The Anonymous Widower

Memorials On The Liverpool Pier Head

Liverpool is proud of its maritime heritage and the Pier Head on the Mersey is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.

When Celia and I met in Liverpool in the 1960s, it was a simpler place, where we would walk to take the ferry across the Mersey.

These pictures show the Pier Head today.

I’d never realised that the road across the Pier Head, had been named Canada Boulevard in honour of Canadians, who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic or the war against German U-boats.

Shown in the pictures is the memorial to Captain Johnnie Walker, one of the leading British commanders in the battle.

The scale of the battle is shown by the fact that according to Wikipedia the Allies lost over 70,000 sailors, 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships, whereas the Germans lost 30,000 sailors and 783 submarines.

One thing that wasn’t there in the 1960s is the canal that links the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the Stanley Dock, so narrow-boats can visit the city centre.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Gone Wrong With The Blackpool To Preston Electrification?

On Friday this news item appeared on the BBC web site. It is entitled Balfour Beatty pulls out of Lancashire rail electrification.

The article starts like this.

The main contractor behind plans to electrify the railway line between Preston and Blackpool has pulled out.

Balfour Beatty confirmed it was leaving the scheme after a review said the work was unlikely to be on time and budget.

Network Rail insisted the electrification was still due to finish by spring 2017 and a new contractor would be “appointed shortly”.

On the Saturday, on my route from Liverpool to Preston, I took a detour up the Blackpool branch and took these pictures.

The aim was to see, if I could get a clue as to what has gone wrong.

For a start, I saw a succession of bridges that appeared to have been recently replaced or refurbished. Often with electrification, the cost of getting bridges and stations ready for electrification is a major part of the cost.

Even Poulton-le-Fylde station  appeared to have acquired a cafe from when I saw it in May this year.

At Blackpool North station crowds of people were leaving, as the weather was atrocious, so I took the next train back to Preston.

As to why, Balfour Beatty have given up the contract, there were no clues.

I think there could be two reasons for the delay.. In this section on Electrification for the Wikipedia entry for Blackpool North station, this is said.

This will result in the semaphore signalling at the station being replaced by modern colour lights controlled from the WCML North Rail Operating Centre in Preston and will also see the station track & platform layout altered (the current eight curved platforms will be reduced to six on a straighter alignment than at present). Work has begun to raise many of the intermediate overbridges to accommodate the overhead wires and the project was due for completion by May 2016, with the line onwards to Manchester following by the end of the year. This has since been pushed back to March 2017 so that the track remodelling & resignalling work can be carried out at the same time as the wiring, reducing disruption to passengers (as only one period of closure will be required)

So could an over-complicated project or lack of resources be the cause?

Look at other Wikipedia entries for lines in this area and it gets more complicated with aspirations to reopen the Fleetwood Branch Line.

Or could it be that there are so many ideas about what to do in Blackpool with the trains, the planners at Balfour Beatty can’t keep pace with all the changes? So backing out is the esiest thing to do!

I think there is a need to take a long hard look at all the possibilities, like the Fleetwood Branch and linking to the Blackpool trams and the way they actually perform any track changes and electrification.

Perhaps everything from the West Coast Main Line to Blackpool and Fleetwood should be devolved to an elected mayor or someone, who gets voted out, if the project fails.

I know Blackpool reasonably well and if ever an are needs an upgraded transport system, with an electrified line to nearby cities, it is Blackpool.


August 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Crossrail Will Affect The Buses

This article from GetWest London is entitled Improved bus services for Hayes to prepare for Crossrail.

The article talks about how Bus Route 90 is going double-deck and buses through Hayes will be improved as Crossrail, with the new Hayes and Harlington station is constructed

Provision of improved and rerouted bus services will happen at many of the new Crossrail stations.

My nearest Crossrail station will be the double ended giant at Liverpool Street that will serve both the current Liverpool Street and Moorgate stations.

From close to my house I can get a 21 or 141 bus to just outside Liverpool Street station, although coming back I have to walk to Moorgate for a northbound bus.

After Crossrail is opened, I predict that when I use Liverpool Street station, I will get a bus to a stop that will be connected by weather-free subways to any of the existing lines in the area and of course Crossrail. Coming back, these or other subways will connect me to a northbound stop to get a bus home.

I actually suspect to get the bus, it might be best to be at one particular end of a Crossrail train, so that you use an entrance to the station, that is convenient for your bus. Getting the carriage right could save you quite a walk with a two-hundred ,metre long train.

If what is provided, is not better than the current interim arrangement at Liverpool Street/Moorgate, I will be very surprised and will complain like an irate rhinoceros.

Most of the stations on Crossrail are served by London buses, also under the control of Transport for London. So improving the buses, as at Hayes and Harlington will be a matter for Transport for London, with input from the appropriate London Borough.

But what will happen at places like Brentwood, Burnham, Iver, Langley, Maidenhead, Reading, SloughShenfield and others,which are outside of Transport for London’s influence.

So that Crossrail has one holistic design from East to West, buses at these outer stations must conform to the rules that apply in the London area.

  1. Buses must be cashless, with payments either by Oyster, contactless card, concessionary pass or an extension to an orange rail ticket.
  2. London-style bus spider maps must be provided at all stations.
  3. A state-of-the-art bus arrival system must be provided in the same manner as in London, either by display or text message.
  4. All buses must be fully-accessible to match the fully-accessible stations.
  5. In an ideal world, all buses must display the next stop and be front entrance and centre exit, to help blind and disabled passengers and speed the buses on their way.

Looking at text message bus alerts like TfL’s Countdown, allowing a sixth digit to the text system would probably enable every stop in the South East to be covered.

Incidentally, according to this article in The Guardian, there are less than 500,000 transport stops in the whole UK, so six digits and one text number would cover the whole of the country.

But would the Scots, Mancunians and the Cornish, embrace a system that was designed in and for London?

Crossrail is a rail system, but it is going to affect lots of parts of our lives.


August 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Are We In For More Strikes On Tubes And The Railways?

Sometimes, I think that when I posted Après Bob, Le Déluge and asked this question.

Where else will this worrying new militancy turn up?

That I got things about right.

Transport for London, won the row about the closure of Ticket Offices and now contactless ticketing is used all over London, by virtually every passenger. You see very few orange cardboard tickets.

So the Unions lost that battle and then their friends on the left lost the much more important General Election in May!

This week, there are strikes on First Great Western over the introduction of new Class 800/801 trains and the Underground is being shut down by the strike over the introduction of the Night Tube.

On the First Great Western strike, I have a feeling, that these trains may not be all they’re supposed to be cracked up to me, after a brief conversation with a senior guy at FGW on a train.

I sometimes think that the Tube strike is all about the pay back to TfL on losing the Ticket Office issue and punishing passengers for not voting for Labour in the General Election.

The Night Tube is also a difficult battle to fight, as once it starts, because lots of people will depend on it, I suspect that it will be a very difficult service to stop. Like closure of Ticket Offices, it would be filed under things difficult to reverse like putting toothpaste back in the tube.

I do think though, that this is just the start of an Autumn of rail strikes. Especially, if Jeremy Corbyn is elected to be leader of the Labour Party and he decides to back them.

Although, if JC decided to be pragmatic, he could be the one person, who sorts out the Tube Strike. After all, he has no monetary responsibility, but he is a London MP, who if he becomes leader would be in debt to the Unions. If he got this right, then we could have a very Left Wing Labour Mayor or if he got it wrong, then, if the Tories put up a total nonentity, he or she would be home and hosed.

I do think that things will get a lot nastier and more angry before they get any better.


August 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

What Does The Left Know About The Economic Views Of The Man On The Dalston Omnibus?

London’s buses went cashless on the 6th July 2014, as was reported in the Guardian. The system has now expanded so you can use contactless payments on Buses, Underground, Overground, trams and National Rail in Greater London. And recently ApplePay has been allowed!

According to the Left and the Greens, this was going to result in all sorts of problems for passengers. But from what I can tell, the only thing suffering is the Oyster Card, as those on the Dalston Omnibus, would prefer their spare cash sitting in their bank account, rather than on an Oyster card, they will probably mislay.

I have extensive Google Alerts trying to locate problems with the system and I can’t find anything.

So so much for the competence of the economics of the Left Wing of British Politics!

I am surprised that we haven’t seen more special offers with contactless ticketing like Fare Free Friday to promote Mastercard.

Supposing someone like Highland Spring, wanted to promote their water and gave you say twenty pence every time, you used your contactless card on the system. This might appear on your credit or bank card statement as.

Keep hydrated on the Tube with Highland Spring.

It could be coupled with water vending machines all over the place.

I think if the prices and rewards were got right, it could be a winner.


August 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment