The Trouble with Nottingham Trams @nettram

When they extended the Nottingham Tram to Toton and Clifton I was a supporter of the idea.  I like the idea of catching the tram into town. You can park your car and ride in. Like the train you know where the stops are but unlike the train, you don’t need a timetable as the service runs every few minutes. I also like the fact that you can get a discount by using one of the contactless travel cards and you don’t need to queue at the machine to buy a ticket.

I don’t use the tram on a daily basis but I probably use it two or three times a month. My experience of using the tram is the reliability is rubbish and leaves much room for improvement. In the last two months, fifty percent of my journeys have been disrupted. Perhaps one reason for so much disruption due to medical emergencies is that there is only a driver on the train. The design of the network features very little redundancy and a blockage on a route soon has an impact (especially since so much of the route is shared with other traffic)

The worse thing about the delays on the line is the total ineffectiveness of the NET Tram operator to cope with it. When a train doesn’t run a replacement bus service is commissioned with the same destination. When a bus service has an issue it can be routed around the problem. When a tram doesn’t run you are told to hop on a bus and from that point on you are on your own (with no knowledge of the bus timetables, routes or bus stops)

Today I found myself at QMC hospital with a service delay. The departure board appeared to be operating a random number generator as the time to the next tram went up and down as the travellers on the platform waited anxiously for an update (there was a tiny scrolling message at the bottom of the screen but nothing to indicate it would be a problem further down the line here at QMC).

I checked the tram website but it hides the delays/updates information on a tiny bar on the homepage so I missed it. This isn’t good for a mobile site – NET pass this information to your web designers – a menu option would be handy.

Perhaps the worst thing is the social media people telling people to catch specific bus services with little other guidance. Where do these buses go? I’d just tapped my Mango card on the reader – would I have to pay twice? How could I get back to my car at the park and ride car park? Whilst the social media team ignore customer queries, they do find time to respond to positive comments left by customers (which makes you wonder why there are there?)

My faith and confidence in the tram has been further shaken and I’m not alone.  Speaking to others who commute into Nottingham many of them chose to pay more and drive in because doing so is more reliable than the tram. I do hope NET manage to find a solution to their poor reliability if they are to expand and take more cars off the road.

 

Review: Kill Me Again

Kill Me Again
Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book after reading the back road, not having realised I’d missed out some books between. Although there were some convenient coincidences (including links to a crime spree 12 years ago) the story is extremely well told and the characters developed really well as we go through the story.
The story telling is really good and I actually looked forward to the next instalment to find out what would happen next. There are a few twists and turns as the story progresses to an excellent ending (the close of this story is very well done). Rachel Abbott is rapidly coming one of my favourite authors – I love her style and will return and read the novels I’ve missed out in the series

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Review: The Back Road

The Back Road
The Back Road by Rachel Abbott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. It differs from lots of crime stories as it doesn’t focus on an investigation by a detective. Instead the story starts to develop from a dinner party and develops from there to an unexpected conclusion. The story opens with a hit and run and the location of the incident (on the back road) would suggest that the killer lives at the local village since the road doesn’t go anywhere else.
I loved the way we found out something about each character in turn, all of which kept the plot twisting and turning as you try to work out who the hit and run driver is. I enjoyed the book so much I immediately ordered the next (and previous) book in the series.

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Review: The Secret

The Secret
The Secret by Katerina Diamond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great story and like the first in the series it extremely well told. As the book went on I began to question the characters as they seemed to change from the last book. Imogen Grey seems to lose some of her strength and grit to the point you start to ask yourself if she is the same character. As the book goes on you have to suspend disbelief and accept the number of coincidences including the cliffhanger at the end!
Worth a read! 🙂

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Review: Nightmares And Dreamscapes

Nightmares And Dreamscapes
Nightmares And Dreamscapes by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic Stephen King. It’s always a pleasure to listen to Stephen King’s books and this one is narrated by a variety of people. I like reading Stephen’s short stories because it’s a bit like dipping into a box of chocolates. Each one is different but they are all linked by his excellent storytelling. I’m not sure how this collection passed me by the first time but I enjoyed it years after release (and it was an extremely long audiobook!)

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Review: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Perhaps I didn’t enjoy this book as much as recent reads because I read it on my Kindle (using my eyes!) as opposed to listening to the audiobook. A slowish start that picked up pace towards the end. I found it a little dated, think of it as the reading equivalent to watching old episodes of Star Trek or Lost in Space. Good idea for a plot although the ending came very quickly (in fact it finished when my Kindle said 93%)

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Review: Blake’s 7: Lucifer: Revelation

Blake's 7: Lucifer: Revelation
Blake’s 7: Lucifer: Revelation by Paul Darrow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was bought this book (and the first in the series) as a gift being a long time fan of Blake’s 7. I thought it would be interesting to know what happened after the series ended.

To be honest this isn’t the best of books. The pace of the book is extremely quick with very little time given to character development or the subtleties of telling a story. The story just goes bang bang bang through the plot, written like an essay by a school pupil.

I also found much of the plot unbelievable (if you can find Sci-fi unbelieveable) as everything is fixed with a bit of stealth mode and Orac’s vastly improved superpowers. Orac is no longer in character with the rude arrogant Orac we know from the TV series and Avon has lost the hidden humanity he displayed in the TV series.

Disappointing – on the basis of this book I won’t be getting the last in the series…

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Review: End of Watch

End of Watch
End of Watch by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A return to form and writing from Stephen King that we’ve come to expect. I enjoyed the first two books in the series (King is an excellent story teller) but both books were setting the scene for this book. As I always say for his books, King is an excellent story teller and he builds detailed and believable characters.

As the book unfolds you wonder how our modern world can make sense of a serial killer that kills by entering your mind and talking you into committing suicide. I thought I knew how the book would end, and despite changing my mind several times as I was reading the book I was wrong about the ending.

What more can I say about the book – it’s a Stephen King and this time he got the ending right.

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Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Somehow I’d managed to get into my forties without having read this book or even to have much of an idea of what it was about. I’d escaped it as a set text and it was only a special offer on Audible that made me look again.

So what did I think of the book? I have to say I loved it – I’m soppy, I’m sentimental and I have a strong sense of right/wrong and these are strong themes in the book. I loved the characters (even the names of the characters) and I thought the story telling was excellent. Having read the book I can see why it has been put in front of so many GCSE students.

All I can suggest is that you read the book for yourself and see what you have been missing 🙂

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Review: Good Girls Don’t Die

Good Girls Don't Die
Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As with most of the books I consume I listened to this on Audible and apart from a few dodgy accents, the quality of the narration was very good.

The story was very engaging with realistic characters and a story line that drew me in and kept me listening. As with the best story telling, the author adds back story to the main character that makes her seem more believable and which is threaded in to the story line throughout the novel.

The author puts you in the mind of the detective as she follows up on leads and tracks the suspects. The novel is written from a female viewpoint (fortunately the lead character is female) but doesn’t have an overly feminist agenda so this shouldn’t put off male readers. Little details are pointed out and there are plot twists and turns as the book progresses, although many of these are predictable because you know you are only half way through the book!

I’m a suspicious character by nature so I’d suspected the serial killer but then again over the course of the book I’d suspected several of the characters as many had a motive for killing young women. There are enough twists and turns to keep the story moving and the book doesn’t feel drawn out or too long.

I found out that there is a sequel to this book and it impressed me enough to want to read it! That’s why I gave this book 5 stars 🙂

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