The Anonymous Widower

The Hundred Mile City

I heard about The Hundred Mile City on the BBC London News

It will never happen!

  • Can you imagine all London Boroughs agreeing to it?
  • Negotiation would be like Brexit squared.
  • Armies of Nimbys and the Council For The Fossilisation Of England would have a field day.
  • Linear cities were proposed for Londonn to Southampton and Ipswich to Felixstowe in the 1960s.

On the other hand, as a child, I had dreams of a circular railway through where I lived in Cockfosters, as getting to Central London was fast, but getting to my friends and relatives in Edgware and Enfield was slow.

Note that the plans involve a circular monorail. Monorails are not very common, except at theme parks. That is an idea from well into the last century.

Today, we would use tram-trains, as they are so much more functional and easily extended.

 

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s Not Just Drones We Should Worry About!

In The Private Thoughts of Engineers and Scientists, I talked about a discussion, I had with a chemist about the production of sarin gas.

His view was that if amateurs tried to make the deadly gas, there was a high chance, they’d kill themselves, but he had a better idea to cause havoc in a city, which I will not disclose.

I too, have a couple of non-lethal methods, that would bring an airport or a city to a standstill.

One idea is so simple, that I suspect many terrorists could think it up.

Again, I will not disclose my ideas, but they are probably just two of many.

In some ways, the success of the drones in closing Gatwick Airport will only encourage others to think of new ways to disrupt our lives.

We still don’t now, who were behind the Gatwick Airport drones, but there must be a long list of suspects.

  • Extinction Rebellion
  • Anti-Airport Protesters
  • Russia – It worked better than Novichok!
  • North Korea – Unlikely, as they don’t seem to have any spats with the UK.

One thing that may rule out a lot of groups, is that sophisticated high-performance drones are not cheap.

Other groups will be ruled out, because they want to kill hundreds of innocent people and a couple of drones are unlikely to do this.

December 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Oyster Card Scheme Extension Agreed

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

This paragraph describes the extensions.

Its extension, due in early 2019, will include Hertford North, Welwyn Garden City, Luton Airport Parkway and Epsom.

As the Oyster Card extension will also include intermediate stations, the following stations will be included on the four routes.

  • Hertford North – Crews Hill, Cuffley and Bayford.
  • Luton Airport Parkway – Radlett, St. Albans City and Harpenden
  • Welwyn Garden City – Potters Bar, Brookmans Park,Welham Green and Hatfield

All intermediate stations to Epsom are already in the Oyster Card Scheme.

Fourteen new stations will be added.

These are a few random thoughts.

Contactless And Oyster

Oyster card and most contactless payment methods with a card or mobile device can be used on Oyster Card reader, so in this post, I will use contactless to cover all methods.

I believe that in a few years, Oyster could be phased out, as cards and mobile devices will take over the ticketing.

Luton Airport Parkway

Adding Luton Airport Parkway station to the network, brings Luton Airport in line with Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.

This is very much a logical extension.

Airport Services

This is a list of the current times for airport services from London.

  • Gatwick – Express – 29 minutes – Thameslink – 39-60 minutes
  • Heathrow – Express – 15 minutes – Crossrail – 28 minutes
  • Luton – East Midlands Trains – 21 minutes – Thameslink 30-47 minutes
  • Southend – 52-53 minutes
  • Stansted – 49-52 minutes

If you look at the passenger statistics for Gatwick Airport station, they have been rising at around a million passengers a year for the past few years. How much of the recent rises have been due to the station going contactless in January 2016?

Certainly, if you’re late for a plane, contactless ticketing might save a couple of minutes.

I always remember an incident at Southend Airport station.

My plane was late and arrived very close to the departure time of the last train to London. There had recently been a lot of arrivals and the queues for tickets were long.

So a Greater Anglia employee took the decision to tell everybody to get on the train and we all went to London without tickets.

If ticketing had been contactless, Greater Anglia might have collected some fares.

But contactless at an airport is not solely about making money, but getting the passengers away from the airport quickly.

Hertford East And Hertford North Stations

Hertford East station accepts contactless cards.

Adding the facility to Hertford North station may open up some journey possibilities and ease ticketing.

The National Rail web site recommends that to go between Ware and Bayford stations on either side of Hertford, that you walk between the East and North stations.

An anytime ticket will cost you £19.50.

But buy two separate tickets between Ware and Hertford East stations and Hertford North and Bayford stations and it’ll cost £6!

Using contactless ticketing and touching in at all stations will save £13.50! Will this cost difference encourage more journeys with a walk in the middle?

When I visited the Hertford East Branch recently in mid-morning, I thought that it was surprisingly busy. Does lower-hassle contactless ticketing encourage more passengers?

Analysis of contactless touches will provide the answers to my two questions.

St. Albans City And St. Albans Abbey Stations

The Abbey Line between Watford Junction and St. Albans Abbey stations is not contactless, although Watford Junction station is so enabled and St. Albans City station will be.

There is surely a case for adding contactless ticketing to this short line of five intermediate stations.

Welwyn Garden City Station

Enabling Oyster on the route to Welwyn Garden City station, will mean that all stations on the Great Northern Route from Moorgate station will be enabled except for Watton-at-Stone  and Stevenage.

This would surely be less confusing for passengers, than the current arrangement, where Oyster tickeing is stopped at Hadley Wood and Gordon Hill stations.

Hopefully a suitable announcement would wake-up accidental fare avoiders at Hertford North station.

Epsom Station

The two routes to London from Epsom station are both fully Oyster-enabled, so surely adding one station to the routes shouldn’t be a difficult problem technically.

Further Routes For Oyster

Distances of the new Oyster-enabled stations, with a few existing ones, by rail from Central London are as follows.

  • Epsom – 16 miles from Victoria.
  • Gatwick Airport – 26 miles from Victoria
  • Hertford North – 20 miles from Moorgate
  • Luton Airport Parkway – 29 miles from St. Pancras
  • Shenfield – 20 miles from Liverpool Street
  • Welwyn Garden City – 20 miles from Kings Cross

So what other stations could be added?

Southend And Stansted Airports

Airports seem to like Oyster and as I said earlier, it can help to sort out ticketing problems at certain times.

  • Southend Airport station is 39 miles from Liverpool Street and there are five other stations between Southend Airport and Shenfield stations.
  • Stansted Airport station is 36 miles from Liverpool Street and there are six other stations between Southend Airport and Broxbourne stations.

This story on ITV is entitled Rail Minister Urged To Roll Out Oyster Card Payments To Stansted, Luton And Southend Airports.

Luton Airport will soon be Oyster-enabled, so hopefully Stansted and Southend Airports will be enabled soon.

Thirty Miles From London

There are a lot of places within thirty miles of London on commuter routes, that I’m sure eventually will be Oyster-enabled.

  • High Wycombe and Aylesbury – Chiltern have ambitions for this.
  • Rochester – 30 miles from London and on Thameslink.
  • Windsor

There will be other suggestions.

Extending Freedom Pass

I’d like to be able to just touch-in and touch-out to go to any station in the Oyster card area.

My Freedom Pass would be connected to a bank or credit card and I would be charged beyond the Freedom Pass area.

If Oyster cards can be linked to a bank or credit card, surely London’s control computer can be programmed to do something very powerful for Freedom Passes.

It could be a nice little earner for cash-strapped Transport for London.

Conclusion

Oyster is extending its reach and after this flurry of extensions in the next few months, lot of places will be wanting to be Oyster-enabled.

I suspect the only objector to this roll-out, will be the RMT, who have made the Luddites look like pussycats!

 

 

 

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Taxi Protest Against Safety Rules Brings Gridlock to City

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

I had heard there was a protest about something last night and this explains what it was.

I should declare an interest, in that I use black cabs about five or six times a month, when I am in a hurry or am coming home late at night from say a station.

I have used Uber once, when my son paid for a cab from Walthamstow. The driver had come all the way from Ealing and got lost twice getting to my house.

Never again!

London Needs Clean Air

I am affected by London’s dirty air and feel strongly that as many vehicles in Central London should be zero emission.

So I very much agree with the Mayor’s strategy of making all London’s new black cabs electric.

But surely, this policy should also apply to Uber, mini-cabs and local delivery vehicles inside the Central area.

It will in the future and it can’t happen soon enough.

Black Cab Drivers Think Sadiq Khan Doesn’t Like Them!

Black cab drivers never have a good word for Sadiq Khan, but then they didn’t Boris either. I didn’t live in London, when Ken was Mayor, so I can’t comment on that!

But then I always say, that because we have a South London Mayor, we are getting a higher proportion of bus cuts.

I don’t think, I’ve ever been driven by a South Asian black can driver, although, I’ve been driven by many Africans and Caribbeans. Go to Birmingham, and you’ll find lots of South Asian black cab drivers.

On the other hand, I’ve been driven by several South Asian mini-cab drivers, from the firm round the corner.

So is the Mayor playing to his constituency and ignoring the views of black cab drivers?

Hence the protests!

 

December 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A First Trip In An Electric Taxi

I took these pictures during and after my first ride in an electric taxi.

I liked the experience.

  • The ride was good.
  • The vehicle was quiet.
  • You could talk easily to the driver, which helped as we had to change route due to a road closure.
  • It’s got USB charging points for phones.

But the best feature must be the glass roof. Although the rain ruined the view.

It wouldn’t be a London taxi without a few strong negative opinions from the driver.

  • He’d just cleaned the taxi and the rain was ruining his work.
  • There are not enough charging points.
  • He didn’t think Uber pay enough tax. Doesn’t everybody think that?

The driver certainly seemed pleased with his cab.

As a perhaps five-times-a-month user of black cabs, I will certainly look forward to having another ride, as they are definitely a better experience.

You can’t write about black cabs without adding a comment about other minicabs, private hire vehicles and Ubers in London.

When will new additions to these fleets of other vehicles, have to be electric?

 

August 26, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

ERTMS Rollout Between London-Paris-Brussels Agreed

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

This is the first paragraph.

An agreement has been reached by the infrastructure managers of the high-speed railway between London, Paris and Brussels – one of Europe’s busiest routes – to coordinate the rollout of European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

Rollout of ERTMS on these important routes must surely be a good idea, if it can enable extra and faster services on these busy routes.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Legal & General Has Acquired One Of The Last Major Crossrail Development Sites

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

There have been several stories like this is recent months and I think it shows how Crossrail will generate new housing an business developments across London.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

The New London Rail Maps Are Out, And They Are Horrible

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

I haven’t seen the maps yet, so I won’t comment in detail.

But read the article!

Could it be that London’s rail maps are now getting so complicated, there needs to be some very deep thought?

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

50% Of All TfL Pay As You Go Journeys Are Now Made Using Contactless Payments.

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

This is the first paragraph.

Londoners and visitors to the British capital have embraced the contactless way to pay, with more than 17 million pay as you go journeys on bus, Tube and rail services made a week using the technology according to the latest figures from Transport for London (TfL). This total equates to around half of all pay as you go journeys now being made using contactless payment cards or mobile devices.

The article goes on to say New York and Sydney are going to similar systems.

Can anybody tell me, why other large cities and conurbations in the UK, aren’t installing similar systems based on contactless payments?

Especially, as London ain’t seen nothing yet!

April 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Electric Taxis Are Coming

London’s new electric black taxis will soon be seen on the streets.

From the pictures, I’ve seen, they could be an interesting ride.

  • There is a panoramic glass roof.
  • They are roomier, than the current black cabs and can seat six instead of five.
  • Wi-fi and charging points are standard.
  • Air-conditioning.
  • A small petrol engine is used to boost range up to nearly 400 miles.

I shall search one out for a ride.

The Times though points out an interesting point about the design. This is said.

The bigger story is LEVC will now use the technology behind the TX to build far greater volumes of hybrid electric vans, the sort that deliver all our online shopping.

That certainly is a bigger story.

A few points of my own.

Geo-Fencing

Will geo-fencing be used to ensure that in central and sensitive areas and those with high air pollution, the taxi will run on batteries only.

This would also be particularly useful with the delivery van, where delivery depots tend to be outside the centre of a city.

Wireless Charging

London’s black cabs use rabjs and only yesterday, I picked up one from the rank at the Angel.

Milton Keynes has buses that can be charged using an inductive system.

So why not install inductive charging on taxi ranks?

Online Shopping Delivery

Parcel delivery companies don’t have the best of images. Electric last-mile delivery would certainly help.

For too long, vans have just been a crude metal box, with a couple of seats and an engine at the front.

So why not design a complete system around the taxi chassis?

  • If the depot was outside the city centre, charging could be done at both the depot and on the journeys to and from the centre
  • The van could also be designed so that containers packed at the depots could be loaded for each delivery.
  • The containers could also be brought into the centre of the city at night into the main station by a purpose-designed train.
  • A sophisticated onboard computer could control the driver and the deliveries.

There is a wonderful opportunity here to develop parcel delivery systems that are truly efficient and as pollution-free as possible.

Service Vans

If I walk down my road of about 150 houses and a couple of tower blocks on any weekday during working hours, I will probably count around half-a-dozen service vans of various types for small builders, plumbers. Most have not come further than a dozen miles.

If the economics of the electric van are pitched right, I think a large proportion of these vehicles will go electric, as they often sit around for large periods during the working day.

Conclusion

I can’t wait to get a ride in one of these taxis.

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