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Fenman last won the day on January 7 2011

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  1. To add to that: had society been more fairly organised... if there had been social security... if medical treatment was affordable... Well, quite. But none of those things were true. Which is why that society was a breeding ground for revolutionaries, not, as earlier posters implied, a stable society at risk of infection by that evil foreigner Lenin. Paul
  2. Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, was giving a public lecture at the Royal Albert Hall, explaining how caring his company was to lowly-paid baristas (they even pay for health insurance for their US staff). He was followed by Adrian Cadbury, who talked about how a century earlier his company had built houses for their workers, then schools, then hospitals, then mechanics institutes... Even so, British railway companies of a century or more ago weren’t well-known for their generosity to staff. There were (some) pensions and travel privileges, some housing with facilities (Melton Constable is a nice example of what even an impoverished railway company did), but low wages were endemic along with hugely long hours (mostly worked to try to make up for the low wages). Pre-WW1 there was revolution in the air in much of Europe: at times even Victoria’s reign was considered under threat; anarchists were talked of as the terrorists of their day. Politically, society was much less stable than we might assume. And the philanthropy of companies like Cadbury is still quoted today precisely because they were exceptional. Paul
  3. Isn’t the opposite more likely? With no war there’d be no external enemy, so all the focus would be on the (massive) internal problems in each country. Nationalism would not be so easily available to distract the population from their own (mostly) miserable circumstances in countries with massive inequalities. Surely revolution was more likely in those circumstances, not less? Paul
  4. Maybe that’s at least partly because modern trains are so cramped and bum-numbingly uncomfortable. As our cars get bigger and plusher and nicer to be in, trains get less and less pleasant to use. Though apparently that’s because there are too many people using them and all those people need to be crammed-in, so maybe your premise is wrong? Paul
  5. HST. Twice in fact - the first time using the Lima body instead of their own, then an all-new tooling. Didn't they do a 2BIL in ancient times, replaced with a rather spiffy new tooling? Paul
  6. It's difficult to fault their ambition, at least. Though to me it smacks of one last roll of the dice, using up all the expensive loan facility they anyway have to pay for to make as many populist toolings as they possibly can. It's truly audacious. It's also nice to see their responsiveness to a wide range of demands, from NR yellow coaches to Thompsons to the APT (I wasn't expecting that), alongside some more likely models such as the Rocket. Wow. Just wow. Paul
  7. I'm with Dunsignalling on this question. The problem Pandora has is that the simple calculation doesn't work - there are huge overhead costs in creating a model. The much smaller market for N means those costs have to be spread over a smaller number of models. Therefore the pressure when it comes to trying to add a margin onto each nodel is likely to be very much greater in N. The behaviour of manufacturers working in more than one scale may be instructive. The recent rush of several manufacturers into 0 has been very striking -- and the price differentials among those might suggest that there are truly huge (relatively) margins to be made in that scale (the ongoing financial problems of both Hornby and Bachmann may, at least in part, suggest 00 is much more problematic). A few years back Hornby made a sort of half-hearted attempt to revive Bassett-Lowke, though even at the time it struck me as swimming against the tide where most of the market is demanding ever-greater detail. I still think there's potentially profit for them in 0 gauge; their experiments with N suggest that, for them, it is not particularly profitable. Paul
  8. Bombardier have been unable to meet the delivery schedules for the contracts they’ve won, so giving them even more contracts would seem unlikely to lead to faster deliveries. Paul
  9. For me, the appearance of the HSTs when new really was "The Shock of the New". As machines they looked unlike anything else on the network but, more than that, in their crisp liveries they looked purposeful and so "modern". Some people dismiss Ken Grange as just the "stylist" of the HST, but a significant part of their success in transforming perceptions of the railways is down to that wonderfully distinctive look. It's a pity that this set has the new-style headlight fittings (so much fussier than the originals), but it's glorious to see this livery again. My own view (others are available, and I know I'm in a tiny minority) is that BR did a pretty good job with the Rail Blue corporate identity. To my eyes nothing since then has approached the classic simplicity of the blue/grey livery. Paul
  10. You’re quite right. GA should have just stolen the units and hidden them somewhere. Er... though perhaps they still wouldn’t have been able to run a train service. Paul
  11. Nonsense. I believe in God*, but there is absolutely zero evidence for that, nor any “informed knowledge” whatsoever. Belief is like faith, an evidence-free state. On that note, I believe we’ll finally get an East Anglian E4.... Paul * For the avoidance of doubt, I don’t.
  12. I disagree. While some of the content on the map is pretty much clutter (Emirates airline, anyone?), its utility would be exponentially increased if it showed at least the central sections of both Thameslink and (when opened) Elizabeth line. If you are unfamiliar with London, let's say you're in King's Cross and want to go to Tate Modern - a not uncommon route for visitors, I'd suggest. Look at the Tube map to try to work out a route. Far and away the easiest route is Thameslink from St Pancras direct to Blackfriars, exiting on the South Bank side of the station. But that route is invisible to Tube Map users (presumably because TfL doesn't get any revenue from it?), and the alternative routes shown on the map are frankly dismal. My memory tells me Thameslink was, at one time, shown on the map, and I'm not sure when/why it was removed (possibly for similar reasons to the short-lived removal of the Thames from the map - logical in theory since it's not a "tube", but in practice tremendously unhelpful to users)? Paul
  13. Intriguing. I thought they were a *huge* improvement over the units they're replacing. And vastly better than the supposedly "intercity" KX-Cambridge-King's Lynn Electrostar from which I had transferred. Though I agree with you about the unpleasant brightness: that applies to every modern transport vehicle, all designed so people with poorer eyesight can see. Those of us who are light-sensitive are ignored (or, presumably, we should all be wearing sunglasses). There's no right answer to that one. And anyway, I'm all nostalgic for those dim yellow bulbs of the 50s and 60s, their warm glow signalling from afar that your warm, dry transport was waiting for you on a winter's evening... Paul
  14. I do find statements like this a bit hard to understand. Maybe I'm projecting my own mindset on everyone else? I model ex-GE and ex-M&GR. I buy models which are appropriate to those lines. The fact that a different manufacturer is offering a model from the ex-GWR at a much bigger discount than an ex-GE model is utterly irrelevant to me. I have no interest in modelling the ex-GWR, so the models might as well be of the Trans-Andean or the Eastern Japanese. Instead, the prices of the ex-GE and ex-M&GR are what they are. If I want that model, I have to pay that price. I realise it's a different situation where either there is competition among manufacturers over the same prototype (aren't we meant to hate that situation, though?), or where I want to start modelling something else. But, in general, different discount levels among manufacturers don't at all affect my choice of what to purchase. Paul
  15. There’s a fascinating book from Oxford University Press (if you’re into the economics of infrastructure) which looks at the capital invested in developing the railway system through fragmented private enterprise/ competition. It demonstrates that more than a third of the capital was wasted — in that you could have achieved the same total network capacity with that much less money. Conversely, to achieve maximum theoretical efficiency in the 1950s & 60s I suppose that, as well as taking some lines out, you would need to build some new ones. That bit was politically always unlikely. Paul
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