The Anonymous Widower

Ryanair Plane Seized Over €500k Debt

The title of this post is the same as that of a short article in today’s Times.

Surely, it is another reason to fly with someone else!

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Gatwick Sets Out Ambitious Future Growth Plan, Including Routine Use Of Its Existing Standby Runway

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Gatwick Airport.

The plan is essentially very simple. The standby runway will be reconfigured so that it can be used for the take-off of smaller planes, whilst the current main runway is in full operation.

In the near term, they intend to make the most of one of the world’s most efficient runways, but by the mid-2020s, the standby runway will be able to be used simultaneously.

In the long term, Gatwick would aim to build the third runway on land that has been safeguarded for that purpose.

This Google Map shows the airport.

The current two runways stand out.

  • The main runway is the longer Southern one.
  • The standby runway is the shorter Northern one.

This second Google Map shows the Eastern ends of the two runways.

It looks to me, that with rearrangement of the taxiways, aprons and the South Terminal, that the standby runway could become a runway meeting all the regulations.

This is said in an article in The Guardian.

Gatwick’s emergency runway could be widened by 12 metres to comply with safety requirements for a 210-metre centreline gap from the main runway, and be used for an additional 10-15 short-haul flights an hour to take off.

An expanded terminal, an additional aircraft pier of landing gates and work on roads around the airport could also be required to accommodate the extra passengers. The work would take two to three years to complete.

If there is a need for for more runway capacity in the South East of England, I feel Gatwick’s plan is a good one.

These are my thoughts.

An Affordable Cost

The Guardian article quotes the cost at half a billion pounds, which in the grand scheme of transport projects is not a large sum.

It is the sort of sum, that can be easily raised by a business like Gatwick Airport.

Minimal Disruption

It is the type of project, where during construction, with the application of good project management, there should be only minimal disruption to the following groups.

  • Passengers using the Airport
  • Workers needing to go to and from the Airport
  • Rail passengers passing through Gatwick station
  • Traffic on the nearby M23 motorway.

The biggest disruption will probably come from transporting materials to the site.

A Phased Capacity Upgrade

I also feel, that planned carefully and built over the two or three years quoted in the Guardian, that capacity could be upgraded in a gradual manner, which would be easier to utilise, than say the massive increase that would be afforded by a totally new runway.

Planned Rail Links To Gatwick

In The Rise Of Gatwick Airport, I wrote this about the rail connections to Gatwick Airport.

I found this article in TravelWeekly, which is entitled Gatwick outlines plans for a train departure to London every three minutes.

It gives a very good summary of the train services that will run to Gatwick after Thameslink is completed.

The planned hourly timetable would see:

•         Four dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria
•         Six trains to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath
•         Four trains to Bedford via London Bridge – originating from Gatwick and Brighton
•         Two trains to Cambridge via London Bridge – originating from Brighton
•         Two trains to Peterborough via London Bridge – originating from Horsham
•         Two trains to London Bridge – originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.

That is a total of twenty trains to and from London and beyond and most of the South Coast from Southampton to Hastings.

How many better rail-connected airports are there anywhere in the world?

The article also quotes Guy Stephenson, the Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer as saying.

The new high frequency service that will serve Gatwick will transform rail journeys for our passengers, with capacity doubling and a train to London every three minutes.

Crucially, the new trains will be much more reliable and will be stacked with amenities suited to the needs of air travellers.  Combined with robust new track and signalling systems, Gatwick’s passengers will experience a really pleasant and dependable service.

Overall, the improvements to Gatwick’s rail service means that 15 million people will be brought within 60 minutes of Gatwick by rail – the best reach of any UK airport,

Reading the article, you might think that Thameslink should be called Gatwicklink!

According to this Press Release on the Gatwick Airport web site, Gatwick Airport are going to spend £120.5million on updating the rail station. This is an architect’s impression of the new station.

GatwickAirport

I also think that Gatwick could extend their Gatwick Express services.

I think we can also see development of Airport services to and from Gatwick Airport station based on the following existing services.

Will we be seeing a second Gatwick Express route from Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Reading via Gatwick Airport?

Consider.

  • It would inevitably get known as the M25-on-rails.
  • It gives a large number of passengers a way to get to Gatwick and Continental Rail Services without going through Central London.
  • It could serve Heathrow, if they got their act together.
  • Surprisingly, I think this route will be quicker to go between Reading and Gatwick, than using Crossrail and Thameslink with a change at Farringdon.
  • The trains for such a service could be the same as the new Class 387/2 Gatwick Expresses, but with an IPEMU capability.

But it wouldn’t be just an Airport service, as I suspect that given adequate parking at stations, it would become a valuable cross-country route linking the rail hubs of Ebbsfleet, Gatwick and Reading. After all, North of London, the East West Rail Link is being created from Reading to Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Southern also run a service from Milton Keynes to South Croydon via the West London Line. In the future this service will serve Old Oak Common station on Crossrail, HS2, the West Coast Main Line and the North London Line.

So will this service be extended from South Croydon to Gatwick and become a third Gatwick Express service?

These two additional Gatwick Express services would greatly increase or ease the airport’s links across the wider South East and to HS2 services out of Euston.

The only problem, is the overcrowding on the Brighton Main Line.

That post was written in February 2016.

The Future Of Rail Links To Gatwick

Since I wrote the article two years ago, the following has happened.

  • Thameslink has opened and is now running eight trains per hour (tph) between Gatwick Airport and London St. Pancras International.
  • In Gibb Report – Gatwick Airport Station Should Be Transferred To Gatwick Airport, I reported on what Chris Gibb said about the ownership of Gatwick Airport station.
  • Luton Airport has been pressing for a better service. It currently has ten tph to London with timings of between 34-42 minutes.
  • There are four tph between Gatwick and Luton Airports, two of which take 80 minutes and two take 100 mins.
  • The world and his wife are complaining about the cut-price Class 700 trains.
  • The Class 700 trains may be OK for short journeys, but they are a nightmare between say Brighton and Cambridge.
  • Travellers on the East London Line are complaining that getting to Gatwick is not easy as only two tph stop at Norwood Junction.
  • If the Bakerloo Line is extended to Lewisham, then it will call at New Cross Gate.

The Thameslink service needs to be improved.

  • The trains need a major upgrade.
  • Should there be a limited stop service, running at four tph between Brighton and Bedford, which stopped at Gatwick and Luton Airport and  the Central London stations?
  • Should at least four tph stop at New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction to connect to the East London Line and the proposed Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham?
  • Could a 125 mph bi-mode be developed, that would enable a service between Gatwick and Sheffield?

As there could be up to six spare paths to be allocated on Thameslink, there are a lot of possibilities for new and improved services.

If other services were extended to Gatwick Airport, it could become a major rail hub for the South East of England.

Conclusion

London and the South East needs more runway capacity.

  • Extending the standby runway at Gatwick, effectively creates a very useful half-capacity runway.
  • Developing a major rail hub at the Airport, would be useful for all sorts of reasons.
  • Adding a second full-size runway would make Gatwick one of the busiest airports in the world.

Gatwick may be the wrong side of London, but I think it offers better possibilities than a third runway at Heathrow.

 

 

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Next Time I’ll Go By Train

I have just taken thirty minutes to get through aecurity at City Airport. Mainly because there is not enough staff!

Airports in general could also use much more artificial intelligence to speed the process.

A lot would be to apply simple rules to historic passenger flows to make certain there are enough staff.

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

They’re Supposed To Be No Frills Airlines

I am going to Switzerland next week and needed a ticket from Geneva to London to get back.

The process to buy a ticket has grown from a simple choose a flight, put in passenger details and pay, to a complete conversation with the Devil.

I don’t want a hotel, car hire, to pay extra for anything, so please can we have a secret door to by-pass all that junk?

And whilst I’m at it, why not abolish duty-free, as this slows down boarding and costs everybody on their ticket.

I would have taken the train back, but Eurostar is almost sold out and I might not have the flexibility I need in Switzerland.

At least Eurostar has a fairly streamlined booking.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Longevity Of Light Aircraft

I am just watching the travel section of BBC Breakfast, where Cat Moh is taking a flight in a light aircraft to Le Touquet from Blackbushe.

The aircraft they are using is G-BJDW, which I have flown many times, when it was based at Ipswich Airport. It was the plane that many, like me, used for instrument-flying training in the 1980s.

I remember flying three Metier employees to Denham from Ipswich one day.

Delta-Whisky looked to be in good condition, as it was thirty or more years ago.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Labour Abandons Support For New Heathrow Runway

This title of this post is the same as an article on Page 2 of today’s Times.

This is the first paragraph.

Labour will drop its formal support for a third runway at Heathrow today in a significant U-turn that leaves the plan on a knife edge.

Other points in the article.

  • Labour MPs will have a free vote.
  • 75% of all MPs support a third runway, including the SNP and the DUP.
  • A Labour free vote probably means it would pass a vote.
  • Labour has formally backed a third runway for fifteen years.
  • The unions back the third runway.

It would all be so irrelevant, if we’d built Maplin in the last century. But Harold Wilson cancelled it!

June 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Premium Passport Control At Gatwick

By getting lost, I came across Premium Passport Control At Gatwick.

I’d already noticed the lengths of the queues for passport control, so by paying a fiver on my contactless card, I virtually walked at a brisk pace through passport control and security.

I shall certainly book it on my next flights through the airport.

Some will argue that everybody should get this level of service, but as the Gatwick web site says, the service is limited to fifty passengers per hour, just think how big, an area would be needed for the thousands of passengers per hour handled by the airport.

For me though, the service is ideal.

  • At seventy with a few health issues, standing in queues is a pastime I avoid.
  • As a coeliac, I often find food on board a flight is questionable to say the least, so having more time for perhaps something before I fly is an advantage.
  • I can afford the cost!
  • I like to time things as fast as possible.

I would improve the service in two ways.

A Yearly Pass

I do about ten flights a year out of the UK. If for say thirty pounds I could get Premium Passport Control both Outbound and Inbound, I would always fly through Gatwick, as it has flights to where I want to go.

A Duty Free By-Pass

I never buy any traditional duty-free products, although I might buy something in airport shops, like newspapers, snacks or toiletries.

So I would have an optional route straight into the main departure area, by-passing the slow lane through dDuty Free.

Conclusion

I think this will get better!

June 15, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

London To Novara

I flew from between London City and Milan Linate airports and then it was a coach and train to Novara.

These are the various legs of my journey.

Home To London City Airport

I took the following route.

It took just fifty minutes.

It is my closest airport.

London City Airport to Milan Linate Airport

I flew with British Airways Cityflyer.

  • The Airport was busy and there were delays at security.
  • We left a few minutes late.
  • The plane was an Embraer 190 SR.
  • I had a default aisle seat, but the guy in the window seat didn’t come, so I had room to spread about.
  • Some got a free snack, but they had no gluten-free, so BA gave me an extra water from Thirsty Planet.

I took these pictures during the flight.

The flight was more expensive than easyJet or Ruanair, but more refined and not as expensive as British Airways from Heathrow.

It was a route, I’d use again.

Milan Linate Airport To Milan Centrale Station

This was a five euro transfer in a coach from the airport to Milan Centrale station.

As I’d bought the ticket for the bus from a guy by the baggage reclaim, it was a painless business.

Wikipedia says this about Milan Central station.

Milano Centrale has high speed connections to Turin in the west, Venice via Verona in the east and on the north-south mainline to Bologna, Rome, Naples and Salerno. The Simplon and Gotthard railway lines connect Milano Centrale to Bern and Geneva via Domodossola and Zürich via Chiasso in Switzerland.

The station is also an important stop on the Milan Metro.

Looking up on Loco2.com, it would appear that most major cities in Italy have an hourly direct service to and from Milan Central.

Many are high speed trains, like the French TGV, which are called Freciarossa.

My journey between aiirport and station took forty minutes.

Unless I need a specific train, I rarely buy a ticket until I get to the station in Italy.

You can either go straight on to your destination on the next train, or dump your luggage in the left luggage lockers and take a couple of stops on the Metro to the cathedral to have a quick look at Milan.

Milan Centrale Station To Novara Station

To get to Novara station, I used the hourly express commuter service, that goes to Turin.

Note.

  1. The hour’s journey took about an hour and cost me five and a half euros.
  2. My train ran to the timetable.
  3. Usually, you can board a train about fifteen minutes before it leaves.
  4. The Italians paint a lot of rails white. It keeps them cool!

I arrived in Novara about five hours after I took off from London City Airport, so the total journey time coul;d have been under seven hours.

 

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

First Qatar Airways Flight From Doha Lands In Cardiff

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

The story is also reported in the Business section of The Times under a title of Direction Of Travel Brings Qatar Airways To Cardiff Airport.

This is the first paragraph from the latter article.

Trade winds from the Middle East have brought a whiff of what a successful Brexit might look like: a 300-seat, state-of-the-art Qatar Airways jetliner carrying a full business-class cabin and several tonnes of freight that has travelled from the 35C of Persian Gulf heat to 10C of Welsh drizzle.

To some it might seem to be a surprising new route.

As a former private pilot, who knew many of the UK’s airports pretty well, Cardiff Airport has many advantages.

  • It has a long runway.
  • It is not very busy.
  • Air traffic control and other services are top class.
  • It has a terminal capable of handling a large number of planes.
  • British Airways have a large maintenance centre at the Airport.
  • Ground transport to Cardiff includes buses and a railway station at Rhoose Cardiff International Airport station.

It could be an airport, that just needs more airlines and passengers to take advantage of its facilities.

The two articles suggest various reasons, why Qatar are going to run a service, that will be daily by July.

  • It gives Cardiff a direct link to the world’s fastest growing hub airport at Doha.
  • Qatar have lots of investments all over the UK.
  • Doha gives direct access flights to to Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand, to give six examples.
  • Cardiff Airport wants to develop as a warehousing hub and Qatar Airways is big in freight.
  • The export market for Welsh food and other perishables could be transformed.
  • The Times reminds us there are nine million sheep in Wales.

The Times also has this memorable phrase.

Quite why the flights have been launched has as much to do with Welsh lamb as it does with not being Bristol.

But I think there are other reasons.

New Routes For Qatar Airways To North America

Look at Qatar Airways routes to North America.

  • They serve mostly Eastern seaboard destinations from Doha.
  • Chicago and Los Angeles are also served from Doha, but they are long flights of over sixteen hours.
  • San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver are not served.

So would Cardiff with its top-class facilities make an excellent hub for Qatar Airways?

Would a pos-Brexit UK be free to allow Qatar Airways to run services from Cardiff to selected destinations in North America?

Remember, it’s also about freight!

Improved Rail Access

This Google Map shows the Airport.

Note.

  1. Rhoose Cardiff International station is South of the Airport at the bottom of the map.
  2. The main terminal is on the North side of the Airport.
  3. The Vale of Glamorgan Line through the station and then skirts past the Eastern end of the runway on its way to Cardiff.
  4. The Vale of Glamorgan Line is double-track with sections of single-track.
  5. The Vale of Glamorgan Line was scheduled to be electrified.

It would appear that providing better passenger and freight access would not be the most challenging of problems, if they were to become needed in the future.

Improved Passenger Services

The current service at Rhoose Cardiff International station is as follows.

  • An hourly service to Bridgend.
  • An hourly service to Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street and Aberdare.
  • On Sundays the service is only two-hourly.

The service needs to be improved.

It would be possible to run a service from Cardiff to Swansea along the Vale of Glamorgan Line.

  • The service would call at Rhoose Cardiff International station.
  • The service could be run by trains designed for an airport service.
  • The service would connect to all the Cardiff Valley Lines at Cardiff Central station.
  • The service could be extended at the Western end to Llanelli and Fishguard.
  • The service could be extended at the Eastern end to Newport, Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads.

If bi-mode or diesel trains were to be used no new infrastructure would be needed.

Two trains per hour are needed and may be possible, but it might be necessary to find a solution to the two single-trac sections of line.

Freight Services

After reading, the two articles, I’m convinced that both Cardiff Airport and Qatar Airways are backing the use of the airport as a freight hub.

But all freight would have to leave the airport by truck, as there is no rail connection.

Because of the closeness of the Vale of Glamorgan Line to the airport, it would be possible to create a high-quality cargo-handling facility, with rail access.

In The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT), I proposed using four-car Class 321 trains as parcel and pallet carriers.

  • These could serve anywhere in the UK from Cardiff Airport.
  • If from the Airport to Cardiff were to be electrified, electric freight could go fast to London and the South East.
  • Cardiff could be used as an alternative freight hub,, for an over-crowded Heathrow.

I shall be interested to see how Cardiff Airport develops a cargo terminal..

Conclusion

Qatar Airways may have more money than Croesus, but they seem to be spending it wisely, in developing a route to Cardiff.

 

 

 

 

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time To Spare Go By Air

The title of this post was given to me by a pilot by the name of Dick Fox, who was one of men and women, who taught me to fly properly. We also did a few trips to places like Stockholm, Dusseldorf and Cologne. At the latter airport, we had a battery failure so Dick stepped up to the plate and got my Cessna 340, in the yraditional way, by swinging the propeller and starting it by hand.

Today, I’m at Gatwick on my way to Berlin. It never surprised me, the way airports make the process of flying less efficient.

Slow Walking Routes

I’m flying from the North Terminal and arrived at Gatwick by train.

Where is the direct route from the station to the North Terminal shuttle? You have to walk in a loop through the crowds in the Main Terminal to get to it.

Surely, separate routes would be more efficient for passengers and the Airport.

Security

It was better today, but I suspect Gatwick are applying a bit of looking at passengers to speed some through. I suspect that being 70 and grey, I wasn’t asked to take my boots off.

My bag also failed the search and I had to wait for it. But it was all done politely.

I hope that security goes along the route of more technology and AI.

Compulsory Visiting Of Duty Free

We still live in a free country and if I want to visit Duty Free, it should be my choice.

So why do I have to wak threough the Duty Free area?

Needing A Boarding Pass To Buy Anything After Security

Why? As it slows down queuing for small goods you need.

I suspect it’s all about VAT. But surely, if companies abolished it for small purchases, everybody would win.

Slow Service In Restaurants

I queued in Jamie Oliver’s for perhaps ten minutes, but I was out in thirty. It seems they’ve got their systems better.

Conclusion

Any London Airport that speeds up their systems will get my custom.

February 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment