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    Fairbourne, Gwynedd, Cymru
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    LNWR, LMS, West Coast AC Electrics, Midland Red, Crosville and Walsall/WMPTE buses, Classic British Airliners, VW and SAAB cars, The Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, really.

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  1. Surely the solution to the continuing problem with Flying Jockstrap lies with the NRM? Here we have two arms of the State - Network Rail and the Science Museum Group - charged with running their operations in the public interest with financial probity and the need to generate income important whilst managing their day to day job. So Network Rail, at it's simplest, must satisfy it's contractual obligations to the TOCs whilst maintaining it's assets, and generate enough finance to undertake it's asset management, including selling open access paths, whilst minimising costs as best it can. The Science Museum Group needs to maximise the commercial income from it's activities to ensure the upkeep of it's artefacts and offset reductions in grant aid from the Department for Fun, and running Flying Jockstrap has to date been a lucrative way of doing this. However, when those objectives cause problems and costs for one arm of the equation, we must take an objective view of what is happening and if necessary make a collective decision on whose objectives carry the greatest weight. From NR's perspective, they are being put to additional costs by the need to compensate the TOCS with whom they have access contracts for delays caused by trespass. The additional policing costs will also be coming out of the public purse. TOCs are being put to additional costs caused by delays, and passengers are also being put to additional stress and anxiety, and possible additional costs, which they may or may not get back. The primary cause is Flying Jockstrap and the idiot sheeple who follow it. It's a readily identifiable cause. From the NRM's perspective, they see it as increasing public access to an artefact that a substantial amount of public money went into securing for the future, and it is a valuable source of income for the museum. It also complies with their Government set objectives to raise commercial income and independent finances. Now, we have two arms of the State seemingly in a degree of conflict with each other and whilst NR has an obligation on it to facilitate, wherever possible, subject to abstraction of revenue rules, open access for private operators, and therefore help the NRM to raise income by enabling Flying Jockstrap to run, there must come a time when either the NRM accepts it is no longer tenable to run the loco on the main line because people are too stupid to live, or NR will need to go to the ORR to seek an adjudication on whether it is within it's rights to ban Jockstrap from the main line due to the onerous financial burden it is placing on the public purse in delay compo and policing costs. The third way would be to work out the true costs of policing, delay minutes and compo and wrap all that up into the access charge the NRM must stump up to run the loco on the main line, thereby either pricing it off the main line, or if the sums still stack up for the NRM, at least not impacting on the real railway financially, and possibly allowing for more funding for extra stewarding or security along the route. Whatever the current situation can't be allowed to continue and given the NRM and NR are both state regulated, it needs putting in front of the ORR and getting them to adjudicate before many more people are inconvenienced by this frankly over-rated tea urn.
  2. On the food production issue, I recently read an interesting article about the potential to re-use redundant underground coal mines for food production. By using artificial light, the constant temperature and humidity (especially where mines were known to be "wet", which could provide a source of water for irrigation) would allow all year round food production, probably market-garden type salad produce. Whilst not entirely green, you could imagine a scenario where food is grown underground, bought to the surface for processing, the waste organic material used in a bio-digester to generate electricity, which would help to offset the energy needs of the artificial lighting. Given a lot of redundant minefields are quite close to the major conurbations (a legacy of the cost of transporting coal for the factories) if we need to use surface land for other purposes, such as carbon capturing trees, or if the change in the climate affects surface level agriculture, you could see how redundant coal mines could become the food basket of many cities with drastically reduced food-miles. it could also help regenerate a lot of old mining areas which still, some 30 years on from the mass closure programme, lack decent employment opportunities in many cases. Apparently the Coal Residuary Body, responsible for the ongoing liabilities related to our coal mining past, is quite interested.
  3. You misunderstood what I wrote. I put the blame for the need for moderated competition on Railtrack, and said that Virgin had benefitted from moderation of competition but now the Government have effectively banned them from bidding for the next franchise as part of a consortium which had decided, for reasons they consider valid (and I'm not passing comment on the pensions risk transfer issues) to submit a non-compliant bid, suddenly they are keen to take full advantage of the removal of the protection from competition they benefitted from due to factors beyond their control, to introduce an open access service. I actually like Virgin, in my limited number of journeys with them I found them very good, I like the Pendolini and the Voyagers, the staff seem to be enthused and proud of the company and by shopping around I got some exceptional fare deals. Despite the lack of delivery on the 140mph operation, they have achieved quite a lot of what they set out to achieve. The fact the London to Birmingham Pendolino service is more frequent than some local commuter routes is astonishing to someone who can just remember the hourly all day service of the 1960s. I think it's a travesty that they are being excluded on the basis of not wanting to take the unquantified risk of staff pensions when we all know that when whoever gets the gig at the end of the month finally finds out what they have let themselves in for they will probably be wanting to have a meeting with the DfT pretty pronto. However, it doesn't remove the fact that they have been relatively insulated from competition for the lifetime of their franchise but now seem keen to become champions of competition, which to my mind is somewhat ironic. But then business has never been afraid to demonstrate a butterfly mind to life.
  4. They've already said they will be using short formation 91+Mk4 sets running at 110mph, hence the slower journey times. The idea is the short formations will increase acceleration. Looks like there might be a bidding war brewing for the 91s and Mk4s with the GNWR Blackpool, the kite-flying Paddington to Cardiff and now Liverpool to London. The Pendolini will remain with the new West Coast Franchise under DfT rules. At least the Gricerati will be happy if it all comes to pass.
  5. Oh the Irony. Thanks to the botched Railtrack upgrade of the WCML meaning that the Virgin consortium's financial plans based on 140mph operation were blown out of the water, they have benefitted for the lifetime of their franchise from "Moderation of Competition" meaning open access competition like that seem on the ECML has been effectively stopped, or, for example with the short lived Wrexham and Shropshire service, was prohibited from making any pickups at Wolverhampton. Whilst there has been some competition from London Midland (now LNWR), it's not been on a like for like basis and in the case of Birmingham, was only perpetuating the situation that existed before Privatisation. Now, as the Government has stripped the consortium of the right to bid for the next franchise, suddenly all bets are off and Virgin now want to have open access. This will be interesting.
  6. At the risk of introducing more thread drift, and reading earlier comments about the APT model and some of the choices made by Mr Jones, he has previously been described as an "enthusiast". The failure of his business suggests to me the potential perils of an enthusiast deciding what to produce based on lots of shouty enthusiast's wishlists, at least without some hard headed business acumen and an ability to separate the enthusiasm and the business. It also probably explains why companies like Bachmann and Hornby do also from time to time ignore the clarion cries for a pet freak and produce the more "mundane" and "run of the mill" usually to cries of "boring" from enthusiasts. DJM's sad demise should be a salutary warning that it isn't always wise to combine enthusiasm and business unless you can separate to two things in your mind, which let's face it, we enthusiasts (clue: the word says it all) are notoriously bad at doing. It's interesting that those smaller companies seemingly making a good fist of being an enthusiast and a business tend not to be one man bands - having a business partner even if they too are an enthusiast must add in a useful check and balance.
  7. Because the Class 24 is - horror of horrors - a diesel. Now if he'd made a model of some obscure industrial tiny tea urn he'd be carried into model shows high on the shoulders of members of this forum in a gold plated sedan chair on cushions made from baby goose down and the feathers of peacocks, whilst other forum members laid fronds of palm leaves and rose petals before him. Not that I'm suggesting this is a particularly steam-heavy forum you understand... I do agree though, Phil Sutton has taken a rightly cautious approach to expansion, milking the Class 24 market first before even announcing anything else. For a small operator I can't help thinking it is better to set modest growth targets and make sure you deliver. As for the deafening roar of apathy towards his success, I'm sure he can put up with that as the sales roll in.
  8. Mmm, given the issues some seem to be having I've just unboxed my Intercity one to see if it has any obvious defects, fortunately no dropping bogies or missing buffers so hopefully when I get the chip sorted soon I hope to have a functioning loco. It does seem that there have been subjectively rather a few damaged models although it would be interesting to hear from retailers or those in the trade to see if the number of postings here is in any way representative of a higher failure rate generally and compared to other first run models. Anyone in the trade got any unofficial gen?
  9. You should have said you were in "my manor", I'd have treated you to a coffee in the café. My friend Dave, who was originally from Llwyngwril could have joined us. The Fairbourne railway is rather fun although when I look at the photos of the old 15" line I can't help thinking it might have had a bit more character then.
  10. I have my views on the business and activities of DJM as a company, which given they will have all the impact of a snowflake on a concrete bunker, I will keep to myself. However, my overwhelming sense is one of sadness - sadness for all those who in good faith went in to back crowd funded projects and who now seem likely to be left with nothing to show for it, but also for Dave Jones and his family and social circle, who must be in a very dark and bleak place at the moment. Sadly it looks like the only ones who will come out of this collapse smelling of anything other than ordure will be the liquidators and HMRC.
  11. Exactly what enthusiasts were saying back in 1975 when the HSTs were introduced. "Uncomfortable seats that don't lone up with windows", "Smelly brakes" "Not enough seats" "No compartments" were all the complaints raised by the Gricerati upset by their replacing their beloved Westerns, Hoovers and later Deltics (all of which of course were hated in turn by the Kettleistas back in the 60s when they replaced their beloved mobile tea urns). Of course the public flocked to them seemingly oblivious to the hard IC70 seats, brakes that smelt of burning when applied or the fact they may be sat next to a solid piece of metal or subjected to the noisy conversations of their neighbours and their obnoxious brats. The speed, and the appeal and cachet of new racy go faster-striped trains trumped their perceived shortcomings from dewy eyed nostalgists. Fast forward 40 years and the HSTs attract crowds to farewell railtours of dewy eyed nostalgists convinced that they were never hated by enthusiasts and deriding their replacements as plastic rubbish with hard seats, a lack of accommodation, etc. Plus ca change. I bet in 40 years time current younger enthusiasts will be moaning about the next generation of trains, complaining that their bionic duckweed warp motors don't growl like the old diesels, that the magnetic levitation seats are too hard, that they don't like the weight saving video projection windows and prefer real glass, and the 3d printed meals from the buffet cupboard aren't a match on real microwave ping meals, whilst paying to ride the last Class 802 out of Plymouth as the last of the real trains on the Great Western. At the same time, the normal who are the real market for the Anglia bionic bunnies will love them, being the first truly modern brand new fleet in Anglia for decades. Given the real competition for the new Bunnies is the like of First's X1 which routinely gets upgraded with new vehicles every couple of years, all equipped with leather seats and increasingly wi-fi, or the family car which often gets upgraded on a two to three year cycle, and now are fully connected, both of which have inferior legroom to most trains, for once the regional Anglia services will have not only the advantage of speed and avoiding traffic problems, but also a brand new 21st century product to more than match the road based competition.
  12. Going off topic slightly, having learned Welsh, whenever I see the name "Modelu" (the creators of the stunning 3d printed figures) on these forums, in my head I always read it as "Modelli", a final U in Welsh usually being pronounced as "I", rather than "Modelyou" which is what I suspect it is meant to sound like.
  13. Diwrnodau gweithredu nesaf: Dydd Sadwrn 8fed Mehefin 10yb-4yp ac Dydd Sul 9fed Mehefin 12-4yp. Penwythnos hon! Next operating days Saturday 8th June 10-4pm and Sunday 12-4pm. This weekend!
  14. Actually you could be right, as you say they were geographically linked with the East of England and the East Midlands for all their lives until being thrust into the hurly burly of the West Midlands just at the end of their lives. Must have been a shock to them having spent all their lives trundling around rural and semi rural areas east of Nottingham. I do like the old BTF "Diesel Train Ride" film which features some shots of the early 114s complete with lion on a unicycle logos and a range of destinations no longer served by rail on the destination blind. It always amuses me how the train is one minute in rural Norfolk, then amazingly the next cut-away is somewhere in North Wales, then the North East, before coming back to Suffolk. I agree though the 114 must be a bit of an outside punt, other than their having been the first long frame "blue square" units built. Unfortunately their body shell is different to the Class 119 in window arrangement so you couldn't easily do both from one set of tools, so I suspect this is one class of DMU Silver Fox will be relatively safe to keep in their range as an exclusive! Must admit I always liked the 114s when I used to use the Hednesford shuttles to Walsall. They still had their original interiors and the larger Leyland engines fitted gave them a nice engine note as they bounced along the line.
  15. A number of 117s and 118s migrated to Tyseley and were regulars on the Cross City between 1987 and 1993-4, including the GWR tribute unit which became T305 and a Tyseley pet, and towards the end some of the 117s were refreshed and repainted into Reggie Rail livery (the ones which ended their days at Haymarket in Scotland) so depending on the period being modelled, and the eventual release by Bachmann of Reggie Rail and GWR liveries, Midland and Eastern Scottish modellers could justify a 117 or two. Class 115 vehicles were mixed and matched with Class 116 power cars to provide toilet accommodation, and the 115 power cars were matched with Class 116 DMS vehicles and any number of permutations of 115, 127 and 116 trailers to create four car "go slower" units from the late 80s onwards and were in service right up until the demise of power-trailer formations in 1993, after which the remaining DMUs were re-arranged into all power unit combinations in a vain attempt to give the units a fighting chance of keeping up with electric timings whilst the 323 fleet was having a bad hair period. I remember regularly catching 117s from Lichfield and even on occasions from Hednesford as I always made for the demoted first class section of the TCL. I like my comfort. From about 1986 Tyseley also got an allocation of Class 108s and 114s, the first time the 114s had been allocated anywhere else other than Hull in their lives. They were the mainstay of the Hednesford to Walsall shuttles from opening day and also turned up on Stratford on Avon line duties. So again, depending on era the Midland modeller has a bit more variety to go for than perhaps looks the case at first glance. I agree though the Class 120 is a low hanging fruit, having run from Inverness to Penzance, and Yarmouth to Barmouth over their lifespan, and having covered every kind of duty from all shacks to short haul inter-city and Oxford commuter runs.
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