The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail-Spoil Wetland Provides Haven For Wildlife

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A £70m project to create a wetland twice the size of the City of London is nearly finished with wildlife thriving in new lagoons, marsh and fields.

New wetland on Wallasea Island, off the Essex coast, was created from tunnel spoil from London’s Crossrail project.

Wallasea Island shows that large construction projects don’t have to be all about steel and concrete.

September 23, 2018 Posted by | Travel, World | , , | Leave a comment

House Sparrows In Aberdeen Bus Station

I took this picture of a few house sparrows in Aberdeen bus station.

You rarely see them in London these days.

August 14, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

A Kestrel Hunts For Lunch Using A Train

I was travelling between South Tottenham and Blackhorse Road stations on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, where the line runs along the side of Walthamstow Wetlands.

I noticed a bird come and join us and it flew about ten metres away, straight and level and at the same speed as the train, which wasn’t going that fast.

I’d seen this behaviour before from a bird, when driving a truck through Suffolk lanes and realised that it was a kestrel waiting for the train to disturb a tasty vole.

The kestrel was unlucky!

August 6, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

A First Visit To Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands opened today, so I went to take a look.

It was well worth a visit.

I shall return!

October 20, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Just Add Trains

I took these pictures of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, as it passes past the Engine House on the Walthamstow Wetlands site.

This section, which is probably one of the easiest bits to electrify, looks to be ready for the trains.

Note that the pictures looking down on the line were taken from the fire escape on the side of the Engine House, shown in the last picture.

This Google Map shows the Gospel Oak To Barking Line crossing the area.

Note.

  • The Engine House has a green label saying Walthamstow Wetlands.
  • The bus stops by the Ferry Boat Inn have buses to and from Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Road stations.
  • The Engine House is about a hundred metres from the bus stops and
  • The Engine House has a step-free entrance and a lift inside.

The Engine House is certainly worth the walk.

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | 2 Comments

BT Gets Tough With Flying Rats

Flying rats or pigeons to the RSPB, are a problem in Liverpool Street station.

So BT has got tough!

BT Gets Tough With Flying Rats

BT Gets Tough With Flying Rats

It would probably help, if everybody dropping littler got sentence to sit on top of the phone-box for an hour.

November 21, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Up And Down The Crouch Valley Line

The Crouch Valley Line runs from Wickford station on the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria Line and Southminster in deepest Essex via the sailing town of Burnham-on-Crouch.

This Google Map shows the route of the line.

The Crouch Valley Line

The Crouch Valley Line

Stations on the line are at Wickford, Battlesbridge, South Woodham Ferrers, North Fambridge, Althorne, Burnham-on-Crouch and Southminster.

I took these pictures as I went from Wickford station to Southminster station on the Crouch Valley Line. On the way back, I stopped off at Burnham-on-Crouch station and found an excellent snack lunch at Cafe-Dairy in the town.

It certainly isn’t your average rural railway line.

  • The six stations on the line are in pretty good condition.
  • All except North Fambridge station are single platform stations, so are effectively step-free.
  • The line goes through marshes and country with a lot of birds. Very Snow Goose!
  • Most of the stations, seem to have adequate car parking.
  • The electrification doesn’t appear to be in the best of health, but then that could be said for much of East Anglia’s railways.

If it has one major problem, it is that trains seem to run every forty minutes.

Growth In Passenger Numbers

Two factors will see the number of passengers using this line grow in the future.

Someone in Burnham told me, that they were building a lot of new housing along the line, which surely will generate traffic.

Also, the RSPB’s flagship reserve at Wallasea, that has been built with tunnel spoil from Crossrail, is just across the river at Burnham-on-Crouch.

This Google Map shows the area.

Burnham-on-Crouch, the River Crouch And Wallasea Island

Burnham-on-Crouch, the River Crouch And Wallasea Island

The Crouch Valley Railway goes across the top of the map and stops at Burnham-on-Crouch station.

I walked down to the River, going past the cinema.

Will a proper route from the station to Wallasea Island on the other side of the River Crouch be created using a bus and a ferry?

There is also a very low possibility of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell, which could increase traffic to Southminster.

A Two Trains Per Hour Service

The current schedule meant I had a forty minute wait for a train after my lunch. I made a mistake calculating when the train would leave and I arrived back at the station a few minutes after the train had left.

Forty minutes is a long time to wait for a train in a station with few facilities on a sunny day.

If traffic does grow on the line, as I indicated in the previous section, two trains an hour will be a necessity.

The reason for the current weird interval is that if you look at the time-table, trains take thirty-one minutes to do the Journey.

If you add in the turn-round time, when train staff do what they have to do and that to run the service, the two trains must pass at the only passing loop at North Fambridge station, it becomes obvious, that the fastest sensible time for the journey adding in all the extras is forty minutes.

So it would seem that in order to get two trains per hour, you would need to get the time for the journey down to thirty minutes.

It would seem that it might be possible by using four trains to get a three trains per hour service, but this would probably need extra passing loops or full redoubling of the track with extra platforms in places.

So because of cost this will probably not be an option.

In other words, the only way to get two trains per hour on the branch, would be to speed up the time each journey takes.

New Trains On The Line

New trains on the line could be the key to achieving a thirty minute total journey time.

If something like a new Aventra train replaced the current Class 321 train, there would be certain features that would save time.

  • The higher speed and better performance of the modern train would save some time.
  • Modern trains are designed to stop, unload and pick up passengers and get back to line speed in a shorter time.
  • Level access to platforms could be arranged to cut out loading delays of buggies, wheelchairs and bicycles.
  • Helpful automation for the driver in the turn-round at each end of the line could save a few precious minutes.
  • The precision driving needed would be easier in a modern train.

It might even be possible to do a faster speed in a Class 360 train.

Improving The track

I do wonder, if Network Rail have ideas to improve the line speed, which would mean more minutes saved.

I suspect Network Rail engineers wish that the conversion of this line to single-track in the 1960s shouldn’t have been carried out.

Conclusion

I think that within a couple of years, we’ll see new trains on this line providing a two trains per hour service.

 

 

 

July 18, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Alpine Swifts

At night and in the morning, the air over Dubrovnik is full of alpine swifts.

This picture, which is the best of a bad lot, shows a few ducking and diving by the sea and the city walls.

DSCN8072

There were several photographers trying to get the ultimate picture.

May 9, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

European Bison

These European bison were in a reserve.

There were about fifty in the herd.

The birders in the party were excited about the number of yellowhammers. I know them well, as the birds seem to like the post-and-railed fields of studs in the Newmarket area. The birds are also regularly seen in Cambridge.

January 17, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Across The North Of The Walthamstow Reservoirs

Between Blackhorse Road and South Tottenham stations, the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin) passes between the large reservoirs of the Lea Valley that provide East London with most of its water.

This area to the south of the GOBlin is being developed into the Walthamstow Wetlands. Incidentally, I was once on one of these trains and there was a grandfather (?) with serious binoculars showing a boy of about ten, the various water birds that were visible. Today, all I could identify was a few swans.

Because of the layout of the line, I wouldn’t bet against there being a station called Walthamstow Wetlands or River Lea at the western end of this journey, just before it crosses the West Anglia Main Line.

Is there a Bird or Nature Reserve in the UK with its own rail station?

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment