The Anonymous Widower

Cross City Rail Lines

This list of cross-city rail lines is for my own information.

The line must go from one side of the city to another, with at least one stop in the City or Town Centre.

United Kingdom

Birmingham

Brighton

  • East Coastway and West Coastway – West-East through City Centre

Liverpool

London

Northern City Line and Waterloo and City Line go partly under the City Centre, but not across it.

 

May 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | | 5 Comments

Birmingham Airport Mulls Plan For Terminal Inside HS2 Station

This is the title of an article in Construction News.

This Google Map shows Birmingham Airport, the current Birmingham International station, the NEC, with the M42 Motorway going North-South down the Eastern side.

Currently, it is planned that the Birmingham Interchange station for HS2, would be on the other side of the M42 to the NEC.

Surely, the Construction News headline is indicating that something better can be done.

In an ideal world, Birmingham Airport would have one station for HS2, West Coast Main Line and local train and tram services, with a step-free lift/escalator connection between all platforms and both Departures and Arrivals at the Airport.

 

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Conservative Manifesto On The Railways

The Conservative Manifesto says this on railways.

We will focus on creating extra capacity on the railways, which will ease overcrowding, bring new lines and stations, and improve existing routes – including for freight. We will increase services on our main lines and commuter routes, and launch new services to places which are poorly served or host major new housing projects.

This would seem a sensible policy and it is probably very little different to what has been done over the last fifteen years.

  • Quite a few new trains have been procured.
  • New rail and tram lines like the London Overground, the Borders Railway, the Manchester Metrolink, the Midland Metro and others have been opened.
  • Around seventy new stations have been opened.
  • Some lines have been electrified.
  • Some lines have been improved and resignalled.
  • Mechanisms have been developed , so that developers can help to provide stations for their new developments.

But there is one big difference.

A lot of quality trains are now being replaced by new or much better trains in the next few years.

Some of these were built this century and will have plenty of takers, whilst others despite being a lot older have already been earmarked for substantial refurbishment.

Remember that, just as our architects and builders are good at taking ruins and creating high quality dwellings, offices or commercial buildings, our engineers, designers and train building and refurbishment companies are good at taking trains of an advanced age and creating high quality trains and locomotives, as comfortable, reliable, safe and passenger, crew and operator-friendly, as new ones straight from the factory.

In What Train Is This?, I show a refurbished Great Western Railway Class 150 train. This picture shows the quality that can be achieved, by refurbishing a thirty-year-old Mark 3-based train.

Who would complain about this superb refurbishment, which I suspect was done by Great Western Railway’s depot at Laira in Plymouth?

This table summarises what has been planned and what trains are worth saving.

  • Forty of the hundred InterCity 125 sets are being converted into quality four and five carriage trains for ScotRail and Great Western Railway – Equivalent to forty four-car diesel trains.
  • Some InterCity 125 sets might end up as high-speed parcel trains. Although if Scotrail and Great Western Railway prove the Pocket Rocket four-car HST to be viable, other companies may copy the concept.
  • Will the 137 Class 150 trains be refurbished to the standard shown in the picture?
  • The 114 Class 156 trains can be refurbished to a high standard for local routes. – Perhaps half will go to new operators.
  • The twelve Class 170 trains were built in 1999 and will go to another oiperator – Probably equivalent to another six four-car diesel trains,
  • The 72 Class 317 trains are in surprisingly good condition for thirty-year-old trains. They are also 100 mph units and Mark 3-based. If Network Rail were good at electrification, they would find a home. They are seventy-two four-car electric trains.
  • The 86 Class 319 trains will find homes, with some converted into Class 319 Flex bi-mode trains. – Probably equivalent to another thirty four-car trains, of which some would be electric and some bi-mode.
  • The Class 90 locomotives will go to freight operators.
  • The 130 Mark 3 carriages will find a use, as they always do. Chiltern probably need some more.
  • The 100 Class 321 trains could be refurbished and go to another operator. They are 100 four-car electric trains .Some could even be converted to bi-modes.
  • The 10 Class 350 trains were built in 2013 and will go to another operator. They are 10 four-car electric trains.
  • The 26 Class 360 trains were built in 2002 and will go to another operator. They are twenty-one four-car and five five-car electric trains.
  • The 30 Class 379 trains were built in 2010 and will go to another operator. They are thirty four-car electric trains.

The totals in four-car trains are roughly  as follows.

  • Diesels and bi-mode – 100 – 50 already allocated
  • Electric – 170

These totals don’t include all the plans.

What will the new owners of these franchises do?

  • East Midlands
  • London Midland
  • Southeastern
  • South West Trains
  • Wales

Only South West Trains has been settled and it looks they’ll be releasing the new Class 707 trains.

Conclusion

It does look that there could be enough diesel trains.

  • There could be quite a number of Sprinters, Class 170, Class 172 and Class 185 trains, which after refurbishment could be providing excellent service for perhaps another twenty years.
  • The pride of lions in the room will be the shortened InterCity 125s, that Scotrail and First Great Western are creating and introducing in the next couple of years.
  • Will they have cubs or be imitated, by creating rakes of four or five Mark 3 coaches, with a Class 43, Class 68 or Class 88 locomotive at each end?
  • TransPennine Express have already ordered Mark 5 coaches and Class 68 locomotives to do the same thing.
  • A hybrid electric/diesel/battery locomotive could be used with the coaches. Hitachi created such a beast from a Class 43 some years ago and the Germans are experimenting.

Terry Miller should be awarded a posthumous knighthood, as his amazing stop-gap design that saved British Rail forty years ago, could be about to play an encore.

If there is a problem, it is that there are a lot of electric trains.

  • The more recent ones like Class 379, Class 350, Class 360 and Class 707 trains will probably find homes in places like Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland.
  • Surely, Class 379 trains would be ideal on shorter distance services to Manchester Airport, as they were designed for Stansted services.
  • If the Class 319 Flex train is a success, expect to see more of these trains converted to 100 mph dual-voltage four-car bi-modes trains.

There is still a lot of electric trains to be allocated.

The Class 319 Flex train may be based on the forty-year-old Mark 3 coach design, but I believe it fits the specification of the train we need to expand our rail services.

  • 100 mph on either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 90 mph on diesel.
  • Four-coaches meeting all regulations laid out to the operator’s required configuration.
  • Can work in eight and twelve car formations.
  • Ability to go on virtually all rail lines in the UK.
  • Proven reliable systems.
  • In service by the end of 2017.
  • Liked by the drivers
  • Fits the niche below the five-car Hitachi Class 800 bi-mode.

But above all there are numerous Class 319 trains available for conversion and they are affordable.

If the concept takes off in a big way, then the engineers would just move on to the Class 321 trains.

But there will still be a lot of quality electric trains left over.

They will have to be scrapped or exported, unless Network Rail can get its electrification work into line.

Perhaps we will see limited electrification between existing electrification and major cities and junctions, with services run by bi-mode, battery or diesel trains to jump the missing electrification.

Areas where this approach might work could include.

  • South Yorkshire between Leeds, Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham.
  • North Yorkshire between Leeds, Skipton, Harrogate, Ripon and York.
  • East Yorkshire between Doncaster, Hull, York and Scarborough.
  • Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Burnley, Colne and Hebden Bridge.
  • Southport, Preston, Kirkby, Wigan and Manchester.
  • Crewe, Chester, Wrexham, Shotton and the Wirral.
  • Darlington, Middlesbrough and Teesside.
  • Birmingham, Snow Hill and Camp Hill Lines
  • Edinburgh to Dundee and the branches to Leven and St. Andrews.

Engineering is the Science of the Possible, whereas Politics is Dreaming of the Impossible.

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , | Leave a comment

A Class 345 Train Passing Stratford Station

I took these pictures of a Class 345 train, as it passed through Stratford station.

The pictures were taken from the pedestrian bridge that connects Eastfield to the station.

Note.

  1. Pantographs on cars two and six.
  2. Both pantographs are up.
  3. The rounded ends of each car.
  4. The generally smooth roof.

Points 3. and 4. are probably there to improve the aerodynamics.

I found this snippet on the Internet which gives the formation of the new Class 345 trains.

When operating as nine-car trains, the Class 345 trains will have two Driving Motor Standard Opens (DMSO), two Pantograph Motor Standard Opens (PMSO), four Motor Standard Opens (MSO) and one Trailer Standard Open (TSO). They will be formed as DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+MSO+PMSO+DMSO.

So as both PMSO cars are there, I would assume that the current seven-car trains are two MSO cars short of a full-train.

The power cars/total cars ratio will be as follow.

  • Seven-car train – 0.86
  • Nine-car train – 0.89

Could this mean that the full nine-car trains will accelerate faster?

I suspect Bombardier know a lot about passenger behaviour in walk-through trains running in the UK and London in particular, as London Underground’s S Stock and London Overground’s Class 378 trains have similar layouts, with all and eighty percent of the cars powered respectively.

If passengers even themselves out between the cars and most cars are powered, this must surely help the dynamics of the train.

Passengers too, probably have a better ride if they are spread out along the train.

It will be interesting to ride in a full train between Shenfield and London, to see how the Self Loading Cargo behaves.

 

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Close Up To A Class 345 Train At Liverpool Street Station

These pictures of a Class 345 train, were taken in Liverpool Street station.

I also had a chat with a group of drivers.

  • The drivers find the trains well-built, quiet and fast.
  • One driver said they were effectively two half trains.
  • Drivers seemed enthusiastic or jealous depending if they’ve driven one.
  • Greater Anglia’s drivers were crawling all over the cab!
  • There is masses of space under the trains.
  • They are virtually silent as they move off!

The services start on Tuesday, the 23rd of May.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Vivarail Reveals New D-Trains Will Be Available In 2018

This is the title of an article in Rail Magazine.

I don’t know about the Class 230 train.

It could be an interesting concept, but when I read my brochure of the Class 319 Flex train, I fear it has got very strong competition.

  • The 319 Flex, is a true 100 mph bi-mode train.
  • There are 86 Class 319 trains, that could be converted.
  • The Class 319 train has proven reliability.
  • There is a large volume of knowledge about refurbishing, upgrading and converting Class 319 trains.
  • Four 319 Flex trains will be available this year.

If more trains to convert are needed, there are other classes.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Protecting Your Company, Organisation Or Workgroup From Viruses, Ransomware And Other Malware

I am not a computer malware expert and since 1970, I have generally worked alone, with one or more computers , not connected by a network.

But after all the problems of the last few weeks with ransomware, I feel that one of my experiences of a few years ago, should be put into this blog.

A Daisy Demonstration

The Research Department of a major corporation were interested in using my software; Daisy to analyse data being collected in their local offices.

So I was summoned to their offices to the South West of London, so that they could have a proper demonstration.

I found something extremely sensible that I’d not seen before.

The Department had the usual corporate network, as you would expect, with logins, malware protection, but for my demonstration I used another computer.

The Lonely PC

We moved to a lonely PC sitting on a desk in the corner. It had the following characteristics.

  • Adequate power.
  • A recent version of Windows.
  • Direct connection to the Internet through a landline.
  • No connection to the main network.
  • A directly connected printer.
  • A selection of browsers.
  • Microsoft Office, but no e-mail program.

The only thing, that the computer lacked was a large screen.

Uses Of The Isolated Computer

The isolated computer was used for the following.

  • Demonstrations
  • Checking out ideas and web sites in suspect locations.
  • Testing software.

I think that after the recent ransomware attacks, emergency Internet access could probably be added to the list of uses.

Rules For Using The Computer

The Department had setup a series of rules for the use of the computer.

  • The computer could be booked by anybody in the Department.
  • Comprehensive data transfer rules using physical devices had been setup.
  • No software could be installed on computers on the main network, without full testing on the isolated computer.
  • The computer was regularly checked for any viruses or malware.
  • If any nasties were found on this computer, it was immediately restored to a pristine state.

Incidentally, whether it was for my benefit or not, it was one of the cleanest corporate computers, I’ve used for a demonstration.

Benefits

I was told that since the computer had been installed, malware problems on the network had decreased.

But how much was this down to a constantly improving and rigorously updated malware-protection system for the Department’s main network?

An Ideal System

A lot would depend on the type of company and their needs.

The system I used needed a big screen, as often a demonstration needs to be seen by several people.

I also think, that with a large screen, it could be a valuable tool in Corporate Communications.

Some might think, that this type of computer, which bypasses the corporate network, could be used by those with access for nefarious purposes.

Years ago, my software; Artemis was used to do the Project Management on Chevaline. The Ministry of Defence was worried that the Russians might use some unknown technology to read the electromagnetic radiation from the cathode-ray tube of the VDU. So I suggested they put the desk-sized computer in a shielded internal room. But what about the door, they said! I suggested that they get Chubb to put one of their best locks on the door.

A few weeks later, when a software problem struck, I went home with a complete copy of the project on a disc.

I had encoded the data using a personally-designed method that I still believe is unbreakable. But that is another story! Especially, as I’ve never signed the Official Secrets Act!

As this tale illustrates, there are ways to enforce security and holes will always appear.

 

 

 

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Computing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This morning I was sitting waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

Platform 8 is separated from Platform 9 by just two tracks, so you notice a train, when it goes through Platform 9 at speed.

Usually, the trains that go through Platform 9 at speed towards Liverpool Street station are Class 321 trains or rakes of Mark 3 coaches oulled by a Class 90 locomotives.

Today, a new Class 345 train went through and the level of noise was extremely low compared to other trains.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Labour’s Spending Plans

In my varied life, I have had a lot of experience of the mechanics of borrowing money and the costs of running financial companies.

Consider.

  • One of my best friends was the Business Banking Director of a well-known Clearing Bank
  • Another good friend was the Chief Management Accountant of the same Bank.
  • I learned a lot of the mechanics of leasing and managing assets and obtaining the finance to do so from a Company Accountant.
  • I owned a Local Finance Company.
  • I was an early investor in Peer-to-Peer Lending.
  • I have extensively modelled banking and finance systems, including the aforesaid Clearing Bank.

After reading summaries of the billions that Labour propose to spend and borrow, I fear that their plans have one serious hole.

What makes them think, that any reputable Bank, Pension Fund or Financial Institution, thinks they will lend them what they need?

Blair’s Government was able to borrow because, it was offering profitable deals like PFI, which I doubt the Corbynistas would.

Corbyn, McDonnell et al are in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 2 Comments

Stephen Fitzpatrick Of OVO On Energy Policy

Stephen Fitzpatrick, the founder of OVO Energy was on BBC Breakfast this morning.

Some of what he said was very enlightening.

Nationalisation Of Distribution Networks

He indicated that this was almost irrelevant, as the technology of energy distribution is changing.

I agree.

Near to where I live, is the Bunhill Energy Centre, which has been built by Islington Council to provide heat and electricity to a local area.

Systems like this are common in some European countries and increasingly, we will see small scale units like this in cities.

In the countryside, solar and wind power linked to energy storage will become more common.

Large industrial users of energy will increasingly generate their own power.

So the distribution networks will become less and less important.

Energy Efficiency

This will become increasingly important, as innovators make devices and appliances that use energy more efficient.

It is interesting, that no Political Party has so far said, that they will promote devices and items that use less energy, by perhaps sponsoring ideas.

OVO’s Customers Spend Forty Percent Less On Gas Than When The Company Started

This was surprising, but it probably indicates that our houses and businesses are getting more energy efficient.

Energy Price Caps

He was in favour, because he believes it opens up the market for energy.

I think it also favours innovative, ethical and highly-regarded energy companies.

Say an energy company predicts that because of the price cap, it will become less profitable.

It can do one of the following.

  1. Increase the number of customers.
  2. Sell customers new and innovative goods and services.
  3. Go out of business.

OVO are taking over a respected boiler servicing company.

I think one of the good things about an energy price cap will be, that bad suppliers, big or small, will be forced out of business.

Conclusion

It was an impressive performance and the BBC should sign him up for Question Time.

 

May 17, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment