Tonight’s joy of strangers harrassing me.

I get on train plenty of time. Walk all way to front to avoid people.

Put headphones on and was in middle of registering for smartcard when saw man gesturing.

He was drunk and had Burger King bags and his girlfriend. Clearly wanted the 4 facing seats where I was.

A minute later he’s sat on the 5 flip-up seats nearby with her. I notice him looking at me for some reason.

I get my stuff together and walk to front of train. Stand in the vestibule.

They take the seats.

I don’t know why I attract grief and people like that. I wasn’t doing harm to anyone. I’m tired after working and had a bag of food shopping. It was nice for a few minutes to be comfortable.

Generally I find that people have to harass me. I don’t understand it. I don’t look for it. I don’t look at people commmunicate with people if possible.

Icing on cake was a twitter follower thinking it was fucking funny. Unfollowed and blocked. I take enough shit from people.

I’m admittedly not in good spirits, not feeling very good. 

My elderly father is in hospital and I’ve had a hell of a time getting up and back to visit him. A Paisley bound bus deliberately didn’t display correct destination and left me and others standing best part of an hour last night. Very much could have done without that.

So, I was tired this morning, tired tonight and just wanting peace and left alone.

Sometimes I do despair. 

Sometimes I want to beat people’s heads in until they are bloody. 

That’s why I walked to the front of the train. I considered walking back to the man and woman a number of times as I was angry and frustrated at being hounded.

Sense holds me and stops me from that as I can’t lose my job, my kids, my life over people that are ignorant lie life scum.

As usual between Glasgow and Paisley, no conductor visible, no one to say I was harassed out the seat.

I have no idea what pleasure people get from that. I can only hope that they die an unpleasant long slow death one day. Hopefully soon.

Anyway back on with the living stuff.


HLOS SoFA and a bi-mode future?

July 20 was the deadline date for the UK and Scottish Governments publishing their HLOS  (High Level Output Specification) and SoFA (Statement of Funds Availible) for the next railway control period (CP6) between 2019 and 2024.

Neither government produced what was expected. 

The outputs specified by the Scottish Ministers were generic but highlighted failures by Network Rail in project delivery, project management and overview and the ability to deliver as promised and on time. 

The Scottish Ministers also took NR to task on asset knowledge and gauging of lines for different types of trains. The gist being that there’s nowhere near enough knowledge and resource on the Scottish network. 

Scottish HLOS
It’s on Transport Scotland website under ‘publications’.

At the time of publication of this HLOS, the UK Government has advised the Scottish Ministers of its intention to change the basis of funding for Network Rail in CP6, but the first formal proposals about how these new funding arrangements will work in Scotland were not received from the UK Government until the evening before the publication deadline of 20 July 2017. This has not left time for prudent consideration and the necessary negotiations to confirm satisfactory arrangements. Therefore, it is not possible for the Scottish Ministers to publish a Statement of Funds Available at the same time as this HLOS.

The final paragraphs indicates a fundamental change is coming to the way Railway Projects are funded and that there is a further reform or announcement to come.

The DfT published a screed of information together with the HLOS for England and Wales. 

Documents on Bi-mode trains, the East Midlands Franchise renewals and new instructions for the ORR as regulator. 

The ORR instructions were detailed requests for a new way to oversee the maintenance of the railway and to place measures of activity and measures to oversee issue flagged by passenger focus as the consumer or travellers champion. It takes the railways of England and Wales closer to the Scottish SQUIRE regime.

The trumpeting of bi-mode effectively curtails further electrification of the network in England and Wales after existing projects are concluded. 

This is the result of delays increased costs and other issues in electrifying the Great Western Route. Further extension from Cardiff to Swansea is  ruled out. The Midland Mainline to Sheffield will see bi-mode trains and revised Service patterns 

We are unlikely to see the transpennine routes electrified further and It means further electrification of freight routes are unlikely.

Overall it means that once the SoFA for England and Wales is produced in October that Scotland’s SoFA will be proportionately affected.

The EGIP project was a matter I was going to blog about and particularly in terms of appearances by the Network Rail chief at a recent Scottish Parliament meeting. 

The feeling that I had was that EGIP has spiralled away in timescale and cost despite items being removed. 

A significant factor is the SDA project for the Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa section of Electrification being a different team to the ‘main job’. 

We were told of a limited service initially over EGIP but it looks more likely that October 2017 will see a bigger introduction of the class 385 units.

The potential for cascading diesel units in Scotland can then be realised.

The other Scotrail Big Bang of the HST’s from Glasgow and Edinburgh northwards now seems wise. Refurbishing the carriages has been done effectively elsewhere and the engines have already been renewed, although further modernisation will be welcome.

Bi-mode will come soon, the Hitatchi produced Class 800 units are regularly under test, production is progressing. It’s easy to say it’s unproven but they have run on Diesel and under the wires regularly. 

It’s not likely that squadron service will see any failure. England and Wales will see the trains improve the offer on mainline routes.

The Midland Mainline is likely to follow with new bi-mode trainsets and for services into the Lake District, refurbished class 319 sets are most likely to operate.

Dirty Diesel remains the issue in terms of Bi-mode. It’s an environmental issue, it’s an efficiency issue as the Diesel tanks and engines are carried under the wires. 

In fairness, the Diesel capacity means units aren’t stranded if there’s a failure and it adds options to routes that are partially electrified.

Long term, bi-modes could use stored electricity batteries or hydrogen power cells as greener and cleaner power off the wires. That technology is progressing and longer term it could deliver a solution.

Politically, it removes cost of wiring up routes, perhaps transferring costs to the rail franchises and the rolling stock ownership companies. 

It maybe takes out investment from the infrastructure and whilst the DfT talk of improving signalling and the physical routes for linespeeds, Electrification ensures that it happens. 

The monitoring and oversight of improvements by Government and Network Rail will need a continual oversight and whilst the ORR and Commons Transport Committees can do so, the travelling public has a role in questioning progress.

Successive Westminster administrations have dodged investment in electrification and a move to bi-mode could be another one.

Whether Scotland follows Westminster and the DfT is questionable, the HLOS is clear in its ambition of further electrication and further reopenings through the investment pipeline. 

We don’t yet fully know what the pipeline is. I assume the idea remains of electrifying north of Dunblane, initially to Perth, if not Dundee through progressive electrification. 

It’s a guess that East Kilbride would benefit from improved infrastructure, electrification and more services. 

The North Commuter line might benefit as an infill scheme and offers operational advantages in removing stock from Queen Street.

In conclusion, it’s a switch in investment priorities in England and Wales. It’s uncertainty for Scotland. It’s a post brexit effect, questions on questions until October and the final knowledge of what will happen to Network Rail 

ScotRail HST livery

I blogged a while back that I thought the use of the standard ScotRail blue livery on the High Speed Trains due to start in 2018/2019 seemed a bit much.

So I was delighted to see an online article on Rail Engineer article that covered the technical aspects and also this..The Article is called ScotRail’s new HST’s and effectively that’s seemingly what they’ll be with quite a detailed overhaul of the carriages and power cars.

I have no idea if this is a visual representation that’s finalised or official.

 I like the muted blue around a yellow U shape, I like the cityscape visuals, I like the black/grey banding around the windows.

I like the yellow band BR style over windows and the overall end to end look.

It’s a welcome progression from having a slab of dark blue end to end without relief. The cityscape elements may be Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen or Inverness.

The look might be an Intercity for ScotRail and a break from the Saltire Scheme, but these vehicles are more unique than their modern counterparts.

The ironic touch is that the class 385’s are likely to be the workhorse, first between Glasgow and Edinburgh and later to Stirling and further north. They, or a varient, will eventually replace the HST’s.

I happen to like the saltire livery, it entirely suits the class 380 and has various degrees of success on older stock. It suits the 334, 320 and 170 stock, it is less better on blunt fronted 314, 318, 156 and 158 units.

In time, the variation shown with the HST’s might translate to other units. If Saltire livery is to evolve it’s probably a good thing and some of the design touches can be looked at, to liven the design.

The final touches aren’t with us yet, but it’s encouraging. 

60163 Tornado. Our favourite locomotive?

She’s the first locomotive to haul a scheduled mainline service in 50 years. A real historic feat.

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust completed her in 2008 and no-one quite knew how a ‘new’ steam locomotive based on a traditional design that had not been preserved would be received.

 I deliberately said ‘based’ as the team building Tornado regarded her as an evolution of the class and took account of issues the sister locomotives had in service.

She’s named after an RAF jet that’s being retired, she’s a triumph of engineering long after the ‘space-age’ ended, she’s as remarkable an achievement as Concorde.

Her popularity is huge, she’s extremely well known and has been a steady performer over the past few years on steam charters and in touring the preservation railways. 

Perhaps ‘Flying Scotsman’ is more famous, but ‘Tornado’ has caught the imagination of people and that’s quite some job and very apt that she is running scheduled services.

A huge achievement for a locomotive built from scratch on hopes and donations and masses of goodwill. The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust must be saluted for their efforts. 

is the next project building another ‘new’ locomotive and well worth a read, my only issue is that the  engine plates should be ‘Duke of Rothesay’ to keep the Scottish names theme of the locomotives the new one is to be based upon

GARL didn’t happen. What did? 

Since the scrapping of GARL, there’s always been a very remote possibility that it could make a comeback. I think it’s not finally stone dead.

That’s a good thing for my local community and for a local park.

Certainly, GARL didn’t happen, but key elements of it did, Glasgow Central gained two platforms and the Paisley Corridor Improvements programme. 

The class 380 trains were coming anyway and weren’t conditional on  GARL. 

I think after an initial wobble on introduction, they’ve proved to be good units and the 23 metre length adds capacity even onto 3 carriage units. 

Four car units to my mind are equivalent to six car 318 and 334 formations and do swallow a crowd. 

A seven car combination is ideal on peak services from Ayr but for other destinations it’s horses for courses and for me, it mostly works out inbound to Glasgow but suffers going out from Glasgow as people do tend to jump on the first train.

The new platforms 12 and 13 took the high level at Glasgow Central up to 15 platforms. 

This effectively created a Ayrshire/Inverclyde station within a station with 12,13,14,15 effectively used for the services through Paisley Gilmour Street. 

The electrified Paisley Canal services work from there too.

Platform 11 is occasionally used and lower numbered platforms are used to turn around the Edinburgh bound services as well as the 1755 class 314 service from platform 8.

The station benefited from losing the Eurostar timber and glass structure that didn’t ever serve a purpose and it created the space for the ticket barrier lines.

The additional platforms do work, the question is whether they can be extended further into the station in future. 

The Paisley Corridor Improvements (PCI) were ‘The GARL Main Line Works’ in terms of the infrastructure and signalling part of GARL that did go ahead. The significance is that it provided a bi-directional third track between Shields Junction and Arkleston.

There are other wider sections of track particularly at the approaches to Paisley Gilmour Street from Arkleston Junction and at Shields/Gower St Junctions.

It’s noticeable at peak times, Glasgow Central can flight a 1756 Inverclyde, 1800 Ayr direct service 1804 Ayr all stops service and an 1806 Inverclyde within 10 minutes.

From Paisley Gilmour Street, a Glasgow bound service can go from both platforms with the stopper from Inverclyde being overtaken by the direct service from Ayrshire. 

Yet, the current throughput of service is at maximum 15 per hour in one direction, we know at peaks that Partick and Hyndland field more paths at two or three minute intervals as the busiest points on the electrified network.

There may be capacity, there may be units, but apart from between Paisley and Glasgow, no great need for a ‘Metro’ style frequency across the length of the routes.

I’m willing to guess that no services need be sacrificed to introduce the Tram/Trains to the airport, but that an adjusted timetable with some compromises possibly on stopping patterns.

To my mind more infrastructure or a fourth track from Shields to Arkleston wouldn’t be necessary.

A timetable reshuffle, a movement of services to fit a greater frequency introduced by the airport service is more likely. 

But that needs advance planning and programming with Network Rail, ScotRail and others working through all the possibilities.

All told these infrastructure works were a spend of approximately £169 Million in 2011/2012.

Going back to the class 380 trains, these released class 334 units for the Edinburgh to Helensburgh and Balloch services running through the Airdrie/Bathgate line.

In all, many benefits happened as a result of GARL’s cancellation and  fed through to other improvements or gains.

Airport Access Project

As many of my readers on Transport matter know, I am greatly interested in the Glasgow Airport Tram/Train proposal.

Significant step with the Glasgow City Region ‘cabinet’ approving further spending on project, effectively £14 million on further initial works.

That’s the link and it’s positive and good stuff.

Within the report was this plan and whilst I had assumed the red dotted route was most likely to deliver a 16 minute journey, the other options are all possible.

Looking at taking a street running route or using the former Abercorn/Renfrew spur, shows some interesting thinking and knowledge of the capabilities of tram/trains and particularly the Karlsruhe Model of operations.

The blue route comes off the main line passing Gilmour Street station’s Old Sneddon Street entrance and routing part of the Paisley one way system and along Love Street and Inchinnan Road much like the unloved 757 bus.

 (I recently overheard that service described as taking ages to go through the arse end of Paisley – charming )

I think there’s issues in Street running and particularly using part of the wide streets as the Paisley one way system is chaotic enough and drivers race between the traffic lights, making the addition of a tramway look unlikely.

The green coloured Abercorn spur that formerly linked to Renfrew would reuse an old alignment before crossing the White Cart.

 It would bypass Gilmour Street completely and I can’t see Renfrewshire Council being happy with that routing, although it may have attractions operationally and in journey time. 

As I’ve blogged before, it might more desirable in conjunction with the red or purple routes in order that the airport is on the end of a larger loop and certain journeys are direct and others are via Paisley.

Mention is made in the report of the vehicles intended to be used in the Sheffield to Rotherham trial and whilst the vehicles will very much be of interest, it’s very difficult to see that there’s much to learn from a delayed project in terms of the physical infrastructure.

There may be other vehicles suitable and developments in recent English railway franchise awards have seen Stadler on Greater Anglia and CAF in terms of Northern and Transpennine offer differ railway rolling stock to the market. Stadler have taken over the manufacturer of the Sheffield tram trains in any case.

In terms of the noise about it not being ‘heavy rail’route, first point is route. A ‘heavy’ alignments like GARL decimates St James’s Park, itself a former burial ground and which is known to have soft subsoil. 

Next is crossing the M8, the GARL bridge proposed crossing  at a wide point, possibly above the A737 connecting roads too. It was quite a mad proposal despite the groovy visuals of a SPT 334 soaring over the motorway. 

Without the Glasgow Crossrail or an alternative, where would a heavy route go? Glasgow Central and to me, that doesn’t fit with the regional plan or the STPR. 

This tram/train if successfully delivered may lead to other things.

Inertia (public transport)

A story in Glasgow Evening Times this week where Managing Director of McGills bemoans number of car commuters and effect of buses being delayed in congestion.

The comments under the article bemoan dirty buses, ticket prices only ever going up, parking a car all day is cheaper than using bus for a family of four and that there’s a lack of suitable night time services.

Inertia. ‘Why give them help, it’s so bad and they just want to make profits by going faster and better’.

Now, if we ever to get anywhere in improving public transport it’s getting people to change their habits and particularly to remove single occupancy cars as these use up road space particularly.

On first sight of the article, I agreed with the points made by the bus company MD and my experience of going to Braehead at a weekend by bus illustrated to me how much and how often the journey slowed due to congestion and the amount of cars on road.

Simple priority measures for buses only should be looked at. Bus Lanes, priority at traffic lights, roundabout bypass measures and whatever can help. (I remain fixed in my view that only buses and bicycles should use such lanes. Taxis and private hire vehicles are not public transport in my view)

Now the issue is that public money would assist a private company as one of the comments made plain. But buses are already subsidised for socially necessary routes, night routes and other ‘public’ services.

I doubt we’ll ever see municipal or public ownership of companies, but the companies should clearly have on the inside and outside of the vehicles the logos of the public transport partnership and councils that fund services on all their routes in the area.

If roads are altered for bus priority, there should be clear signage to say this is to reduce journey times on the ‘X’route. Planning for any such improvements must be with the operators and emphasis made that it is to help public transport use. 

The cumulative time saving for passengers should be considered and obviously it may help emergency services in some instances.

A rethink is needed. A refreshed view of getting everyone in and out of cities is needed and the bus shouldn’t be seen as the last resort.