Friday, April 27, 2007

What's Going On With The Central Line?

I am conscious that, despite the title of the blog, the Central Line hardly gets a mention nowadays.

The reason for this is that generally I go to the station, I get on a train, the train takes me to where it is supposed to and I then get off.

If everything worked like that, all would be well with the world. Recently, that is how the Central Line has been behaving for me, hence the shortage of posts about the tube's longest line.

Crikey... I've really messed things up now haven't I?

I've Just Blown A Gasket

I've just flipped my lid.

There is a news article on the BBC website titled "Call to stop children's drinking".

Immediate reaction... there's nothing wrong with that is there?

Next paragraph: "Parents who give alcohol to children aged under 15 should be prosecuted, a charity has said."


When will people realise that you cannot address a breakdown in the structure of parts of our society by way of an endless cycle of legislation?

Yes, we have a problem with alcohol in this country. Yes, many of our town and city centres are blighted by binge drinkers. Yes, alcohol is a poison (and yes I have the occasional drink).

What do you do with all the criminals created as a result of passing so many laws that we become a nation of criminals?

Answers on a post card please.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

But Trains Can Also Be Good

Yesterday I went by train from London Paddington to Hanborough Train Station in Oxfordshire. Hanborough Station is a few miles North-West of Oxford.

Hanborough has one platform (it is on a single track stretch of line) and the trains I caught to and from London were a couple of carriages longer than the platform. There are not many trains- should there be any in the next couple of hours, this link will provide their details.

Fortunately my reason for visiting the area ran to time and I caught my return train fine- it was two hours until the next one!
  • Both trains were on time.
  • The journey from London Paddington was only 64 minutes, with Hanborough being the 4th stop.
  • With my Annual Gold-Card Discount, my Cheap Day Return ticket only cost £11.35.
  • The were plenty of seats and the "Adelante Class 18" were comfortable.
The ticket machine on the platform wasn't working, but the guard was perfectly happy to sell a ticket.

Now, I don't carry my camera around with me for work, so you will have to imagine the scene...
  • Me, stood on small platform in the middle of nowhere. Nobody else there.
  • Massive train train thunders into platform (two carriages too long for the station).
  • Doors opened by cheery guard right by me. Nobody gets off.
  • I get on.
  • Guard says "Welcome to Hanborough International".

It is lines, stations and services such as this that say so much about traveling around this country by train. Sometimes clearly what is being offered is, indeed, a world class public service. Well done First Great Western.

There are obviously issues about the sustainability of ongoing train services along small country lines. The existence and membership of groups such as the Cotswold Line promotion Group should, in my view, be encouraged.

After a bit of rural idyll, there were Chavs on the Line at Reading, but that is the fault of society not that of the railway company.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why people don't travel by train...

I received a call the other evening inviting me to join some of my family in Newquay towards the end of August. The apartment we use is fantastic. It overlooks Fistral Beach, is owned by a family member and is just SO convenient.

The only problem I have is that I may have to be up in Edinburgh again, for work, over the bank holiday weekend. I don't mind- I just need somebody to tell me whether I am going to Bonnie Scotland or not.

The reality is I shall probably spend a few days in Cornwall either immediately before I go to Scotland or immediately after the weekend. At the risk of alienating any tree huggers, my transport of choice between Edinburgh and Newquay (whichever way) is to fly with Flybe.
  • Flying (booking at this moment) would cost £45 and the journey door to door would take about four hours.
  • Going by train (on the quickest route available) will cost, so far as I can tell, about £141 and take just under 11 hours, with two changes on the way.
  • I can't book a train journey because it is more than three months until the end of August.
Now I accept that Newquay to Edinburgh is probably one of the few routes in the UK where it is absolutely more convenient to fly, but given my research this afternoon, it isn't really any surprise that people chose to fly.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

New Chiltern Railways Timetable

Chiltern Railways have published their full timetable booklet for their new timetable which runs from 20 May 2007 through to 8 December 2007.

The full timetable is approximately 2Mb, so you ought really to have a fast internet connection before downloading it.

Click this link
to download the (pdf) file directly from the Chiltern Railways website.

Alternatively, click here for an overview of the changes.

Observations in West London

  • On two mornings last week there was a Chiltern Railways cleaner cleaning and tidying the platforms at South Ruislip. I have been traveling from South Ruislip railway station for over 10 years, and this is the first time I have seen a cleaner there.
  • Sat on a First Great Western train at West Ealing, waiting to depart onto the Greenford branch, the driver apologised for the delay over the public address system. The first announcement I have ever heard by a driver on this line.
  • The refurbishment by Metronet at Northolt underground station on the Central Line appears to be almost complete. However the waiting room on the platform remains resolutely locked. Also, despite them being locked for several years, all public literature has continued to state that public toilets are available at Northolt. Hopefully they will be unlocked sometime soon- everyone has to pee sometime. I am sure the neighbours would rather the proper facilities were available, gardens can only take so much urine. Ugh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

And the Bus Driver Shall be Named

Well, all right, I noted the number plate of the bus.....

Yesterday afternoon (10th April) on a Westbound No 18 bus, travelling along the Marylebone road at about 16:55.

I got up to get off the bus at Stop P, near the junction of Knox Street, outside The Royal Bank of Scotland.

The driver was stuck behind another bus at the stop, so only opened the front doors to let a passenger on. For those unfamiliar with the route, Route 18 is operated with very long bendy buses with three sets of doors.

Now I, along with several other passengers who clearly had trains to catch at the nearby Marylebone Station thought "No problem, the bus will just move forward to be clear of the junction and the driver will then open all the doors".

Twat. The driver ignored the 'pinging' of the bells and the clamour from behind and simply drove to the next stop several hundred yards down the road Stop EU adjacent to Edgware Road Station. I shall refrain from repeating the comments made by some of my fellow passengers.

I caught my train, but no thanks to the bus driver, who was driving bus registration number LK53FBA at 16:55 yesterday afternoon.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Whoops! I spoke too soon about Chiltern Railways

Yesterday I mentioned that Chiltern Railways ran a good service. Unfortunately today (Monday 9th April 2007) Chiltern Railways are suffering a major signal failure in the Princes Risborough/ High Wycombe area.

A special emergency timetable has been put in place, details of which are shown below.

If you intend to travel with Chiltern Railways today, I recommend that you check their website for the up-to-date position. Due to engineering works over the holiday period on the West Coast Main Line from London Euston, Chiltern are supposed to be taking the strain for passengers traveling between Birmingham and London (into Marylebone), so this is not good news.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Out to the Sticks

Both yesterday and today I have had reasons to travel out to different parts of Buckinghamshire by train.

Yesterday was to the far South of the county using the services of First Great Western.
  • Number of FGW trains taken during trip: 3
  • Approximate number of minutes spent traveling on FGW trains: 52
  • Cumulative number of minutes FGW trains ran late: 14
Today was out to the area in and around Princes Risborough using the services of Chiltern Railways.
  • Number of Chiltern Railways trains taken during trip: 3
  • Approximate number of minutes spent traveling on Chiltern Railways trains: 70
  • Cumulative number of minutes Chiltern Railways trains ran late: 0
No surprises there then.

I should point out that every Central Line train I have taken this weekend has also run precisely to time as well. Mind you, with only running a train every 15 minutes out my neck of the woods due to engineering work, that shouldn't be too difficult!

Happy Easter.

Friday, April 06, 2007

West Ealing - Clocks

After a period of at least six months (it seems like eight or nine, but I'm in a generous mood), I am delighted to advise that first one and now BOTH platform clocks at West Ealing have been repaired.

This is good- I find a station without clocks frustrating. However, I cannot quite bring myself to congratulate First Great Western too much- after all, they are supposed to maintain the infrastructure of the stations they manage!

Refurbishment Contracts?

It will come as no surprise to many to hear that there is a massive refurbishment programme underway, at present, at many London Underground stations. I frequently travel through South Ruislip and Northolt stations at the west end of the Central Line, both of which have been receiving the Metronet treatment for a significant number of months.

As part of the refurbishments, both stations have had new waiting rooms installed. This are glass enclosures (a bit like rectangular goldfish bowls) with draught holes at the bottom, no ceilings, lockable doors, seats and infra-red heaters.

These waiting rooms/ shelters appear to have been finished for at least two months. Indeed at Northolt back in February I saw the heating belting out heat one cold day. Maybe it was for a squirrel party, or something, because the door was locked. The doors have always been locked. That is, until this week when I saw people in the waiting room at South Ruislip. Just as the cold weather seems to have gone.

I have yet to see the doors to the waiting room at Northolt actually unlocked. Perhaps by the time the temperature reaches tropical numbers in August someone will decide that toasted passengers are preferable to mildly defrosted ones.

Hmmm... I bet it's all down to the contracts.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Chiltern Railways - On-line Traintracker

Chiltern Railways has engineering work today between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury. Also there are no trains for most of the day between Amersham and Aylesbury.

As the Chiltern Railways website proudly announces:

"Chiltern Railways are pleased to inform you that there are no planned engineering works occurring on the Stratford-upon-Avon/Birmingham Snow Hill to London Marylebone via Banbury and High Wycombe line this weekend. Therefore, a normal service will run on this route this weekend.".

Someone has clearly confused the National Rail Train live system. Click the picture and check out the Timetabled departure times (and actuals) for the first few stations.

Happy April 1st? Not me Guv.