The Anonymous Widower

A French Banker’s View Of The French Police

After the violence at the weekend in Paris, I am reminded of a meeting with a French banker.

 

Many years ago, I used to do business with a French banker; Andre, who lived and worked in Geneva.

Whether, there had been an excess of violence by French police at the time, I can’t remember, but in a restaurant in Geneva we got talking about the different between French police and other forces in Europe. Andre stated that if you join the French police, you immediately lose all your friends, as no-one wants a policeman as a friend, such is the distrust of the police.

Andre had worked all over Europe, and felt that only in France, is there this attitude to the police.

Does this closed society of the French police lead to them going over the top, as they regularly seem to do?

I’d love to know what the French police think of refugees! I wonder, if they see them as a supreme nuisance and feel the sooner, they have left French soil the better.

May 30, 2022 Posted by | Finance, Sport, World | , , , | 2 Comments

Was Storm Franklin Named By An Old Minchendenian?

This press release from the Met Office is entitled Storm Franklin Named.

When I first heard yesterday, that the storm was to be named, I must admit, that I allowed myself a small smile.

I went to Minchenden Grammar School in Southgate, leaving in 1965.

One teacher, that we looked upon with a degree of affection was our German teacher, who was Frank J Stabler, who some pupils referred to as Franklin J Stabler. I don’t know whether that was his real name or whether it was fellow pupils making it up.

But he did have one story, that he used to liven up one of the lessons, where he taught me enough German to get by in the country.

Apparently, he was returning from France to the UK on the night of Saturday, the 31st of January in 1953, using the ferry from Dieppe in France to Newhaven in Sussex.

That ferry route used to have a reputation for being rough and on one bad crossing around 1975, my five-year-old son fell and cut himself just above his eye. He was skillfully cleaned up and plastered by one of the chefs. Luckily the chef had been a soldier, who had been well-trained in first aid.

Back in 1953, Mr. Stabler could have chosen a better night for his trip, as that day was the night of devastating East Coast Floods, which killed over five hundred people in the UK.

The captain of the ferry decided to sit the storm out and crew and passengers spent twenty-four hours being tossed about like a cork in the English Channel, which was a tale Mr. Stabler told with great drama.

He finished the tale, by saying that in the end, he prayed for the boat to go down to put everybody out of their misery.

Conclusion

I have to ask if someone on the committee that decides storm names, either directly or indirectly, has heard this tale and decided that Franklin would be an appropriate name for a storm beginning with F.

 

 

February 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Anybody Know Of A Covid Travel Consultancy?

There are a few places in Europe, that I’d like to go for a couple of days.

I can book all the train tickets and hotels myself, but what I would like is someone to review my route for a fee and send me a pack of all the things I need to do and take.

Countries, I would like to visit include France, Germany, Hungary and The Netherlands.

January 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Macron Is Having Trouble With Another Brigitte

The text is a small section in the January 7th Edition of The Times.

Brigitte Bardot, 87, said she had refused the vaccine. “I’m allergic to all chemical products,” the film star told Gala magazine. “Even when I travelled in Africa, I refused to do it for yellow fever. My doctor wrote me a false certificate.” The remarks were not helpful for President Macron, who is trying to eradicate false vaccine certificates.

If she is allergic to all chemical products, what does she use to wash?

Perhaps, President Macron could ask Dame Joan Collins, who has been vaccinated, to point out to Brigitte, the error of her ways. After all, they were born within twelve months of each other.

January 7, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CargoBeamer Operates Lane Between Kaldenkirchen And Perpignan

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from CargoBeamer.

It has this sub-title.

New Route Starting In January 2022

These two paragraphs form the body of the release.

The logistics service provider CargoBeamer is expanding its intermodal network from the beginning of next year. Between Kaldenkirchen in Germany and Perpignan near the French-Spanish border, goods will be transported environmentally friendly by rail from January 10, 2022. The patented CargoBeamer system enables all kinds of semitrailers, containers, P400 trailers, refrigerated and tank trailers, and other types of goods to be transported by train without requiring any additional conversions for forwarders.

At the start in January, initially three trains will run weekly in each direction. From mid-February, the frequency will increase permanently to five round trips per week. CargoBeamer will collaborate with DB Cargo France (formerly Euro Cargo Rail) as its traction partner. The new Franco-German route is the company’s sixth connection overall, with five of the six lines having been added to the network in the past six months.

They certainly seem to be adding routes frequently.

How Do Trailers Get Between Ashford And Calais?

They obviously go through the Channel Tunnel, but what happens on each side of the Channel?

Is the trailer fixed to a tractor unit at the Ashford and Calais terminals and then driven onto the freight shuttle?

This video contains an interview with Nicolas Albrecht from CargoBeamer

 

January 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 10 Comments

Could The Morocco-UK Power Project Be Developed Into A Western Europe And Africa Interconnector?

This page on the Xlinks web site, describes the Morocco-UK Power Project, which is proposed to generate solar and wind power in Morocco and deliver it to the UK.

  • The plan envisages 10.5 GW of electricity being generated.
  • There will be a 5GW/20GWh battery in Morocco.
  • They will export 3.6 GW of electricity to the UK for at least twenty hours per day.
  • The electricity will be exported to the UK by an Interconnector that skirts to the West of Spain, Portugal and France.
  • The interconnector will be 3,800 kilometres long.

I described the project in detail in Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project.

This Google Map shows Western Europe And North Africa.

Note.

  1. The light blue of the Continental Shelf
  2. The darker blue of deeper water.
  3. The Southern end of the Morocco and the UK interconnector will at Guelmim Oued Noun in the South of Morocco, which is indicated by the red arrow.
  4. The UK end of the cable will be at Alverdiscott between Barnstaple and Bideford in North Devon.
  5. Southern Morocco and Algeria look to be mainly in the Sahara Desert.

If we look at the route of the cable, it connects a lot of possible renewable energy sources.

  • Morocco – Solar and wind
  • Spain – Solar and wind
  • Portugal – Solar and wind
  • France – Nuclear, tidal and wind
  • UK – Nuclear and wind.

Could the UK and Morocco interconnector be developed into a bigger power project?

  • Solar and wind power from Algeria could be added.
  • Tidal power from a Severn Barrage could be added.
  • Connections could be added to Gibraltar, the Irish Republic and Wales.

I believe that there could be a large amount of electricity developed on the Western costs of Europe and Africa.

An interconnector would move it to where it is needed.

 

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Getlink And CargoBeamer Team Up To Launch The First Unaccompanied Cross-Channel Service By Rail

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

This is the first paragraph and a half.

Eurotunnel and CargoBeamer have signed a partnership which will see the launch of a new, 100% unaccompanied rail freight transport service across the Short Straits, from Calais to Ashford.

The extension of the rolling motorway from Perpignan to Ashford is a logical step in developing a future international intermodal network between the Channel and the Mediterranean. A second route from Domodossola, in the Alps region, to Calais will also be extended to Ashford after its launch in early October.

These are other points from the press release.

  • Both new railway services will prevent 8,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
  • They will help to partially resolve the shortage of truck drivers in the UK and Europe.
  • They will relieve traffic congestion on motorways.

It sounds like it could be a worthwhile service with more than the obvious winners.

Who Is CargoBeamer?

This is their web site and it displays an introductory video and this mission statement.

The Road to Rail Sustainable Transport Solutions

CargoBeamer use specially designed rail wagons and this page, which is entitled The Unique CargoBeamer Technology, explains how it works.

This is a claim from the web site.

As soon as the train has arrived, all semi-trailers are transferred automatically and with the simple push of a button. It takes CargoBeamer just 20 minutes to unload 36 semi-trailers from an intermodal train and load the same number at the same time. Both steps simply happen simultaneously. By comparison, a conventional crane terminal needs around three to four hours to handle such a train.

That is certainly not slow.

This video gives a full explanation about how CargoBeamer works.

Note.

  1. They can carry all types of trailers.
  2. The video shows the terminal built on a straight single-track line, where freight trains enter, load and unload and leave.

I must admit I like the design of the terminals, which they describe as Compact2 and Compact3, which gives a clue as to their design.

Their first terminal has opened in Calais and is described in this Press Release, which is entitled CargoBeamer Opens Terminal In Calais.

What Routes Are CargoBeamer Planning?

According to their web site, CargoBeamer have opened or are planning terminals at the following places.

  • Ashford – UK
  • Calais – France
  • Domodossola – Italy
  • Duisburg – Germany
  • KaldenKirchen – Germany
  • Perpignan – France
  • Poznan – Poland

Routes opened or planned include.

  • Domodossola – Calais – Ashford
  • KaldenKirchen – Domodossola
  • Perpignan – Calais – Ashford
  • Poznan – Duisburg

You can certainly understand, why Calais is their first terminal.

Serving The UK 

 

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled CargoBeamer Network Extended To The UK.

This is a paragraph.

Eurotunnnel told Railway Gazette International the aim was to build up to operating whole trains through the tunnel as the market develops, and ultimately to run trains to destinations further inland.

That seems a clear statement of intent.

Ashford could be an easy terminal to develop and I suspect it could be between Ashford and Folkestone, where the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the M20 run close together. The compact size of the terminal would surely help.

The other sensible place for a terminal would be Barking, which can accept trains to the larger European gauge.

But it would be convenient, if trains could be run through the Channel Tunnel to places like Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland.

Gauge clearance of routes to the European size would be a challenging, expensive and disruptive process.

But in Gauge Improvements Across London, I indicated that an enhanced gauge of W12 could be possible through London on the Gospel Oak to Barking and North London Lines.

But seeing that CargoBeamer appear to be targeting the UK, perhaps they have an innovative wagon design for services to the UK, which could have a height limit for trucks.

September 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Remodelled Station Opens In Canfranc Ahead Of Reopening Of Cross-Border Link

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

On April 15, a RENFE DMU carrying invited guests from Zaragoza became the first train to arrive at the remodelled and relocated station in Canfranc, marking a further step in the long-running plan to reinstate the railway through the Pyrénées mountains linking Pau with Huesca.

I have an ambition to visit Canfranc station, where the Spanish and French railways meet at one of the largest stations in Europe.

  • On the French side the Pau-Canfranc Railway is gradually being reopened.
  • On the Spanish side there is a railway to Zaragoza, from where there are high speed trains to Barcelona and Madrid.

Both routes appear to be mainly single-track

There would appear to be pressure for reopening  the full route In a Section entitled Renovation and Reopening, Wikipedia says this.

In present economic development, the transport route beneath the Aspe peak via the Gave d’Aspe valley is changing from a relatively unknown into a major transport channel. This is not only due to the regional pressure between Bordeaux and Zaragoza (which on the Spanish side alone has a regional population of 1 million people), but also the importance of the international route between Paris and Valencia. These economic pressures – in part driven by the General Motors plant located in Zaragoza – have in recent years resulted in heavy truck and car traffic on the roads of the upper Gave d’Aspe valley, and an increased number of accidents.

Sounds like this indicates a powerful case.

Madrid And London By The Scenic Rail Route

The route would be as follows.

  • Madrid and Zaragoza by High Speed Train.
  • Zaragoza and Canfranc by local train  through the mountains.
  • Canfranc and Pau by local train  through the mountains.
  • Pau and Paris by TGV
  • Paris and London via Eurostar.

Note.

  1. According to the Railway Gazette, a luxury hotel is being built at Canfranc.
  2. Bordeaux is a good city for an overnight stop.
  3. Prior to the covids, Eurostar were hoping to run a direct London and Bordeaux service.

I hope to do this trip in the next couple of years.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

France Passes A Law That Prohibits Domestic Flights, For Trips That Can Be Made By Train In Less Than Two And A Half Hours

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

I actually wonder, if this is something that is almost a complete ban on domestic flights except to islands like Corsica, as with the growth of the TGV network there can’t be many pairs of places in France, where the train takes more than two and a half hours.

I need to go to Pau at some time in the near future.

Pau is actually four and a half hours from Paris. Would most people take the train?

Other distances for comparison include.

  • Biarritz – 4 hours 11 minutes
  • Bordeaux – 2 hours 11 minutes
  • Marseilles – 3 hours 2 minutes
  • Nice – 6 hours
  • Strasbourg – 2 hours

It just shows how big France is.

By comparison in the UK, you can get to the following places in two and a half hours from London.

  • Preston from Euston
  • Hull from Kings Cross
  • Leeds from Kings Cross
  • Northallerton from Kings Cross
  • Exeter St. Davids from Paddington
  • Port Talbot Parkway from Paddington

Other roughly two and a half hour journeys would include.

  • Edinburgh and York
  • Glasgow and Preston
  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh

I would think, that the French have got the limit in their law about right.

Should We Have A Similar Law In The UK?

I have once taken a flight on a scheduled airline in the UK, shorter than London and Edinburgh. That was between London and Newcastle in the 1970s in a Dan-Air Comet 4.

In the last fifty years, four flights to Edinburgh and one to Aberdeen and Belfast, are probably all the domestic flying I’ve done in the UK.

I suspect, it is unlikely, that I will be affected if a similar law to France, were to be enacted in the UK.

There is also an interesting development in the provision of long distance rail services in the UK.

  • East Coast Trains are bringing in a fast, no-frills, one price service on the London and Edinburgh route.
  • Other companies are looking to do the same from London to Blackpool, Cardiff and Stirling.

I feel, that we’ll see some interesting services introduced by rail and ferry companies to compete with airlines.

London Euston And Dublin By Low Carbon Boat Train

Currently, you can get to Dublin from London by train to Holyhead and then a ferry.

  • The non-stop train between London Euston and Holyhead takes just over three and a half hours.
  • Avanti West Coast will be replacing their trains with new faster Class 805 bi-mode trains, which in a few years could be capable of running at up to 140 mph between London Euston and Crewe.
  • Irish Ferries have a fast ferry that goes between Holyhead and Dublin in one hour and forty-nine minutes.

I can see a fast train and ferry service between London Euston and Dublin getting very close to five hours.

It could be quite likely that new technology, faster trains and targeted marketing will reduce the number of internal flights in the UK.

The same forces will probably do the same in several countries, including France.

So do we really need a law?

April 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Calais – Mediterranean Rail Motorway Bids Called

This title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The government has called for expressions of interest to operate a lorry trailer carrying service between the English Channel port of Calais and the Mediterranean port of Sète south of Montpellier. Submissions are required by May 16.

Further details include.

  • It is aimed to start the service in 2022.
  • Government financial help  ight be available.
  • In French it is called an autoroute ferroviaire.
  • There is also a similar service between Perpignan and Paris.
  • I would expect the service saves carbon emissions.

This certainly seems like a good idea.

I do wonder if we will eventually see trains carrying trucks running between Barking and Sete through the Channel Tunnel.

  • The loading gauge will probably allow it.
  • It would be electrically hauled all the way.
  • Other destinations in Europe would be possible.
  • It might need less drivers, who would only work in the UK or Europe.
  • Would it help with Covid-19 bio-security?

If not Barking, what about to the Freeport being developed at Dagenham by the Thames?

It would

 

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments