The Anonymous Widower

Brexit Was An Easy Sell

How many times, have you heard a smooth salesman give you a line of patter to try to sell you something?

In some cases, they have presented you with say a car, bicycle or washing machine, which is all you need with a feasible story.

So you have bought it, because you couldn’t see any risk and it did what you need.

In most cases you haven’t regretted the purchase as it was a well-made good product.

If you asked a good salesman to sell Brexit, he could come up with all sorts of positive reasons, why you should vote for it.

On the other hand, a good salesman selling Remain, would have only given you negatives and doom and gloom.

When did anybody sell you anything, based on its negative qualities?

In my view,  David Cameron’s referendum was skewed in favour of Brexit, as selling a negative to millions of people is not a feasible proposition.

 

 

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

How Did We Get Here?

As a 71-year-old, enjoying a comfortable retirement, who voted Remain, I’m watching UK politics from behind the sofa.

There appears to be no statesman or stateswoman to lead us out of this mess.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

Consequences Of A Successful No-Deal Brexit By The UK

As a Control Engineer, who voted Remain, I do wonder what would happen, if we left with No-Deal and after a year or so, it turned out to be without horrors, because people and companies had created new routes round the problems.

Doing this, is typical human behaviour and especially for the British!

We can all think of times in the past few years, where everybody has pulled together to solve the problems created by a disaster

Would a successful UK., prompt other countries to at least think of leaving the EU?

If it does, could we be seeing the start of the break-up of the EU?

January 7, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Ambitious £10bn Plans For Gatwick Heathrow HS4Air Rail Service Rejected

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This paragraph outlines the reasons for rejection of HS4Air.

But the DfT has reportedly turned down the proposal, primarily over concerns about the affordability and that it would likely face issues because the proposed route will run across greenbelt land.

It would appear from the report, that the promoters of the project; Expedition Engineering, are not happy.

This is the last three paragraphs of the article

Lenczner said that most of the rail line was going to be in tunnels, ensuring the impact to open green areas was limited and less than the Lower Thames Crossing.

He said: “We’re trying to encourage people to get out of cars and use more sustainable modes of transport and the HS4Air would have contributed to that.

“We have had lots of messages of support who are also utterly gobsmacked that it has been rejected at this stage.

He added that “we don’t intend to back down,” and said the engineering company plans to challenge the DfT’s decision.

Alistair Lenczner is a director of Expedition Engineering.

I think that HS4Air proposal is the sort of bold infrastructure project, that we will increasingly need in a post-Brexit world.

There were four major proposals to create better rail access to Heathrow up before the Department of Transport.

In Could Rail Access To Heathrow Be Formed Of The Best Bits Of Various Schemes?, I summed them all up.

Heathrow Southern Railway

I summed up the Heathrow Southern Railway like this.

  • Connectivity to Waterloo, Clapham Junction, South and South West London
  • Extends Heathrow Express to Woking and Basingstoke
  • Adds a new route for commuters into Paddington.
  • Extends Crossrail from Heathrow to Staines.
  • It will be built alongside the M25 with a tunnel to Terminal Five.
  • All terminals served
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the South West.
  • Privately funded.

HS4Air

I summed up HS4Air  like this.

  • Connectivity to High Speed 2, the Midlands, North and West of England and WalesHigh Speed
  • Possible connection to Gatwick and Ashford for the Continent.
  • North-South station in a tunnel deep under Heathrow.
  • The Heathrow station will be able to handle full-length high speed trains from Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester.
  • Heathrow could become a High Speed Rail hub serving Greater Western London.
  • Sneaks along the M25.
  • All terminals could probably be served, by escalators and lifts from the deep station.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the North and West.
  • Privately funded

I’m keener on the section North of Heathrow, than that to the South.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

I summed up the Western Rail Approach To Heathrow like this.

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Network Rail’s proposed scheme.
  • Government funded (?)

Windsor Link Railway

I summed up the Windsor Link Railway like this.

  • Connectivity to Slough and Reading and further West with a change.
  • All terminals served.
  • Provides a freight route into the airport from the West.
  • Privately funded

This scheme also unlocks development of upmarket housing in Windsor.

Why Does Heathrow Need Better Rail Access?

Heathrow Airport is continuously expanding and needs better transport access.

To the man or woman in the Woking 4×4, the baggage handler in his clapped diesel Toyota and the myriad numbers of Air Cargo operators with their polluting trucks, that means better and cheaper parking and more comprehensive road networks at the Airport.

We are not talking about an American Airport with masses of space, but an airport with limited land surrounded by housing, office and commercial development.

It also has a massive non-aviation pollution footprint, caused by all the diesel vehicles serving the airport.

Surely, more and better electric trains and road vehicles into Heathrow should be part of the solution. Most politicians, trade union officials, businessmen and travellers, probably feel so.

The Airport Of The Future

In the modern world, an ideal airport should be designed so that.

  • All air-side vehicles serving the planes, runways and airport buildings, should be battery-powered or zero carbon.
  • All passengers and airport workers must arrive or leave the airport, by means of electric train, bus, tram or taxi.
  • All supplies and air cargo must arrive and leave the airport by means of electric train or truck.

Heathrow will have a large fight to get the Planning Permission for their new runway and expansion plans. But declaring the Airport to be electric vehicle only on the ground, could be a bold move, that could turn the minds of opposing residents, politicians and Local Authorities.

Electric Air-Side Vehicles

This is starting to happen, with even giant electric aircraft tugs for A380s now available.

Moving People To And From The Airport

Add up all the numbers of passengers and workers and there isn’t enough capacity at the preset time.

There needs to be the following.

  • More frequent and longer trains.
  • More platforms
  • Access to the West
  • Access to High Speed Two

HS4Air offered a different approach of a North-South railway through the Airport, which could be built without disturbing the existing rail network at Heathrow.

But it has been rejected.

HS4Air would also have allowed important local networks to be built onto Crossrail.

  • Extending Crossrail to Staines.
  • Adding the West London Orbital Railway to Old Oak Common.

I feel that combining the best bits of HS4Air, Heathrow Southern Railway and the West London Orbital Railway could be a good idea, to bring all those important workers to the Airport.

Moving Air Cargo And Supplies To And From The Airport

Some of the automated-logistics networks used by the likes of Amazon are incredibly impressive.

Could a massive logistics hub be built in the centre of the Airport?

  • Electric trains would arrive with pre-loaded containers of air cargo and supplies.
  • The containers would be automatically directed to the appropriate place on a network of tracks deep under the airport.
  • Containers would also travel in the reverse direction with inbound air cargo, returned empties and rubbish.

I’m sure something like this will happen and underneath the third runway is surely the place to build such a logistics hub.

My Views On Each Proposal

These are my views on each proposal are as follows.

Heathrow Southern Railway

This is probably the second largest and boldest of the four schemes.

It has the following advantages.

  • It gives good connections to large areas of South and South West London.
  • It connects to the two big rail hubs of Waterloo and Charing Cross.
  • It extends Heathrow Express from a short express airport service into a much-needed new commuter route between Surrey and Hampshire and London.
  • It extends Crossrail to Staines to create an important local link into the Airport for the workforce.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.
  • It could be built without affecting existing services.
  • It will probably be a  privately-funded scheme.

But there is a big disadvantage; there is no connection to Reading, Slough and the West.

HS4Air

This is probably the largest and boldest of the four schemes.

It has the following advantages.

  • It connects to High Speed 2 and the Great West Main Line.
  • It could be connected to Gatwick and High Speed One in the future.
  • It would be built mainly in tunnel under Heathrow Airport.
  • It proposes a North South station under Heathrow Airport, below existing rail links.
  • It would be able to handle full-size high speed trains.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.
  • It would fit in well with the development of a third runway and new terminals, as it will be well below in tunnel.
  • It could be built without affecting existing services.

But there are disadvantages

  • It will probably be a very expensive privately-funded scheme.
  • It does provide good connectivity to Slough, but doesn’t improve the connectivity to other areas, where workers at the Airport will live.

I think if this scheme is built, then the following two smaller schemes should be built as well.

  • West London Orbital Railway.
  • Crossrail extension to Staines.

These schemes would bring in Heathrow’s much-needed workers.

I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this scheme.

Western Rail Approach To Heathrow

It has the following advantages.

  • It should provide good connectivity to Reading, Slough and further West.
  • It wouldn’t be difficult to build.
  • It could connect to a freight logistics hub under the new third runway.

But there are disadvantages.

  • Except for Slough, it doesn’t connect to much affordable housing, where Heathrow’s massive workforce live.
  • It is Network Rail’s pet scheme.
  • Would it need to be government-funded?

As with HS4Air, I think if this scheme is built, then the following two smaller schemes should be built as well.

  • West London Orbital Railway.
  • Crossrail extension to Staines.

These schemes would bring in Heathrow’s much-needed workers.

Windsor Link Railway

This is very much a local scheme and doesn’t give enough capacity increase for the Airport.

But I don’t rule out in the future, a tunnel under Windsor connecting Slough and Staines to aid the development of the important town.

A Pragmatic Approach

Could a pragmatic approach be taken to give Heathrow, the world-class rail access it needs?

What About The Workers?

This may seem a strange place to start, but I believe that if Heathrow expands, the following will be true.

  • The airport will need large numbers of workers.
  • Not all jobs will be high salaries, so good access to areas of low-cost housing from the airport on a 24/7 basis will be needed.
  • If you work at the airport, then it’ll be the first place from where you want to fly on holiday.
  • Heathrow will not want workers to add to the Airport’s chronic, local pollution footprint.

Prime areas for the recruitment of airport workers will be Basingstoke, Bracknell, Reading, Slough, Staines and North West and South London.

All currently have bad rail connections to Heathrow.

To ease these journeys, the following local connections must be built.

Crossrail Extension from Heathrow Terminal 5 To Staines

In Heathrow Southern Railway’s Plans For Staines, I looked at this extension in detail and came to the conclusion that four trains per hour (tph) could run to and from Staines for Crossrail.

Although this extension came about because of the Heathrow Southern Railway proposal, I feel that it should be built whatever scheme is chosen.

  • It will add a capacity of up to 6,000 passengers per hour, between Staines and Heathrow, in both directions.
  • It will increase the capacity of Heathrow Terminal 5 station.
  • It will enable extra Crossrail services between Central London and Heathrow Terminal 5.

But the main reason is that it will create a new route between Staines and Abbey Wood via Old Oak Common (for High Speed Two) the West End, Farringdon ( for Thameslink), the City and Canary Wharf.

West London Orbital Railway

The West London Orbital Railway is planned to run in a circular manner around North West London.

I wrote about it in detail in New Railway Line For West London Proposed.

Two routes are proposed.

  • Brentford to West Hampstead Thameslink via Old Oak Common.
  • Kew Bridge to Brent Cross via Old Oak Common.

The routes would use the freight-only Dudding Hill Line.

Major costs would be.

  • Resignalling the route.
  • Up to half-a-dozen new or upgraded stations.
  • A small number of battery-electric Class 710 (?) trains.

Crossrail or High Speed Two it is not!

The railway will bring large numbers of travellers to Old Oak Common station, where Crossrail will take them to the Airport or Central London.

Windsor Link Railway

I said I was taking a pragmatic approach to rail access to Heathrow and the Windsor Link Railway build in conjunction with extending Crossrail to Staines could have several advantages.

  • Remove a lot of road traffic from the Centre of Windsor.
  • Create a rail service between Reading and Heathrow via Windsor and Slough.
  • A Park-and-Ride could be built South of Slough by the M4.
  • Unlock land for development in Windsor.
  • One tunnelling project could be used to access Heathrow Terminal 5 station.

The route could be run with a frequency of four tph, using Crossrail trains.

Perhaps it should even be part of Crossrail?

What About The Air Cargo And Supplies?

 

 

 

 

 

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Irony Of Brexit

According to Wikipedia, the third of Newton’s Laws of Motion, states this.

When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.

It doesn’t just apply to mechanics, but to life in general.

If a Government introduces a policy that the electorate don’t like, then the electorate reacts.

We have had marches against the Poll Tax, the War in Iraq and Universal Credit in recent decades.

At least in the UK, protests don’t get as violent as they do in some countries like France.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a number of illegal immigrants arrive in this country in small boats sailing across the English Channel.

People aren’t stupid and these mainly Iranian nationals, are thinking that after the March 2019, it will be more or less impossible to get into the UK.

So their reaction is to cross the Channel now!

The smugglers react in the obvious way, by buying boats capable of making the journey.

In The Times today, there is an news story about an English smuggler buying a boat from a Frenchman called Pierre.

  • All the legal details are carried out.
  • Money changed hands (probably literally!)
  • The Englishman removed the boat.

The Englishman also said he’d come back later for the trailer, but never did. Surprise Surprise! He wouldn’t need it would he!

We have the irony, that the electorate of the UK voted for Brexit partly to keep foreigners and especially those not like them out of the UK.

But because of the laws of action and reaction, they will actually increase the number of immigrants, as we’re seeing in the Channel.

 

December 29, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

Crossrail’s Latest Issues Begs The Question, How Do We Judge Success In Transport Megaprojects?

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

The article makes some interesting points about transport megaprojects. It is definitely a must-read.

As an example of a megaproject that went wrong, it cites the Channel Tunnel, which exceeded its budget by 80%, required refinancing and then Eurostar only carried a third of forecast traffic.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled How Eurotunnel Went So Wrong, gives the full story of the Channel Tunnel finances.

So should it now be closed? Obviously not, as the alternatives of driving and flying would create a lot more unwanted carbon dioxide and would need more motorways and airports.

The benefits of building Crossrail, such as increasing the capacity of London’s transport system, reducing congestion in Central London and giving better access to Canary Wharf, East London, Heathrow, The City and West London will just come in a year or so later.

The article also says that according to Oxford professor; Bent Flyvbjerg, Crossrail is suffering a 7% cost overrun, where the average for rail projects is 45%.

In my view Crossrail has suffered from a number of problems that together have caused the cost and time overruns.

  • Not enough time was built into the schedule to test the sophisticated trains with their three signalling systems.
  • No dedicated Crossrail test track was created, so the trains could be fully tested.
  • An unfortunate transformer explosion, was a big cause of delay in testing systems.
  • There were not enough workers to finish the project.
  • Central London is awash with large projects, some of which became viable because of Crossrail, that are sucking up masses of workers.
  • Brexit uncertainty has meant that a lot of EU workers have gone back to Europe to build projects nearer their homes.

Where was the European project supremo, who added up all the needs of these European megaprojects, to make sure, we had enough resources to build all of them on time?

 

December 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas Card Messages

I received a card with a stylised dove of peace on the front. Underneath were the words.

All is Calm

Inside the sender had added.

The makers of this card clearly hadn’t heard about Brexit!

You wouldn’t want to send it to a friend or relative in France either!

There are some very inappropriate cards in shops.

 

December 13, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing For A No-Deal Brexit

I am doing a few things to make sure, that I survive a no-deal Brexit, as unscathed as possible.

Savings

I keep all of my spare cash in Zopa, moving it in and out as required. Effectively for about seven or eight years now, I have used the first peer-to-peer lender as a high-interest, thirty-day access deposit account.

It has probably paid around five percent before tax in that time and it has safely ridden the peaks and troughs of governments and financial instability.

Today, I calculated how much cash, I need in my current account to see me through to end of the year, and the spare money was tranferred to Zopa. It was a fast painless transaction and now it is available to lend to Zopa’s customers.

Warfarin

Warfarin stops me having another stroke.

As it only comes from Eastbourne, I suspect supply of this comment drug.

But I have enough to last me to until Summer 2019.

INR Testing

I test my own INR, which determines the Warfarin dose.

Today, I ordered enough test strips to get me through to Summer 2019.

Beer

Every time, I go walking around London, I take a large bag, that can hold up to eight bottles of my favourite beer from Marks and Spencer.

Supplies from Adnams in Suffolk seem good at the present and I usually liberate a few from a boring life on the shelves on every trip.

As with other products, I aim to have enough to last me through to Summer 2019, at a rate of three a day.

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Finance, World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Is Spain Looking Both Ways On Brexit?

This article on the BBC is entitled Spain Brexit: PM Sánchez Threatens To Vote No Over Gibraltar.

The title says it all.

On the other hand, Spanish rail companies seem to be very keen to invest in the UK and also create new and innovative trains for the British market.

  • Amey, which is a subsidiary of the Spanish public company Ferrovial is heavily involved in big projects all over the UK, including the South Wales Metro.
  • The train builder; CAF, is supplying lots of trains and coaches for UK operators and building a factory at Newport in South Wales.
  • Another train builder; Talgo, is on the short list to build the trains for High Speed Two and is proposing to open a factory at Longannet in Scotland and a research centre at Chesterfield

It does appear, that big Spanish companies see the UK as a place to do business.

In connection with the Longannet factory, there is a feature article about the factory in Issue 866 of Rail Magazine.

This is the last paragraph.

As for Brexit, which is known to be a concern for other firms, Talgo said in a statement that its plans were “Brexit-free”, claiming there is a huge potential UK market as well as export opportunities.

The article also says that Talgo need more manufacturing capacity and the brownfield Longannet site, with its space and excellent access by rail and sea, fits their needs.

I also suspect that manufacturing in Scotland will help them secure sales in important English-speaking markets for their innovative high speed trains.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crystal Balls For Brexit

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Have you noticed how it is almost impossible to have a sensible debate on the impacts of Brexit? The rules seem to be: take a firm, preferably dogmatic, position; talk about how history supports that position; refuse to entertain dissent; retreat to meet likeminded people; remain strangely bemused by the question, ‘what will happen next?

The article then goes on to give the author’s view on what Brexit will mean for the rail industry.

He comes to the following conclusion.

Brexit will bring costs, uncertainty, and a one-off opportunity to refresh our industry, reaching further into the communities that rail serves. Let’s grab it.

The article is well worth a detailed read.

 

November 6, 2018 Posted by | Business, Transport | | Leave a comment