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JCB Dieselmax

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
03/Dec/2006

Another record breaking car is on display at the Transport Museum. The JCB Dieselmax broke the land speed record for a diesel engine back in August when it topped 350mph. It was already on display here in Coventry when easier.com erroneously claimed the first UK viewing will be at the Autosport International show in january.
JCB Diesel max



Slow Train Coming

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /
17/Nov/2006

This morning's journey to work took about three times as long as it normally does. The journey was ok until the approach to Birmingham International where the train sat motionless for a few minutes before pulling into the station.

After a short wait an announcement was made telling us we had to leave the train and board a different one on another platform. Everyone dutifully trudged over to that platform and started to cram themselves onto the train but it soon filled up and left, with half the people still on the platform. The 'paddle waver' (who seems to be there to indicate to the driver whether anything's trapped in the door) had made a swift departure and had gone into hiding so there was no-one to ask what was happening.

See more ....

Departure board
I went up to the concourse to wait, but that proved to be almost as cold and draughty as the platform. There was an announcement that all trains to New Street had been cancelled. A few minutes later we were told to go to another platform and board the train there. We were warned that due to a trackside failure the train would proceed slowly to New Street. Then about a minute later we were told that the train was out of service and to return to the concourse for further news. The train driver did admit that the delays were caused by an overhead power line failure though.

Eventually we managed to get onto a train which was bound for Liverpool. This stopped at most of the local stations on the way to New Street but at least it was moving. The whole sorry comedy of errors meant that I got to work about an hour late.



In the Summertime

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
30/Oct/2006

The clocks went back an hour across most of Britain last night as we leave British Summer Time and return to Greenwich Mean Time. I say most of Britain because the clocks at Coventry railway station were still on BST this morning. Thankfully the timetables and the arrival & departure boards were showing the right times but it was a bit confusing at first.

Update 03/11/06:
This has since been reported on the IC Coventry news site. A quote from their article:

As a result they are all running one hour earlier than they should be except for the clock on platform four, which has been 18 minutes slow for the past month. Now with the switch back to GMT, it is only 42 minutes fast.



Wrong type of pollen on the line

Story location: Home / Blog / news /
04/Oct/2006

A few years ago the latest excuse for late running trains was the wrong kind of leaves on the line. Apparently a leaf weighing a few grams could stop a hundred ton train because it would cover the sensors making the trains appear invisible to the control room.

This year they've excelled themselves by chosing a smaller item to blame. Pollen is now stopping trains on the Cambrian line between Birmingham and Aberystwyth by clogging up the radiators of the diesel engines.

Read more about this on Google News.



Change trains twice at Birmingham International

Story location: Home / Blog /
30/May/2006

The trains were particularly rubbish this morning. Engineering work at Rugby had over-run so all the trains on the line between there and Birmingham were horribly delayed. As a result the local stopping train to Birmingham was very crowded.

When we got to Birmingham International it was announced that the express train on the other platform would be leaving before us and so everyone who was going direct to Birmingham (myself included) moved over to that train.
After a couple of minutes where neither train moved, the train manager came onto the tannoy to explain that the driver refused to move because the train was over crowded. He wanted around 100 people to get off the train. I joined a few other people in moving back to the local train, which thankfully was still there. Some people decided to stay on the express.
We had the last laugh - our train moved first while the express was still at the platform.



An Interesting Diversion

Story location: Home / Blog /
27/Apr/2006

After leaving work I walked to New Street Station as usual. I glanced at the board to check that my usual train was at it's usual platform. The train left the station only a couple of minutes late. I looked out of the window at the industrial units we were passing and thought they looked slightly unfamiliar. Also the BT Tower seemed to be in a different direction. We then passed through an area of housing, looking down onto the rooftops. I don't remember seeing that before. We passed a park with a pond. Wait a minute. There's definitely no park like that along the route home.

The train slowly trundled through a station. I looked out of the window to read the name. Perry Barr. Holy Crap! We're heading in the wrong direction. None of the other passengers look worried. Am I on the wrong train? If the next stop is outside the West Midlands, my railcard won't be valid to get me home. The LED display in the carriage still claims the train is heading towards London Euston via Birmingham International and Coventry but we are going in the wrong direction.

The voice of the train manager wafts through the train. We are being diverted because a lorry hit a bridge near Adderley Park station. The train has to pass over the bridge so the line is closed while they do safety checks. Ok, I'm on the right train. We pass under the A38. I look at the road signs and notice we are going from west to east so at least we are now in the right direction. We pass Aston Villa football stadium and Star City. The next station we pass is Stetchford. Phew. We're back on the right line now.

We arrive in Coventry almost half an hour late. I step onto the platform. Puzzled. I don't recognize this place. What platform are we on? The sign says 1. The other sign says Coventry. Ok, right place. I look down the platform one way then the other. Ah, the exit is over there. The train came in 'backwards' so I was at the unfamiliar opposite end of the station. I wander the length of the platform, under the road bridge and towards home.



Bye Bye Mazda

Story location: Home / Blog /
26/Apr/2006

The old Mazda 323 went to the scrap yard today. It was only ever a temporary car between the Rover Metro and the new car.

It was my Dad's old car and he only kept it because it would have cost money to have it scrapped. The scrap yards here seem to be better and we got £25 for it. Anyway, back to the car. It would take around 5-10 minutes to warm up before it was safe to drive, due to the engine management being faulty. For most of the warm up time, I had to sit with my foot gently on the accelerator. When it started to blow black smoke out a couple of months ago, Emma insisted that we started looking for a new car. Occasionally while driving, the engine power would drop and then return, giving the car a bit of a jolt. It was also a high insurance group and we couldn't afford to get Emma insured to drive it.

On the positive side, when I was emptying the car last night, I found a bottle of wine under the drivers seat! That probably explains the creaking and clanking noise I heard when I last drove it. It sounded like the seat was about to collapse.

The old Mazda 323 went to the scrap yard today. It was only ever a temporary car between the Rover Metro and the new car.

It was my Dad's old car and he only kept it because it would have cost money to have it scrapped. The scrap yards here seem to be better and we got £25 for it. Anyway, back to the car. It would take around 5-10 minutes to warm up before it was safe to drive, due to the engine management being faulty. For most of the warm up time, I had to sit with my foot gently on the accelerator. When it started to blow black smoke out a couple of months ago, Emma insisted that we started looking for a new car. Occasionally while driving, the engine power would drop and then return, giving the car a bit of a jolt. It was also a high insurance group and we couldn't afford to get Emma insured to drive it.

On the positive side, when I was emptying the car last night, I found a bottle of wine under the drivers seat! That probably explains the creaking and clanking noise I heard when I last drove it. It sounded like the seat was about to collapse.



Welcome to Coventry. No Right Turn

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
17/Apr/2006

I find it strange that despite Coventry being the birthplace of the British Motor Industry, it is not a very car friendly city. There are a lot of strangely designed junctions with strange restrictions on them. Near where we live, there are:

  • The junction with Melbourne Road and Spon end - no right turn from either direction.
  • Hearsall Lane, no left turn onto Allesley Old Road
  • Queensland Avenue, no left turn onto Hearsall Lane
  • Broomfield Road, no right turn onto Albany Road
  • Broad Lane, no right turn onto the A45, which brings us to...
  • The strange 'island' full of fast food eateries next to Sainsburys which you need to go all the way around to get onto the A45 if you want to go towards Birmingham
  • Junction 4 of the Ring Road where you turn onto the slip road to stay on the Ring Road
  • Added 3/11/06: A roundabout on the A444 where you can never leave if you try to obey the 'no left turn' signs on all the exits

One of the worst junctions though has to be Toll Bar End, near the airport where the A45 and A46 meet. This is one of the busiest roundabouts in the midlands, and is quite horrible to drive around. There are far too many lanes and it is nearly always busy so if you're not in the right lane early enough it can be difficult to navigate around.

The image below is from Google Maps and shows the junction as it is at the moment. Thankfully, there are plans to replace it with a 'grade separated' junction where the main carriageway goes straight through so the roundabout would only be needed to switch roads.
toll bar end junction



Fare Dodger

Story location: Home / Blog /
10/Apr/2006

There was a fare-dodger on the train this morning. When the ticket inspector appeared at the far end of the carriage, he stood up and disappeared towards the other carriage.

Thee ticket inspector obviously knew what was going on because after he had finished his rounds, he came back into our carriage and sat down opposite me, where he could keep a watch on the toilet door (where presumably the fare dodger was hiding). Another Central Trains employee arrived on the scene to offer reenforcements, but I didn't see how the scene played out because the train arrived at New Street and I had to leave.



Mr Mince

Story location: Home / Blog /
06/Apr/2006

Most mornings while I'm walking across the car park, the London bound train is pulling into the station. This is usually accompainied by a frantic increase in activity as commuters hurriedly park cars and race to the platform.

This mornings participants included the occupants of a black Range Rover with blacked out windows. This tough looking vehicle parked and a man and a woman climbed out. They both sped towards the platform, the man mincing his way across the car park, his running action completely at odds with the tough image suggested by his car.



New Car

Story location: Home / Blog /
03/Apr/2006

We were supposed to collect our new car on saturday but as I've already mentioned, we were away. I left work early this afternoon so we could go and collect it today.

It's not a new car (just over 4 years old) but it's low milage and in good condition. When we took it for a test drive, the speedometer wasn't working but thankfully that had been fixed and we were able to drive it away safely and legally.

We chose to buy a Kia Rio because they don't hold their value, so second hand ones are much cheaper than most other similar sized cars. As long as we get a couple of years motoring out of it, we'll be happy.



Send my coffee to Bournemouth

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /
28/Mar/2006

The train was ready to leave Birmingham New Street when the announcement came on to say that the departure was cancelled and we all had to go over to platform 1 to board the Bournemouth train. Something to do with a failure with the overhead lines causing other trains to be cancelled or diverted. Anyone travelling to London would have to change at Birmingham International and hope for the best. Thankfully the Bournemouth train stops at Coventry so I was ok.

The train was a bit over crowded with many people standing in the aisle and by the doors. On arrival at International, the London bound people got off and a few other people got on. There was one unfortunate chap who was standing on the platform, arms were full of various bags and holdalls. He was also carrying a cup of coffee which he set down in the doorway of the train as he got his bags ready. Just as he was about to climb aboard the train, the doors closed. He was still there on the platform clutching his luggage as his coffee sped off into the distance.



Crowded Train

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /
09/Mar/2006

It was very busy on the train this morning. A lot of people got off at Birmingham International (presumably for Crutfs at the NEC), including a woman with a huge fluffy white dog.



Quiet Zone?

Story location: Home / Blog /
07/Feb/2006

The Virgin Trains usually have a couple or carriages designated Quiet Zones, where they ask the passengers to refrain from any music or mobile phones which may disturb others. Most people tend to respect this and you only get the occasional phone ringing. Today was the exception, with a baby crying almost all the way from Birmingham to Coventry. People really shouldn't take babies into the quiet carriages unless they can actually keep quiet. They aren't called 'Quiet commuter and crying baby' zones, and for a very good reason.



Birmingham by Bus

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /
04/Feb/2006

We decided to go shopping in Birmingham by bus instead of train. We both have travel passes which allow us to travel anywhere in the West Midlands by bus so it wouldn't cost us anything to go. Unfortunately the bus takes around 3 times longer than the train. Not worth it just to save a few quid (so we took the train back home again).

We had a walk round the market, getting some fruit and veg and some less healthy chocolate-coated strawberries. We went to Selfridges to get some of their so-called mini onion bhajis, which are fairly huge but terrific value at only 50p each and taste great. Lunch was at McDonalds - only because we had a b.o.g.o.f voucher for a value meal, otherwise I try to avoid the place.