Tag Archives: transportation

Line 2 Opening Weekend

The spring timetable change was the opportunity for Sound Transit to open a new line.  The troubles with the crossing of the I-90 bridge mean that the Redmond to Bellevue section of what is to be Line 2 is isolated from the rest of the network.  However, it was decided to open it up as a starter line to provide some service for the area pending the completion of the connection to the other side of Lake Washington.  They had a grand opening.  Rather than go on the Saturday when everyone was due to be out, I decided to try out the line on the Sunday.

I drove to the South Bellevue station which has a large parking garage.  It is the southern/western end of the line for now.  Trains run every ten minutes and I hopped on one to ride to the other end at Redmond Technology Center.  This is also an interim terminus as there will soon be an extension into downtown Redmond.  I checked out the route in the trip out and decided I would stop off at a couple of stations on the way back.

Plenty of people were out on the Sunday too.  Many seemed to be like me and exploring the new service.  Sundays aren’t a day to judge utilization of a system, but it will be interesting to see what ridership is like as the service gets going and people find out how best to use it for their purposes.  I hopped off at Wilburton Station to have a look at the platforms and the view across to downtown Bellevue.  I bumped into a guy I know from Sound Transit who was part of the opening support team for the weekend, and we ended up chatting for a while.

I then went to the station in Bellevue itself which is a nicely designed station just at the end of the tunnel that runs under the city.  You get a long view of the trains approaching from east as they come across the bridge while you can hear the trains coming through the tunnel as they approach.  After checking out a few elements of the station, I decided to head back to South Bellevue to pick up the car and go home.  The alignment was pretty good.  Ride quality was good in most areas and the stations seemed nicely put together both operationally and aesthetically.  It will be a good line when it is fully connected but, as an interim step, it seems to be worthwhile.

Another Chance to Photograph the Hovercraft

During our trip to the UK, my mum came across to spend some time with the family.  She used the hovercraft to make the crossing and we went to Southsea to pick her up.  Regular readers will know that I love hovercraft so it would have been churlish not to get some shots of its arriving – I mean her arriving!  I skipped the long lens shots and instead focused on the approach and arrival.  Here are those shots.  Her return journey was frustrated by high winds, so we didn’t get a second chance to photograph the hovercraft when taking her back.

Elwha Looks Rough in Storage

After a trip out one weekend, we were heading home and waiting for the ferry at Kingston.  We had a bit of time before our ferry was due in, so I was stretching my legs around the terminal.  To one side of the main loading ramps, an old ferry was in storage.  This is the Elwha.  Apparently, after a large amount of corrosion issues were identified, it was decided to retire the ferry rather than repair it.  It was laid up in Kingston and I don’t know what the future holds for it.

I think it must have been sitting there for a while now.  The name has been painted over but far more conspicuously, the sides of the ship are looking really scruffy.  One end of the upper superstructure must be in the shade most of the time as it has developed a lot of lichen growth.  It looks like it could have quite an ecosystem developing there.  I imagine there will be a plan for disposal at some point but, until that time, I wonder just how it will end up looking.

Riding the E Line in LA

My morning trip to the California Science Center could have involved a quick Uber ride but, since I was in LA to discuss light rail projects, it seemed more appropriate that I take the train down there.  The station wasn’t too far away, and the E Line dropped me off right next to the park.  Whenever I am using some form of transit, I do try to get a photo or two. You never know when they might be useful for a presentation or for adding to a proposal.

Italian Day for the Cars

I’m heading back into the summer for an event that I have taken some specific topics from but for which the larger event has not yet been the subject of a post.  We are back in Redmond for Exotics@RTC again and, specifically, for the Italian Day.  This is always a popular day as it means quite the selection of the more spectacular examples of the Italian car industry.

I will always like to see some rare cars, even if I am not a connoisseur and I certainly am not able to identify which ones are particularly special.  However, I am more than able to decide which ones I like the look of.  Of course, when they are given pride of place at the center of the event, I am not going to fail to understand that there may be some significance to them!

Obviously, the sportier cars are very common at this event but there are others there too which are unusual and Italian.  Some of these are the sort of car I might have seen a lot of as a kid in the 70s and 80s when they were just a usual vehicle in the UK – Italian brands were sold extensively in the UK, even if their design for warm Italian climate meant they dissolved in a UK winter!  Here is a selection of some of the lovely vehicles that were in display for this year’s Italian Day.

Duquesne Incline

At the end of my recent visit to Pittsburgh, I wrapped up my meetings and had lunch prior to heading to the airport.  I did have about 90 minutes spare and was able to slot in a visit that I had thought about before going but that had slipped my mind for much of the visit when I was tied up with work stuff.  This was to check out one of the incline railways that Pittsburgh has.  Originally, there were twenty of these funicular railways on the hills surrounding Pittsburgh but now just two remain.

I chose to try the Duquesne Incline.  My Uber driver told me that this was the better one as the view from the top covered the downtown better, but I won’t claim this was an informed choice on my part.  However, I will take being lucky any time.  The incline was built in the late 1800s to get workers from the industrial lands along the rivers to their homes up on the hills overlooking the city.  There are two cars on individual tracks (not all funiculars are configured this way) with a cable connecting them after passing through the equipment room at the top of the hill.  The weight of the cars counterbalances to a reasonable extent so the power required is only what is necessary to overcome any weight differential and the friction of the system.

At the top of the hill, you can walk down under the station to see the machinery at work.  The sheaves reminded me of a visit many years ago to the Cable Car Barn in San Francisco.  This is on a smaller scale, of course.  Watching the cars heading up and down the grade was pretty cool and the viewing deck at the top provided a great view across the city.  This is all part of the Pittsburgh transit system so you can use the Incline as a connection to your bus journey if you want.  If you find yourself in Pittsburgh and have a little time, do check out either the Duquesne Incline or the Monongahela Incline.  They are quite something.

Clifton Rocks Railway

The area of Bristol known as Clifton sits on the top of the hill overlooking the Avon.  To get from the water to Clifton is quite a climb.  These days you would drive up there but, in the days, when vessels would be bringing passengers in by boat along the river, an alternative was required.  The Clifton Rocks Railway was the solution.  This was a funicular railway that ran in a tunnel from alongside the river up to near the suspension bridge.

Built in the 1890s, it operated until the 1930s when the decline in passenger numbers meant it was no longer viable.  The tunnels were used as office space during the Second World War with the BBC being one of the tenants and they continued to use the space into the 1960s.  There is now an effort to restore aspects of the tunnels although the railway will never operate again given the usage the tunnels have had since service ended.  The station at the bottom is still visible but is now alongside a busy roadway so might easily be missed as you drive past.

German Day at Exotics@RTC

My first visit to Exotics@RTC this year was delayed.  Early events were canceled for weather reasons and then, when they got going, I was doing other things and couldn’t go.  The first time I was able to make it was for the German Day.  I have done this day in previous years, and I like the types of vehicles that show up.  Yes, there will be a lot of modern Audis and BMWs but there will also be some far older and more interesting vehicles.  A Porsche tractor was one of these.

I won’t go into great details about any individual vehicles, not least because I am not very knowledgeable about them.  If they are in the center section, my assumption is that it is because they are unusual, rare and expensive but maybe something lesser can sneak in too.  I wouldn’t know the difference.  Here you go with some images of the various vehicles.

Elizabeth Line Station

Last year, while we were staying in London, I got to take my first trip on the Elizabeth Line or what was known for a long time as Crossrail.  This is a major addition to the transportation network of the town and appears to have been very successful.  I only took one trip through the core of town and one to the airport.  It was a very quick way to cover a journey that previously was a lot more drawn out.  However, the thing that impressed me most was the stations.  They are huge.  The trains are long from the start, but they have built capacity to have them longer and the platforms are about 250m long as a result.  You need to know which end to get out to make sure you don’t find yourself several blocks from where you intended when you get to the surface.

Birmingham Trams

The tram system in Birmingham was built after I had last been there.  We were staying in the center of the city so I didn’t need to use it to get anywhere but our route from the hotel to the evening’s entertainment took as past some of the route.  I noted this for the following morning when I took a little stroll around the city which was much quieter on a Sunday morning than it had been on a Saturday night.  The tram service was clearly less frequent too.  However, I did see some of them come through and wasn’t going to miss a quick shot while I was at it!