Train trip excitement

Took the steam train to Elgin today. I’m still on it. It’s all romantic and everything, but they have to attach a couple of diesel electric engines to it to get it up the hill at Sir Lowry’s Pass.

Sadly, this being South Africa, one of those diesels broke down, meaning that the train was pulling deadweight, the wheels were spinning, sparking, and causing fires under the carriages.

Thankfully, because we were going so painfully slowly, staff were able to get all alongside, putting out the fires as they occurred.

We’ve dumped a few carriages now, and we’re back underway.

Hopefully, we haven’t started any wildfires along the way…

UK travel costs

I’m booking train tickets for a lightning quick visit to the UK, post the Cast In Steel 2016 visit to Bergen in May. And they’re expensive.

Of course, everything is expensive when you look at the tragic state of the South African Rand, but travel – especially train travel in the UK – is stupidly, near prohibitively, expensive.

But what are you supposed to do? You can’t walk.
Last time, with Mrs 6000 and the kids with me, it made more financial sense to hire a car and drive up the M1. And that’s 260km with petrol costing R24 an litre. Still pricey. But with just me going, that option seems less financially viable this time around.

It’s not just me though. Infamously, last month (as infamous as something that recent can be, anyway), Jordon Cox, aka “The Coupon Kid” travelled from Sheffield to Essex via Berlin – included a day out in the German capital – and still saved money.

flight2    flight1

Although his money-saving achievement was somewhat overlooked by The Guardian whose main concern was that it wasn’t environmentally friendly. Missing the point, much?

And then there was this, with the argument around football ticket pricing becoming a bigger and bigger thing:


And yes, maybe Mr Tyneside_Blades (if that is his real name) could choose a cheaper (and almost certainly far more enjoyable) hobby than watching Sheffield United, but saying that is merely employing Guardianesque diversion tactics. (Incidentally, someone had a go at that here, and was summarily defeated.)

The point here (again) is the comparison between travel to/from Essex/near London and travel to/from Germany.

So I looked, but I couldn’t find a suitable route via Germany. *sad face*

I did find one via Dublin though.
And here’s my maths (no, I don’t have time for stadium tours or a ham and cheese toastie):

Fullscreen capture 2016-02-08 111033 AM.bmp

My plane from Bergen arrives at LHR, so that’s my starting point for either journey. I don’t get to leave the airport at Dublin, so I won’t spend anything at the Guinness Brewery, and my Dad will pick me up from station or airport, so that bit is for his account, (but ok, for the record it’s basically 5 miles to the station and 25 miles to the airport).

A few other points:
Yes, this includes all taxes, and a minimum of 20kg luggage allowance for the planes. Heavy.
Yes, I have to allow about 3½ hours for the train journey, while the flights would take about 6 hours. Time.
Yes, the train would be more environmentally friendly. Smoky.
No, despite the graphics above, I’m not expecting to travel by Pullman Coaches or Boeing 747 on these journeys. Inaccuracy.

I probably won’t end up doing this, but the point is that I could. And it simply doesn’t make sense that I could.

I’m not really sure who to complain to about the whole thing though, so I just wrote a blog post.

Thanks for reading it.

Metros of the world

I like this. It’s one of those Neil Freeman data visualisations. Here are the 140 “high capacity, grade-separated heavy rail” systems (city metros) of the world, all neatly put together on one handy image, from sprawling Shanghai:


to little Lausanne:


Worst. Metro. Ever.
Looks like an unravelled Ebola virus.

And once they’re all listed in order, it looks something like this:


That top line features Shanghai, Seoul, Beijing, London, New York.

You can find out more details and even buy the poster for your subway-themed office wall here.

High Speed Train

Off back up North and currently doing 200+kph on East Coast Mainline.


Having left Kings Cross station and its amazing roof inside a roof behind, we’re belting through the Cambridgeshire countryside (it’s nicer than Leicestershire) and being amazed by the number of wind turbines. Yeah, we’re really easily amazed.

This train does London to Doncaster in about 90 minutes. The journey the other way took over three hours. That’s what stopping 11 times does for you. That said, on the way down we were on schedule. This one is running a few minutes late, which wouldn’t be too bad if we had more than a few minutes to change to our Sheffield train once we get there. Could be tight.

Tomorrow: Sheffield United v Walsall.
Tonight: Russell Howard at the Arena.
And yes, I need to upload some photos.