The Anonymous Widower

Crossrail: Report Finds Not Enough Money To Finish Project

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

The cost of completing Crossrail exceeds available funding, the government spending watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the cost of the new rail link will be between £30m and £218m above the current funding.

After such a good start with the tunneling and surface line going well, how did we get here?

My main business for nearly forty years was writing project management software and that gave me a deep insight into the dynamics and mathematics of large projects.

The software, I created in the 1970s; Artemis was deeply involved in the most important project of the time; North Sea Oil.

But then more by luck, than any judgement on my part, it was well suited to solving the management problems of North Sea Oil.

The software ran on a small Hewlett-Packard mini-computer with an attached display and a printer, whose footprint, gave Artemis an advantage over competitors who needed a mainframe, for which there was no office space in Aberdeen.

I had first got involved in scheduling resources at ICI about five years earlier and because from previous experience I knew resources would be critical, I gave the program extension resource aggregation and scheduling capabilities.

I have been told that the latter proved invaluable in successfully developing North Sea Oil. People may have been flattering me, but I do know that Shell used to ensure that all their suppliers used Artemis, so they could check easily if they were being told the truth.

I suspect that Shell and others used the aggregation capability to see that they weren’t overloading the pool of labour available.

Artemis definitely proved itself capable of handling the various projects in the North Sea.

We have now moved on forty years, but has project management moved on to cope with the advances in technology of the modern world?

As with North Sea Oil in Aberdeen, in the 1970s, Crossrail and other large projects like Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport will always have a need for large numbers of resources, be they men, materiel or machines.

I have some questions.

  • Do all contractors working on Crossrail use the same software?
  • Does Crossrail have the right to inspect the contractors project management systems?
  • Is the upward reporting what it needs to be?
  • Does the software the contractors use, have an aggregation capability?
  • Do Crossrail track and predict the resources needed?

Someone I respect told me, that a lot of modern project management software doesn’t even have an aggregation capability- Enough said!

I must admit, aggregation and scheduling software is difficult to write, so it might be easier to cut it out and let your clients muddle through!

Worsening The Resource Problem

Crossrail,the Greater London Authority and the Boroughs should have been monitoring this growing resource problem, but I doubt they were in anything other than a perfunctory way!

Instead the politicians were giving planning permission to anybody with money, who wanted to build a shiny new development close to a station.

These project would need more men, materiel or machines.

As many of these new developments are backed by companies or funds with bottomless pockets to get their developments finished they are prepared to pay more for their labour.

So labour has been deserting Crossrail in droves, thus further delaying the project.

Senior politicians in the Greater London Authority and the boroughs should accept some responsibility for Crossrail’s delay.

They didn’t need to withhold the planning permission, just say that construction could’t commence until an appropriate phase of Crossrail was open.

In some parts of the world, brown envelopes will have changed hands, but it would be nice to know how many mayors and senior politicians have had holidays in places, they would not normally visit.

Senior project managers tell me, that they would not be surprised if developments along Crossrail had delayed the project.

The Covid Problem

No-one saw Covid coming, except possibly the Chinese.

But good project management is all about negotiating the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

There is the story of the miniMetro production line.

The first body shells coming out of the automated welder were crooked and it turned out that the machine had hit a motorway bridge in Germany. But by good project management using Artemis, British Leyland engineers were able to get the second line working before the first and the car was launched on time.

With Covid, the Mayor shut construction, and it was some months before it restarted again.

I am certain, that with good project management we could have done better.

Covid is also a good excuse for lateness.

On the other hand good project management got the vaccines developed, manufactured and delivered into arms.

Covid also blew a big hole in Transport for London’s finances.

But then so did Sadiq Khan’s Fare Freeze, that brought him to office.

Could Crossrail Have Part-Opened Earlier?

I often ponder this and others ask me if it would be possible.

The Victoria Line was built with crossovers and it was able to open in phases.

Crossrail has crossovers in the following places.

  • Either side of Custom House station
  • To the West of Whitechapel station
  • Between Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations

Note.

  1. It doesn’t appear to have been built for part opening.
  2. From media reports, it appears Whitechapel station is the basket case in the East.

The answer is probably that Crossrail can’t be part-opened, but there are reasons, why it could be opened earlier.

  • To generate a small amount of revenue.
  • To give travellers and Londoners in general a lift.

The only practical service would be a few trains turning at Farringdon.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Brutal Third Wave Or Harmless Ripple? The Scientists Aren’t Yet Sure

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

The scientists nay not be sure, whether with two jabs, you are safe from the Indian or Delta variant.

But how about me?

  • I have had my two AstraZeneca jabs.
  • I am also coeliac and have stuck tightly to my long-term gluten-free diet.
  • Despite possibly being challenged by a group of Chinese students, that I wrote about in Did I Have A Close Brush With Covid-19?, I have not knowingly had the covids.
  • I’ve only had one test for the virus and that was negative.

For various reasons, I believe that coeliacs on a long-term gluten-free diet have a very strong immune system, that could help to protect them from the covids.

  • Personally, my health was transformed, when I went gluten-free in 1997.
  • I am sure, my immune system gave the first dose of the vaccine a good kicking.
  • I rarely, suffer from colds and sniffles, although I do have flu jabs.
  • Research by Joe West at Nottingham University, has shown that as a group, we’re 25 % less likely to suffer from cancer.

So could these points prove my hypothesis?

In addition, I ask people, if they have any coeliac friends. These personal tales have yet to reveal any coeliacs on long-term gluten-free diets, who’ve had a serious dose of the covids.

I’ve also talked to intensive care doctors, who have said they can’t remember caring for a coeliac with a serious dose of the covids.

So I shall be Keeping Calm And Carrying On!

 

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

A Trip To Corby

I took these pictures on a trip to Corby this morning.

These are my thoughts.

Trains To And From Corby

I got a Class 222 train to Corby and an eight-car Class 360 train back.

Brent Cross West Station

There was a lot of constructruction activity at the new Brent Cross West station.

Luton Airport Parkway Station

The extensions to Luton Airport Parkway station look to be comprehensive, with several escalators.

The Luton DART connection to Luton Airport appears to be under test, so should open in 2022.

But will there be any air passengers to use it?

I last used it in 2008, when I went to see England play in Belarus.

Electrification North Of Bedford

The electrification North of Bedford station is obviously complete on the slow lines, but on the fast lines, as the pictures show, the gantries are all erected, but there are still wires to be installed.

But as the Class 810 trains won’t be in service until 2023, there’s still a bit of time.

The gantries certainly look sturdy, as this picture shows.

They’re certainly built for 125 mph, but as the Class 810 trains will be capable of 140 mph with full digital in-cab signalling, I would hope that the electrification has been installed to that standard. Or at least to a standard, that can be easily upgraded!

Corby Station

Corby station has been finished to a single-platform station, which is able to accept a twelve-car Class 360 train.

This should be adequate for the current half-hourly service, as a single platform can handle a least four trains per hour (tph) and several around the country regularly do.

Both tracks through the station are electrified and I suspect with a second platform bridge, both could be used by electric trains to create a two-platform station.

But there would appear to be no need at the moment.

Even, if it were to be decided to extend one tph to Oakham and Melton Mowbray stations, this could probably be accommodated on the single-platform.

Network Rail seem to have already installed a crossover South of Corby station, so that trains can use the single platform.

Serving Oakham And Melton Mowbray

I discussed this extension in detail in Abellio’s Plans For London And Melton Mowbray Via Corby And Oakham.

In the related post, I said this.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These are mentioned for services to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.

    • After electrification of the Corby route there will continue to be direct service each way between London and Oakham and Melton Mowbray once each weekday, via Corby.
    • This will be operated with brand new 125mph trains when these are introduced from April 2022.

This seems to be a very acceptable minimum position.

When my Class 222 train arrived in Corby at 1154, it waited a couple of minutes then took off to the North.

I then took the next train to London, which was an eight-car Class 360 train which formed the 1211 service back to St. Pancras.

Meanwhile the Class 222 train, that I’d arrived on did a reverse in the Corby North Run Around Loop finally arriving back in Corby at 1345. The train had taken one hour and forty-nine minutes to return to Corby.

It might be just coincidence, but are East Midlands Railway doing timing tests to see if services can be extended to Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

It should be noted that service times North of Corby are as follows.

  • Corby and Oakham – 19 mins – 14.3 miles
  • Corby and Melton Mowbray – 31 mins – 25.7 miles
  • Melton Mowbray and Leicester – 17 mins – 12.8 miles (estimate) – CrossCountry service

My logic goes like this.

  • It looks to me that it would not be unreasonable that a Class 222 train could run between Corby and Leicester in forty-eight minutes.
  • Double that and you get one hour and thirty eight minutes, for a journey from Corby to Leicester and back.
  • Subtract that time from the one hour and forty-nine minutes that my train took to reverse and there is eleven minutes for a turnback at Leicester station.
  • Eleven minutes would certainly be long enough to tidy a train and for the crew to change ends.

I also believe that the 35.8 miles would be possible for a Class 810 train fitted with one or more battery power-packs instead of a similar number of the four diesel engines.

So are East Midlands Railway doing tests to find the most efficient way to serve Oakham And Melton Mowbray?

On The Corby Branch

I travelled North on a Class 222 diesel train and South on an electric Class 360 train.

On the Corby branch, I was monitoring the train speed on an app on my phone and both trains travelled at around 90 mph for most of the way.

There were sections at up to 100 mph and the track was generally smooth.

I was left with the impression, that trains might be able to go faster on the branch.

Average speeds for the 2.5 miles of the branch were as follows according to these timings from realtimetrains.

  • Class 222 train – Arriving – 5.25 mins – 28.6 mph
  • Class 222 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph
  • Class 360 train – Arriving – 7.5 mins – 20 mph
  • Class 360 train – Leaving – 5 mins – 30 mph

It doesn’t appear that there are much difference in the timings, although it might be said, that the electric approach is more cautious.

The Class 360 Trains

The Class 360 trains have not been refurbished yet although as my pictures show, some have been given a new livery.

In Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?, I said this about the train refurbishment.

This page on the Department for Transport web site is an interactive map of the Abellio’s promises for East Midlands Railway.

These features are mentioned for Midland Main Line services to Corby.

    • Increased capacity
    • Twelve-car trains in the Peak.
    • More reliable service
    • Improved comfort
    • Passenger information system
    • Free on-board Wi-Fi
    • At-seat power sockets
    • USB points
    • Air conditioning
    • Tables at all seats
    • Increased luggage space
    • On-board cycle storage

What more could passengers want?

It certainly hasn’t happened in full.

I did ask a steward, when the new interiors will be installed and he said they were running late because of the pandemic.

Performance Of The Class 360 Trains

I used my app to follow the speed of the Class 360 train, that brought me back to London.

  • The train hit a maximum speed of about 105 mph.
  • The train arrived in London a minute late.

I feel that as the drivers get used to their new charges, they will match the timetable.

Conclusion

I have a feeling that in a couple of years, these trains will fulfil Abellio’s promises.

May 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My INR Readings Before And After My Second AstraZeneca Jab

I am on long-term Warfarin after a serious stroke.

I also measure my own INR using a simple hand-held meter.

So with all the fuss about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, I thought I’d do an experiment around my second dose of the vaccine.

I maintained a constant Warin dose of 3.5 mg, which is the daily dose, I have agreed with my GP.

I maintained a reasonably constant diet. That is fairly easy if you’re coeliac and on a long-term gluten-free diet, as I am.

measured my INR every morning.

These are my results.

  • April 12th – 2.3
  • April 13th – 2.8
  • April 14th – 2.8
  • April 15th – 2.9
  • April 16th – 2.5
  • April 17th – 2.3
  • April 18th – 2.3
  • April 19th – 2.4 – 2nd Jab
  • April 20th – 2.2
  • April 21st – 2.2
  • April 22nd – 2.6
  • April 23rd – 2.5
  • April 24th – 2.4
  • April 25th – 2.7
  • April 26th – 3.0
  • April 27th – 2.7
  • April 28th – 2,5
  • April 29th – 3.0
  • April 30th – 3.1
  • May 1st – 2.9
  • May 2nd – No Data
  • May 3rd – 2.8

It would appear that the results have been less stable since the second jab.

I am a Control Engineer with a B. Eng. from Liverpool University and I’m not surprised at these results.

It’s just like the bounce you get when the wheel of your car hits a pothole.

I would suggest that more research needs to be done.

May 3, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Innovation In Action

I once broke an expensive allow wheel and tyre on one of Suffolk’s many potholes many years ago.

But now it appears those clever people from JCB have developed a quick fix!

|Except that it’s no bodged job.

Let’s all drink to innovation!

As that will get us out of the hole, that the covids have dug for us!

May 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Oxygen Supplies In Disaster Management

The title of this post is the same as this peer-reviewed paper on PubMed.

This is the Abstract.

Mass casualty events and disasters, both natural and human-generated, occur frequently around the world and can generate scores of injured or ill victims in need of resources. Of the available medical supplies, oxygen remains the critical consumable resource in disaster management. Strategic management of oxygen supplies in disaster scenarios remains a priority. Hospitals have large supplies of liquid oxygen and a supply of compressed gas oxygen cylinders that allow several days of reserve, but a large influx of patients from a disaster can strain these resources. Most backup liquid oxygen supplies are attached to the main liquid system and supply line. In the event of damage to the main system, the reserve supply is rendered useless. The Strategic National Stockpile supplies medications, medical supplies, and equipment to disaster areas, but it does not supply oxygen. Contracted vendors can deliver oxygen to alternate care facilities in disaster areas, in the form of concentrators, compressed gas cylinders, and liquid oxygen. Planning for oxygen needs following a disaster still presents a substantial challenge, but alternate care facilities have proven to be valuable in relieving pressure from the mass influx of patients into hospitals, especially for those on home oxygen who require only an electrical source to power their oxygen concentrator.

The Covid-19 situation in India, may be a total different type of disaster, but what is happening in the country is having the same outcome – A serious lack of medical oxygen!

It should not be forgotten, that we nearly had serious oxygen problems last year in the UK.

A Possible Solution

I feel we need to develop a reliable oxygen system that can supply large amounts of medical grade oxygen, which can be delivered quickly and easily to site.

Could The System Be Electrolyser-Based?

I feel that this could be an a possibility.

  • Electrolysers need just a water and electricity supply.
  • They produce both hydrogen and oxygen.
  • If the hydrogen isn’t wanted it can be added to the gas main.

Electrolysers may offer size, safety, weight and other advantages in difficult environments.

The System Must Be Air-Transportable

This would be absolutely essential amd as the equipment might be flying into a serious disaster, surely it would be preferable if it could be fitted into a Hercules.

Conclusion

As I write this post, this article on the BBC has just been published, which is entitled UK Sends Supplies To India Amid Record Virus Surge.

This is an extract.

The assistance package includes 495 oxygen concentrators – which extract oxygen from the air to give to patients – as well as ventilators.

India is seeing thousands of deaths a day amid oxygen shortages.

Will that be enough?

We certainly must be as well-prepared as we can.

April 25, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

Blood Clot Risk Eight Times Higher From Covid Than AstraZeneca Vaccine, Study Finds

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The risk of a rare brain clot from coronavirus is approximately eight times greater the risk presented by the AstraZeneca jab, a University of Oxford study has found.

The research, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, and compared blood clot rates among 500,000 coronavirus patients with data from the roll-out of 34 million vaccine doses across Europe.

I will certainly be having my second AstraZeneca jab next Monday.

This press release on the Astra-Zeneca web site is entitled Oxford Phase III trials interim analysis results published in The Lancet.

This is an extract.

In addition to the Oxford led programme, AstraZeneca is conducting a large study in the US and globally. In total, Oxford University and AstraZeneca expect to enrol more than 60,000 participants globally.

The Telegraph article also says this.

The incidence of rates for cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) – a rare blood clot on the brain – is 39 per million coronavirus patients, while it is five per million recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Note that five per million is 0.3 per 60,000.

Any participant, who got a blood clot in the AstraZeneca Phase III trial would have been a very unlucky person.

Those who say, that the AstraZeneca vaccine was rushed and that many more people should participated in the trials may have a point.

But countering that is my belief that data analysis has improved so much in the last twenty years that all the data on all the vaccines has been so thoroughly analysed by some of the best data analysts and analytic software, that most more common problems have been identified.

 

 

April 15, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 8 Comments

Covid-19, Coeliac Disease And Budesonide

I am coeliac and whenever a drug is shown to have positive effects against the Covids, I type its name into Dr. Google with coeliac disease.

With dexamethasone, I found it is used in some countries. as an alternative to a gluten-free diet.

Typically, these countries appear to be one with a Pop-A-Pill-For-Everything habit.

Budesonide appears to be used for Crohn’s disease, which is associated medically with coeliac disease.

As we keep hearing that the best way to fight the covids is with your immune system and coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease, is enough research being done as to the role o undiagnosed coeliac disease in this pandemic?

Coeliac UK are just advising Keep Calm and Carry On with the gluten-free diet!

April 13, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Have I Got Thrombophilia?

I was chatting on-line on The Times last night with a guy or even a girl, as their nick didn’t indicate gender.

I had said that a Danish study had shown that there were links between coeliac disease and blood clots. I wrote about this study in A Danish Study On Links Between Coeliac Disease And Blood Clots. Two of my on-line friends have since responded to that post with stories of coeliacs and blood-clots.

I got this reply from the person, I was chatting with.

There are some studies linking coeliac condition and the Factor V Leiden thrombophilia mutation. Several members of my family have (or had, since some have passed away) both conditions. I have the Factor V Leiden, as have both of my children. I do a lot of family history and have traced the Leiden mutation through triangulation of DNA matches and shared chromosome matches (via Family Tree DNA which goes into such detail) and I believe this is pointing to my Swedish ancestry.

I replied  and asked if the person had coeliac disease.

This was the reply.

I had some tests and a biopsy about 30 years ago to see if I had inherited the coeliac condition which had cut a swathe through my mother’s side of the family. It was negative, but I do suspect that I may have passed it on to my son. He’s not keen on getting tested although he did get a Leiden Factor V test and he is heterozygous for that. My mother, aunt, grandmother and cousins have coeliac and Leiden. Some have both and some have one or the other.

My mother was young enough to get proper advice, but my grandmother had a terrible time. She just literally faded away. Her treatment was eating raw liver and having injections of liver which left lumps under her skin. Awful.

I then looked up thrombophilia on Wikipedia. The picture of a red leg in the entry could have been of me, except that with me, It’s the other leg.

The NHS web site also gives useful information.

I need to see an expert urgently!

But at least, I’m already on the likely medication – Warfarin.

So it’s hopefully just a case of keep taking the tablets.

I must admit, I’m slightly annoyed with the medics. I have never been told, that there is a link between coeliac disease and blood clots, when evidence from the Danish peer-reviewed study and people I’ve met on-line clearly shows there is a link!

Given, all the arguments about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, more research needs to be done.

April 3, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blood Clots In Young German Ladies After AstraZeneca Vaccine

There have been various reports that young ladies in Germany have suffered blood clots after having the AstraZeneca vaccine.

I am coeliac on a long-term gluten-free diet.

The UK, Ireland and Italy are generally fairly good at identifying coeliacs, as they suffer from so many side effects, one of which is strokes.

I had a stroke and a cardiologist thought it could have been because I wasn’t diagnosed until fifty, so my diet damaged my heart muscle causing atrial fibrillation.

My father, who I now believe was coeliac, died of a series of strokes.

I do wonder, if Germany doesn’t look for coeliacs, as they should, partly because it is a Jewish disease in their minds. Certainly finding gluten-free food in Germany can sometimes be difficult.

It should also be noted that the NHS says that there are three times as many coeliacs who are female.

Conclusion

This adds to the circumstantial evidence that coeliac disease is the alligator in the swamp of Covid-19.

 

March 31, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 2 Comments