The Anonymous Widower

Fibreglass Giraffes Help Stop Elephants Rampaging Across Delicate Tea Crops

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

Tea plantations in Assam have an elephant problem and this weird solution seems to work.

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran Discuss New Freight Corridor To link India And Europe

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on Global Rail News.

The article doesn’t say much, except that currently it takes between thirty and forty days for freight to get between India and Europe.

The New Silk Road

In How To Move 100,000 Containers A Year Between Germany And China, I talked about a plan by Deutsche Bahn and Georgian Railways to create a  New Silk Road. This map shows the route.

Note how the route of the New Silk Road could go South of the Caspian Sea, which means it would pass through Iran.

In the earlier post, I said this about the New Silk Road.

If you read the Wikipedia entry for Georgian Railways, it does list a few problems, but it would appear that the route across Georgia is being upgraded to Standard Gauge all the way from the Turkish border to Almaty in Kazakhstan.

With Germany, Turkey and Europe at the Western end and China at the Eastern end both predominately Standard Gauge, I think that this route will be all the same gauge.

A new route between Azerbaijan and Kazahkstan would avoid using a ferry across the Caspian Sea for the New Silk Road.

Ideally it would be a Standard Gauge Line.


So will Iranian Railways be able to create a Standard Gauge route to the South of the Caspian Sea?

The good news is as follows.

Iran’s railways are built using Standard Gauge.

Much of the route appears to be already built.

The route could serve Tehran and link it to Tbilisi and Baku, the capitals of Georgia and Axerbaijan.

But the bad news is given in a section in the Wikipedia entry for Iranian Railways called Challenging Construction, where this is said.

The Trans-Iranian railway traverses many mountain ranges, and is full of spirals and 1 in 36 ruling grades. Much of the terrain was unmapped when construction took place, and its geology unknown. Several stretches of line, including tunnels, were built through unsuitable geology, and had to be replaced even before the line opened. Nevertheless, the line was completed ahead of schedule.

In recent years the railways have undergone significant extensions including the 1977 linking to the western railway system at the Turkish border, the 1993 opening of the Bandar Abbas line providing better access to the sea, and the 1996 opening of the Mashad–Sarakhs extension as part of the Silk Road railway to link to the landlocked Central Asian Countries.

Add in the earthquake-prone nature of the area, and it might not be a piece of cake.

Liuk Between Iran And Turkey

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for Iranian Railways called Link to Turkey, and International Standard Gauge route to Europe, where this is said.

In 1977, the Iranian railways linked to the western railway system at the Turkish border.

The route to the west into Turkey terminates at Van with a 90 km (56 mi) train ferry for both freight wagons and international passenger traffic (baggage car only) across Lake Van, which is at an altitude of 1,650 m (5,413 ft), to Tatvan where it joins the Turkish standard-gauge network.

Looking at the map, it would appear that it could be easier to go between Iran and Turkey via Georgia and Azerbaijan. The rail link to Azerbaijan appears to have seen lots of use between Iran and the formerSoviet Union, but it needs a gauge change on the border.

But driven by the Germans and the Georgians, it would appear that Standard Gauge trains can or will soon be able to go from Turkey to Iran.

Link To Pakistan

There is also a section  in the Wikipedia entry for Iranian Railways called Link to Pakistan, where this is said.

The construction of the railway from Bam to Zahedan was completed in early 2009 connecting Tehran to Pakistan border with an opening ceremony on 19 July 2009. However international container traffic commenced operations on 14 August 2009 with transshipment (or transloading) between 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) Indian gauge and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge wagons in the new Zahedan Exchange Yard on the bypass line. The freight traffic was discontinued however after the initial trial trains and was only revived in 2015.

Iranian Railways have been trying to persuade Pakistan Railways to convert its route to Quetta to standard gauge, in order to facilitate the flow of international traffic to Europe. Pakistan responded in 2006 with a statement that it is to convert its network to standard gauge, and would plan a link with the standard gauge system of China.

A through passenger service is being considered to supplement the occasional Quetta-Zahedan service, itself a poor shadow of the former Pakistan-Iran ‘Taftan Express’.

It’s such a pity, that Indian Railways were not built to Standard Gauge. But then we built Irish Railways to a different gauge too!

Iran’s Leadership

It does appear from the last two sections with their extracts from Wikipedia, that Iran is very much taking the lead in facilitating the movement of freight between Europe and the Indian sub-continent.


It looks like if the Iranians have their way, Quetta will be the place, where the changeover takes place between Standard and Indian Gauges. This is the first two paragraphs of the Wikipedia entry for the city.

Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan, Pakistan and the ninth-largest city of the country. The city is known as the fruit garden of Pakistan, due to the numerous fruit orchards in and around it, and the large variety of fruits and dry fruits produced there. The immediate area has long been one of pastures and mountains, with varied plants and animals relative to the dry plains to the west. Quetta is at an average elevation of 1,680 meters (5,510 feet) above sea level, making it Pakistan’s only high-altitude major city. The population of the city is estimated to be approximately 1,140,000.

Located in north western Balochistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Quetta is a trade and communication centre between the two countries. The city lies on the Bolan Pass route which was once the only gateway from Central Asia to South Asia. Quetta played an important role militarily for the Pakistani Armed Forces in the intermittent Afghanistan conflict.

Placing the main rail gauge change in Quetta, must improve the economic prospects for the area.

The altitude of the city could be a problem, but Wikipedia also says trains are attacked.


This project would appear to be a very feasible way to create a rail route between Europe and India, which from Europe to Quetta will be Standard Gauge and from Quetta Eastwards will be Indian Gauge.



June 8, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Idea From India

This article from Global Rail News is entitled India’s Minister for Railways launches glass-roof scenic rail cars.

Why not?

Scotrail’s plans for shortened HST train sets to go between the major cities will hopefully carried out with style and a great deal of respect for the scenery.

For a start, will the seats be arranged like these in Chiltern’s Mark 3 coaches.

Note that the picture was taken in Standard Class.

There can’t be more stylish, comfortable and practical rides in a train of this Class anywhere in the world.

What is not shown is the cheery staff with the snacks and drinks trolley.

All of this too comes from a subsidiary of Deitsche Bahn and it is far superior to anything I’ve ridden in Germany.

I wonder if windows can be put in the roof of a Mark 3?

Probably! Engineers  certainly have ways of making Mark 3 coaches do anything they want

But there’s always the option of connecting cameras to the train’s wi-fi.


April 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Mainland Birmingham

Just listening to Adrian Chiles doing a live broadcast on the Brexit debate from the Bull Ring in Birmingham.

He has just interviewed a third-generation Indian sub-continent stall-holder, who described himself on-air as born in Mainland Birmingham.

Even Adrian, who is a Brummie, was caught out by the phrase.

The wonders of the English language.

May 17, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Off To Blackpool Today

I’m going for the day to see my football team; Ipswich Town play there.

I’m dreading part of it. Breakfast at Carluccio’s in St. Pancras will be it’s usual good standard and the Virgin trains to Preston will probably be excellent, but the local train to Blackpool will be it’s usual crap self. Then it will be a walk in pouring rain to the ground, as only locals can fathom how to use, the town’s Third World bus system. But that is probably an insult to places like Goa, where I explored the area on the buses with a titled blonde widow. I think she was rather disappointed, in that she didn’t get her bottom pinched. But then the people of the sub-continent, are generally very polite and courteous.

At least though, the rain will wash the pavements of Blackpool of the vomit, that they seem to be paved with.

The football will probably be terrible because of the rain.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Death Of The Voice Of Reason

Few in the UK have heard of Narendra Dabholkar, but according to this report, he was murdered in India a few days ago. Here’s an extract.

Blaming opponents of the anti-superstition bill for the murdering rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said organisations behind such acts should be isolated and their activities stopped.

Amid spontaneous public outrage and grief over 69-year-old Dabholkar’s killing in Pune on Tuesday, the state government on Wednesday had cleared a proposal to promulgate an ordinance to check black magic and inhuman religious rituals.

“The forces which did not want this Bill to be presented and passed into a law were the people responsible for silencing his voice,” Mr. Chavan said.

Before we say that things like this don’t go on in the UK, we ought to look at ourselves carefully. David Aaronovitch in the Times yesterday wrote a powerful piece about this case and detailed cases all over the world and in our past.

I am happy with my life as a scientifically-correct atheist, but doubt I’ll ever see superstition and most religion consigned to the dustbin of history. Let’s face it we can’t even get to grips with things like the appalling treatment of women, children, and those with a different colour or sexual orientation, by quite a few people in this country.

August 23, 2013 Posted by | News | , , | 3 Comments

I Don’t Know My Port From My Starboard

Although, I was a private pilot for many years, if you ask me quickly I always had to think, if port is left or right.

You can do it by remembering that port has the same number of letters as left or by noting that POSH could stand for port out starboard home, which meant that passengers going to and from India and the Far East from the UK, got the northern or cool side of the boat.

There’s a discussion on the explanation of posh here.

My next door neighbour, at one time, had been a British Army colonel, who’d served in India and he told me the standard explanation many years ago.  He also told me, how on the voyage back to the UK, they used to throw their pith helmets into the sea with great gusto after they had passed through the Suez canal.

I have no evidence to the origin of the word, but having heard many tales of life in the Army many years ago, the word could have been cooked up as a friendly term of abuse, by a group of very hot squaddies. I bet today, those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, have developed some words of their own. After all, the word Blighty for the home country, was very much a word developed by those stationed overseas, that has entered the English language.

March 29, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | 1 Comment

A Taxi Driver In Mumbai

I’m just watching the BBC documentary of a London cabbie trying to drive a cab in Mumbai. Fascinating.

I posted this story of my holiday in Mumbai.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, Transport | | 1 Comment

It’s Even Cold In India

I like this article from Rahul Tandon on the BBC’s web site.

What is going wrong with the weather?

March 3, 2013 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Win The Toss, Win The Game

They’ve just said this, on the cricket commentary of the last game of the one-day series between England and India, as all games have been won by the side winning the toss.

I’ve always thought that the toss has too much influence.

Perhaps it would be better, if the first toss in a series was done say the day before the first match in a broadcast ceremony.  And then after that the toss would alternate.

But then what do I know about cricket?

January 27, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , | Leave a comment