I took this picture at a major traffic intersection in Geneva.
I think it shows how in the future we’ll see more trams using battery technology and other wireless propulsion methods, like I saw in Seville.
Imagine sorting that mess out, if say it got torn down.
CERN is reached from the centre of Geneva by a number 18 tram, which ends its journey at the site. You can either pick this up at the main station or as I did at Bel-Air, which is a major tram interchange at the foot of the old town.
It was all very simple and civilised and took under thirty minutes.
I had decided to come back directly from Sheffield station to St. Pancras International.
Partly, this was because it was without a change and also it would enable me to compare the two companies; East Coast and East Midlands. But mainly, it was because the journey up cost £33.00 and I was able to get back for £19.80, by the simpler route.
It started well enough in that I was able to get easily by the Supertram to the station, with a change at Fitzalan Square. My only query, would be to ask if Sheffield have enough trams, as the tram was crowded both ways and there was a long delay waiting to get one at Meadowhall? I also find it strange, that we have six modern tram systems in the UK; London, Edinburgh, West Midlands, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield, and all seem to have different trams and different ticketing systems. For instance, other than London, the only tram system I can use without paying is Sheffield.
If we had a standard UK tram and infrastructure, then anywhere that wanted a system, would be able to cost it very easily. Surely too, a common tram, would reduce inventories for spare parts and reduce costs for staff training.
I have had quite a bit of experience of East Midlands First Class this year, so I took the precaution of going to the usually excellent Marks and Spencer in the station to get a drink. As I’d only had the sandwiches I bought at Meadowhall all day, I thought something to eat might be an idea. But Marks and Spencer were out of gluten-free sandwiches and I couldn’t find any salads at all. There of course, is no restaurant in the station, where anything gluten-free is available. So I would have to wait until St. Pancras.
I did check out the toilets and despite being pretty new, they weren’t in the best of states.
Especially, if you compare them with the exquisite ones I used at Doncaster on the way up. Doncaster’s toilets were also free.
So obviously you don’t pay for what you get!
After the toilets, I thought, I’d check out the First Class Lounge.
It was shut, just like it was at Derby a couple of weeks ago.
The train left Derby on time and I had a table for four to myself. By the time we got to Leicester, I’d had a cup of instant coffee in a cardboard cup, as opposed to the china cups from a pot on East Coast.
Then disaster struck, as we held at Leicester for forty minutes or so, after staff told us that the overhead lines had been brought down in the Elstree area. To be delayed on an electric train by overhead wire problems is to be expected, but when you’re in an operational Class 222 diesel train, it’s somewhat ironic.
We continued untroubled until Kettering, where we stopped for another twenty minutes, before being ordered off the train and onto another Class 222 heading for St. Pancras. I could just about find enough space to stand up. Luckily the crush didn’t last long, as staff told us that at the next stop at Wellingborough, if we got out and walked to the back of what was two trains coupled together there would be more space.
It now was obvious what East Midlands Trains had done. As to get a single train through the damaged knitting at Elstree, would be much easier than getting two trains through, they coupled two six coach trains together to make a twelve coach one.
Before I had moved to the comfort of the second train, I was talking to someone who worked for Network Rail. He blamed Dr. Beeching for all of the delays, as there hadn’t been any investment in the 1960s and 1970s. As I think the electrification that caused all the trouble was installed in the 1980s, that is quite an amazing conclusion.
As all of the electrification of that era seems to cause trouble, no matter where it is installed, I would think that there must be something wrong with the basic design. I did read something about how the Regional Eurostars used to bash hell out of the wires on the East Coast Main Line and cause failures. So perhaps the new Thameslink Class 377 trains are the problem. But I doubt it, as they’ve been around for some years.
In the end we arrived in London at 22:30, after a four hour journey. Marks and Spencer in St. Pancras was devoid of any suitable food, so I went home in a taxi and had cheese on toast.
I wish I’d gone home the other way via Meadowhall and Doncaster, despite it being twenty minutes slower. After all, I was two hours late into St. Pancras. At least, if there’d had been an overhead line failure, I suspect that I’d have been kept going by all that glorious East Coast tea in First Class.
The trip to Sheffield Wednesday didn’t start too well, as I got almost to the Angel on the bus to Kings Cross station, when I realised I’d forgot my pills. It wouldn’t have been too important, if I’d not gone back, as I planned to be back in my house about nine in the evening with some food to cook for supper and I could take the drugs then.
But I decided to go back and get them and in the end I just made the 11:03 train to Leeds. I would change for Sheffield at Doncaster and take a train to Meadowhall, where after lunch, I’d take a tram to the ground.
The trip up was excellent in First Class on East Coast. It was also notable in that the service was excellent with copious amounts of tea in proper English china cups from Stoke-on-Trent.
We arrived on time at Doncaster and then it was one of the dreaded Pacers to Meadowhall.
If George Osborne wanted to buy votes, a large order for something like London Overground’s Class 172 to replace the Pacers would be an easy way to do it.
There is an interesting difference in British and Japanese attitudes to names illustrated by the Flying Banana. The Japanese call their equivalent trains, Doctor Yellow.
I do wonder how many of the redundant Inter City 125′s will live on in this role. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple even get exported to countries with long railway lines that need to be checked. After all to put the equipment in a brand-new train will be expensive, but to use a redundant and reliable diesel train, would be a lot cheaper. When checking overhead wires, I suspect that a diesel train may even have an advantage, as it doesn’t interact with the wires! And there aren’t many diesel trains that can do the testing at 200 kph!
Terry Miller’s iconic creation, never ceases to make fools of us all! But good engineering does that!
I had intended to go to Carluccio’s at Meadowhall for lunch, but after locating the restaurant after slaloming through, the hoards of obese people, who always seem haunt shopping centres, I was too short on time. Often these people make matters worse by pushing equally obese children in enormous buggies.
So I resorted to Plan B and bought some gluten-free sandwiches and a still lemonade in Marks and Spencer. This store incidentally, is by the bridge from the station, so is quick and easy to get to. One thing I noticed at Meadowhall is that they actually have proper Left Luggage lockers and lots of them.
So if you are going to an event like the football, Meadowhall is the place to unwanted bags (or babies), whilst you visit the city.
I did have one problem, as there was nowhere convenient to sit and eat my sandwiches.
This picture was taken as the tram arrived. Note the lack of seats. One of the London shopping centres has a garden, where you can sit in the sun. Eastfield certainly will have, as it is just a short walk to the Olympic Park. Meadowhall should provide something!
On my trip to Hillsborough, I didn’t see any seats at stops at all. Here’s the stop at Fitzalan Square.
Note the improvisation on the left. At least most stops seem to have proper information with a map. One unique thing I saw as I walked down from the tram to Hillsborough was this sign.
So often, you approach a strange ground and there are no obvious instructions as to which end of the ground you go. That excellent sign at Hillsborough must have cost an absolute fortune, otherwise why don’t other grounds have them?
As I usually do, I used a combination of walking and the various trams and metro lines. There is a card called a Budapest Card, but at the first station I tried near the airport, they just sold me an ordinary 24 hour ticket.
These are some of the pictures I took.
Particularly useful was the number 2 tram, which ran up and down the Danube. If you’ve got a 24-hour ticket, just get on the tram and sit down. You don’t have to touch in, although my ticket was checked on the Metro.
The only problems I had were the extreme cold and the lack of information and maps on the street. But Budapest is one of those cities, where you can generally see one of major features like the Danube, Buda Castle or St. Stephen’s Basilica.
On the other hand, when I did get lost, a friendly Hungarian usually put me right. I was plagued a bit by hop-on/hop-off tourist bus salesmen, but I just ignored them, as I prefer to play my game of chance with the public transport. You see more interesting things, like the little girl sitting on the dog statue. How many places would allow that?
Incidentally, Line 1 of the Budapest Metro is the second oldest in the world and is included in the World Heritage Site for Budapest.
I have just been re-reading the article in the April 2013 edition of Modern Railways, entitled Time for a fresh look at light rail.
The article says that if we are to get more tram systems in the UK, then they must be cheaper. The writer argues that to be cheaper, they must be lighter and designed without thinking too much of how you build a High Speed Train.
He also argues that they should be innovative in their collection of power, like the trams in Seville. I would go one stage further and use some kind of flywheel power storage, as proposed by Torotrak.
Perhaps now is the time to call for Thomas Heatherwick, to design a lightweight, virtually silent, stylish, high-capacity tram, that didn’t need to have overhead wiring all along its route. Seville has shown some of what can be done. The team that successfully takes the next step, will create a revolution in trams. And with luck make a fortune!
I tried to buy a ticket after a coffee in Black Horse Square, where tram route 28 passes through. But there was no information, although someone tried to sell me a ticket for one of the bus tours.
So in the end I got one of the new trams to one of the Metro stations. I bought the ticket for this tram on-board using a few euro coins.
At the Metro station, I found a machine, that after some co-operation with an Austrian lady, I cajoled into giving me a 24 hour ticket. lonely Planet says there are kiosks for these tickets, but I didn’t find one.
I explored Lisbon’s trams are best described like the hymn book as a mixture of ancient and modern.
The modern ones are typical of many towns and cities in the world, but the vintage ones are probably unique. I can’t find any information on the age of the trams, but I seem to think some date from before the First World War. I think they might originally have been made in the UK, but they look now to have been fitted with up-to-date electric systems.
I rode the trams by purchasing a 24 hour ticket, which also allowed me to use the Metro and the buses. It cost me €6.50, which must be one of the cheapest entry fees to a transport museum. You use your paper ticket like an Oyster card.
I found this useful information in the Lonely Planet guide to Lisbon.
Don’t leave the city without riding tram 28 from Largo Martim Moniz or tram 12 from Praça da Figueira through the narrow streets of the Alfama.
I did that and many of pictures were taken on route 28.
On that route 28, the tram climbed some quite steep inclines almost like a mountain goat.
One thing I did was sit at the back and look backwards to the way we had come.
But whatever you do, any visit to Lisbon is not complete without a ride on the trams.
I explored Lisbon in three ways, by foot, Metro and the amazing trams.
I did a lot by just getting on a tram and then getting off at a place that looked interesting. I then got another tram or the Metro, until I needed to get back to the Oriana.
This gallery shows some of the sites I saw on foot.
As you can see, it wasn’t the warmest place, but at least it wasn’t raining.
Like Casablanca’s, Seville’s tram system is fairly new.
Note that it is unusual in that it doesn’t use overhead collection of power, but relies on batteries, which are charged at the termini. This is probably only practical because the line is short, but it does make it quiet and probably it doesn’t frighten the horses.
Modern Railways this month, is actually saying that this might be a cheaper way of running urban trams. Nice uses a system, where in the centre it runs on batteries, which are charged from the overhead power supply on the outer ends of the line.