The Anonymous Widower

Brexit Is The Cancer Gnawing Away At The Conservative Party

Well said by Lord Hesseltine in a very interesting interview with John Pienaar on BBC Radio 5.

He also said Brexit might not happen!

He didn’t pull any punches!

June 11, 2017 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

Lots Of Process And No Substance!

The title of this post has just been used by Gus O’Donnell on BBC1 to describe how the Brexit negotiations will progress.

I think that the election has guaranteed we’ll get a Hard Brexit under World Trade Organisation rules.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Where Is The Next Tory Leader?

When Theresa May resigns, as she surely will, if not today, in the next few days, where is the safe pair of hands to sort out the mess that the Brexit Referendum has dumped the country?

  • Kenneth Clarke and others of his generation are too old and too pro-Remain.
  • Boris Johnson is too volatile.
  • Ruth Davidson is not in Parliament.

I suspect many others will pass on the poisoned chalice.

John Major was the surprise to follow Margaret Thatcher and went on to win an election. Is there another like him? I don’t think so!

June 9, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

I Said It Was A Strange Election!

In A Strange Election, I said it was just that. But then, a political journalist friend said to me, that the posters told a different tale South of London, as they did in the capital, before the Brexit Referendum.

Theresa May made the same mistake as Harold Wilson in 1970 and Ted Heath in 1974, when they both called an early election and ended up covered in egg.

She fought a terrible election and certainly made major mistakes.

  • In a short campaign, you must get your manifesto right and this allowed the sound-bite of Dementia Tax to take hold.
  • The manifesto had little for the average Tory voter.
  • She ignored Newton’s Third Law!
  • Her circle of advisers was too small and close!
  • She ignored the lessons of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
  • She came over as cold, with all the charisma of a dead fish.
  • There was no infrastructure policy except vague statements in the manifesto.
  • There wasn’t much to attract those who voted Brexit, except a stop to immigration.
  • Where was the pit-bull to take Corbyn’s fantasy tax and spend policies apart?
  • Only Boris Johnson delivered any passion!

But most importantly, where do the Tories stand on Brexit?

The Tories are pfaffing about, like a Personnel Manager, who has just been sent by the Chairman to close a factory they know nothing about, in a strange area of the country.

The Tories were all planning to Remain in the EU, even if they were against it and the surprise result in the Brexit Referendum left the Party up the creek without a paddle.

June 9, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT)

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article entitled Freight, Not All Doom And Gloom, which talks about high-value parcel carriers. The article says this.

Think about all those 1980s units that are soon to be made redundant, especially the ones with wide doorways. You could forklift in pallets and move them by hand trolley inside the vehicle (forklift tines would not fit an HST’s doors).

A Class 150 parcels unit, anyone?

There are other reasons for not using a High Speed Train.

  • ScotRail and Great Western Railway have better uses for the trains moving passengers around in style.
  • Their 125 mph capability and large windows might come in handy for heritage tourism.
  • They are diesel trains and some might not like to hear them thundering through the countryside in the middle of the night.

As to the Class 150 train, it has a few disadvantages.

  • It is only two-cars.
  • It has a 75 mph operating speed.
  • It is diesel-powered, which probably means regular refuelling.

But also like all Mark 3-based stock it scrubs up well as I wrote in What Train Is This?

I would refurbish the whole fleet and use them on short branch lines to provide a quality service, where a two or four-car train was all that was needed.

So what would be the specification of an ideal Go-Anywhere Express Parcel and Pallet Carrier?

I was going to call it a GAEPPC in this post, but that’s rather a mouthful, so I’ll call it a High Speed Parcel Train or High Speed Pallet Train, which in recognition of its more famous big brother will be called a HSPT.

For the specification, it might be a good idea to start with the Class 325 train. This is the first paragraph of the train’s Wikipedia entry.

The British Rail Class 325 is a 4-car dual-voltage 25 kV alternating current (AC) or 750 V direct current (DC) electric multiple unit (EMU) train used for postal train services. While the Class 325 bears a resemblance to the Networker series of DMUs and EMUs, they are based on the Class 319 EMU. The Class 325 was British Rail’s newest unit to take over parcels workings on electrified lines.

The requirement might have changed since the 1990s, but the basic specification would be similar.

  • Four-cars
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail operation.
  • The ability to run as four-, eight- and twelve-car trains.
  • It would be available in a range of colours and not just red!

In addition, it would need wide doors for pallets.

It would also be nice, if the HSPT could run on lines without electrification.

Look at this picture of a Class 321 train.

Would a standard size 1200 x 1000 pallet go through this door?

This morning, I measured the door on a Class 378 train and it was about 1700 mm. wide. So yes!

Once inside the systems used in cargo aircraft could be used to arrange the pallets.

Consider, these facts about Class 321 trains.

  • They are four-car electric multiple units, that can also run as eight and twelve car units.
  • They can operate at 100 mph.
  • They are dual voltage units, if required.
  • There are 117 of the trains, of which over a hundred will be released by Greater Anglia and will need a new caring owner.
  • The interior may be wide enough to put two standard pallets side-by-side.
  • They are based on Mark 3 steel carriages, so are built to take punishment.

In Could There Be A Class 321 Flex Train?, I speculated as to whether these trains could be fitted with underfloor diesel engines as in the Class 319 Flex train. After the news reports in the June 2017 Edition of Modern railways, which I reported on in The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, I’m now convinced that converting other types of train like Class 455 and Class 321 trains is feasible and that the train refurbishing companies are going to be extremely busy.

I have a feeling that Class 319 trains will not be converted to HSPTs, as they seem to be very much in demand to carry more valuable cargo – Namely fare-paying passengers!

But fit diesel engines under a Class 321 train and I think it would make a HSPT, that could travel on nearly every mile of the UK rail network and quite a few miles on heritage railways too!

A Freight Terminal For An HSPT

As the Class 321 train has been designed for passengers, it lines up reasonably well with most of the station platforms in the UK.

So at its simplest a freight terminal for a HSPT could just be a station platform, where a fork lift truck could lift pallets in and out.The freight handling facilities would be designed appropriately.

Supermarket Deliveries

I also think, that if a HSPT were available, it could attract the attention of the big supermarket groups.

In The LaMiLo Project, I described how goods were brought into Euston station in the middle of the night for onward delivery.

If it cuts costs, the supermarket groups will use this method to get goods from their central warehouses to perhaps the centres of our largest cities.

Get the design right and I suspect the supermarkets’ large delivery trolley will just roll between the train and the last-mile truck, which ideally would be a zero-emission vehicle.

In some of the larger out-of-town superstores, the train could even stop alongside the store and goods and trolleys could be wheeled in and out.

This Google Map shows Morrisons at Ipswich.

The store lies alongside the Great Eastern Main Line.

Surely, the ultimate would be if the goods were to be transported on the trains in driverless electric trolleys, which when the doors were opened, automatically came out of the trains and into the store.

Supermarket groups like to emphasise their green credentials.

Surely, doing daily deliveries to major stores by train, wouldn’t annoy anybody. |Except perhaps Donald Trump, but he’s an aberration on the upward march of scientifically-correct living.

Just-In-Time Deliveries

To take Toyota as an example, in the UK, cars are built near Derby, and the engines are built near Shotton in North Wales.

Reasons for the two separate sites are probably down to availability of the right workforce and Government subsidy.

I’m not sure, but I suspect currently in Toyota’s case, engines are moved across the country by truck, but if there was a HSPT, with a capacity of around a hundred and fifty standard pallets would manufacturing companies use them to move goods from one factory to another?

It should be said in Toyota’s case the rail lines at both Derby and Shotton are not electrified, but if the train could run on its own diesel power, it wouldn’t matter.

Refrigerated Deliveries

There probably wouldn’t be much demand now, but in the future bringing Scottish meat and seafood to London might make a refrigerated HSPT viable.

Deliveries To And From Remote Parts Of The UK

It is very difficult to get freight between certain parts of the UK and say Birmingham, London and the South-Eastern half of England.

Perishable products from Cornwall are now sent to London in the large space in the locomotives of the High Speed Trains. Plymouth, which is in Devon, to London takes nearly four hours and I suspect that a HSPT could do it in perhaps an hour longer.

But it would go between specialist terminals at both ends of the journey, so it would be a much easier service to use for both sender and receiver.

Another article in the same June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways is entitled Caithness Sleeper Plan Set Out.

This is said in the article.

Another possibility would be to convey freight on the sleeper trains with HiTrans suggesting the ability to carry four 40-foot and two 20-foot boxes on twin wagons could provide welcome products and parcels northwards and locally-produced food southwards.

A disadvantage of this idea would be that passengers would be required to vacate sleeping berths immediately on arrival at Edinburgh, so that containers could continue to a freight terminal.

The HSPT would go direct to a suitable terminal. In remote  places like Caithness, this would probably be the local station, which had been suitably modified, so that fork lift trucks could move pallets into and out of the train.

One-Off Deliveries

Provided a load can be put on a pallet, the train can move it, if there is a fork lift available at both ends of the route.

It would be wrong to speculate what sort of one-off deliveries are performed, as some will be truly unusual.

Disaster Relief

On the worldwide scale we don’t get serious natural disasters in the UK, but every year there are storms, floods, bridge collapses and other emergencies, where it is necessary to get supplies quickly to places that are difficult to reach by road, but easy by rail. If the supplies were to be put on pallets and loaded onto a HSPT, it might be easier to get them to where they are needed for unloading using a fork lift or even by hand.

International Deliveries

I am sure that Class 319 and Class 321 trains can be made compatible with Continental railway networks. In fact two Class 319 trains, were the first to pass through the Channel Tunnel.

Post-Brexit will we see high value cargoes transported by the trainload, as this would surely simplify the paperwork?

What value of Scotch whisky could you get in a four-car train?

Expect Amazon to be first in the queue for International Deliveries!

Imagine a corgo aircraft coming into the UK, at either Doncaster Sheffield or Manston Airports, with cargo containers or pallets for all over the UK, that were designed for quick loading onto an HSPT.

Conclusion

There is definitely a market for a HSPT.

If it does come about, it will be yet another tribute to the magnificent Mark 3 design!

 

 

 

 

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Policy For Brexiteers

As to why people voted to Leave, I have found this academic document from NatCen, which is entitled Understanding the Leave vote.

The summary of their findings are as follows.

  • Identity politics played a role
  • Voters not persuaded by arguments about economic risks
  • ‘New voters’ leant towards Leave
  • The vote split across traditional party lines
  • Turnout favoured Leave
  • Leave brought together a broad coalition of voters

I think it is important that to do well in the General Election, parties must surely key in to the Brexiteers!

Wikipedia gives the Results of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016 and from that I have extracted all areas that voted over seventy percent for Brexit.

  • Ashfield – 70.5%
  • Barnsley East – 70.7%
  • Bolsover – 70.8%
  • Boston And Skegness – 74.9%
  • Castle Point – 72.7%
  • Clacton – 70.0%
  • Doncaster North – 72.0%
  • Dudley North – 71.4%
  • Dudley South – 70.2%
  • Great Grimsby – 71.4%
  • Great Yarmouth – 71.5%
  • Kingston-upon-Hull East – 72.6%
  • Mansfield – 70.9%
  • South Basildon And East Thurrock – 73.0%
  • South Holland And The Deepings – 71.1%
  • Stoke-on-Trent North – 72.1%
  • Stoke-on-Trent South – 70.7%
  • Walsall North – 74.2%

By comparison, these cities voted for over sixty percent for Brexit.

  • Kingston-upon-Hull – 67.6%
  • Stoke-on-Trent – 69.4%
  • Sunderland – 61.3%
  • Wakefield – 66.4%
  • Wolverhampton – 62.6%

It is an interesting set of statistics, with most of the areas not having the best of economic prospects

So far none of the leaks and policies from the various parties seem to be aimed at the areas of the UK, where there was a strong Leave vote.

Those that voted to Leave probably did so for a variety of reasons, but if you look at many with a high proportion of Brexiteers, they are areas with not the best economic circumstances.

I haven’t gone through all the constituencies, but I will, but several feature in A Look At New Station Projects, where I looled at all proposed projects.

In January 2017, I wrote Government Focuses On New Stations And Trains and I just wonder, if we will see a substantial New Stations Fund from the Conservatives, so that some of these places get better connections to where there is work, housing, education, leisure or opportunities.

It seems £10million, buys a reasonable station, so £100million a year would over the life of a parliament create up to fifty stations, especially if they built them like Ilkeston station in under a year.

I will now look at the individual constituencies.

Ashfield

Ashfield is based on the towns of Sutton-in-Ashfield and Kirkby-in-Ashfield, both have which have stations on the Robin Hood Line.

Plans exist to develop this line along existing freight routes in good condition with perhaps two or three simple stations. Add in some better trains and make the frequency two trains per hour (tph) seven days a week and it could have a large positive effect.

Barnsley East

Barnsley East is centred on the town of Wombwell.

Wombwell station is on these two lines.

Both lines go through Barnsley.

Both lines are in good condition, but the trains are dreadful. Northern will be replacing these with better rolling stock, with the eventual aim of having new Class 195 trains in service by 2020.

If you wanted to give the area a quick fix, you could send in the Class 319 Flex trains at the end of this year.

Bolsover

Bolsover is centred on the town of Bolsover.

There are vague plans to link Bolsover to the rail network using the partly mothballed Doe Lea Line, but nothing concrete. Wikipedia says this.

The Doe Lea line south from Seymour Junction to Bolsover has been mothballed as it runs through the new Markham Vale Enterprise Zone at M1 Junction 29A. It is hoped that someone will invest in this infrastructure to create road-rail interchange facilities.

I can find no reference to any progress.

Note that Bolsover’s MP is left-wing Labour veteran; Dennis Skinner.

Boston And Skegness

Boston And Skegness is a rural constituency in South incolnshire.

The Poacher Line links Skegness and Boston to Nottingham via Sleaford and Grantham.

There is an approximately hourly service along the line, using Class 156 trains and Class 158 trains, but the line probably needs two tph, with good connections to the Peterborough to Lincoln Line at Sleaford.

Castle Point

Castle Point is in South |East Essex.

The railways in this area are generally good, but c2c has expansion and fleet renewal plans.

Clacton

Clacton is in North East Essex.

The railways in this area are gebnerally good, but Greater Anglia have expansion and fleet renewal plans.

Doncaster North

Doncaster North is in South Yorkshire.

The railways in this area suffer because of bad rolling stock and not being electrified.

Note that Doncaster North’s MP is Ed Milliband.

New diesel or bi-mode trains between Doncaster and Sheffield via Rotherham would make a great difference.

If you wanted to give Doncaster North a quick fix, you could send in the Class 319 Flex trains at the end of this year.

Dudley North And Dudley South

Dudley North and Dudley South are the two constituencies for Dudley.

The Wednesbury – Merry Hill Extension of the Midland Metro, is planned to connect Dudley to Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the Merry Hill area.

Great Grimsby

Great Grimsby is centred on Grimsby.

Grimbsy Town station doesn’t receive the best of services. Changes are happening according to Wikipedia.

Great North Eastern Railway had put forward proposals in 2014 to create a rail link between Cleethorpes and London Kings Cross, calling at Grimsby Town, Habrough, Scunthorpe and Doncaster, arriving at a new modern Kings Cross station. This service would have been introduced by December 2017 if Alliance Rail’s plans had been accepted by the Office of Rail Regulation and would create the first direct link to London since 1986. In May 2016, it was announced by the ORR that GNER had been refused permission to operate these services.

In October 2017, services between Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber will be transferred to East Midlands Trains – the only remaining Northern operated service left at Grimsby thereafter will be the Saturdays-only one between Sheffield and Cleethorpes via Brigg.

Like most of Lincolnshire, improvement is needed.

Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is at the Eastern side of Norfolk.

The railways in this area are gebnerally good, but trains are infrequent.

Greater Anglia have expansion and fleet renewal plans, with some new infrastructure from Network Rail.

If you wanted to give Great Yarmouth a quick fix, you could send in the Class 319 Flex trains at the end of this year.

Kingston-upon-Hull East

Kingston-upon-Hull East is the Eastern side of Kingston-upon-Hull.

For one of the major cities in the UK, Hull has once of the worst train services.

New trains and the development of the existing lines with perhaps electrification to the East Coast Main Line could give the area improvement.

Mansfield

Mansfield is in North Nottinghamshire.

Mansfield station is on the Robin Hood Line.

Plans exist to develop this line along existing freight routes in good condition with perhaps two or three simple stations. Add in some better trains and make the frequency two trains per hour (tph) seven days a week and it could have a large positive effect.

South Basildon And East Thurrock

South Basildon And East Thurrock is in South Essex.

The railways in this area are generally good, but c2c has expansion and fleet renewal plans.

South Holland And The Deepings

South Holland And The Deepings is another Lincolnshire constituency.

The Peterborough to Lincoln Line and the Poacher Line cross at Sleaford station, but passenger trains are elderly and infrequent.

Stoke-on-Trent South

Stoke-on-Trent South is one of the constituencies in the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

Reading the Wikipedia entry for Stoke-on-Trent station, you get the impression, that train companies have dealt Stoke a bad hand in recent times.

I have no doubt that if Stoke were in France or Germany, there would be a tram or light rail system i the city.

Walsall North

Walsall North is a constituency in the North of the West Midlands.

Walsall station is on the Chase Line between Birmingham and Rugeley.

The line is being fully-electrified, but Network Rail are badly suffering from the E-word.

If you wanted to give Walsall a quick fix, you could send in the Class 319 Flex trains at the end of this year.

Summing Up The Brexit Areas

I think that the rail industry and the politicians who control them have let down some of these constituencies.

The electrification of the Chase Line is a classic Network Rail failure, possibly cheered on by a nimby MP, actually objecting to a faster rail service.

Other areas like South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, need plans to widen the benefits of good public transport. Interestingly, all of these areas have good freight lines, often going through the sites of closed and much-needed stations.

I will ignore Essex in this analysis, as the county is getting improvement and the good people of the County, are just following their usual independent line.

If I can be criticised, it is that I have drawn my cut-off limits too high.

Go further down the list and you can add more constituencies to the South Yorks, North Notts, Lincoln area, which all scored nearly 70%.

  • Bassetlaw
  • Cleethorpes
  • Don Valley
  • Rotherham
  • Scunthorpe
  • Wentworth and Dearne

A lot more Essex and East London constituencies creep in as do a few in the West Midlands.

Conclusion

It is surprising how many of these depressed Brexit areas have a poor train service and probably bad bus services too. If you haven’t got a car, then you just vegetate and fade away.

Perhaps, improvement of our secondary rail routes, with more trains and stations, should be given a high priority.

May 16, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 7 Comments

Jeremy Corbyn On Brexit

Replying to Theresa May’s announcement of Article 51, Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech that was probably nine month’s late. If he had been so anti-Brexit last summer, perhaps the result of the Referendum would have been different.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Will Britain Negotiate With A United Europe?

In this article on the BBC, which is entitled EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker ‘will not seek second term’, this is said.

Mr Juncker also said the UK could divide opinion among EU leaders once Brexit negotiations begin.

I think that will be highly likely, as putting 27 people in a room and asking themany question, will give several different answers.

Last year, I wrote Brexit – Signalling Implications For The UK, which was based on an an article on Rail Engineer.

This is a paragraph from the article, which talks about implementing signalling post-Brexit.

The endless committees to discuss and agree how the standards will be implemented do not get in the way. Whilst not suitable for main line usage (at least in the foreseeable future), there could be suburban routes around cities (for example Merseyrail) that could benefit from CBTC deployment.

I know it is talking about one small part of railway signalling, but if the states of Europe can’t agree a common position on that, how will they agree a common position on how to deal with the UK during and after Brexit?

In some ways, the biggest problem with Brexit, is that we will still be arguing about the details of the settlement well into the 2030s and beyond.

I can see some absolutely silly arguments going on and on!

 

February 12, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Should Brexit Mean A Return To £sd?

Why not?

I wouldn’t have a problem, as I honed my £sd skills in a pub, where a bottle of Guinness was one shilling and eight pence or three for five shillings.

Those were the days!

 

January 31, 2017 Posted by | World | | 4 Comments

Out Of The Mouths Of Brummies

The December 2016 Edition of Modern Railways has a special report on railways and trams in the West Midlands.

There are some choice quotes from those involved in planning the future of the rail network in the area.

On HS2

“It’ll be half an hour from Birmingham Interchange station to the Crossrail interchange at Old Oak Common. That means Birmingham Airport will be in London Zone 4, timewise.”

On Stations

“Nobody looks at their strategic value to the community”

On New Street Station

“The Birmingham New Street Gateway rebuilding has quadrupled the passenger circulation area in the station, but it hasn’t addressed the key issue of lack of track capacity”`

On Battery Power For Trams

“Since then there has been lots of work and we’re now comfortable that battery technology has advanced sufficiently for it to be viable.”

“Under test conditions with plain straight track a tram could travel 20 km catenary-free. In practice, this would be rather less for a fully laden tram ascending the 9% gradient on Penfold Street. The longest catenary-free run we’ve envisaged is around 2 km, and we’re comfortable we can achieve that”

On More Trams

“They will have to be bespoke to a degree in order to operate catenary-free, but the rail sector is embracing alternative technology and on-board energy store so we may be looking at something more advanced afain.”

Conclusion

It’s all upbeat and it looks like Birmingham is looking forward to the battery trams.

No-one mentioned the B-word!

 

November 24, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment