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Nearholmer

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Everything posted by Nearholmer

  1. As a wise old colleague used to say to me in such circumstances (please imagine heavy French accent): “Do you want it perfect; or, do you want it Thursday?”
  2. They nearly got a connection to the Met and City Widened Lines, the stub of the tunnels are in front of the western end of the facade of St Pancras, so you have a legitimate way in to The City, but one that would involve condensing engines, although that would permit their faintly insane 3-cylinder compound 4-2-2-0 rebuild of a Met Tank, which would be ideal for the novice scratchbuilder(!). Less obscure might be the Rickmansworth side of Watford Junction, just pre-electrification, or better still in transition, because that was a sort of Minories, a three-platform terminus, although the throat was immensely complicated.
  3. Damed right! The last thing anyone wants is people going about the place on pedal cycles, when they should be chugging along in vehicles, puffing out fumes like any decent person would. I should write a stiff letter to The Times about it if I were you.
  4. Welcome back. Is The Minister for Cheesy Comestibles invading/liberating Ukraine? Annie I think the red pins are individual houses. Thousands of ‘em, but not an area-wide disconnection as the map makes in appear.
  5. Its such a routine occurrence that one might liken it to the FA Cup final, and it’s a particularly regular occurrence when the National and London administrations are of different colours, in either direction. The same happens in other countries too, where the central and city administrations fall out with one another.
  6. So, where is the evidence/knowledge to underpin your assumption that GAO2 is less safe than GAO4? It is actually quite technically challenging to make GAO4 as safe as GAO2 or GAO3 under emergency conditions, which is where additional measures, and the cost of them come in. What can a tube train operator do from their cab in an emergency? Communicate with control, communicate with the customers on the train, and if necessary make safe, and deploy the emergency steps from the end of train and organise “walk out” to the nearest station. Under GAO3 it’s likely that very much the same roles would fall to the attendant. Under both GAO2 and 3 the operator/attendant usually also has the ability to take over and drive the train in a very restricted “manual” mode if the control system fails completely. This is typically used to “creep to the next station”. Control can also communicate direct with customers on a train, and in some cases have CCTV views into trains too (I can’t for the life of me recall to what extent that applies on LU). Under GAO4, all those things are done remotely, which is perfectly technically feasible, they are just expensive, and in the case of “walk out” it is seriously questionable whether it can safely be done in the context of London tubes …… GAO4 lines all (someone will correct me if there are exceptions that I’m unaware of) have tunnel walkways, like narrow continuous platforms, as do other new-build lines these days. But, GAO4 is a bit of a red-herring here, because that isn’t what’s being asked.
  7. You do understand that the GAO2 systems already in wide use on the Underground drive the trains, not the train operator? The operator checks that it’s safe to close the doors, enables door closing, and has multiple things to do in the event of system failure or emergency. Software drives the trains. On the Victoria Line, the trains have been under automatic operation since the 1960s, and it’s on its second generation of automation. And, you do understand that nobody is pressing to move to GAO4 on existing lines, because the necessary “route way” alterations to allow passengers to de-train and walk out in an emergency, without a staff member present, would be “off the scale” costly? GAO4 in the London context is really something for new-build routes. What has long been in the plan is migration towards GAO3, and it is anything but certain that even that has worthwhile payback for retro-fit to existing lines. If you notice, what the Minister has called for are Business Cases, in other words cost vs benefit analyses. The key point is that under GAO3, there is still a staff member on the train, and they still have important role in emergency and failure situations. The question isn’t “Could we do GAO3?” because everyone already know that the answer to that is “Yes, if enough money was spent on it”. The question is “Should we do GAO3?”, would the benefits of doing it exceed the costs of doing it. Here is the summary of the GAOs, although I think the descriptive terms may be out of date, in that I have a suspicion that GAO3 may now be termed “Attended Train Operation”.
  8. Deeply buried in an archive somewhere, there is probably the equivalent of sectional appendix setting out how those trains were crewed. The route didn’t by any chance have continuous track-circuiting, did it? Or, were the locos fitted with radio?
  9. There's so much of it, in so many directions, including ofc ourse appropriating high Victorian British railway culture among the lesser sins, that it is simply bonkers. Which, I'm 99% certain are laid over, or replace, the stern wooden boards that it had when it was a booking hall. Modern tiles. The positive feature is that the enormous and very decorative building is now weatherproof, and cared-for, whereas it was truly beyond dear old BR to look after it. They'd already knocked down the building on the island platform, which I can remember having a coal fire in the waiting room during winter in the early-70s, despite there being absolutely nobody, ever waiting.
  10. Tunbridge Wells West was indeed rather a forlorn place in its latter years - very atmospheric. The booking hall was in green and cream woodwork, wooden floor, gas-lit, and always deserted, to the very end, even the service notices were chalked on blackboards. I've got some slide photos I took there on a dark and foggy winter evening in the late 70s, and it looks like its a preserved railway, set-dressed for filming "The Case of the Vanishing Porter" or some such. Now, its a faintly bonkers wild-west themed diner. Last time we visited my mother, I took the children in for (a seriously junk food) lunch.m This is one of the more sane parts, I think the very booking hall I mention.
  11. That’s rather ancient news, and I think it’s only been included as specifics by the Minister to make it sound as if he’s propelling it, when in fact it’s been underway for ages. The Jubilee, Central, Northern, Victoria, and, as they are progressively commissioned the Met and District are under automatic train operation (GAO2) already, and the Picc has always been next on the list. There has never been a plan to go for unattended train operation (GA04), and exactly what tasks exactly the staff member on the train under GAO3 should do, and where they should sit/stand has long been a subject of debate and head-scratching …… if you think about it, having the staff member “mixed in with the passengers” isn’t by any means obviously the best thing to do when it comes to handling perturbations and emergencies anyway. Mike Brown when he was MD, before he was Commissioner IIRC, in c2015, made a promise/forecast to staff and TUs that every driver currently on the staff at the time would have a driving job until they left or retired if they wanted, but anyone taking on a driving job after that had to accept that they might not be in that position. He said that because it matched the profile of the train fleet and signalling/control, i.e. when the next fleet to be renewed (Picc and Bakerloo) was built, it might not have cabs in the conventional sense. The big issue around all this is having access to enough capital to fund the next line upgrade/fleet-renewal, and a sub-issue is nursing the Central Line stock along, because that has proven not to be as physically robust as earlier and later train fleets. If you want to get your head around what this is all really about, this seems to be an excellent summary https://www.londonreconnections.com/2021/the-political-myth-of-the-driverless-tube-train/
  12. Many thanks for posting those, a really good insight. To me, the big thing that comes across is how, in exchange for providing money, what the Minister is requiring is a significant amount of control/oversight, to a degree that would effectively emasculate The Mayor and the TfL Board, leaving them accountable to the public, but not in control, while the Minister would be in control, with no effective accountability. Its a sort of natural thing to happen, in that the Minister would be negligent if he simply handed over a huge sum of money with no strings attached, but it to some degree subverts the entire function of TfL. There is also the question of how powerful the TUs are on the underground particularly, and how that annoys the Minister, who would really like to see them off, but not in an open fight. Now, if TfL does go technically bankrupt, the whole thing reverts to the Minister and DfT, and I reckon that nobody, on either side, wants that for multiple reasons, The Minister and DfT because they don’t have the capacity to handle it, and because it would fly in the face of the logic of the rail review that they are pushing through on the National network (which was significantly inspired by the TfL model), and because all the mud and blood of making cuts would stick to them. The Mayor, because it would represent a huge failure to look after the interests of his electorate. But, The Mayor is between a rock and a hard place: the pandemic has handed the Minister a golden opportunity to “puppeteer” TfL from behind a curtain. My expectation of what might happen: in order to minimise the time/extent to which he is played like puppet, and to leave muck on the Minister’s doorstep while everyone understands that “it was the pandemic what dun it”, the Mayor could indeed impose cuts and fare rises himself, and because he is so heavily into bus services and the social-inclusion agenda he will try very hard to protect buses. - trimming of capacity on all underground lines, attempting to take-out least-used services, in ways that allow actual cost savings (reduced numbers of trains in circuit, reduced staff on duty). Increase service intervals off-peak on top end of the Met, east and west District, jubilee beyond Finchley Road or Neasden etc etc. - make Bakerloo peak only. - cut suburban bus services by looping outer routes together and increasing service intervals in very targeted ways ….. effectively another re-cast of the suburban service patterns. - maybe reduce the ‘across the centre’ element of bus services, to reduce visible ‘over-bussing’ in the centre at the price of having people change buses at the edges of the centre (this is not always service efficient though, and seriously inconveniences everyone). It’s an ancient conundrum. - accelerate the ‘HQ functions’ savings/efficiency plans that are already underway (making sure he doesn’t make redundant all the service planners he needs to do the above!). Its a sort of choice: cut yourself, or be cut by others. Interesting spectator sport.
  13. The statistics so far: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-e-scooter-factsheet-2020/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-e-scooter-factsheet-2020 They're a big thing where I live, because we have miles of shared-use (pedestrian and cyclist) paths, and are a hire trial location. My observation is that the hire ones are in some ways more trouble than the illegal private ones, because people leave them lying about on the paths, where they are a hazard to all. Riders vary from ‘sensible’ to ‘lunatic’, with some of the scariest I’ve seen being parents with very young children riding both on the same scooter. I’ve never yet seen anyone wearing a helmet, and the potential for head injuries if a person comes off when hitting a pothole (easy with small wheels) must be pretty great.
  14. Have a look at the London and East Sussex services that radiated from Tunbridge Wells (West), if you want to see a lot of steamy stuff from the 1930s, and indeed into the 1950s, when the service was even busier. The West, reinvented as a terminus terminus, instead of a through terminus, would keep any operator more than busy. Or, the busy-bee services on the Reading Line until it was electrified. M7s coming out of your ears. Reading itself would, as I have said multiple times, would make a cracking model if set in the early 30s, with the nice mix of ex-SECR and ex-LSWR services. And, there were more. I actually think mixed steam and electric services make for an interesting scene. It’s not as if the SR-built units were uninteresting things to look at. One big issue for the 20s and early 30s is shortage of photos. The well known photographers of pre-WW1 seem to have slowed or ceased their output, and the next generation were either photographing expresses from the line side, or obscure branches and light railways; nobody seemed to have film to spare for secondary services, or goods trains.
  15. The best (brief) period was when those services still ran right through, but changed from steam to electric locos at Earl’s Court. The District electric locos are often forgotten, but I rather like their American look.
  16. Well, like it or loath it, assuming you are a London voter, you can vote to change the person in charge of TfL every four years, if you fancy, and in between you can lean on him by way of your local GLA Member. The structure is far more democratically accountable than the national rail model, precisely because it doesn’t put the DfT and Minister for Transport at. Central place in the loop.
  17. TfL, before that LT, and before 1933 the private companies, have always had income streams beyond fares - advertising, property etc, The Metropolitan Railway was famously called “a property developer that happened to run trains”, and very many other significant cities in the world uses various forms of subsidy from rates, development land value-gain, etc etc to keep fares well below operating costs. If you look at this summary of fares ratios, you will see that the Underground is budgeted to make excess income over operating cost, which isn’t very common worldwide https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio. As I hinted before, the biggest issues in services that don’t cover their costs are in buses, and it’s a political decision to subsidise those to promote social inclusion, a decision that three mayors in a row have obtained an electoral mandate for. Put another way: people voted for it. TBH, it wouldn’t be too difficult to turn TfL into a commercial profit-making enterprise, but doing that would involve so much “blood letting” in terms of service provision, and so much knock-on damage to the overall function of the city, and/or such fare rises that I don’t think anyone seriously seeking election has ever put it forward as a proposition, and I doubt they ever will. You need to compare the way TfL fits into the function of London with the way other “world city” transport authorities and their services fit with their cities. In all cases, the public transport is integral to the function of the city, just as much as the electricity grid, the drains, the streets etc, and they all work in broadly the same way, irrespective of whether the country is full-on capitalist*, or full-on communist, or anything in-between. What is going-on right now is a game of brinkmanship, between very hard-headed people on both sides, and, just as has happened many times before in London, and other cities too, a settlement will be arrived at, because without one, the city can’t function at “first world” level. Have a look at who is on the board - these are not lightweights https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/how-we-work/corporate-governance/board-members *New York messed things up spectacularly in the 1970s, and had to sort it all out in the 1980s as part of re-launching what had become a dying city.
  18. But, is the service in London “un-cut”? TBH, I’m not close enough now to know what the situation is, but it’s routine on the underground to tweak service intervals to match demand. In the recent past the tweaks were upwards, to absolute maximum line capacity, because demand continually outstripped supply, but they were trimmed downwards during lockdowns, and I don’t know how far back they are. They may be fully back so as avoid the usual “ram packed” conditions at peaks, I honestly don’t know. I do know that there is a grumpy debate going on about the re-start of the night-tube services, which aren’t fully back-up yet. https://londonist.com/london/transport/night-tube-return-date-central-victoria-lines
  19. That must have been written in late-June at the latest in order to get to Board by 28 July, so it represents view of the future that is probably six months old. It would be interesting to see what revenue projections are on the table this week, because I’m with you that they will be lower than shown here. One heck of a cloudy crystal-ball at the moment!
  20. Worth reading https://content.tfl.gov.uk/board-20210728-supplementary-agenda.pdf Earlier years are on line too, and it’s worth looking at this one, to get a pre-pandemic feeling https://content.tfl.gov.uk/tfl-budget-2019-20.pdfk
  21. If it’s more than a one-day event, you’ll probably want a “relief” operator too. A good option for that is to find a mate who plans to visit the show anyway, then sign them up as an operator. They then get free entry, and often a cuppa and a sandwich, in exchange for two or three one-hour operating sessions, but don’t have to be present for set-up and break-down, and don’t charge travelling costs. Benefit in kind both ways.
  22. Yes, I was programme manager in charge of building that, and the exterior finish wasn’t a TfL choice, we specced it in a plain skin (which weathers and lasts better than plain concrete, before you ask). The exterior decorative finish was required by Westminster City Council, as a condition of planning agreement, which we could have fought via endless legal battles, but decided it would be cheaper and quicker to buy the “wrapping” cladding. Local planning bodies are in an interesting position with railway utility buildings, because they can’t refuse to allow them, but they do have powers to make conditions in respect of appearance etc. Bus garages I’m less sure about. The planning body bears none of the cost of any requirements it makes, which can cause some pretty tough debates behind the scenes.
  23. I wouldn’t argue against the fact that there will be a re-balance, which is why I talked about tide-over until things re-stabilise. they won’t stabilise in the place they were in before, things never do. But, I think that reports of the complete death of city-centre working are exaggerated. It’ll probably contract significantly, but if you listen to business leaders they have been banging-on about getting people back to their desks.
  24. Go away and do your research. It’s all there in the public domain to be found. Most “fancy station schemes” BTW are at least part-funded through Section 106 monies from property developers. As a random insight to this topic, I well remember when Olympia and York, the Canadian-owned developers of Canary Wharf, went bust, owing TfL staggering sums towards the construction of the Jubilee Line (£400M IIRC), and how that created a previous hole in the budget. If you can cite an example of spend on over-design of bits the public never sees, I will eat my hat, because in 27 years with TfL I never saw any. If you get to see the bits nobody sees, you will discover that they are seriously, deeply, incredibly utilitarian.
  25. A factor to be borne in mind with all of the free travel concessions, has to be how people will behave if they are taken away: - a prosperous top-slice will continue as before, but pay for travel, or change modes and, in the suburbs, use cars more, or use Uber, or black cabs; - a middling group will travel less, maybe cutting things back to bare necessities like getting to medical appointments; - some will simply stop travelling beyond the range of shanks’s pony. What definitely never happens is that all the free trips convert into paid trips, magically boosting revenue. The net effect in a city is to further impoverish the poor, reduce general trade, a very small increase in revenue, and, it doesn’t save the operator much if anything in cost of operating services (it’s not like rural areas where many bus services are pretty much ‘pensioners and school kids only’, in cities the demographic of users is much wider). Much free travel is off-peak, and has virtually nil marginal cost of provision, not the case so much with morning school trips, but definitely the case for pensioners. Its also worth considering the right symbiosis between public transport provision and the general function of the city, and it’s prosperity. In mega-cities like London, NY, Paris, Berlin etc that relationship is so tight as to be inextricable - public transport made these cities, not the other way round, they can’t function as cities without it. No coincidence that a significant source of non-fare income for TFL is from business rates, and that the business community is always well-represented on the board of TfL. Even if a very few swankers get driven to their offices in limos, everyone else, from the office cleaners to the Kings of Kommerce gets to Canary Wharf, The City, the West End, both Westfield shopping centres etc by public transport. Solving the problem by one means or another is in everyone’s interests, and if between them they don’t get it right they will “kill the goose”.
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