The Anonymous Widower

When Will The United States Realise That Guns Kill People?

On the wall of my office, there used to be a picture of my wife presenting a racing trophy to a racehorse trainer.

Both are now dead.

We fight cancer with common sense and all the tools that science has given us.

Isn’t it about time, that common sense is applied to the problem of guns in the United States and other countries where they are responsible for a high murder rate?

June 12, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

What Will Be The Service On The Great Northern Lines After Thameslink Opens?

When I did the short trip from Essex Road station on the Northern City Line, that I wrote about in Never On Sunday, I was surprised to see that the frequency of the service was Transport for London’s turn-up-and-go frequency of 4 trains per hour (tph), with 2 tph to going to Hertford North, with 1 tph extended to Stevenage and 2 tph to Welwyn Garden City.

The services at Essex Road station in the Off Peak include these trains.

It is interesting to note that between 0800 and 0900 on a weekday morning, thirteen trains arrive at Moorgate.

From 2018, the new Class 717 trains will start to run on the Northern City Line. The number of passengers on this line will surely grow as the Southern terminus of Moorgate station will be on Crossrail from December 2018.

Assuming these six-car Class 717 trains can carry about half that of a 12-car  Class 700 train, then in that hour they could bring 4,329 passengers into Moorgate station.

Will the low-level platforms at Moorgate station be able to cope?

Probably easily, if there is a direct tunnel and escalator access to Crossrail.

This map from shows the various lines at Moorgate.




  • The Northern City Line is superimposed on top of the Northern Line at Moorgate station.
  • The 200 m. long Crossrail platforms almost stretch between Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations.
  • Interchange between the Northern Line at Moorgate and the Central Line will probably be a three hundred metre walk.
  • Crossrail should mean that all Liverpool Street to Moorgate interchanges will be desert dry in the wettest weather.

If this massive interchange doesn’t create a need for more capacity on the Northern City Line, I’ll be very surprised.

As there have been improvements to the lines on the Great Northern Route, between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace stations, I wouldn’t be surprised that when Crossrail opens, this Cinderella line, that nobody wanted is running eight, ten or even more tph between Moorgate and Finsbury Park stations and further up the route.

The services on the Great Northern Route are intense, but despite that, the route has some of the most crowded trains in the UK..

Thameslink is coming and that will change everything dramatically.

At present Cambridge has 4 tph to Kings Cross in the Off Peak, of which two tph are non-stop Cambridge Cruisers.

When Thameslink connects to Cambridge, the provisional timetable says it will add 4 tph semi-fast trains between St. Pancras Thameslink and Cambridge.

Thameslink haven’t said what services they will retain between Kings Cross and Cambridge, but I did read somewhere that they want to hold on to the Class 387 trains to run the Cambridge Cruisers.

At present, Peterborough has 2 tph Great Northern services to Kings Cross, in addition to several non-stop expresses.

As with Cambridge, Peterborough will get an additional 4 tph, when Thameslink opens.

I think the outcome will be lots of direct services between Cambridge or Peterborough in the North and Kings Cross or St. Pancras Thameslink in the South.

If you are prepared to change just once, you’ll be able to travel between any station North of Finsbury Park to any of the three London terminals; Kings Cross, Moorgate and St. Pancras Thameslink.

I believe that because Thameslink has such a large number of stations and connections, that many passengers will have a wide choice of route.

There is also the performance and quality of the various trains on the routes to consider.

A succession of 100 mph plus trains speeding up and down the Great Northern Route won’t be a slower service than is currently offered.

There would probably be four semi-fast trains to and from both Northern destinsations, stopping at all major stations, with well-connected stopping trains serving the intermediate stations.

There might even be service patterns like say four tph between Moorgate and Welwyn Garden City stopping at all stations, which have a same platform interchange with four tph stopping services to Cambridge and Peterborough. So from say Foxton to New Barnet, you’d always change at Welwyn Garden City.

As an example of how the new improved Thanmeslink will help passengers, look at the routes from my home to Cambridge.

I could.

  1. Take a 277 bus to Highbury and Islington station and get a Victoria Line train to St. Pancras for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  2. Take a 38 bus or walk to Essex Road station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  3. Take a 141 bus to Moorgate station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  4. Take a 277 bus or walk to Highbury and Islington station and get a Northern City Line train to Finsbury Park for a Thameslink train to Cambridge.
  5. Take a 30 bus to Kings Cross station and get a Cambridge Cruiser to Cambridge.

The possibilities will be endless.

I wouldn’t take the first option, as St. Pancras is A Fur Coat And No Knicker Station, with a long walk between the Victoria Line and Thameslink.

My choice of route, will probably be decided by the first bus that arrives and the quality of the smile on the driver’s face.




June 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Sainsburys Winning The Bag War?

Since the five pence charge was introduced for plastic bags in England, there has been very little innovative thinking by shops about how they could use the bags to drag people into their shops.

Summing up the shops I use and the comments of others, I would say this.

  • Waitrose – Thin and useless
  • Tesco – Thin and useless
  • Marks and Spencer – Not too bad!

And then there’s Sainsburys!

A Reuseable Plastic Bag From Sainsburys

A Reuseable Orange Plastic Bag From Sainsburys


They are surely the best, as you can fold them flat and then into a size to fit in a coat pocket or bag.

The one in the picture is probably six or seven weeks old.

One day last week, I needed a few items to complete my supper like some strawberries and I hadn’t got a bag with me. So I walked past Marks and Spencer and Waitrose to Sainsburys and bought them there together with a 5p. bag.

Do you think that Sainsburys have deliberately made a 5p. bag that lasts to attract shoppers to their stores?

Judging by the number of orange bags, I see on the streets of London, I certainly think Sainsburys have been thinking this one through.

  • Orange bags are easy to spot, so you always take one.
  • As they’re easy to fold, some might fold them and put them in their pocket or bag after putting the shopping away.
  • Seeing lots of orange bags on the street, reminds shoppers to get what they need at Sainsburys.
  • Because of the quality of the bag, it makes you think well of Sainsburys and their products.

On the other hand, IKEA deliberately make their blue bags impossible to fold, so you leave them behind, when you go shopping.

June 12, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Vinnie Jones On Lotteries

In today’s Sunday Times, Vinnie Jones is asked about life and money.

One question was “What would you do if you won the lottery jackpot?”

He replied. “I’ve won the lottery of life, which is bigger than any financial lottery.”

I’ll go along with that!

I always feel, I’ve had some very good luck and some extremely crap luck too!

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Sport, World | , , | 1 Comment

Never On Sunday

There have always been things that were banned on Sundays or because of personal reasons, you never did on that day.

  • A Welsh friend at Liverpool University called David Roberts didn’t use to drink on Sundays when I first met him. But we soon cured him of that!
  • My late wife, who had been a Sunday school teacher in her time, wouldn’t go to the cinema on Sunday, as her mother thought it ungodly.
  • For myself, I don’t think I went to a football match on a Sunday until I was about forty, as they were never staged on Sundays.

I also remember the first day, that C and myself went to the first 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on a Sunday. Now horse racing and most other sport on a Sunday is considered normal, just as it is in the rest of the world.

It also used to be that the Northern City Line didn’t run at weekends, despite having three stations that served The Emirates Stadium.

This morning before it rained, I took a trip to Harringay station to view the Wightman Road Bridge, by taking a 38 bus to Essex Road station and then going three stops to the North.

The line is getting new Class 717 trains, but I do feel that some work to improve the stations might not be a bad idea.

I actually wanted to buy a ticket on that dreadful machine from the Zone 6 boundary to Guildford, but unlike London Overground and some other companies ticket machines, it doesn’t sell such a useful ticket, which I wrote about in The Price Of Freedom.

More details of the Class 717 trains are given in this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled New Govia Thameslink Railway trains to be Class 717s. This is said.

They are similar to the Class 700s being built by Siemens for GTR (of which 16 are in the UK), but they must have end doors as per safety regulations due to their operation in the Moorgate Tunnels. The design of this is at an advanced stage, with construction due to start this year.

I have felt that the Northern City Line, would be a classic application for an IPEMU for some time, as this would enable the Moorgate tunnels to be electrically-dead, as the trains would use batteries between Drayton Park and Moorgate stations. This would have the following effects.

  • The third-rail electrification could be deactivated or even removed.
  • The trains could also be 25 VAC only, if they wouldn’t be going into any other third-rail territory.

How would this impact tunnel safety regulations?

Whatever happens to this line, running a seven day a week service, will make the Northern City Line a valuable rail line in my part of London.

On a personal note, the line and Essex Road station in particular,  will help me cut-out the dreaded Highbury and Islington station, with its long passageways and lack of lifts.

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Common Sense Between Exeter And Plymouth

After the failure of the South Devon Sea Wall in 2014 and the cutting of the main line at Dawlish, something had to be done to make sure there was an alternative rail route between Exeter and Plymouth.

In the June 2016 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article entitled Cheaper Okehampton Route Proposed, which puts forward the latest thinking. The article starts like this.

The Peninsular Rail Task Force is advocating the reopening of the former Southern Railway route between Exeter and Plymouth via Okehampton as a secondary route rather than as a bypass for the existing line via Dawlish.

The Task Force has produced a 20-year plan for investment in the south west’s rail network. This link can access a draft summary report.

The old Southern Railway route between Exeter and Plymouth is described in Wikipedia as Partly Closed, but with much of the infrastructure intact, although the track has been lifted in places. It sounds that it has been left in a similar state to the Waverley Route and the Varsity Line, after cuts in the 1960s and 1970s. These two routes have been or will be partly or fully reopened.

Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton is certainly in a better state with regard to trains than either the Waverley Route or Varsity Line were before work started.

  • Trains run on the Tarka Line from Exeter to Crediton, before that line goes off to Barnstaple.
  • The Dartmoor Railway also uses the route to take passengers between Exeter and Okehampton.
  • From Okehampton to Tavistock, the track has been lifted.
  • Tavistock is getting a new station and being connected to the Tamar Valley Line at Bere Alston.
  • The Tamar Valley Line then takes passengers to Plymouth.

It may have the air of being assembled from Beeching’s left-overs, but it looks like it would work. Especially, as there should be no problem in the next few years in acquiring high-quality new or refurbished diesel trains for the line.

The Modern Railways article also says.

  • The line’s function would be to provide a modest service serving local stations and to offer diversionary capability.
  • Eight new stations would be provided.
  • The line would be unlikely to be electrified.
  • To help funding new housing would be built along the line.

A double-track railway with diesel trains would do the following.

  • Improve the economy of Devon around the fringes of Dartmoor.
  • Help in the development of much-needed housing in the area.
  • Provide a much-needed freight route to and from the peninsular.
  • Provide sufficient capacity in the event of problems at Dawlish.

But knowing Murphy’s Law, if the line were to reinstated, the sea at Dawlish would behave itself.

I also think that once the decision is made to reinstate the line, that it would be a project to build in a series of smaller related projects.

  1. Build the station at Tavistock and connect it to the Tamar Valley Line Line at Bere Alston, to create an hourly Plymouth to Tavistock service.
  2. Upgrade Okehampton station and the Dartmoor Railway to create an hourly Exeter to Okehampton service.
  3. Acquire some new or refurbished diesel trains for the routes and also for other local services in Devon. The trains would need to be weather-proofed for the Dawlish route.
  4. Build new stations at Okehampton East, North Tawton and Bow on the Okehampton to Exeter section.
  5. Reinstate the Tavistock to Okehampton route with stations at Lydford and Sourton Parkway.

Done in small stages, I think that other than getting a railway delivered at an affordable cost on an earlier date, it would have other advantages.

  • Once the first two phases are complete, all but about sixteen miles of the route would be running trains.
  • Hourly services at both ends of the line would give reliable forecasts as to expected passenger usage of the completed line.
  • The hourly services would surely have a Borders Railway-style effect on tourism.
  • Building in small stages could minimise heritage issues, that probably don’t come into play until the Tavistock to Okehampton section is designed and built.

Like the Borders Railway and the Varsity Line, it strikes me that this route from Exeter to Plymouth was wrongly closed in the 1960s and 1970s. But then Harold Wilson, that well-known friend of trains, flew to his cottage on the Scilly Isles.

I believe that this plan is a good one and I’m looking forward to exploring the complete line in the future.





June 12, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment