The Anonymous Widower

Will Sir David Teach Trump A Lesson?

The Times has an article today, which is entitled Attenborough Brings About A Sea Change.

One statement stands out.

The political impact of Blue Planet II is undeniable..

The article also says.

  • Dozens of MPs have signed a motion congratulating Sir David for highlighting the issue of plastic pollution in the oceans.
  • Michael Gove says he is haunted by the footage and pledged action.
  • The UN has announced plans for a task-force.

But surely, the most important thing the article says is that Blue Planet II will premiere in the US on January 10 on five networks.

Will Trump watch?

Probably not! It’s all fake news to him anyway!

But a large proportion of the around three hundred million , who live in the USA, will find it compulsive viewing!

Out of curiosity, I wondered if Sir David had any views on Donald Trump. Google found this article in The Independent, which is entitled Sir David Attenborough on Donald Trump: ‘We could shoot him. It’s not a bad idea’.

This is said.

Until now, Sir David Attenborough was one of the few individuals in the public eye not to have broached the ever-present, all-pervasive topic of Donald Trump. However, the naturalist and beloved broadcaster has now given his assessment of the situation and suggested a way to counter the Republican’s ascent to power which, believe it or not, involves a gun.

In an interview with the Radio Times, the nonagenarian was probed about how we solve a problem like Mr Trump and quipped: “We could shoot him”.

Obviously, he was only joking. But Trump does live in the Land of Guns!

 

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

Arriva London Engineering Assists In Trial To Turn Older Diesel Engine Powered Buses Green

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on the Arriva London web site.

This sums up the project.

A new idea to turn older diesel engine buses into much more environmentally friendly vehicles has been developed by Vantage Power Ltd based in Greenford, West London in association with Ensign Ltd, the largest reseller of buses in the UK.

The new unit will start trials in July, when two of Arriva London’s 2005, Volvo B7TL, Euro 3 buses, with Alexander Dennis bodies, VLA99 and VLA100 will resume service following their conversion. The trials are fully supported by TfL.

Effectively two twelve year old buses will become hybrids with new electric drive systems.

The objectives of the project are ambitious.

The new system will be tested to see how well it performs against its targets of 40% reduction in the use of fuel, 80%+ reduction in emissions, and a cost saving for the unit which is estimated to be 80% less than a new Hybrid bus.

They are also developing a technique called geo-fence technology. This is said.

This technology, uses GPS information combined with route information, and can enable the vehicle to ensure its batteries are at full charge before entering certain areas (such as the ULEZ), or past schools, or libraries, and upon entering these areas, the engine can shut itself down and the vehicle then operate as an almost silent ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle).

So the buses get new hybrid drives, which work as battery buses in sensitive areas and London gets cleaner air. And Arriva London gets a cashback!

I wonder how many old buses can be converted into cleaner hybrids. This conversion was on a Volvo B7TL chassis, of which there were 790 in London alone.

I also wonder if London’s current hybrid buses can have the geo-fence technology applied.

Close to my house there are six London bus routes, that go into or through the ULEX; namely routes 21, 30, 38, 56, 76 and 141 of which the 21, 38 and 76 are New Routemasters, which are modern hybrid buses. In addition, the 141  is run by seven-year-old hybrid buses. These routes would all be candidates for geo-fence technology.

October 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Will The Third Runway At Heathrow Be Actually Built In The Near Future?

If nothing else the 25th ofSeptember 2026 statement by the Government, stated that the UK is going to build another runway in the South-East.

But I have my doubts, that a third runway will be open at Heathrow in the near future.

Building The Third Runway

As I said in Building The Third Runway At Heathrow, I don’t believe that the actual construction of the Airport would present any problems for any large construction company or more likely  consortium. This is illustrated today, by this article on the BBC, which is entitled New Heathrow runway may be built above the M25, which says to me that engineers are looking for easier and more affordable ways to build the new runway.

Rebuilding The Current Terminals

Heathrow are also disclosing a master-plan, for rebuilding a lot of the airport to make it more efficient and up with the best.

  • There will be two main terminals; Heathrow West and Heathrow East with satellites in between handling the actual planes.
  • These two terminals and the satellites will be between the two existing runways, with a passenger and baggage transport system beneath.
  • Terminal Five will become Heathrow West.
  • An extended Terminal Two will become Heathrow East.
  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve both main terminals.
  • A Terminal Six would be mainly for the third runway, would effectively be part of Heathrow West.

I believe that this rebuilding could start well before the third runway is even given the go-ahead, as many of the works will be within the current Airport boundary.

Rail Links To The Airport

Part of the master-plan is extensive rail links to the Airport.

  • Crossrail, Heathrow Express and the Underground will serve London.
  • There will be rail links to both the West and South.
  • There will be a rail link to both HS1 and HS2.
  • Could we even see a rail-based cargo transport system running under all the terminals, bringing in supplies for the terminals and the planes?

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the current rail links at Heathrow.

Rail Lines At Heathrow

Rail Lines At Heathrow

Note.

  • The Piccadilly Line is shown in blue.
  • The lines going South lead to Terminal Four.
  • Crossrail has Terminal Four as its terminus
  • The Heathrow West and Heathrow East concept fits the rail lines well.
  • Terminal Five station is ready for access from the West.

I think just as Gatwick are embracing rail with a vengeance, rail can be a major force in the development of Heathrow.

We could even be seeing the current rail line through Terminals Two and Five becoming a high-capacity rail line connecting all the terminals to the West, East and South.

A Greener Airport

If as many of the traffic movements in and around the airport could be moved from polluting road transport to electric trains, Heathrow’s pollution footprint could be reduced.

As an example, you could envisage a factory in a low cost area by a rail line to the West of Heathrow creating airline meals. These would be packaged by flight number and then taken by electric cargo train direct to the appropriate terminal or satellite, ready for loading onto the plane.

Could we even see an airport, where very few trucks and service vehicles, use the runways and aprons? You certainly see a lot less vehicles on an airport, than you did decades ago.

I found this page on the Heathrow  web site, which is entitled Our Vehicle Fleet Is Making The Switch.

This is a paragraph.

850 vehicles in the airside fleet at Heathrow are electric, making it one of the largest fleets of electric airside vehicles in Europe. As well as electric tugs that move baggage around the airfield, we use electric cars and vans to transport our people. We are trialling electric specialist ground support vehicles such as belt loaders, cargo loaders and push back tractors.

I was surprised to see pushback tractors mentioned, as some weigh up to fifty tonnes. But according to the Wikipedia entry for pushback, there are interesting developments in this field. This is said about robotic push back tractors.

The Lahav Division of Israel Aerospace Industries has developed a semi-robotic towbarless tractor it calls Taxibot that can tow an aircraft from the terminal gate to the take-off point (taxi-out phase) and return it to the gate after landing (taxi-in phase). The Taxibot eliminates the use of airplane engines during taxi-in and until immediately prior to take-off during taxi-out potentially saving airlines billions of dollars in fuel that is used. The Taxibot is controlled by the pilot from the cockpit using the regular pilot controls.

Even as a trained Control Engineer and a private pilot with over a thousand hours in command, I can’t help but wonder at the concept.

As a final thought, surely if all unnecessary vehicles could be removed from air-side, this must improve safety and security.

What too, would low or even zero carbon operations, do for the image of the airport?

Travelling To The Airport

One consequence of the rebuilding of the terminals with rail links to both London and the West, will be a reduction in the number of travellers, who drive or are driven to to the airport.

In the London Olympics every event ticket came with a London Travelcard, so that you used public transport. Could we see public transport tickets bundled in with air tickets to cut the need for vehicles to drive to and from the airport?

I certainly think, that we’ll see rail-connected parking to the airport, just because land close to an airport is so expensive.

Local Transport To The Airport

I suspect that a lot of journeys to and from the airport are quite local, as they concern local residents, employees or travellers perhaps spending a night after or before a flight close to the airport.

These journeys have not been forgotten in the master-plan, as it talks of improving bus services.

But the most interesting development is the ULTra PRT system, I talked about in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5.

A Heathrow-wide system has been proposed. This is said in Wikipedia.

In May 2013 Heathrow Airport Limited announced as part of its draft five year (2014-2019) master plan that it intended to use the PRT system to connect terminal 2 and terminal 3 to their respective business carparks. The proposal was not included in the final plan due to spending priority given to other capital projects and has been deferred.

There have been suggestions that they will extend the service throughout the airport and to nearby hotels using 400 pods.

The system at Heathrow may not be built, but expect something like it at an airport near you.

Imagine turning up in a convenient car park or train station, with family and baggage, ready to travel on holiday. You scan your pre-printed boarding pass or click one on your phone and a pod arrives, which takes you to the satellite your flight will use.

As they travelled, passengers could scan passports and they would be given up-to-date flight information.

Flying is a total pain, best summed up by the old pilot’s moto.

Time to spare, go by air!

A decent system to bring people to the airport, could make flying more of a pleasure.

Integration With Thameslink

I believe that it would be possible to have a direct Thameslink connection into Heathrow using the |Dudding Hill Line to link to Crossrail.

In Could Thameslink Connect To Heathrow?, I show how it would be possible to create a four tph service between Heathrow and Thameslink.

This could create an easy link to and from Gatwick and Luton Airports and Kings Cross, St. Pancras and London Bridge stations.

Integration With HS2

I’m taking this first, as it’s probably easier than linking to HS1

When Phase 2 of HS2 opens, services Northward from Old Oak Common station are proposed to be.

  • Birmingham – 3 tph
  • Edinburgh – 2 tph
  • Glasgow – 2 tph
  • Leeds – 3 tph
  • Liverpool – 2 tph
  • Manchester – 3 tph
  • Newcastle – 2 tph
  • Preston – 1 tph
  • Sheffield – 2 tph
  • York – 1 tph

I estimate that Heathrow to Old Oak Common will be about 20 minutes by Crossrail and Heathrow Express.

As changing planes at Heathrow, according to the Airport takes between 75 and 90 minutes, using HS2 would be competitive.

,Especially if the interchange at Old oak Common was well-designed.

Leeds will be about ninety minutes from Old Oak Common. so if the interchange timings are right, a passenger could be in the centre of Leeds around two hours after coming through Arrivals at Heathrow. A chauffeur-driven Ferrari couldn’t do that legally.

Integration With HS1

This is more difficult, as neither Crossrail nor Heathrow Express serves St. Pancras.

There are a choice of routes.

  • Crossrail to Farringdon and then Thameslink or the Metropolitan Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then a taxi.
  • Heathrow Express to Paddington and then the Metropolitan Line
  • Piccadilly Line to Kings Cross St. Pancras.

Interchange could have been designed to be a lot better.

I seem to remember that original plans for the Heathrow Express envisaged St. Pancras as a second London terminal, using the Dudding Hill Line.

But this route is probably impossible owing to there not being enough platforms at St. Pancras, which is A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station.

As there are other operators, who need extra platform space at St. Pancras, perhaps a couple of extra platforms could be built.

But I doubt it!

If Heathrow were to be linked to Thameslink, as I indicated earlier, this would solve the problem.

 

Terminals And The Third Runway

Extra terminal capacity, will be able to handle more passengers, but will the runways be able to handle the extra planes?

I suspect there are various strategies, that will keep the number of flights within the capacity of a two-runway airport.

  • Larger aircraft with more capacity, will make better use of slots. 737s and A320s are carrying more passengers.
  • Quieter aircraft, linked to better air traffic control, might givenoise and capacity advantages. Thuis page on the Heathrow web site, is entitled Steeper approach trial report.
  • Reorganisation of air cargo to release slots.
  • Use of Crossrail and/or Heathrow Express to connect to HS1 and HS2.

The more Heathrow use their intelligence, the further into the future the date for the third runway will recede.

Looking At The Cash Flow

Obviously, I don’t have any figures, but sorting out the terminals early and creating extra passenger capacity, may give Heathrow better cash flow to generate the vast sums needed to build the completely new Terminal Six and the third runway.

I’d love to see their full cash flow, but I suspect that the third runway, will only be needed when to expand the traffic, they need m the slots it will deliver.

The early costs would and could be.

  • Fighting the protestors and the politicians.
  • Obtaining Planning Permission.
  • Buying up the private .properties in the way.
  • Rolling out an anti-pollution philosophy.
  • Creating Heathrow West (Terminal Five) and Heathrow East (An Extended Terminal Two)
  • Extending the rail network.
  • Professional fees.

Perhaps by the early 2020s, they would have a strong cash flow and ownership of all the land they might need.

Then at an appropriate time, they would build the new runway and any terminals needed, in the space they had acquired.

As today’s article on the BBC indicated, they wouldn’t even have to build a tunnel for the M25.

It would hopefully be a large, but reasonable straightforward construction operation.

The Opposition Is Gathering

This article in the Independent is entitled Heathrow expansion: Airlines react to Government’s airport decision.

  • Stewart Wingate of Gatwick of Gatwick is quoted as being disappointed and saying he’ll read the Government’s reasons in detail.
  • Dame Carolyn McCall of easyJet, said their planned move to Heathrow is contingent on the right deal.
  • Willie Walsh of BA’s parent said he was pleased a decision had been made.
  • Craig Kreeger of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We support expansion, provided it delivers for our customers.”
  • Nick Burton of Luton Airport said that we must now focus on demand before the new runway is built in 10-15 years time.
  • Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted’s owner, Manchester Airports Group, said that we should make the best use of the runways we’ve got.

That doesn’t sound like a vote of confidence to me.

And I haven’t included all those who will lose their homes, the environmental protesters and those like me who don’t like Heathrow’s attitude.

The statistics are also not on Heathrow’s side either, as traffic is growing fast and another runway is needed soon, with a second one perhaps ten years later, to satisfy rising demand for air travel.

So What Could Happen?

Much of this is speculation, but Nostradamus couldn’t predict this one.

  •  In The Planemakers’ View On The South East’s New Runway, I quoted from an article in The Times, which said that Heathrow’s hub model is superseded by the views of the planemakers, who think it’s all about point-to-point flights in appropriate aircraft.
  • Gatwick could probably apply for permission for a second runway in 2019.
  • Luton, Southend and Stansted Airports are ambitious and want to expand.
  • Better rail services to Stansred Airport have been announced.
  • Luton Airport wants a better rail service.
  • Birmingham Airport gets a connection to HS2 in the mid-2020s.
  • Eurostar and other companies will increasingly add rail services to Europe.

These and other factors will eat into Heathrow’s market share, thus delaying that crucial point, where the third runway needs to be built.

But that doesn’t really solve the short term problem  The only way to satisfy that is to create a runway in the South-East as soon as possible.

And the only place that can be built is Gatwick.

The growth in air traffic will continue and a few years later, Heathrow will get its runway.

 

 

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Heathrow Decision

Perhaps the best comment on the decision to go for the NW Runway at Heathrow, a this reasoned one from Construction News, which is headlined, Heathrow: Still ifs and buts.

That sums it all up.

This decision is still twenty years away from opening.

.But I suspect it won’t open, as there is too much opposition to the runway.

October 25, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Should We Ban Microbeads In Household Products?

Yes!

Read this article on the BBC

August 28, 2016 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Around Kidbrooke Station

In Development At Kidbrooke Station, I wrote about how a partnership had been formed between Transport for London and developers, that is aimed at creating revenue for London.

I also said I would be going with my camera.

In some ways it was all a bit depressing.

This Google Map shows the area where I walked.

Kidbrooke Station

Kidbrooke Station

It looked like a rather nice wooded landscape had been trashed to build the A2 through the area in the last century.

Pretty it is not!

I would hope if housing is developed at Kidbrooke to the north of the station, that something could be done to improve the dreadful feel of the area.

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

How To Catch Polluting Vehicles

I’ve just read about the EDAR pollution sensor in the Sunday Times.

Read more above the device on this page of the Hager Environmental and Atmospheric Technoogies web site.

I think they’ll sell a lot of these and in some ways it’s the best way to cut pollution caused by vehicles in cities.

Most drivers will make sure they;re legal!

October 4, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Is Violence Really In Decline?

The respected study from Cardiff University on violence as reported on the BBC’s web site is saying that injuries due to violence is at a new low. This is the first two paragraphs.

The number of violence-related injuries in England and Wales is at its lowest level for at least 15 years, an annual study suggests.

Cardiff University’s survey of 117 hospital units showed about 211,000 victims of violence went to hospital in 2014 – 10% fewer than in 2013.

All sorts of explanations have been offered and they’re probably all a bit responsible.

Since I moved here to Dalston in 2010, one of the biggest differences, is that the streets just feel so much safer. It’s only a personal view and not backed by any statistics, but generally everything just seems a lot quieter.

Why?

I put it down to an long list of little factors, which have worked together to create the improvement. The Overground has opened, pavements, the built environment and buses have improved, there are busy cafes everywhere and generally you see more families and older people on the street.

I think it’s probably mainly down to the beneficial link between a better environment and improved behaviour, that has been suggested by Stephen Bayley and other commentators.

April 22, 2015 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Do We Featherbed Groups In Society?

I got my monthly State Pension today and at £677.16, that will do me for my day-to-day expenses for the next month. It doesn’t cover trips out of London, but it does allow me the odd light lunch in a restaurant.

But I also get other benefits just because of my circumstances, as a 67-year-old man, who lives alone.

I get a Council Tax discount because I live alone. But is that right as I live in a family house with a garage in a desirable part of London? If I didn’t get it, I’d still live here as that would be my choice, but I am blocking someone more worthy than me of buying this house.

I have a highly-insulated house with an efficient boiler, but should I get a winter fuel allowance?  It would be better if the money was not paid at all, but used to improve our housing stock’s energy efficiency, so that those on a pension actually saved the money all through the year.

I have a Freedom Pass, which gives me free transport on buses, Underground, Overground and trains within the Central London area. This is one of the reasons I moved to Dalston. But is it too generous on the one hand and not universal enough on the other? Surely, a better system, would be one where you nominated your bank card as your transport pass and in the free areas, the system didn’t charge you. The advantage of this would be that London could enter into reciprocal arrangements with areas like Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, so that we could use each other’s concessionary area at a discount. Would this encourage more of us to travel to explore the country and perhaps spend money in attractions, cafes and shops, we wouldn’t dream of visiting now?

This morning according to this report on the BBC, the Liberal Democrats are saying that those who have a second house they use in a beautiful area, should pay double Council Tax on their second home. Here! Here!

I live in Central London and I am starting to resent the traffic. Not because I drive, but because of the pollution and noise often put out by cars used as glorified shopping trolleys and baby buggies. We let all drivers get off too lightly with the problems they cause in cities and if they got the message, we may see more cycling and walking, and better air quality. We might even see better delivery systems for goods, where transmissions were hybrid or electric, like London’s newer buses.

It will happen eventually, that all cars pay road charges based on mileage, fuel used and congestion. But I doubt we’ll see it soon, as there are no votes in it. It’ll probably be introduced in London first, as cycling gets more common and Crossrail shows everybody what real railways can be like.

But would a city like Birmingham, where the car is king, and pedestrians are targets to hit when crossing the road, accept charging to pay for the updating of the numerous railways and more trams in the city?

And then there’s lifestyle, fitness and health!

Many people drink, eat and smoke too much and governments don’t really discourage it forcefully. It would be an interesting exercise for a town or city to declare a city centre non-smoking and see what happens. I can remember, when ahead of the smoking ban the landlord of my local pub in Suffolk declared it a smoke-free zone. He got some moans, but not from his bank manager.

The NHS is in crisis, but this is mainly a problem of the irresponsible patients making. So if we can get people back to the straight and narrow, we might help the dear old NHS out.

For a start, I would like to see a law, that no-one could stand for elected office or sit on the board of an NHS body, if they were a smoker!

I could go on a lot more. But we must all change our lifestyle, if we want this country to be a place, that is really worth living in.

 

April 21, 2015 Posted by | Health, World | , , | 2 Comments

How To Be Scientifically-Correct For A Greener And Better World

Matt Ridley’s article about eco-toffs got me thinking. So if I was the world dictator, what would I recommend as a greener lifestyle that was scientifically-correct and hopefully gave you benefits as well!

Cook From Scratch

I have a list of quick delicious nutritious recipes, that I can cook from a series of staples kept in my fridge and store cupboard. I also experiment.

One thing I don’t use is a freezer, except to store frozen peas, although with some dishes I make enough for two and put the one in the fridge for a couple of days later.

Don’t Live In Two Houses

I’ve lived in two houses twice in my life. Once we lived between London and Suffolk and at another we had a second house in Antibes.

Never again! It’s just so much hassle and eventually C and myself got fed up with it all.

So either rent the second house or sell it and invest the money. Any income could be used to have holidays in your favourite hotels!

Don’t Smoke

I look forward to the day, when you don’t see any signs of this filthy habit.

I feel very strongly about this, as our longest son died in part because he smoked.

Don’t Use Lifts For A Couple Of Floors Unless Someone Younger Than You Is Also Riding

We’re all lazy and climbing a few stairs is a good exercise.

But do use a lift, when a lazy soul is using it. And make them feel guilty about their lack of exercise.

Feed Your Mind

Nothing improves your inner self, than seeing exciting events or places you’ve not seen before.I travel a lot and even when I’m at home, I use my Freedom Pass to explore new places in London and the area around.

Go Gluten-Free

I have to be gluten-free as I’m coeliac. But it is a diet choice with a bonus. According to Nottingham University, those on a gluten-free diet are 25% less likely to get cancer.

Invest In Peer-To-Peer Lending

Choose a reputable peer-to-peer lender with the right rate and risk profile for you. Not only will you be getting a better rate on your savings, but you’ll be lending money to individuals and businesses at a rate less than the banks. You’ll also be giving that wunch of bankers a good kicking.

Keep Your Body At Its Ideal Weight And Fitness

I am virtually the same size as I was when I left University in 1968. One doctor told me that the main reason, I recovered from the serious stroke so quickly, was because of the good state of my body.

Smart Meters and Thermostats

I have smart thermostats for my heating that I can set precisely, but despite trying hard, I haven’t managed to get a smart meter fitted for either gas or electricity yet, so I can see my usage on my computer.

Think Seriously About Your Car Usage

Too many households have car ownership that is poorly matched to their needs.

I for example, don’t have a licence any more and don’t have a car. My eyesight is getting better and I suspect that in a year or so, I could get my licence back with ease. But I don’t want the hassle of car ownership, especially as I have so many bus routes everywhere.

My son has also decided he doesn’t need a car and if he wants one for a few hours, he uses something like a Zip-car.

A friend too, had their car stolen and hasn’t replaced it.

So as a car costs several thousand a year to own and run, are your current car arrangements the best and most capital efficient?

In many cases the answer is no!

Traditional Terry Nappies

C and I were very keen on these, especially if they’re paired with a nappy service, which takes away the dirty ones and then delivers the freshly-laundered ones. I can still see C burying her face in the clean nappies and luxuriating at the experience. I have heard mothers of my generation, say that their babies almost begged to be put back in a cloth nappy when they were put in a disposable one.

I’ve also seen in the sewers how many disposable nappies end up there, before being sent to landfill.

We shouldn’t force parents to use traditional nappies by increasing taxes on the disposable ones, as there are people, who for various reasons have to use disposable ones. But we should get the water companies and councils to encourage traditional ones, as they are the major commercial beneficiaries of such a product.

I wonder if I can still fold and fit a traditional nappy.

Use Contract Cleaners

I have a three-bedroomed house and I use contract cleaners, who send two girls once a week for two hours, at a price comparable with what I’d pay for a lady to do say a whole morning.

But the big advantage of this type of cleaning, is that I don’t have to have any cleaning equipment or materials.

So other than food, I have to buy very little in the supermarket. I think it’s just soap, washing-up liquid and washing tablets for clothes.

Walk In Cities

Cities are very interesting places to walk, as there is always something to see and you might just find a nice cafe for a coffee or see a jumper that goes with your favourite trousers or skirt.

Cities should encourage walking by putting up maps and information.

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Health, World | | 1 Comment