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Author Topic: Travelogue - from 12.2.2024 - through the eyes of a public transport advocate  (Read 2224 times)
grahame
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« on: February 12, 2024, 09:50:57 »

This post will be updated - a holding thread for the moment. Journey starts this (12.2.2024) afternoon!  Background at http://www.passenger.chat/28459
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2024, 15:05:43 »

This post will be updated - a holding thread for the moment. Journey starts this (12.2.2024) afternoon!  Background at http://www.passenger.chat/28459

"I'm on a train" - but just posting, thus far, pictures from yesterday.   Call it a "control" if you like - reminding myself of the British system prior to trying the European one

Melksham - Chippenham - Paddington - Victoria - Lewes - Newhaven Town.
5 trains, 2 buses (home to the nearEST stop to Melksham Station, and Newhaven ferry checkin to boat vehicle ramp.

All more or less on time, all pleasantly busy. 

None with catering; staff on Chippenham to Paddington leg announced they were coming through but never appeared. Bit short of time at Victoria so I spied twin arches near Newhaven Town and walked in there - I had a spare 90 minutes; train from Melksham chosen based on (a) sparse timetable, (b) defensive scheduling allowing a drop back without missing the boat and (c) £23.75 fare. Ate on the ship too, then fell asleep.

10 people waiting on the platform at Melksham, and 4 got off the train.  From the state of Melksham Station, it looks in need of TLC (three letter code ) and almost abandoned.  The big poster that advertised the station and cafe on the inbound Bath Road has gone, a big and obviously stripped billboard; no signage to the station from that direction apart from a standard station sign with double arrow that looks like it hasn't been cleaned in years.   The big sign pointing down Station Approach to the Railway Station and Cafe has also gone - well, I know the cafe has gone  but that's only half the story.

The stations has no sign at the front gate to say "Melksham Station".  I know it's ****ing obvious to me, but perhaps not to everyone.  The big poster telling people of strike up until 6th February, with a few green days and lots of oranges and a couple of reds was still displayed last night - 12th Feb.  The defibrillator, which I proudly boasted about on my community blog and was partly community funded has been taken away - just 4 bolts sticking out of the wall of the cafe, its door with an iron grill.   On the platform, the roof has been taken off the cycle shelter so that it's no longer a shelter and tieback of the notice board, for which the planter was taken away to give access, advertises for volunteers to help look after the (non existent now) plants at the station.  The leaflet rack has been removed from the signboard leaving ugly white marks in the green paint where it was.

Don't get me wrong.  Some things are improved;  after an awful time over the past 3 months, I think the train service has been better over the last three weeks, and it never ceases to amaze me how we retain passengers. Train crew are always helpful and friendly, and some sort of upgrade to our TVM (Ticket Vending Machine) (Hardware, Software, Labels) now allows a wider range than before. The electronic sign facing the car pickup are is accurately telling people about trains and tail replacement buses; the one on the platform unhelpfully tells us "no trains from this platform" when buses are running, which is correct but only half the story and not necessarily enough to tell people to wait at the bus stop - rather puts them off.

Anyway, just some of my observations yesterday afternoon.









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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2024, 07:52:12 »

Here it is, purely in geographic log form.  So many experiences ...

Spa Road, Melksham - Blenheim House (bus)
walk to Melksham Station
Melksham - Chippenham
Chippenham - Paddington
Paddington - Victoria
Victoria - Lewes
Lewes - Newhaven Town
walk to Ferry Terminal Checkin
Terminal Checkin to ship (bus)
Newhaven - Dieppe
Ship - terminal (bus)
walk Dieppe Centre
Dieppe - Rouen
Rouen - Paris St Lazare
St Lazare - Opera
Opera - Paris Est
Paris Est - Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe - Mannaheim
Mannaheim - Berlin Hbf

Hundreds of pictures taken, and a huge ability to write and bore members all the way through the day. I will bring some snippets in due course. 

Just four foot passengers arrived on the ferry, and walked out of the terminal building at the Dieppe Ferry Terminal just after 5 a.m. local time - that's 4 a.m. UK (United Kingdom) time. Cold and dark. The other three, I think, were being met and I set off to walk to the town. A sign says "10 minutes Ville, 15 minutes Gare SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways)" and you believe that, or can work out all the subsequent turns ... but I made it. 

Advise taken to not activate my Interrail pass until just before my first journey; in retrospect, poor advise as I struggled to get the thing to work and to the wonderful "something has gone wrong" message at the last step.  Solitary station staff person could not help but took me in to what I suspect was a depot / operational room ... where the official there could not help either. In the end took the 06:18 train and trusted to discussions with train managers, showing them the problem.  The message says "if this persists contact us"; it persisted and the help route provided lead to an email which ... I'll carry on with. note I dropped to Lisa

Quote
The pass and its systems are learned enough to be sorted and full credit to Interrail for helping quickly; my heart sank when the automated email said “we will attempt to respond within 24 hours if it’s urgent”.  I’m not sure if the person I was emailing fudged the system - I suspect there was an inconsistency in my name - in one place “Graham Ellis” and in another “Ellis”; could be my mistake but judging by how quickly it was fixed, the support guy was very good or had had to do this a few times before.     And then it wasn’t clear that the “ticket activated” scene with all the details isn’t actually the travel document - you have to use it to put in a PIN number and download a fresh ticket each day.   Silly little things, but error messages like “something has gone wrong” didn’t inspire confidence

Anyway - reasonably confident later in the day.     Paris to Stuttgart service had a set swap (IEC to TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse)) resulting in no reserved seats, and the ongoing connection at Karlsruhe was 35 minutes late which was a shame because I had a 5 minute connection at Fulda.  Oops.   Plan change - other trains seemed every hour but I missed alternate trains taking different routes an ended up ... well, a long story but I am in Berlin rather than Dresden. Not a city I have been before so I'm off out in an hour of so to take a look around.
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2024, 11:18:19 »

And five of the five hundred pictures from yesterday.    Berlin is new to me - off to take a look around today probably without mainline trains. I slept in late, sorted out an issue with the hotel - don't you love modern technology where it almost works?   A big lesson - worldwide - in helping people use technologies for the first time or in unusual ways ...









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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2024, 00:35:55 »

No travel picture today, no trains taken. A static day. During the day took the opportunity to see some of the famous sites of the city. "What has this to do with [Melksham]?" I hear you ask ... well, it has lots to do with us. It's a reminder that we should all treat each other as equals, and lessons from history, and some sadly current, of the horrors if we don't.  So do we ever treat people unequally in [Melksham] - well, sadly we do. I have an example from Tuesday - yes, that's right, this week.  Click on the link to read all about my day - if it makes you think just a tenth of what I've been thinking, it will be a job well done. 
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2024, 03:19:12 »

"It could almost be ...."

.... Canada?


.... Severn Beach line?


.... Amsterdam?


.... Scotland?


.... Norway?


- except, they're all in one other county in Europe
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2024, 09:19:17 »

"I'm on a train" ...

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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2024, 10:51:49 »

Good to see that the continentals can't get the seats to line up with the windows either.
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2024, 22:10:59 »

Good to see that the continentals can't get the seats to line up with the windows either.

It's the same the world over - if you want your trains to look consistent on the outside, but want different seat pitches in standard and first you have a problem.   Here is an example of the other class seating and it does align with the windows

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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2024, 22:32:42 »

I expect most passengers don't care if differences between the fenestration result in differences in the external appearance of first and standard class coaches or parts of them. Wouldn't it be nice if they put our needs above any desire for uniform window spacing that almost noone will notice and even fewer care about?

There's already quite a variation in the external appearance of various types of coaches comprising a typical modern fixed formation passenger train
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2024, 22:47:44 »

Having carriages of two designs, as far as the sizes of the windows are concerned, would also increase manufacturing costs, I suspect.
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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2024, 04:32:46 »

I expect most passengers don't care if differences between the fenestration result in differences in the external appearance of first and standard class coaches or parts of them. Wouldn't it be nice if they put our needs above any desire for uniform window spacing that almost noone will notice and even fewer care about?

There's already quite a variation in the external appearance of various types of coaches comprising a typical modern fixed formation passenger train

Having carriages of two designs, as far as the sizes of the windows are concerned, would also increase manufacturing costs, I suspect.

Both noted, and highly unlikely that we'll influence a change here.  But I do remember the look of the Hasting Diesel units where one of the carriages - the first class one, I think, was very different; more to it that seat pitch as I recall - were there slam door on each 1st class compartment, whereas standard had end carriage doors, or has my memory played tricks with me?   I felt it gave the trains some character ... but then I felt the "tadpoles" had "character" and they were in truth a right lash-up.
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« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2024, 10:00:45 »

You also have a problem when the requirements change mid life and it is necessary to change the seat pitch.
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« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2024, 12:01:46 »

You also have a problem when the requirements change mid life and it is necessary to change the seat pitch.

Absolutely !  As the population at large gets larger, heavier and taller the seat pitch must be changed to at least 2 inches less than anything Michael O'Leary could ever dream of. Then you can cram even more people into each carriage - then, when you have (eventually) to buy new rolling stock, instead of 8 or 9  car trains you can buy 4 or 5 car ones. Of course, when you couple two of these together, you claim to be buying 8 and 10 car trains............and hope the "customers" don't notice the gap in the middle !
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grahame
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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2024, 06:01:49 »

... then, when you have (eventually) to buy new rolling stock, instead of 8 or 9  car trains you can buy 4 or 5 car ones. Of course, when you couple two of these together, you claim to be buying 8 and 10 car trains ...

As I'm following up on my travelogue  Grin I can bend that around a bit. I was surprised to find my international "express" from Kosice to Budapest yesterday comprised just three carriages behind an electric locomotive, sitting waiting in bay platform 1A ... though by the time we reached Budapest (where it also terminated in a bay well outside the main grand building) it was up to 6 or 7 carriages and under the charge of a different loco.

Even though there are no longer border checks as you move from country to country around mainland Europe (France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary so far) the cross-border train services are few and far between, and thus far haven't been great long trains, nor have they been busy - less than a handful of people in my carriage yesterday (but then I have paid about 2 euros a day to have a 1st rather than standard class pass).  Rest of the train didn't look very busy either.

Dull days of low cloud and rain from Brno to Kosice and from Kosice to Budapest. Scenery from Brno to Kosice was spectacular or would have been in the right weather. Kosice to Budapest was for the most part through rural countryside, flat, with us calling an a number of small stations in the early part of the journey once we had passed into Hungary forming, I suspect, the local train too. One or two passengers on / off at each station, not much more.  Low platforms, many stations in desperate need of attention (but many have or are receiving it) and practises that would make UK (United Kingdom) H&S (Health and Safety) have a fit.   And lots of freight about.

All stations open without barriers; tickets efficiency checked on trains with electronic scans of the mobile phone; as ever with these systems, once the passenger is set up and knows, it's obvious and easy, but when the technology goes wrong (as it did, oh dear, when I initially authorised in Dieppe) ...

Booking.com and other agencies have allowed many places that could not be hotels to become hotels.  I found the street in which my hotel here is located via my online mapper, but then could not find the hotel. Rather like Catania late in 2022, the front door turn out to be a bell into a shared apartment block, the outer building tagged with graffiti and you wonder "what the hell have I booked?".  A doorphone connects you with reception who buzz you in, and you make your way through the building to a reception desk, admiring the beauty of the inner courtyard as you go.

The gentleman on reception couldn't have been more helpful and charming, and showed me around the building to my room and gave me a swipe card for the front, intermediated and my room door.  The rooms here are numbered by years - I am in 1974, and the room is the "Rubic room". If this is a "small" double - my goodness.    And having checked in yesterday, I took a look around the city of Pest - but more about that perhaps on my general blog or pages.

I'm staying a second night in Budapest tonight and plan to be staying local today.
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