Wednesday, 11 October 2017

New Orleans to Nottingham

New Orleans once had a streetcar named Desire. . . .
Image result for a streetcar named desire film

. . . but not to be outdone, Nottingham has

A bus called Arnold!

Which may look futuristic, but it operates from a depot marked by this plaque!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Signs of the Times in Burnley. . .and it never rains but it pours!

I must confess to being left feeling a little confused on my visit to Burnley yesterday. . .

. . . whilst in nearby Nelson they are still proud of the achievements of over 30 years ago!

But the last laugh was on me when the time came to return home.  Burnley has no fewer than three railway stations although none of them is particularly convenient for the town centre. "Burnley Central", possibly the most badly-misnamed station in the UK, purports to serve the centre of town although reaching it involves finding your way through the back of the shopping precinct, up one of a number of possible side streets, over a dual-carriageway and along another main road until you reach a side-street called "Railway Road", which at least gives you a clue. Proceed up Railway Road until you come to a most un-station like looking building then climb a set of stairs to one side of it to arrive on the single platform from where all trains depart.
The route from central Burnley to "Burnley Central" (note that it takes longer by car than on foot!)
Now I'll be the first to admit that I might have lingered just a little too long in the "Bridge Bier Huis" over a last pint and that that did contribute to my arriving on the platform at exactly 19:34 and 20 seconds (according to the indicator). However, the indicator also said that the first train to arrive would be my 19:34 to Preston, which I took to mean that it was still on its way. However, when it had still not arrived five minutes later it disappeared from the display to be replaced by the 19:57 to Colne.
Real Time Trains, a website that tracks trains throughout the network in "real time", offers a clue:

The train had left Colne and the previous station to Burnley Central one minute early! It had also arrived at Burnley a minute before it was due, but conveniently there was "no report" as to its departure! Given that I neither saw nor heard it as I made my way up Railway Road I suspect it left at least one minute before its due time.

The next train from Central wasn't for another hour and the only alternative was to walk to one of Burnley's other stations - Manchester Road - which is even farther out of town - and in the opposite direction!

This route is uphill all the way, quite steeply on Manchester Road itself, although it does provide a glimpse of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at the Weavers Triangle (or at least it would have done if it wasn't by now dark and raining.)

The 20:12 from Manchester Road was running six minutes late, a delay that became 8 minutes on arrival in Preston. That reduced my ten minute connection - and chance to grab a sandwich from the buffet - to two minutes, just enough time to dash over the footbridge to Platform 3 for the Lancaster train and a hungry ride home.

This train arrived promptly in Lancaster at 21:15 leaving me with just the final kilometre and a half to go to reach home. During University terms there is a 20 minute bus service along Scotforth Road, which although it doesn't start from the station (of course not, don't be silly) can be caught in the city centre. But term doesn't start until next week, so the next bus was not until 22:00.  There is an alternative service along Bowerham Road, that involves a bit of a walk. This also runs every 20 minutes from the city centre  EXCEPT that there is no bus in the 28 minutes between 2121 and 2149. I arrived at the stop at 2122!

What had been a light shower in Burnley had become a downpour in Lancaster but I was brought up to regard taxis as a luxury to be indulged in only in times of extreme need and the time I spent at work sharing an office with the taxi licensing department and the tales I heard there put me off using them for life, so my day out ended with another twenty minute uphill walk during which time I got well-and-truly soaked!

Public Transport is great when it works, but sometimes - just sometimes - I begin to realise why most people go everywhere by car.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Dredging Glasson Dock

Glasson Dock with "Walter" in the foreground.
A cycle ride today, down to Glasson Dock on my 25-year old Raleigh Randonneur, which is old enough to have been "built in Nottingham" (albeit with quite a few Japanese components). A fast run there, with the wind behind me on the A588 (which is not as busy or unpleasant as you might think) and a slower - but flatter - return on the old railway line cycle path to Lancaster.  The Raleigh goes by the name of "Walter" (geddit?).  I have another touring bike - a Dawes. Can you guess what she's called?

I got there just in time to see the dredger in action. It appeared to be dredging immediately below the lock that leads from the canal basin into the main dock - which in turn leads to the River Lune and the Irish Sea. The route is used by sea-going yachts, hence the need to keep the channel deep enough.
The dredger was reversing up to the tail of the lock before lowering the "scoop"

The lock links the upper Canal Basin to the main dock and thence the River Lune

Once the scoop was fully lowered the dredger powered away into the dock,

The dredger proceeded the full length of the dock, where the scoop was raised, presumably depositing the dredgings into the dock.  In what may, or may not have been a related exercise the grab-dredger on the dock wall appeared to be removing silt from behind the main dock gates and depositing it back into the dock behind where the dredger is in this image!                                                                                                                

As you will gather from the captions I wasn't really sure exactly what was going on, but it made for an entertaining half-hour before the journey back.  Despite its diminutive size  - and the proximity of the much larger dock at Heysham, Glasson remains a working port. It is home to the last traditional shipping service (i.e. one where freight is craned on and off rather than going aboard in containers or in lorries) in Europe, operated by the small coaster "Silver River" to Ramsey on the Isle of Man, whilst larger vessels use the outer, tidal river wharf to land grain from Ireland, although there was nothing commercial at all in port today.

Sunday, 6 August 2017


I'm just back from a few days in Llandudno.

They still have Routemasters there - but only on the Town Tour (and then only when it's not fine enough for the open-toppers).

You can take a tour of the Great Orme on a 1958 Leyland Tiger Cub. . . .

. . . .or, for a fraction of the price,  on an Optare Solo on service 26

The cable trams (same system as San Francisco) run through some pretty narrow streets that would nowadays be considered unsuitable for public transport vehicles.

Although, maybe not, as Arriva service 26 runs every hour in each direction round this sharp bend and up (or down) the 1-in-5 hill on a road that is officially "unsuitable for buses" in two languages!