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Harecastle Tunnel Booking System

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Back in early August I emailed CRT about the booking system at Harecastle tunnel.   I can't find/remember the thread but I promised to post when I got a reply.   Well it has finally happened.  See below:

 

Dear Mr J

 

Please accept my apologies for the delays in responding to you, and in particular for not responding ahead of the September trip you mentioned.  Richard had asked me to respond on behalf of the West Midlands region back in August, but unfortunately I’d erroneously marked this up as responded to.  I’ll attempt to answer your points, in the hope they’ll still prove useful:

  • We instituted the current booking system in the spring, to manage essential boat traffic with the very limited staff we had available at that point
  • Safety was one of the main considerations, and remains a priority for us in how we manage all of our assets, but of course the situation has changed, and we have found that keeping the pre-booking system has several benefits, including
    • Bringing Harecastle into line with the majority of the structures we operate, helping us to create a more consistent system across the country
    • Keeping boat traffic along this stretch of canal regular and moving, with fewer queues
    • Reducing the amount of waiting time at the Tunnel for boaters who are able to book ahead
  • We’re working on getting the booking system fully on-line, to make it easier to make and manage your bookings; this has proved more complicated and time-consuming due to the technical challenges of applying modern technology to an old site, but our team are fully prepared to run this once the system is functional, which we’re expecting for the winter season
  • You don’t need to give us a set amount of notice to book, but the more you can give the better chance you have of getting the slot you want
  • We’ve only got so many staff and volunteers available to manage the tunnel, hence having set hours; we’re actively looking for more volunteers to help us offer extended hours in the future
  • Whilst we agree that travel plans can change, and hold-ups are often out of your control, we are pretty flexible in responding to these, and have been able to make changes to bookings at very short notice
  • Sharing your details with us ahead of time helps the system to run more smoothly; it also makes sure we definitely know who’s gone into the tunnel in case of an emergency, as unfortunately not everyone has their details on display
  • Finally, I can confirm that we’ve had very few problems reported to us by either boaters or tunnel keepers; the situation on the ground generally runs very smoothly

 

I hope that you were able to enjoy time out on the canals last month, and your experience of travelling through Harecastle Tunnel was a positive one.

 

Regards

 

Tom

 

Tom Freeland

Boating & Customer Service Manager West Midlands

E  tom.freeland@canalrivertrust.org.uk

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cid:image008.png@01D51577.BDE59950

cid:image009.png@01D51577.BDE59950

cid:image010.png@01D51577.BDE59950

 

Canal & River Trust

Ground Floor, Aqua House, 20 Lionel Street, Birmingham, B3 1AQ

canalrivertrust.org.uk

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I really don't think it's an issue. It must be very wasteful to have people stationed at either end of the tunnel just in case somebody turns up wanting to go through. 

 

In this day and age everyone has access to email. It's a 21st century solution.

 

No assistance is required at Foxton or Watford.

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4 minutes ago, Cheshire cat said:

I really don't think it's an issue. It must be very wasteful to have people stationed at either end of the tunnel just in case somebody turns up wanting to go through. 

 

In this day and age everyone has access to email. It's a 21st century solution.

 

No assistance is required at Foxton or Watford.

No assistance at the tunnel, they book you in and out, plus one chap opens and closes the door and switches fans on and off. Foxton and Watford both book you in and watch what you do.. Even if they just had the same opening hours as they do now without the booking. Boaters have always accepted if there are too many boats for a convoy they have to wait. When I came through there were just as many boats queuing, 6 one way and 5 the other.

  • Greenie 1

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13 minutes ago, Cheshire cat said:

I really don't think it's an issue. It must be very wasteful to have people stationed at either end of the tunnel just in case somebody turns up wanting to go through. 

Are there really times when nobody is turning up?   Every time we have been there there has always been boats either going through or waiting to get through (not been since booking was required).

 

P.S.  I know some folk without access to email.

Edited by Jerra

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8 hours ago, Cheshire cat said:

I really don't think it's an issue. It must be very wasteful to have people stationed at either end of the tunnel just in case somebody turns up wanting to go through. 

 

In this day and age everyone has access to email. It's a 21st century solution.

 

No assistance is required at Foxton or Watford.

It may not be required but it’s seemingly impossible to avoid.

 

Having waited for four hours to ascend Foxton and two hours to descend Watford a few weeks ago I’d sooner book so I knew what was in store.
 

JP

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9 hours ago, Jerra said:

Are there really times when nobody is turning up?   Every time we have been there there has always been boats either going through or waiting to get through (not been since booking was required).

 

P.S.  I know some folk without access to email.

Be spent 3 days moored at the South end in early September as it was a convenient place to do some painting. There were a number of time slots with none or only one boat, usually the second slot of the day.

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WE booked to go through from the north portal in September, got an 8 am booking and we were the only boat there so it's swings and roundabouts really.

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You can't take a roundabout in, its too big.

 

There are times when there is very little boat traffic. If you turned up without booking when there was no traffic but staff there, would you still have to wait until they decided to book you a slot? If so that is daft.

 

I resent having to arrange my leisure cruising around someone else's time table, its a restriction on my freedom. I don't work to time tables anymore since I retired. The freedom of living on a canal includes being free of appointments, to restrict me is not good for my wellbeing besides water.

  • Greenie 1

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28 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

I resent having to arrange my leisure cruising around someone else's time table, its a restriction on my freedom. I don't work to time tables anymore since I retired. The freedom of living on a canal includes being free of appointments, to restrict me is not good for my wellbeing besides water.

 

Whilst true, times are a changing and you will need to get used to ever tighter controls and restrictions on the waterways. Booking tunnel times today, no ICE allowed in the future, reduction in times allowed to moor (24/48 hours instead of 14 days) paying an 'entry fee' to access busy areas, mooring charges etc etc.

 

Thigs will only get worse as the 'extremities' (less used waterways) start to be 'abandoned' as there is insufficient money for maintenance 'due to C19' etc.

 

Welcome to the 'Brave New World'.

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One of crt's "proposed" new terms and conditions:

"D.1 The Licence fee grants permission for the licensed boat to be present on Trust owned or managed Waterways. The Licence is not a guarantee of access or availability of the waterway. Refunds of Licence fees will not be made for closures as described in this Condition D.

 

Happy cruising folks!. 😁

 

 

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How hard would it be to make Harecastle operate without human intervention? How hard can it be? If not, what are the impossible bits?

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1 hour ago, system 4-50 said:

How hard would it be to make Harecastle operate without human intervention? How hard can it be? If not, what are the impossible bits?

Fan and door control from a practical point of view,  Entry could be controlled by lights. I v1ew of the recent death probably HSE would throw their hands up in horror 

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1 minute ago, ditchcrawler said:

Fan and door control from a practical point of view,  Entry could be controlled by lights.

In this day and age I am sure they could be controlled by a combination of sensors and timings.

1 minute ago, ditchcrawler said:

I v1ew of the recent death probably HSE would throw their hands up in horror 

Having humans at each end didn't save the poor guy, so why would lack of them be any different.

  • Greenie 1

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14 hours ago, Cheshire cat said:

I really don't think it's an issue. It must be very wasteful to have people stationed at either end of the tunnel just in case somebody turns up wanting to go through. 

 

In this day and age everyone has access to email. It's a 21st century solution.

 

No assistance is required at Foxton or Watford.

We have no access to e-mail when out on the boat so would we be allowed to just turn up as usual.

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10 minutes ago, Jerra said:

 

Having humans at each end didn't save the poor guy, so why would lack of them be any different.

I made the same argument when there was talk of sacking them and using volunteers

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Thought so. No more free access to the Anderton Lift either, I guess.

It'll be an improvement. Lots of them about.

One of Parkinson's laws says that in any organisation, sooner or later, the organisation is organised to run for the benefit of itself and not for its ostensible customers. A variant is Arthur's Second Law, which is that every improvement makes things worse.

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15 hours ago, Cheshire cat said:

 

 

No assistance is required at Foxton or Watford.

Watford was brilliant in 2016-9(before they ran out of water everywhere) by having lock times, but not being locked after hours. Meaning hire boats generally moored up and waited until morning somewhere near..and people who knew could carry on at any time. It meant Watford and Foxton could be done in one day.

Foxton is just too busy with visitors, two pubs to allow summer unlocking , I have been through several times in the Winter with nobody about though.

It took us almost 4 1/2 hours to get through Foxton this August...not too many boats,  just incompetent lockies flooding the middle from the top as they let water down.

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To add to the booking list, all Severn Locks and all the G&S swing bridges. No boats booked for a day then they can stay at home and be on zero hour contracts.

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18 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

To add to the booking list, all Severn Locks and all the G&S swing bridges. No boats booked for a day then they can stay at home and be on zero hour contracts.

Whatever happened to the plan to automate the G&S bridges and do away with the bridge keepers anyway?

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Can I just ask that everyone who like me doesn’t find the booking system for Harecastle or Anderton very user friendly please please write/email in to crt  using either a regional contact or head office. They might then start to listen. Otherwise it’s just a few of us moaning all the time. 

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43 minutes ago, frangar said:

Can I just ask that everyone who like me doesn’t find the booking system for Harecastle or Anderton very user friendly please please write/email in to crt  using either a regional contact or head office. They might then start to listen. Otherwise it’s just a few of us moaning all the time. 

Doubt it. I've written to them twice asking for an explanation and suggesting that not everyone on boats is on the net, and pointing out the difficulties it'll cause and not had a reply. I don't think they're bothered about boaters finding stuff unfriendly, or, in fact, much about boaters. Shame, really.

  • Greenie 1

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49 minutes ago, frangar said:

Can I just ask that everyone who like me doesn’t find the booking system for Harecastle or Anderton very user friendly please please write/email in to crt  using either a regional contact or head office. They might then start to listen. Otherwise it’s just a few of us moaning all the time. 

I would totally agree, I am sending a reply to my email.

3 minutes ago, Arthur Marshall said:

Doubt it. I've written to them twice asking for an explanation and suggesting that not everyone on boats is on the net, and pointing out the difficulties it'll cause and not had a reply. I don't think they're bothered about boaters finding stuff unfriendly, or, in fact, much about boaters. Shame, really.

This is probably true but they will only get worse if they get no opposition to what they are doing.   Why would they change their ways without complaints.

  • Greenie 1

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Well I emailed for a passage on Tuesday night at 20:20, got a reply at 20:28 booking me for 10:00. turned up at 7:30, tunnel keeper said a bloke had lost his cat at Longport park at southend and had changed his booking 3 times, still didn't turn up so let us all in 1 and 1/2 hours early.

Absolute result, 

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I’ve been both ways through the tunnel this year under the new system. Both times I emailed a few days before and got a more or less immediate response confirming my requested time. One of those was at 6.30pm on a Sunday.

 

There were 4 and 3 boats through so anyone turning up on spec would have got through as well. This was in Aug/Sept so peak time.

 

In previous years just turning up we have often had to wait much longer to get through.

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