The Anonymous Widower

A Comment On The Dyson Ventilator

This comment was posted on this article in The Times talking about ventilators.

I work in ITU- I’m with the dyson option. Ventilators are mostly large cumbersome things complicated devices…. if he delivers in time I have no doubt they’ll be great…& maybe better than what we have now…

We have to assume it’s a genuine comment.

Note that the article gives a good description of a ventilator and how it works. As an engineer, it doesn’t seem to be the most complicated piece of equipment.

Think over the last two hundred years how many radical redesigns of common products have been made, that have changed markets.

  • George Stephenson and the railway.
  • Frank Whittle and the jet engine.
  • Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone
  • Alec Issigonis and the Mini
  • Trevor Baylis and the wind-up radio and wind-up torch.
  • James Dyson and the vacuum cleaner.
  • Transistors and integrated circuits have taken over from electronic valves.
  • Mini computers have taken over from mainframes.
  • Flat screens have taken over from cathode ray tubes
  • On-line systems like auctions. banking and peer-to-peer lending.
  • High speed rail is taking over from short distance flights.

We can all nominate our favourite examples of disruptive innovation.

James Dyson and his team have probably looked at the current design of ventilator and concluded that it is complicated, expensive to make and difficult to use and have come up with a better design, that can be built quickly and easily in large numbers.


March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments

The Fastest Ambulance In The World

This article on CityLab is entitled To Fight a Fast-Moving Pandemic, Get a Faster Hospital.

This is the introductory paragraph.

To move Covid-19 patients from the hardest-hit areas, authorities in France turned one of the nation’s famous TGV trains into a very fast ambulance.

It appears that French COVID-19 outbreaks are as patchy, as they are in the UK, where some towns and cities like Hull, Blackpool and Middlesbrough have only a few COVID-19 patients and major hospitals.

Evening up the numbers is probably a good idea.

Could we see a spare InterCity 125 train fitted out as an ambulance train to move patients around the country?

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

My Hand Appears To Be Healed

I went to see the nurse this morning and the wound looked so bad and yellow, when she took the dressing off, she got another nurse for a second opinion.

But after a good scratch from a rubber-gloved hand, she said, I wouldn’t need to come back.

I took this picture, when I got home.

Obviously, my odd collection of Jewish, Huguenot and Devonian genes are using all their survival instincts to mend my secondary hand.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health | | 1 Comment

Will Avanti West Coast’s New Trains Be Able To Achieve London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street In Two Hours?

Note that I have rewritten this post to take account of this information from the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, in an article, which is entitled Hitachi Trains For Avanti.

This is said about the ten all-electric AT-300 trains for Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool services, which have now been numbered as Class 807 trains.

The electric trains will be fully reliant on the overhead wire, with no diesel auxiliary engines or batteries.

It may go against Hitachi’s original design philosophy, but not carrying excess weight around, must improve train performance, because of better acceleration.

Currently, Avanti West Coast‘s trains between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street stations are timetabled as follows.

  • The journey takes two hours and thirteen or fourteen minutes.
  • There are three stops at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • The stops with the current Class 390 trains seem to take around a minute.
  • There is one train per hour (tph)
  • A second hourly service with a stop at Liverpool South Parkway is planned to be introduced in December 2022.

In 2022, a new fleet of Hitachi AT-300 trains will be introduced on the route. I believe, it would be reasonable to assume, that these Class 807 trains will have similar or better performance, than the current Class 390 trains.

  • Acceleration and braking are likely to be better.
  • Regenerative braking energy may well be handled more efficiently.
  • The trains may well be equipped with in-cab digital signalling and be able to travel in excess of 125 mph in places, where the track allows.

I would expect, that these trains could be running near to or at 125 mph on most of the journey.

London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street are 193.5 miles apart, so if a train could be running at 125 mph all the way, a train would take 93 minutes.

Extra time must be added for the following.

  • Acceleration from a standing start to 125 mph at London Euston, Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.
  • Deceleration from 125 mph to a stop at Stafford, Crewe, Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • Dwell time in the platforms at Stafford, Crewe and Runcorn.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which is a bi-mode AT-300 train with three diesel engines.

The data sheet shows that a five-car train can accelerate to 125 mph and then decelerate to a stop in six minutes in electric mode. As Avanti West Coast’s Class 807 trains will be all-electric seven-car trains with no heavy engine or battery, I doubt they will be slower than a Class 802 train in electric mode. So four accelerations/deceleration cycles  to 125 mph should take no more than twenty-four minutes.

I will assume two minutes for each of the three stops.

I can now give an estimate for the journey.

  • Base journey time – 93 minutes
  • Acceleration from and deceleration to stops – 24 minutes
  • Station dwell time – 6 minutes

This gives a journey time between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street of two hours and three minutes.

The journey time can probably be improved in the following ways.

  • Take full advantage of the track improvements on the approach to Liverpool Lime Street station and at Norton Bridge Junction.
  • Better train pathing, as has been done on London Liverpool Street and Norwich services to create the fast Norwich-in-Ninety services.
  • Track and signal improvements to pinch a minute here and a minute there.
  • As Runcorn now has an hourly Liverpool Lime Street and Chester service, will the Runcorn stop be dropped to save time?
  • Reduction in station dwell time.
  • Better driver aids.
  • Better staff operating procedures at stops and whilst turning the train.

It should be born in mind, that a two hour journey between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street would be a start-stop average speed of 97 mph on a 125 mph route. Intriguingly, this means the trains would run at 77 % of the maximum operating speed of the route, which is the same figure for Norwich-in-Ninety services.

Some of these improvements may enable the Class 390 trains to go a bit faster.

It has to be considered, that Avanti West Coast’s Marketing Department would be ecstatic, when told that London and Liverpool were less than two hours apart.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

Currently, this is a typical train round trip to Liverpool Lime Street.

  • 07:07 – Leave London Euston
  • 09:20 – Arrive Liverpool Lime Street
  • 09:47 – Leave Liverpool Lime Street
  • 12:02 – Arrive London Euston

The five-hour round-trip would indicate that five trains would be needed for the one tph service.

This train didn’t return to Liverpool, but went off to the Wembley Depot.

After their Liverpool trip, there is no real pattern of where the train will go next, as this table shows.

  • 06:41 – 6 – 33 minutes – Wembley Depot
  • 07:48 – 2 – 36 minutes – Manchester Piccadilly
  • 08:47 – 1 – 40 minutes – Manchester Piccadilly
  • 09:47 – 7 – 30 minutes – Wembley Depot
  • 10:47 – 4 – 42 minutes – Preston
  • 11:47 – 4 – 37 minutes – Preston
  • 12:47 – 1 – 34 minutes – Preston
  • 13:47 – 15 – 13 minutes – Birmingham New Street
  • 16:47 – 6 – 16 minutes – Glasgow Central
  • 17:47 – 1 – 42 minutes – Manchester Piccadilly


  1. The time is departure time from Liverpool Lime Street, the number is the platform and the minutes are the turnround time in Euston.
  2. I have left out a couple of trains as there was a very late train.
  3. There doesn’t seem to be any regular pattern.
  4. It looks like trains can be turned in under fifteen minutes.
  5. I think there was a time, when Liverpool couldn’t accept eleven-car trains, but the new longer platforms appear to accept them.
  6. Trains appear to be running services to Glasgow Central and Manchester Piccadilly, who seem to usually get eleven-car trains.

I almost think, that they’re allocating trains as they go.

With the new Class 807 trains, I suspect the following is possible.

  • London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street – Two hours
  • Turnround – Fifteen minutes
  • Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston – Two hours
  • Turnround – Fifteen minutes

This means it’s a four-and-a-half hour round trip.

  • Journey times of two hours.
  • Time enough for well-drilled staff to turn the trains.
  • Dedicated platforms at London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.
  • It would be a very attractive customer-friendly service.

Two tph would need nine trains.

It would be everything the Marketing Department wanted!

Thoughts On The Current Class 390 Timings

As the Class 390 trains are a 125 mph train, their base timing of 93 minutes, between London and Liverpool should still be the same.

As their doors and lobbies are similar in design to those of the Hitachi AT-300 trains, I would allow the same two minutes of dwell time at each station.

Current timings of services on the route vary between 132 and 134 minutes. I’ll take the average of 133 minutes.

So the current services take thirty-four minutes to perform the four accelerate and decelerate sequences on the route.

It would appear that this sequence would take eight-and-a-half minutes in comparison with the six minutes of the new Hitachi AT-300 trains.

An Improved London Euston and Blackpool North Service

The new AT-300 trains will also be running to Blackpool.

  • London Euston and Blackpool North takes between two hours and forty-four minutes and two hours and fifty-nine minutes.
  • Journey times are not very consistent, probably due to timetabling difficulties.
  • Trains stop between four and five times on the West Coast Main Line.

Would the faster stops of the new AT-300 trains mean that Avanti West Coast could run a more regular timetable, with all services under three hours?

It should also be noted, that Grand Central will start a London Euston and Blackpool North service in Spring 2020.

As the rolling stock for this new service will be Class 90 locomotives hauling rakes of Mark 4 coaches, that will be limited to 110 mph, are Avanti West Coast making sure, that they have the fastest trains on the route?

Would AT-300 Trains Save Time To Other Avanti West Coast Destinations?

If we assume that AT-300 trains can save two-and-a-half minutes per accelerate and decelerate sequence times could change as follow.

  • Birmingham New Street – One hour and twenty-two minutes – Three stops – One hour and twelve minutes
  • Coventry – One hour – Two stops – Fifty-five minutes
  • Crewe – One hour and thirty-four minutes – One stop – One hour and thirty minutes
  • Glasgow – As services stop six or thirteen times, there may be substantial savings to be achieved.
  • Manchester – Between two hours and seven minutes and two hours and thirteen minutes – Three stops – Between one hour and fifty-seven minutes and two hours and three minutes.


  1. The number of accelerate and decelerate sequences is one more than the number of stops.
  2. Coventry services would be under an hour.
  3. Two out of three Manchester services would be under two hours.

This analysis illustrates how fast train performance is important in more customer-friendly services.


I believe the following will be possible.

  • A two hour service between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street will be possible with Avanti West Coast’s new AT-300 trains.
  • The current Class 390 trains could go a bit faster.
  • I estimate that a Class 807 train could save as much as two-and-a-half-minutes at each stop.
  • Blackpool North and London times will be comfortably under three hours.
  • Coventry and London times will be comfortably under an hour.

The performance of these Class 807 trains will improve the West Coast Main Line.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments