The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On Alcoholism

In the last month or so, I’ve done something that I’ve never done before in my life.

I’ve drunk perhaps half a bottle of beer when I’ve got up. Admittedly, I’d left the bottle half finished by my computer.

It was good.

In the 1960s, I could drink a lot of beer. I just seemed to need it.

About that time, I decided I needed to drink large amounts of fluids and swapped to tea and Coke.

My doctor understands my needs for fluids and the practice nurse has the same problem. The nurse puts it down to leaky skin, which he has.

I actually love walking in the rain, so that might help explain it. We all live by the laws of physics.

My father warned me off alcohol in a practical way, by giving me halves of Adnams down at Felixstowe Conservative Club, whilst we played snooker, when I was about fourteen.

My father drank a lot of fluids, but I never saw him drunk and most doctors would say he was a sensible drinker. Like me, he also drank a lot of tea!

He had a reason to control his drinking! His father had died from complications of being an alcoholic at 40, when my father was about twenty.

My grandfather had lived just around the corner from where I live now and my father had once told me, he had drunk large amounts of beer and had moved on to whisky.

Around 1900, there was very little to drink except beer, so did my grandfather’s need for fluids mean that he turned to what was available?

Now I like a good beer and know of its properties to slake a thirst when you’re dry. I’ve worked in foundries in the 1960s and beer was always available.

So is there a type of person, who needs a lot of fluids and if beer is available they turn to it. In some cases does this lead to alcoholism.

As to myself, I must have gluten-free beer and because I’m on Warfarin, I must keep my alcohol consumption down.

So I now drink a gluten-free beer, that is just 0.25 of a unit and tastes like real beer from Marks and Spencer.

But then it is real beer, as it is brewed in Southwold by Adnams.

My life has come full circle.



March 18, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Existing EVs Could Steer Energy To 300,000 Homes

The title of this post, is the same as this article on the Utility Week web site.

This is the opening two paragraphs.

Existing electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK could contribute more than 114MW to the National Grid, enough to power over 300,000 homes.

Research commissioned by Ovo Energy suggests the figure could be achieved based on the current 19,000 Nissan Leaf EVs registered in the UK using new vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers.

The article goes on to discuss this in detail.

So what is vehicle-to-grid?

Wikipedia has this summary.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) describes a system in which plug-in electric vehicles, such as electric cars (BEV), plug-in hybrids (PHEV) or hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), communicate with the power grid to sell demand response services by either returning electricity to the grid or by throttling their charging rate.

Vehicle-to-grid can be used with gridable vehicles, that is, plug-in electric vehicles (BEV and PHEV), with grid capacity. Since at any given time 95 percent of cars are parked, the batteries in electric vehicles could be used to let electricity flow from the car to the electric distribution network and back. This represents an estimated value to the utilities of up to $4,000 per year per car.

If you are thinking about buying an electric car or van, read the article and other sources. Wikipedia seems a good start.

At its simplest, it would appear that if you buy an electric vehicle, it would be prudent to fit a V2G charger in your garage or parking space.

I would expect, that the charging system is sophisticated, so that if you want to use the car, there is sufficient charge and the power hasn’t been sold back to the grid.

It will be very interesting to see how this technology develops.

March 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Hackney Wick Station And The Florida International University Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

The title of this post might seem a bit unusual, as the two locations are in different continents and thousands of miles apart.

But there is a connection, in that the new Hackney Wick station and the Florida International University bridge, were built using the same construction method called accelerated bridge construction.

There are some major differences.

  • At Hackney Wick a short, fat subway was built alongside the railway and moved in using self-propelled modular transporters. In Florida a long thin span was installed , in a similar way.
  • The Hackney Wick station subway, probably weighs a lot more than the pedestrian footbridge.
  • The Hackney Wick subway and the platforms and track on top, was fully reinstated before trains could cross, whereas the Florida span was part of a cable-stay bridge, which hadn’t been completed.
  • The Hackney Wick subway will be carrying trains of several hundred tons, whereas the Florida bridge will be carrying people.

It looks to me, that there has been some inaccurate calculations, which led to the collapse of the Florida International University bridge.

March 16, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Large Scale Electricity Interconnection

We have several related problems with electricity.

  • We are using more and more.
  • Electric cars, buses and trucks will mean, that we’ll use even more.
  • A lot of electricity will be produced in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
  • Not everybody uses the same local voltages as our 250 VAC.
  • We need ways of storing electricity.
  • Some methods of generating electricity, emit a large amount of green-house gases.

In the UK, we have a very sophisticated energy grid, which includes a certain amount of energy storage, that moves energy around from where it is generated to where it is needed.

As an example, I’m sure we’ll see industries that need a lot of electricity, taking advantage of wind energy generated at night.

In my lifetime, I can only remember two periods of severe power shortages.

  • In the 1950s, as people bought more electrical equipment like fridges, cookers, kettles and TVs, there was sometimes power cuts at Christmas.
  • In theb1970s, shortages were caused by industrial action.

But in recent decades the National Grid has generally kept the electricity flowing.

Most power cuts have been local equipment failure or weather-related.

As the future unfolds, the grid will get better and of a higher capacity to handle all the extra needs of our lifestyle.

Countries, states, towns and cities will develop their own sophisticated networks to look after their people, industry and transport.

Regional Electricity Networks

These smaller networks are now increasingly being connected together to create larger networks.

One of the first interconnectors was the HVDC Cross-Channel between England and France. Wikipedia gives this history.

The first Cross-Channel link was a 160 MW link completed in 1961 and decommissioned in 1984, while the second was a 2000 MW link completed in 1986.

The current 2000 MW link, like the original link, is bi-directional and France and Britain can import/export depending upon market demands.

I’ve read that in recent years, we’ve been using French nuclear power and they’ve been using our wind power.

According to this page on UtilityWise, there are.

  • Four operational interconnectors are operational.
  • Four interconnectors are being constructed.
  • Seven interconnectors are being planned.

They also have this diagrammatic map.


  1. If the Icelandic interconnector gets built, it could be a big source of zero-carbon power for the UK and Europe and a large income for Iceland.
  2. Two big interconnectors to Norway are planned, where there is lots of hydro-electric power.
  3. A big interconnector is being built between Germany and Norway, which is not shown.
  4. There will be seven links to France to tap into their nuclear network.
  5. Our contribution to Western Europe’s power will be mainly from our extensive wind farms, which will soon contribute twenty percent of our power needs.

It will all grow like a gigantic spider’s web, connecting excess power in one place to users, who need it, in another.

Large Scale Electricity Interconnection

This document on the International Energy Agency web site, gives a lot more information about Large Scale Electricity Interconnection.

HVDC Connections

Although, domestic connections have used alternating current (AC) for over a hundred years, these interconnectors use High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC)

This means the following.

  • Terminal costs at the end of a link are more expensive.
  • The cost of the cable is less per kilometre.
  • Longer interconnectors have a cheaper cost per kilometre over about 600-800 km.
  • Current technologies give a break-even distance of about 600-800 km.

The article says this about future projects.

With the increase in demand for long-distance interconnection, a number of projects have been envisioned that would greatly improve upon the current status. Projects in the pipeline include the undersea North Sea Network (NSN) link between the Nordic zone and the United Kingdom, which will deliver up to 1.4 GW of power through an undersea cable 730 km in length.

This entry in Wikipedia gives more details on the Norway-UK Interconnector.

Connecting Asynchronous Grids

The document says this.

When AC systems are to be connected, they must be synchronised.

This means that they should operate at the same voltage and frequency, which can be difficult to achieve. Since HVDC is asynchronous it can adapt to any rated voltage and frequency it receives. Hence, HVDC is used to connect large AC systems in many parts of the world.

This may seem technical, but it is important.

Connecting Large Energy Resources And Loads

As the voltage in the interconnector increases, it makes it more economic to connect remote energy resources to where the power is needed.

It gives these examples from around the world.

  • Distant hydro resources in the Chilean Patagonia or in Brazil
  • Hydro power in Western China
  • Solar power in the Rajasthan desert in India.

In the Uk, we ae developing two long interconnectors to Norway and one to Iceland.

Acommodating Variable Renewable Electricity

The document says this.

Variable renewable energy (VRE) deployment requires flexible transmission links. One of the key drivers behind HVDC lines and interconnectors is the ability to shift intermittent renewables to areas of high demand when conditions would otherwise lead to curtailment.

Hopefully, the wind will be blowing somewhere, when the sun isn’t shining somewhere else.


Interconnectors will become a massive part of our distributed electricity system.

I must also say something about energy storage.

Electric vehicles could eventually turn out to be a large part of our mechanism to store excess energy.

Suppose there is excess energy at night, perhaps from wind, waves and tides and it is used to charge the batteries of electric vehicles. It has not gone to waste and is now stored for use when required.

The corollary of this will be, that every parking space or garage, where vehicles are left overnight will have to have a charging point for an electric car.





March 16, 2018 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

A Quick Fish Pie Supper

I like fish pies and there are several entries for fish pie. If I have time, I will cook my version of Jamie Oliver’s Fish Pie.

But today, I found a new gluten-free fish pie in Marks and Spencer, so I had to try it.

I cooked it in the microwave and it was of a very different type to Jamie’s, being creamy rather than having a good proportion of vegetables. Although, both have a potato topping, rather than a pastry pie-crust.

It was well-worth buying, cooking and eating, at a cost of £3.80 for one.

Note the tomato sauce in the pictures. I’ve found some very dodgy fish pies and cooked some of my own, in my time, that needed it.

This one certainly did not!

Next time, I’ll cook it in the oven, although I think both methods will work, but you may get a different texture of pie.

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , , | 4 Comments

British Steel Secures Major Contract From Deutsche Bahn

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News.

I thought the article had a touch of Coals-to-Newcastle about it.

But read the article and there are a lot of things coming together to enable the order.

  • British Steel have spent a seven-figure-sum at Scunthorpe, to make the longer rails, that the Germans use.
  • Deutsche Bahn are Europe’s largest purchaser of rail.
  • The initial order is for 20,000 tonnes of rail.
  • Rails can be delivered in 120 metre lengths through the Channel Tunnel.

I should say, that I’ve read in the past, that Scunthorpe makes a quality product.

I found this video on the British Steel web site.

It all brings back memories of the time, I spent as a sixteen-year-old putting automation on heavy machines use to roll non-ferrous metals.

I doubt you get work experience like that these days!

March 15, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Some UK Rail Passengers Are Using Avocados To Get Discounted Fares

The title of this post, is the same as the title on this article on Global Rail News.

Note the offer is not available with ticket machines, as they don’t have a big enough slot!


March 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

A New Curvy Path At Highbury Corner

The results of the consultation on Highbury Corner are on this page on the TfL web site.

Two options are presented for the arboretum in the middle of the roundabout.

  • 14 per cent chose Option 1 (keep the arboretum closed to the public)
  • 56 per cent chose Option 2 (open up the arboretum for public use)

I voted for Option 2, as it will be a more pleasant walk from bus to train station, on a new path through the trees.


  • The station is in the top-left with a large pedestrian area in front.
  • I would walk to the station along the leading through the trees

Both options include a new curvy path between the original arboretum and the pedestrian area in front of the pub and McDonalds.

One picture shows a possible cafe on the curvy path.

I like that idea! But no anonymous foreign-registered unhealthy tax-avoiding chain! Please!


March 15, 2018 Posted by | Food, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Camden High Line

Last night, I was made aware of the Camden High Line proposal.

On their web site, they say this is their mission.

Our mission is to transform the disused railway into a sustainable green space and transport link that is open for and used by everyone.

Here are my thoughts.

The Railway Line In Question

This map from shows the disused railway tracks.


  1. The line shown in orange is the North London Line of the London Overground.
  2. Camden Road is a two-platform station, with full step-free access.
  3. Maiden Lane is a disused station, that closed a hundred years ago.

I would assume that the two dotted lines between the two stations, will be converted into the Camden High Line.

This Google Map shows the North London Line between Camden Road and Maiden Lane stations.

One of the most striking features visible from this map, is the large amount of development going on to the South of the North London Line.

The new residents and workers could probably do with a good walking and cycling route between Camden Town and Kings Cross.

Plans For The North London Line

The North London Line is a heavily-used passenger and freight route and it is unlikely, that traffic levels will drop.

Freight Traffic

There are now two electrified rail routes across North London; the North London Line and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

As two of the UK’s main container ports; Felixstowe and London Gateway, are not served by electrified railways, this still means that large numbers of diesel-hauled freight trains have to pass through North London to get to the Midlands, North and Scotland, despite the routes from Ipswich and Tilbury being fully-electrified.

These diesel-freight trains are boosted because the alternative  route via Ipswich, Ely and Peterborough is not electrified.

The following needs to be done to seriously cut the number of diesel-hauled freight trains through North London.

  • Electrify Ipswich to Felixstowe.
  • Electrify to London Gateway.
  • Electrify Ipswich to Peterborough.
  • Replace a large fleet of polluting diesel Class 66 locomotives with modern electric units.

In some ways, the replacement of the locomotives by private freight companies is the largest stumbling block.

However, I think that the two shorter lengths of electrification will happen, which will mean that less diesel-hauled freight trains will pass through London, as they will go via Peterborough.

On the other hand, the need for freight trains will increase.

  • More traffic to and from the ports.
  • Freight to and from the Channel Tunnel, which must go through London.
  • Trains carrying vehicles seem to be becoming more numerous.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see calls from the rail freight industry for improvements to the two freight routes through London.

One thing that will help freight trains, would be extra passing loops, where freight trains can wait for the passenger trains to overtake.

The double track of the Camden High Line is one of the few places, where another freight loop could possibly be installed.

Passenger Traffic

Sometime this year, two extra passenger trains per hour (tph) will run on the North London Line between Stratford and Clapham Junction stations.

This will bring the frequency to six tph.

On the past history of the London Underground, this will mean more full trains and pressure for longer trains and more services.

Old Oak Common Station

But the biggest changes will come in the next few years with a new Old Oak Common station, which will connect the North London Line to HS2, Crossrail, Chiltern, Great Western Railway and the West Coast Main Line.

Remember too, that the North London Line will be connected to Crossrail at Stratford.

Will these developments create a demand for extra trains on the North London Line?

Camden Town Station

Camden Town station on the Northern Line is being extended, with a new Northern entrance closer to the North London Line.

Will better routes be provided between Camden Road and Camden Town stations?

Interchange Between Camden Town And Camden Road Stations

Camden Town station’s new entrance will be to the North of the current entrance just off Kentish Town Road.

This Google Map, shows the Western end of Camden Road station.


  1. There is a train in the Westbound platform.
  2. Kentish Town Road meets the station by Camden Gardens.
  3. The overgrown unused tracks to the North of the current station.
  4. The green space of Camden Gardens, with the 88 bus stand.

Could a second entrance to Camden Road station be built within the viaduct, perhaps with a ground-level entrance in Camden Gardens?

  • It would be a short walk to the new entrance to Camden Town station.
  • It would be convenient for walking to Camden Lock and the other attractions along the Regents Canal.

If the Camden High Line is created, access to the Eastbound platform could be directly to and from the High Line, which would be a garden to the North of the station.


Maiden Lane Station

Wikipedia says this about the re-opening of Maiden Lane station.

Camden Council has suggested this station could be rebuilt and reopened, in conjunction with the King’s Cross Central redevelopment project.

In June 2017, the Council were talking with Tfl on the possible reopening of Maiden Lane & York Road stations which it wished to reopen with Maiden Lane more likely to reopen then York Road.

I suspect, if the station is reopened, it will be on the Southern pair of lines, currently used by the London Overgr4ound.

One of the problems of reopening Maiden Lane station, is that a stop at the station would decrease capacity on the North London Line, through the area.

Plans For The East London Line

The East London Line is one of the UK’s rail successes of the last few years.

An outpost of the London Underground, through a tunnel, built by the Brunels, was turned into a modern railway with new trains and sixteen tph all day.

But this is only a start!

Plans exist for more new trains, an extra fout tph through the tunnel and a possible uprating of the signalling to handle a frequency to 24 tph.

If the latter should happen, I feel that another Northern terminal will be needed for the East London Line.

The obvious terminal is Willesden Junction station.

  • Willesden Junction was certainly mentioned, when the London Overground was opened.
  • There is a bay platform at the station.
  • ,The station can be reached via Camden Road, Primrose Hill, South Hampstead, Kilburn High Road, Queen’s Park and Kensal Green stations.
  • It will have good connections to an extended Bakerloo Line.

It would create another route across North London.

Would it mean extra platforms at Camden Road station?



I think that there will be a very large demand for using the two old tracks for rail purposes.






March 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On The Sutton Loop Line

The Sutton Loop Line is a bit of a problem.

  • It runs two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Trains are eight-cars.
  • It is not the most heavily-used of lines.

It is deeply political and difficult to make any changes.

Network Rail’s original plan is described under Political Developments in the Thameslink entry in Wikipedia. This is said.

Network Rail had planned to terminate Sutton Loop Thameslink trains at Blackfriars station, rather than have them continue through central London as at present. This would increase the capacity of the central core as the Sutton Loop could only accommodate shorter trains. This upset many residents in South London and their local politicians, who saw it as a reduction in services rather than an improvement. In response to pressure, government has ordered Network Rail to reverse the decision.

Was this design by those, who don’t understand the complexity of designing and running a train service?

On the other hand, the line has some strengths.

  • It is a double-track railway.
  • It is fully-electrified using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Stations have long platforms.
  • There seems to be quite a bit of housing and other development.

But in some ways,  the line’s biggest strength, is the wide margins at both sides of the tracks.

This section between Hackbridge and Carshalton stations is not untypical.

Adding extra platforms or complete stations would not be difficult.

What solutions are available to improve train services on the Sutton Loop Line, for both passengers and train operators?

Splitting And Joining Trains

In Has Thameslink Got The Wrong Length Of Train?, I proposed the following.

  • Using twelve- and six-car trains on Thameslink.
  • Allowing two six-car trains to work as a twelve-car unit.
  • Trains would be able to join and split automatically, as Hitachi’s Class 395 trains are able to do.

I also proposed the following method of operation for the Sutton Loop Line.

The Sutton Loop Line could be run by using six-car trains that split and join in the area of Streatham station.

This map from shows the track layout at Streatham, at the start of the loop.


  1. Streatham South Junction is the gateway to the Sutton Loop, with the tracks to the West going via Tooting station and those to the South via Mitcham Eastfields station.
  2. There is a lot of spare land in this area.
  3. Transport for London keep talking about creating an interchange at this point.

I think, if and when the interchange is built, it could be designed, so that it increased traffic around the Sutton Loop Line.

  • Two six-car trains running as a twelve-car could split at the interchange.
  • One train would go round the loop clockwise and the other anti-clockwise.
  • The trains would rejoin together at the interchange.

The same procedure could be done at Streatham, without creating the interchange, but it would block the station, if trains got delayed on the loop.

Currently, two trains per hour (tph) are proposed to run in both directions on the Sutton Loop Line.

This requires four eight-car trains and four paths through the central core.

If four six-car trains were to be used, running in pairs splitting at Streatham station or a new Streatham Common interchange, there would still be two tph in both directions round the Sutton Loop, but only two paths would be needed in the central core.

Travellers to and from stations on the loop would see six-car, rather than the current eight-car.

If the number of six-car trains were to be doubled and four paths used in the central core, the Sutton Loop Line would see four tph in both directions.

It sounds complicated but it would work and it has the following advantages.

  • Train frequency could be increased as required.
  • Paths are released in the central core.
  • Twelve-car trains would go through the central core, where the capacity is needed.

The service would need a few more drivers and other staff.

Loop Only Services To A New Streatham Common Interchange

If a new interchange station is built at Streatham Common, then extra services could easily be run round the loop.

  • Thameslink services could be reduced to perhaps one tph in each direction.
  • These would be augmented by perhaps a four tph shuttle around the loop starting and finishing at Streatham Common.
  • The shuttle trains could be any suitable unit, but surely a four-car would suffice.

I suspect that this wouldn’t work, as it would upset the natives.

The German Solution

I can’t help feeling that the Germans and especially those in Karlsruhe would look at the Sutton Loop Line and because there are both trams and trains, in the area, they would come up with a solution based on trains and tram-trains.

As fsr as I know, no-one has ever built a third-rail-powered tram-train!

But I don’t think that a tram-train powered by third-rail electrification, when running as a train is an impossibility. I lay out my ideas in The Third-Rail Tram-Train.


As to safety, look at this picture taken at Mitcham Junction station.

Note how the third electrified rails are in the middle away from the platforms. This is standard practice with this form of electrification.

So if it is deemed to be safe for trains now, it will surely be safe for third-rail train-trams.

When running as trams, the tram-trains will use 750 VDC overhead electrification.

Changing Networks

Tram-trains will need to change between the tram and rail networks.

This map from shows the track layout at Mitcham Junction station.


  1. Wimbledon is to the West and Croydon is to the East.
  2. With the addition of some extra tracks, it should be possible for tram-trains to pass between the networks.
  3. As trams can take tight curves, a chord could allow Westbound tram-trains from Croydon to turn South to Sutton.
  4. Tram-trains will probably change networks using a couple of ininutes of battery power.

I doubt any of the engineering will be too difficult.

Adding The Sutton Loop Line To Tramlink Using Tram-Trains

Tram-trains would take the following route.

  • Arrive from Croydon at Mitcham Junction, where they would turn South onto the Sutton Loop Line.
  • Pass through Hackbridge and Carshalton stations.
  • Call in Sutton station for interchange with trams and National Rail.
  • Continue to Wimbledon station calling in Platform 9 for interchange with trams in Platform 10 and 10b and National Rail.
  • Pass through Hatdons Road and Tooting.
  • Take new chord to cross to the other leg of the Sutton Loop Line.
  • Pass through Itcham Eastfields station.
  • Rejoin the tram route at Micham Junction station.

Tram-trains could also travel in the reverse direction.

Trams And Tram-Trains At Wimbledon

This map from shows the track and platform layout at Wimbledon station.


  1. Currently, Thameslink services on the Sutton Loop Line use Platform 9 in both directions.
  2. Hayons Road station is to the North-East and |Wimbledon Chase station is to the South.
  3. Tram-trains on the Sutton Loop Line would do the same.
  4. Platform 9 probably defines the capacity of the Sutton Loop Line.

Access to the trams in Platforms 10 and 10b, is just a walk across the platform.

The picture was taken from a Thameslink train.

There might even be space for another tram platform, that can be accessed from the Haydons Road direction.

Trams And Tram-Trains At Sutton

This map from shows the track and platform layout at Sutton station.


  1. The Sutton Loop Line is the Northernmost pair of tracks.
  2. Carshalton station is to the East and West Sutton station is to the West.
  3. It could be possible for tram-trains to by-pass Sutton station and run on the streets of Sutton.

This picture shows Sutton High Street.

Is it going to be easy to bring the planned tram extension from Wimbledon to Sutton?

Dual Platform Issues

Platforms at the stations on the Sutton Loop Line are long and are certainly capable of taking eight-car trains.

But are they long enough to have a lower section of platform, so that tram-trains can have step-free access?

This is one of the problems, that should be solved in the tram-train trial in Sheffield.

The Split At Streatham Common

This Google Map shows, where the two routes of the Sutton Loop Line meet near Streatham Common station.

This picture shows a train going towards Mitcham, from one having passed through Tooting station.

I don’t think it would be the most difficult engineering project to create a chord, that would allow tram-trains to go directly between Tooting and Mitcham Eastfields stations.

A Possible Service

As I said earlier, Platform 9 at Wimbledon station. is probably the limiting factor on services round the Sutton Loop Line.

Thameslink is planning two tph in both directions.

I suspect that this could be supplemented by two tph services run by tram-trains, if a signalling solution can be implemented to allow four tph in each direction, through the platform.


There are several ways to improve the Sutton Loop Line.




March 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment