The Anonymous Widower

A Train Builder With Form

I have been following the farce of the Fyra trains between Brussels and Amsterdam with interest. Modern Railways this month, gives a very full account of the problems and the big row between the Dutch and the Belgians and the Italian company; AnsaldoBreda who built the V250 trains. These trains were incidentally called Albatross by the makers.

I’ve just been reading about AnsaldoBreda on Wikipedia. It says this about the problems the company has had with an order for IC4 trains for Denmark.

Delivery of 83 IC4 trainsets for the Danish State Railways DSB was originally planned for 2003-2006. As of March 2013, 22 trainsets have still not been delivered,[52] On 2 July 2012, the DSB announced that the Transportation Authority had approved Denmark’s railway operator to put back into operation the fleet of 37 IC4s which had been withdrawn from service in November 2011. In December 2011, it was reported that one of the missing IC4 trainsets planned for delivery in Denmark was found in Libya. Reportedly, AnsaldoBreda and then Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi gave Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi the trainset as a present on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Gaddafi’s revolution in 2009.

I suppose now, it doesn’t work, as there is sand in the bogies!

No wonder the Dutch and the Belgians bought a load of dud trains, that go bunga bunga!

Incidentally, I  was led to look up AnsaldoBreda by looking at the progress of the Midland Metro extension to Birmingham New Street station.  I found that the same Italian company had sold a load of dodgy trams to the Brummies. The details are here.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Is Third Favourite To Win The Wimbledon Men’s Title?

I suppose it’s fairly obvious, that the two favourites for the men’s final at Wimbledon are Djokovic and Murray, who are pretty closely matched at just over two to one.

But who is favourite after them?

It’s Juan Martin Del Potro at over twenty to one.


June 28, 2013 Posted by | Sport | | Leave a comment

Walking In Birmingham

I knew where I was going today, as I was going to Carluccio’s in Brindley Place.  The new station entrances actually made it easier, as it seemed to me, that there wasn’t such an uphill climb, as the station seemed to slope in the right direction.

But I didn’t see a map anywhere! So if you are a first time visitor, what do you do?  I know the station isn’t complete but surely in the main shopping centre, there should be something to help, non-Brummies! i suppose in some ways, you get spoilt in London, which can be almost over-mapped at times.

I have also started to not where a watch, as it irritates my arm and shoulder.  And I didn’t see a clock anywhere!

Birmingham needs to implement its own version of Legible London.

But like two door buses, most cities don’t like to even trial something that works well in London.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Birmingham Is Getting A World Class Station

I’ve been going to the old Birmingham New Street station since the 1960s. Until recently, you always got the impression, you were in the depths of a dark place underneath the centre of the city. The platforms are still a bit dark, but I suspect that’s because they haven’t been finished yet, but get upstairs and some of the station has been transformed.

A Transformed Station

A Transformed Station

Or at least half of it has, as the reconstruction has some time to run.

Escalators are everywhere, as they should be.

Escalators Are Everywhere

Escalators Are Everywhere

At present only one bridge over the platforms is complete and the second, is just a building site.

Outside an impressive frontage is being finished.

An Impressive Frontage

An Impressive Frontage

Although, another entrance is littered with dummies.

New Street Station With Dummies

New Street Station With Dummies

How do you stop smoking dummies cluttering up entrances?  But at least it’s not as bad in the UK, as in some European countries.

After lunch, my friend dropped me back to the station in his car. And what a surprise we got!

Passenger Drop Off At New Street Station

Passenger Drop Off At New Street Station

How many stations or airports have such a good well-designed drop off area? I walked straight into the booking hall, and after buying my ticket from a new and improved machine, two minutes later I was on the train back to Euston.

After Birmingham, you realise what a dump Euston station is. And of course it gets worse, as you descend into the Underground. We really knew how to design and build things badly then. Although, there are some notable exceptions! But Euston station is not one of them!

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Curzon Street station used to be Birmingham’s main station until the 1850s.

I took this picture, as my train arrived in New Street station.

Birmingham Curzon Street Station

Birmingham Curzon Street Station

If HS2 is built, it will become part of the station for Birmingham. It is after all a Grade 1 Listed Building.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Who’d Want To Drive From London To Birmingham?

The weather wasn’t good and there had been a severe accident on the M25, so it wasn’t a good day to drive!

Who'd Want To Drive From London To Birmingham?

Who’d Want To Drive From London To Birmingham?

I took the picture, when the M1 ran alongside the railway by Watford Gap.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

A More Colourful Railway

Travelling all over Europe, as I have been recently, when you get on British Trains, you nothing how there is more colour everywhere. Watford Junction shown here, isn’t that bright in the rain, but there’s more colour and texture, than I’ve seen in Europe. Look at the dramatic, but colourless station in Liege.

A More Colourful Railway

A More Colourful Railway

The flowers at Watford seemed to be a bit down, but you’ll see lots of flowers on British stations.  I can’t really remember them in Europe.

This also extends to metros and subways, where I don’t think I saw anything as bright as London’s, red, white and blue.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Virgin Trains Are Getting There!

I travelled up to Birmingham today in First Class on Virgin Trains. They now have an improved breakfast menu, which is available on all trains leaving Euston before 10:00.

Virgin Trains Are Getting There!

Virgin Trains Are Getting There!

I’d had breakfast earlier at home and anyway I was on the 10:23, so I was too late! However I did get three cups of tea and a bottle of water thrown in to my £25 fare bought the previous evening.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

Marks And Spencer’s Gluten-Free Breaded Cod

I had this for supper last night.

Marks And Spencer's Gluten-Free Breaded Cod

Marks And Spencer’s Gluten-Free Breaded Cod

And very good it was too! I just baked it in the oven for 18 minutes or so.  The potatoes were small ones from Waitrose, done in the microwave.

I haven’t anything to cook chips.  I did think about going to get some from McDonalds up the road.  But didn’t!

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Food | , , | 6 Comments

The Dalston House Goes Worldwide

Type Dalston House into Google News and you don’t just find stories from the UK.  There’s this story from the Baltimore Sun, which has an extensive set of excellent pictures, a long article from the New York Times, this story from India Today and another from the Daily Bhaskar.

Has Dalston now got its name into the news in such a way, that people will know where it is and something about the area?

It’s certainly all very positive!

June 28, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment