The Anonymous Widower

A Strange Election

In 2015, when you walked through the local area, you saw lots of posters, saying Vote for Me! etc.

Today, I walked to Haggerston station and I saw just three posters; one Liberal, one Green and one for an Independent.

Now that the forecast doesn’t agree with opinion polls in The Times and The Standard, I am led to the conclusion, that much of the data is all over the place.

I have a feeling as with 2015 and the Bexit vote, the pollsters will have to look hard at their methods.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran Discuss New Freight Corridor To link India And Europe

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on Global Rail News.

The article doesn’t say much, except that currently it takes between thirty and forty days for freight to get between India and Europe.

The New Silk Road

In How To Move 100,000 Containers A Year Between Germany And China, I talked about a plan by Deutsche Bahn and Georgian Railways to create a  New Silk Road. This map shows the route.

Note how the route of the New Silk Road could go South of the Caspian Sea, which means it would pass through Iran.

In the earlier post, I said this about the New Silk Road.

If you read the Wikipedia entry for Georgian Railways, it does list a few problems, but it would appear that the route across Georgia is being upgraded to Standard Gauge all the way from the Turkish border to Almaty in Kazakhstan.

With Germany, Turkey and Europe at the Western end and China at the Eastern end both predominately Standard Gauge, I think that this route will be all the same gauge.

A new route between Azerbaijan and Kazahkstan would avoid using a ferry across the Caspian Sea for the New Silk Road.

Ideally it would be a Standard Gauge Line.

Iran

So will Iranian Railways be able to create a Standard Gauge route to the South of the Caspian Sea?

The good news is as follows.

Iran’s railways are built using Standard Gauge.

Much of the route appears to be already built.

The route could serve Tehran and link it to Tbilisi and Baku, the capitals of Georgia and Axerbaijan.

But the bad news is given in a section in the Wikipedia entry for Iranian Railways called Challenging Construction, where this is said.

The Trans-Iranian railway traverses many mountain ranges, and is full of spirals and 1 in 36 ruling grades. Much of the terrain was unmapped when construction took place, and its geology unknown. Several stretches of line, including tunnels, were built through unsuitable geology, and had to be replaced even before the line opened. Nevertheless, the line was completed ahead of schedule.

In recent years the railways have undergone significant extensions including the 1977 linking to the western railway system at the Turkish border, the 1993 opening of the Bandar Abbas line providing better access to the sea, and the 1996 opening of the Mashad–Sarakhs extension as part of the Silk Road railway to link to the landlocked Central Asian Countries.

Add in the earthquake-prone nature of the area, and it might not be a piece of cake.

Liuk Between Iran And Turkey

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for Iranian Railways called Link to Turkey, and International Standard Gauge route to Europe, where this is said.

In 1977, the Iranian railways linked to the western railway system at the Turkish border.

The route to the west into Turkey terminates at Van with a 90 km (56 mi) train ferry for both freight wagons and international passenger traffic (baggage car only) across Lake Van, which is at an altitude of 1,650 m (5,413 ft), to Tatvan where it joins the Turkish standard-gauge network.

Looking at the map, it would appear that it could be easier to go between Iran and Turkey via Georgia and Azerbaijan. The rail link to Azerbaijan appears to have seen lots of use between Iran and the formerSoviet Union, but it needs a gauge change on the border.

But driven by the Germans and the Georgians, it would appear that Standard Gauge trains can or will soon be able to go from Turkey to Iran.

Link To Pakistan

There is also a section  in the Wikipedia entry for Iranian Railways called Link to Pakistan, where this is said.

The construction of the railway from Bam to Zahedan was completed in early 2009 connecting Tehran to Pakistan border with an opening ceremony on 19 July 2009. However international container traffic commenced operations on 14 August 2009 with transshipment (or transloading) between 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) Indian gauge and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge wagons in the new Zahedan Exchange Yard on the bypass line. The freight traffic was discontinued however after the initial trial trains and was only revived in 2015.

Iranian Railways have been trying to persuade Pakistan Railways to convert its route to Quetta to standard gauge, in order to facilitate the flow of international traffic to Europe. Pakistan responded in 2006 with a statement that it is to convert its network to standard gauge, and would plan a link with the standard gauge system of China.

A through passenger service is being considered to supplement the occasional Quetta-Zahedan service, itself a poor shadow of the former Pakistan-Iran ‘Taftan Express’.

It’s such a pity, that Indian Railways were not built to Standard Gauge. But then we built Irish Railways to a different gauge too!

Iran’s Leadership

It does appear from the last two sections with their extracts from Wikipedia, that Iran is very much taking the lead in facilitating the movement of freight between Europe and the Indian sub-continent.

Quetta

It looks like if the Iranians have their way, Quetta will be the place, where the changeover takes place between Standard and Indian Gauges. This is the first two paragraphs of the Wikipedia entry for the city.

Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan, Pakistan and the ninth-largest city of the country. The city is known as the fruit garden of Pakistan, due to the numerous fruit orchards in and around it, and the large variety of fruits and dry fruits produced there. The immediate area has long been one of pastures and mountains, with varied plants and animals relative to the dry plains to the west. Quetta is at an average elevation of 1,680 meters (5,510 feet) above sea level, making it Pakistan’s only high-altitude major city. The population of the city is estimated to be approximately 1,140,000.

Located in north western Balochistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Quetta is a trade and communication centre between the two countries. The city lies on the Bolan Pass route which was once the only gateway from Central Asia to South Asia. Quetta played an important role militarily for the Pakistani Armed Forces in the intermittent Afghanistan conflict.

Placing the main rail gauge change in Quetta, must improve the economic prospects for the area.

The altitude of the city could be a problem, but Wikipedia also says trains are attacked.

Conclusion

This project would appear to be a very feasible way to create a rail route between Europe and India, which from Europe to Quetta will be Standard Gauge and from Quetta Eastwards will be Indian Gauge.

 

 

June 8, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putin: I Never Have Off-Days, I’m Not A Woman

This is the title of an article in The Times.

Any suggestions, as to who else might say the same thing?

 

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Terror In Tehran

This is the title of a leading article in The imes today.

It is subtitled.

The Isis attack on Iran is part of a desperate endgame that threatens us all

Islamic State are being pushed back and the newspaper thinks that attacks like London, Manchester, Paris and Teheran will increase.

Let’s hope they are wrong. But I suspect they aren’t!

 

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

The Sun Does It Again!

You can always rely on The Sun to be funny on Election Day.

They sum him up like this.

  • Terrorists’ Friend
  • Useless On Brexit
  • Destroyer Of Jobs
  • Enemy Of Business
  • Massive Tax Hikes
  • Puppet Of Unions
  • Nuclear Surrender
  • Ruinous Spending
  • Open Immigration
  • Marxist Extremist

The front page is very much in the tradition of the notorious It’s The Sun Wot Won It front page of 1992.

Incidentally, if Jeremy Corbyn were to become Prime Minister, he would be only the second one, who’d divorced. The first was the Duke of Grafton in 1769. But the Duke was only divorced once.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Let’s Get Fracking

In Fracked Or Fiction, I talked about my attitude to fracking. These two paragraphs, were my conclusion.

My overwhelming conclusion after the lecture was that before we can embrace fracking in earnest, we must collect a lot more information. For example, we don’t know the background levels ofearthquakes and natural gas seepage in this country. So if say it is thought, that fracking had caused a small earthquake, can we be sure that that isn’t one that we habitually get in this country.

A secondary conclusion, is that my engineering knowledge indicated that there are several very fruitful areas for the development of new technological solutions to mitigate some of the possible problems of fracking.

But things have changed a bit in the over three years, since I attended the lecture at the London Geological Society.

We still get gas from the North Sea and a few smaller fields, but we have to buy in gas from places like Algeria, Russia and Qatar.

I suspect too, that we can always ship liquefied natural gas from the United States.

The Green Party would say that we shouldn’t burn natural gas, but what do we do about?

  1. People do with gas boilers who keep themselves warm in winter?
  2. Businesses that use gas as part of their industrial processes.
  3. In 2015, thirty percent of our electricity was produced from gas.

Renewables such as solar and wind are increasing, but for the forseeable future, we wil still need gas.

But how would you feel, if the Government said, that you must change your boiler for an electric one, as you can’t have any more gas?

We can continue to get our gas from those shining democracies of Algeria, Russia and Qatar or buy it from Trumpland, which would probably not be acceptable to everybody.

There is also the problem, that countries like Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands are also short of gas and are relying increasingly on the Russians.

Surely, the best solution to avoid the cold and loss of employment in industries reliant on gas, is to extract the gas from our own fields, using fracking in a professional and engineeringly-sound manner.

We have form in the extraction of hydrocarbons in this way from land in the UK. The is the first paragraph, from the Wikipedia entry for Wytch Farm.

Wytch Farm is an oil field and processing facility in the Purbeck district of Dorset, England. It is the largest onshore oil field in western Europe. The facility, recently taken over by Perenco was previously operated by BP. It is hidden in a coniferous forest on Wytch Heath on the southern shore of Poole Harbour, two miles (3.2 km) north of Corfe Castle. Oil and natural gas (methane) are both exported by pipeline; liquefied petroleum gas is exported by road tanker.

Is there is an onshore oil-field in a more sensitive environment? Wikipedia says this under Environment.

Most of the field is protected by various conservation laws, including the Jurassic Coast world heritage site, Purbeck Heritage Coast and a number of sites of special scientific interest, areas of outstanding natural beauty and nature reserves (including Studland and Brownsea Island), so the gathering centre and most of the well sites are small and well screened by trees. Directional drilling has also contributed to reducing the impact on the local environment, with extended reach drilling from the Goathorn Peninsula attaining distances in excess of 10 km.

Note the reference to directional drilling, which according to a friend, who was associated with the development of the project, was very much pioneered at Wytch Farm.

Directional drilling is often very much part of the fracking process, prior to the actual hydraulic fracturing. I’m very much of the opinion, that to be a successful fracker, you need to have very good directional drilling capabilities.

I’ve heard it on good authority, that fracking is used in the Highlands of Scotland to extract drinking water. But the F-word is so sensitive, there is nothing about it on the Internet. I did find this web page from a company called Clearwater Drilling Company in Tennessee, which is entitled Hydrofracturing -A procedure designed to increase the amount of water in existing dry and low yield water wells.

Would you prefer to give money to dodgy regimes or build on the Wytch Farm experience and develop the World’s best fracking industry to keep us warm in winter and preserve jobs?

It may seem a stark choice to some, but I believe in the competence of engineers, as demonstrated at Wytch Farm!

Let’s get fracking!

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

When Will We Ever Learn?

One of our mistakes in 2008 was to rescue banks, rather than let them go bust! Retail customers up to the savings limit should be compensated, but for everything else, that’s business!

This article on the BBC is entitled Santander Rescues Rival Banco Popular From Collapse.

One of the things, I was told by my friend, who rose to be Business Banking Director of a major Clearing Bank, was to never bank with a bank, that was headquartered and/or owned outside the UK. I would change that to England after Royal Bank of UK Taxpayers and Bank of Scotland.

So who will eventually pay for Santander’s purchase?

Incidentally, with Qatar’s problems at the moment and their stake in Barclays, I personally will be staying clear of that bank.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | Finance, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Overdoses Kill As Many As Vietnam

This is the headline on an article in The Times.

This is the first paragraph.

The US suffered its largest ever increase in drug overdose deaths last year, with as many Americans dying because of illegal drugs as were killed in the entire Vietnam War.

59,200 Americans died in the twenty years of the Vietnam War.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

F*** You, I’m Millwall

This is an extract from a piece on the responses to the London Bridge Attack in The Times.

Roy Larner, the football fan, who took on the attackers at Black and Blue, has told how he shouted, “F*** you, I’m Millwall” in response to their shouts of “Islam, Islam, Islam”. H received knife wounds to the head, chest and hands, but continued to fight, while other customers sought shelter.

“He kept slashing and hacking away at me,” he told The Sun. “They were stabbing and slashing at me as I waved my arms for 20 or 30 seconds.” More than 4,000 supporters have now signed a petition for Mr. Larner, 47, to be awarded the George Cross.

I do think, that there should be a few awards handing out after the two attacks in London and the one in Manchester.

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment