Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel
celestialweasel

À la recherche du maglevs perdu

Trip:
1 - Abingdon To Oxford Station (X3 bus)
2 - Oxford - Worcester Foregate Street
3 - Worcester Foregate Street - Stourbridge Junction
4 - Stourbridge Junction - Stourbridge Town
5 - Stourbridge Town - Stourbridge Junction
6 - Stourbridge Junction - Smethwith Galton Bridge
7 - Smethwick Galton Bridge - Woverhampton
8 - Walked to Wolverhampton St George's Tram Stop
9 - Wolverhampton St George's - Birmingham Snow Hill
10 - Walked round Birmingham then to University station along the canal
11 - University - Birmingham New Street
12 - Birmingham New Street - Birmingham International
13 - Birmingham International Station - Birmingham International Airport
14 - Birmingham International Airport - Birmingham International Station
15 - Birmingham International - Oxford
16 - Oxford - Abingdon (X3 bus)

The main objects of this trip from a transport perspective were
a) the Midlands Metro
b) the line from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town, specifically the Parry People Mover class 139 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_139
c) the thing between the station and airport at Birmingham International

Transport notes:
1. None of the trains, even the Parry People Mover (sometimes cruelly referred to as Parry's Pathetic Milkfloats) seemed slow per se, though some of the station stops on the line to Worcester did seem to be me to be bordering on taking the piss.
2. The PPM is actually quite handsome by comparison by older one carriage low capacity rail things http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinfoulger/7781081038/ The ride wasn't the smoothest but actually I was reasonably impressed. It is not clear to me how many other places there are suitable for their use i.e. where you happen to have a rail line where you would like to run not tremendously fast or high capacity but relatively high frequency trains. There is something terribly 'British' about the endeavour somehow.
3. I felt that Smethwick Galton Bridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smethwick_Galton_Bridge_railway_station ought to be called 'Smethwich Galton And Simpson Playhouse' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galton_and_Simpson It has some slightly naff art that has seen slightly better days, in the 'prettify civic things in poor places' style. They do seem to like their naff outdoor civic art, or Centro (or whatever it is called now) did / does. It is essentially a cross-roads, two lines meet at right angles.
4. The Midlands Metro line is very similar to the Croydon Tramlink - an old heavy rail line with some on-street running and with the old stations razed and replaced with new tram stops, and with more trams stops added so the stops are closer together. The trams look very similar to the Croydon ones but look much nicer inside.
5. The train from Smethwick to Wolverhampton was an Arriva Trains Wales one, with all the notices in Welsh and English along with a big 'Welsh Government - Connecting Wales' sign on the side. This reflects a different attitude to subsidies than the UK railways as a whole, certainly if there are any 'UK Government - proudly lining the pockets of chancers and homophobes' signs on the side of trains I have not seen them. The windows also badly needed cleaning.
6. You may recall that the thing between the station and airport in Birmingham used to be a maglev http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maglev#Birmingham.2C_United_Kingdom_1984.E2.80.931995 - the maglev disintegrated and they couldn't / wouldn't fix it, so for years the elevated track was unused, but is now an ordinary airport style people mover, apparently it is cable hauled like a cable car. There are plaques saying it was supported with money from the European Connecting Things To Other Things Quite Close To Them Fund, presumably back before EU enlargement when Birmingham (and indeed Britain outside London and the South East) were viewed as poor, backward areas were help was needed to connect things with other things quite close to them (even when quite a lot of infrastructure was there because there used to be a thing that connected things with other things quite close to them but it fell apart). I am sad / outraged that there is nothing commemorating the once proud maglev (though on the local area map at Birmingham International station it is still described as the 'maglev track').
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