the core, and would like to turn alternate trains at Paddington. As a special concession, they have put two turning trains together, to leave a 9-minute interval  over Paddinton-Stockley. Crossrail don't want "outsiders'" trains that don't run metronomically to time interfering with theirs, so that faster service can only be timed to catch up 3 minutes. Incidentally, I think those pretty diagrams are meant to be read as representing time vertically, but are not convincing at the western end if so.

The last step change was for TfL to decide that two of their now 4 tph to Reading in the peaks would also have this limited-stop pattern, which does look odd if you don't know why GWR didn't want to run them (and that will relate to what other trains they are running at the time). When they do run then, off-peak, the question arises (bot for the first time) "will they run west of Reading too, and if so as what?". Again, TfL aren't going to tel you that.
3  Journey by Journey / London to Reading / Re: London to Reading, London to Heathrow, service patterns under Crossrail on: August 19, 2018, 08:59:08 am
In the context of what you put into the other, locked, thread about Reading services:
Long article published this morning setting out what London (Paddington) to Heathrow and to Reading services may look like as we move into the Crossrail (open) era.

This concerns both Reading and Heathrow services - so I have flipped a coin and posted ((here)) on the London to Reading board to keep any follow ups / converations in one place, and I will lock this topic.   

I'd add a warning that this shares TfL's London-centric view of the world, and it barely mentions GWR services even when they interact with TfL ones, so is both confused and confusing. So while a discussion of the overall service from west of Slough is perhaps needed, I don't think this is a good starting point.
4  Journey by Journey / London to Reading / Re: London to Reading, London to Heathrow, service patterns under Crossrail on: August 19, 2018, 08:37:27 am
From London Reconnections ...

Sufficient information is now available, unofficially, so that we can be fairly sure of the exact service pattern now proposed for Crossrail in December 2019. Furthermore, we can have a good guess at how it may develop in the coming years. ...

Very long, very interesting article ...

Posted two days ago on the ... err ... Crossrail thread. Which maybe doesn't belong on the Across the West board, bit still.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: GWR mobile tickets on: August 18, 2018, 03:04:43 pm
I purchased the tickets on the web from GWR. I already had an account, but it said I needed the app in order to use the purchased e-tickets. A bit annoying - surely this can be done with web only technology?

There are two things at least that the app does that GWR can't or won't trust standard web stuff to do:
1. Store the e-ticket securely (i.e. tamper-proofly) so you can show it even without a network connection.
2. Display it in whatever form the reader needs (if it's not necessary, it at least avoids arguments about who's at fault).
6  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Crossrail - The Elizabeth Line - ongoing discussion, merged topics on: August 17, 2018, 10:21:23 am
I travelled parallel to one just yesterday leaving Paddington and was struck with exactly the same observation.  I have never seen a carriage with so much fresh air underneath.  There looks room for a couple of diesel engines under each one!

That is odd. It's hard to comment based on the pictures people post on line, since they are never  taken side--on near the middle of a train. However, I did find some in comments on this somewhat obsessive web page (of The Anonymous Widower), with the comment "There’s some complicated gear underneath".

Seen from past the end, there are obviously plenty of boxes under the first three cars - DMSO/PMSO/MSO. The middle three are two more MSOs and a TSO; obviously the trailer could be almost unladen underneath, and as those motor carriages are omittable they may have not so much either (though I'd expect the odd IGBT or two). "What a lot of motors", you may say - but it's only one bogie per car, and that in itself halves the drive electronics needed relative to a VFD box per bogie.

But maybe it just depends on what you are used to seeing in that area - IETs are about as full of stuff underneath as is possible.
7  Journey by Journey / London to the West / Re: 1C04 on: August 17, 2018, 09:18:37 am
I'd obviously like the branch from Chard Junction to reopen, with a station as close to the middle of Chard as possible. Move Tesco out the way, run the tracks through Stringfellow Park (I'll have to walk Finn in Jocelyn Park instead) and terminate in 'The Original Factory Shop' building. A building that looks remarkably like a Victorian station already. This station would of course be Chard Central (CCL). Small matter of a few dozen houses surrounding this building to remove also...

But is the old Joint Station really central to the great metropolis that is now Chard? While Furnham, which is where is really is, has been part of Chard (or Greater Chard, if you prefer) administratively for a long time, it's distinctly off-centre. Maybe they missed a trick when the joint station took over as "Chard", and should have called it Furnham Orchard.
8  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Disabled access requirements and their impact on staffing disputes on: August 15, 2018, 07:20:05 pm
"The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: This is a problem that will be exacerbated on companies like South Western where 70 per cent of stations are unstaffed."

Is this an accurate statement ?

I guess it depends what time of day you ask.
9  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Fare basket to increase by 3% on: August 15, 2018, 07:17:35 pm
Does the RPI include the cost of transportation ?

Don't know without googling RPI and CPI but a major difference in the two is RPI includes mortgage costs whereas CPI does not. This is a legacy of Mrs. Thatcher. When wages were steaming ahead during her tenure of No. 10 state pensions were uplifted by the average of wage inflation and so her administration changed the state pension uplift rate to be based on the RPI which was lower until some bright spark looking for promotion to her cabinet pointed out that the RPI included mortgage costs for which most state pensioners did not of course have and so was born the CPI which subsequently became the trigger point for state pension uplifts and was thus the ridicule of the infamous 50p state pension rise in Gordon Browns first budget. This was subsequently revised to the triple lock of the 2010 coalition government which was the higher of, 2 1/2 %, wage inflation or CPI and ever since wage inflation and CPI have remained below 2 1/2 % much to the chagrin of the present administration who have an ongoing exercise to define a fairer method of uprating the state pension, fairer to whom.

As history, that's a bit garbled. CPI was developed by ONS (as it then wasn't) and other European statistics agencies as a harmonised index, or at least with harmonised methodology (the weights are national ones). It was introduced in 1996, and renamed CPI when it was adopted as the preferred national index. Being told by the statisticians that is removed an upward bias in RPI helped to sell it to the politicians. It replaced RPIX, which was the variant of RPI without mortgage payments.

CPI omits a lot of housing costs, notably mortgage interest and indirect taxes (rates and council tax). They were left out because there are serious issue with both, in theory and in practice. They also differ widely between countries, so no agreement was possible initially. And despite their best efforts, there is still no agreement (though there was a plan to introduce an experimental index of owner occupiers' housing costs based on nett purchases, i.e. essentially new houses).

ONS has a preferred national index called CPIH, which includes some of those missing items. It makes no attempt to measure house owners' actual expenditures; instead it estimates an equivalent rental for houses (shades of Schedule A!). The inclusion of uncorrected interest payments in an index that is used as a measure of inflation is a serious distortion, as it produces shift (an error) due to inflation.
10  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Fare basket to increase by 3% on: August 15, 2018, 10:35:43 am
Does the RPI include the cost of transportation?   If so, isn't there an element of the fares going up this year ... because they went up last year?  A system that - to a very limited degree it must be admitted - stokes its own inflation?

Yes, but it's only a very small effect and not worth eliminating. In 2013, the latest year for which I have RPI weights sitting around doing nothing, rail fares were weighted by 0.6% in the total. Weights are adjusted each year to reflect the amount of that spending in the total of consumer expenditure that RPI measures.

That may be rising, if fares overall are going up faster than other prices, and/or if more of them are being paid. In 1996-8 that weight was 0.4%, but going back to 1989 it was 0.7%. If you go back further still, I'm sure rail fares were even more important as a share of spending.
11  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture Overseas / Re: New Railway. on: August 15, 2018, 08:57:32 am
Heard on BBC this morning that South Koreas President has said that at his meeting next month with his North Korean opposite number he hopes to sign an agreement to construct a rail link between the two states which will start before the end of the year. No GRIP stage 1, GRIP stage 2, .... GRIP stage n there then, they just get on and FDI.

For large / strategic national projects in the UK too, isn't there some muddying of the GRIP waters?   Have the electrification of the GWR main line and HS2 been/going through the full GRIP process - especially at the early stages - for example?

Why? You're not suggesting either of those projects happened far quicker than you could otherwise believe, are you? Especially when you remember the G stands for "guide", so the same purposes can be met by someone else's process, and initial customer approval is meant to happen at the end of GRIP 3 (which may thus need to be repeated) but further approvals can be insisted on as well.
12  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Disabled access requirements and their impact on staffing disputes on: August 15, 2018, 12:34:35 am
Tonight's BBC local news had a longer version of the same report, stating pretty clearly that driver-only trains (I think that was the phrase) had been rolled out across the whole Southern network. They ended with the same quote as before (though citing Southern as the source) about more trains having another staff member on board. No attempt was made to explain this apparent flat contradiction, so who knows what most people made of it.

The full text of that DPTAC letter is available from the RMT. It does not really support what's being said now, as it has almost nothing about physical help with getting on and off, and rather more about those who suffer from acute anxiety and mental health issues. However, most of it is about DfT's influence on TOCs via franchise conditions and selection scoring, and generally encouraging more disabled passengers to use trains.
13  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Disabled access requirements and their impact on staffing disputes on: August 14, 2018, 05:52:46 pm
On the topic of DOO and its acceptability, RSSB have done two bits of research recently. Both are quite limited, being desk studies of accident statistics and nothing more. They should of course not be represented as anything else.

The first, last year, was only about risks in trains dispatch. This was thier summary:
Based on recent GB industry-standard evidence, safety levels are as good for passengers who board and alight from trains without a guard being present as they are for those using other services.

This review of available data looked at the risk to passengers as they enter and leave train carriages and as the train departs from a platform when no guard is present and the driver controls the opening and closing of doors (known as driver controlled operation (DCO), and sometimes also referred to as driver only operation or (DOO)).

The report concludes that levels of risk across all forms of dispatch are low.

The second, this year, looked at other risks related to the presence of staff on board, concluding (in part):

This report considers, in addition to train dispatch, the other scenarios where auxiliary on-board staff would traditionally be expected to play a part, including on-board assaults to passengers, protecting the line in an emergency, and dealing with or preventing uncontrolled evacuation.

All of these risks are small and not significant when compared to the general risks associated with managing and operating the railway.
14  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Disabled access requirements and their impact on staffing disputes on: August 14, 2018, 05:38:42 pm
It struck me some time ago that the current disputes about staffing on trains, and the related topic (or it should be) of staffing on stations, will soon be overtaken by tightening requirements for disabled access. That conviction has been getting stronger, and this morning a news item on BBC news (South Today, I think, though it has national implications) has the potential to give that idea media prominence.

This was based on this piece (dated 1st August) from the Disability Rights UK:
01 August 2018
Freedom of information request shows Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) issued warning over two years ago.

DPTAC wrote a letter to Peter Wilkinson, the Department for Transport’s Managing Director of Passenger services saying:

 “We question how older and disabled people, and particularly those who suffer from acute anxiety and mental health issues, can travel when there are effectively no customer service staff on the train or on the station. On this point we know that the toxic combination of driver-only operated trains and unstaffed stations fails to deliver a service that meets the needs of many disabled passengers. As a result, DPTAC is seeking a guarantee that such policies cannot undermine the fundamental principle of accessibility – which would in any event be illegal.”

Rail Sector Champion Stephen Brookes, who attended the launch of the Department for Transport Inclusive Transport strategy noted the clear point in the document saying, 'in addition to staffing levels on the railway, we also recognise the importance of accessible facilities on board trains.'

He also noted that the strategy says 'the newest trains on our network free up staff to allow them more time to help passengers' so this does mean a real clarity is now required to ensure on board staff are recognised as a key part of rail travel.

He said:

“I am discussing with various operators the impact and their positions on this and will be working with the Department for Transport and the Rail Delivery Group to get the facts right.”

That was picked up by Rail News, who added some extra detail and reactions from RMT and DfT:

The letter to Mr Wilkinson was obtained by the Association of British Commuters under the Freedom of Information Act.

The RMT is striking again today on South Western Railway, in a dispute over the staffing of trains. More walkouts have been called during August.

The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: “These documents show that the government’s own advisors warned over two years ago that driver only trains are toxic for disabled and older passengers. This is a problem that will be exacerbated on companies like South Western where 70 per cent of stations are unstaffed.

“This revelation follows similar warnings contained in other documents that have been leaked from the industry. They are a massive concern, especially when we have an ageing population and one in five of the population reporting a disability. Despite this, the likes of South Western and their puppet master Chris Grayling, are pressing ahead with a callous and criminal disregard for the needs of vulnerable passengers.”

The DfT responded: “Disabled passengers must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society, and it is essential that the services they rely on are accessible and work for them.

“With modern trains the driver is responsible for operating the doors, leaving the second crew member free to spend more time helping passengers, including people who need assistance getting on and off the train.

“The Transport Secretary has been clear that with a growing railway we need more staff, not fewer. On Southern - the only operator to introduce these changes since January 2017 – there are now more trains that run with a second crew member than before the changes were introduced.”

That last point (whatever it means, statistically) reminds us that the term "DOO" as currently used is ambiguous. I think its technical sense (as used by TOCs, in the main) is that a train could operate with only a driver and no other staff on board or on the platform.  Whether trains do - sometimes, mostly, or always barring unavoidable absences - have other staff on board, or whether all stations are staffed, is a separate question for which we don't have an equivalent label. RMT, of course, prefer to keep this issue confused, and talk about safety instead.
15  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: RAIB report on near miss with track workers October 2017 on: August 14, 2018, 02:26:13 pm
The phrase from the report that jumped out at me was:
The nature of the client/contractor relationship stifled any effective challenge to the
Unfortunately this is all to common in a wide range of public service contracts with the private sector. As has ben reported recently in the media, if the department/minister does challenge, the "contractor" then threatens legal action upon which the department/minister tend to roll over.

Evidently the following paragraphs didn't jump as much. That point was about a contractor's employees challenging a Network Rail supervisor. It's hard enough to convince your own employees that they must challenge unsafe practices by someone with authority, and they won't suffer by doing so. Getting the same message, or even the official guidance and methods, across to those who work for someone else is much more difficult.
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