The Anonymous Widower

Big Companies And Contactless Ticketing

I use contactless ticketing a lot and have never had a problem that has cost me any money or even inconvenience.

I also check my credit card statement regularly to make sure everything is as it should be.

But what annoys me is that you use your card in some multiple outlets and the information on your statement, isn’t that precise.

I know Leon; the natural fast-food chain aren’t that big, but every transaction from them is precise and identifiable.

Some big companies could follow Leon’s example.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Finance | , | 3 Comments

Network Rail Bids For Part Of British Steel

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

This is the first paragraph.

Network Rail is looking to buy part of British Steel, as bidders have until the end of Sunday to put in offers for all or part of the troubled firm.

Many would say, why does the nationalised industry Network Rail, which let’s face it, has had its troubles in recent years, want to get involved with a bankrupt company?

You have to remember, how big companies work.

  • They need to manage their cash flow.
  • They need quality supplies, that will do what it says on the specification.
  • They want supplies to be delivered as and where they need it.

But above all they need to be properly financed.

Making And Delivering Rails

This paragraph in the BBC article says a lot.

Network Rail owns and operates the UK’s railway network, including 20,000 miles of track, and buys 100,000 tonnes of rails from British Steel each year.

Suppose, you want to lay new rails urgently between Inverness and the Far North of Scotland. Getting it there will be a logistics problem, which will be made worse, if the source is halfway around the world.

And suppose, when it arrives in the UK, it fails the quality test! You can’t just give it back to the postman.

So for a reliable railway, Network Rail also needs a reliable supplier making rails, close enough for product to be delivered by special train.

From what I have read in the railway press, British Steel are good at the following.

  • Manufacturing quality rail.
  • Developing special products for rail companies.
  • Delivering it on special trains.

To illustrate this, read British Steel Secures Major Contract From Deutsche Bahn.

I also think, that in addition to the Germans, British Steel sell rail to the Belgians, French and the Dutch, to name but three.

So certainly, British Steel seem to be on the ball with making and delivering rails.

But they appear to be seriously underfunded.

Acquiring British Steel

If I was a financier, thinking about taking over British Steel, one of the most important things would be to secure the sales and the resulting cash flow for the company.

I would be on the train to all of the major rail infrastructure companies, that could be reached by British Steel’s special trains from Scunthorpe.

Network Rail have already put a marker down, that they would buy British Steel’s Rail Products Division, but are other rail infrastructure companies also looking at securing quality product, by either buying the division themselves or pledging support alongside Network Rail.

Network Rail are also aware that their predecessor Railtrack, was brought down by the Hatfield Rail Crash, so they are probably and rightly so, paranoid about safety.

The very fact that Network Rail have put in a bid, suggests to me that they know their power in the negotiations to follow, as any purchaser, who doesn’t have the major customers onside, is probably doomed to fail.

On the other hand, if British Steel was bought by someone, that would increase the risk of dodgy product, Network Rail would go elsewhere.

But would they be able to get the same quality and service?

Conclusion

I am sure, that Network Rail, Deutsche Bahn and all the other rail infrastructure companies will play a large park in the fate of British Steel.

 

July 1, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

I Have Just Setup My July Tax Payment

I received my Self Assessment Statement yesterday and have just setup the payment on-line.

My father didn’t do any Government printing, as he said, that they always wanted very small type and at fifty, his eyes weren’t up to it.

I find in checking the account to pay the money, that the form is still confusing and I need to get my magnifying glass out.

  • There would also appear nowhere to print a large format version of the instructions.
  • Or details in another language for that matter!
  • There is a help web-address at the bottom. In very small type. It should be in an easy-read twelve point type.

HMRC can do better!

But they don’t care, as if you put in the wrong amount, it’s your fault not theirs.

 

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Finance | , , , | Leave a comment

Will 5G Be Another Way To Rip Off The Poor?

My late wife was a barrister, who specialised in family matters, like divorce, custody of children, adoption and money.

She had this career for about thirty years before she died in 2007.

As the years progressed, she’d talk about the latest expensive must-haves of her clients.

  • First it was video recorders and then it was mobile phones.
  • Various game consoles arrived! Whatever they are? I’ve never played a computer game in my life!
  • Then came Sky Television and large screen televisions.
  • Every child had to have the latest phone.

And now we have 5G, which promises to be the next unaffordable addiction, to go along with alcohol, drugs, pay-day loans, junk food, on-lne subscriptions and gambling!

It will drive the poor and low-paid even further into poverty.

On the train recently, I was talking to a guy with nine children.

As he was going to Court to get custody of one of the nine, and from other things he had said, I felt that the nine weren’t of the same mother.

He was living on benefits and caring from one disabled child.

How will he be able to afford nine 5G phones?

It’ll all end in tears!

 

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Finance, Uncategorized, World | , , | 1 Comment

Is Zopa Losing Its Attraction As A Platform To Go For A Loan?

Over the last month or so, I have been getting bigger amounts of money moved to my holding amount on Zopa,.

It appears to me, that borrowers could be repaying loans early.

This could be for one of several reasons.

  • People are fed up with non-Brexit and are being prudent, by repaying loans.
  • The economy seems to be picking up and borrowers can afford to pay loans off.
  • There are some good offers out there and borrowers are consolidating their loans elsewhere.

As Zopa don’t charge anything to pay off a loan, so if you have spare money, it must be top of the list for a loan to pay off.

A Worrying Trend On Lending

Perhaps more worrying is that at the moment the money I have made available to borrowers, seems to take a long time to be allocated.

Is this due to a shortage of would-be borrowers?

Conclusion

I have decided to increase my spending and visit some of the places on my bucket list.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | Finance | | Leave a comment

Where Have All The Cash Machines Gone?

After an excellent gluten-free breakfast in Le Pain Quotidien at Monument, I thought that my wallet needed a top-up of cash.

As I wanted to catch the DLR, I walked East to Tower Gareway station.

I didn’t see a single cash machine!

It’s not that I use much cash, but I do like to pay in chain restaurants, where tips are important to staff, and for newspapers in small shops and for taxis using cash!

I know that I can use contactless payments for most of these transactions, but I prefer cash sometimes!

I don’t trust some shops having had my card details stolen by a scam in what was a franchise of a well-known chain. As I walked through the door at home an hour later, my phone rung and it was the credit card company, asking if I’d spent a lot of money in the last couple of hours in Las Vegas. They said, that someone had and they’d refused all payments and stopped the card.

So I didn’t lose a penny and I only had all the inconvenience of waiting for a new card and changing details on a few regular payments.

The shop closed a week or so later!

But I am naturally cautious and prefer not to get caught again, by a clever piece of what looks like contactless technology. Even beggars and buskers are now using it!

Hence, my continued use of cash!

I don’t particularly worry about the disappearance of cash machines, as living close to the centre of London, there are plenty about. But as on Saturday, when I walked  for a kilometre in a tourist area of the City, they are getting fewer and further apart.

Many stations now have cash machines and this surely should be the norm!

But with bank branches disappearing fast, it is all part of moving towards a cashless society!

 

May 6, 2019 Posted by | Finance | , , | 1 Comment

UK Listed Energy Storage Fund Seeks 182MW Battery Project Pipeline

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Energy Storage News.

This is the first paragraph.

UK investment management firm Gresham House has confirmed it is to launch a fresh fund raising drive as it sets its sights on a new, 182MW pipeline of battery storage projects.

It is my belief as a Control Engineer, that if we move to renewable energy, like geothermal, hydro, solar, tidal, wave and wind, that the generating capacity must be backed up with large massive of energy storage.

  • The energy storage captures excess electricity when nobody needs to use it and feeds it back when consumption exceeds supply.
  • I suspect that the National Grid have done extensive simulations of the UK’s energy needs and that they have a model of how much energy storage is needed to support particular mixes and capacities of renewable energy.
  • Most of the storage will be lithium-ion or perhaps some of the newer developments, that are creeping into the renewable dictionary.
  • The cost of storage, its working life and performance must be well-known, which means that the investors can get a return, that satisfies their needs to fund pensions and insurance policies.

So it would appear that Gresham House have done their sums and come up with a mathematical model, where all are winners.

  • UK industry and consumers get enough electricity for their needs.
  • Insurance companies and pension funds get a return to fulfil their contractual commitments.
  • UK pensioners get a reliable pension.
  • UK taxpayers don’t have to fund the much-needed energy storage.
  • Our electricity will increasingly be generated by renewables.
  • I do suspect that Gresham House will take an appropriate fee.

There may even be an opportunity for the public to invest directly in the future.

For all these winners, there will be losers.

  • Oil companies. In Writing On The Wall For Oil Say Funds, I wrote about the opinion of fund managers on oil companies.
  • Despots, dictators and religious maniacs, who control much of the world’s oil resources.

I shall cry not one tear for the second group!

I’ll be very interested to see the way that these energy storage funds develop!

Conclusion

These funds will develop in parallel with renewable energy and the energy storage it needs.

As the demand for energy storage will grow significantly, these funds will grow as well to provide the capacity needed to keep the lights on.

 

 

April 30, 2019 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment

Writing On The Wall For Oil Say Funds

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on page 37 of today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Several big fund managers believe that oil companies should shut themselves down because soon they will be impossible to invest in as the world switches to tenewable energy.

A survey of 39 fund managers with $10.2 trillion under manaement found that 24 per cent wanted the oil industry “to wind down their businesses and return cash to shareholders” All but two of the funds  said that oil stocks would not be attrative investments within ten years if they failed to respond to climate risks.

It’s pretty strong stuff.

So could we see a reduction in the use of oil and gas as a fuel?

In some countries including Denmark, Iceland, the United Kingdom and the United States, renewable energy is growing at a good rate.

The UK did draw the full set, in being blessed with the full set of coal, oil, wind, wave and tidal. We also have a bit of geothermal, hydro and solar.

We will still extract coal, gas and oil, but not for fuel.

  • Very high quality coal is needed for steel-making, where carbon-capture could be used.
  • Gas and oil are used as chemical feedstock for plastics, everyday chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Hydrogen gas, produced by electrolysis for use as fuel,  a chemical feedstock and central heating.

Shell have already purchased First Energy, who are a domestic energy supplier in the UK, so are they getting out of oil?

Are fund managers and oil companies starting to go in the same direction, with a lot of the world’s drivers sticking slavishly to petrol and the dreaded diesel?

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Rip-Off Ticketing At Bremen Hauptbahnhof

I am experienced user of Deutsche Bahn and generally buy my tickets at one of their reliable machines.

Note that queuing up at a Ticket Office sometimes takes up to thirty minutes and quite frankly I have better and more important thingfs to do with my life.

This picture shows a typical German ticket.

The two stations; Buxtehude and Cuxhaven are clearly shown.

But imagine my surprise at Bremen Hauptbahnhof, when the ticket machine dispensed this.

It is about one by four centimetres and the only readable writing on the front is EErw.

  • Does it look like a ticket to you?
  • There were no notices up about the change of ticket.
  • How do you sort out today’s ticket from yesterday’s?
  • What if you’re partially sighted?

I thought the machine had failed and curt off the ticket early.

So I tried again. With the same result!

I then tried the Ticket Office for an explanation, but the guy just played stumm, as Deutsche Bahn employees always do, when they know, there’s been a customer relations failure.

I did ascertain, that I had to put the ticket in a machine to validate it before travelling.

I did think about not doing this, so that I would get arrested on the train, but in the end, I can’t remember whether I did.

However, as tickets were not checked on the train, it didn’t matter.

It is the most arrogant system of ticketing I’ve ever found.

When I got home, I found I had been charge for two tickets.

My bank;Nationwide are trying to refuse one of the psyments.

I’ll update this post, to give you the result of their argument.

 

 

 

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Stadler Rail to launch IPO

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the International Rail Journal.

I feel that from an engineering point of view the company has a bright future, as they seem to have their fingers in a lot of innovative pies.

But whether that makes the company a good investment, I’ll leave to the experts.

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Finance, Transport | | Leave a comment