The Anonymous Widower

O’Leary Gets His Planning Wrong

This article on the BBC talks about the mess Ryanair has got itself into.

I have not flown Ryanair since June 2009, when I flew to Lamezia in Southern Italy.

In Why I Avoid Flying Ryanair, written in February 2014, I said this.

It’s not the fact that I want to avoid eleven hour delays, as these can happen to any airline, but it does seem that Ryanair don’t have a reasonable Plan-B to look after passengers in such circumstances.

In the current mess they haven’t even got a Plan-A!

Even now at seventy, I could probably write a program in Visual Basic 6, that took an airline’s schedules and gave them details of their needs for aircraft, pilots, cabin staff and lucky shamrocks for a required number of years.

Obviously, their planning doesn’t include such a system.

But I bet Norwegian have such a system!

The key to any successful business is getting your planning right!

“It Won’t Happen To Me!”

Do passengers think this when they fly somewhere.

Let’s face it, most of the journeys we do by car, bus and train in the UK, have an outcome as expected or perhaps we might get compensation for a late train.

And if the latter happens, we usually get a prompt refund.

Unlike in my adventures described in From Hamburg To Osnabruck By Train, where I suffered at the hands of Deutsche Bahn in Germany, where I had to pay for my hotel and had to buy a new ticket.

Conclusion

My rule is to use Ryanair as an airline of last resort, when they are the only airline flying to where I want to go. So if they mess up on the outward leg, I get an extra night in my own bed.

But then I can afford some extra expense and often, I’m travelling alone.

 

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Cargo Hub Is Latest Plan To Get Manston Airfield Off Ground

The title of this post is the same as a news item in the business section of The Times today.

This is the first paragraph.

It is the airport that refuses to take off. But the latest attempt to turn the Battle of Britain airfield if Manston into a sstainable commercial proposition could take wing this autumn.

The Plan

The plan for Manston Airport is roughly on the following lines.

  • The airport becomes a passenger and freight airport.
  • Help create employment in a depressed area.
  • Talk of a £300 million investment.
  • A potential to take air cargo out of Gatwick and Heathrow.

But I’m fairly sceptical given that so many attempts have failed in the past.

This Google Map shows the position of the airport.

Note how the airport is ringed by the Thanet towns.

This Google Map is a close-up of the Airport.

Note

These are my observations.

Local Residents

The runway is roughly East-West on an alignment of 10-28.

Most take-offs and landings will probably we towards the West using Eunway 28.

I don’t know the area well, but I did get this image from Google Maps.

Note this housing just to the South of the final approach to Runway 28.

This Google Map shows the housing, the runway and the A299.

The residents can’t be too pleased of the plans.

Especially, as Google StreetView shows some of these houses to be newly-built sizeable bungalows.

Road Access

Road access to the airport would need to be substantially improved.

I can’t expect that the residents of Thanet will be pleased if a motorway is built across the countryside from the A2 South of Canterbury.

Rail Access

London’s newest airport is Southend Airport on the North bank of the Thames. The airport is growing as a base for easyJet and other low-cost airlines.

Southend Airport has several advantages, one of which is that the terminal is only a hundred metres from Southend Airport railway station, which is fifty minutes from Liverpool Street station.

In this day and age, I don’t believe that planning permission will be given for Manston Airport, unless a large proportion of freight, travellers and airport workers travel to and from the airport by rail.

Consider the current situation.

  • As the Ashford to Ramsgate Line passes just to the South of Manston Airport, I would expect that the development would involve diverting this rail line, so it passed close to the airport.
  • Current passenger services on the line, link to Ashford, Canterbury, Dover,  Margate and Ramsgate, so at least it would be ideal for local airport workers.
  • There are also a couple of trains per hour (tph) to and from London Victoria.
  • Class 395 trains or Javelins also run using HS1 into St. Pancras. Currently, the fastest trains from |St. Pancras to Ramsgate take 79 minutes, so I suspect that to Manston Airport will take about 75 minutes.

The new Southeastern Franchise, which is currently being bid for will see improved access to this area of Kent, which could include.

  • A second HighSpeed route opened into either Victoria or Waterloo using the route that used to be taken by Eurostar to Waterloo.
  • Increase in HighSpeed services to Kent.
  • Replacement of all the slow trains to speed up faster services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that Ramsgate gets the following HighSpeed services to London in every hour, that would call at Manston Airport.

  1. Two fast trains to St. Pancras.
  2. Two fast trains to Victoria
  3. Two fast trains to St. Pancras via the Medway towns.

Certainly, the frequency will be good.

Getting Passengers To And From The Airport

It is 2026 and these will be the times from Oxford Circus to the various London airports.

  • Birmingham – 45 minutes – via HS2
  • Gatwick – 68 minutes
  • Heathrow – 27 minutes
  • London City – 20 minutes
  • Luton – 43 minutes
  • Manston – 75 minutes
  • Southend – 60 minutes
  • Stansted – 43 minutes

Access from London might be by HighSpeed train, but people complain about the time it gets to Stansted now, so a time of 75 minutes may be a discouragement, when there are so many alternatives.

I believe that coupled with road access, which will be difficult to improve, that Manston Airport, will never be a significant player in the passenger market.

Getting Cargo To And From The Airport

The local residents are not going to want large numbers of trucks taking cargo to the airport.

But I believe that a lot of parcel and pallet transport, can go by train.

Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, which is also serious about cargo, is proposing to divert the East Coast Main Line, so that cargo trains can call at the airport. Manston Airport would have equally good rail access.

The interesting concept is what I call a HSPT or High Speed Parcel/Pallet train. The idea was first proposed in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways there is an article entitled Freight, Not All Doom And Gloom, which talks about high-value parcel carriers.

I have developed the concept, as I’m inclined to do in The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT).

I would use some of the soon-to-be redundant Class 321 trains and convert them into parcel and pallet carriers.

  • They are four-car 100 mph dual voltage electric multiple units.
  • They can run in lengths of twelve-cars if required.
  • There are over a hundred of them of which the large proportion will need new caring owners.
  • The trains may be thirty-five years old, but they are reliable and built out of steel to take punishment.
  • They can easily be converted to bi-mode units, by adding underfloor diesel engines, so they can go anywhere in the UK.
  • They could even go through the Channel Tunnel and run on the the French 25 KVAC network.

How many trucks would be taken from the UK’s crowded roads.

An Integrated Cargo Airport

An integrated cargo airport may have appeal.

Consider.

  • Air cargo is increasingly  containerised.
  • Gatwick and Heathrow Airports are short of slots for passenger aircraft.
  • Manston has a long runway, that could handle the largest cargo planes.
  • The airport could easily have rail access to the |Channel Tunnel.
  • The proposed HSPTs could use the Channel Tunnel with the correct signalling.

I worry that the poor road access would be a problem.

The Competition

Doncaster Sheffield Airport could be a serious competitor with equally good train and much better road access.

Conclusion

As in the past, it will be a difficult project to get working well

I also think the road access problems might kill it.

 

 

August 31, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

New Jet Flies In To Boost City’s Hopes Of Take-Off

The title of this post is the same as that of a substantial article in the Business pages of The Times.

It describes the affects Bombardier’s CS100 airliner will have on London City Airport.

Flights have started by Swiss between London City and Zurich, but the intriguing prospect is that the aircraft is capable of flying direct from London City to places like Dubai, Moscow and New York.

The Crossrail station for London City Airport, I talked about in Action Stations On Crossrail Howler, will certainly be needed.

 

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Did Heathrow Back Down?

This article on the BBC is entitled New Elizabeth Line to serve Heathrow’s Terminal 5

A few months ago Heathrow was wanting to charge Crossrail an extortionate price for access to Heathrow and it was also holding out from allowing Crossrail to reach Terminal Five.

They tried all legal means to get Crossrail to cough up for the access to Heathrow, but no court found in their favour. And that includes the most important court of all; the Court of Public Opinion. Many, and Londoners in particular, look upon Heathrow Airports as a greedy bully and perhaps Heathrow decided this was a fight they couldn’t win.

So their only bargaining chip left was Terminal Five and perhaps British Airways had a quiet word.

Passengers complaining about being ripped off by Heathrow Express wouldn’t complain to Heathrow, but to British Airways.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Edinburgh Airport Flying High Because Of Brexit

The Sunday Times also reports that Edinburgh Airport is doing well because Brexit has helped to drive a surge in passengers.

  • Passenger numbers are up 11%.
  • Routes are up by 7%.
  • Turnover gre 13%

Profits did slump by 34%, after a one-off boost in 2015.

 

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

United Airlines Introduce My Ideal Flying Class

The respected travelwriter, Simon Calder, on BBC Breakfast, alerted me to this story, which is fully reported in this article on USA Today, which is entitled United adds ‘Basic Economy’ fares with carry-on bag restrictions.

My Carry On Bag

When I flew to Las Palmas recently on easyJet, I did pay for baggage to go in the hold, as I thought I’d be taking more and I don’t have a carry-on bag, that is big enough.

Why is it, that all light carry-on bags seem to have wheels, which is just extra weight and wasted space,. to carry around?

All I want is a light square box with a comfortable handle.  My current Mandarina Duck bag is shown in My Packing List.

Since then, I’ve cut down on what I take with me, so I do have a bit more space.

I could therefor easily use a smaller carry-on bag, especially, if I was going to a country I knew well like Germany, Italy,Spain or Poland.

On a more ambitious trip, I could certainly fill a bigger carry-on bag with useful items like lots of M&S Honeycomb Crispies.

But unfortunately, I haven’t found the ideal bag.

  • No wheels.
  • Small comfortable carry handle.
  • No straps.
  • Maximum volume to fit carry-on rules.
  • Big enough to take a compact SLR and lens.
  • Not too many specially-designed feature pockets.
  • Secure.

I suspect that some clever American, will be designing the ideal carry-on bag for United’s Basic Economy.

Choosing Seats

I don’t!

This means I usually get an aisle seat, which is ideal for my needs.

  • I tend to get a bit stiff sitting for three or four hours, so a walk to the toilet is easy to stretch my legs.
  • I inevitably leave something I want in my carry-on bag, so if it’s in the overhead locker,  can get it easily.
  • I can get on at the last minute and know I can just sneak into my seat.
  • I can usually get off easily.
  • I can see what’s on the trolley, without reading the menu.

It will all go pear-shaped one day, when I get the dreadful centre seat of three.

My Coat

The picture shows the inside of my warm M & S winter coat.

My Winter Coat

My Winter Coat

Note the large internal pocket, which is big enough for a thick tabloid newspaper or a paperback book.

The external pockets, also are big enough for my camera, phone and a real hndkerchief.

A Few Travel Tips

Over the years, I have gradually cut down on what I take.

  • Take a battery-powered electric toothbrush. The charger of most others takes up too much space.
  • Charge phones, cameras and other devices, through a USB lead and just take a USB charger and adapter.
  • Don’t take soap or shampoo, or anything the hotel should have.
  • As I don’t use sun-screen, I don’t take that either.
  • Take perhaps three still-rolled real handkerchiefs, as they have other users, like stylish tablecloths on trains.
  • Take a spare SD card for your camera, already unpacked and ready for use.
  • On a long trip, I take older socks, knickers and shirts, discarding them, when they get dirty.
  • Take at least two credit cards in separate places, in case you lose your favourite.
  • Don’t buy anything in duty-free. It only encourages them! And we have to carry it.
  • Take a small shoe horn.
  • Take an upmarket compact plastic knife/fork/spoon from IKEA, as you never know, when that delicious snack will need it.
  • Never take nightwear.
  • Take a torch.
  • Take one of Sainsbury’s five pence orange shopping bags.

When I used to travel with C, we used to share a lot of things, like jumpers and tee-shirts, as we were of a similar size.

In fact, the last joke she ever said to me, was that I would have difficulty finding someone, to train to my packing habits.

Comclusion

I can’t wait for a European airline to introduce a Basic Economy class.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Nightmare At Gatwick

I few out to Las Palmas from Southend and the experience coming back through Gatwick couldn’t have been more different.

I arrived in the North Terminal and this terminal is now very poor compared to modern standards.

  • The walk to Passport Control is long and tortuous compared to many other similar-sized European airports.
  • Passport Control was solid and was only half open.
  • The baggage took an age to arrive, but luckily my bag was off first.
  • I had to get the shuttle to the main terminal for the train, but it wasn’t a well-signposted route.
  • I of course just missed the shuttle.

The North Terminal is basically a 1970s design and it shows.

The terminal is a disgrace and doesn’t fit with any notion of Britain being open for business.

Did the Government plump for Heathrow, as they have all had very bad experiences of Gatwick.

To be fair to the Airport, their plans for the future look good.

Gatwick In The Future

Gatwick In The Future

But will we actually see it?

 

November 10, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Leaving From Southend Airport

It’s a long time, that I did some of my flying training at Southend Airport.

I flew from the airport to Las Palmas, as it was only flight I could get on the Sunday, that had seats.

Southend Airport, must be one of the few with a lawn outside the terminal where passengers can waste time before going through the gate or people can wait for a passenger.

I couldn’t use the station, which is only about a hundred metres from the gate, as being Sunday, it was a bus on part of the way to London because of Crossrail work.

So I used Southend Central station and got a lift with a couple of Dutchmen.

November 7, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail’s Park-And-Ride Facilities

Crossrail is costing upwards of around fifteen billion pounds, but when it comes to providing Park-and-Ride facilities for passengers, it probably scores a massive zero-out-of-ten.

Consider.

  • Parking at Shenfield station is no more than adequate for current customers.
  • Abbey Wood station‘s restricted site, may well be getting a flagship station, but where will passengers park?
  • Crossrail’s South-Eastern branch doesn’t serve Ebbsfleet International stastion, which has masses of parking.
  • Of the three branches, only Reading station can probably increase its parking to cope.
  • Where are the Park-and-Ride sites , where Crossrail and the M25 intersect?

It is certainly not good enough.

A Park-and-Ride At Brentwood

This Google Map shows where Crossrail crosses the M25, just South of the junction between the M25 and the A12.

Crossrail And The M25 And A12 At Brentwood

Crossrail And The M25 And A12 At Brentwood

I feel that this would be a logical site for a station with large and efficient Park-and-Ride facilities.

  • It would be about thirty minutes from Liverpool Street station and seventy minutes from Heathrow.
  • There would be over a dozen trains per hour (tph) to and from Central London.
  • Long-distance trains to and from Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich and Southend could call and have cross-platform interchange with Crossrail.

I suspect that there would be massive opposition to building the station.

A Park-and-Ride At Iver

This Google Map shows Iver station and the M25 as it goes South from the M40 to the M4.

Crossrail And The M25 At Iver

Crossrail And The M25 At Iver

I feel that this would be another logical site for a station with Park-and-Ride facilities.

In Network Rail Plans Another Tunnel Into Heathrow, I talked about plans to create a Western Rail Link Approach to Heathrow.

  • The route starts between Langley and Iver stations, goes South roughly parallel with the M25 and then goes into Terminal 5 from the West.
  • Much of the route is in tunnel.

Surely, if a Park-and-Ride site was to be built in the West of London, then these two projects should be combined.

Since I wrote about the PRT System in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5, I’ve met someone, who’s had a ride. Their view was totally positive on this new technology.

So I think there could be possibilities for a very futuristic transport system to Heathrow linked to Crossrail at Iver, in addition to the full rail option.

A Park-and-Ride At Abbey Wood

Abbey Wood Station

Abbey Wood Station

This Google Map shows the area of South East London around Crossrail’s terminus at Abbey Wood station..

There doesn’t appear to be much space around the station for a Park-and-Ride site.

This Google Map shows the roads in the area.

Roads Around Abbey Wood Station

Roads Around Abbey Wood Station

Abbey Road station is on Harrow Manor Way, which links two East-West routes; the A2016 and the A206.

As Abbey Wood is the only surface station on the South-Eastern branch, I don’t think that there is a great probability, that a large Park-and-Ride site can be built on the South-astern branch of Crossrail.

A Park-and-Ride On An Extended South-Eastern Branch

Crossrail have safeguarded an extension Gravesend, which is described in this section in Wikipedia.

The route to Gravesend has been safeguarded by the Department for Transport, although it was made clear that as at February 2008 there was no plan to extend Crossrail beyond the then-current scheme. The following stations are on the protected route extension to Gravesend: Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Swanscombe, Northfleet, and Gravesend

So does this route give possibilities for a large Park-and-Ride?

This Google Map shows how the proposed extended route of Crossrail, runs under the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.

Crossrail, And The QE2 Bridge

Crossrail, And The QE2 Bridge

Slade Green station is to the West of the bridge  and the M25, in the top-left corner of the map, whilst Stone Crossing station is to the East, in the bottom right corner of the map.

This Google Map shows the route between Slade Green station and the Southern end of the bridge using the A206.

Slade Green Station To The QE2 Bridge

Slade Green Station To The QE2 Bridge

Slade Green station is in the top-left corner of the map and the Southern approach of the bridge in the bottom-right.

This Google Map shows between the bridge and Stone Crossing station.

The QE2 Bridge To Stone Crossing Station

The QE2 Bridge To Stone Crossing Station

The Southern approach to the bridge is in the bottom-left with Stone Crossing station in the bottom-right.

After a brief look at both stations, using Wikipedia and Google Maps, the following can be said.

  • Both stations are on the A206 road.
  • The links to the M25 and M2 could probably be improved.
  • There would appear to be space at both stations to build substantial parking.
  • Both have at least two tph to and from Abbey Wood at the present time.
  • From 2018, Thameslink will be running two tph will run from Rainham to Luton stopping at Stone Crossing, Slade Green and Abbey Wood stations.
  • Nearly all the trains on the line will be 12-car trains.

Could the Park-and-Ride needs on the Abbey Wood branch be solved by increasing the parking at stations like Stone Crossing and Slade Green, with passengers using local trains and Thameslink to access Crossrail?

  • There should be sufficient capacity in the 12-car trains to fit in a few short-distance travellers.
  • The frequency between Abbey Wood and Rochester should be at least four tph.
  • These trains will call at Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, and Gravesend.
  • The Crossrail frequency at Abbey Wood will be at least eight tph.
  • Because of these frequencies, there shouldn’t be too much time wasted, waiting for a train at Abbey Wood.

I think that this shows that if the connecting trains to Abbey Wood have a medium to high frequency and there is plenty of parking along the line, then loyts of parking doesn’t need to be provided at Abbey Wood.

The more that I look at the lines and services in North Kent, it does appear that running Thameslink between Rainham and Luton via Greenwich, Abbey Wood and Dartford was a piece of very high-class thinking.

 

 

November 3, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Building The Third Runway At Heathrow

This is not concerned about the politics and protests of building the third runway at Heathrow, but about how it could be built and the options for transport to the Airport.

The Current Heathrow Airport

This is a Google Map of Heathrow Airport and the surrounding area.

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport

The Proposed Heathrow Airport

This map from the Heathrow web site, shows the position of the new runway and the expanded airport.

 

Heathrow Airport With Three Runways

Heathrow Airport With Three Runways

Note.

  • How the M25 is dropped into a tunnel.
  • The village of Harmondsworth is no more.
  • This page on the Heathrow we site gives a lot more details.

Construction

It looks to me, that the actual transformation of the Airport will be possible, as it looks like construction would just replace the housing with the new runway and associated works.

Diversion Of The M25

Cut and cover tunnels would carry the M25 under the new runway, but from the map, it looks like the motorway will only be in tunnel under the new part of the airport and for not that great a distance.

I think with careful planning, the M25 could be left functioning, whilst the tunnel and new runway are constructed, so it should be nothing like the problems of constructing Terminal 5.

Conclusion

The new runway and terminal shouldn’t be the world’s most difficult construction project.

 

 

October 25, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , | Comments Off on Building The Third Runway At Heathrow