The Anonymous Widower

Southgate Expects

Like most of England, Southgate is probably wishing England well.

The picture was taken after Southgate took England to the World Cup semi-final in 2018.

Transport for London with a little help from Visa, also changed all the roundels.

If they did that for losing in the semis, what will happen, if England go further?

July 5, 2021 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , | Leave a comment

The German View On England’s Win

This article on Die Welt is Germany’s view of last night’s football

June 30, 2021 Posted by | Sport | , , | 3 Comments

Did Gareth Bale Learn A Few Tricks From Tommy Harmer?

Tommy Harmer wasn’t a famous footballer to many, but to those, like me, who saw him play for Spurs in the 1950s, he was recognised as one of the most skilful ball-players of the time.

The second goal scored by Wales yesterday, was certainly a repeat of quite a few, I saw scored by Spurs in the 1950s, with Gareth Bale standing in for Harmer.

Harmer would accept a very short corner and with the ball glued to his feet, he’d advance slowly up the line towards the goal.

There was usually one of three outcomes.

  • Harmer was able to pull the ball back to someone like Bobby Smith, who hit it first time towards goal from just outside the six-yard box. Last night Connor Roberts played Smith to perfection to score  from Bale’s pullback.
  • Harmer was tackled and he got another corner, from which he sometimes repeated the dose.
  • In some cases, the inevitable happened and Harmer was fouled inside the penalty area. And who scored from the penalty spot? – Harmer of course!

He was one of the best penalty takers I’ve ever seen, Wikipedia says this of his penalties.

Sublime unstoppable penalties, tucked into the side netting behind an upright.

Some would probably be illegal these days, as he sometimes waited until the goalkeeper moved. More fool the keeper!

Did Bale And Harmer Ever Meet?

Tommy Harmer sadly died in 2017, but on Radio 5, it was said around 2014, that he was working as a meeter-and-greeter at White Hart Lane and had been for some time.

So I suspect that someone at the club could have introduced the two players to each other, during Bale’s first spell at the club between 2007 and 2013. They would have made an odd pair, with a height difference of seven inches.

And of course, I suspect Spurs have a few videos of Harmer.

In many years of watching football, I haven’t seen this method of taking a corner used since those days in the 1950s, by Harmer.

I suspect Gareth Bale has changed all that! Wales got a goal, but Bale was also using it as a way to run down the clock!

June 17, 2021 Posted by | Sport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Qatar 2022 Seriously Under Threat?

For various reasons, I’m not in favour of holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

I am not alone and summed up Greg Dyke’s views in Greg Dyke On Qatar 2022, where I came to this conclusion.

I think the whole tournament is already dead-in-the-water and that it probably won’t take place in Qatar. If it does, it will be in fully-enclosed air-conditioned stadia, with virtually no spectators and absolutely no real fans or atmosphere.

The air-conditioned stadia will probably use masses of electricity generated in fossil fuel power stations.

This article on the BBC is entitled Christian Eriksen: Denmark Midfielder Suffered Cardiac Arrest, Says Team Doctor.

Was Eriksen’s cardiac arrest caused by the heat in Copenhagen?

We shall probably not know until the full investigation has been completed.

Now put yourself in the position of an owner of a Premier League or other important football club.

Would you allow your star player to go and play in the heat of Qatar without a full investigation into what happened with Christian Eriksen?

I suspect many owners would tell Qatar and FIFA, where they could stick their World Cup.

They just can’t afford to risk their assets!

 

 

June 14, 2021 Posted by | Sport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

800009 – John Charles

On my way to Wales on Tuesday, I travelled in the Class 800 train, that is numbered 800009 and named after the great Welsh footballer; John Charles at one end.

I actually saw him play for Leeds in a match against Spurs at White Hart Lane. Leeds played in a blue kit in those days and I am fairly sure John Charles played up front.

I suspect, it likely, that it must have been the  1956-57 season as it would be the only season where Leeds were in the First Division, before John Charles left in 1957 to go to Juventus.

I wonder how many people, who saw John Charles play, have actually ridden in the train named after him?

It was good to see that Great Western Railway have also put his Italian nickname; Il Gigante Buono on the train.

 

June 11, 2021 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric

Consider.

  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.

Note.

  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York and Durham
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common and York.

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line, as against High Speed Two, which will be a 225 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.

Conclusion

I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will Bread And Circuses Help Us Through COVID-19?

Bread and circuses is an old phrase that goes back to Roman times.

It looks like TV and on-line cooks and chefs and the supermarkets have given us the first, so do we need more of the second?

At the weekend, I enjoyed watching quality horse-racing on ITV, so wouldn’t it be sensible to get football on free-to-air television as soon as possible.

It might encourage people to stay-in, rather than gather in groups.

Would it cut the spread of COVID-19?

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health, Sport, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

The Death Of The Duke Of Wellington

I used to use this pub occasionally, as it showed football on a large screen and served reasonable gluten-free pizzas.

But it is closed because of COVID-19!

How sad!

March 26, 2020 Posted by | Food, Sport | , | 3 Comments

A Medical Bulletin On Myself

About two on Saturday morning, I got out of bed to go to the toilet and tripped into the en-suite bathroom causing myself a serious head injury. I also cut my hand, but what on I do not know! I suspect, that I knocked myself out and when I woke up, my bedroom and living room was like a murder scene with blood everywhere.

The Royal London patched me up, putting a large plaster on my left hand and I stayed Saturday night in the hospital.

My son brought me home on Sunday and I slept that night at home.

On Monday, the cleaners tidied up the mess.

Tuesday, I called 999 again, as I was on the point of falling over and the Royal London found my blood pressure was low, when I stood up. It had been like that, when I had my stroke in Hong Kong and they had to resort to using old-fashioned mercury blood pressure meters.

There was no extra damage and I came home in a taxi.

I’m a bit more normal today, although I seem very sleepy and my INR is just 1.2. 111 told me to start Warfarin yesterday. Which I did!

I shall watch the football on the television and go to bed tonight.

 

 

March 4, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport | , , , | 9 Comments

Why Are Liverpool Good At Transfers?

This question was asked on BBC Radio 5, about Liverpool Football Club.

As an alumni, I raise money for cancer research at Liverpool University.

I get the impression, the University has no problem getting the best researchers to come to the Second City of England!

Everybody in the World has heard of Liverpool!

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Sport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment