Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Papal Visit

The BBC and the press are reporting that our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will visit the United Kingdom next year. The itinerary is still to be arranged but it seems likely to be London, Oxford, Birmingham, and Edinburgh. I wonder if His Excellency Francis Campbell the British Ambassador to the Holy See could be persuaded to ask Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to give her fellow octogenarian Monarch (and I suppose they both profess to be Heads of Churches*) a loan of the Royal Train - what better way to see the UK than by train? We could gather at all the stations and level crossings for his blessing.

* I only state this with ecumenical sensitivity - no Catholic would actually say that the Queen is head of a church [its not a church and the Queen, not being a bishop, couldn't be head of it if it were] and presumably Anglicans would deny that the Pope is head of a church, at least within the Queen's realm [at least that's what the Act of Supremacy affirms]

Monday, 21 September 2009

Treno Deragliato

There was train derailment in Milan recently, and thankfully the train was empty and the driver was only slightly hurt. The pictures though are quite dramatic. The train was on a raised section of track and on derailing some of the carriage tumbled off the parapet. Had the train been full it could have been a disaster; empty it makes great photos.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Bad News & Good

It has to be a shame to see the Glasgow Airport Rail Link cancelled. The Airport needs a rail link to ensure future growth and it seems foolish to be cutting capital expenditure rather than trying to cut the Government's operating costs (its not as if the Government doesn't waste money). I'm sure though that they thought this through, and some of the budgeting seems fanciful. According to one report the cost of moving a fuel farm has increased from £5 Million to £30 Million. That's a lot of bad estimating.

There is good news as well though. Tom Harris MP reports that Glasgow Central won Station of the Year and First Scotrail won passenger operator of the year. Congratulations to them.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament has a system whereby anybody can launch a petition and the MSPs will look at it and talk about it (although there's not much evidence that they've ever actually done something about it) and as priests we are very interested in this because there are always petitions to try and encourage things the Church is opposed to (gay marriage, abolish Catholic schools, etc.) or, less frequently, petitions to support goods things the Church supports (save St Margaret's Hospice, for instance). Whilst searching through all these bad & good things one also comes across railway related petitions, hence why it gets a mention on here.

One of the live petitions at the moment is calling for the re-opening of Blackford railway station, near Gleneagles. I know that one of our members has a great interest in this area - I hope that he has signed up for the petition.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Life Amidst the Ruins

Today saw the opening of an exhibition of pictures of Monte Cassino and other parts of Italy taken in the aftermath of the Second World War. The Exhibition, at the Mitchell Library, was opened by the Abbot-Ordinary of Monte Cassino, the Right Reverend Pietro Vittorelli OSB (pictured), who spoke about the Christian roots of Europe. He was joined by Archbishop Conti of Glasgow and the Consul-General of Italy in Edinburgh, amongst others.

What is interesting from our point of view is that the exhibition contains images of railways, including Milano Centrale, the Italian-Swiss frontier, and Swiss railways, taken by the photographer on his travels between Scotland and Italy. The exhibition, which is free, runs until the 30th September. The Mitchell Library is just accross from Glasgow Charing Cross station.

Summer Break: Trivia?

We've been busy over the summer (trainspotting naturally) and so haven't had time to keep the blog up to date.

It takes so long to prepare and fire up the steam engine for the blog - I must consider moving to a more modern diesel or electric one.

To pass the time until the next update (soon hopefully) how about some trivia. Clergymen may well be famous for their interest in trains but some other famous people like trainspotting as well. We all know how much Pete Waterman likes trains (remember he was the producer that brought us Kylie & the Locomotion), but did you know that the composer Dvorak (the one from those Hovis adverts) was a trainspotter as well? On the BBC they provide this quote "I'd give all my symphonies if I could have invented the locomotive!" Now that is a man after my own heart - anyone can be a good musician and composer (look how many of them there have been), but only a genius could invent trains.

PS. I know that some members of the circle will be a trifle upset about linking Dvorak with Hovis so how about calling it the 2nd Movement from his Ninth Symphony instead.