Letter to The National on GAAP.

Sir,

Dave Robb’s letter of 8th February on the cancelled Glasgow Airport Access Project made many good points, although stating that ‘airport transport cannot be determined by Paisley commuters’ is off the point.

Glasgow Airport is in Paisley, a necessary fiction that most in Renfrewshire accept. It’s a significant employer for the area as well as an infrastructure asset for the country.

Paisley commuters would have helped fill either the tram-train GAAP scheme or the heavy rail trains proposed in the GARL scheme. 

Arguably, either scheme would have also helped Airport staff get to and from work. 

Any increased frequency to Paisley Gilmour Street would have been used well by these Paisley commuters and Scotrail wouldn’t sneer any increase in passenger income at one of the Scotland’s busiest passenger stations.

Sadly, The issue of the Airport Access Project was always political, one set of politicians pushed it in Glasgow City Deal and another set were, at best, ambivalent over it.

The Airport Access proposal wasn’t part of the previous STPR transport planning proposals and received input from Transport Scotland late in the process, it also wasn’t part of the ‘control period’ infrastructure plans made by Network Rail Scotland.

Without national transport planning support, without any input from the track operators and background research only at regional basis, it was never a surprise that the project was parked and then cancelled.

The M8 continues to get busier, the 500 bus gets caught in peak time congestion and car drop off or taxi will remain the quickest door to door choice for many to reach the Airport.

This new proposal requires to convince travellers to take a guided pod to the nearest mainline station, then contend with which platform for the first train to Glasgow. 

All of which is enough of a stretch without adding luggage or language issues. 

Unfortunately, the time used to develop the tram-train proposal is already gone and we are likely to wait another year on the feasibility study on the pod proposal before the matter rises in the political agenda again.

A long term solution needs a non-partisan agreed position between national and local politicians to come up with a workable and affordable plan. 

One that hopefully can help tackle the congestion issues affecting the M8 between Glasgow Airport, Paisley and Glasgow City Centre and that has ambition to create modal shift away from car or road based transport. 

Renfrewshire, ‘Paisley Commuters’ and the West of Scotland in general can rightly be sceptical about a suitable investment being made in transport infrastructure after this latest debacle.

The above is a letter I wrote to The National newspaper today.

I suppose frustration struck when I realised that the Glasgow Airport Access Project was in ‘development hell’, it looked less and less likely as time went on.

I first realised it was likely to be cancelled when I saw some tweets a few weeks back. Implication being that there was something up.

Much as I found GARL a surprise when it was cancelled, but seeing the location and placing it against the planned scheme, it just seemed wrong and the decimation of St James’ Park wouldn’t have been worth the benefits of a heavy rail scheme.

I also figured the engineering and construction of a viaduct across the park and a structure over two lanes of M8 and possibly 4 joining/exiting lanes seemed a huge task too.

Ironically, it was watching a simulation video created by rail enthusiasts that really drove that home to me.

On GAAP, I had hoped that a tram-train solution on the Karlsruhe Model could be a opportunity to look again at urban transport for the wider Glasgow conurbation, but in terms of UK practice there is only the much delayed Sheffield to Rotherham example and the delays and cost escalations haven’t helped.

It can be an eye opener seeing the Manchester system but much of that relies on former heavy rail routes that have been converted with a centrepiece of City Centre running.

Whether a mini fleet of specialised vehicles could have inter-ran to Glasgow Central with Scotrail’s Class 380’s was a question.

Whether pathing or timetabling was an issue, particularly joining and leaving the Inverclyde line for the section ‘as tram’ was another.

Whether a dedicated airport service would chew valuable time and paths now used by other services.

Could it have been a white elephant?

Not so much an issue in Germany and where the tram-train as a mode was a sensible compromise to keep services running on a network, where the balance could be found and made to work.

Not so much in an environment where heavy rail and trams exist in city spaces and not so much in cities looking at trams as pre-metro and metro solutions.

My thinking on alternatives led to wonder whether a full cost alternative like diverting and extending the Argyle Line after the Exhibition Centre by tunnel to Govan, Braehead and ultimately the Airport.

Expensive in tunnelling under the Clyde and probably needing complex solutions all the way along that sort of corridor. But absolutely future proof.

A cheaper answer is looking at the Fastlink infrastructure as pre-tram and finding a way from the QEUH to the Airport probably via Braehead and Renfrew through extension and upgrade leaving at some point a headache of how you incorporate a tram system into Glasgow City Centre, presumably using a loop around the city centre.

A bastardised GAAP alternative sharing track as far as say, West Street and street running to the city centre and back would share that sort of headache of cost and expense.

Cheaper but uglier options are shuttle buses from the Airport to Paisley Gilmour Street on a high frequency basis.

Possibly easiest to implement and to cut out the current diversions into Shortroods and Gockston would deliver a true link service,but would it pay for itself or be a fresh air carrier when other local services are struggling.

Investment and decision making are difficult but equally doing nothing in this particular case, as I’ve said in the letter to The National, lets down everyone.

I think the worst thing is the loss of time and possibilities from that.

Transport projects have a long gestation period. Route, plans and ideas are poured over.

Maybe GARL or GAAP makes a comeback, maybe there’s innovation in whatever schemes are to come as ‘West of Scotland rail enhancements’, maybe there is a radical tram scheme out there.

For now, let’s see..

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Sunday, another Sunday.

Home. Did what was needed. Had to figure out what food I had in and settled on making a cheese sandwich and also a bowl of cous cous.

I want pizza or something that I could order, but common sense six I bought a loaf on Thursday and that I bought a couple of bottles of coke.

I took money out on Friday, I’ve bought some food Friday, used it Saturday with other stuff I bought this week.

I can grumble or moan, but it’s freezing cold outside and after doing what I had to do, I’m home and have stuff to eat.

I know there’s stuff i could if I went out, but I’m not inclined to and I guess it involves spending money too.

I have a plan money wise and I’m trying hard to stick to it, I’d rather not pay as much that I do, but again what can I do? I think holidays, sun on my back, musee d’orsay.

Maybe next year for trying to go out, or friends or doing things.

I said that last year and year before.

I suppose I want something more or better, but I’m not capable of it.

Maybe I’ve accepted something that I shouldn’t, but after the year of hell in 2017, last year was a slow climb out of the pit. I guess it’s a thing and a routine of living, buying, shopping and doing.

The me time is tv watching. Tweeting or reading.

I guess it’s hard to know, it’s a thought and as much as it’s my autistic stuff, there’s a lot of depression, anxiety, lack of worth and things like that in the mix. I know loneliness is a thing and electronic communication and social media don’t make up for all that.

Anyway that’s Sunday. I’ve eaten. Food and bed soon.

I don’t know.

‘A man is no-one, a man has no name.’ I’m misquoting Faceless Man Jacquen H’gar from Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire probably.

I think right now, I am feeling that other-less. I stopped looking at the apps that I said I would. I’m still me, but how and why and about what I’m not sure.

What I want and how I get there is up for question and beyond work and parenting, I’m not sure.

Not knowing or ‘I don’t know’ is okay.

I knew I really wasn’t getting anywhere or doing anything useful before, but equally I wasn’t doing any harm. Possibly only to myself.

So, right now, maybe the state of balance isn’t really anything. Maybe it’s a case of getting on with it and accepting that it is what it is.

I haven’t written in a while. I haven’t known how I felt or what I wished to articulate. I didn’t know and maybe for a while I still won’t.

A constant state of uncertainty maybe has a scientific term or whatever but the balance for me psychologically is just being and keeping going.

And yes, I can’t wait to see the next season of GoT in April.

Delivery and Cancellation

I saw a ‘deal’ to upgrade my BT broadband and thought it a good idea. An upgrade to my existing service for not much more.

Then Royal Mail got involved..

A text with a link. We’ll deliver 0921 to 1321.

Fair enough my door entry will work at those times and package fits through my door.

Then a text as I’m going home last night

It wasn’t delivered. So I try texting back. Text back returned undelivered.

I try emailing BT on the email they confirmed my order on. This email doesn’t get read/can’t answer.

I try the websites chat function but it’s pretty clear person at other end, doesn’t understand me.

I try phoning and have to describe everything and give my address. At that point it’s too much and I know I’ll start swearing or shouting, so I try and tell the call handler and hang up.

The parcel was dispatched Thursday. It had a trip to Glasgow and back from Inverclyde before making my delivery office.

So I get a twitter direct message and they’re nice but I end up saying sorry I can’t cope and cancel my order.

It’s my fault and my condition. I’m sure these things happen to others, but I was lied to about delivery yesterday and I don’t want the thing now.

I was wound up over two hours to point of a meltdown by texts and emails that are no reply and a chat function.

When I finally spoke to a person I got nowhere as I was beyond functioning.

But I have an invisible disability. It’s not as ‘real’ as having something missing or cancer and I can’t get help..

So no faster broadband for me and my kids. I’ll need to learn that deals aren’t for me.

Postscript.

As I anticipated, Royal Mail didn’t attempt to deliver today and at 2pm, made it my problem. I had to collect item. I’ve been at work all day.

I’ve cancelled the upgrade and let BT know I won’t collect item as I don’t want a mile walk to and a mile walk from the collection office.

If the package hadn’t been a signed for item, it’d have got to me 😦

A meltdown and four hours of wasted communication later..

In summary, I should know better by now.

Further postscript. I receive texts from BT engineers saying my line upgraded and my existing router doesn’t work…

I get home and no WiFi or broadband. I’m crying as I write this.

Wondering and being helped.

What if? What if.. what?

Ruminating, thoughts on head, no means to execute them, no firm way ahead.

Hoping. Is hoping ever enough, ever just enough.

Wishing. The feeling that something could change.

The wish, not the reality, the hope, not the actual, the possibility, but never the ability.

In reality, I have a lifeline of sorts and this time I need to use it, it’s help of sorts and I cannot spurn it, or continue on my own and muddling on.

The difficult part in accepting help is my fate in others hands my voice silent and my burden with others.

I do not always carry myself well,

I do not always help myself.

I do not smile at others and greet them with silence.

Yet I must. I need to, I have a means to lighten my load, to not carry all myself.

I struggle on. Bills and debts and problems. People that grate at me, people seen and heard.

The days are short and dark and cold now. I mainly see clearly, I mainly understand and comprehend. I mainly know what I need to have for me and mainly what I need.

I can do that with help. I can get some way myself.

But I hope and I wish and I hold that dream out there too.

Knowing and remembering things from my life and regrets and seeing the foolishness.

Age fixes some things, it makes some clearer or just simpler.

The fog of life is always there, day to day the sea of faces and the noises of people’s mouths. The bustle and hurry and how busy it all is. The day to day.

Holding myself. Keeping still. No words spoken, thoughts retained. The right time, not the perfect time.

But how?, but how To balance the wishes and reality. Can they ever be reconciled by me.

A routine Friday

At times we surprise ourselves. It’s the unexpected and maybe a little happenstance as well.

This post below had been long in my mind.

https://chicgibson.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/the-sort-of-post-you-dont-want-to-write-autism/

I tried to articulate a slide in my social life and a feeling that being involuntary celibate was likely.

To knock over those assumptions, someone swiped right on me about eight weeks ago and chatted. Didn’t expect that.

I tried. Maybe too much, but I tried, it didn’t work out.

Well, maybe I expected that, but there was that brief rise in mood and a bit of hope. It was nice.

It’s all explainable, temporary self actualisation as per Maslow’s hierachy of needs.

Possibly some serotonin created from the experience and maybe some other positive flows in terms of energy or wellbeing.

I won’t knock it, it was pleasant to feel different and less negatively about myself.

If I refer to my ‘West of Scotland Man’s Manual’ that is still lodged in my head, I’d be throwing shit at everything else except myself for blowing it and hiding behind some machismo or making other excuses.

I can allow myself a few things., I didn’t expect it, I hadn’t planned it, I had no expectations. I tried.

I could say ‘baby steps’, I could say ‘try again’.

But, I was ‘stepping off that escalator’. I was moving away from that and accepting that ‘maybe it’s not for me’.

I had given up, given in.

I thought there was baggage in believing that I could have a relationship again.

I was raw, hurt, broken, low.

I might be a bit less now, but, I’m still confused, I still don’t believe things can work out that way for me and I’m not really wanting more rejection and disappointment.

What’s realistic? What’s reasonable, what’s possible?

Do I have the energy, the faith in myself, the confidence, the ability?

Or is it a dangerous hope that there’s something, The sirens call that keeps me in a sort of loop of failure.

It’s a Friday, I have no responsibilities tonight with the kids, so I worked late, wandered around the shops, got food, got the train and headed home.

Friday being Friday, you see people heading out and I guess I noticed that.

Guess I wondered to myself, but all I had was tired and home and food and tv.

But, that’s what I can do.

Someone reached in to me. That was the one nice bit though.

Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 1 – The Woman Who Fell To Earth

I’ve watched twice.

First time around I got up, wandered about, found some laundry and put on my washing machine, at the midway point.

In places, it seemed like Sheffield in the dark, at times exposition sunk dialogue and pace and progress halted.

I was underwhelmed and very much disappointed. I initially thought 4 out of ten.

The second viewing proved more worthwhile.

Nuance, balance, some decent performances, possibly less dark as I first thought.

The Doctor. Yes, she’s a woman. Does it matter? I think not. My issues on first viewing weren’t with Jodie Whittaker.

Opening episodes for new doctors can have mixed fortunes. The season thereafter may afterwards improve and get better, I certainly hope so.

I think at times though, the episode clunked.

That’s due to the writing and certainly that’s Chris Chibnall’s creative process and his writing team rather than it merely just being just a new doctor.

There’s a vision to the new start and I wonder just how it was initially envisaged and how that differed from the end product.

Obviously, a point of origin for the Thirteenth Doctor, a background to her companions, a grounding to all the stories to come.

But for all we take the background, there’s a story of an alien and his teeth prized seeking recognition of his clan.

It’s a difficult one to reconcile and that showed.

Ryan’s dyspraxia was well handled, Yazz seems level headed and sensible but wants to prove herself, Graham has survived cancer, but has just lost his wife, his rock through recovery.

There’s things to work with and Whittaker’s thirteen is certainly yet to be defined and developed.

Is she merely a female Tennant/Ten? Is she the old/young Eleven? What remains of Twelve and all the others along the way?

It’s a reboot to NuWho with a change of showrunner and another clean slate, the doctor is now in a group of four, so maybe a more ensemble piece rather than the focus on ‘doctor and companion’.

There’s something there though, with a new direction, a new doctor, new companions and presumably a new TARDIS to be revealed in episode two.

A considered opinion on a rewatch is 6/10.

There’s plenty of work to be done in the next few months and the click of character relations, the actors easing into their parts and the creativity being unleashed.

The BBC certainly have assembled a range of guest actors for the season according to the promotional video played after the end titles, I won’t rattle through names, but certainly impressive.

Much more to come, some fear and some hopes.