The Anonymous Widower

1-in-11,000 Chance Of Contracting COVID-19 On Trains

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

That looks like a chance I’ll take!

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , | 1 Comment

Stevenage Station’s New Fifth Platform Opened A Year Early

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new £40 million platform and track at Stevenage station has been completed more than a year ahead of schedule.

Yesterday, it appears that the first scheduled train left Stevenage for Moorgate at 0502.

Will This Be Good For Travellers?

A few thoughts!

Stevenage Hospital

One of my old school friends lives in Cuffley. From that part of Hertfordshire, the hospital, patients use is in Stevenage. He can drive, but not everybody can!

LNER

Currently, LNER run an hourly service between Stevenage and Leeds, with an hourly service between Stevenage and Lincoln or York via Newark.

North From Enfield, Palmers Green, Southgate, Winchmore Hill and Wood Green

If you live in Enfield or the old London boroughs of Southgate or Wood Green, it could be easier to pick up trains for the North from Stevenage, rather than Kings Cross.

Not Bad For Me Too!

Even, where I live now, which is a mile or so East of Highbury & Islington station, if the timing is right, I can walk or get a bus for four stops to Essex Road station and get a train to Stevenage and then change for Leeds and the North.

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains will be starting a fast, low-cost London Kings Cross and Edinburgh service, which will call at Stevenage.

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central Trains are currently shut down because of COVID-19, but will they call at Stevenage station, when they restart?

Hull Trains

Some Hull Trains services between London Kings Cross and Hull, call at Stevenage.

Hitachi’s Class 80x Trains

LNER, East Coast Trains and Hull Trains, all run versions of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains or similar.

These trains are built for performance and an extra stop at Stevenage station can probably be incorporated in the timetable without any penalty.

So will we see more trains stopping at Stevenage, if the train operators think it will be worthwhile?

Could Some Services From The North Terminate At Stevenage?

The Digswell Viaduct and the double-track section through Welwyn North station are the major bottleneck on the East Coast Main Line.

But a train returning North at Stevenage wouldn’t go over the viaduct.

Stevenage already has or could have excellent connections to the following.

  • Cambridge, Stansted Airport and East Anglia
  • Moorgate and the City of London and Crossrail.
  • North East London

If keen pricing can encourage travellers to use Stevenage instead of Kings Cross, I can see operators wanting to run extra services, that could start at Stevenage.

I can also see Greater Anglia getting in on the act.

Could Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge service be extended to Stevenage via the planned Cambridge South and Royston stations?

Could the service be timed to offer cross-platform interchange with their Norwich and Stansted Airport, at Cambridge South station?

Four important extra services would be created with a step-free interchange.

  • Ipswich and Stansted Airport – 106 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station
  • Ipswich and Stevenage – 115 minutes – New direct service
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 107 minutes – Existing service
  • Norwich and Stevenage – 116 minutes – Step-free walk across at Cambridge South station.

A large number East Anglian rail journeys would be simpler.

Car Parking

Will there be enough car parking at Stevenage station?

I suppose, it would be possible to build a Stevenage Parkway station between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone stations.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note, that the railway seems to mark the development limit for the town.

The high performance of the Class 717 trains, would probably mean, that there would be no lengthened journey times.

Conclusion

This project appears to have been well-thought through!

 

 

August 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Scaled Back Hajj Pilgrimage Due To Start In Saudi Arabia

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

Quite frankly, I was very surprised, when I heard this news on the BBC.

I thought, the Hajj would have been cancelled and not just scaled back.

In the past, I have had vicars as friends and I have talked to devout Orthodox Jews, and we have discussed serious moral dilemmas.

I can remember some from both groups saying, that your health always comes first.

In the current pandemic, the Church of England and prominent Jews like the Chief Rabbi have behaved with ultra-caution.

So where is this caution from the Muslim religious leaders?

I hope the Government and other political leaders, are giving them the truth, as they are endangering us all!

 

July 29, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments

The Spanish COVID-19 Outbreak Must Be Serious

I am watching BBC Breakfast and they are reporting the new outbreaks of COVID-19 in Spain.

It must be serious, as the BBC featured an interview with the Chief Medical Enforcer; Jonathan Van-Tam.

This doctor of Vietnamese heritage, who was raised in Boston in Lincolnshire, has surely been one of the heroes and most trusted voices in the fight against the pandemic.

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | 3 Comments

Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?

The Wikipedia entry for Whac-a-Mole, says this about the colloquial use of the name of an arcade game.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson based the UK’s COVID-19 strategy on the game.

Because of the high number of diagnosed coeliacs in the Cambridge area, I believe that I was diagnosed to be coeliac, by possible use of a Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

  • I was suffering from low B12 levels and my GP sent me to the hospital to see a consultant.
  • It was only a quick visit and all I remember, is the speed with which the nurse took my blood.
  • A couple of days later, I received a letter from the hospital, saying it was likely I was a coeliac and it would be confirmed by an endoscopy.
  • A point to note, is that I had my endoscopy with just a throat spray and this must have increased the efficiency and throughput and reduced the  cost of the procedure.

The only way, I could have been diagnosed so quickly would have been through an analysis of my genes and blood. But I was never told, what method was used.

I have a few further thoughts.

My Health Since Diagnosis

It has undoubtedly improved.

Cancer And Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet

Joe West of Nottingham University has shown, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25% lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

That is certainly a collateral benefit of being a coeliac. But is it being a coeliac or the diet?

I’m no medic, but could the reason be, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system?

Coeliac Disease Is A Many-Headed Hydra

I have heard a doctor describe coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity as a many-headed hydra, as it can turn up in so many other illnesses.

Type “coeliac disease many-headed hydra” into Google and this article on the NCBI , which is entitled Gluten Sensitivity: A Many Headed Hydra, is the first of many.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Heightened responsiveness to gluten is not confined to the gut

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac, who had a poor diet consisting mostly of Subways, cigarettes and high-strength cannabis. He died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer.

Did George have a poor immune system, which was useless at fighting the cancer?

Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease In The Over-Sixty-Fives

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I used data from Age UK and Coeliac UK to estimate the number of coeliacs in the UK over the age of sixty-five. I said this.

Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK. If 1-in-100 in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 coeliacs over 65.

But some research shows that the number of coeliacs can be as high as 1-in-50.

If that 120,000 were all diagnosed, I would have several coeliacs amongst my over-65 friends. I have just one and she is self-diagnosed.

Are all these undiagnosed coeliacs out there, easy targets for diseases like cancer and COVID-19?

The Ease Of Testing For Coeliac Disease

I was worried that my granddaughter was coeliac and I asked my GP, how difficult a test is to perform.

He said, that a genetic test is usually quick and correct and only a few borderline cases need to be referred to a consultant.

Diagnosis has moved on a lot in twenty years.

Cambridge, Oxford and Covid-19

Six weeks ago I wrote Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19, to try to find out why the number of Covid-19 cases are so much lower in Cambridge than Oxford.

Checking today, the rate of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is as follows.

  • Cambridge 336.6
  • Oxford 449

So why the difference?

In the related post, this was my explanation.

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

It sounds a long shot, but it could be a vindication of a possible Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrooke’s in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

Conclusion

I think the NHS should seriously look at a Whack-a-Coeliac problem!

  • The health of a large number of people would improve.
  • There would be less cancer in the UK.
  • A better combined National Immune System might help in our fight against the next virus to follow COVID-19.

It would be a very simple testing program, that would be mainly in the hands of the GPs.

 

 

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Japan A ‘Very Interesting Market’ For Gore Street As It Becomes An ‘Enabler’ Of JXTG’s Transition

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Solar Power Portal.

This is the introductory paragraph.

London Stock Exchange-listed energy storage fund Gore Street has outlined how it sees Japan as a “very interesting market” following its investment from JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation.

I like Gore Street’s philosophy and its execution.

I am not an investor and probably never will be, but they seem to be based on sound principles and do their modelling well. I’ve built enough large financial models to know a good one from its results.

Gore Street is normally investing in lithium-ion batteries.

  • These batteries now have a predictable reliability profile and I suspect cash-flow from owning a battery is fairly predictable.
  • The control and monitoring software will get better as time goes by and these batteries will probably update themselves automatically.
  • They probably aren’t that affected by COVID-19, as lockdown still needs energy to be balanced and these batteries are probably performing as normal.
  • The heat of the last few weeks probably caused more grief than COVID-19.
  • If a site visit is necessary, they can probably be done with one man in a van with a key to the security system. So maintenance is probably easy to do, whilst maintaining social distance.

I also liked this paragraph from the article.

, Gore Street Capital CEO, Alex O’Cinneide, said that the fact that the deregulation of the Japanese market over the next few years makes it of interest to the company, alongside it having the same characteristics of the UK in terms of the decommissioning of coal, nuclear and gas and increasing levels of renewables.

Could Gore Street Energy Fund, be a safe investment for today’s difficult times?

 

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance, Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Coeliac Disease: Can We Avert The Impending Epidemic In India?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Indian Journal Of Research Medicine.

With the high levels of COVID-19 in Leicester and an Indian population who make up 28.3 % of the population of the city, I was searching the internet to see if there was any connection between those of Indian heritage and coeliac disease.

I know you should not try to prove a theory. But as a coeliac, I’m very interested to see how the millions of diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet like me, are faring in this pandemic.

These are some extracts from the article.

Prevalence Of Coeliac Disease In Northern India

Coeliac disease was recognized in northern India, primarily in children, since the 1960s. A community-based study in Ludhiana that involved a step-wise approach to case detection and diagnosis estimated that celiac disease prevalence in this city was at least 1 in 310 individuals. Hospital-based studies examining a general paediatric patient population suggest a prevalence of 1 per cent.

One per cent is a high figure.

Diet And Coeliac Disease

The other variable is that cereal consumption patterns are very different between north and south India, although there has been a recent change in these patterns particularly in urban areas. In south India, rice is the primary cereal consumed in the diet. In the Indian sub-continent, wheat consumption is high in Pakistan and in the States of north India, which also constitute the coeliac belt of India.

It’s fascinating how too parts of the same country can be so different.

Introducing Babies To Gluten

The time of first exposure to wheat influences the development of celiac disease. In countries such as Finland, Estonia, and Denmark, characterized by low gluten consumption in infancy, celiac disease prevalence is much lower than in Sweden where gluten consumption is high in infancy. A natural experiment occurred in Sweden about two decades ago when national recommendations were made to introduce wheat into the diet after cessation of breast feeding at six months. This change was coupled with increased wheat gluten consumption through infant feeds. Together these measures resulted in a two-fold increase in incidence of celiac disease in Sweden, which was attributed to introduction of wheat into the diet after cessation of breast feeding. In 1996 this recommendation was changed to introduce gluten in gradually increasing amounts while the infant was still being breast fed. This led to a dramatic decrease in celiac disease incidence.

We used a Baby Mouli with our three and they all got what we ate, through a sieve.

All Wheats Are Not Equal

The other dimension to this problem is that not all wheat is alike when it comes to inducing celiac disease. The ancient or diploid wheats (e.g. Triticum monococcum) are poorly antigenic, while the modern hexaploid wheats e.g. Triticum aestivum) have highly antigenic glutens, more capable of inducing celiac disease in India, for centuries, grew diploid and later tetraploid wheat which is less antigenic, while hexaploid wheat used in making bread is recently introduced. Thus a change back to older varieties of wheat may have public health consequences.

I’ve read somewhere before that high-gluten wheats could have been the reason that bubonic plague came back.

Public Health Recommendations

Public health authorities may well want to examine both these avenues, i.e. infant feeding recommendations and wheat varieties cultivated in the country, for opportunities to avert the epidemic of celiac disease which is impending in our country.

I’ll agree with that! And the recommendations should be carried forward in the UK.

Conclusion

I have found this medical paper fascinating.

I can’t resist looking up the rates of confirmed cases in the countries mentioned.

  • Denmark 12751 – 6.80 million – 187.5
  • Estonia – 1947 – 1.32 million – 147.3
  • Finland – 7190 – 5.52 million – 130.2
  • Sweden – 65137 – 10.3 million – 632.4
  • United Kingdom – 311965 – 66.5 million – 469.1
  • United States – 2593169 – 326.7 million – 793

Note.

  1. The first figure is the number of lab confirmed cases from Wikipedia
  2. The second figure is the population.
  3. The third figure is the rate of lab-confirmed cases per 100.000 of the population

I have left India out as their numbers of tests seem extremely low.

Note how the three countries, that have fed their children on a low-gluten diet are top of the table, with the lowest rates of lab-confirmed cases.

I have said it before and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. Undiagnosed coeliac disease may have something to do with this pandemic and someone should investigate it properly.

Thoughts On The Outbreak In Leicester

I have heard reports that those found positive in Leicester live in a poor area and they tend to be younger.

Could it be that in their new country, they were introduced to gluten too early, because it’s easier to give gluten than proper food? Especially, where some roads in this country, are lined with scores of fast food shops selling gluten-rich junk food.

What do I know? I’m just an engineer and a coeliac who has a good nose for problems!

But please someone! Research the connection between undiagnosed coeliac disease and COVID-19!

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac with a gluten-rich and smokey lifestyle. He died at just 37 from pancreatic cancer.

Did he have a poor immune system, which meant he couldn’t fight the cancer? One expert on cancer said, “Yes!”

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , | 6 Comments

Meet The Futuristic-Looking Electric Arrival Bus

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

The Arrival Bus is by the same company, who are building electric vans for UPS, that I wrote about in UK Electric Van Maker Arrival Secures £340m Order From UPS.

This is a video of the prototype under test.

This article on CNET is entitled Arrival’s Electric Bus Is Designed For Coronavirus-Era Social Distancing and it contains this paragraph.

The British startup company, which focuses on smart electric vehicles, on Wednesday debuted the Arrival Bus, pitched as just the bus for social distancing. That’s because the interior of the bus is customizable, with removable seats, so you can create additional space between passengers. It’s a pretty novel way to increase or decrease seats to meet reopening guidelines

If it works, knowing Sod’s Law, it will probably be rarely used, as someone will come up with an affordable vaccine, that’s bulletproof!

As we’ve also had an electric bus from Norfolk, that I wrote about in Equipmake Opens New Electric Bus Factory In Snetterton, there will be several players helping to decarbonise the bus industry.

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus: Over 600 People Test Positive At German Slaughterhouse

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Yet another German slaughterhouse has registered a massive outbreak of the coronavirus. Roughly two-thirds of the test results so far have come back positive.

Does the author think this is a recurring problem?

There is a sub-heading in the article of By No Means An Isolated Case, where this is said.

Germany’s meat processing sector has come under increasing scrutiny during the pandemic, with several plants reporting massive outbreaks. The sector is plagued with poor working conditions, exploitative contracts and usurious rents in mass housing for eastern European workers.

The company is blaming Bulgarian and Romanian workers going home for the long weekend.

The next paragraph, would appear to debunk that theory.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Germany has had far more confirmed cases of coronavirus than either Romania or Bulgaria. In the past 14 days, Germany registered 4,814 new cases, compared to 2,898 in Romania and 915 in Bulgaria.

By comparison, we have had 14,932 lab-confirmed cases in the last fourteen days.

The article says that this slaughterhouse is in Gutersloh and from a picture in the article, the slaughterhouse seems to process pigs.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the Wikipedia entry for Gutersloh.

It looks to be a typical German town of 100,000 people, but it does have one unusual feature according to Wikipedia; ten percent of the population are Arameans.

I have found these facts on Wikipedia.

  • The total number of Arameans in Germany is between 100,000 and 120.000. See Arameans
  • There has been a long history of Turkish people migrating to Germany. See Turks In Germany
  • The number of Turks in Germany is 2,774,000, making them the largest minority. See Demographics of Germany
  • Many of the Turks were brought to Germany in the 1970s to do the jobs the Germans didn’t want to do and to solve a labour crisis, after the building of the Berlin Wall. See Turks In Germany

Turks are Muslim and the Germans produce a lot of pork. So do Turks work in German slaughterhouses handling pork and making sausages?

If they don’t, does this explain the large number of Arameans in Gutersloh? Arameans are Christians and unlike Muslims and Jews, eat pork.

Their diet also contains alcohol and appears to be gluten-rich!

I’d love to have German statistics of COVID-19 by ethnicity!

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Freight Trains And Anti-Slip Technology For UK Railways Get Share Of £9.4m Funding

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Professional Engineering, which is published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

This is the introductory summary.

A zero-emissions machine that removes and replaces rails, a hydrogen-based turbine system for freight trains and ‘cryogenic blasting’ to prevent wheel slip could all be coming to UK railways thanks to a new £9.4m fund.

The article is a good summary of the important projects and it also gives details of what a project in the last round of funding achieved.

I seem increasingly to be reposting articles from professional engineering institutions. Does this mean, that we’re all thinking that good engineering, is one of the ways out of this COVID-19 mess?

I also think, that if I look at the list of twenty-five new projects, that I listed in First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects, that some will benefit the wider UK population in a world dominated by the remains of the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 21, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , | Leave a comment