The Anonymous Widower

London To Glasgow Train Journey Record Bid Fails By Just 21 Seconds

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

An attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow has failed.

Avanti West Coast’s Royal Scot train arrived at Glasgow Central 21 seconds behind the record of three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds set by British Rail in December 1984, according to rail expert Mark Smith, who was onboard.

Mr Smith, founder of Seat61.com, wrote on Twitter that a temporary speed limit on the track in Carstairs, South Lanarkshire, “cost us 90 seconds”.

It appears to be a valiant attempt that failed by a small margin.

I have a few thoughts.

The Trains

The British Rail 1984 record was set by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) and today’s run was by a nine-car Class 390 train.

  • The design speed of the APT was 155 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 140 mph.
  • Service speed of both trains was and is 125 mph.
  • Record speed of the APT was 162 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 145 mph.
  • Both trains employ similar tilt technology to go faster.

At a brief look the performance of these two trains is very similar.

The InterCity 225

The InterCity 225 train is the ringer in this race to the North.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph
  • The record speed of an InterCity 225 is 161.7 mph.
  • The train doesn’t use tilting technology.
  • The train was built after the APT around 1990.
  • The train holds the record between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours.
  • To rub things in, one of these trains, even holds the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly record.

But there can’t be much wrong with the InterCity 225 trains as a few are being brought back into service, whilst LNER are waiting for ten new bi-mode trains to be delivered.

Hitachi Class 80x Trains

The various variants of Class 800 trains run to Edinburgh and I’m sure they will run to Glasgow.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph

If an InterCity 225 can go between Edinburgh and London in around three-and-a-half hours, I can’t see why these trains can’t.

Especially, as Hitachi seem to be able to produce versions like the Class 803 and Class 807 trains, which appear to be lighter and more efficient, as they don’t have any diesel engines.

A Small Margin

I said earlier that it was only a small margin between the times of the APT and the Class 390 train. But why was the InterCity 225 able to run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours?

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

It looks from the last sentence of this extract, that the record run of the InterCity 225 train ran up to 140 mph in places, whereas the record run of the APT and today’s run by a Class 390 train were limited to 125 mph.

The Signalling

In the Wikipedia entry for the InterCity 225 train, the following is said.

Thus, except on High Speed 1, which is equipped with cab signalling, British signalling does not allow any train, including the InterCity 225, to exceed 125 mph (201 km/h) in regular service, due to the impracticality of correctly observing lineside signals at high speed.

Note.

  1. I have regularly flown my Cessna 340 safely at altitude, with a ground speed of around two hundred miles per hour.
  2. High Speed One has an operating speed of 186 mph.
  3. Grant Schapps, who is Secretary of State for Transport has a pilot’s licence. So he would understand flight instruments and avionics.

So why hasn’t a system been developed in the thirty years since trains capable of running at 140 mph started running in the UK, to allow them to do it?

It is a ridiculous situation.

We are installing full digital ERTMS in-cab signalling on the East Coast Main Line, but surely a system based on aviation technology could be developed until ERTMS  is ready. Or we could install the same system as on High Speed One.

After all, all we need is a system, to make sure the drivers don’t misread the signals.

But then the EU says that all member nations must use ERTMS signalling.

Didn’t we just leave the EU?

Conclusion

By developing our own in-cab digital signalling we could run trains between London and Scotland in around three-and-a-half hours.

The Japanese could even have an off-the-shelf system!

ERTMS sounds like a closed shop to give work to big European companies, who have lobbied the European Commission.

June 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Turkey Blames EU In ‘Sofagate’ Diplomatic Spat

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

What began as an attempt to repair tense EU-Turkey relations has turned into a diplomatic spat that has been dubbed “sofagate”.

When European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was left standing because of a lack of chairs in Ankara, she reacted with an audible “Ahem”.

I suspect Mrs. T and Mrs. M would have done more than say “Ahem”

You certainly see better courtesy on the buses on the multi-ethnic route between Dalston and Stamford Hill.

Three times now, I’ve seen the classic friendly argument between an elderly male Orthodox Jew and a very much younger lady, about who should get on the bus last.

If only all problems could be solved with a smile, as these usually are in the end!

April 8, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jaw Jaw Is Better Than War War!

There is an article in The Times today with a title of Britain Ready To Share Dutch-Made Vaccine With EU.

It talks of compromise and how Boris Johnson has effectively told his ministers to cool it.

I feel that Boris is right to seek a compromise. As Churchill said “Jaw, jaw is better than war-war!”

I wouldn’t be surprised that we have a lot to offer the EU about other things than making the vaccine.

Vaccination

There have been several examples published in this newspaper and other media outlets, about how we have squeezed extra doses out of the Pfizer vaccine and made sure we have potential recipients on hand, so that nothing goes to waste.

Perhaps we have a suitable brigadier, doctor, mandarin or project manager, who could put some drive and organisation into the EU’s flagging effort.

If it is a big loss of face to some EU politicians so be it.

AstraZeneca’s Problem

If AZ do have problem, it appears to be in the manufacture.

After all it is AZ’s first vaccine.

This surely, is a problem, that can be solved, even if it upsets AZ a bit on how it is done!

European Vaccine Reluctance

But I do think the EU’s vaccination is not helped by the population’s reluctance to have a jab.

We had Tom Jones and the US had Dolly Parton, amongst others who backed vaccinations.

Have stars of similar standing backed the vaccination in the EU?

Help From The Yanks

As usual, the Americans have arrived late to bolster the efforts.

Lets hope that their data published today persuades more EU citizens to take the jab and even one from the UK!

But surely any vaccine that gives you 100 % protection from severe disease, as the Yanks say that the AZ does, can’t be all bad!

Conclusion

I believe that as the UK and the EU share a common will to defeat the virus, that a good compromise can be developed over the next few days.

Let’s hope it goes better than the last time, we told the French what to do in a serious situation.

My father told me about Churchill’s dash to Paris in 1940 to offer union with France to try and save the country.

Read all about it in this article on the London School of Economics web site, which is entitled June 1940: Britain’s Forgotten Attempt To Build A European Union.

What Churchill Actually Said

In trying to find when Churchill used the title of this post, I found this page on the International Churchill Society web site, which is entitled Quotes Falsely Attributed To Winston Churchill.

The actual quote was “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war” and it was misquoted later by Harold Macmillan.

Does meeting Zoom to Zoom count?

March 22, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Covid: What’s Happening To The EU Vaccine Scheme?

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The European Union has been criticised for the slow pace of coronavirus vaccinations in member states.

It has introduced export controls on vaccines produced in the EU after the roll-out was hit by delays and supply problems.

The delays and supply problems seem to concern the AstraZeneca plant in Belgium. Get that running flat out would surely help to solve the problem.

Wikipedia has an interesting statement under Production and Supply for the AZ vaccine, in the Wikipedia entry for the vaccine.

On 13 June 2020, AstraZeneca signed a contract with the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance, a group formed by France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, to supply up to 400 million doses to all European Union member states. However, the European Commission intervened to stop the deal being formalised. It took over negotiations on behalf of the whole EU, signing a deal at the end of August.

It looks to me that the EU strangled a deal that could have saved their bacon, if Wikipedia is correct.

  • Did the delay mean that AstraZeneca delayed completing their European factories, as they were worried about getting any order at all?
  • Sometimes, it is difficult financing firm orders, let alone ones that might be cancelled at the whim of politicians.
  • Was Macron hoping the French vaccine was coming through and so could replace the AstraZeneca vaccine? But it didn’t appear, so the EU had to go cap-in-hand to AstraZeneca, who now had the problem of getting the equipment from suppliers, they’d mucked about.

It looks to me like an almighty coq-up!

The section about the Oxford vaccine in Wikipedia, also says that the vaccine has been licenced to the US, Argentina for Latin America and India and that production from the UK and EU factories will be between 100 and 200 million doses per month, when up to full speed.

Those production figures look like they could satisfy the UK’s order for 100 million doses and 400 million for the EU, if AstraZeneca can get the Belgian plant fully working.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a solution something like this.

  • Novavax gets UK certification very soon.
  • Novavax starts supplying doses to the UK, in perhaps March.
  • AstraZeneca sends some UK vaccine to the EU, with Novavax keeping the vaccination rate high.
  • AstraZeneca gets their EU factories up to speed in something like June.
  • The EU gets its vaccines and is now able to vaccinate at a vaguely acceptable rate if they get their systems right.
  • Moderna comes on stream around the middle of the year.
  • The UK has adequate deliveries of AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer vaccines and starts mass vaccination for everyone, around the start of September.

If the EU had allowed the original deal to proceed for EU vaccines, the timescales would probably be have been three months earlier.

Conclusion

The EU will get its vaccines, but later than if they’d placed their orders at the same time as the UK did.

January 30, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Macron Rex: Interfuctus Est.

The title of this post, is a tagline in the big cartoon in today’s copy of The Times.

It is drawn in the style of the Bayeux Tapestry and has all the players in our spat with the EU.

Many have been shot by syringes.

Does President Macro have a sense of humour?

Try to see a copy and examine the detail!

 

January 30, 2021 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , | 5 Comments

A Way Out Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine Row With The EU

This article on the BBC is entitled Brexit: EU Introduces Controls On Vaccines To NI.

These are the introductory paragraphs of the article.

The EU is introducing controls on vaccines made in the bloc, including to Northern Ireland, amid a row about delivery shortfalls.

Under the Brexit deal, all products should be exported from the EU to Northern Ireland without checks.

But the EU believed this could be used to circumvent export controls, with NI becoming a backdoor to the wider UK.

The row involving AstraZeneca, the UK and the EU is now getting serious,

I think, the EU are missing an opportunity.

My Experience Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine

Yesterday, I received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which I wrote about in Job Done – I’ve Now Had My First Covid-19 Vaccination.

As I am an engineer, who helped to finance a drug-delivery system, I know a bit about the subject of drug delivery.

My jab yesterday seemed to have been administered very quickly and painlessly, without fuss. I regularly have B12 injections as I’m coeliac and this AstraZeneca one was certainly less painful for me.

Have AstraZeneca designed the vaccine and its delivery system so that it will have application in mass vaccination situations like refugee camps, where thousands may need to be vaccinated quickly?

Consider.

  • It can be transported and stored at easy-to-manage temperatures.
  • I suspect that a skilled vaccinator can vaccinate more patients per hour, than with other vaccines.
  • I didn’t feel a thing, which must help those with needle phobia.
  • The vaccinator didn’t need to apply a plaster, just using a cotton wool pad and pressure. This must save time.

This looks to me, like disruptive innovation is at work.

Surely, though by streamlining the vaccination process, this will increase the number of patients vaccinated by a well-trained team. This will be what doctors ordered.

The Real Problem With The AstraZeneca Vaccine

I have worked a lot in the design of project management systems and very often, when projects go awry, it is due to a lack of resources.

It strikes me that the problem with the AstraZeneca vaccine, is that there are not enough factories to make the vaccine.

As it is easier to distribute and AstraZeneca are making it without profit, perhaps the EU should approach the UK about creating a couple of large factories to make the vaccine in suitable places across the UK and the EU.

A proportion of this increased production could be distributed to countries, that couldn’t afford a commercial vaccine or didn’t want to get ensnared by the Chinese in a Vaccines-for-Resources deal.

It should also be remembered that Oxford are at the last stages in the testing of a vaccine for malaria. That would surely be a superb encore for Oxford University and AstraZeneca. I suspect the UK will back it, but it would surely be better, if the EU backed it as well.

January 29, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Activists Cheer As ‘Sexist’ Tampon Tax Is Scrapped

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The 5% rate of VAT on sanitary products – referred to as the “tampon tax” – will be abolished in the UK from 1 January.

EU law required members to tax tampons and sanitary towels at 5%, treating period products as non-essential.

My late wife; C had very strong views about this and I suspect that my late mother and my granddaughter would share C’s views.

Is this a glimpse of the future, where when we feel European Union policy is wrong, we can diverge?

It would certainly be a good test of unfair policy by the UK government, if the EU objected and tried to stop us removing the tax.

At least smugglers, who decided to switch from smuggling drugs and other nasties to  sanitary products would be doing something that caused less harm!

January 1, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

After Coronavirus, What’s Next? China: More Coal, US: More Oil, EU: More Renewables

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

The title says it all, but read the article to get the detail.

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Health, World | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

EU Announces ‘Clean Hydrogen Alliance’ For Launch In The Summer

The total of this post is the same as this article on Euractiv.

The title is probably fairly clear, but the article is well worth a read.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Telling Statement From Andrew Marr

On his program this morning, Abdrew Marr has just said that they try every week to get Donald Tusk and Michel Barnier on the program.

Every week, they get a negative answer.

February 3, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments