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Steve R

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    The 'Big Four' era, i.e. 1930s. Mainly GWR-centric but Southern and LMS models have also been purchased......

    Quite partial the to the Blue and Grey era and early days of privatisaion in the mid 90s as well.

    00 gauge.
  1. Ah, good point. The push-pull train I saw with the loco at the buffer stops was decidedly suburban looking, powered by a short, box-shaped, Bo Bo. There weren't many trains in the station at that time. Steve R
  2. I can confirm from my visit at the beginning of March that the locomotive is on the Paris end of the push-pulls at St. Lazare. I asked if it was okay to take pictures at St Lazare (in the SNCF information centre), on a Sunday when it was quiet. I'm afraid the answer was no, but it might just depend on who you ask. HTH Steve R.
  3. Thanks for the positive comments on the photos. Here are a few more I took: First and second class Corail coaches at Orleans: Orleans station concourse: The north end of the Aerotren track: Some more views of the Orleans trams: As well as the trip to Orleans, naturally I used the public transport in Pairs. I have to say I was not prepared for the grim state of affairs under the streets of Paris. Particularly the RER lines. At one point, wandering through the long network of pedestrian tunnels that link various RER and Metro stations, I could have been in a scene from a dystopian sci-fi movie: a smelly series of large tunnels, with oozing, scab like outbreaks of limescale on the roof and walls, grubby escalators, dim lighting, haphazard black rubber floor tiles from the early 1980s, and no one else down there but me (it was a Sunday). I never thought I’d say this but the equivalent facilities in London are much, much better maintained, and have better signage. On the first RER train we caught there was an angry chap kicking in the toilet door inside the train, and as I exited through the station turnstile another guy entered and vaulted over the turnstile next to me. On the next trip I encountered full-height metal shields on the turnstyles, and I can see why. I’ve never been to New York, but that’s how I imagine the New York subway. Having said that, double-deck EMUs running though twin track tunnels (RER line C) makes up for a lot. RER line B: Luxemburg station Inside an RER train. This photograph is flattering- it really doesn’t convey the squalor inside these carriages, all the seats are filthy. Retro-metro architecture By contrast the metro is much cleaner, despite relying on significantly older infrastructure. Its a bit like riding on a tinplate O gauge railway: short rattly coaches, violent stopping and starting, closely spaced stations, and train set curves. Good fun. Pairs metro: Steve R.
  4. Austerlitz put me in mind of a mini, mirror image Liverpool Street. One half (the high numbered platforms) are under a tall Victorian overall roof, while the lower numbered platforms are beneath the low concrete roof you see in the first picture. As well as the black jacketed security guards there were a couple of other variteties at some stations in Paris, with a more military look. I presume these were police. I only asked permission to take photos when I looked at Saint Lazare, going to the SNCF information counter to do so. The old but quite firendly SNCF man on the counter said it was not possible, I suspect because it was the easiest option for him.
  5. So, as promised here are a few railway snaps of my trip to Orleans: An extremely cold, grey day. Despite planning a generous walking time to Austerlitz, as usual, I arrived hot and out of puff with only 5 minutes to go before departure. Grabbed this quick snap of the locomotive. An impressive array of other electric locos lined the bufferstops on the main concourse, and I don’t recall seeing a single multiple unit here. Perfect. First class was the right choice. This was the kind of journey I used to enjoy in the UK – a peaceful empty carriage, going at speed behind a locomotive. Only three other people and perfectly quiet. Though I was hooked up to the ipod. A fellow first class passenger. Expensively clothed and richly perfumed. Speeding round a curve. The ride on these coaches is beautifully smooth, and the subtle but effortless acceleration of the train after clearing the Paris suburbs was exquisite. What is a Virgin Voyager to this? Noted two cement trains heading the other way. The landscape is flat but on a grey misty morning the intriguing variety of pylons, and further south wind turbines, looked good lurking in the distance. Grain silos both derelict and operative, also add interest, and the Aerotren track mentioned by SNCF Stephen. Another plus is the very few trees blocking your view of the scenery. Something interesting at Les Aubrais - three ‘Pullman’? cars. The two visible here, and a plain green vehicle out of sight. The locomotive uncoupled at Orleans. It seems the one role on SNCF for which you don’t need a uniform is to drive trains. That’s the driver taking a look at something and his mate approaching. The locomotive that will work the stock back to Paris. Does anyone know why they have not been replaced with EMUs or at least by locomotive + driving trailer? A few shots of the trams in Orleans. I would say this is the most aesthetically pleasing LRT system I’ve seen. Arguments against LRT on the basis of visual intrusion only have to look here. The golden trams fit into an historic city street far better than everyday motor cars. The most understated tram stop in the world. Walking back to Orleans station. An SNCF electric pulls out of some sidings to the west of the station. I first noted at Orleans but later saw in other locations, security personnel wearing black fleeces. There was a such a person on the gate here who I’d seen earlier on the station. A ‘Sybic’ brought the stock in for my return. Ha, the same loco I had outwards was working my return trip. In the days when I took numbers this would have been a disappointment. It doesn’t bother me now of course. ………….. Different interior on the way back (different rake of coaches). Snazzy but perhaps dated stripy seat fabric. These seats were less comfortable. There’s a town about halfway between Orleans and Pairs that we glide over on a viaduct, curving at the same time giving a good view of the town. Below the viaduct were some grain wagons being taken under loading hopper by a small orange shunter. There was a delay on the return trip and we sat for 20 minutes or so in a suburban station near Paris. Spotted a small SNCF shunter emerging though an arch with some cement wagons not far from Austerlitz. And there’s something about derelict French signal boxes with their names in faded paint, several of which I passed, that just begs to be modelled…. Back at Austerlitz. All in all a great trip. Thank you again for your advice.
  6. All sorted now. I have been worrying unnecessarily, somehow convincing myself about the need for a reservation. Today I received a very politely worded email, in English, from SNCF confirming what several of you have correctly pointed out above, and just now (of course!) found the page on SNCF’s website that would have answered my question about reservations on Intercites: http://www.sncf.co.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=2916 As for the message “! La consultation de votre placement est indisponible.”, I now think this is simply saying the booking cannot be altered. Looking forward to the trip and will probably have a nose around some of the other Paris termini while there. Will post a couple of pictures here afterwards (around early March). Again, thanks for all your responses. Cheers Steve
  7. Thanks for all of your suggestions. I spent a long time deciding between Troyes (attracted by the diesel haulage) and Orleans (attracted by the trams), but in the end plumped for Orleans due to convenience. With the location of my hotel, frequency of departures, and in particular the timing of trains to Troyes; Orleans has lot of advantages. To get to Auxerre appears to cost more than either Orleans or Troyes due to the lack of 'Prems' tickets. Unfortunately I appear to have run into a snag. Having made the decision (quite late at night) I thought I better book promptly (as mentioned by SNCF Stephen). I booked through the SNCF web site (which is only in French) rather than RailEurope as it seemed to be cheaper.... The booking appears to be successful, and my credit card has been debited, but there are no seat reservations shown. I thought Intercity trains all required seat reservations, and in particular discounted ‘Prems’ tickets? I am able to print the ‘e-billet’ ticket, complete with QR codes, and with specific trains mentioned but again no seat reservation. If I review my order on the SNCF website it comes with the following message at the top: “! La consultation de votre placement est indisponible.” The exact meaning of which I can’t quite be sure. I’ve emailed SNCF asking for confirmation of the validity of the ticket but two days later still no reply. In short, I fear I may have bought an invalid ticket – a Prems ticket for trains on which there was no availability, and hence no seat reservation. I realize this is all getting rather involved and you’ve each been very kind to advise me on where to go, but if anyone can clarify the issue of seat reservations and give a view on whether I have a valid ticket it would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks Steve
  8. Thanks for your prompt replies and suggestions gents. Will look into them......
  9. I'm no expert on paving, it certainly looks like the the real thing overall. See here http://www.flickr.com/photos/fray_bentos/394560139/ for a prototype. The only minor diference that I can see compared to the above example, is that the first row of slabs are either full or half size, and appear to slope downwards towards the centreline of the platform (presumably to some sort of drainage arrangement), but that could entail a lot of extra modelling effort for a relatively small imrovement in appearance. By the way, I like your track in the platform road nearest the camera, looks entirely real. Steve.
  10. Further to the very helpful thread here (‘Paris’ http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/59977-paris/..) I’m also going to Paris for the first time, in March, and will have two or three days by myself. As well as doing some conventional tourism I am wondering about spending maybe, half a day on an SNCF train ride. Knowing next to nothing about French railways, I would welcome any ideas on interesting trains to catch (where they go to is secondary). I’m keen if possible to find a loco-hauled service rather than TGV or multiple unit (i.e. a ‘proper’ train), and preferably an interesting route from a railway point of view. I had a quick look at SNCF’s website last night and wondered about doing the ‘Intercity’ services to Orleans, but don’t know what type of stock they would be? Also, is it worth paying to go first class on such trains? I’m not referring to the cost but whether there is any discernible difference from standard class, i.e. not just standard class seating labelled ‘first class’ as many suburban TOCs do in the UK. Appreciate any suggestions. Best regards Steve R
  11. Brilliant work Chubber, very neat and crisp. Great details too, especially the brick work, and I like the idea of bracing the cardboard shell with stripwood. This is just the sort of structure I'd like to be building one day. One question though - what scale is this? - looks like 7mm? Steve R
  12. This market segmentation is something I often ponder, feeling its still not quite there yet. I can believe the 'lo-fi' and 'mid-fi' markets both do exist, but currently equivalent products in the same market are not far enough apart. Taking Hornby's Duke of Gloucester as an example, I would expect the Railroad version (RRP £82.99) to be quite a bit cheaper. Conversely, the 'main range' version (RRP £119.99) could arguably be priced higher and incorporate separately fitted rather than moulded detail. Personally I would only be interested in the higher end product, valuing quality/detail over price. If it cost close to £200 without decoder etc then so be it - so long as it is good - but I may be in a minority for saying so. As for really high-end UK outline models - 'Hi-Fi' in the OP - I don't think this can come about until RTR track gets better. Are highly priced 'lo-fi' models undermined by the second hand market? If you're looking for a cheaper model to hack about into something else, second hand is just as good an option and probably cheaper. I could imagine wanting to buy a Railroad locomotive say, for your child's layout, but there again I might be of the mind that helping them buy a decent second hand model at a show could be not only cheaper, but also more of an education for them. So I'd like to see the higher and lower end models move further apart. It would be interesting to know the sales of equivalent models in the two markets. Does the Railroad version outsell the 'main range' version by 2 to 1? or are they equal? etc. etc. How do the margins compare on the two? We'll never know, but it could tell us a lot about the average UK modeller.....
  13. As some have mentioned, space is definitely an issue in Hong Kong. Although they are both quite compact layouts, the space implication might be there. I just find it surprising that the ad agency or whoever created these campaigns, considers their target customers would perceive model railways in the same realm as more obvious things like sports cars, fine wines and yachts. Proving the point, today I noticed Bank of Communications has taken the billboards at the entrance to Western Harbour Tunnel. The model railway ad is on one panel, and their ad featuring a happy family aboard a yacht on the other. Without wishing to over-analyse things, model railways don't have the scope for entertaining/impressing your friends and associates that cars, wine and yachts have.
  14. I thought RMWeb members might be intrigued by these. They are adverts for bank accounts/wealth management products in Hong Kong, both featuring model railways. The first is from DBS bank, photographed in 2007, but was used for about two years. The second, from Bank of Communications is more recent. The implication seems to be that model railways are a 'luxury' item/symbol of affluence. What amuses me is the different 'image' of the hobby - I can't imagine model railways being used in advertsing in the UK this way. Also interesting that both depict German models. A positive sign for the hobby though? Steve R.
  15. This may be of interest. The half tram in the pictre is in a mock 1930's section of an underground shopping mall beneath People's Park in Shanghai. It appeard to me be real -just cut in half, certainly the controller was real but all the markings were in Chinese. Regards Steve
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