Archive for the ‘transport’ Category

Explosion at Guildford Station

July 7, 2017

Early afternoon, a  little after two, an explosion, followed by smoke billowing from a train.

Time stood still. It was as though a motion picture had frozen.

No one panicked. More, a look of concern, what next?

Police, station staff, security running to the train.

A couple of Chinese girls asked me what had happened. I said I did not know, other than state what I had heard and seen.

A station announcement, move away from the train. A technical problem with the train. Another announcement, no trains.

I guessed, maybe a massive electrical short, which in turn had taken out a sub-station.

I later learned I had been correct. I also learnt bits had blasted from the train, luckily no one injured.

European owned British rail companies

January 4, 2017

Passengers on European railways would like to thank British rail passengers for supporting their railways.

Foreign state railways own most of our rail network.

When we see rail companies making massive profits, and those rail companies are owned by foreign state railways, the profit they make is ploughed back into their own national railways.

Also true of electricity. EDF is a French electricity company.

State-owned railways is ok, so long as it is a foreign state railway does the owning.

We must take our railways back into public ownership.

Not nationalisation.
 
It has to be some form of open coop, where the rail staff, passengers and the state have a stake.

The beginning of the working week, saw yet another inflation busting hike in rail fares, for a service that is abysmal.

 

No seats on Virgin Trains East Coast Mainline

December 14, 2016

A few months ago, Jeremy Corbyn caused a kerfuffle when found sitting on the floor near the door on a Virgin train on the East Coast Mainline.

Richard Branson claimed it was a publicity stunt.

As regular travellers are well aware, these trains either have occupied seats or are reserved.

And so it was today on the 1330 Kings Cross to Edinburgh train, arrives Edinburgh 1830.

Nightmare of weekend rail works gets worse

October 30, 2016
North Camp rail works

North Camp rail works

The nightmare of weekend rail works, travelling down to Brighton last Sunday, could not get worse, could it? Unfortunately yes.

This Sunday, rail works on the line Reading to Gatwick and a repeat of last weekend’s nightmare with rail works Gatwick to Brighton.

Bus Reading to Guildford, then train to Gatwick.

As the clocks had gone back to GMT, and it gets dark an hour earlier, I set off an hour earlier, plus twenty minutes because bus was twenty minutes earlier.

A journey to Gatwick, that would take an hour, now an hour and a half.

I arrived ten minutes early for the bus. Road to station closed. Where to pick up the bus? No information at the station, nor an amended timetable or where to pick up the bus.

Displays on the platforms were not showing amended times, merely rail works and a bus service in operation.

No bus. The bus failed to turn up.

A bus for Reading arrived. The driver was asked to either contact the driver or his office. The driver refused on the grounds that he did not know the number of his own office.

Passenger decided to walk to another station and get to Guildford that way. Either way, train from Guildford to Gatwicks missed, an hour until next train.

Tough job passengers with a  plane to catch.

Not possible to cross the line due to rail works.

A detour to cross via a road bridge.  Dangerous to walk along, no footpath

On crossing the road bridge, bus turns up. Flagged down, and passengers get on the bus.

Now twenty minutes late.  No explanation or apology from driver as to why twenty minutes late.

For some perverse reason, driver decided to drive down the closed road. For what? There are no passenger to pick up, we are the passengers.

We tell him one passenger for Gatwick is on the other side, but not possible to cross due to rail works.

Driver decides to pick up passenger, even though pointless exercise, train missed at Guildford.

Driver, instead of going to car park, drives to another station.

Bus then stuck, as not possible to turn around the bus.

Eventually after much manoeuvring, bus turned around. Bus now running 40-50 minutes late.

He then goes to another station to pick passengers up. No passengers to be picked up.

Arrive at Guildford, train for Gatwick long gone.

Had though the bus been on time, sufficient time to walk through the station and catch the train, insufficient time to buy a ticket.

Any passenger coming by bus without a ticket should be allowed through to catch their train.

At Gatwick, no announcement how to get to Brighton.

I saw a train leaving in five minutes for Havant, stopping at Three Bridges, nipped across to Platform 7, and caught it.

At Three Bridges, unlike last Sunday, no announcements. I assumed as last week, walk through car park and catch a bus.

Very efficient, as soon as a bus full, dispatched.

Double-decker buses, as last week.

As soon as bus pulled out, luggage rolling around, nowhere to safely stow. Area for wheelchairs and buggies doubled as luggage space

French girl on the bus, said she had no idea what to do on arrival at Three Bridges as no announcements. She said trains in France do not provide this appalling service nor are they expensive.

Return from Brighton as efficient, as  soon as  a bus full, dispatched.

At Three Bridges, choice of two trains, one for St Pancras, the other for Victoria, both stopped at Gatwick.

Train to Guildford, then bus.

As train pulled into Guildford, announcement where to catch the train, and again at the station.

Bus driver appeared to know the route, in contrast to the driver in the morning who did not seem to have a clue where he was going.

Disgraceful behaviour of guard on 1234 Reading-Gatwick train

October 21, 2016

There is a problem  at North Camp Station, a known problem, barriers drop and passengers cannot cross the line to catch the train.

Today the  barriers dropped five minutes early.

When the 1257 (1255) train to  Guildford pulled in, the barriers did not open immediately.

The guard could see passengers waiting to cross the line, with at least one person waving to indicate they wished to catch the train.

As passengers crossed the line, hurried to catch the train, the guard signalled for the train to leave and waved and smiled at the stranded passengers.

Maybe he thought it a sick joke, to pull away deliberately leaving passengers stranded.

His action cost one passenger at least £20 in taxi fares to get to Guildford. She was starting a new job and could not afford to be late and lose her job.

This guard should be fired.

1334 (1332) train from North Camp, guard never came through the train to collect fares. This necessitated further delay at Guildford queuing to buy a  return ticket. The ticket office at North Camp was closed.

Train companies complain of fare dodging, but make no attempt to actually collect fares from passengers who wish to pay.

The display on the platform was indicating trains running two minutes earlier than shown on the timetable. There was no poster or other information to indicate there was an amended timetable in operation.

Nightmare rail works train journey

September 11, 2016

That time of year, dreaded rail works. Been ongoing for at least ten years.

Nightmare journey down to Brighton.

No amended timetable at local station. Female guard on train, fails to walk the train to collect fares. I search her out. She refuses to sell a ticket. Barely sufficient time to leave Guildford Station and catch replacement bus service. No time to buy a ticket, and certainly no time with long queue. Luckily able to get on bus without ticket.

I had no luggage. Worse for those that did. Especially as no clear direction where to go when train terminated at Guildford.

Bus leaves ten minutes late. No explanation or apology.  But at least  rail personal announce on bus, where bus is going and that mandatory to wear seat belt.

Major traffic jams en route.

Traffic jam on A3, tail back from RHS Wisley Gardens, jam waiting to join M25, massive jam existing M25 onto M20, police road block on slip road into Gatwick.

Bus arrives Gatwick 15 minutes late. Two trains to Brighton missed.

Chaos at station concourse, queuing back into airport. Luckily, I am allowed through the barrier.  Twenty minutes wait for Brighton train, which is then five minutes late.

Poster on platform stating free wifi. No wifi.

At Brighton cannot exit, no ticket. 10-15 minute wait to buy a ticket. Asked why no ticket? I explain station closed, train guard refused to sell a ticket, replacement bus service.

Train companies only last week were complaining of fare dodging, that it costs them millions. Maybe man their stations, get their guards to do their jobs properly.

Forced to leaving Brighton earlier than I wished. My reason for doing so, rail works. A bus journey of over an hour. Had I waited, next bus journey was showing around two hours for bus and train, for a journey that would normally take an hour. .

Train Brighton to London Bridge packed. At Gatwick, platform heaving, passengers trying to get on a packed train.

A sign in the airport, wait here to be taken to the bus. No one there. Luckily I knew where to go.

I asked, was directed to a bus. No driver. Bus in semi-darkness. When driver appeared and bus set off, he did not announce where the bus was going, nor state it was mandatory to wear seat belts.

Luckily journey only 45 minutes, but twenty minutes wait in the cold at Guildford Station for a train. Had the train ran all the way, but for rail works, no wait in the cold.

Less time in Brighton. Arrive later, forced to leave earlier. Pay for a  train, get a bus. Longer journey time. No compensation. Thus the train companies screw their passengers.

Gatwick is one of the busiest airports in the world, second busiest in UK, and yet chaos at station concourse, totally inadequate train service to and from Gatwick. They cannot cope now, with existing infrastructure and yet they are wishing to expand, demanding a second runway.

1204 First Great Western Reading-Guildford-Redhill train

August 26, 2016

1204 First Great Western Reading-Guildford-Redhill train, one toilet out of action, the other the toilet bowl full to overflowing. Disgusting.

And why do they cover the windows by the doors?

This is what we pay our extortionate rail fares for. And the profiteers, laugh all the way to the bank.

I can personally vouch for what Jeremy Corbyn has stated are the conditions on Virgin Trains East Coast Mainline

August 23, 2016
Virgin Train at King's Cross

Virgin Train at King’s Cross

Virgin Train CCTV shows seats either occupied or reserved

Virgin Train CCTV shows seats either occupied or reserved

Jeremy Corbyn was pictured sitting on the floor by the door of a Virgin Train, bound for Newcastle on the East Coast Mainline, due to overcrowded train, nowhere to sit.

Not true proclaim Virgin Trains, we have the film footage to prove it.

I cannot comment on this particular train, 1100 Newcastle train from King’s Cross, but I can personally vouch that this is the situation on Virgin Trains heading North from King’s Cross.

I walk the length of the platform, dragging my luggage, lugging my laptop, looking for a seat.

Do I find a seat? No. What appears to be empty seats are not, they all have reserved tickets.

I get to the end of the train.

I get on, ignore the reservation, and take a seat. I encourage others to do the same.

Last time I did this, a  passenger came along and claimed their seat. I gladly gave it up. They kindly said, as you are getting off at the next stop, keep the seat until then.

This train was one coach short. Whether now the norm, I do not know.

The train was in an appalling state of repairs.

I was on the 1330 to Newcastle, overcrowded, lack of luggage space, every seat reserved.

Toilet door, lock broken. Nigh impossible to get out of toilet, as door jammed, brute force required to open. Bin for paper, hanging open, not been emptied.

When I walked down to the buffet car, people were sitting on the floor, sitting on their luggage by the doors.

By buffet car, cupboard hanging open, broken.

Totally inadequate luggage space.

One coach missing.

At Newark, passengers barely had time to get off the train.

Virgin Trains even rip passengers off on the so-called ‘free’ wifi. All of 15 minutes free, then have to pay.

This is the reality of travelling on the East Coast Mainline since Virgin Trains took over. It was never like this when the line was in public ownership, but against strong public opposition, it was handed to Richard Branson.

Speaking to staff, they confirmed my own observations, serious deterioration since Branson took over.

I was not on the train with Jeremy Corbyn, but those who were, confirm that the train was overcrowded and people were forced to sit by the door, which is the norm on Virgin Trains on the East Coast Mainline.

So who do we believe, Jeremy Corbyn, fellow passengers, or a man who knows his profiteering from the NHS and the railways will hit the buffers if Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn win the next election?

No 65 Bus Guildford to Alton

August 10, 2016
65 bus no longer calls at Alton Station

65 bus no longer calls at Alton Station

At Alton, the bus stop used to say bus-train interchange. It no longer does.

The 65 bus used to come down from Guildford, change to a 64 bus at Alton Station, then carry on down to Winchester. And vice a versa.

September last year, it came as far as Alton Station, turned around and went back to Guildford. The bus up from Winchester did the same.

No warning, passengers who thought they were on a through bus, found themselves going back whence they came.

The drivers were under no instruction to advise passengers to alight and change at Alton Station, as no longer a through bus. They were also under no instruction to wait for the connecting bus if late.

Now at the bus stop, a poster telling passengers to take a ten minute walk into the centre of Alton to pick up the 65 bus.  It also no longer states bus-train interchange.

What if it is raining, what if not capable of a  ten minute walk, what if carrying luggage?

This is an appalling way to run a bus service.

Surly Stagecoach bus driver refuses to accept Bus Pass

July 27, 2016

Today at a little before 1650, a surly Stagecoach driver refused to accept a valid Bus Pass and ordered the passenger off the bus.  Driver when asked, refused to give his name.

Stagecoach Goldline, route No 1, location Farnbrough Tech, bus No 22744  heading towards Farnborough town centre.

Passenger forced to get off bus and walk.

Two bus drivers confirmed Bus Pass was valid.

At Queensmead bus interchange, driver of No 1 bus heading towards Aldershot, was shown Bus Pass, asked was it a valid Bus Pass, driver said yes.

Bus Pass was used on return journey, no problem. On alighting from bus, driver was asked was Bus Pass valid, driver said yes.

Refusal to accept a Bus Pas, whilst rare, is not uncommon, drivers finding bogus reasons not to accept.

This uncouth driver, claimed use of bus passes was costing the company money.  His comment only serves to illustrate his depth of ignorance. Whilst it may be true, passengers using a Bus Pass are contributing less than ordinary fare paying passengers, they are contributing an extra revenue stream, which may make all the difference between a bus route being profitable or not, a revenue stream that would not otherwise exist.

There are also other advantages to wider society. Fewer car journeys, less congestion, less air pollution, lower emission of greenhouse gases. It gets people who would otherwise be housebound out and about, increasing their social interaction and mobility, delays dementia. The only disadvantage, makes people lazy, they may hop on a bus when they would have otherwise walked.

Anyone who deals with the public, be it in a supermarket or a bank, displays a name badge. The same should apply to bus drivers.

Once upon a time bus drivers used to have to display their licence. Why is this no longer a requirement?