Archive for the ‘transport’ Category

Nightmare GWR trains from Reading to Redhill and Gatwick

November 19, 2018

At every location on a visit to Reading, I stay far longer than intended. I will not make 4-30 train. Not even 6-30. I go for 1902 to find cancelled.

Then the nightmare begins, no trains, no announcements, no explanation, no apology.

Next train for Gatwick, showing twenty minutes late.

Next train an hour later, comes into wrong platform.

As by now frozen decide to catch this train, even if later, as appears to be on time, as at least I can sit on a warm train out of the cold.

During this time no announcements.

Train does not leave on time. Train does not leave, told to catch earlier train which has now arrived and is sitting at the station. It does not leave either. After a long delay, it pulls out of the station, only to stop 100m from the station, where its sits.

Arrive North Camp Station at 2115. If trains running normally, approximately 30 minutes from Reading depending upon fast or slow train.

A man got off the train at North Camp, hoping to pick up stopping train to Ash. Only problem, there were no stopping trains. Whilst on the train, passengers to Ash should have been advised to continue to Guildford, then pick yo a train back to Ash, either on Reading or Aldershot line. I advised he walked to Ash Vale, caught train to Aldershot then to Ash.

There were no announcements to advise passengers what was happening, no apology.

There should have been a bus running to Gatwick.

And this was not a one off.

In September, on at least two Fridays in a row, no Gatwick trains were running. No announcements, no advice to catch Redhill train, then change.

On the last day of October, last train from Gatwick cancelleld. No information at Gatwick on replacement bus or from where to catch.

Train indicator at North Camp has not worked since June. GWR refusing to pay the £5000 to repair.

Not only GWR.

South West Railways too.

During the morning, no trains to and from Waterloo.

A couple of weeks ago, no trains at Guildford, apparently broken down train at Clapham Junction.

Last week in the evening no trains at Alton. Broken down train at Clapham Junction.

September, train from Portsmouth Harbour cancelled.

Every Saturday, no trains due to guards on strike.

Other rail companies as bad.

Three times in September on East Coast Mainline, now run by LNER following disastrous performance by Virgin, trains delayed, connections missed.

Then there is Southern Fail and Northern Fail, appalling service during the summer, missed connections, delays of hours.

Trains with no working toilets.

We have a Third World train service with extortionate fares.

Beginning of January we will see train fares hiked double the rate of inflation, with rail companies telling us service has improved.

Rail fares must be frozen for the foreseeable future.

Rail must be taken back into pubic ownership, the gravy train of HS2 scrapped.

It will cost nothing as default at end of franchise.

Failing companies must be stripped of their franchise.

Note: There were no trains from Farnborough North for fours hours.

Note: GWR consider a delay of two hours to be acceptable.

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Scandal of closed ticket offices on Athens Metro

October 23, 2018

Athens has a state-of-the-art Metro. The trains are overcrowded, the ticket offices closed.

Acropoli is one of the busiest stations on the Metro. International visitors for The Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Plaka.

The ticket office is not manned.

Three automated machines, which no one knows how to use.

Longer to wait to use machine than journey time.

I hate to think what is is like when station busy.

Put in a note, a cascade of coins piling out onto the floor as though won the jackpot on a one-armed bandit in a casino.

My turn. Select language. What do I want, one ticket for 24 hours, two tickets? There were many more options.

Ticket for 24 hours? Does this mean, can use ticket within 24 hours, or does it mean my ticket may be used many times over the next 24 hours.

No idea.

I choose two tickets.  2-70 euros. Luckily I have in change 2-70 euros.

The problem is not only Acropoli. Every single Metro station is now unmanned.

Greece has massive unemployment thanks to EU destroying Greek economy. What’s done instead of employing people make more people unemployed.

Not only Metro. Back way into Ancient Agora closed and locked, staffing cuts.

A week of snow

March 4, 2018

It started Monday a week ago, awoke to a light covering of snow.  It soon melted away.

In Lincoln, bitterly cold, light flurries of snow, few people about, those that were were stocking up with food.

I had intended to leave early, instead left late, after lunch at County Restaurant the afternoon in Madame Waffle.

Tuesday the snow had arrived. Before breakfast a path cleared of snow.

A day of dark clouds, bright sunshine, heavy snowfalls.

Heavy snowfall, blizzard, and something I had never experienced before, whiteout.  This would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Subzero outside, and yet, was able to sit and relax in the conservatory, heated by the sun.

Solar power though of no use. Looking out, I see solar panels covered in snow.

Nothing moving, everyone snowed in.

Wednesday, as Tuesday, heavy snow, several inches deep, before breakfast clearing the snow.  No soonest cleared, within half an hour, at least an inch deep. Before lunch, once again clear the snow, now a couple of inches deep.

As Tuesday, heavy snow, dark clouds, sunshine. Again possible to sit in the conservatory, minus three degrees outside, drops to minus seven.

As Tuesday, heavy snowfall, blizzard, whiteout, which  would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Impossible to go out, sink into the snow.

Farnborough two days in a row, record for colddest place, minus 11.9C.

Warning, we are running out of gas. People should drop their temperature by a degree, will not notice, saves money, saves gas. If going out, turn down the thermostat by at least five degrees, then turn back up on return.

We need large gas storage facilities. We had but was closed last year. That is what happens when privatise energy supply, lose energy security, no resilience in the system.

Not possible to import from Europe, as pipes lack capacity, and even if possible, Europe colder than UK, thus need the gas.

UK was powered by North Sea Gas. It was sold of on the cheap, now UK imports roughly half the gas it needs.

Wind is providing as much energy as gas, but different usage.

Industrial users of gas cannot be cut off, crash cool a kiln and cause tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the kiln.

In Lincolnshire, at least 45 roads are closed, idiots who should not be out, are out in their cars no idea how to handle a car in the snow, get stuck then block the roads.

Police call in the military they cannot cope.

Thursday I managed to get out. To my surprise, many people are walking in the snow in Washingborough. I guess house bound and an opportunity to get out the house.

I ask one man, is it worth walking to the local Coop? He says no, no bread, he has taken the last milk.

As I thought, no deliveries and more people placing demand on local Coop.

Slowly running out of food.

Walking around the village, very cold, Arctic conditions, sub-zero with a gale blowing.

There has been no snow all day.

Friday again no snow. Manage to get out and walk to the local Coop. As I thought, very little stock, no bread, little in the way of vegetables, a small amount of milk.

Again very cold with strong winds blowing.

Saturday a little snow overnight, light covering of snow.

One degree Celsius. It actually feels warm.

Hop on the bus to Heighington. The Spar shop reasonably well stocked, actually able to get some bread, the butcher well stocked.

Stock up with provisions. At least will not starve.

In the afternoon a trip into Lincoln. One kind person has even cleared the bus stop.

Walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus, cold and damp, a breeze blowing, misty.

Very bleak journey into Lincoln.

The State of the Art Lincoln Central Bus Station colder than outside.

Outside the entrance a couple of inches of slush, Lincoln City Council cannot be arsed to clear the snow.

Sincil Street and High Street the same, slush covered streets. Traders pay enough in businesses rates, the least they can expect is the streets to be cleared of slush.

More people out than I expected. Maybe Saturday, maybe first opportunity to get out of the house and into Lincoln.

Stokes on High Bridge as always, empty, same for Cafe W at Waterstone’s. On the other hand Coffee Aroma busy and at Madame Waffle packed queuing at the door to get in. That is th difference good coffee makes.

I take the opportunity to stock up with more provisions.

Walking back to the bus station, I notice the slush melting, water gathers at the lowest point and flows, the newly installed drains not at the lowest point. Yet another design flaw for the newly opened Lincoln Central Bus Station that only opened last month.

Sunday a few degrees above freezing, the snow starting to melt, very misty.

It snows, and the country grinds to a halt, the trains do not run, those that do run, break down leaving people stranded for several hours, foolish people go out in the cars, clueless driving on snow.

For the last decade winters have been mild. Temperatures of 10C, maybe drops to 5C, occasionally below zero.

These mild winters have lulled the country into a false sense of security.

The Arctic, zero degrees, at least twenty degrees warmer than it should be , strong winds circling the North Pole driving the cold air southward into Europe.

What is a heat wave in the Arctic has panicked climate scientists, as what has been observed is way beyond their worst case scenarios for climate change.

Lincoln City Bus Station unmitigated disaster

January 31, 2018

This week the new so-called state-of-the-art Lincoln City Bus Station opened. The bus station is an unmitigated disaster.

What are being experienced are not teething problems, these are serious design flaws. Design flaws a first year university student would spot. Begs the question how the plans ever gained approval?

If there was an award for bad design, Lincoln Central Bus Station would be the leading contender, if not outright winner.

The building resembles a regional airport terminal building without the duty free.

Even before it opened, regular bus passengers were expressing their concern in comparison with the temporary bus station. These concerns have proved to be well founded.  The new bus station is far worse than anyone expected.

Journey times into and out of the town centre are now several minutes longer. And that is not rush hour. Rush hour it will be far far longer.

The bus station and 1,000-car car park both feed into the same narrow road.

Two large screens are not displaying all the bus times. Destination displayed, but not the route. Same problem at the bays.

In Hampshire and Surrey, live information linked to GPS showing the route is displayed at bus stops. Also in Prague, A Coruña, Athens, Tenerife.

There needs to be at least three sets of these overhead screens not only one near the entrance. There should be one near the entrance, one half way, one towards the far end.

The one and only set of overhead screens of no use if have arrived on a bus and have to change to another bus.

Where route information displayed it is wrong.

No 2 to Branston display at Bay A from which it departs shown as going via St Giles, Cherry Willingham, Reepham, Sudbrooke, Welton.  The No 2 bus route, Washingborough, Heighington, Branston.

As a consequence of incorrect information displayed passengers are catching the wrong buses.

1640 on a Friday afternoon the Information Office closed.

No timetables displayed as was the case at the temporary bus station.

At bus stops, still old timetables displayed. Why not route number prominently displayed at bus stops? The norm elsewhere.

A new bus fleet introduced by Stagecoach, serious design flaws.  Seats behind the driver, should be used for a buggy bay. Were the bus to suddenly stop, passenger in these two seats would be propelled out of their seats and smash their heads into the partition. USB charging points low down almost on the floor. Have to be a contortionist to access.  On start stop within the city these usb charging points are of little use. Their use is when on a bus city to city. Brand new bus fleet, the video screen displaying no useful information. Why not linked to GPS showing live where are on the route? Why not a display showing next stop? The norm elsewhere

The changed bus routes for Birchwood not acceptable, confusing for passengers, and less frequent, now every fifteen minutes not every ten minutes.

New bus fleet coupled with deteriorated service.

20p to use the toilets.

Floor to ceiling glass walls both sides of the building. One side is south facing. It will function as a greenhouse in the summer with passengers fainting in the heat.

Very congested with passengers. Nigh impossible to walk through the building. And that was mid-afternoon, not rush hour.

At the temporary bus station, a gyrator system. Not at the new bus station. Little room for a bus to manoeuvre. An accident waiting to happen. No 2 Bus to Washingborough, Heighington and Branston from Bay A, had to shunt back and forth to get out. It would be even more difficult for the other bays.

Wednesday morning the bus station log-jammed, no bus could move, none could get out, none could get in. A wait of 5-15 minutes from Pelham Bridge to enter the bus station.

A state-of-the-art bus station that lacks wifi.

The only good thing that could be said, is easy to access the  railway station.

But even this does not withstand close scrutiny.

At the temporary bus station, the train station literally the other side of the red brick wall. An entrance could have been created. Better still, an integrated bus rail station building with shops. Shops pay rent. For example Reading.

Car parking at Lincoln Central Station for pick up and drop off has been drastically reduced, creating an open windswept plaza serving no useful purposes

From Lincoln, no direct train services to anywhere.

There should be an hourly service to London and York.

Open the line Grantham to Lincoln, London Kings Cross, Peterborough, Grantham, Lincoln, Doncaster, York.

Had an integral bus-train station been developed at the temporary bus station, where the new bus station has been built, could have been for delivery lorries and vans to park, to then deliver by hand cart or trolley to shops and other businesses. Not as we have at the moment, lorries driving through the pedestrianised city centre smashing up the surface of the streets.

The bus station has an integral coffee shop, Grand Coffee House.  Excellent design, let down by the coffee. Also not welcoming with a poster on the door telling people it is not a waiting room. Maybe explains why empty, and with that attitude to bus passengers deserves to be. If welcoming, passengers may be tempted to have a coffee whilst waiting. Though if appreciate good coffee unlikely to be tempted again.

On leaving  the bus or train station walk into Sincil Street, a once thriving bustling street of independent traders, now turned into a wasteland by the local council in bed with the Coop.

To see what could be, Hull Old Town, reported by Look North as one of the hipster places to be in the country, indie local businesses, not a chain in sight. Further afield, North Laine in Brighton.

This bus station is an appalling waste of public money. How much public money squandered the local council jobsworths manning the Information Office did not know.

The officials responsible should be fired, the councillors who granted approval should apologise and resign. Is it too much to expect of local councillors to actually scrutinise what is placed before them?

According to Lincoln City Council, to highlight design flaws, of which there are many, is to express negativity.

Lincoln City Council claim

Feedback from users of the facility have been incredibly positive so far, with very few issues raised.

This is not the view of bus drivers, it is not the view of the many complaints from passengers.

But then Lincoln City Council would claim the new bus station a success, wouldn’t they?

Lincoln City Council call this a Transport Hub.

No, it is a Transport Farce.  They have made the City of Lincoln a National Laughing Stock.

Grand Coffee House

January 20, 2018

An integral part of the Lincoln City Bus Station, Grand Coffee House.

Ambience and design everything would expect of an artisan coffee shop, to then having had  expectations raised, to be let down by the poor quality coffee.

Sacks as cushions, old recycled cable drums as tables.

Cappuccino served piping hot with chocolate dumped on top.

Cappuccino is not served piping hot, nor with chocolate dumped on top, and at the very least ask before dumping chocolate on top.

If wishing to open a quality coffee shop, and care has been taken with the design, that equal care has to taken with the coffee, which at the very least means sourcing quality coffee and employing skilled baristas.

For a  bus station, a kiosk would suffice, if the intended clientele are the bus passengers, grabbing a coffee exiting the bus station, grabbing a coffee when catching a bus.

The growing sector of the coffee market is speciality coffee.

For rubbish coffee we have the chains.

If we are to cut waste, cut plastic pollution, we have to end the grab it and go consumerist culture.

For the takeaway market, ideally located to catch passengers for bus and train, indeed will probably hit badly the chains in the High Street, which is good news, as which will be more convenient, grabbing a coffee in the High Street or grabbing a coffee at the bus station either when arriving or when about to catch bus or train?

In the UK we throwaway 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. We should be discouraging not encouraging takeaway coffee, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with quality coffee served in glass or ceramic and at the very least, compostable coffee cups, reusable coffee cups on sale with a substantial discount if use a reusable cup for a refill.

Saturday very busy and yet no one about, the bus station empty, not yet open.  It will therefore be very busy once the bus station opens.

The coffee shop officially opens when the bus station opens.  Why not in that first week, special offer on KeepCup, first coffee free, substantial discount thereafter?

The coffee not great, better than the chains better than Stokes on High Bridge, but there are far better places in Lincoln for coffee, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle, Makushi, for those who love coffee.

There are no toilets, have to go out in the cold to the toilets on the first floor in the bus station and pay 20p to access the toilets.

How was planning consent obtained when there are no toilets?

Lincoln City Council are the landlords, interviewed potential tenants for the coffee shop.  What  does the Town Hall know of coffee shops or coffee?

For those wanting a takeaway coffee they are going to be hit with a double whammy, 25p latte levy, 20p to use the toilet, making it an expensive takeaway coffee.

The coffee shop is run by Café 44 in Sincil Street. Locally owned and they are sourcing locally, which means money is cycled within the local economy.

The name comes from the Grand Hotel that used to occupy the site.

 

Lincoln City Bus Station

January 20, 2018

What is claimed to be a state-of-the-art bus station, it has automatic doors and a few display screens, part of a so-called Transport Hub linked to Lincoln Central Station.

A very cold day, barely above freezing and yet colder inside the bus station than outside.

The new bus station resembles a regional airport terminal building, absent the Duty Free and same shops find in any shopping centre.

Two Jobsworth from Lincoln City Council manning an Information Desk, did not know the cost of the bus station. Figures of £12 million have been bandied about. Although after several minutes looking on-line,  they were able to give a figure of £30 million for bus station, car park and cosmetic changes to the railway station.  This figure has been widely reported in the media, why did they not know?

A new road currently runs between bus and train station. Work having been done, this will be paved over and made pedestrian between bus and train station.

Pedestrianised as the farce in the town centre, where heavy lorries are allowed through after four in the afternoon, but take no notice of any restrictions and drive through before four as no enforcement?

The empty windswept plaza outside the train station has far less parking spots for pick up and drop off than before, probably less than a quarter.  Our helpful jobsworth could see nothing wrong with this.

There was no information at the Information Desk. Not even timetables.

The only bus timetable information was in a cardboard box by one of the bays, no one had troubled to place in racks.  This information was a simple leaflet telling what routes if any had timetable changes, but no actual timetables.

Automatic doors open to allow passenger to board or disembark from their bus. This is going to be fun when it goes wrong.

A barrier acts as a deterrent to terrorists hijacking a bus and driving into the terminal building. Or maybe a safeguard if a driver goes crazy.

A state-of-the art bus station that lacks wifi.

Elsewhere in the country, not only do the buses have wifi, they have usb charging points.

Toilets on the first floor. Cheap and tacky. Will not withstand the wear and tear of a bus station.

It is not acceptable to have to pay 20p to use the toilet.

A so-called Transport Hub that lacks direct trains to either London or York. There should be direct trains on the hour every hour.

This is claimed to be part of a  regeneration project. Why is it that local Town Halls always claim urban destruction to be regeneration?  The same number of people will be travelling every day by bus and train. How is this regeneration?

The City Council in bed with the Coop, has destroyed Sincil Street, a once thriving street of independent thriving local family business.

Integral to the bus station a coffee shop, Grand Coffee House.

Work is still ongoing, heavy machinery at work.

The old bus station was a disgrace, demolition a step in the right direction.

Easier access between bus and train also an improvement.

All we now need is a reliable bus services, buses that run on time.

The irony is most passengers seem to prefer the temporary bus station the other side of the railway tracks. Quick access into and out of town, quick access into the High Street through a narrow alleyway or over the railway bridge into Sincil Street.

Dysfunctional Stagecoach

November 22, 2017

A bus pass is a bus pass, it is valid across the country no matter where issued, but try telling that to the bus drivers.

Today a bus driver caused great distress to an elderly lady, refusing to allow her to board a bus, claiming, falsely, that her bus pass was not valid.

The bus was in Hampshire, the bus pass issued in Bristol.

The driver claimed the bus pass had expired. This was simply not true, it was a valid bus pass.

He held up the bus for several minutes arguing with the lady, even though she had a valid bus pass.

The driver was clueless how to even use the bus pass.

If placed on the machine, it will fail, it has to be held above the machine.

The lady when asked, said she had not had a problem before using her bus pass.

But even if there was a fault with either the bus pass or machine, all the driver had to do was issue a paper ticket for the journey.

What you do not do is hold up a  bus for several minutes arguing over a fare of a  few pence.

The lady apologised to passengers for holding up the bus.

It was not for the lady to apologise, it was for the driver to apologise.

No apology from the driver.

No 64 bus route Alton to Winchester

November 19, 2017

A new fleet of buses on the No 64 route Alton came into service last week.

Officially came into service today with the introduction of a new timetable.

The last couple of years has seen new buses introduced on this route.

Now a dedicated fleet.

Free wifi and usb charging points.

Very bad design of the usb charging points, low down between the seats making access very difficult. Though not as bad the new Goldline introduced on the Aldershot-Farnborough-Camberley route a few months ago where the usb charging points are even lower, and ideal for passengers to kick with their feet or rest their feet on. Same bus, internally different seats. On the No 1 Goldline, the usb charging points are almost on the floor.

A power bank, indicating full, charged a couple of weeks ago and only used as occasional torch, to fully charge, what I thought would be a few minutes, from leaving Alton Station until approaching Winchester before indicating fully charged. Either low output or high capacity power bank. Power bank new and have not used before.

I would not risk charging a phone or tablet, but quite happy to use to charge a power bank.

Depressing to see an ignorant female with dirty feet on the seats of a brand new bus. This problem not restricted to this route, also on the Goldline route, passengers putting their dirty feet on the seats of new buses.

On the trains, can be fined for feet on seats.

Timetable improvements that should be made on this route, cut out the detour around Alresford, better connection with trains at Alton.

On the new timetable, the buses are running an hourly late night service.

Metro strike

October 26, 2017

Roads gridlocked, outside Parliament roads closed.

Why on strike I do not know, or whether or not the demo was connected.

Major problem if wishing to get to Airport, as I did.

No taxis. Had to walk to pick up airport bus.

No bus. One did not turn up, next one very late. An hour wait for a bus. Bus packed.

As a result, miss flight.

Bus back to Athens maybe half an hour late. Packed.

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.