Always ready to give his readers a linguistic challenge, the above piece of Japanese orthography forms the core of our first Monday Variety item. It is, as you will all know, the name of a town in Japan. So here is the far less challenging headline in English text.
Unusual Utsunomiya Undertaking

And there it is, approx 100km north of Tokyo. Here is the main railway station in the town.

Greater Utsunomiya has a population of over 800,000 which is about the size of the greater Glasgow urban area. And it has just opened one of these …

… yup, a tram route. After the left hander at the station stop it zooms off down the middle of one of the main streets.

And it is all new-build. It opened on 26th August with due ceremony.

So why does fbb call it “unusual“.

There are plenty of trams in Japan, but the Utsunomiya line claims to be the first new line constructed for 75 yeats! As they say so often in today’s news bulletins, fbb cannot independently very this claim. 
But he  found a map …

… which could easily be upside down. Fortunately most of the publicity for the line is in English!

As previously seen c/o Google Earth, it starts at the railway station east entrance …

… but once outside the built up area, the track runs on viaduct, well clear of roadways.

It crosses the Kinugawa River on a magnificent bridge-cum-viaduct …

… before pressing on to its terminus in the neighbouring community of Haga.

The line is a little over 14km in length. The Haga terminus is on the edge of a mega industrial estate.

The page that shows the route in English lettering also gives fares …

150 Yen is about 85p!

A temporary frequency is currently in operation every 8/12 …

… but an upgrade is planned.

Whether it really is the first new tram track for 75 years is, indeed, debatable.

We have trams, light rail, very light rail, tram-trains, metro and pre-metro (to name but a few) all of which can merge into one another in terms of technology, number of stops and servic quality.
The Lightline is very much a street-running  tram in the inner city, and in the built-up bits of Haga. But in between it is more akin to a light railway.
Nevertheless it looks great.

Come on Glasgow! There’s plenty of room down the Great Western Road to run from City to Dumbarton!

Roger Rattled By Reliability Ructions

For the last few Sundays, Uncle Rog has been reporting on his experiences with “Demand Responsive” services in many a far-fling corner of Blighty. He is a brave man, braver than fbb who wouldn’t trust an App booking as far as he could throw his mobile phone; which isn’t very far.

Seek out his “Bus and Train User” blog for the full horrific detail.
Thanks to the gross incompetence of the technology or the data management  or both, Rog was waiting here …

… in drizzly weather and a not very sheltering shelter opposite the rather splendid Kidford Village Hall.

Sadly, for most of the 90 minutes that Rog had to wait and  try to find his pre-booked bus, it was sitting quite happily here, opposite Fernhurst Village Hall.

It was eagerly anticipating young Mr French who would never appear.  The two are about 14 miles apart.

Both stops were called just “village hall” in the software! But then the software is American and designed by somebody who has probably never heard of a village hall. So what do you expect?
Fortunately no other potential passenger was inconvenienced by this utter shambles; there were none.
As usual Rog was the only passenger (thus far, i.e. by 1530) that day.
Two questions materialise in fbb’s agile mind.
Why are we (taxpayers) being asked to pay for this rubbish? (Actually we are never asked.)
Why do local authorities put their trust in “foreign” software and data management?

Crackpot, yet again.
U L E Z – Unpopular Loony Emissions Zone
So far, according to Mr Khan, 171 ULEZ cameras and/or their anssociated equipment boxes have been vandalised.
This box was filled with the contents of a fire extinguisher …

… it wasn’t snowing at the time!

This post has been snapped (quite easily, it appears) by, obviously, a passionate supported of the Conservative Party or a passionate opponent of Mr Khan.
Or maybe by a member of the local “youff” having “fun” on the way home from a glass or two of lemonade.ll

Mr Khan says these attacks will not change anything. Actually Mr Mayor, they will. If enough of the poles just happen to break in two, you won’t be able to charge people the £12.50 fee!

Incidentally, several “authorities” have calculated that, in the extended ULEZ zone, so many compliant vehicles exist that the policy will make little or no measurable difference to air quality!
Of course, this blog does not condone illegal activity; but it may be more effective that waiting for the next Greater London mayoral election?
It’s called “Public Opinion”.
Which Reminds fbb …
Apparently over 500,000 people have replied to the “consultation”. fbb has asked the originating office how many were in favour of the closures. No reply has yet been received.
What a surprise!

Fare payers’ strike, anyone?

 Next blog (hopefully?) : fbb returns, tomorrow, to Heathrow 

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