The Anonymous Widower

The National Infrastructure Commission Is Welcomed By Warwickshire

This article on Rail News is entitled Warwickshire rail campaigners welcome news of National Infrastructure Commission and it discusses the struggles of local campaigners trying to restore the rail line between Stratford-on-Avon and Honeybourne, on the North Cotswold Route. Wikipedia says this about the plans.

The Shakespeare Line Promotion Group is promoting a scheme to reinstate the 9 miles (14 km) “missing Link” between Honeybourne and Stratford. Called the “Avon Rail Link”, the scheme (supported as a freight diversionary route by DB Schenker) would make Stratford-upon-Avon railway station a through station once again with improved connections to the Cotswolds and the South. The scheme faces local opposition. There is, however, a good business case for Stratford-Cotswolds link.

Note this could also be a freight diversion route.

Last year, I went to Stratford-on-Avon and wrote Stratford Upon Avon Station Is Getting A Facelift.

I hinted at more services to come and linked to the Wikipedia comments above.

To return to the Rail News article, it says some interesting things like this.

A NIC could overcome one of the biggest hurdles that has existed for decades. For mainly no other reason the route from Stratford to Honeybourne straddles two government regional boundaries (West Midlands and South West) two Network Rail regions (Chiltern/West Midlands and Western), three County Councils, three District Councils and two Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Is anybody in charge? Perhaps the NIC will be. This is said on visitors to Stratford-on-Avon.

Stratford only attracts six per cent of visitors to the town to travel by rail, while the national average for visitors by rail to similar UK rail-connected tourist destinations is over double that, at 13 per cent.

As the line has a good case for reopening and Stratford-on-Avon station has been upgraded, perhaps this is a project that should be looked at seriously.

We are probably going to live in a new era if George Osbourn’s plans for business rate reform come to fruition, which might see progressive Councils developing infrastructure to enable business, housing and tourism opportunities.

Surely a reconstructed line from Stratford-on-Avon to Cheltenham would tick a few boxes.

There is a major prize at the Cheltenham end if Cheltenham Racecourse, which is one of the busiest in the UK, could be linked to the main line rail network at Cheltenham Spa station. The Google Map shows the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway going past the racecourse, where there is already a station.

Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham Racecourse

Unfortunately, there is a supermarket which is partially blocking the route between the racecourse and Cheltenham Spa station.

These are the sort of problems that a National Infrastructure Commission should have the power to solve or dismiss as insoluble.

Watching National Hunt racing at Cheltenham is one of the  great sporting spectacles of the British Isles and a viable rail service to the course from London and Oxford needs to be created.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Batteries Or Flywheels?

Hybrid buses and IPEMU trains need some form of energy storage.

Typical systems generally use batteries. Mechanical devices are discussed in this article in Transport Engineer.

Read the article.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

What Really Happened At Walthamstow Central

I heard a lot of complaints about the closure of the Victoria Line in August. So I was pleased to see this article in Rail Engineer entitled Life is not a rehearsal… but pumping concrete can be!

As detailed by Transport for London this is a summary of what needed to be done.

Improvement work planned this summer by London Underground (LU) will lead to the operation of 36 trains per hour. From April 2016, this will provide a train every 100 seconds during peak hours, making the Victoria line the UK’s highest frequency railway and comparable with the very best in the world. All peak-time trains will run the full length of the line from Walthamstow Central to Brixton, giving a 40% capacity boost for customers northeast of Seven Sisters.

But it wasn’t that simple to achieve and the Rail Engineer article explains the main problem of a crossing at Walthamstow.

The trackwork kept pace with the times, but wasn’t shiny and, of course, it was out of sight. At Walthamstow – the end of the line – the track arrangement ended in a scissors crossover. For the non-pway engineers, this is a compact and complex track arrangement where terminating trains arriving at the crossover from the south in the northbound tunnel can be routed into either of the two platforms at Walthamstow Central, then routed back from either platform into the southbound tunnel.

Changing it wasn’t simple and they used every trick in the book to do the project.

  • A bespoke overhead crane was installed at the crossover, for ease of working, and after the job was completed it was left behind in the tunnel, so it could be used again if needed.
  • A number of demolition techniques were used to remove the old track and its concrete base.
  • They even wrapped the new track in polythene, so that no concrete got on the rails.
  • They had actually rehearsed the major concrete pouring which required fifty truck-loads of concrete in the open at Acton Depot.

The major outcome is that the speed of trains through the crossing has been raised from 20 mph to 35 mph, which is necessary to achieve thirty-six trains an hour through London.

Read the full article.

This is the sort of project that would make good television!

Except for one thing!

Nothing went wrong and the project was delivered thirty-six hours early.

 

 

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

The Class 319 Trains Keep Rolling On

Class 319 trains were built for Thameslink in the 1980s.

I was using the line to get from St. Pancras to Blackfriars and in a few years time, when twenty-four trains an hour run on the line, it’ll almost be like another Underground line across the city from North to South.

Class 319s are not the most attractive of trains and advertising doesn’t help. The good news is that are reliable 100 mph trains and with a refurbishment, they’ll last a few more years yet, as Northern Rail have shown.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

A Tale Of Three Web Sites

I’m going away for a few days on Thursday and my aim originally was to fly to Hamburg and then take trains along the coast to Amsterdam.

So I tried to book a flight on the German Wings web site.

I couldn’t, as when I tried to put my address into the booking form, I couldn’t find the UK, United Kingdom, Great Britain or England in their list of countries. Don’t the Germans know, they lost the Second World War?

I thought it might be finger trouble, so as I was watching one of my least favourite football teams getting a superb thumping at the time, I tried once for each goal.

In the end, I gave up and booked Eurostar to Any Belgian station, as you can’t book it to Hamburg yet.

It used to be easier, as you could book a train to Any Dutch Station, but for some reason the Dutch stopped that convenient ticket. It’s now much easier to book tickets to Switzerland than The Netherlands.

This morning, I needed to do my winter clothes shopping. It was only a number of standard items from Marks and Spencer. I usually, buy one example of say the trousers or jumpers I want and then use the code on the ticket to buy more if they fit.

So after logging in, doing the purchase with a new Amex card and arranging delivery to my local store, the process was completed without hassle in a few minutes.

Why can’t all travel sites, be as easy to use as shops like Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and IKEA?

incidentally, I now use Amex a lot on the web, as they seem to have brought in a geographic security based on your Internet connection. The sites ask if they can use your Internet location and I suppose now, they can link that to my physical address.

It looks like a clever way to check on-line purposes. If my card and delivery address tie up to where my Internet connection is located, there must be a high probability, that I am making the purchases. I suppose, it could be someone, who has access to my house getting  hold of the card, but then I would be suspicious if products I hadn’t ordered ended up on my doorstep.

Banks and credit card companies should use tricks like this to secure on-line purchases, as anything password-based is likely to be derailed by the forgetful mind, unless it is written down. Which then breaks the security.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Won’t Use Uber

I don’t use taxis much at all.

I did in Blackburn on Saturday, as one was there, when I came out of Ewood Park and as trains to Preston, are fairly infrequent, I felt it might be quicker than finding a bus and I might catch an earlier train. I didn’t!

Other than that since the first of September, I’ve used taxis perhaps twice to come back home after arriving late at night in a rail station, just to save time. I usually get them off the rank at the station.

I use a mini-cab perhaps twice a year, to get to and from my son’s house on Christmas Day, which I book personally at the office around the corner from where I live.

The reason for this low usage is also because I have a dozen or so bus routes within two hundred metres and four of these are all night routes. And as London buses are ideal for parcels and shopping, when coming home with bags, I rarely need a taxi.

I would also put taxis in that category of wasted money, which is better spent on something more enjoyable like a proper lunch, rather than a drink and a banana.

But the main reason, I don’t use Uber is that it’s an app and I don’t want to put any apps on my smart phone, which I use exclusively for the web and to send and receive text messages.

I also don’t like giving my e-mail address and mobile phone number to companies or individuals willy-nilly, as so many companies like to send me unsolicited messages.

I’m certain, that apps will be the next security hole, that will be targeted by fraudsters.

As Uber has created lots of enemies for itself, I would put the Uber app at the top of the list of innocent trojans to get control of your phone, as fraudsters would like an app used by lots of users in insecure places.

People would also be much more careful with a financial app from their bank, financial advisor or credit card.

I think it is true to say, that in London, I am annoyed by traffic congestion which slows the buses and creates more air pollution.

Uber is helping to make this worse, as there are more and more mini-cabs in London.

Last week, I was on a bus that took an hour to get from Upper Street to Monument at ten in the morning, when the timetable says twenty-three minutes.

So I very much back Boris, who wants to limit the number of mini-cabs.

 

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment