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The following guest post is by Peter Hicks, IP Network Engineer and Open Transport Data advocate. In the late 1990s, I decided to learn more about why my commute to and from London wasn’t always a smooth process. I fondly remember speaking to the Station Supervisor at one station after a late-running train caused me to miss my connection on to a branch line. Release the data, free it up, and let a large number of keen, hungry and motivated developers analyse it for everyone’s good. Network Rail can make the timetable and real-time data available, but they’re not geared up to interface directly with large numbers of developers. I currently take both timetable and real-time data from Network Rail on a non-commercial basis. To showcase what can be done with the raw data I have, I am writing a proof-of-concept website which will make timetable and real-time data visible. It would be unfair to ignore the fact that ATOC have already invested millions into a system called Darwin, which takes the same data from Network Rail, conditions it, takes further information directly from train operators, and presents it in the form of the Live Departure Boards service. I will continue to work toward getting everyone free and open access to raw fares, timetable and real-time running data. Long before supersonic jets made it easy to cross the country, train travel was the elegant way to get from place to place in the United States.
By the 1870s, the Transcontinental Railroad stretched all the way to California, and with it came a new era of railway dining.
Even though the railways led to California, dining cars were nonexistent west of Omaha until the 1890s.
During the golden age of railroads in the United States, even breakfasts were opulent affairs.

The government invited private companies to bid for the East Coast Main Line rail franchise, which operates through Lincolnshire, after it has been run in the public sector since 2009. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced the start of the competition for the franchise on Tuesday, which is expected to carry its first passengers by February 2015.
The electrification of the Midland main line is also planned, which should deliver more services across the East Midlands and Yorkshire including Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham. A total of 10 of the country’s 16 rail franchises are due for renewal before the general election in 2015.
In a column for The Lincolnite on Wednesday, Lucy Rigby argued Lincoln needs a far better rail deal as soon as possible. During the golden age of American trains, their sleek, opulent interiors featured plush seats, porters for your every need and gleaming dining cars. Even on longer hauls, in the 1840s passengers were expected to bring their own food aboard or eat at boarding house restaurants along the line. The most detailed account of train foods comes from an article in Harper’s Magazine published in 1872 and written by Charles Nordhoff, a prominent journalist of the era. A menu from an inspection trip aboard the Southern Railway reveals that passengers enjoyed oysters on toast, steak with marrow sauce, baked or creamed potatoes and a choice of chops, bacon or ham.
Upgrade to a different browser or install Google Chrome Frame to experience this site correctly. The government is now taking bids for the East Coast rail franchise through Lincolnshire, and Virgin Trains is said to be interested. The dining car was the heart of train life, a place for passengers to relax and enjoy a meal in the company of newfound friends. These women worked as waitresses in the Harvey Houses, restaurant-inns that dotted the Western landscape for decades.

All this before a luncheon featuring roast teal duck, Smithfield hams and mince pie with brandy sauce. Isolated water stops were frequent targets of attack by bandits, so it’s no wonder that rail companies quickly adapted to create sanctuaries on the train where passengers could dine in peace.
On board the Nickel Plate Railroad, which stretched over the mid-central United States, diners could choose the meal and budget that fit them best, from a 55-cent special of sliced tomatoes and baked beans to finnan haddie a la Delmonico (a smoked haddock dish) for 90 cents.
Fred Harvey opened the first branch of his Harvey House in 1878, and from then until the automobile age in the 20th century, passengers could count on delicious, high-quality food served in beautiful surroundings. Far from the reheated, packaged meals of today, train chefs prepared food from scratch, from the turtle soup to the spiced nuts. Meals as varied as chicken enchiladas, roast goose with apples and apricot Charlotte were served by the Harvey Girls, clad in long black dresses with voluminous white aprons. Fred Harvey insisted that his serving staff be female, attractive, between the ages of 18 and 30, and, most importantly, unmarried.
In return, the staff got free room and board, a generous salary and a one-year employment contract.
Often the only young women in rough-and-tumble railroad towns, the Girls were a civilizing force in the Wild West.

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