Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Playing Catch-Up (3)

A Sad Reflection on our Broken Society
Alan goes on ...
The £6 million investment is not quite "the whole truth and nothing but the truth". In 2015 First made a spirited announcement ...
... about a £5 million (sic!) boost to service X78, Sheffield - Rotherham - Doncaster. The vehicles came with seat back branding ...
... but never acquired the appropriate X78 lettering.
But then along came the X1. This was originally planned a a "super bus" link between Sheffield and Rotherham, replacing the traditional service 69 but diverted via the Meadowhall shopping centre. It was due to be fast (it isn't), with good real time information at comfortable "tram-style" stops (there isn't and they aren't).

From Rotherham the service takes over the former service 1 and 2 to Maltby - a very "ordinary" service indeed.

In fact the X1 is a really normal bus route throughout, but missing out a few stops in Attercliffe. The X78's Streetdecks were rebranded and duly labelled for the X1 where, up to now, they have operated happily.
Note the exciting (?) grey surround to the destination blind! fbb does not know whether the seat backs have ever been "corrected".

fbb has been informed that the X1 has generated significant extra business from the Maltby destinations to Meadowhell; well done First Bus!

So these attractive vehicles are to be "pulled" - sad, but perhaps a wise move until the purpetrators have been caught. The unhelpful likelihood is the they will start appearing on some of Sheffield's unbranded routes thus devaluing the X1 brand.

Will this reduce passenger numbers?

As a sign of the times, here is an X1 branded bus ...
... on the X78!

A Sound Investment?
Many years ago, you could buy a Hornby model railway loco With realistic chuffing sound"; James May re-assembled one for a TV programme.
fbb thinks the chuff came from a plastic gear and crank rubbing on a piece of sandpaper. Modern Models have DCC (Digital Command Control) which is super smashing and clever ...

... and expensive! In simple terms your feed the electric to the track in one steady lump and then send little digital signals to a confuser chip in the loco which controls speed, forward and reverse etc. But with a more advanced chip and a loudspeaker in the tender you can now tell th loco to emit reliaric sounds. It can chuff, hiss, clank. whistle. squeal on sharp corners with the bonus (?)) of asperity from the train crew.
A loco so-equipped with cost well over £200. Each one to his own, but it is a finaincial and relism step too far for fbb.

A while ago, fbb reported on the offer of a Water Tower (from Dapol) complete with digital sound effects.
It was £50 and it wasn't April 1st.

To add to the fun, Hornby have announced a wagon, also with clever DCC sound ...
... represented, curiously, by the light blue feathery graphic. At first fbb though that this was to hold you loco's sound, useful (?) for small tank engines with insufficient room for chip and loudspeaker. But no; it emits wagon sounds!

Equip your layout with a full train length of these and Hornby (so it has been suggested) will give you a free set of ear protectors so you can't hear the irritating racket.

A sandpaper "chuff" was a lot cheaper!

Milton Keynes; All Is Forgiven
The current (February) edition of Buses magazine has a fascinating article about a new network in Barcelona. The two cites have something in common.
Both cities have their road network as a grid pattern.
But there is another, albeit tenuous connection. Main roads in MK are numbered in two series, H for "horizontal" grid line and V for "vertical. Here is the junction of the H6 and V7 near the city centre shopping "mall" (upper left) ...
... and here is a road sign on the V7, showing the H6 Childs Way east and west from the junction.
The early phase of the new bus network is arranged on a simple (?) grid pattern matching the road network.
Excitingly the bus route numbers are either "H" for horizontal (BLUE) ...
... or "V" for vertical (GREEN). Early publicity for the changes saw buses bedecked in a grid pattern livery.
There is one diagonal route (so far) seen on the lower left of the route map above. Of course this is a "diagonal" service D1 (PURPLE).

At last; Milton Keynes' genius is recognised?

Maybe not.

 Next Emily blog (at last) : Wednesday 17th January 

Monday, 15 January 2018

Playing Catch-Up (2)

Technical specifications for 'Silver Lady'
Internal gas firing using our ‘FG’ type burner.
All new fully sprung 0-6-0 outside framed chassis
with two double acting slide valve cylinders
operated by simplified Walschaerts type valve gear.
Exhaust enhancer.
Operating simulated cylinder drain cocks
Water top-up system and water gauge.
Controls fitted as standard are:- 
   steam regulator
   safety valve
   pressure gauge
   displacement lubricator
   gas regulator
   reversing gear
Glazed cab spectacles.
Dimensions (loading gauge) are:-
   length 315mm over buffers
   width 125mm
   height 160mm
   weight 3.3 Kg
Full radio control is available using 2.4GHz
   for regulator
   reversing valve gear
   simulated cylinder drain cocks .
The wheels are adjustable between 32mm and 45mm gauge.
Available with insulated wheels.
Supplied with etched nickel silver works plates.
Available in any Standard Colour
She is sometimes called the "Silver Lady" or the "Flying Lady", but her real title is "Spirit of Ecstasy". Of course, silly fbb, Silver Lady is a model locomotive. powered by real steam. It is quit a big model, "G" gauge to be precise; the sort that normal model railway people would run on their garden railway.
The above version, keen-eyed readers will have spotted, is fitted with a "running plate", whereas this grey version hasn't.
Got it?

A similar loco was featured in n item on the BBC's Breakfast programme last week.
The item was discussing the Channel Four programme as below.
The "sit im leben" is that teams are attempting to build a railway track from Fort William to Inverness (about 70 miles) and them run the Silver Lady along it. It is not really a model railway programme as such as the participating teams have to overcome engineering problems in miniature like those who originally surveyed and built the UK's railway.

Unlike the real life full size originals, the programmes teams were not allowed tunnels, viaducts, cuttings or embankments; they had to devised "ingenious" methods of overcoming obstacles.
In the above case the little chuffer had to chuff up a spiral ramp to get to the bridge.
Not terribly realistic, although Swiss Railways use spirals in tunnels to gain height.

The loco was oil fired "live steam". radio controlled ...
... and ran on specially manufactured plastic track.
In various publicity shots we see the Silver Lady puffing happily alongside public footpaths and in gutters.
Some of the engineering challenges have been more unrealistic than others. An attempt to get the loco across water using a wooden "train ferry" appears to have been something of fluvial failure!

Spoiler Alert!!!!

But fbb has nt been watching. It clashes with "Vera" which provides a good two hours of slow moving crime fighting, usually of a "gritty" or generally depressing case. "ITV Hub" will be accessed in due course to catch up on the lady.

But back to BBC breakfast. The props people had created a working OO gauge circle of track to sit on the traditional coffee table.
Unusually for a "news" show, the presenters were surprisingly respectful of the whole idea and even asked some intelligent questions.

The star of the show, however, was the green Silver Lady. Did they make it?

Guess!

Thames Valley Re-Born!
The company operated, surprisingly, in the Thames valley.
In 1972 it was merged, in an unpopular shotgun wedding, with Aldershot and District to form Alder Valley.
After stepping in to take over First's unprofitable Green Line service between Slough and London ...
... Reading Buses is in discussions with Slough Council and Heathrow Airport about taking over the other First Bus withdrawals.

Service 2: Slough – Dedworth 
Service withdrawn from Friday 29 January 2018.
Service 5: Slough – Cippenham
Service withdrawn from Saturday 20 January 2018.
Service 10/11: Slough – Datchet – Wrasybury – Heathrow 
Service withdrawn from Saturday 20 January.

Service 15: Slough – Eton Wick 
Service withdrawn from Saturday 20 January 2018.

The routes will be branded "Thames Valley" and fbb will review the details when they are finalised.

Will these routes be as big a burden to Reading Buses as they, apparently, were for First?
A risky strategy for Reading GM Martijn Gilbert?

 Next catch-up blog : Tuesday 16th January 

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Playing Catch-Up (1)

For Better, For Worse ... ?
fbb has been a bit of a slacker in his journalistic duties. The last photo of Seaton's new tram station showed pile driving in progress.
This was to raise the "ground floor" of the station to level with the dreaded Tesco store, seen above in the background. But suddenly stuff has been happening. Here is the view from outside the Costa-Lot caff at Tesco.
Knowledgeable readers will remember that the old terminus was in a quaint Victorian style ...
... with an archaic "Electric Tramway" arch to welcome passengers to the quaint experience of reduced-size tram travel.
On top of the completed floor level the girders are now being planted ...
... and they ain't ...

... quaint!

There is now a pretty picture to show us the monstrosity delights of the new building in full and glorious colour.
And here is the construction viewed from the "outside" fag-smokers tables at Costa-Lot.
If the architects' sketches are to be believed the rails will lead to a four-track "station" ...
... beside which is located the ticket office and, of course, a cafe and shop. (We all know how Seaton needs yet another unprofitable cafe!)

To get the trams up to about one metre above ground level a huge amount of work is being done on the approach track.
Here is the wiggly bit snapped from Tesco's back-door loading bay with part of the Pebble Beach (no pebbles, no beach) development alongside.
Turn 90 degrees left and you can see the ramp taking shape.
At the white portakabins the line turns sharp left again to run alongside your friendly, pricey but appropriately branded Costa(-Lot). Notice, too, the non Victorian poles, strong enough to support the overhead for HS2. 

Here is the approaching menace of the mound of ballast as it nears the new erection.
The building in the background is the Seaton Jurassic static plastic visitor "attraction" which, of course, has a shop and a caff. That is three caffs each with the facility to throw a sugar lump into one of the others' cups of expensive Rigoletto Verdate Mascarpone Wobbly Black with Chili.

And, talking of architects' "impressions" ...
... the tramway company is obviously expecting exceptional growth with trams running about every ten minutes. Also of interest, from the above snap, is the as yet unpublished proposal to build an avoiding line so trams can miss out the Colyford stop. Perhaps a bridge to divert away from the present level crossing?
Architects don't quite understand transport, do they?

And, Talking of Archiects' "Impressions" ...
Work is progressing on the Northern Line extension to Battersea (London)
It will terminate close to the former and forlorn power station ...
... by linking with the present turning loop at Kennington Station. Under the present Northern line timetable, most trains via Charing Cross terminate there and it is these that will run on to Battersea.
We have had the usual press releases with pictures of tunnels ...
... and boring boring machines.
To these has been joined an "impression" of the Battersea terminus building.
Clearly, this area is to become a mecca for the anorexic, a disease which has spread to the power station chimney in the background ...
... which might also be an "impression" on the sketch! The view is from Battersea Park Road.

But fbb has stretched the sketch until the people look sort-of normal.
It will be enlightening to see what actually appears!

No news, yet, of the extension's extension to Clapham Junction ...
... which, as its name doesn't suggest, is also in Battersea.

More "stuff" on the morrow.

 Next "catch-up" blog : Monday 15th January