The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On The West London Orbital Railway At West Hampstead Thameslink Station

I passed through West Hampstead Thameslink station today and took some pictures of the two tracks that run through the station on the South side of the four tracks of the Midland Main Line.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines through the various stations at West Hampstead.

Note.

  1. The six tracks shown in black through West Hampstead Thameslink station.
  2. The Northernmost four tracks are those of the Midland Main Line.
  3. The Southernmost pair are labelled Up Hendon and Down Hendon and lead to the the Dudding Hill Line. via Cricklewood station.
  4. There is also a short track which is labelled Run Round Road, which could be useful to reverse trains on the West London Orbital Railway.
  5. The six tracks are crossed by the North London Line, which is shown in orange.

This picture shows the two Hendon Lines looking away from London from the footbridge of the station.

Note.

  1. The Down Hendon is on the left, with the Up Hendon on the right.
  2. Both tracks have 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  3. The bridge, from which I took the picture, is step-free.

As there are numerous crossovers on the approach to the station, I feel that it would be possible to build a platform on the Up Hendon line.

  • The platform would share an island and access with the existing Platform 4.
  • It would be fully step-free.
  • Electrification in the platform could recharge an electric train, that was using batteries.
  • A single platform could handle the required four trains per hour (tph)

This picture shows the two Hendon Lines looking towards London from the footbridge of the station.

It would appear that if required the platform could be made long enough for an eight-car train or built on the Down Hendon line.

There are certainly possibilities to make the interchange between Thameslink and the West London Orbital Railway a very easy one, that is totally step-free.

Will The West London Orbital Railway Take Passengers From The North London Line?

I suspect that there are passengers, who will swap from the the North London Line to the West London Orbital Railway.

They will do it because the new route will be more convenient.

This will be no bad thing, as the North London Line can get crowded at times. And it will only get more so in the future!

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Are Platforms Being Extended On The North London Line?

At West Hampstead station today, I took this picture.

I have not found any reference to platform extensions on the North London Line and West Hampstead station in particular.

However I did find an answer from the Mayor to this question.

Further to your answer to Question No: 507 / 2013 and 1039 / 2013 is the Department for Transport ‘Access for All’ funding allocated for the financial year 2012/13 still guaranteed for the work needed to make this station step free; when will work commence and when will it be completed in making the station step free; on what do you base your assertion that local stakeholders are supportive; which local stakeholders do you claim are of this mind; and what information has been disseminated locally, to whom and in what manner, on the present proposed plan?

This was the answer.

I am determined to provide step-free access (SFA) at West Hampstead, but it is important that any scheme taken forward maximises benefits for passengers and ensures value for money.

Consequently, TfL has decided not to proceed with a standalone SFA scheme, but to take some extra time to ensure that SFA works can be integrated with further enhancements which are necessary at West Hampstead station – including platform extensions for the new 5-car service, work to reduce congestion in the ticket hall, and integration with an adjacent development. This will reduce costs, increase benefits and keep passenger disruption to a minimum.

As a result, TfL will re-apply for Access for All funding in Control Period 5 next year. Work on site could start in 2015.

It looks like the platform extension work was delayed until the work was carried out to make the station step-free.

The picture shows that the work at the station appears to be nearing completion.

When my train arrived, it appeared that the platforms are sized for five-car trains.

Will these platforms be long enough, when new stations open to connect the North London Line to High Speed Two and Crossrail at Old Oak Common station.

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Structure Of Artemis

Some claim, that Artemis was the first relational database. I don’t! Although, I must admit, it would be nice to have invented something.

When the system was being designed, we realised that we needed to use a small computer that could fit into a desk. This would differentiate us from the competition, which was inevitably based on large mainframe computers like the IBM 360.

We all had experience of dial-up time-sharing computing using a teletype, but we knew of the limitations of dial-up lines and wanted a project management system, that could fit into a small office, possibly on-site or at a remote location.

In my mind, I had an image of a computer system like the IBM 1130, I’d used a few years earlier at Liverpool University.

This had a processor, a keyboard, some rudimentary data storage and a printer in a desk-sized unit.

I can remember drawing up a list of three possible computers, that could be used.

I think, we thought that the DEC would be favourite.

  • It was the market leader in small computers.
  • Our chairman, had spent a lot of money buying PDP-10 computers for his company; Time-Sharing Ltd.
  • I had a lot of experience, with their Fortran compiler on the PDP-10 and it was very good.

But, they just didn’t want to know and felt our plan was an impossible dream!

DG tried hard, but to get the computing power, I estimated we would need, their offering would be expensive.

Luckily HP were more interested.

I remember the day, that their two salesmen, gave the Chairman and myself a presentation, by his swimming pool on a very hot summer’s day in possibly 1977 or 1978.

HP  gave me a lot of help and I was able to use a machine at their premises in Wokingham to thoroughly test out the 21MX computer and its Fortran compiler.

We ended up using a computer with a specification like this.

  • A 21MX processor.
  • 64 Kb of memory
  • A five megabyte hard disc, with a 5 megabyte removable disc.
  • A VDU and a printer.

It all fitted into a custom-built desk, about the same size as a typical office desk.

I’d now got a computer and ~I could start to design Artemis.

All complicated software systems need access to some form of tables or arrays.

If you have ever used a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel seriously, you’ll know that you can create a series of worksheets in a workbook.

But this was the 1970s and the first spreadsheet program; VisiCalc didn’t launch until 1979.

For Artemis, I needed arrays to hold the following during processing.

  • The activities
  • The events
  • The calendar details
  • The resource details

And I didn’t think small, so the maximum-sized project was going to be 16000 activities.

For a time, it looked as if, I would have to write a sophisticated database structure to access the data on the limited five megabyte hard discs.

But HP had just released a program possibly called DSMP, that could handle up to 16 tables of up to 16,000 records.

So I used this program to handle the data that I needed.

Activities

In a PERT network, activities are entered for each task in a project.

I used two tables for this. The main one held the activities themselves and a secondary one held details of the resources needed for the activity.

Both tables had a 16,000 limit.

Calendars

Artemis had a comprehensive calendar structure and these were stored in another table.

Each activity was linked to the appropriate calendar record.

Resources Available

Another table was used to list the resources available to a project.

Working Tables

One working table contained all the event names used by the activities.

Linking Them All Together

I used a variety of techniques to link these tables together.

In some cases, I used simple pointers, which used the record number, but in other cases, I wrote very sophisticated and fast software to generate the links on the fly. Incidentally, the algorithm was based on research I found in IBM’s library on the South Bank, that dated from the 1950s.

I had taken HP’s DSMP program and effectively created a relational structure, that created links as it needed them.

Building On The Original Structure

In my view, I made the right decisions technically, as it enabled the scope of Artemis to be expanded.

The Multi-User Version

This was designed in an alcohol-fuelled session with Nobby (Richard Nobbs), in either Suffolk or Amsterdam and basically involved Nobby creating a version of DSMP for HP’s multi-user operating system.

Linked Datasets

I was able to use the structure to create other tables in the projects.

Again the linking was on the fly and it greatly increased the applications of Artemis.

So Was Artemis A Relational Database?

It is true to say, that from the earliest days in the late 1970s, I used relational techniques deep in the program to link all of the data together.

Working on such a small computer, I had no choice!

 

 

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Computing | , , | 3 Comments

Deep Insights Into Crossrail

London Reconnections is a web site, that often gives deep insights into rail projects in the London area.

Recently, they have published two articles about Crossrail.

I have read every word of both articles and feel that, the Project Management on Crossrail has been severely lacking.

If I go back to the days of Artemis, Project Managers were always using our innovative graphics to communicate all of the details of project costs and status to managers and stakeholders.

I can remember in one case, we were the bringers of terrible news about costs to a major company. One of our project managers had distilled a very large project to a series of graphics on a single sheet of A3 paper, so senior management couldn’t avoid our message.

Today, the company would probably shoot the messenger, but we went on to sell the company over a dozen systems.

I know nothing of modern Project Management systems, but surely they are more capable than Artemis, which was largely written by myself and others in the 1980s.

 

 

January 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment