“Hey There Gorgeous”

19 11 2014

Pendolino

In the three plus years I have been commuting from Lancaster, to Preston and back to Lancaster on the days that I have been into University (as well as the days that I have not needed to be in at University) I have had some interesting moments on the train. One time in in foundation year, I accidently boarded a train which did not stop at Lancaster train station, having to wait until I got to Oxenholme Lake District to change trains to one that was going back to Lancaster. Other times have included staying on trains that were heavily delayed and not moving, trains that were without managers or more worryingly; without drivers, trains that were going north but to the wrong destination and changing trains due to delayed trains which then begin moving without the station announcing that the train was no longer delayed; one time last week, I was on a delayed train, thinking I would stay where I am while the train waited for the train manager to arrive but decided not to inform the other passengers that other trains were available. All these though somehow don’t compare to a few weeks ago when I was boarding the train from Preston to Lancaster and the door digital Display read, “Hey There Gorgeous” on the bottom line.

Alstom Pendolino

I was at Preston station waiting for the train home; I have now cottoned on to the train time system for trains heading in my direction. It is pretty much pointless going to Preston train station for anytime on the hour or just after as most trains heading in my direction (four, six or seven at best, but a rare occurrence) don’t really arrive into Preston train station until about 20 to the hour (or 40 minutes past the hour), but then the first one is a train that by chance stops at Preston, but then goes to Glasgow Central Only, so any wonder why it stops at Preston in the intermediate time. Anyway I was waiting for the train, and a Pendolino heading for Lancaster was arriving at the train station. I checked the station board to see if it was heading for Lancaster, I then double checked the door digital display. While I was doing that I spotted a slogan that I looked back at to re-read, and it said “Hey There Gorgeous”.

Pendolino Door Display

I have not once been greeted or complimented by an actual train, so this was definitely a first. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t have my camera, so I did not take a photo of the train door, however it did actually say that. The bottom of the door display is usually blank; it doesn’t really say anything at all. On this occasion however, it actually had a phrase on it, one that was like a greeting. I have no idea how this happened or why it actually said that but I thought I would share my experience, because, well, it is kind of weird.

British Rail Class 390 Pendolino

GENEPOOL





Sam’s Rant – Train Travel 03/05/2013

6 05 2013

Pendolino

This past friday was almost like any day for someone who attends University in Preston while living in Lancaster. I went to Lancaster train station to get my train to Preston and was once again hoping to get a seat for two reasons. Firstly it is nice to sit down, and secondly; I prefer to read sitting down, that way I can read some more of The Spook’s Curse. However it was a First TransPennine Express train which meant that there was only a vague chance of getting a seat. In the end I did not get one and had to stand up all the way, which brought up a very interesting question; if FirstGroup can afford to bid for the West Coast Main Line, why can’t they afford to put an extra carriage on their Manchester Airport trains? It’s a popular service and everyone has to stand so surely they could do the decent thing and add some more seats for the comfort of their passengers.

First Transpennine Express

Anyway later in the day, on my way home, things got a lot worse. After getting my lunch from McDonalds I went to Preston Train Station and arrived just after 4:10pm, and as usual, there are millions of trains going south but hardly any going North. I think there must be some kind of portal that links London and Glasgow/Edinburgh so that once a train has arrived at Euston Train Station, it goes straight forward into the portal and immediately arrives in Glasgow/Edinburgh. Anyway because of the lack of trains going North I had to wait about half an hour for a train. So I ate my McDonald’s and did something that I enjoy while waiting for a train at Preston Train Station, head to the end of the platform that points towards London and watch the trains come in, it’s both relaxing and fun.

British Rail Class 390 Pendolino

Eventually I saw the Pendolino arrive and boarded the train (through the first class section). Usually the Glasgow Central trains usually wait some time before leaving, but this one waited a while. After about 10 minutes or so, an intercom came on stating that the train was going to be delayed for about 15 minutes. So I get off and wait on the opposite platform for another train, which came while being about 1 minute delayed. I boarded the train (this time a Virgin Super Voyager) and got a seat, hurray. I had a little sleep before waking up and realised that the train was still in the station, Preston Train Station. There was an announcement stating that there was a train heading North towards Lancaster on another platform; but I was comfortable and so I stayed where I was. Then the announcement came the train was going to be 20 minutes delayed. So I got off and went to the other train, the one from earlier, which was still in the station and decided to wait for further information because the trains did not show a departure time, instead they just showed the word “DELAYED”.

Virgin Super Voyager

Eventually I ran into my University friend Daniel who was having similar train problems as he too was wanting to go to Lancaster. Eventually, without word from the station, the first delayed train left Preston, without neither Me or Daniel on it. Now that is just unfair, several people were needing to go home and the station did not tell us when the train was leaving. So in response to this, we both boarded the second delayed train and waited, standing up for about 20 minutes plus, the reason behind the delay was apparently the train had no driver, which raises the question, how did it get to Preston in the first place?

Preston Train Station Night

So after 20 minutes or so and after the corridor had become packed with several people, another train going in the direction of Lancaster arrived and we did consider going on it, but in the end we stayed on the train that we were currently on which was now 1 hour and 10 minutes delayed. And then at about 6:00pm, the train moved and left Preston; HURRAY. After about 15 minutes of travel we finally arrived in Lancaster at about 6:15pm; 2 Hours and 5 Minutes after arriving at Preston Train Station in the first place. So home at last after a long (ANNOYING) journey. Then I walked home and on the way some bloke walked up to me and asked if I had any weed, to which my answer was “NO”.

GENEPOOL





My Blog In 2012

31 12 2012

2012 Blog

Another year has passed and as many people prepare for a new year I am looking into the past and looking back at my blog highlights of this past year. It has been a big year for my blog this year. I have a new record for most views in a day (201 views), I reached a major milestone as I reached an overall viewing figure of 25,000 views and One of my posts reached a major milestone as it became the first post I have done to reach 1000 views. In terms of my blogs I have also written both my 150th and 200th posts. It has been a Great Blogging Year and I would like to thank everyone who comes here to read my posts and continue to support my blog, Thank You.

Now, just like I did last year I will once again  be showing  you my Top 5 Blog Posts (My Personal Favourites that I have written) from this past year. Also I will be telling you my favourite blogs and blog posts this year from all around the World Wide Web. So firstly here are my Top 5 Personal Favourite Blog Posts from this past year:

Virgin vs FirstGroup (Pendolino and Networker Express)

5: Virgin vs FirstGroup – I wrote this one back in September during the whole fiasco between Virgin Trains and FirstGroup. I enjoyed writing this one a lot because it is about trains which is something I like and use quite a lot but also because I wanted to point out what the real issue was about this whole issue, The Trains. A train Company is not a train company without trains and so I did some analysis work and suggested some ideas for FirstGroup about what trains they could/should use. I don’t know if anyone at FirstGroup or Virgin read the post but I enjoyed writing it anyway.

Godzilla vs SpaceGodzilla (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1994)

4: Space Impression From Space – Don’t be confused by the title, this was a Film review I did for a Godzilla FIlm. This post was for the film Godzilla VS SpaceGodzilla in which Godzilla fights a space mutation of himself. Even though the idea was a bit silly and parts of the film were a bit silly too, it was a very enjoyable film and writing the post was enjoyable too. while this was not the only Godzilla film I reviewed this year, this is the one I enjoyed doing the most.

MT10FNGF

3: My Top 10 Favourite (NON-GODZILLA) Films – Yes, Because I am a massive Godzilla fan I need to Top 10 lists for films. My Actual Top 10 Favourite Films and My top 10 Favourite Non-Godzilla Films (For everything else). Making this list was a lot of fun as I had a look through all my favourite films to get 10 films (if you want to know where they may appear after my actual top 10 list, add roughly 20-29 to the number they are). While I will recommend films that are not on the list that is because it was quite hard coming up with 10 films overall. So after a lot of hard work I managed it and there are 10 films that are all Fantastic, I Guarantee it.

The Hunger Games (Lionsgate - 2012)

2: A Nice Film That Will Be Hard To Beat – In March I saw one of the most Amazing films in the history of Cinema. After a stressful couple of months I was able to wind back by watching a film at the cinema that I both had not seen coming or had any idea what it was about, that film was The Hunger Games. After seeing this I went to the University Library and wrote up the review for the film in just over an hour. The following day I posted it online as well as went into town and bought the book (and then the other two 5 days later). Because of both How much I enjoyed the film and writing the review I didn’t want this to be a standard review. So this became the first film to use the current format for film reviews that I do (Paragraphs with pictures and a trailer). I like this new format so much that I actually want to re-review some films I have previously done. This was also the first time that I did my links in Bold Black Italic Writing so it blends more into the text. Both a Fantastic Film and an Enjoyable post to write.

Seven Samurai (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1954)

1: Akira Kurosawa’s Masterpiece – The Hunger Games was not the only Fantastic Film tha I saw this year. In May I saw one of the greatest masterpieces in cinema history and as a result of that it introduced me to one of the Greatest Directors in the history of Cinema. The director was Akira Kurosawa and the film was Seven Samurai. Since then I have been buying and watching many more of his great films but to me this is his masterpiece and one of the best films I have seen to date. The post was incredibly enjoyable to write and I both hope that people enjoyed reading it and have since gone on to buy and watch the film. An Incredible, Enjoyable Experience and that is a reason more than any to why this is my Favourite Post this year.

Now that I have said what My personal favourites are here is my Top 5 favourite Blog posts from other people (this will be in a brief format, just so that I won’t spoil the post for you):

Pathfinding

5: Pathfinding – For the second year in a row my former tutor is in this list. Here he shows us how to make a little AI piece with pathfinding. It kind of reminds me of something he was going to do in our class where everyone was going to be represented by blobs and then would fight each other (Yes Ant, I have not forgotten).

Battle Proof

4: Battle of the Battle-Proof Thingies – An interesting post from Matt while answering a question from Tim. I wonder if he read my last comment?

GVB BR

3: “Godzilla vs. Biollante” Coming December 4 – One of many posts announcing the arrival of Godzilla vs Biollante on Blu-ray. This announcement was massive news.

Nagoya

2: Nagoya Castle To Be Destroyed Again? – A very interesting post talking about the history of one of Japan’s most amazing buildings as well as recent ideas to knock it down and rebuild it as it should be.

Sam's Fault

1: This Is All Sam’s Fault – Another post from my friend Matt as he shows that on three occasions I have recommended films to him and he has liked all three. So, when I say a film is Good and tell you to buy it, BUY IT AND WATCH IT HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO WATCH A FILM BEFORE YOU GO AND WATCH IT. Thank’s Matt (Best Blog Post this year)

So, now we move onto the Best Blog Award (apart from mine obviously). Here are the Top 5 Best Blogs I have read this year (once again in a brief format):

Ant's Blog

5: Ant’s Blog – Ant’s blog this year has still been very interesting with many little pieces of flash work to try for yourself, unfortunately I do not have flash so I cannot participate.

Tim's Blog

4: Tim’s Blog – A blog from a friend of my friend Matt. I first found out about this blog as part of the FIrst 12 of 2012 challenge (Where I came second). Some very interesting posts all year round. Thanks Tim.

JQ

3: The Jimquisition – More like a video series on the Escapist. I discovered this a few months ago and have enjoyed it quite a lot. I sometimes look it up just listen to the Fantastic Opening Theme.

Sam's Fault

2: Matt’s Blog – Matt has produced more and more fantastic Posts this year with subjects including his new Animation series Papercuts as well as points of general Interest. Keep up the Excellent work Matt (We need to do another blogging challenge soon) – Second Place two years in a row.

Godzilla Blog

1: Godzilla 2012 – Once again this blog takes the top spot. An interesting blog and my usual first source on Godzilla news. Congratulations (Best Blog Overall this year).

Well that was my blogging year for 2012. I hope you have all enjoyed visiting, viewing, watching and reading my blog as much as I have enjoyed writing, producing and publishing it. I hope you all have a had a Great Year and have a Fantastic New Year and I hope that you will come back soon for more High quality blog posts. Thankyou.

GENEPOOL (This is the end of Postaweek2012. Let Postaweek2013 Begin)





Virgin VS FirstGroup: The Real Issue

11 09 2012

There have been many recent reports in the news recently about the controversy behind the Government’s decision to hand the West Coast Mainline franchise over to FirstGroup instead of extending Virgin’s current rights for another 15 years. Out of all the big news recently regarding the country, this is probably the biggest and possibly the most controversial. But what people are forgetting is that a train operator is not a train operator without trains. So I thought I would share my opinion on what First West Coast (or possibly Horizon Trains) trains might be like if they do get the WCML.

Currently the only First service on the line at present is First TransPennine Express. So if we were to use that as a bench mark of this it is pretty clear what the service could be like. Transpennine’s dominant model is the British Rail Class 185 (Pennine Desiro). The train is more of a commuter vehicle to a HST (High Speed Train) set and as such is shorter than a Pendolino carriage by about 2 meters. Due to its purpose it can get away with its size but quite a lot of the time the trains are crowded. The trains carry fewer seats than the Pendolino but this could be due to the doors being around the center of the carriage. The Desiro train set as a whole is 3 carriages long and has a top speed of 100 mph.

While the Desiro is better than several other Commuter Diesel Trains it is not a good choice for the WCML. The WCML is an electrified line and because of this HST sets do very well on the circuit because the constant flow of electricity means that they are always connected to the mains and as long as both the engines and power allow it, they can travel at great speeds. Diesel trains can go really fast but because of the amount of fuel needed for them, in a way it is not ideal. But anyway let’s take the Desiro, now First has promised 11 new Six Car trains. Desiro’s already operate like that with some services but quite a lot of the time they split and go to different locations. Six car Desiro’s are feasible but due to their size (inside) the First Class compartment will have to be ripped out in order for normal customers to have a seat. However the space is still not enough because people will still have to stand in an overcrowded train (and it is more than probable that people will not want to stand on a train from Glasgow to London), so it is more than likely that within a year the 6 car trains will have to be extended to 10 car trains. Also there will be a loss in money from no First Class which takes up four Pendolino carriages and so to make this back the trains will have to have an extra 4 carriages added to allow this (14 carriages in total – minimum). This in turn causes 2 further problems:

  1. The train will be so long it will probably not fit on the station platform so people will have to get on the train and walk to their seat on a carriage that cannot be accessed, it will be much the same for getting off.
  2. The train’s power source of diesel will cost so much it may not be economical enough to make a decent return on investment.

So if First West Coast wants to use the line, the Desiro Class is (or should be) out of the question. To make the best use of the line the company needs to have a HST set to run on it. That should be a clause in the contract in my opinion which makes the use of HST sets compulsory for the WCML and ECML. When it comes to HST sets there are several options but when it comes down to it, electrified HST should be used because it’s the obvious answer. Now it is still possible to use Fast Diesel trains on the WCML. If it was to be a diesel choice there are 4 main options and these trains should prevent overcrowding due to their design:

  1. British Rail Class 220 Voyager – Used by Virgin and Cross Country – Top Speed: 125 mph – Seat Capacity: 174 (20 more than the Desiro) – 4 cars per trainset.
  2. British Rail Class 221 Super Voyager – Used by Virgin and Cross Country – Top Speed: 125 mph – Seat Capacity: 162 to 224 – 4 to 5 cars per trainset.
  3. British Rail Class 222 Meridian – Used by East Midlands Trains – Top Speed: 125 mph – Seat Capacity: 192 – 236 – 4 to 7 cars per trainset.
  4. British Rail Class 180 Adelante – Used by First Great Western, First Hull Trains and Grand Central – Top Speed: 125 mph – Seat Capacity: 287 Seats – 5 cars per trainset.

There is of course the possibility of using British Rail Class 43 HST  Engine which is used for the Legendary Intercity 125 (Top Speed: 148 mph). The Class 43 is used by many companies today including East Midlands Trains and Grand Central and is used mainly as a High Speed Train rather than a commuter train. In the case of First if they were to use diesel instead of electricity, it would be an ideal choice (but the Intercity 125 is starting to age and has been for a while). However the 43 cannot reach its top speed due to the speed limit of the WCML being 125 mph. However it is more likely to reach this speed quicker than the above mentioned due to that being the top speed of those trains.

If Virgin is to keep the line it is more than likely that they will continue to use the Pendolinos. Virgin spent at least 1 billion pounds on the Pendolinos and so it would seem likely that they will keep using them for a while. The Pendolino while being slower than the Class 43 has the added advantage of being able to tilt which means that it does not have to cut its speed when going round a corner so when it reaches its top speed it can stay at that speed until it has to slow down for stations. Without Virgin and the entrepreneurial mind of Richard Branson the Pendolinos would probably not be in the country, thankfully they are. There is no real current challenge to the Pendolino. The only one announced so far is the Polaris Train which Grand Central hope to acquire (which also has Tilting capability) but there has still be no news of whether these trains will be coming to the uk or not (it really depends on whether Grand Central’s “track-access contract is extended beyond the initial five years” – Wikipedia).

It is interesting to point out that First have not said anything about taking over the Pendolinos from Virgin. This could be one of the big controversies. It is a good point to think about because First bid at least 5 billion for the line (1 billion more than Virgin) then surely they have enough money to simply have them transferred over to them. The Pendolino makes the more sense seeing as that is the current system and it would be easier to change hands. Also it means that the 2 Hours 30 Minutes it takes from Lancaster to London Euston can stay at that time rather than revert (which with any other train is a possible certainty) to the previous 3 hours. In order to keep that time the line would have to have an increase in speed. Also to make the money that First are suggesting the speed will have to stay that way for more journeys and more money. Also the Pendolinos have 9 cars per trainset making them longer than most rail services in the UK.

In terms of Electrified trains that could run on the WCML instead of Pendolino’s, there is the option of using Intercity 225’s which are hauled by Class 91 Trains. Compared to the diesel-powered Class 43, the 225’s run at 140 mph which is still slower than the Class 43 but with the electrified line and top speed of 125 mph, the 225 Class 91 could be a cheaper alternative to the Pendolino if First decide to go for an electrified train. However the 225 does not have a tilting mechanism meaning it could be slower than the Pendolino overall.

With the possibility of FirstGroup taking over the WCML, it is a worrying time. With no current announcement on rolling stock from FirstGroup it is worrying to think about how the service may change (if at all) and also how fast and comfortable it will be to go from place to place. But we should remember that First Trains are a reliable service and so whatever the decision is regarding the franchise rights and what rolling stock they may use, I am sure (in some way but not entirely) that they will make the right decision or at least a Good Proper one. There is always the hope that they will take over the Pendolinos from Virgin but there are some other options for them to take in case they decide not to. So while we all hope that Virgin keeps the line there should not be too much distress caused if FirstGroup do take the line.

GENEPOOL








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