Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

On the road to…Southampton (again)

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 16 September 2013

Having had a full season back in the top flight, and having done a significant number of our fellow Premier League teams, it is eventually going to get to the point that the ones that I’ve done, not to mention told you all about already, are going to come around again. I did wonder about just detailing my journeys to the ones that I’d not yet put on here. But then I decided “sod it”; so, my aim is to detail all of the journeys I take this season, whether I’ve told you about them or not. However, I will aim to make as different a journey as is possible, and to try and give you a little variation in what I actually say to you. Because I wouldn’t want to give you all a sense of deja vu. so, we start the merry-go-round on its second revolution with a return trip to Southampton.

Date: 15th September 2013
Stadium: St Mary’s Stadium
Capacity: 32,689
Attendance: 28,794
Away Section: Northam Stand
Score: Southampton 0-0 West Ham United
Nearest station: Southampton Central
Local rozzers: Hampshire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £37.50p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return)

Rail journeys:
11:25 – New Cross to Canada Water (London Overground Class 378 Capitalstar)
Jubilee Line – Canada Water to Waterloo (1996 Stock)
11:54 – London Waterloo to Southampton Central (South West Trains Class 444 Desiro)
18:15 – Southampton Central to Oxford (CrossCountry Class 221 Super Voyager)
19:50 – Oxford to London Paddington (First Great Western Class 165 Networker Turbo)
Bakerloo LinePaddington to Baker Street (1972 Stock)
Jubilee Line – Baker Street to Southwark (1996 Stock)
21:49- London Waterloo East to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: St Mary’s is still a long walk from Southampton Central, but it remains worth leaving via the southern entrance onto the Western Esplanade, as it is a straight run up the hill and down the other side until you reach the subway complex, after which you turn right and just carry on walking. I have no doubt that this is a very pleasant jaunt when the weather’s nice. Having never been to Southampton in nice weather, I wouldn’t know. And I’ve still not found the shuttle bus.

Anything else?: Although the station is named Southampton Central, it is not especially close to the centre of the city. The city’s central station was Southampton Terminus, which closed in 1966.

Southampton Central railway station

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On the road to…Southampton

Posted in Great Britain, On the road..., Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 13 April 2013

Finally, at long last, an away game to get excited about. You might wonder, dear reader, why this particular one is such a one to get my juices mixing and gushing with excitement. Well, I’ll tell you – I’ve been travelling around the country under my own steam (well, my own money, and National Rail’s steam actually) for some time now, and for most of that time I’ve been watching a Premier League team. And therefore I’ve been going to the same old away games year after year. That’s why last season was so exciting, as it meant trips to a load of places I’d not been before. This season, I’ve had just two opportunities, and one of them went for a burton right at the start of the season. That, and the lack of a run in either cup competition, has meant that this one is my only opportunity to add a new ground to my list. Hence I’m morbidly excited about the trip to Southampton.

Date: 13th April 2013
Stadium: St Mary’s Stadium
Capacity: 32,689
Attendance: 31,984
Away Section: Northam Stand
Score: Southampton 1-1 West Ham United
Nearest station: Southampton Central
Local rozzers: Hampshire Constabulary
Total Travel Cost: £37.50p (1 x Off-Peak Day Return)

Rail journeys:
10:58 – New Cross to Cannon Street (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)
Waterloo & City LineBank to Waterloo (1992 Stock)
11:39 – London Waterloo to Southampton Central (South West Trains Class 444 Desiro)
17:47 – Southampton Central to Reading (CrossCountry Class 221 Super Voyager)
18:39 – Reading to London Paddington (First Great Western InterCity 125 High Speed Train)
Bakerloo LinePaddington to Charing Cross (1972 Stock)
20:02 – London Charing Cross to New Cross (Southeastern Class 465 Networker)

Station to Stadium: St Mary’s is yet another one of the brand new stadia that have sprung up around the country over the last few years, and is also one of those that is a fair heft from the railway station. Fortunately, although a fair old walk, unlike some others, it is still in the city centre, and therefore does not require walking along a dual carriageway. Southampton Central has two entrances – by leaving the station via the southern entrance, you find yourself on the Western Esplanade. Walk straight on up here, past the Civic Centre and onwards down to the major intersection, where there is a comprehensive pedestrian subway system. Ensure that the route you take through the subway brings you to opposite where you’ve just come from, and carry on walking down, past the gas holders, and you end up at Britannia Road, which will then take you to the away end.

There is also a shuttle bus that runs from the northern side of the railway station, which, today certainly, would have been a better option to avoid getting wet.

Anything else?: The South Western Main Line branches just north of St Mary’s; the main line continues on to into Southampton Central, while the branch continues past the ground and onwards towards Southampton Waterfront. The route has been safeguarded, and there have been calls for the route to be reopened for passenger trains, including a station to serve St Mary’s.

Southampton Central railway station

Missing a trick?

Posted in Business, Customer service, Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 15 March 2013

I had a trip to the theatre this week with a couple of friends of mine (the one whose honeymoon was disrupted by the volcano and the one who took my dream holiday) to see a new touring production of Boeing Boeing. While there I happened to point out that the Bluebell Railway extension was due to open next week, as they both seem to take a degree of enjoyment travelling by train, particularly if it is stress free (as travelling on a heritage railway would be), which they seemed quite excited about, suggesting the idea of taking their respective kiddies down their for the day (to explain, they are both relatively new mothers, each having a little one less than 2 years old); they even kindly invited me along. Which was nice of them, especially as I had planned to go on the Bluebell anyway once the restriction of having to get there in a car was gone. However, it did get me thinking to a degree. When the Bluebell extension opens, it will be the fourth heritage railway in the south-east to have a direct connection with National Rail (the others being the Spa Valley Railway, the Mid-Hants Railway and the Swanage Railway), all of which are routes with direct links to London. So it occured to me “are the train operators missing a trick here?” by not entering into some kind of partnership with the heritage railways to access their routes. Obviously, it would be difficult simply to run their trains over onto the heritage lines – the two operators concerned (Southern and South West Trains) have 57 diesel units between them, but all of these are dedicated to existing services on unelectrified routes, so if they were to run services themselves with the approval of the heritage line, they’d need new rolling stock. This is where a partnership would come in. You may recall the plan to run a trial service on the Mid-Hants by GO! Cooperative using the Class 139 prototype previously used on the Stourbridge Line. While this came to naught owing to technical issues with the vehicle, the concept is still valid. If the TOC and the heritage line enter into an agreement that services will be run, commercially, at peak times on the heritage line that are timetabled to meet the TOCs services to employment centres, on a single fare, then it opens up potentially larger markets for the train operator, and provides the heritage railway with additional income sources to undertake its main work, which is the preservation in working order of classic railway vehicles and infrastructure.

Respect the railway

Posted in London, Media, Other general stuff about railways by Chairman Pip on 11 January 2012

It’s always tragic whenever someone is killed “before their time”, and there’s no doubt that the railway, with big heavy trains going fast, and electricity at high voltage running either through a third rail or OHLE, is responsible for a fair sized proportion of such deaths. However, it is hard to feel a huge degree of sympathy when a person is killed who, for whatever reason, doesn’t pay the railway the respect needed to stay safe. On Sunday, following Chelsea’s home game against Portsmouth, a young couple who had been to the game were at Wimbledon when, for whatever reason, the young woman found herself on the track where she was hit by a South West Trains service from Waterloo to Exeter. According to news reports, the young woman, Charlene Pickering, had managed to drop her phone onto the track and had clambered down to retrieve it. There has been a suggestion that perhaps she had been having an argument, as I have seen written that CCTV had shown her ducking beneath the lip of the platform. I don’t know. But whatever the reason, that is no excuse to have clambered down from the safety of the platform onto the line. There is no indication that she was unable to control herself, as the woman from Barnsley was when she fell off the platform under a stationary train. So no matter what her reasoning was, she didn’t respect the railway. If you lose your phone and it gets run over by a train, sure it’s inconvenient, but you can always get another one. If there is a more sinister reason (and I’m not saying there is), then run for the exit – platforms are wide and frightened people are strong, fast and loud. But for heaven’s sake, don’t make this mistake, because it will cost you more than a mobile phone.

“Charlene Pickering killed trying to get phone from tracks”

Well it’s a start

Posted in Commuter, Great Britain, Infrastructure, Justine Greening, London, Politics, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 23 December 2011

Yet again, the DfT seem to be coming through and doing things to improve the lot of the frazzled commuter. At least in London they are anyway. This time they have made it possible for South West Trains to obtain an additional 60 vehicles that will be used to lengthen trains from eight to ten cars. This will be the implementation of the proposal that first came about in February 2010, which will see the Class 460 units formerly used by Gatwick Express integrated with the similar Class 458 fleet. This will allow five-car Class 458 units to be coupled into ten-car trains, which (it is presumed) will go to be used on Windsor Line trains, which can then allow a cascade of other rolling stock within the operator that can see other trains also lengthened. Of course, that’s not the only thing. To make room for these longer trains and planned extra services, Platform 20, part of the Waterloo International complex, will finally be brought back into regular use. There will be investment in South West Trains’ facilities, all of which will go to the creation of new jobs. All super duper. For not a huge amount of cost, potentially significant economic benefits are created – new employment, better frequency of services allowing more people to get into their workplaces quicker. Everyone’s happy. Is this what McNulty had in mind? Of course, investment in London and the South East is one thing – it does often seem that it is, to coin a phrase, “piss easy” to get more money for the commuter railways into London. The trick is getting money to stregthen the rail service in other cities that are (or have the potential to be) major economic drivers. The Northern Hub for example has been estimated at in the region of £550m, and will be a series of works all around the north of England aimed at improving services into Manchester and Leeds. £550m is around the same as is being spent on the refurbishment of Kings Cross, and yet the case for it is still having to be made. Thankfully, slowly, it is starting to move, with the various electrification projects and construction of the Ordsall Curve. One hopes that this will be the start of a snowball effect of investment, otherwise the government will lay itself open to accusations from the north of favouring London. Again.

“London commuters to benefit from longer peak-time trains”
“Old Waterloo International platform to be used by SWT”

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