Robert Hampton

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29th November 2015

Bahn Hamburg
Posted by at 2.45pm | Out and About | No responses

Final post in the Hamburg series!

Having talked about the places I visited in Hamburg, I probably should mention how I travelled to them. Yes, it’s the big climax, the one you’ve all been waiting for: my assessment of the public transport system.

Hamburg, like many European cities, is blessed with a lovely public transport system. As well as buses, and the aforementioned ferries, there are underground and overground trains zipping all over the place. No trams, though. Boo.

But… dear, oh dear, the network map lets it down. A nasty mess of jagged lines, and the city centre is a jumbled mess with lines criss-crossing all over the place. It’s not as bad as the horrible Merseyrail map with the square loop from a few years ago, but still, I can only give 6 out of 10.


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28th December 2011

Central Perk
Posted by at 1.37pm | Trains | No responses

Today was my first visit to the gym since Christmas. I’ve consumed rather a lot of mince pies in the six days since I last ventured there, and I paid for it today. On the treadmill today, I was a real Christmas sweater! (I thought of that joke four days ago, but had to wait until now to use it)

Going to the gym meant going into town, and going into town meant getting the train. Fortunately, the line and station near my house are not affected by the engineering works which have closed a big chunk of Merseyrail’s Northern Line, so I was able to get into Liverpool city centre without hassle.

I arrived at Liverpool Central for my return journey having just missed a train. This didn’t worry me – there was not long to wait until the next one and it gave me a chance to appreciate the very atypical atmosphere in the station.

Photo of near-empty Liverpool Central station

Shorn of all its trains except a shuttle to Hunts Cross, the Northern Line platform was a very different place. No crowds, no pushing and shoving, no jostling at the base of the escalators. It was quiet, peaceful, serene – like the Evergreen Forest before Bert Raccoon wakes up.

The commuter part of me almost wishes it could be like this every day. But railway stations, especially major ones in the centre of town, are not supposed to be this quiet. Seeing Central like this, almost deserted on a busy shopping day, actually made me quite sad.

15th December 2011

Driving Home For Christmas (well, there’s no trains, after all)
Posted by at 9.43pm | In the News, Trains | 2 responses

Good old Metro, inviting its hard-pressed commuter audience to indulge in some collective gnashing of teeth:-

Britain faces a Christmas holiday railway shutdown with virtually no trains for almost 60 hours from 5pm on Christmas Eve.

Leaving aside the blatant lie (most services don’t start winding down until after 8pm on Christmas Eve), this isn’t really news, is it? The Christmas shutdown is a tradition going back many years, all the way back to the days of British Rail. And why is Metro making a big deal out of it now when the Christmas trains info has been published on National Rail’s web site for weeks?

There is a prober debate to be had about public transport provision over the Christmas period (the lack of Merseyrail on Boxing Day is often an inconvenience for me) but Metro – like its stable-mate the Daily Mail – is more interested in unconstructive whining.

Incidentally, the rail network doesn’t shut down entirely for two days: there will be teams of engineering staff out and about, taking advantage of two days without trains to do some serious work. For example, on 25th and 26th December 2004 the new footbridge over the West Coast Main Line at Liverpool South Parkway was craned into position, while this year Network Rail are replacing a bridge at Sandhills (although the work is too much for two days, so there are rail replacement buses a-plenty for Northern Line passengers on the 27th and 28th).

1st September 2010

Singing in the Train
Posted by at 7.49pm | Trains | 1 response

Merseyrail’s post-engineering work charm offensive continues. Today, as I was hurrying to catch my train to work, I was stopped by a staff member in the booking hall. I was about to dig in my pockets for my Trio, but instead of demanding to see my ticket, he pressed an item into my hand. “A thank you,” he said.

Closer inspection revealed it to be an umbrella emblazoned with the Merseyrail logo! Surely this is something for me to sell on eBay treasure for years to come.

Merseyrail Umbrella

Thanks Merseyrail. I’m actually going to feel almost guilty when I criticise your ticketing policy in my next blog post.

28th August 2010

On the Right Track
Posted by at 12.02pm | Trains | 1 response

I interrupt the Brighton odyssey to bring you an important newsflash… MY TRAINS ARE BACK! Yes, after five weeks of engineering works and rail replacement bus services, normal service has been restored, and I am once again being comforted by the familiar whine of Class 507 traction motors at the end of my garden.

We are promised that this will be the last extended closure “for three years” – which invites the worrying question of what they’ve got planned in 2013. But Merseyrail did at least recognise that it has been inconvenient for scores of passengers, and sent out some staff on Wednesday morning to pass out leaflets at the bus stop:

Merseyrail Thank You Leaflet

On the other side is a voucher to get a cup of coffee for just 50p at any MtoGo shop – rest assured I will be presenting this at Liverpool Central on Monday morning.

14th December 2008

The Most Advanced Passenger Train
Posted by at 5.20pm | Trains | No responses

So, how did day 1 of the Super duper new West Coast Main Line timetable go? I have no first hand experience, but over on uk.railway one person reported that his train from Lime Street to London this morning was cancelled due to… overrunning engineering works. Hm.

Elsewhere it was a happier story, with Stone station in Staffordshire getting its first train in five years, after its services were “bustituted” in 2003 to allow the upgrade work to take place.

Network Rail can’t quite shake the engineering work bug though, as there’s one last hurrah the weekend after Christmas.

19th January 2008

Posted by at 10.29am | In the News, Trains | No responses

Somewhere in Network Rail headquarters, a light goes on! This in The Times from head honcho, Iain Coucher:

“We now need to run railways every single day of the week. We need to run them on Christmas Days and Boxing Days,” he said.

“We traditionally have taken weekends and Bank Holidays to do engineering work. But we know that there is demand to use the railways 365 days a year.”

Mr Coucher condemned the attitude of some train companies, which have claimed there would be too few passengers to make it worth running a service over Christmas. “If we gave the ability for people to run trains on Christmas Day, I’m sure there would be travellers. There are still key workers working and there are many people who are not from a Christian background and want to travel,” he said. “We know that Boxing Day is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.”

Running trains when people want to use them? It’ll never catch on.