All 5 entries tagged Transport

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March 10, 2007

God bless ignorance!

A quote that I heard from a guy I passed outside Coventry station earlier today:

“Virgin Trains are shit, they crash all the time”

Now let us recall the history of accidents involving Virgin Trains:

  • Winsford, 23rd June 1999 – Driver of First North Western Class 142 passes signal at danger, coming to a stop in the path of a Virgin Class 87 heading from London to Glasgow. Accident caused by SPAD by 142 and lack of catch points that would have prevented it running into the path of the 87, not by any fault of Virgin’s.
  • Copmanthorpe, 25th September 2006 – Class 221 collides with car on level crossing, killing the car driver. Caused by driver of car obstructing path of train, not by any fault of Virgin’s.
(and the one the guy was without doubt actually referring to)
  • Grayrigg, 23rd February 2007 – Class 390 derails due to components missing from set of points, no fault of Virgin.

Yep, not one actually caused through any fault of Virgin. Why do people say such ridiculous statements based on incomplete facts? Is it just because they can’t be bothered to be fully informed, so it’s just easier to attach blame to the most prominent individual/company involved (i.e. the company whose train derailed two weeks ago)?

Aaaaarrrrggghhh!


January 05, 2007

Travel Coventry Fare Increase

Writing about web page http://www.travelcoventry.co.uk/cards/cashfares.asp

I’ve just noticed that some of Travel Coventry’s fares have gone up. So, for a single journey over 3 fare stages, it’s now the completely not irritating amount of £1.25 (short journeys are now £1). Thank goodness I’ve got a pass, otherwise I think I’d lose my mind finiding that every time I want to get on the bus! Interestingly (and I suppose conveniently too), Daysavers are unchanged at £2.50, so if you’re doing two journeys (e.g. there and back), you’re just as well buying one of these (and you only have to fumble for a nice amount once rather than an annoying amount twice!). Plus you can then use it again afterwards.

On a semi-related matter, has anyone else noticed Travel Coventry bus smell? Next time you’re on one, sniff, and you’ll realise what I mean. No other bus company smells like TC!


December 17, 2006

GNER hand in the keys

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6182027.stm

Friday was a sad day for Britain’s rail industry. GNER, arguably one of the better TOCs on Britain’s rail network, has surrendered its franchise, as it is no longer able to meet its premium payments to the government for the franchise. The award of the franchise required the payment of a total of £1.3 billion over the 10 years of the franchise, starting with a net subsidy to GNER in the frst year, with a steadily rising premium payment over the remaining 9 years. At the time, this amount was seen as being very optimistic (including me), and many industry experts felt GNER would struggle to pay this, whilst retaining something in the form of profit from their operations. Add to this the current financial woes of parent company Sea Containers, and it is clear the GNER took a huge gamble with their bid, one which, it turns out, has rather disastrously not paid off. In some ways, GNER have been a little unlucky, with the 7/7 bombings putting a (possibly long lasting) dent in their passenger numbers, a rise in track access charges paid to Network Rail due to rising ‘leccy bills for the ECML, and lower compensation payments from Network Rail for post-Hatfield delays, although, should GNER have allowed some form of margin for error to take account of such things, particularly seeing as their bid was over £300 million more than than that of their nearest rival. Add to this the threat of extra competition on the ECML from Grand Central’s new Sunderland to London service, which commences in May and was rather controversially (in GNER’s opinion) allowed a York stop is liable to make a further dent in GNER’s revenues (although 3 GC trains a day vs the 30 or so trains GNER operate won’t make too much of a difference to GNER’s revenue allocation, particularly seeing as a more frequent service may actually increase passenger numbers!).

But should the Government be accepting such ambitious franchise deals, and is the treasury encouraging recklessness amongst franchise bidders, going for quantity over quality? The recently let South West Trains and First Great Western franchises have premium payments totall £1 billion +, so is there any risk of these going tits up either? The latter is particularly worrying, as FGW operates many rural branch lines, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, few of which turn any profit at all. The question is, can FGW make enough profits on its not-particularly-well-performing ‘Intercity’ and London suburban operations to cover losses made here and still meet it’s high premium payments. Could this be another GNER-to-be?

Anyway, GNER will continue to operate the franchise for the next 18 months (under revised terms) until a new franchisee is found. Then we face the prospect of First East Coast (and, as good as a 225 set would look in First Neon livery, the fewer rail franchises they have the better, in my opinion) or Virgin East Coast. The latter may be a Competition Commission headache, but, then again, competition on Britain’s railways? Don’t make me laugh!


July 07, 2006

Superman Cheap Day Returns

Continuing on a transport theme from my previous post, during my change at Manchester Piccadilly on my way back from Sheffield this afternoon, I couldn't help but be drawn towards a rather unusually liveried Virgin Pendolino waiting to depart on the 1405 to London Euston:
Superman Pendolino

At the very front, it doesn't look immediately different from an ordinary member of the class, but, continuing down the platform….

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No, it

No, it's a 125mph tilting train!

Superman Pendolino

In full Superman Returns promotional vinyls! Was a very interesting change from the usual procession of trains!

Superman Pendolino

But it admits it isn't as fast as a speeding bullet….. Never mind!

Anyway, I walked further down to see the name of the fleet member that had been chosen. I thought the most likely would be Virgin Hero, or maybe Virgin Lionheart or Virgin Warrior. Which one was it?

City of Stoke-on-Trent

City of Stoke–on–flipping–Trent. Oh well.


July 05, 2006

Sprint: Nuneaton – Coventry – Kenilworth

Writing about web page http://www.sprint-there.co.uk/

I've just fould details of the plans and public consultation for this proposed new bus–based rapid transit system linking Nuneaton, Bedworth, Coventry, Warwick University and Kenilworth.

Basically, it's a new high frquency bus service, which will be operated on new, segregated sections of road (I assume guided busways will be involved), using new tram–like vehicles, like those currently operated by First Group on their 'ftr' initiative in York.

The route would run from Nuneaton to Coventry city centre via Bedworth and the Ricoh Arena, then continuing via Coventry station, Kenilworth Road and Cannon Park to the University, then optionally onto Kenilworth Town Centre and the proposed future railway station at Kenilworth.

This seems like quite an interesting scheme, which looks like it will provide a high quality link from north to south Warwickshire via Coventry, and will improve access to and from the University. One thing I'm concerned about however, is that (for one route option) – the route would be built across the University playing fields which, to be honest I'd rather it didn't do, as I'm rather a fan of the greenery around the campus, although an alternative is to use the existing Gibbet Hill Road/Kenilworth Road route.

Although I'm normally a fan of light rail over guided busways, the large capital cost of light rail would not be justified for a route such as this one, so a guided busway seems like a more viable option, at a cost of £85 million, and 5 million passengers a year are estimated to use the service.

I'm all for these plans, and they would definitely bring benefits to the University as well as the other areas it would serve. And would easily beat the 12 and its circuitous route for getting into Cov!

What does everyone else think of these plans?


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