A funny thing happened to me the other day: I got a lottery ticket. The strange thing about this was that I hadn't asked for it, and I hadn't paid for it. It came free with my Merseyrail ticket to Liverpool.
Turns out there's a promotion on at the moment: buy a ticket and get a free card for the People's Postcode Lottery, giving you the chance to win iPads and TVs and such like. Which is nice, if a bit odd. And if I'm honest, a bit naff. I'm not against freebies - this is about the only way I'll ever get an iPad - but there's just something a bit tacky about it. I don't quite know why.
I reserve the right to change my mind on this if I win a prize, incidentally.
In other news, Merseytravel's put a notice out asking for tenders for new rolling stock. Previously, it had been reported that Merseyrail's trains probably wouldn't be replaced until about 2017. The tender documents are asking for expressions of interest in replacing them.
No need to get ahead of ourselves; the phrasing is so tentative, it's practically tiptoeing round the idea. "Considering its options", "should it decide to" - it's short of saying "possibly maybe" - but it's still exciting. Can I throw in a few requests for the new trains here?
1) Space trains, like the newest ones on the London Overground, the 378s. Not only are they extremely sexy, not only do they allow for more passengers, but it's also fun to ride them on the connections between carriages. When I was on the Metro in Paris, I spent practically all my time inbetween carriages, surfing. Plus it'll stop all those idiots who walk between Merseyrail cars and don't close the doors behind them, leaving it swinging and banging for the rest of the journey until you want to ram a spike in your ear.
2) Air conditioning. The current trains seem to have two heating options: "nothing" or "surface of the sun". It'll also put a stop to those noisy open windows in the tunnels.
3) Crosswise seats. I know this kind of flies in the face of my pleasing for the space trains, but longitudinal seats wouldn't work on Merseyrail; they're just not right for long journeys, like from Southport to Hunts Cross. Stick with the current four-four-four layout and it'll be fine.
4) Proper space for line diagrams, not those stickers on the roof they currently have.
5) LCD screens broadcasting adverts. That's a bit ambitious I know, but I love it on the Heathrow Express: it's like being in Children of Men, only without the horrifying dystopian misery.
6) The capability to be made dual voltage. I've been told this is a pretty easy thing to implement, but I'd still like it to be made clear. If we're ever going to get Merseyrail extended, it probably won't be third rail, so it'll be nice to have the potential built into the trains. One day to Wrexham and Wigan, eh?
Thanks for that. If Merseytravel want to hear any more of my great ideas, you know where I am.