The Anonymous Widower

Silvertown Tunnel Works – 21st February 2023

I took these pictures of the Silvertown Tunnel works on the North Bank of the Thames today.

The first set of pictures were taken travelling to West Silvertown station, where I returned.

February 21, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Another Door Opens At Bank Station

I took these pictures at Bank station this morning in the Southernmost tunnel between the Northern Line platforms.

You can just about see the lift doors through the windows in the steel fire doors.

It can’t be long now before the Cannon Street Entrance to Bank station opens.

February 21, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Line: More Than 100 Million Journeys On Elizabeth Line, Says YouGov

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

These three paragraphs introduce the article.

More than 100 million journeys have been made on London Underground’s new Elizabeth Line since it opened last May, according to a survey.

The YouGov poll suggested 45% of the capital’s residents had also used the line from Reading, Berkshire, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in Essex.

Transport for London (TfL) said on 1 February it had completed about 600,000 daily journeys.

That is all well and good, but to me, this is the most significant paragraph.

TfL said the railway was “on track to break even” based on operating costs by the end of the 2023/24 financial year.

So it looks like that the planners got the modelling of the operation of the railway correct.

From my experience of project management, I believe that the Elizabeth Line project could have been considered as five main projects.

  1. The boring of the Central Tunnel
  2. The updating of the existing branches to Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield
  3. The building of the Class 345 trains
  4. The signalling
  5. The fitting out of the stations in the Central Tunnel

Delivery though was a bit patchy!

These are my thoughts on each sub-project.

The Boring Of The Central Tunnel

I was told, that early on, it was realised by the contractors that they didn’t have enough workers, who were certified to work underground.

So  the Tunneling and Underground Construction Academy in Ilford, was built to train more workers.

This helped the Central Tunnel to be completed on time.

Since then, two more tunnels; the Thames Tideway and the London Power Tunnel have been successfully completed on time and on budget, thus vindicating the building of TUCA.

The Updating Of The Existing Branches To Abbey Wood, Heathrow, Reading and Shenfield

There were a few hiccups, but generally the branches were updated and were operating into Paddington and Shenfield before the line opened.

The Building Of The Class 345 Trains

This wasn’t perfect and Bombardier’s financial state didn’t help, but the trains had good tests running out of Liverpool Street and Paddington.

The Signalling

A lot of commentators have said the signalling was too complicated. But eventually, it all seems to be working.

Was enough testing done away from the Elizabeth Line?

My feeling is that a new UK test track should have been built in the early 2010s, so that some testing could have been done professionally away from London.

The Fitting Out Of The Stations In The Central Tunnel

This was certainly a cause of late handover of stations like Bond Street, Farringdon, Whitechapel and others.

I heard tales, where other projects in London, were offering more money, so consequently workers were moving with the money, thus delaying the completion of stations.

I certainly heard a tale, where all the electricians on one station project moved en masse to complete the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

Some of the projects were office projects, paid for by sovereign wealth funds with bottomless projects, so they could make sure their project finished on time.

There were also the problems caused by Brexit, the pandemic and major projects running late in Germany and Europe.

It is my view that Elizabeth Line should have been given more priority, by delaying commercial projects, so that the pool of available labour wasn’t exhausted.

Some of the forest of projects around Elizabeth Line stations, should have been given planning permission, that meant they couldn’t start until Elizabeth Line was finished.

In the 1960s, there was certainly a similar labour problem in Aberdeen. I was told, that the oil majors, who nearly all used the project management system; Artemis, that I had written, talked to each other to make sure the situation didn’t get any worse.

I wonder, if someone was watching the labour shortage problems in City Hall?


I believe that if Elizabeth Line had been given the priority it should have been, that it would have been opened earlier and just as it is now, it would be showing a sensible cash flow.

Now it is a question of catching up financially.





February 21, 2023 Posted by | Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Coal Sales Could Lose Tens Of Millions For Consumers

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

These two paragraphs outline the story.

A huge stockpile of coal bought for emergency use in power stations this winter is due to be resold at a loss of tens of millions of pounds to consumers.

National Grid funded the procurement of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of coal as part of a deal to keep open five coal-fired units this winter. The estimated £368 million cost of the “winter contingency contracts”, which includes an undisclosed sum for the coal purchases, is being recouped via energy bills.


  1. None of the coal has been burned, as the weather was warmer than expected,
  2. It is now sitting in various places around the country.
  3. It will probably sell at a loss and there will be transport costs.

I will look at the mathematics of disposal.

Burning Fossil Fuels

On the Internet, I have found these figures.

  • If you burn a kilogram of natural gas you create 15.5 KWh of electricity and 2.75 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
  • If you burn a kilogram of coal you create 2.46 KWh of electricity and 2.38 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

This means that natural gas and coal create 0.18 and 0.97 kilograms of carbon dioxide respectively for every KWh generated.

I believe these figures say, that if we have to use a fossil fuel, gas will be much better than coal for climate change reasons.

The Size Of The Problem

We are talking about 130,000 tonnes of coal for EDF and 400,000 for Drax. Uniper’s figure is not stated. Let’s say they make the coal pile up to 600,000 tonnes.

Burning this pile will generate 1,476,000 KWh or 1.476 GWh of electricity and create 1428,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Effect On Total UK Carbon Dioxide Emissions

According to government figures on the Internet in 2021 we emitted 107.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Burning all that coal in a year, would add less than 1.5 % to our carbon dioxide emissions. Perhaps we should burn it strategically over a number of years, when there are energy supply problems, as it is after all a crude form of energy storage.

What Would I Do With The Savings?

The money saved on the transport and making loss-making sales could be spent on other ways to save carbon emissions, like converting surplus wind energy into hydrogen and blending it with the gas.

I discussed the mathematics of hydrogen blending in UK – Hydrogen To Be Added To Britain’s Gas Supply By 2025.

If we put 2 % hydrogen in our natural gas, this would save nearly 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in a year. This figure is much bigger than the 1428,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, that would be created by burning all the coal.

At a level of 2 %, most appliances, boilers and industrial processes would work without change. But a good service would help.

February 21, 2023 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Old Street Roundabout A ‘Too Many Cooks’ Project?

The remodelling of Old Street station and the roundabout on top was the lead item on BBC London news this morning.

The project is certainly not going well and seems to be proceeding at a snail’s pace.

Progress On The 24th February 2023

I took these pictures a few days after I wrote the original post.

Compare these pictures with those in Old Street Station – 9th September 2022, which were the last ones I took.


I do wonder, if this project is suffering from too many politicians trying to manage the project at the top.

I suspect Hackney and Islington Councils, the City of London, the Greater London Authority, Transport for London and the Mayor of London are all having a say.

And I suspect other interested parties like Moorfields Hospital, the various bus companies, and many disgruntled passengers are all adding their four pennyworth.

What is needed is for someone with authority to take charge!

Unfortunately for the project, the guy with the authority; Sadiq Khan won’t be interested, as it’s a North London project.

But please someone, get a grip on this important project!

February 21, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Luck Of The Genes

There’s an article in The Times, which is entitled When It Comes To Success, Luck Can Trump Intelligence.

It got me thinking about my life.

I have been pretty successful in life, and I put it down to winning the gene lottery, with a part-Jewish father and a part-Huguenot mother, who taught me hard work and everything they knew. So were my genes forged by religious persecution in the harsh conditions of the ghettoes of Europe?

But luck has always played a great part in my success. On the way, three or four successful men have chosen me for projects and I’ve repaid them by succeeding. I’ve been at the heart of the creation of two world-changing companies.

But the luck turned bad, a dozen years ago. My wife and our youngest son died from cancer and I had a serious stroke.

But the genetic lottery of being coeliac and therefore having B12 injections, has meant, I’ve made a good recovery from the stroke. The B12 injections is a stroke recovery method from the States, but is considered quackery over here. I believe it saved my life.

And then during the pandemic, those coeliac genes and the gluten-free diet I need for health, seem to have protected me from a severe dose of the covids. I’ve yet to find a fellow coeliac, who has had one either. Scientific research from Italy and Sweden, is also backing up my observations.

Lady luck has smiled on me. Or does the devil, look after her own?

February 21, 2023 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment