The Anonymous Widower

Two Ticketing Stories

This story on Rail News is entitled Metrolink offers Get me there app and this story on Rail News is entitled Contactless payment to Gatwick Airport.

The stories illustrate the difference in philosophy between Manchester and London.

I don’t use financial apps, as they are a security risk to my bank and credit card details, so in Manchester I’ll still have to buy a ticket, as they haven’t embraced the modern technology of contactless cards.

Also why can’t I buy a Plus Tram ticket when I book a Virgin for Manchester?

For Gatwick now, I won’t have to buy a ticket, as I’ll  use a contactless card between East Croydon and Gatwick.

November 11, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Out Run To Krakow

These images tell the story of my trip out and arrival in Krakow.

Rarely, in all my years of travelling, have I arrived in a foreign city, where it has been so obvious as to how to get to the city and then to walk to your hotel.

Admittedly, I was using the maps on my my phone to get vague directions, but usually, there was a street name or map to guide me, as I walked from the bus station to the Saski Hotel.

If I printed a Google Map before I left home, I wouldn’t have even needed to use my phone.

And at the Airport, Information told me where to go in perfect English.

Many take a taxi from Krakow Airport to the City Centre, but it’s so easy to get a bus from outside the terminal and then either walk or get a tram from the main bus station.

June 10, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wytch Farm And Horse Hill

I couldn’t resist looking at the Google Earth images of the two sites.

This is Wytch Farm

Wytch Farm

Wytch Farm

The processing plant for the field is the two squares in the bottom-left or south-west corner of the map and the wells fan out for upwards of 10 km. The field even goes under the upmarket area of Sandbanks, so if anybody would complain, the residents from there would.

And this is the area of Horse Hill

Horse Hill

Horse Hill

It is marked by the yellow circle. Note the sprawl of Gatwick at the bottom.

Both sites are surrounded by a lot of green field and woods, so I feel that a similar camouflage job could be done in Surrey to that done in Dorset.

Although as Wytch Farm is now forty years old, I suspect we’ll do a better job today of hiding it. It might be that directional drilling is used from a site near the railway through Gatwick, so that the processing plant could be well hidden and oil could be removed by train.

April 9, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Gatwick Makes A Pitch For The Third Runway

Canary Wharf tube station is all decked out in adverts for expanding Gatwick.

It’s certainly a tough fight between the two airports about which one gets developed.

On the ninth of October, I had a letter published in The Times, under the title, Plane or Train?

Sir, The closure of Richard Branson’s Little Red airline (News, Oct 7) comes at a time when people in their millions are rediscovering trains, raising a question over the attraction and viability of short-haul air services. Together with the introduction of aircraft that can carry up to a third more passengers, this leads me to wonder whether we need new runway capacity.

Effectively, it is a shorter reworking of some of the arguments in Hot Air Over London’s Airports.

To also stoke up the fire, Heathrow Hub were also advertising heavily in the papers at the weekend.

As I said in Hot Air Over London’s Airports, I quite like this proposal. This liking gets bigger every time I read about it.

One thing their reports and all the other proposals don’t talk about for obvious reasons, is the unpredictability of some of the world’s worst air accidents. Just read up on the circumstances that led to the Tenerife Airport Disaster.

For this and other reasons, I would leave the decisions to the professionals. And they will probably say that some proposals have a bigger safety margin than others!

But I still feel my last statement in the Hot Air post might be correct.

But I have this sneaking suspicion that no new runways will be built or extended and in twenty years time or so, we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Passengers will just choose their airports with more care and airports will be competing with us with better and better facilities and more point-to-point flights.

But then some politician might want to add his name to a new London airport.

November 24, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Heathrow and Gatwick Will Cost More

Surprise! Surprise! The BBC is reporting that the proposals for a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick will cost more!

The Airports Commission says a second runway at Gatwick would cost £2bn more than the bid suggests.

Two separate plans to expand Heathrow are predicted to cost £3-4bn more.

T’was, ever thus! The first real estimate of the cost of a large project is  inevitably more than the back-of-a-fag-packet estimate.

Only when the designers and project engineers work out how the project is to be realised do we get a figure for the actual cost. Usually, in construction projects, this figure can generally be relied upon.

But as I’ve believed for some time, I don’t think we’ll ever build a new runway in the South East.

November 11, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Restrictive Rules On Heathrow Connect And Express

I might go to look at Stockley Junction today and the best way would be to get Heathrow Connect to the airport and back.

So I checked up whether I can use my Senior Railcard on the train services. This section on the Heathrow Express gives the details about how you can. There is also this statement.

Yes, you can use a number of railcards on Heathrow Express to obtain discounted travel. To qualify you must purchase at the ticket office, not online or on board.

Obviously, they don’t agree with TfL’s policy of closing ticket offices.

They also don’t agree with the policy of the Gatwick Express as stated here.

Gatwick Express now accepts railcards online allowing you to make great savings on the already discounted online price if you have one of the following cards:

So Heathrow and Gatwick are out of step. Or you can always use the Piccadilly line, where the main problem is overcrowding.

It does appear though that according to Boris, as reported here, Crossrail will have a similar ticketing regime to the Underground.

So perhaps time will be up for the rip-off Heathrow rail services?

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Gatwick Reorganisation Good For This Coeliac?

It is reported in The Times that Gatwick Airport is going to move all easyJet flights to the North Terminal.

I like that idea, as the only decent gluten-free restaurant is airside in that terminal.

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , | Leave a comment


There used to be adverts that talked of Gatquick, but on my flight out, it was one of the slowest experiences I’d had in any of London’s airports.

As I was travelling economy and the airport was extremely busy, I found it very difficult to find anywhere to sit.

One mistake I did make was to eat at Carluccio’s in Islington before I left for the airport, as I thought this would be easier, than queuing up at Jamie Oliver’s in the airport. It was easy and I had a good lunch, but if I’d gone to Jamie’s I’d have had somewhere pleasant to sit.

I thought Gatwick was getting better since it was sold, but it still isn’t fit for purpose!

February 9, 2014 Posted by | Food | , , | Leave a comment

Hot Air Over London’s Airports

Sir Howard Davies and his Airports Commission has reported about what it feels are ideas to expand London’s airports.

What he is proposing ignores a few facts.

I don’t think that any extra runway at Heathrow is possible, as the people who live in West London, would not vote for any MP, who supports it and therefore in their view make their lives worse. This of course ignores the fact that most people in the area, moved there after Heathrow was opened and they have had plenty of time to move away.In fact, they’re probably some of the most opinionated and selfish Nimbys in the country.

The major airlines, such as British Airways and Virgin want Heathrow to be expanded as this is much more convenient and probably more profitable for them. After all, say if Gatwick were to be expanded, then they would have to have two operations in different places.

Everything, I’ve read about the report, makes little mention of technology that will become available in the next few years.

Aircraft will certainly get more efficient and hopefully quieter, which should ease disturbance.

But some of the bugger changes will occur in how the aircraft are controlled, so they will be able to fly paths, that are much more precise and therefore become less noticeable to those on the ground. Such things as stacks of aircraft over London  waiting to land at Heathrow will disappear.

The Commission does state that patterns of air travel will change because of low cost airlines and more point-to-point flying.

And this brings me to the last fact that he ignored.

Generally, it’s passengers who choose which flights they use. And the methods they choose are sometimes bizarre to say the least.

I choose my flights very much on the departure time of the flight and the availability of gluten-free food at the terminal.

Others may only fly with an airline on their favourite loyalty program.

So one factor that will change our behaviour and ease pressure on busy airports, is convenient alternatives. We already get that. Scots who want to fly to say the States, often travel to Manchester Airport, as the flights are cheaper, than at Glasgow or Edinburgh.  This loads the trains from Glasgow to Manchester Airport so much, that extra trains are being purchased for the route. Other Scots, who may need to fly to say London to get an onward flight, often take a quick hop to Schipol instead. The big airlines at Heathrow, want this stopped and hence they are in favour of an expansion there.

So one thing that will take the pressure of the airports in London is better facilities and more flights at other airports. We probably need to open up regional airports more to foreign carriers, but then the big boys like their monopolies.

I can never understand why there isn’t a regular service from Stansted to the New York area. Airlines have tried but all seem to fail.  Is the marketing of the big airlines and Heathrow to blame?

Crossrail and Thameslink will be game changers in how passengers choose to use the London airports. Millions of people will now be better connected to either one or both of the airports, so if the flights are available at the convenient one, they’ll use them.

Personally, I used to hate Gatwick, as this post from 2011 indicates. But after a change of ownership and better train links from East London, I quite like the place. Gatwick will get better, as the South Terminal gets rebuilt and restaurants are improved. Stansted is now rather a dump and you would only fly from there for cheap flights or unusual destinations.

So even the most stubborn of individuals can be made to change their minds!

Of the options the Airports Commission lays out, only two are viable.

An airport in the Thames Estuary will never be built, as it is just too costly and new technology and the other airports in the South East will expand enough to take the increase of demand.

A new runway at Heathrow will never be built, as the Nimbys and politics will stop that happening.

So we are left with a new runway at Gatwick.  I may not agree with how it is built, but the big factor is that the locals are not as opposed to the idea as they are at Heathrow.

But the idea I like is the extending of the northern runway at Heathrow. It was an innovative idea thought up by a pilot and put forward by Arup, who are not noted for bad ideas.

Although it would require a lot of thought over how it would be operated, It has the great advantage that it could probably be built with not too much disruption to either operations at the airport or the traffic on the M25. You could start by building a tunnel parallel to and west of the western section of the M25, which would be opened before you actually started work on the airport. Remember that with Crossrail and other tunnels, we’re the world’s best tunnel builders.

I’ve looked at a detailed map of the area and if the problems of air traffic and organisation of the aircraft can be solved, I think that much of the noise intrusion could probably be contained within the current airport boundary.

But I have this sneaking suspicion that no new runways will be built or extended and in twenty years time or so, we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

Passengers will just choose their airports with more care and airports will be competing with us with better and better facilities and more point-to-point flights.

December 20, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Breakfast At Gatwick

It wasn’t that good, as the South Terminal doesn’t have a Jamie’s Italian like the the North one does.

I was in a restaurant, where I had some pretty good scrambled egg, but there were other things on the menu, that I thought, if they had been properly cooked, would be gluten-free.

The restaurant was also serving Aspall’s cyder, which I know is gluten-free, but they didn’t know it was.

Surely, if McDonalds know what contains allergues, it is not beyond the wit of any restaurant to do the same.

So that’s one restaurant, I won’t bother with again.

October 8, 2013 Posted by | Food, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment


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