The Anonymous Widower

Will Hollywood Celebrity Involvement Be The Catalyst To Spark Development Of the Borderlands Line?

In Wrexham General Station – 4th May 2023, I showed this map, of Wrexham General station and the Racecourse Ground.


  • Wrexham A. F. C. are certainly a club, whose fans won’t need much encouragement to go to matches by train.
  • I also feel that given the celebrity ownership, it will be one of those grounds where away supporters will want go.
  • Its ground and Wrexham General station is well-served by direct trains from Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool and London.
  • Interesting matches next year could be against Crewe, Newport and Tranmere.

I’m sure that because of the location of the ground and the celebrity owners, there will be pressure to improve the Borderlands Line to Liverpool.

The Wikipedia entry for the Borderlands Line has a section called Development, where this is said.

The doubling of the journey frequency on the line is one of the aims of the Growth Track 360 group, a consortium of business, politicians and public sector leaders. The group aims to improve transport and create jobs in the North Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire area over the next 20 years. During the 2017 Autumn budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond stated that part of the additional £1.2 billion funding Wales was receiving would be used to look into proposals to improve journey times on the line and developing a business case.

In October 2019, Transport for Wales announced £280,000 have been allocated to revamp stations along the line in north Wales and Merseyside, as part of TfW’s £194 million station improvement programme.

In a section called Proposed New Stations, these improvements have been proposed.

  • Build a new station at Deeside Industrial Park.
  • Build a new station at Woodchurch.
  • Build a new station at Beechwood.
  • Incorporate the line into the Merseyrail Wirral line to provide direct connectivity with Liverpool city centre.
  • Replace the High and Low levels at Shotton station with a dedicated interchange station, improving connectivity between the North Wales Coast Main Line & the Borderlands line.
  • Remove level crossings to improve line speed.

All these proposals seem reasonable.

There is also a section called Proposed Electrification, where this is said.

There have been proposals for the full or partial electrification of the line since 1999 with participation of Merseytravel and the devolved institutions in Wales. Such electrification is usually intertwined with proposals for the full incorporation of the line into the electrified Merseyrail network, allowing for services from either Wrexham Central or partway along the line to travel all the way to Birkenhead and Liverpool Central.

In 2008, a Network Rail study estimated the cost for third-rail electrification of the entire line to be £207 million. To lower costs, Merseytravel suggested overhead-wire electrification as an alternative, bringing estimates down to £66 million. However, this would mean trains running between Wrexham and Liverpool would have to be compatible with both electric systems, therefore incompatible with the third-rail only trains in use at the time.

There is political support to electrify the line from both Welsh and Merseyside authorities, however the responsibility of rail infrastructure lies with the UK Government’s Department for Transport. The Welsh Government aims to increase services between North Wales and Merseyside, in particular Wrexham and Deeside with Liverpool and Liverpool John Lennon Airport. Whereas Merseyside authorities would like to increase services to stations on the line on the Wirral Peninsula in particular, as well as the rest of the line.

In 2016, a working group had been set up to examine improving the line, including proposals to increase the frequency of trains on the line. It is hoped that an increase in the number of passengers would improve the case for electrification.

It seems that various solutions have been proposed.

Consider what will be available to Merseyrail and Transport for Wales within a year or so.

  • Merseyrail will be running a new fleet of electric Class 777 trains.
  • These new trains will be running from Bidston station and under Liverpool City Centre using the Wirral Line.
  • Merseytravel has an option for a further 60 units.
  • Class 777 trains are designed for running with 25 KVAC overhead electrification, should this be required in the future.
  • Merseyrail and Transport for Wales will be working with Stadler on the use of battery-electric trains.
  • Bidston and Wrexham Central are only 27.5 miles apart.
  • The Borderlands Line is not the most challenging of rail lines to improve, as it is fairly straight and level.
  • It is unlikely that Health and Safety would allow any more third rail electrification. But would this ban also apply in Wales?
  • West Kirby trains run for 10.4 miles in 34 minutes to perform their loop under from Bidston under Liverpool City Centre.
  • If Wrexham trains could turn under Liverpool City Centre, this would improve shopping, business and educational opportunities for those living along the Borderlands Line.

This section of the Wikipedia entry for the Borderlands Line says this about the range of the Class 777 trains on battery power.

The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority announced that trials of the seven battery electric multiple unit (BEMU) versions of their new Class 777 had shown that they were capable of travelling up to 20 miles (32 km) without a charge. Further trials by Stadler reached a range of 84 miles (135 km). This would allow the line to be served without the full electrification.

In Battery Answer To Schleswig-Holstein’s Diesel Replacement Question, I talked about how Stadler were using battery-electric trains to replace diesels in Schleswig-Holstein.

It seems obvious to me, that Stadler would have experience of a suitable battery-electric train and charging system, that could be applied to the Borderlands Line.

  • I would suspect that the 34 minutes that the train would take to go from Bidston to Liverpool and back to Bidston would be more than adequate to fully charge the batteries on a train.
  • This would be enough to get a full train to Wrexham, even when Liverpool or Everton were playing an FA Cup match against Wrexham A. F. C.

But how would trains recharge at Wrexham? This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the track layout at Wrexham.


  1. Wrexham Central station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Wrexham General station is towards the top of the map marked by blue letters.
  3. A single track connects Platform 4 at Wrexham General station to the single platform at Wrexham Central station.

It looks like space could be a bit limited at Wrexham Central station, so would it be an idea to electrify between the two stations?

A train takes typically about seven minutes from arrival at Wrexham General station from Bidston until it leaves the station to return to Bidston.

  • This should be enough to charge the train fully.
  • Theoretically, it would allow Wrexham to have a four trains per hour (tph) service to Liverpool.
  • Electrifying between the two stations would be about 0.6 miles of single-track electrification.
  • Connection and disconnection to the electrification would be in Wrexham General station.
  • The electrification would only be switched on, when there is a train using it. This could be arranged using simple automation or by employing another signaller.

I do wonder if Welsh Health and Safety would allow third-rail electrification? If it’s a UK matter, then give it to the Welsh Government. But it would be the only third-rail electrification in the Principality.


I believe that if the Welsh Government would allow third-rail electrification, the service could start as soon as Merseyrail has enough battery trains.


May 6, 2023 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wrexham General Station – 4th May 2023

I took these pictures on my trip to Wrexham General station, yesterday.


  1. The station is next to the Racecourse Ground, which is the home of Wrexham A.F. C.
  2. I didn’t walk to the ground, but there can be few league grounds, in England, Scotland or Wales, that are closer to a station.
  3. There is a one train per hour (tph) service along the Borderlands Line to Bidston station on the Wirral Line.
  4. It is a well-equipped station with lifts, toilets and a cafe.

It was tastefully refurbished in the 1990s.

This Google Map shows the relationship between the Racecourse Ground and Wrexham General station.

It can’t be much for than about two hundred metres between the station and the ground.

May 5, 2023 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Merseyrail Grand National Journeys Exceed 105,000

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Liverpool Business News.

This is the first paragraph.

Train operator Merseyrail records more 105,000 passenger journeys made by racegoers during the three-day Grand National festival – and it gave away 4,000 pairs of flip-flops.

These are some points from the rest of the article.

  • Many were carried on the new 777 Class trains.
  • Merseyrail increased the number of trains during the three days and, at times, was running a seven-and-a-half-minute frequency.
  • There was live music and entertainment for passengers at Aintree station.
  • £4,200 was raised by charitable collections at the station.

It looks like a lot of people had a good time.

It was probably all good practice for Eurovision.

April 20, 2023 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Match Of The Day Better Without The Chattering?

The BBC have just announced that last night’s Match of the Day-Lite had a million more viewers than last week’s full-fat edition.

I watched last night’s program and enjoyed it.

Perhaps, if the BBC wants to save money, they could go to a lite-format for MotD.

And whilst, they’re at it if they want more viewers, why not do MotD editions for the three other divisions?

March 12, 2023 Posted by | Finance, Sport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

“They Are Forcing Us Away” – Residents Near Manchester United’s Old Trafford Complain About ‘Nightmare’ Experiences

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

As Manchester United chase glory on four fronts, residents living near Old Trafford are contemplating moving away due to the chaos caused by the club’s success.

With the 74,000-seater stadium attracting hordes of visitors each week, streets surrounding Old Trafford have become a hotbed of anti-social behaviour and parking mayhem.

Strangely, I’ve never driven to Old Trafford, as the three times, I’ve been there, I’ve always been by train.

The first time I went to Old Trafford, in the 1960s, I took a steam-hauled shuttle train between Manchester Central and Manchester United Football Ground stations.

I am fairly close to both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur stadiums, but there is no trouble from parking, as both stadiums have good and adequate public transport.

When I came back from Reading last Sunday, there were a surprising number of supporters on the train going to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium

February 26, 2023 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Racing Towards A Green Future

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

This is the first paragraph.

While Formula E and its sibling electric race series, Extreme E and RX2e, are burnishing battery-powered vehicles credentials, motorsport from Formula 1 down is actively pursuing how traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) race and rally cars can be made more environmentally acceptable.

The article, which is a must-read, then describes the various routes and options, that motorsport is taking towards zero-carbon.

The article finishes with this paragraph.

While motorsport technology can, and does, transfer to production cars, especially in the higher echelons, whether the path it is beating on AS fuels will convince legislators that battery electric vehicles are only an answer rather than the answer remains to be seen.

I believe that when an affordable small hatchback powered by hydrogen hits the road as it inevitably will, it will have Ricardo’s fingerprints all over it.

February 22, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Serving South-East London

The Inadequacies Of Abbey Wood Station

Abbey Wood station is the Elizabeth Line’s main terminus in South-East London.

The architecture is impressive, as the pictures taken before the station was finished show.

But other things are less than impressive.

  • There is no station parking.
  • Central London rail terminals served by Elizbeth Line services are only Liverpool Street/Moorgate and Paddington.
  • Central London rail terminals served by National Rail services are Cannon Street, London Bridge, King’s Cross and St. Pancras.

In my view, Abbey Wood is a lost cause, as a commuter station, unless substantial parking is built at the station.

Parking At Stations In West Kent

This list shows the number of car parking spaces at stations in West Kent and South East London.

  • Barnehurst – 162 *
  • Belvedere – None *
  • Bexleyheath – 83 *
  • Chatham – 276 *
  • Dartford – 186 *
  • Ebbsfleet International – 4945 #
  • Erith – None *
  • Eynsford – 15
  • Farningham Road – None
  • Gillingham – 152 *
  • Gravesend – 94 *
  • Greenhithe – 8 *
  • Longfield – 88
  • Meopham – 167
  • Northfleet – None *
  • Plumstead – None *
  • Rochester – None *
  • St. Mary Cray – 31
  • Slade Green – 25
  • Sole Street – 61
  • Stone Crossing – None *
  • Strood – 112 *
  • Swanley – 106
  • Swanscombe – None *
  • Welling – 117


  1. An asterisk (*) indicates direct trains to and from Abbey Wood station for the Elizabeth Line.
  2. An hash(#) indicates direct trains to and from Stratford International for the Elizabeth Line.

These figures are according to the National Rail web site.

It looks like unless you can walk to your nearest station and that has an easy connection to Abbey Wood, you’re probably better off going to Ebbsfleet and parking there.

Travelling Between Ebbsfleet International And The Elizabeth Line At Stratford International


  • Southeastern’s Highspeed service between Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International has a frequency of three trains per hour (tph)
  • It takes less than twelve minutes between the two stations.
  • It takes ten minutes to walk between Stratford International and Stratford Station for the Elizabeth Line and Greater Anglia services.
  • There are eight Elizabeth Line tph to Paddington, calling at all stations. For Heathrow change at Whitechapel station.


  1. From these points, it should be possible to estimate the time you should park at Ebbsfleet to get to an event in London or East Anglia, if you live in Kent and are parking at Ebbsfleet International.
  2. I think four tph between Ebbsfleet International and Stratford International would make the route more attractive.
  3. If you’re going to Norwich or Ipswich be careful, as only one of the two tph stop at Stratford.

I catch the 12:30 from Liverpool Street for matches at Ipswich on Saturdays. This is the 12:38 from Stratford, so I suspect if you parked at parked at Ebbsfleet before 12:00, you’d make it.

Who’d have thought, that when they built the massive car parks at Ebbsfleet international, that they would be a Park-and-Ride for football at Ipswich. And Norwich too!

Changing Trains At Stratford

This map from Cartometro shows the two Stratford stations.


  1. The Elizabeth Line is shown in purple.
  2. The Central Line is shown in red.
  3. The Jubilee Line is shown in silver.
  4. The Overground is shown in orange.
  5. Lifts and escalators take passengers to and from the surface from between platforms 2 and 3 at Stratford International station.

Two pedestrian tunnels connect all the platforms in Stratford station.

  • Elizabeth Line trains use platforms 5 and 8.
  • Central Line trains use platforms 3, 3a and 6.
  • Great Eastern Main Line trains use platforms 9, 9a and 10.
  • Overground trains use platforms 1 and 2.

All platforms have lifts.

I suspect, that when you get to know the Stratford complex well, it’s easier than it looks.

But it does need better signage.

Full Step-Free Route Between Ebbsfleet And Heathrow Central

I have just used Transport for London’s Journey Planner, as if I was in a wheelchair and need full step-free access to go from Ebbsfleet to Heathrow Central.

This was the route.

  • Southeastern to Stratford International station – 10 mins
  • Walk to Stratford station – 21 mins
  • Jubilee Line to Bond Street – 24 mins
  • Bond Street to Heathrow Central – 32 mins


  1. The times are slower than say myself.
  2. I think it is possible to pick up the Elizabeth Line at Stratford.

But the route is certainly possible in a wheel-chair.

The Penge Interchange

This map from Cartometro shows where the East London Line of the London Overground and the Chatham Main Line between Victoria and Chatham cross in Penge.


  1. The East London Line runs North-South through Sydenham and Penge West stations.
  2. The Chatham Main Line runs through Penge East station.

There is a plan by Transport for London to create a Penge Interchange station on railway land, where the two lines cross.

  • The station could replace Penge West and Penge East stations.
  • It would be fully step-free.
  • Interchange would be allowed between the East London Line and the Chatham Main Line.

This would increase connectivity for those travelling to and from South-East London and West Kent.

I brlieve that this one interchange could help level-up a large area of South-East London.


January 29, 2023 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Landmark Levelling Up Fund To Spark Transformational Change Across The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the UK Government.

These are the four bullet points.

  • More than 100 projects awarded share of £2.1 billion from Round 2 of government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund.
  • Projects will benefit millions of people across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and create jobs and boost economic growth.
  • £672 million to develop better transport links, £821 million to kick-start community regeneration and £594 million to restore local heritage sites.
  • Successful bids include Eden Project North in Morecambe, a new AI campus in Blackpool, regeneration in Gateshead, and rail improvements in Cornwall

The press release expands the last bullet point.

Projects awarded Levelling Up Fund money today include:

Eden Project North

Eden Project North will receive £50 million to transform a derelict site on Morecambe’s seafront into a world class visitor attraction. It will also kick-start regeneration more widely in Morecambe, creating jobs, supporting tourism and encouraging investment in the seaside town.


  1. Because of its closeness to the West Coast Main Line, it will have excellent rail connections to all over the North of England and Central and Southern Scotland, through Lancaster, which will only be a shuttle train away.
  2. One of High Speed Two’s direct destinations will be Lancaster, which will be served by High Speed Two by hourly trains to Birmingham, Carlisle, Crewe, London, Preston, Warrington and Wigan and by two-hourly trains to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lockerbie and Motherwell.
  3. London and Lancaster will be a journey of just two hours and three minutes.

I believe that this high quality rail access will ensure the success of the Eden Project North.

Cardiff Crossrail

Cardiff Crossrail has been allocated £50 million from the fund to improve the journey to and from the city and raise the economic performance of the wider region.

The Cardiff Crossrail is obviously a good project from the little that I’ve read about it. But it does need a web site to explain the reasoning behind it.

Blackpool Multiversity

Blackpool Council and Wyre Council will receive £40 million to deliver a new Multiversity, a carbon-neutral, education campus in Blackpool’s Talbot Gateway Central Business District. This historic funding allows Blackpool and The Fylde College to replace their ageing out-of-town centre facilities with world-class state-of-the-art ones in the heart of the town centre. The Multiversity will promote higher-level skills, including automation and artificial intelligence, helping young people secure jobs of the future.

Blackpool certainly needs something.

My suggestion in Blackpool Needs A Diamond, was to build a second Diamond Light Source in the North to complement the successful facility at Harwell.

I don’t think the two proposals are incompatible.

Fair Isle Ferry

Nearly £27 million has been guaranteed for a new roll-on, roll-off ferry for Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands. The service is a lifeline for the island, supporting its residents, visitors and supply chains, and without its replacement the community will become further isolated.


  1. Will it be a British-built ferry?
  2. Will it be hydrogen-powered?  After all by the time it is built, the Northern Scottish islands will be providing enough of the gas to power a quarter of Germany.
  3. Surely, a hydrogen-powered roll-on, roll-off ferry will be a tourist attraction in its own right.

I hope the Government and the islanders have a good ship-yard lined up

Gateshead Quays And The Sage

A total of £20 million is going towards the regeneration of Gateshead Quays and the Sage, which will include a new arena, exhibition centre, hotels, and other hospitality. The development will attract nearly 800,000 visitors a year and will create more than 1,150 new jobs.

I don’t know much about the Sage, but this project seems very reasonable.

Mid-Cornwall Metro

A £50 million grant will help create a new direct train service, linking 4 of Cornwall’s largest urban areas: Newquay, St Austell, Truro, and Falmouth/Penryn. This will level up access to jobs, skills, education, and amenities in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in the UK.

I wrote about this scheme in The Proposed Mid-Cornwall Metro, where I came to this conclusion.

I believe that a small fleet of Hitachi Regional Battery Trains could create an iconic Metro for Cornwall, that would appeal to both visitors and tourists alike.

Judging by the recent success of reopening the Dartmoor Railway to Okehampton in Devon, I think this scheme could be a big success. But it must be zero-carbon!

Female Changing Rooms For Northern Ireland Rugby

There is £5.1 million to build new female changing rooms in 20 rugby clubs across Northern Ireland.

Given the popularity of the female version of the sport in England, Scotland and Wales, perhaps this is a sensible way to level it up in Northern Ireland. As rugby is an all-Ireland sport, perhaps the Irish have already sorted the South?

January 19, 2023 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Suffolk Doesn’t Do Easy!

Many parts of the UK consider Suffolk to be rather sleepy.

I was conceived in the county and have spent at least half my life there.

I have a strong affection from my adopted county, which always seem to punch above its apparent weight.

  • All thoroughbred horses have bloodlines that can be traced back to Newmarket, which is a town of 17,000 people in West Suffolk.
  • The Battle of Landguard Fort is recorded as the last opposed attack on England, where on the 2nd of July 1667, a much larger Dutch force was repelled by Nathaniel Darrell and his marines.
  • The exploits of Ipswich Town over the years are on a par with those of many prominent clubs in much bigger towns and cities.
  • Since the 1950’s, the Port of Felixstowe has grown to be the United Kingdom’s busiest container port.

This morning I received a marketing e-mail from Adnams; the Suffolk brewer and this is an extract.

Ghost Ship 0.5% is brewed just like our other beers, so you can count on 150 years of brewing heritage. It was crafted to taste like our best-selling brew, so you can also count on its flavour.

It is always our aim to make great-tasting products, but when creating Ghost Ship 0.5%, the brewing team didn’t simply have to make something delicious, it had to taste like a well-loved and well-known beer. They were dealing with great expectations.

Adnams invested in a de-alcoholiser specifically to make this beer. We could brew in the normal way; adding the lovely fruity flavours you get from a full fermentation, before removing the alcohol. This alters the balance and the mouthfeel of a beer, so it still took months of trials and tinkering to get to where we wanted.

We used all our expertise the finest East Anglian malt and bold American hops to create a low-alcohol beer that tastes frighteningly good. It’s now our second most popular brew, and at 0.5% abv, can be enjoyed whenever and wherever the moment takes you. So, you can get out there, travel that little bit further, and taste just a little bit more.

Note in the last paragraph, that it is now their second most popular brew.

  • It tastes just like the halves of bitter, I used to drink around 1960, whilst playing snooker with my father in his club in Felixstowe.
  • Adnams has been my preferred beer since then.
  • Like all zero-alcohol beers, my coeliac gut doesn’t react to it.

As a regular drinker of this beer, it looks like Suffolk has another success on its hands.

I’ll drink to that!

January 12, 2023 Posted by | Food, Sport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Striking “Bellingham” Bridge Set To Light Up HS2’s Gateway Into Birmingham

The title of this post, is the same as that of this news item from High Speed Two.

These three paragraphs describe the bridge in detail.

HS2 Ltd has revealed designs for the 150-metre section of viaduct as part of the approach to Birmingham’s new Curzon Street Station, including a 25-metre-high truss which will create a new icon on the city’s skyline.

A unique light installation, designed by British artist Liz West, will introduce a dynamic colour palette to the apertures of the steel truss, framing views of the city. Titled Out of the Blue, the proposed artwork will establish the bridge as a stunning feature of the city’s landscape both during the day and at night, when the artwork will come to life.

The Curzon 2 bridge, which has been nicknamed “The Bellingham Bridge” by the team in honour of England superstar and Stourbridge-born Jude Bellingham’s performances at the World Cup, is the tallest structure in the sequence of viaducts and structures that make up the Curzon Street Approaches. These Approaches take HS2 into Birmingham’s new city centre station. The bridge consists of a gently curved truss in weathering steel which carries HS2 over the Victorian brick rail viaduct below.

There are several more visualisations on the High Speed Two web site.

December 28, 2022 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment