A look at the London to Glasgow Train vs Plane race organized by Campaign for Better Transport that took place yesterday.
This post is inspired by a contest set up by Campaign for Better Transport. With COP26 taking place in Glasgow the campaign group set up a race from London to Glasgow with one guy using train and one guy going by plane. I will give the details of that contest and then describe how I myself would get to Glasgow from King’s Lynn.
LONDON TO GLASGOW RACE
The train guy had a four stop tube journey to Euston and then a fast train service to Glasgow. The plane guy had to get to Luton Airport, get through airport security and board the plane, and then get a shuttle bus from the airport at the other end to central Glasgow.
The plane guy got to the destination first, by two measly minutes. As against that the train guy had a straightforward, stress free journey, whereas the plane guy did not. The other point is that the plane journey causes seven times the carbon emissions of the train journey. A total gain of two minutes on a journey of that length cannot be worth either the extra stress or the extra pollution, thus although this race did not quite have the result I was hoping for it is enough to say:
Here for extra evidence is the final tweet from CBT about the race:
They’ve arrived! @Paultuohy on the plane and Norman Baker on the train got to George Square just TWO MINS apart.
Paul *just* beat Norman, but his journey emitted around 7x more carbon emissions.
If I was to travel from King’s Lynn to Glasgow I would do so using two modes of public transport plus of course Shanks’ Pony at each end of the journey. I would walk from my bungalow to King’s Lynn bus station from where I would catch an ExCel bus to Peterborough and would then take the train from Peterborough to Glasgow. The reason for starting the route by bus is that if I use train all the way from King’s Lynn I have to change at Ely, whereas the bus goes direct to Peterborough. From King’s Lynn there is no remotely local airport that would be even vaguely sensible to use – the two nearest, Norwich and Stansted both entail starting one’s journey by travelling in the wrong direction, so even a die-hard plane aficionado would probably be forced to accept that plane is really not an option for this journey.
From my childhood home in south London the best route would be Northern line from Tooting Bec to Stockwell, Victoria line from Stockwell to Euston (the extra speed of the Victoria line justifying the apparently unnecessary change at Stockwell, which also happens to be a cross-platform interchange) and the fast train from Euston to Glasgow.
The account of my homeward journey from my Scottish holiday.
This post concludes my coverage of my recent Scottish holiday (28th May to 5th June) by looking at the journey home.
A TRICKY START
I woke early on the morning of Saturday June 5th, and it was just as well that I did so. A check of my emails revealed on overnight message from thetrainline.com telling that the service I was due to be leaving Wick on at 8:02AM had been cancelled. Fortunately I was able to locate a bus service leaving Wick at 6:57 and arriving into Inverness at 9:58 giving me plenty of time to get back on track from there. Thus rather than £100s and almost certainly an overnight stay somewhere on the way home I was able to get round the problem for £22 and some seriously shredded nerves. It also meant missing breakfast which I had intended to be the main meal of the day for me as I expected opportunities to eat while travelling to be limited. I currently have a compensation claim with Scotrail awaiting resolution. They initially insisted that I destroy the ticket even though it was only ever valid for travel on June 5th and then claimed not to have received my image of the destroyed ticket – I uploaded it again today and tweeted their social media team as well.
WICK TO INVERNESS
The bus was ready precisely when it was supposed to be, and the journey to Inverness was accomplished with little difficulty. Getting from the bus station to the train station was slightly tricky – I had seen a sign pointing to the train station on the way in and aimed for that but it was only signing the station car park, which is actually a few minutes walk from the station itself. Once I had got into the station I discovered that there was a train to Edinburgh departing at 10:46, getting me comfortably back on track – indeed slightly ahead of schedule.
INVERNESS TO EDINBURGH
The train from Inverness to Edinburgh ran exactly according to schedule. The route is a scenic one. I had three hours at Edinburgh Waverley before my next train (on which I had a reserved seat) to Grantham was due to depart. This gave me an opportunity to consume some refreshments (and as it turned out was the last such I would have, not greatly to my surprise).
EDINBURGH TO HOME
The train to Grantham (terminating there – there were various problems afflicting the network) ran smoothly. At Grantham I had to board a replacement bus service from there to Peterborough, which arrived just a few minutes before the train for Ely was departing. At Ely I had one final change to the train to King’s Lynn, which fortunately went without incident. At 11:25PM this last train arrived at King’s Lynn. Then it just remained for me to walk home. Though there were a few nervy moments this last section of the journey from Edinburgh to my home in Norfolk went precisely as the itinerary had stated.
Continuing my account of my Italian holiday with a look at the Roman end of the Via Appia.
Welcome to the fourth post in my series about my Italian holiday (2-11 September 2020). This post picks up from the end of the Ostia post and covers the second major activity of the holiday, a look at the Roman end of the Via Appia (I saw the other end of the Via Appia at Brindisi – Brundisium in ancient times – on a previous visit to Italy some years back, but I have yet to see the intermediate point at Capua).
THE EVENING AFTER OSTIA
We had supper out at a place that was a fair walk from the apartment we were staying. The meal was well worth the walk. It was at this meal that I discovered wild chicory, which is excellent stuff. Here are some pictures from that evening.
My mother, my sister and I went out to visit a food market near where we were staying. This was a very enjoyable little trip, and a good warm up for the afternoon’s activity.
JOURNEY TO THE VIA APPIA
My sister had worked out a route from our apartment to the Via Appia that involved two bus journeys with a change on the way, and we followed that route, albeit with a hitch in the middle due to confusion about where to catch the second bus from, which added a fair bit of walking to our day. Nevertheless we arrived at the Via Appia in reasonable time and were able to do some exploring. Here are pictures from the journey through Rome:
THE VIA APPIA
This was one of Rome’s great roads, built by Appius Claudius Caecus in the late 4th century BCE. It contained two legs, 132 miles from Rome to Capua, a military training town and then Capua to Brundisium. At the Roman end are several features of interest, including the tomb of Caecilia Metella, a villa of later vintage, the road itself, which still has some of its original cobblestones in place and a church which features the Quo Vadis story. There is also an excellent cafe – I drank a 50cl bottle of Peroni Gran Riserva Doppio Malto, which is a quite excellent beer. Unfortunately my camera battery ran out before the Quo Vadis church, so my photo gallery is not quite complete.
I end this post as usual with a waterfall video from Tivoli:
An account of journey from King’s Lynn to Cornwall for the festive period.
After a very quiet day yesterday, following a day of travelling the day before I am settled at my parents place in Cornwall, where I shall be spending Christmas and the New Year. This post details the journey down, before ending with some photographs.
KINGS LYNN TO CORNWALL
On Friday night it was the sensory friendly Panto performance at the Corn Exchange, King’s Lynn, which was excellent fun. On Saturday morning, with my packing accomplished I got the 9:20AM bus from just opposite my bungalow to the town centre (my baggage was heavy, so walking would have been very tough), arriving in good time to board the 10:13 train to London. Almost precisely two hours later I arrived at King’s Cross, with 45 minutes to get from there to my pre-booked seat from Paddington to Plymouth. The Hammersmith & City line (the district/circle line station is Paddington in name only) played ball for once, and I was at Paddington in good time. There was a warning that all was not necessarily well on the GWR when the platform information for my train did not come up on the departures screen until 10 minutes before it was due to leave. Ensconced in my seat I poured a cup of coffee from my cheapo travelling flask (it proved up the job) and waited for departure…and waited some more, until an announcement came through that our driver had been delayed on an inbound service and that we would be at least 20 minutes late getting underway. At this point I phoned my mother because even with no further delays that was likely to prove enough to prevent me making my connection at Plymouth for an onward journey to St Germans. I therefore arranged to be collected from Plymouth instead. In the event, it was fully 40 minutes after our scheduled departure time that the train finally got moving. We lost no further time on the journey, although the last section between Totnes and Plymouth felt like it was taking a long time. It would have been about eight and a half hours after I had left my bungalow in North Lynn that I finally got to my parents place.
A combination of tiredness from the previous day’s travelling and some fierce Cornish weather ruled out doing anything much yesterday. However today we will be going to Looe. In the bad old days of rotten boroughs the two villages of East Looe and West Looe were both recognized as parliamentary constituencies, and each returned two MPs. These days it is well known as a seaside resort.
Mainly about public transport, but also features autism and cricket, and of course has the usual stack of photographs.
This post was prompted to by events on Monday, when I had to journey to Cambridge and back – in the course of the post I describe that day in full. However, before I get to the main body of the post there is something else to attend to…
NINE HUNDRED THANK YOUS
Well actually 902 to be precise, since that is the number of you now following this blog. I am very grateful to all of you.
A DAY THAT WAS AN ARGUMENT FOR RENATIONALISING THE RAILWAYS
I was due to visit Addenbrookes for a check-up on Monday, and had to be there by 12:00. This meant that the last train to Cambridge I could catch and arrive there with sufficient time to get to Addenbrookes was at 9:44AM, since the next was the 10:44 due at Cambridge at 11:37, which would have meant that even if it was on time I would have needed Lady Luck to play ball to be at Addenbrookes by 12:00. Being excessively cautious when it comes to making journeys by British public transport I was actually ready to leave my flat by 8:40 and saw no grounds for not doing so. I thus arrived at the station just before 9:00 and with no queue at the ticket office was actually able to board the 09:10 train, and never one to object to having extra time to spare did precisely that. It was a few minutes late departing, and then had to wait at Downham Market for a train coming the other way to pass (there are single track stretches between Downham Market and Littleport). Speed restrictions between Downham Market and Littleport cost us further time. At Cambridge I got a bus to Addenbrookes, and was there just before 11AM, giving me time to consume an early lunch before going to the oncology reception and announcing my presence.
Although the consultant was ready to see me promptly the people taking blood samples for testing were running behind, so I had to see the consultant first and then get that done. The consultation was exceedingly brief, since the scans done a week and a half earlier revealed nothing untoward (no news in this situation is most unequivocally good news). Once it came to my turn to be seen for them the blood samples were also to my great relief obtained without undue delay. Nevertheless, it was 12:45PM before I was finished at Addenbrookes. I got the express bus back to Cambridge (£2.20 instead of £1 for the regular bus, but in the circumstances worth the extra cost) and was there in time for the 13:36 to Lynn…
…Cue more chaos. There was an out of service train occupying the platform from which the Lynn train was supposed to depart, causing a late platform alteration. The service was also delayed slightly (somebody had been hit by a train earlier in the day and the knock-on effects of that were being felt everywhere). However, once it got underway it ran fairly smoothly. Between them having the blood samples taken and the consultation took maybe ten minutes, maybe less, yet I left my flat at 8:40 and did not arrive back there until 3PM, and of that six hours and twenty minutes only about 40 minutes can be put down to Addenbrookes – the rest was a combination of my caution and the inadequacies of British public transport.
Although I fully accept that one cannot prevent incidents such as people being hit by trains from happening the rest, including the service pattern that meant I dared not run any risk being on a later train than 9:44 when I had an appointment at a hospital on the outskirts of Cambridge at 12:00 and the platform alteration due to an out of service train blocking the intended platform are wholly indefensible, and in the case of the platform alteration happen sufficiently often to be classed as regular occurrences on that line.
We need our railways to be fully publicly owned and fully publicly accountable. There only two groups of people in my opinion who should decide how railways are run – those who provide the service (railway workers) and those who use it (railway passengers).
Here are some photos from the journey:
A NEW BOOK RELATING TO AUTISM
The book is to be called Your Life As I Knew It, and you can be part of making it a reality by visiting the funding site for it here.
EARTH XI TO PLAY MARS
This section was prompted by a post on the Full Tossblog comparing Virat Kohli and Steve Smith and inviting us to make a decision between them. My resolution to the conundrum was simply to avoid treating it as an ‘either, or’ situation. With Rohit Sharma and Mayant Agarwal shoo-ins as opening pair that left me only seven more players to find to make an XI. I have opted for Kane Williamson as the fifth specialist batter, Ben Stokes at six and as fifth bowler, Ben Foakes as wicketkeeper (he is the best currently playing, though as a controversialist I might be tempted to see if I could lure Sarah Taylor out of retirement for this one!), Rashid Khan the Afghan legspinner at 8 (a gamble, but I would love to see how he fares as part of an all-stars combo), Pat Cummins, Jofra Archer and Kagiso Rabada (Jasprit Bumrah is currently injured, otherwise he would be a shoo-in.). Thus the current Earth XI to take on Mars is as follows:
My first post about Marxism 2018 – which has kicked off in fine style.
The Marxism Festival is always one of the highlights of the year for me, and it got underway today. My train to London ran a bit late, but I was still at the venue in good time to do everything that I needed to before the first meeting.
CLIMATE CHANGE: WHAT DOES THE ANTHROPOCENE MEAN FOR REVOLUTIONARY STRATEGY
Just before I get on to covering this excellent meeting I wish to deal briefly with a related matter: Jeremy Corbyn has been getting stick in certain circles for choosing to use Prime Minister’s Questions this week to tackle Theresa May on the state of buses in Britain. He was right to take her to task on this topic, and she floundered hopelessly as she usually does, unable to answer the questions. Here are a couple of charts from nomisweb.co.uk that between them make quite clear the rightness of Corbyn on this issue, which I found by way of the twitter feed of somebody called David Ottewell:
and with car journeys added to the chart:
That vast number of people using the car as their main mode of transport outside of London is a major problem in many ways, and is caused in large part by the scandalous state of bus services outside the capital. As a concrete example, King’s Lynn is the third largest town in Norfolk while Fakenham is a market town in the middle of Norfolk. The last bus out from King’s Lynn to Fakenham leaves Lynn at 5:40PM, while the last bus back from Fakenham to King’s Lynn leaves Fakenham at 5:30PM – and this is still a better bus service than most of Norfolk can count on.
The meeting began with an explanation of the term Anthropocene, and then covered some details about recent heat records:
After this the speaker went on to talk about the inadequacy of the provisions made at an important meeting in Paris, the demonstration that occurred in Paris at the same time as that meeting and to end with a message:
There then followed an excellent discussion as people asked questions and made contributions, before Martin came back to tie everything together. This meeting was an excellent start to my Marxism 2018.
An account of James and Sons’ April auction – very successful overall, and to my immense relief free of any technical issues.
This week saw James and Sons’ April auction, a three day affair on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Overall it was very successful, with a couple of disappointments, but lots of sales.
DAY 1: SPORTING MEMORABILIA, BOOKS AND EPHEMERA
In order to avoid being rushed during the preliminaries I caught the first bus of the morning, and got to the shop at 7:10AM. I attended to an urgent query first thing, and then it was time to complete the IT setup. To my great relief there were no hitches at all, and everything was in working order. During this period the auctioneer also briefed me about the May auction, and what was required in terms of imaging a very large quantity of military badges. In view of this I decided that I would have to leave some of the railway photographs unimaged, although it was a necessity from an ethics point of view to image lots 1203-12 as I was intending to buy a couple from that range, and it would not do for there to be any suggestion of influencing things in my favour by not making images available to the public.
We got underway bang on schedule at 10AM, and while there were no headline making prices a decent quantity of the sporting memorabilia did sell. Then came some books, and a few big sales. Lot 260 had an estimate of £50-75 but vigorous internet bidding pushed the final price up to £220.
Willie Hoppe’s “Thirty Years of Billiards”, lot 279, was in with an estimate of £20-30, but caught the eyes of online bidders to such an extent that the final hammer price was £180!
Less dramatically, lot 282, Levi Riso’s “Billiards in a Lighter Vein” had an estimate of £15-20 and actually fetched £30.
Lot 302 had an estimate of £10-20 and went for £30.
Near the end of the first day lot 340, a curious little item, attracted no interest from anyone other than me:
After lunch I started work on the badges for the May auction.
DAY 2: COINS AND MILITARIA
Another early arrival, and another hitch-free preliminary before going live at 10AM. We had three coin buyers in the room, and some internet interest, so the coins sold well. Lots 475, 501 and 695 all went signifiantly above estimate, and most of of the other coin lots also found buyers.
We had a 15 minute break between the coins and the militaria, which kicked off in style with lot 700. Lots 704, 705, 711, 719, 727, 761, 802, 823, 824, 828, 830, 831, 832, 837, 838, 844, 846 and 847 all also went significantly over estimate, and almost none of it remained unsold.
DAY THREE: POSTCARDS AND RAILWAY POSTCARDS
I arrived early once again, did some badge imaging and then paid a visit to Tony’s Deli (Thursday is market day in Fakenham, and this food stall is excellent value for money). For the third straight day there were no hitches in the preliminary stage – although I was not especially happy about doing the official sound check at 9:57, not least because I already knew it was working. A couple of early postcard lots (856 and 857) achieved big prices, and most of the postcards found buyers.
The other notewaorthy postcard lot was 1047, which became my second purchase of the auction. I will at some stage be giving this lot a whole post to itself, but here are some pictures for the present:
The Railway Photographs did not attract any interest, although this was not helped by the fact that the auctioneer was hurrying through them. The only three to sell were all bought by me – lot 1071 (locomotive at Haworth), 1208 and 1209 (respectively arriving at and leaving Mallaig – for more on this journey go here):
A few more badges imaged for the May auction, and I was able to make my last ever journey on a Stagecoach X29 (on Tuesday, when I return to work it will be on a Lynx Bus number 49, since squillionaire bus company Stagecoach have deemed their Norfolk services insufficiently profitable and bailed out on them),.
Some thoughts on public transport, prompted in part by Lord Adonis’ resignation statement.
The timing of this post is due to the resignation statement of Lord Adonis, a man who I have very little in common with, but who hits the nail on the head with his resignation statement, which you can read in full, courtesy of The Guardian, here (an excerpt is reproduced below, courtesy of twitter):
EAST COAST FRANCHISE LOWLIGHTS
The first time the East Coast Franchise hit difficulties, it was being run by National Express. The then government took it into public ownership, albeit with the (stupid) rider that it be reprivatised as soon as it was back in the black. On reprivatisation it passed into the hands of Virgin Trains, run by a combination of tax exile Richard Branson and the Stagecoach Group (as a non-driver who lives in Norfolk I know them too well and like them too little for comfort). The East Coast Franchise is now back in trouble, and the current transport secretary, Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling, as well as being a strong contender in the ‘most incompetent minister ever’ contest is such a ‘private good, public bad’ zealot that rather than take the logical option of taking it back into public ownership is bailing it out at vast cost, thereby setting a horrendous precedent which will enable any other rail franchise that hits trouble to demand a bail out.
RENATIONALISATION AS START POINT
Not only should the East Coast Franchise be renationalised now, with it being made clear that it will not be privatised again, the whole railway network needs to be renationalised. The Labour party have laid out how this can be achieved – namely by refusing to put each franchise up for tender as and when it expires. For further detail check out We Own It’sRailwayspage. However, this is only a beginning – both because railways are only one part of public transport – there are also buses, and because one needs to consider how the system should be run. As I was typing this, the following came through on twitter from We Own It:
Bus and railway services need renationalising, and they need to be run jointly. As to how they should be run – well there are two groups of people who should be represented in the body that runs public transport services: those who use the services and those who provide the services. If services are to be publicly owned (and these should be), they need to be fully publicly accountable.
SOME EXTRA RESOURCES
I have three final links to share which relate to this piece:
The Mirrorhas demonstrated yet another way in which privatisation is failing us, with fares going up by an average of 3.4% (when we already pay on average five times as much as our fellow Europeans for a service that is probably not even on fifth as good as most of them get – I have travelled extensively in Europe over the years and most countries provide far better services than are available here in Britain) – we have on average the oldest carriages since records began (that average is 21 years old, with the Caledonian Sleeper holding an unwanted record with 42 year old carriages).
Here is you reward for reaching the end of this piece:
An account of James and Sons’ final auction of 2017.
James and Sons last auction of 2017 took place at our own premises in central Fakenham on Wednesday, and in this post I tell the story of that sale.
THE PRELIMINARIES – TUESDAY
On Tuesday we moved the stock for auction downstairs, and with that laid out, and the smaller high-value lots in the vault until the morning I then brought down and set up such of the IT equipment as I could (we are a laptop down at present so I would be pressing my own machine into service once again) and carried out a brief test which suggested that all was in order and that there should be no issues.
THE AUCTION ITSELF
I arrived at work bright and early since not even Stagecoach can contrive to have the first bus of the day run seriously late. For those living in Norfolk and uncertain regarding buses in the holiday period services will stop early on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, there will be no services at all on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and a “Saturday service” will operate from the 27th to 29th of December inclusive (and since that day is actually a Saturday presumably also on the 30th).
Coffee made, emails checked and a few things gathered up to go downstairs I went back downstairs at 7:45AM. The IT setup went smoothly, and I had the slide show running before any bidders arrived (there were a few room bidders on this occasion). Here are some pictures from this period: