Posted in Railways on Saturday 11th December 2004 at 10:53pm

A week ago, it looked like today was going to be busy, but a series of rumoured cancellations left things a little uncertain. Nevertheless, set out early enough to see the 'Merchant Venturer' tour arrive at Weston. This was due to be diesel hauled to Bristol where a steam locomotive would take over. It was a choice of heading for that, or for First Great Western's Class 47 Farewell at Taunton. Chose the latter, but found a developing farce at Weston - the tour was late and the following Paddington service had been cancelled. Hedged bets and headed south on the 0757.

After passing 67002 just leaving Bridgwater with the tour stock, arrived at Taunton and bumped into familiar faces. A chilly morning with low mist and not much light. Set ourselves up for a photograph. A little late, 47815 appeared at very high speed thundering through Platform 3 with 47811 at the rear of the train. Reminded me of summer saturday Manchester-Paignton services of old! Photograph turned out pretty badly.

Up to Bristol in brightening sunshine, just in case things turned up - and bumped into yet another of our merry band. Heard more stories of cancellations, so decided to just wait and see what developed. Aside from the arrival and departure of the Class 31 hauled 'Santa Special' to Weymouth, a few elusive HST power cars, and a sudden burst of three 66's, not a great deal happening. Odd sight of 158751 on a Cardiff-Portsmouth with one end marked as 158962 - obviously soon to gain another car! A very cold but pleasant enough afternoon spent.

Back down to Taunton for a long cold wait for the return leg of the FGW 47 tour - now double-headed following a TPWS failure on 47815 at Plymouth earlier. Again, passed at speed with only a small crowd out to greet it in the freezing evening air!

Popped out again after arriving back in Weston for the returning 'Merchant Venturer' running somewhat early, again with 67002.

67002 at Weston with 'The Merchant Venturer'
67002 at Weston with 'The Merchant Venturer'

A long, cold and strange day - which despite cancellation after cancellation, turned out to be very enjoyable.

Movebook Link


Posted in Railways on Friday 10th December 2004 at 11:27pm

Took advantage of being just about on target at work for a day off, in order to use the final day of my rover on what was an historic day - the last working of the Wessex Class 31's to Brighton.

Late start from Weston, with some time to wander around at Temple Meads and to pick up a copy of the new timetable. Decided that I would try to see the journey all the way through just once, so rebooked to complete the trip to Brighton and back.

Started four minutes late, but soon made up time and miraculously by Salisbury we were slightly early. Train very busy throughout, and I can only imagine what it will be like with a 158 in the coming weeks. Onto the south coast, with an increasingly party-like atmosphere in the front coach which was predominantly cranks. As ever, kept quiet and watched the fun develop! Explained the reason for the wake to an older passenger sitting beside me reading 'The Tablet'. After looking rather bemused she said "I though trains were something you were interested in when you were 10?". Soon convinced her of the merit of Peds on the basis of overcrowded units and the fact that is universally accepted by pensioners - that anything old must be good! Paid my respects to Southwick as we passed - scene of a farce on a similar trip back in February! Finally rolled into platform 1 at Brighton in darkness, pretty much on time.

31452 arrives at Brighton for perhaps the final time on 1O98
31452 arrives at Brighton for perhaps the final time on 1O98

Quick exit into town for some shopping, then back to the station for a swift look around before boarding an already filling front coach behind 31601 for the return leg. Again, solidly wedged for much of the journey. All went to plan timewise too, until Bathampton where a bridge strike at Keynsham had everything stopped and queueing for entry to Bath Spa.

Arrived at Bristol around 30 late. Lots of folks heading over to Cardiff for the very last bit of the trip. Saw them off before boarding the absurdly long six-car unit home to Weston, no doubt a stock movement to Exeter. The irony is, next week 1V96 will be an overcrowded two- or three-car unit and there will be coaching stock languishing at Westbury. A sad day, but a cracking run.

Movebook Link

Posted in Computers on Thursday 9th December 2004 at 11:42pm

Finally gathered all the bits of thinking, testing and research I'd done on getting XSLT to translate an ADT file meeting the DfES schema into a flat, printable list. Added a reasonably usable web front-end here.

Hopefully, this might be useful for looking inside a file without having to import it, giving some idea of what it contains and who sent it. In fairness, it doesn't do much error checking just now, but I have convinced it to correctly deal with <AddressLine> and <NLPGaddress> sections.

It's far from perfect, but hopefully its a useful utility. In the process I might just have learned enough to respond earlier to the upcoming challenges of ASL, ALT and ATF files.


Posted in Updates on Wednesday 8th December 2004 at 7:45pm

Received interesting introductory training today on the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The group I was part of expressed some perhaps valid views about the cost of administering a system where practically anyone can ask anything for any reason, and I think hard-pressed front line workers probably left feeling like a whole other weight of paperwork was heading their way.

However, I can't help but feel slightly optimistic about this. I know that there is a ton of data floating around the organisation that I work in which could be useful to me - let alone curious or concerned members of the public. I just don't know how to get it, who holds it or how recently it was updated. A new focus on records management within the council is going to hopefully mean that I can find this out easily. The concept of 'publication schemes' - an open list of everything which is made available and how to get it in various formats - is also welcome.

On a more selfish level, I hope I can look at the career opportunities such changes to how public bodies manage data could bring. As I mentioned to a colleague just a few days ago I'm never happier than when I'm up to my elbows in data trying to work out how to make it do what I want!



I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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