The Anonymous Widower

Luton Airport Goes For Light Rail

This article in The Guardian is entitled Luton airport to replace bus transfers with £200m light rail link.

Passengers will take the light rail link between Luton Airport and Luton Airport Parkway station, where they will use Thameslink and Midland Main Line trains to travel North and South.

This Google Map shows the area, where the rail link will run.

Luton Airport And Luton Airport Parkway Station

Luton Airport And Luton Airport Parkway Station

The Midland main Line and the station are close to the end of the runway.

A few months ago, an article in Railway Technology was entitled Luton Airport reveals plans for new direct rail service.

What isn’t shown from the map, but is very much obvious if you’ve piloted an aircraft out of Luton Airport, is that the end of the runway is on top of a hill and the railway is at the bottom.

I said this in Will Bombardier Develop The Ultimate Airport Train? about running trains into a Luton Airport station.

I think that railway engineers can create an elegant junction here, where trains can easily go in both directions between London and the Airport. Designing a line connecting the North and the Airport could be more difficult, but even so given the terrain and that some of the junction will be inside the airport boundary, a solution must be possible.

One thing that could help, is that if Class 387/2 IPEMUs were to be used on all Luton Airport services, then the branch would not need to be electrified.

If it was decided to run it in a tunnel under the car parks, then surely a tunnel without overhead wiring would be a smaller, simpler and more affordable proposition.

As the Railway Technology article was only published in July 2015, after promising results from the IPEMU train, could it be that this rail link is not possible with conventionally-powered electric trains?

But I now think that there are other problems with a direct rail link into the airport, even with the help of IPEMU and other recently-developed technology.

  • In other documents, it is stated that Luton Airport wants four trains an hour to the capital and it has to be asked if there are enough paths available to the South.
  • It probably is more difficult than I thought to run trains to and from the North to the airport.

I also wonder, if after Luton Airport Parkway station has been rebuilt for the light rail link, that this might open up other possibilities for development in this part of Luton.

I also found the original press release about the link. This is said.

The light rail link is part of a broader rail connectivity improvement plan, which aims to introduce a 20 minute express rail service with four fast trains per hour between LLA and central London as part of the upcoming East Midlands rail franchise. LLA is also currently working with Transport for London to add the airport to the Oyster network which will help ensure smooth connections for passengers travelling by rail.

Everything will hopefully become clearer, when the full plans for the link are published.

In a few months time, when Luton and Gatwick have contactless ticketing, who will be next in the queue; Heathrow or Stansted?

Transport for London have certainly started the game of contactless cards, by playing two powerful aces.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stansted and Southend accept contactless ticketing before the end of 2016, leaving Heathrow as the odd one out!



April 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Part-Solution To The Level Crossing Problem?

Several times in my life, I have been delayed on trains, by accidents at level crossings.

Luckily none of them were that serious, but this list of United Kingdom level crossing accidents, includes quite a few where several died.

So I was pleased to find this data sheet on the Internet for a Vector LX. This is said.

VECTOR LX is now in operation at multiple level crossing sites around the UK, operating as an unattended enforcement system.  VECTOR LX is a highly capable monitoring and enforcement tool that continually captures and analyses data, identifying offenders and providing valuable ‘intelligent’ data.

Using a unique combination of ANPR, video and scanning radar, VECTOR LX not only identifies when offences occur, but gathers a wealth of ‘situational awareness’ data to identify behaviours at different times of day. All of this is delivered without the need for road loops or intrusive connections into the traffic signals, providing a system that is powerful, effective and simple to maintain.

Surely, it is a part-solution to the problem of drivers weaving through the barriers.


April 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Small Cooking Spoon I Can Hang Up

There are two types,. of designers in the world; those like Kenneth Grange, who will never accept second best and then their are all the others.

I strive for perfection and only accept second best, when the best is impossible.

These pictures show my quest for a small cooking spoon that I can hang above my cooker. Where else is there to put the tools, you use to actually cook the food as opposed to prepare it.

My mother had a small wooden spoon, that was always used to stir beans or in a small milk saucepan.

I have been looking for one for myself for about ten years now and I’ve never found one, quite small enough.

I did find the red spoon, shown in the first picture, in John Lewis and I use it a lot. A small one like it, in blue, would be ideal, as it fits the IKEA hooks above my cooker.

So I decided to make it possible to hang the smallest wooden spoon, I’ve got alongside.

I just drilled a hole in it, with my trusty pocket drill and attached a cable clip.

It seems to work.

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Food, World | , , | Leave a comment

Is The West Midlands Going To See A Boom In Rail Station Building?

Yesterday, when I wrote West Midlands To Get A New Freight Interchange, I wondered, if the original Four Ashes station would be rebuilt.

On looking at the list of proposed stations on Wikipedia, I noticed the first was Brinsford Parkway station, which I’d never heard of before.

But it turned out it was just a couple of miles South of Four Ashes. Wikipedia says this about Brinsford Parkway station.

It would be located on the Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford Line loop of the West Coast Main Line, and would give the north of Wolverhampton local commuter trains easing congestion on the A449, M6 and M54 motorways. Penkridge is the only station that still remains open on the line between Wolverhampton and Stafford.

The proposed station would serve a new development on the MoD depot at Brinsford (whose builder would fund the station), other local communities and passengers drawn from the motorway network. It would provide Park and Ride facilities, with a large car park.

It sounds like Wulfrunians are thinking holistically!

It looks like a good idea to me, as it ticks a lot of boxes.

So, I then went through Wikipedia’s lists of current and proposed station projects, to see what other interesting ones were in the pipeline. I found these in the West Midlands.

The West Midlands has certainly expanded its suburban services with electrification, new trains and the Midland Metro in the last couple of decades and it looks like they will be building more train and tram lines in the future.

Birmingham To Peterborough Line

In my view the most interesting proposal is the two new stations on the Birmingham to Peterborough Line. Except for Water Orton, this line is station free between Coleshill Parkway and Birmingham New Street.

If Fort Parkway and Castle Bromwich stations were to open, surely two trains per hour on this line will not be enough, so I do wonder if there are plans to add extra services to and from somewhere like Nuneaton with its connections up and down the West Coast Main Line and possibly extend them the other way to perhaps the new Bromsgrove station to the West of Birmingham.

It strikes me that there will be some reorganisation. I suspect though, that one of the problems is that it would appear that the line from Nuneaton to Birmingham is not electrified, although Nuneaton and Birmingham New Street stations are. There is also incomplete electrification between Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove stations.

It looks to me like a cash of call in some Aventra IPEMUs. The only problem might be hauling a full load of passengers up the Lickey Incline on the on-board energy storage.

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Inaccurate Marks And Spencer Contactless Payments

I use contactless payments regularly in Marks and Spencer and I’ve never had a payment problem, but some of the transactions end up with very strange locations on my credit card statement.

I’ve found.

  • Cambridge Station, Cambridge
  • Birmingham New Street, Birmingham
  • Reading Station, SSP Reading
  • Euston Scot, Euston Station
  • Piccadilly Station, Manc
  • Heathrow Airport SSP

I know these are all Marks and Spencer despite no indication, as they are for between seven and eight pounds, which is a typical price for a pack of gluten-free sandwiches, a drink and perhaps a biscuit or fruit.

I also know, that in the last month, I’ve bought sandwiches in Marylebone station and I can’t find the transaction.

So did my credit card company reject it, as someone had put some total garbage in the contactless card system in the otlet in the station?

With contactless payments, becoming very much the norm for many customers, they must get this right.

I certainly, haven’t lost out, but I think there’s at least two payments, that seem to have gone missing in cyberspace.

I think the lesson of this tale, is that if you are a small owner-managed store or a large chain, you must set up your contactless system correctly, as it at one level might be an irritance to customers and at a higher one, it might cost you money.

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment