Getting around any way you can.
When I first moved to London in 1999 I had a tube map on the wall next to my front door. Every time I went to a new tube station I highlighted it on the map. The reason was because I was interested in where I'd been to in London; a city that I was, of course, exploring a lot.
I never kept up with my highlighting. The longer I remained down here the less it mattered. But recently, with the 150th anniversary of the first tube service, I wondered just how many of London Underground's 250 stations I'd been to.
Continue reading and comment on '150 Years of the Tube: the tube station’s I’ve visited list'
As - for the first time ever - I'm not travelling to Manchester for Christmas this year, I'll be missing the horrendous Christmas rail get-away. And having looked at the engineering work situation on the West Coast mainline, to be honest I'm rather glad of this. However I couldn't let my non-visiting of London Euston station go unnoticed.
Railway stations at Christmas can be horrendously busy places, but last year on Christmas Eve, Euston's staff had gone all out with their dotmatrix signs to celebrate the festive season.
Shame no one proof read the message displayed though...
There has been a lot in the press about the news that Virgin Trains has lost its franchise on the West Coast Mainline, to be replaced by First Group.
Duplication in the Twittersphere when it comes to railways and social media
The Caledonain sleeper survives to run another day
A lesson from Transport for London
What Transport for London tell you and what Southeastern tell you are two very different things.
Rumours that this Bus Week series was just a flimsy excuse to show pictures of old buses dressed up as a study of politics and the way it was applied to public transport are, frankly, unjust and uncalled for.
One of my early memories is of being at Hyde bus station with my mum and sister, boarding the 346 bus to take us home. As I board I stretch up to the driver and hand my shiny new ten pence coin and pay my fare. We then sit at the back of the bus for the short journey back to our house.
In the 1980s and 1990s a series of changes saw the UK’s bus operations go from mostly publicly owned, to mostly privately owned. In a series of privatisations, bus companies were flogged off. But in the intervening 25 years, what has actually happened is that the UK’s bus market has come under the control of a handful of large companies. So what actually happened to the UK’s publicly owned bus operations?
It’s been 25 years since bus deregulation came into foce in Great Britain. Well most of the country anyway. Indeed it’s been 25 years since bus deregulation didn’t happen in London.
Twenty one years ago, on 26 October 1986 a major change happened to Britain’s public transport network. Its buses were de-regulated.
A train ticket I bought this week brought a whole new level to rail fare insanity.
I wandered over to the fastticket machines, put my card in and lo, my tickets printed out several hundred miles away from where they were supposed to.
I have in the past written about the madness of train fares. My favourite is where a more flexible ticket that you can buy on the day turns out to be cheaper than a restrictive advance fare on the same train. It’s completely illogical. Why would anyone want to buy a ticket with loads of strings attached above a cheaper one with far less? Then I found out it’s not just train companies that are inflicted with such strangeness. You get find on the buses too.
The Oystercard website - exposing the underbelly of your technology is not necessarily what’s best for your users
I’ve learned that the Oystercard website is quite bad for tracking all this stuff - a fact that amazes me.
Step forward, and courtesy of Adam and Joe’s 6music show on 7 May, enjoy this techno remix of the SNCF jingle. Have fun!
unbeknowst to many, the humble Gold Card has various other benefits, and one of them is the ability to buy a Network Railcard for a mere £1. And with a Network Railcard, you can save cash on train fares in the South East.
Six nights a week, the Night Rivera connects Cornwall, a bit of Devon and Taunton with London, transporting people between the east and the west in a mixture of single and twin berth cabins and “seated sleeper” carriages. Leave London on the 2345 and you can be right at the end of the line by 8am the next morning. You can even use it to get to the Isles of Scilly.
Every summer - World Cup or not - crowds and crowds of people descend upon a corner of South West London to go and eat strawberries and cream whilst watching some people hit a ball over a net.
Today I found an insane situation involving on the day tickets.
Where arriving just two minutes later can ensure you make huge savings on ticket prices…
Silly Ewe proclaimed the adverts at London Euston station some months ago. They featured a sheep who was buying their train ticket at the station, whilst the ‘Clever You’ man was busy saving up to 43% by booking his tickets in advance! Yay for him!
Every year I make a number of train journeys outside London. And last year I actually kept a record of it - where I went, what I did, how much it cost. These are the results of that recording. That and a huge pile of orange tickets…
Our final day in Ireland and we chose to walk the lovely coastline between Greystones and Bray, just outside Dublin.
Never believe platform indicators on Irish Railways. For they don’t actually match reality…
In a box in my house are a series of photo albums containing snapshots from my childhood, mostly taken by myself.
During lunch one day a few weeks ago, a colleague was talking about the trepidation of her husband using her car. It was her first car. Her pride and joy. And letting someone else drive it was a big thing. Not that he actually drove - he hasn’t even started lessons, however will be learning in the future.
Is the tube actually getting better? More reliable? Less problematic? Every time you get stuck in a tunnel, the tuts and sighs come out like nothing has changed. So I guess most people would say no.
Prior to this year, I’d only ever taken one journey on a sleeper train. It was 2003 and we were in St Petersburg visiting my sister, and she decided we should go to Moscow for the day to see the sights. Lenin’s Tomb, Red Square and so on. We’d arrive on the sleeper, spend the day there and arrive back in St Petersburg the following morning.
In the UK you can get most places in a reasonable time by train so why fly? The journey from London to Edinburgh is perhaps pushing it slightly, with a journey of four and a half hours. So trying the sleeper train to Edinburgh seemed a good idea.
When it comes to trains, nothing really evokes the romance of the sleeper. Of boarding a train, and of it whisking you through the night to another city, where an attendant gently wakes you crying “Good morning sir” before handing you your breakfast.
Yes there are some.
Whilst I was up north over Christmas, I had one of those inevitable “cost of transport” discussions. This conversation was on the depreciation in value of cars. The result was that the annual depreciation value of their car was roughly £1,000. So if they bought their car - not a new car incidentally - left it on the drive for twelve months, and then sold it, they’d be around £1,000 out of pocket. If they left it on for two years, they’d be £2,000 out of pocket. And so on.
You know the score. You’re a dude. You’re a rebel. In London. Aren’t you? Whaddya mean you think so. Get rebelling man! Get into the underground!
As you might know if you’re in London, three London bus routes are about to be converted from bendy buses to a mixture of single deckers and double deckers. And I was very interested to come across two PDFs published by Transport for London regarding the conversions.
I’m going to let you into a little secret. You might think from my last post that I’m actually really pro-Bendy buses. Actually I don’t care one bit about bendy buses. I see them as I see as I see most buses - a tool to get me from A to B. And with any tool, I just want the best one for the job.
I can still remember the reaction when I took my mother on a Routemaster bus for the first time. It was of surprise, slightly of bemusement and much of wonder. “This is like buses used to be when I was a child” was along the lines of what she said as we sat on the top deck in 2001.
I try to avoid anything too political on this blog. And sometimes fail. However the recent news that the West London Extension to the Congestion Charge will (subject to legal hurdles) end, is interesting.
Back in 2005 I tried cutting out central London from my commute. And failed. Three years on, and it was time to try again.
When you find out a normal part of the National Rail network is called a “Heritage Line”, it puts certain phrases in mind.
Every now and then you come across some statements that are quite interesting.
Travelling by train around Christmas time is never particularly fun. Suitcases are often on the large side, and daytime trains are the domain of people dashing off across the country on mammoth treks. And importantly, trains are often full, with people standing left right and centre.
In a slightly curious move, it appears that GNER relaunched their website on Monday. For those not that well up on the comings and goings of railway companies, the reason that this launch is rather curious is that it comes just days before GNER will cease to exist - the company will run its last train on Friday.
Sorry to drag you back to the world of railways and trains again, however today I tried once more to get some seat reservations for the annual trip up north on the old Virgin Train.
It’s quite easy to complain about customer service, but how often do we celebrate it when it is good?
That title up there is what my batch of train tickets that arrived from The Trainline today, proudly proclaims. Three separate trains, on two different days during Christmas, on three different train companies. And no seat.
One of the issues of trying to work out my travel arrangements for Christmas, is always trying to get the right information about what’s going on. To be fair, it’s not just as Christmas either.
Here’s a question. Where is “The North”? The question came up in my mind whilst thinking about booking train tickets for the dreaded Christmas cross-country train trip in order that I might sit in a different house eating food, watching TV and drinking beer, instead of doing it in my own.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s the little piece of music that French railway company SNCF play before tanoy announcements at their stations…
Last night when I was told that one of the best places for European railway timetables online is to pop off to Germany - in the online sense anyway.
If there’s a greater test of website usability, it’s trying to find out information from a site that’s in a language you don’t speak.
Travelling The Island Line (or the vaguely interesting tale of a company that seems to have absolutely no interest in corporate branding)
We were staying in Shanklin which is the final stop of the Isle of Wight’s eight mile train system - running from the pier end at Shanklin, mere moments after you get off the catamaran - which meant we got to enjoy travelling the entire route of Wight’s trains. The trains are operated by Island Line, the smallest railway franchise in the UK, which is owned by Stagecoach.
It’s not often that I am speechless, but as I type this, I am. But before I explain why, let me explain.
Well it appears Friday should have been a day of celebration for the residents of Merton. For on Friday, bus company Centra London ran its last ever journies. It appears their remaining three bus services - the 200, 201 and 493 - all got new operators the following day, and the company has now given up running passenger services.
Well with a tube strike on New Years Eve looking increasingly likely, it’s time to dig into the archives and just point you towards what I wrote back in August 2004 about The PR Of Strikes. Most of it’s relevant in this case with just a few minor changes here and there.
I love a good piece of unbiased, non-partisan, well researched reporting from my news sources. Which is why I tend to avoid This Is Local London.
And so all good things must come to an end. And by that, I mean a real end. Yes, I’ve put Zone 1 back on my Travelcard.
So we all get in a stupid mess, and trains are withdrawn on safety grounds and I have hassles getting into work because the entire tube line is shut.
A discussion in the canteen recently involved around one of my colleagues saying about how he is less inclined to do DIY and more inclined to get someone in to do things - it’s about balancing up how much your free time is worth in comparison to the cost of getting someone in.
It made me feel incredibly lazy, but yesterday I did it. Yes, I got the tube for one stop between Shepherds Bush and White City.
Shepherds Bush. What an odd place to target. And what a bloomin’ nuisance. The whole of Shepherd’s Bush Green was sealed off as I set off for home. Which left me with an interesting problem - how to get to Kensington Olympia so I could get my train to Clapham?
Which prat decided Crystal Palace was a good place to host a Coldplay concert on a weekday evening? I ask as one of thousands of commuters whose journey home this evening was made a misery thanks to countless train disruption on the Southern Metro network, caused by hordes of gig-goers filling trains and stations whilst railway staff struggled to cope with the crowds.
One thing occurred to me recently - that a lot of people don’t know about some little money saving tricks…
Badger people enough - and importantly be firm - and you might even get a proper answer to your question.
Every day I get the 0835 West London Line service from Clapham Junction to Wilsden Junction. Every day the train leaves the platform at 0835. Every day the train leaves the platform packed like a sardine tin - with people crushed into every available space in gross miscomfort.
I have decided that my commute in a morning can be either very good or very bad. There is no inbetween state. Just very good and very bad.
There’s a point in everyones life where they leave something important in their trousers when they’re bunged in a washing machine, which is why my Oystercard now has a noticeable bent in it.
There’s more to life than travelling to work…
Engineering work is a necessary evil and I’ll never begrudge the fact it has to happen - as long as the railway companies handle it properly.
Every year the London Open House weekend allows access to various buildings and places the public don’t normally see.
Just recently I’ve noticed that London’s buses - in the centre anyway - seem to be getting redder.
My curiosity often gets the better of me, hence after writing about the Glasgow Subway, I had to find out more about it and its past.
To be honest, we didn’t go far out of the city centre bar the bus trip to and from the…
My very last Young Persons Railcard expired on 13 August 2004 - I’m now too old for one and train fares will now be sadly, more expensive.
I never cease to be surprised by the stupidity of some unions. Any strike is a PR disaster for a union, but some unions seem to revel in making the disruption for the public as great as possible.
Network Gold Cards are very useful but very confusing. And I don’t understand them.
On the 6 July, Ken Livingstone announced how London’s transport system could look in 2016 if he gets to do everything he wants. And if he does, he’ll be very luck.
You know, I’d actually have some sympathy with the tube strike today if I actually believed in what they were striking for. But when they’re striking after being offered a 6.75% pay rise over two years and the promise to ensure they work a five day week, well all you can think to say is ‘gready f***ers’.
I was reminded about London United taking over the 65 bus route, and this evening I found a I post about it that I made to a mailing list.
Routemasters. I’ve also always felt some excitment about travelling on them. Jumping on the platform… Those curved stairs. That wonderful design. Those cramped piddly seats… The fact you can’t get a wheelchair on…
When it comes to long distance travel, I always prefer the train - and nothing beats the comfort of first class.
Anyone in London can’t have missed Oystercards - the new smart card travel ticket from Transport for London. But how do you use them on London’s open-backed Routemaster buses?
Through the gates in a flash? Get real! But Oystercards are much better when you have an arm full of shopping!
I seem to have rather a problem with travelling once the tube has shut so it’s time for yet more epic tales of late night travel ala Bods.
A trip to the London Transport Museum Depot today saw more than just wandering around a big warehouse full of signs, trains and buses, but also the chance to take an hour long trip on a 1930s tube train!
Power problems and transport chaos. Well I had to get two buses instead of a tube train anyway…
Are you surprised that we have to actually maintain our railways? It seems many are.
In contrast to the Virgin Pendolinos, you can get on Midland Mainline’s new service from Manchester to London. Older trains, but lovely scenery. Shame it was just so late…
A journey up to Manchester on Friday gave me my first chance to try one of Virgin’s new Pendolino trains which are now running up and down the West Coast Mainline.
Rails on fire. Rolling down the road….
Chips from a vending machine? Sometimes you just have to try these things. Why, who knows, but you do.
A three hour bus ride to do a 90 minute journey. Travelling from Kings Cross to Ealing last night was not fun…
Cheap train fares when you’re 25? Well Apparently you can buy a new Young Persons Railcard when you’re 25. That’s me told.
Funnily enough, London isn’t as organised as the Tube map would have you believe. Far from it infact as one website will let you know.
Yes, the tube deliberatly breaks down just to spite you. Ha ha.
Go on, clog up the capitals streets with your fumes, get stuck in traffic jams. Don’t expect any sympathy from me.