Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

September 10, 2016
by Neil Turner
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Links from Pinboard for September 10, 2016

Here are the articles or web sites that I’ve found this week and linked to on my Pinboard Bookmarks:

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September 9, 2016
by Neil Turner
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Kirkstall Forge – Yorkshire’s newest station

Photo of Kirkstall Forge railway station

Earlier this summer, Yorkshire gained a new railway station on the outskirts of Leeds. Called Kirkstall Forge, it’s located on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines which offer commuter services from the Aire and Wharfe valleys into Leeds and Bradford. And on Wednesday, I went to have a look at it.

Kirkstall Forge gets its name from a large forge that used to exist on the site. It was demolished, leaving a huge area of brownfield land, ripe for development. And it happened to be right next to a railway line. So the site’s developers contributed a sizeable amount of money to ensure that a station could be built. After all, houses near railway stations tend to command higher prices.

The station has been a long time coming; plans were first drawn up 17 years ago in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2014 that all of the funding became available. Construction started later that year, although its location on the River Aire’s flood plain put its opening back to June.

As it was a nice day on Wednesday, I walked to the station from Leeds, along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. It’s about five miles and took me a bit over an hour to get there. Of course, I was about a third of the way there before I realised that Google Maps wasn’t showing a footpath from the canal towpath to the station. Thankfully, a quick Google search verified that there was indeed a path to link the station to the canal. Indeed, thanks to the footbridge at the station, access to the canal in this area is now greatly improved.

The station itself is nothing special. Two platforms, a footbridge with lifts, a couple of waiting shelters, some seats, a ticket machine and a passenger information system. The latter two of these were out of order, showing a scrolling message about checking the paper timetables. Welcome to 2016, everyone.

Considering that a train passes through the station every 10 minutes in each direction, surprisingly few actually stop there. The basic service seems to be hourly in each direction, to either Leeds or Shipley and Bradford Forster Square. A handful of services instead go to Ilkley or Skipton, but these seem to be limited to peak times.

It might seem a bit of a waste then, to spend millions on a station with such a basic service. But then, there isn’t yet much to serve here. Whilst I’m sure that the forge site will be covered with hundreds of new houses in a few years, right now there was only a little construction taking place. Still, I was not the only person to catch the train towards Bradford, at around 4pm.

Kirkstall Forge, for now, retains the crown of Yorkshire’s newest station, but not for too much longer. South of Bradford, Low Moor station is under construction, on the site of the ill-fated Transperience museum, and is due to open next year. Well, hopefully – it’s already behind schedule after an uncapped mine shaft was found right where one of the lifts was due to be installed. There’s still a big gap in the Bradford-bound platform, at time of writing.

Scott managed to visit Kirkstall Forge before me and wrote about it – and I largely agree. Maybe in a few years, the station will be able to better justify its existence.

August 20, 2016
by Neil Turner
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Links from Pinboard for August 20, 2016

Here are the articles or web sites that I’ve found this week and linked to on my Pinboard Bookmarks:

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August 17, 2016
by Neil Turner
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Hiatus

It probably won’t surprise you to see that I’m on something of a hiatus from blogging. I started a new job a couple of weeks ago, and have been very busy getting to grips with it at peak time.

Lizzie is doing great and I’ll probably write another post about how she’s developing. Let’s just say we have a lot of child-proofing to do.

Hopefully, normal service will be resumed next month. See you then.

August 6, 2016
by Neil Turner
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Links from Pinboard for August 6, 2016

Here are the articles or web sites that I’ve found this week and linked to on my Pinboard Bookmarks:

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August 3, 2016
by Neil Turner
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Car insurance renewal preparation

Cheese on Toast van, which presumably has car insurance.

I’m about six weeks away from my car insurance policy expiring. Presently, I’m with Diamond (part of Admiral Insurance), and haven’t yet had their renewal quote. But I’m already shopping around to see if I can get it cheaper elsewhere.

I wrote a blog post last year detailing what I’d done to slim my quote down. This ultimately saved me around £200 on this year’s cover. And for three months I had a small ‘black box’ device in my car which monitored my driving. The good news is that I drove sufficiently well to get a ‘safe driving discount’ on my renewal, when it comes.

I’ve not claimed this year, so I should have one year’s no claims bonus. And I’m not a brand new driver any more. Hopefully, the combination of these factors will mean that I can simply renew my car insurance with Diamond to get the best deal, but I’m keeping my options open.

I did a quick price comparison on Confused.com, to see what other insurers could offer. Admiral Insurance itself came top at under £550, which is around £150 cheaper than Diamond was last year. There were a few others under £600, although the quotes will expire before my renewal date. Still, it’s good to get an idea of what’s out there.

I also got a car insurance quote from LV=, after receiving an email from my trade union with an ‘exclusive discount’. Their quote was almost £2000, which, for a car that is worth less than £4000, is ridiculous. Especially when another firm can offer similar cover for around a quarter of the price.

Whilst it’s a pain to have to research new car insurance policies each year, you usually have to be a new customer to get the best deal. Insurance companies presumably make most of their money from those who auto-renew every year, and don’t shop around. It is time consuming getting new quotes, but it can be worth it.