Monday, April 28, 2008

A new railway is born

With a minimum of fanfare (I have seen no publicity), today a new railway company was born.

Wrexham & Shropshire started running passenger services today. Trains do what they say on the tin - offering a direct service from Wrexham & Shropshire to London Marylebone.

Currently the timetable has five return trains on each weekday, four on a Saturday and three on a Sunday.

Train politics mean that you cannot get on a train from Banbury to Marylebone (or from Marylebone to Banbury) - you have to use Chiltern Railways services instead.

I wish the new venture well - any new service has to be welcomed.

Trains have been running empty for a month for driver and route training, so hopefully today's niggles will soon be ironed out. There were unfortunately a couple of serious delays today, but I doubt that many people were affected.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Alternative career choice looming for train driver?

I was waiting at Princes Risborough train station this afternoon for a fast train to London (one stop only en-route, at High Wycombe).

Out of the Aylesbury branch line there suddenly appears a rubbish train which I know is heading for the WLWA Transfer Station in South Ruislip.

"Uh-Oh" me thinks - my train is going to catch that up.

Sure enough just as we are adjacent to Ruislip Gardens Central Line station my Chiltern Railways "Clubman" service grinds to a halt. It transpires that the waste train has suffered some kind of technical hitch while entering the siding and is blocking the points and the main line in towards Marylebone.

Driver: ".... the rubbish train is blocking our path and we can't get around it, maybe that's why they call it the rubbish train".

Maybe you had to be there, but the whole carriage cracked up. Definitely a comedian in the waiting.

Anyhow, we soon got moving and arrived only 7 minutes late into Marylebone.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In the manner of a Hedgehog


Bloody stupid name.


Cute to look at from a distance with but prickly to handle.

Ancient history for me but a big worry for a while. Gone.

Sorry to talk in riddles.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do I have 'Gullible' stamped on my forehead?

I switch on my PC, it goes through the normal warm-up routine. Mailwasher launches.

While I am out of the room the normal couple of dozen spam emails are deleted.

Three are left:
  • One from the "Executive Governor, Cent. Bank Of Nig" offering to courier me USD 10 M in cash.
  • FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA" apologising for the delay in sending a different wire transfer to me for USD 11.3 M
  • and the third from a named individual simply described as 'The Legal Representative'. This man purports to be a barrister distributing the assets of a dead person. This offer is low at only USD 5 M.
Wow! That's USD 26.3 M waiting for me in Nigeria, all in the last eight hours. I am so excited. Not.

The most worrying thing is not that I am particularly gullible (my job ensures that I receive regular Fraud Prevention and Anti-Money Laundering Training), but that the scammers have managed to get as far as the penultimate wall of my anti-spam armoury.

Fortunately I just see the words and smile. They sit in a benign environment on a preview screen in Mailwasher and I simply hit 'Process' and then they are gone.

Empty screen. Till the next...

Edit: I haven't even finished proof reading this post and another one has arrived. This time it's a paltry USD 1.3 M. Change of country - this one is from Benin. Grrr.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What do we expect from 'A Good Service is Operating on ....'

Some time in my pre-blogging days, London Underground changed its house style so that a 'Normal Service' became a 'Good Service'.

This means that when you are stood on a packed platform at Oxford Circus desperately hoping that, if you fold yourself in half and leap over the heads of 25 people stood by the door on the next train to gain access, you are safe in the knowledge that this isn't just Normal but it is actually rather Good.

This linguistic nuance bothered me when the change occurred and it still grates a little.

Yesterday morning the Southbound Bakerloo Line platform at Marylebone was absolutely heaving, such that I eventually managed to squeeze onto the second train that arrived, and that was after going to the very last door. All the while we were breezily being told by the public address system that this was 'Good'.

The Eastbound Central Line platform at Oxford Circus was worse - this time I had to let two trains through despite, as instructed using 'The Full Length of the Platform'. At least there was a man there making the announcements rather than an automaton.

For a long time last year the Inner-London part of my journey involved a bus or tube along the Marylebone/ Euston Road to the The Station Supervisor's territory, then a meander down through Fitzrovia to Soho. I think I shall have to revert to it, as my current journey is not good for the soul.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Have we lost the spirit of the Olympics?

Diamond Geezer has this morning posted a poignant blog about the parade of the Olympic Torch around London yesterday.

I cannot add much to DG's observations. DG's posts are always written well, but I think that the mood of yesterday's dispiriting and rather tacky event is wonderfully encapsulated here. Take a look.

Sorry to harp on about it, but compare and contrast to the sea of rugby supporters at Vicarage Road yesterday afternoon. The only police there were either outside keeping an eye on the traffic, or inside the stadium getting a cup of tea.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

It was a bit nippy

I went out at 10.00am and it took 10 minutes to clear the snow off the car. There was a good two inches. There was a tiny bit of snow on the road for the first couple of miles, but then plain sailing all the way to Watford.

The rugby match was good. I was perhaps a little surprised by the result, but the good thing was that compared to the previous meeting in Cardiff two weeks ago, my side won.

Hat and gloves were worn throughout. The car definitely won today - the train times meant that going by public transport would have doubled the journey time.

I note that while I was out today, the Olympic Torch has been traveling around London, causing a bit of fuss on the way, and itself needing a fair pit of protection.

Compare and contrast with these three pictures that I took of Sir Richard Branson, 4 years ago, outside Tottenham Court Road tube station. I think I got a bit closer than most people were allowed to today.

Oops - And I have a rugby match to attend

I like snow. I think snow is great to walk around in. It is also great to ski down mountains that are covered in loads of snow.

What is less good is when I looked out of the window just now and saw that we had had the first covering of proper snow of the winter. It is only an inch or so here, but having lived in London for 18 years, I am a member of the "Snow = National Emergency" brigade when it comes to driving.

Every route from where I live to Watford (directly across the huge mountain range North West of London called The Chiltern Hills) involves steep hills or narrow country roads. The trouble is I don't particularly want to take the train. There is a very high risk that something will go wrong with either Chiltern Railways or the Metropolitan Line, and I do have to get back.

Why Watford?

There is a 12.30 kick off for the Saracens -v- Ospreys match at Vicarage Road. It is an important match and the stadium has totally sold out (all 18,214 tickets have been gone).

Having just listened to the travel news on LBC, the tube appears to have problems on the Bakerloo, Central and Metropolitan Lines. Common factor: all in North West London, not far from Watford.

I shall have to put on a pan of porridge and then carefully consider my options.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It seems that next week's tube strike has been called off

According to the BBC News site and tonight's Evening Standard the 72 hour tube strike, due to start on Sunday evening, has been called off.

Perhaps I should have put a pound on that happening after my recent thoughts on the matter.

Interestingly the tfl website just says that the industrial action has been 'suspended', so we'll just have to wait and see whether it really is all sorted.

Happy days. The only problem is, I have no excuse now for not going to Canary Wharf for a meeting next week.