The Anonymous Widower

What’s This Dirty Rotten Beast Doing On The GOBlin?

I photographed this dirty rotten beast at Blackhorse Road station on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line at 10:30 this morning.

Isn’t this very much a load of pollution in the face of all those, who had to put up with all the disruption whilst the line was electrified.

By the way, it is exhaust smoke above the train and not a tree on the nearby Wetlands!

The Class 70 locomotive is supposed to meet EU Tier IIIa emission regulations.

Pull the other one!

The freight train was going from Garston F.L.T. to Lonfon Gateway Freightliner.

As neither of these terminals are electrified, the train has to be diesel-hauled.

But surely, the diesel shouldn’t be throwing out this level of pollution.

February 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Nissan And Jaguar Land Rover Are Paying The Price Of Backing Diesel

Politicians and unions are blaming Brexit for production cuts at Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover, but this problem has been on the cards for some time, due to our increasing reliance on diesel power.

The technology is now there for more electric cars and it is criminal that the Government hasn’t done enough to encourage their use.

  • We need more ultra-low emission zones, as London is introducing.
  • All parking spaces and garages on new housing must have charging points.
  • All city buses should be low emission.
  • All taxis and private hire vehicles should be low emission.
  • We need better connected railways with a lot more stations and some new lines.

So what have the politicians been doing in the last few years. Spending time arguing about the irrelevance of Brexit.

Talk about fiddling, while Rome burned!

February 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Have I Regressed To My Childhood?

Growing up in the early 1950s in London, I wasn’t the healthiest of children.

  • At some time most winters, I would have several weeks off school with a severe cold with extras.
  • I can remember my mother cutting up old sheets for hankerchiefs.
  • These would be boiled after use in a large saucepan on the gas cooker.
  • I would  cough all night and a good part of the day.
  • I would  inhale steam from a large jug of hot water and Friar’s Balsam.

Dr. Egerton White was always round our house.

Things improved towards the end of the 1950s.

  • The passing of the Clean Air Act in 1956.
  • I would be given penicillin which seemed to help. Naughty! Naughty!
  • At weekends we’d go to Felixstowe.

What finally improved my health was going to Liverpool University.

Now over fifty years later, I’ve got a cold like I had in the 1950s.

  • I can’t stop coughing for more than ten or twenty minutes.
  • Nothing seems to work to stop the cough!
  • It’s gone on for eight days now!
  • I’m not getting much sleep.

Could the pollution from all the diesel vehicles be the key?

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 6 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

Bank Junction Goes Buses And Cyclists Only

On Monday, the 22nd of June 2017, the City of London brought in an order making the busy Bank Junction buses and cyclists only between seven in the morning and seven in the evening from Monday to Friday.

I took these pictures soon after ten in the morning.

The first few pictures were taken from the top of a Routemaster bus on Route 21, as it travelled from where I live across the city to London Bridge station.


  • Most drivers seemed to be avoiding the area.
  • The City of London Police were telling drivers, but didn’t appear to be ticketing anybody.
  • Much of the congestion seemed to be caused by half-empty polluting Tour Buses.
  • One pedestrian was moaning that he couldn’t use his car to get around the City.

Overall, it appeared to be a calm start.

The Upgrade Of Bank Station

I have only shown the area on the surface, but under the ground around Bank Junction, a massive construction project is starting in the City of London’s twin goals of more and better office accomodation and transport links.

Bank station is getting a major upgrade, which will include.

  • In The New Tunnel Under Bank Station, I wrote about an upgraded pedestrian tunnel that crosses the area.
  • In Between Bank And Cannon Street Station, I wrote about how Bloomberg are helping develop a new step-free entrance to the Waterloo and City Line and Bank station, which will open by early 2018.
  • A new Northern Line tunnel to create more space on the platforms and increase frequency on the line.
  • The station weill receive a forty percent increase in capacity.
  • Full step-free access with thirteen new escalators and three new lifts.
  • A new entrance to Bank station opposite Cannon Street station.
  • Two North-South moving walkways.
  • Some of the £600million project cost will be funded by oversite office development.
  • Hopefully, much of the work will be finished by 2021.

There’s more in this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Bank station upgrades point to London’s bigger, busier future.

Bank Station And Crossrail

You may wonder, why if Bank station is so important, that Crossrail doesn’t call and Crossrail 2 won’t either.

It may not, but the Central Line will have good connections to Crossrail at Stratford, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations.

So passengers for Bethnal Green, Bank, St. Paul’s, Chancery Lane and Holborn will change from Crossrail to the Cwntral Line at a convenient station.

In addition, Crossrail will feed passengers into loops in the District, Hammersmith and City and Jubilee Lines.

Travellers will pay their money and take their choice.

Other Developments At Bank

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pedestrian routes linking the City stations of Bank, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street and Moorgate; both on the surface and possibly underground.

I would also make sure that all buses in the centre of London are low-emission vehicles. That certainly doesn’t apply to those polluting and jam-creating Tour Buses and tourist coaches.


May 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The Pollution Solution A Part-Solution To Terrorism?

Hong Kongers nickname their tramway the Pollution Solution. ut to be fair to one of my favourite cities, the city also has an extensive public transport network of metro lines and buses. Although, I’ve ever used any of the latter.

London and other cities in the UK have a serous air pollution problem and we should solve it for the health of us all, as pollution probably causes more premature deaths than terrorism. Or for that matter street crime like muggings and robberies!

Suppose in London we did the following to cut pollution.

  • Ban polluting vehicles from a wide area of the centre.
  • Impose a high Congestion Charge over a wide area.
  • All shop deliveries must be at night!
  • Cut the number of private hire vehicles.
  • All buses, including tourist buses and coaches, private hire vehicles and black cabs must be electric.
  • Rigorously impose a twenty mile per hour city-wide speed limit.
  • When Crossrail is finished, build the Bakerloo Line Extension and Crossrail 2.
  • Pedestrianise large parts of the City Centre.
  • Improve the cycle network and make sure cyclists use it and not the pavement.

Other cities could also do similar things to suit their circumstances.

A few of our cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Liverpool have pedestrianised substantial parts of their city centres. They haven’t done enough, but it’s a start.

I don’t think trams will be a pollution solution in Central London except perhaps on a specific route to overcome congestion on the Underground.

We are going to have to act very strongly to deal with pollution, but will it have collateral effects?

Some years ago, I did some work with the Police on analysing crime and I remember an analyst, who was also a Police Officer, explaining how he saw links between traffic and crime.

I remember him saying that no self-respecting criminal would go burgling on a bus.

One thing that came out of this work, was that if Police checked a car and found that one of car tax, insurance or MOT was not in order, there was a high chance of a non-motoring offence being committed. As he said, if a criminal is dealing in thousands of pounds-worth of drugs, will he bother to renew his tax and insurance?

I’ve wondered for some time, if this car checking  in Central London, which must be done by the Congestion Charge cameras  has led to the increase in crime in London committed by criminals on motor-bikes, scooters and bikes. London’s congestion could also drive crime this way.

So if we solved the pollution, would this cut the congestion? And how would this effect crime?

I don’t know, but I suspect, we’ll find out in a few years, as the draconian measures we will introduce to cut pollution, will have fundamental effects on the way we live in London.

In the next two or three years, some cross-city and city centre rail lines will will improve drammatically.

However, some cities with bad pollution problems will not being seeing any public transport improvements.

It will be interesting to see the effects on pollution, congestion and crime. And terrorism!





March 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump And Charles In Climate Row

This is the headline on the front page of today’s Sunday Times.

Trump is not necessarily wrong about climate change, but cutting CO2 and other polluting emissions is prudent.

If a man met a gorgeous young lady on the back streets of say Marseilles or any other port city and she offers him flavours, then he would take precautions.

Trump said as much, when Putin was accusing him of various things, when he said he was paranoid about germs or something similar.

So it’s alright for him to take personal precautions, but the rest of the world can go get fucked.

There are some things we shouldn’t do, because they may be dangerous to the planet.

Burning coal is one of them, which Trump has said he will promote.

But then, if the United States continues to mine and burn coal, the pristine air of some parts of the country will disappear, just like it has in China.

I do wonder if President Trumkokf has even been to Beijing!


January 29, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Westminster Council To Trial Diesel Parking Charge

The title of this post is the title of an article on the BBC web site.

There will be a lot of complaints, but just as the Congestion Charge was accepted, this charge will be too!

And if it works for Westminster, how long before other Boroughs in London introduce it?

I do think though, that cities that cut pollution will benefit from the good publicity, that could generate extra visitors and increased business activity.


January 28, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

60 mph Limit And Fines To Cut M1 Pollution

This is a headline on an article in The Sunday Times.

It refers to a stretch of the M1 near Sheffield, where smart motorway technology will increase the number of vehicles passing through an area of housing and schools and probably breach legal pollution limits.

It sounds drastic, but then we need drastic measures to cut the level of pollution.

Perhaps, the simplest solution would be to assign all vehicles a pollution index.

Then assign all areas in the UK, a level of allowed pollution, which limited the vehicles that could drive in that area.

The trouble is, that this would be a vote loser, as it would mean that some drivers had just purchased a new vehicle, that they couldn’t even drive to their house.

The only safe way to be able to drive anywhere would be, by buying an electric or a very efficient hybrid vehicle.

A measure as harsh as this, must be paired with extensive public transport  with adequate Park-and -Ride facilities.

Solutions will have to be found for delivery vans, trucks and buses.


January 22, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

How Can We Deal With Air Pollution In The UK?

This article on the BBC is entitled Green group wins air pollution court battle.

This is the start of the article.

Campaigners have won the latest battle in legal action against the UK Government over levels of air pollution.

A judge at the High Court in London ruled in favour of environmental lawyers ClientEarth.

The group called air pollution a “public health crisis” and said the government has failed to tackle it.

The ruling in the judicial review called the government’s plan “woefully inadequate”.

As my mate Brian would have said, the \government has been screwed, glued and tattooed, by the Judge.

Does Pollution Affect Me?

I feel very strongly about this, as in the 1940s and 1950s, I suffered badly from the pollution of the time.

Now pollution levels are cutting out the vitamin D producing UVB rays of the sun. Could this be the rason for my low vitamin D levels?

No Magic Bullet

So what can the Government do to meet the European Emission Standards?

There is no magic bullet, but I believe that a raft of measures can gradually bring the levels of pollution down.

Reduction Of All Road Transport

One of London’s problems is that the amount of traffic in the city, means that a lot of the vehicles are stationery and just causing pollution.

I suspect this is a problem in many other cities.

So measures must be taken to reduce the level of all traffic.

  • London needs more Park-and-Ride sites. Do other cities?
  • Differential congestion charging and residents parking, so the polluter pays.
  • More cycling superhighways to encourage cycling.
  • City centre parking must be taxed, with the money funding public transport.
  • Aggressive illegal parking control.
  • Automatic box junction enforcement.
  • 20 mph speed limit to make walking easier.
  • Area average speed control.
  • Reduction of the number of taxis and mini-cabs.

I particularly like the concept of having a grid of linked speed cameras in a city and then issuing a ticket automatically, if the limit is exceeded between two cameras.

Reduction Of Diesel-Powered Transport

As nitrogen dioxide from diesels is the main source of the pollution, we should aim to eliminate as many diesel-powered vehicles, as is practical.

  • Reduction of diesel vehicles will need legislation, probably backed up with government money.
  • Buses, taxis and local delivery vehicles will need to be hybrid or electric.
  • There must be progressive bans for diesel vehicles not meeting the latest standards.
  • Diesel scrapping schemes have been introduced in certain places.

I particularly like the idea, where in an experiment involving Sainsburys, supplies for the supermarkets were delivered by train into Euston at three in the morning and then delivered around Central London by low-emission vehicles.

Increase In Electrically-Powered Transport

This is the key to reducing a lot of pollution in cities.

  • Electric and hybrid vehicles.
  • Trams to replace buses.
  • Development of electric rail lines.
  • More cross-city rail lines like Crossrail 2 and the Camp Hill Line.

I also think we’ll see some innovative solutions, like the PRT system, I wrote about in A Visit To Heathrow Terminal 5.

The problem of improving transport systems is well-illustrated in Chelsea, where some selfish locals don’t want Crossrail 2, as it might hinder them driving their tractors.

More Details

I shall now expand a few of those topics and add a few more ideas.

They are in alphabetical order.

Battery Trains

Battery trains are an alternative to full electrification, where one or both ends of the line to be electrified, already have electrification.

The Greenford Branch is an obvious possibility.

  • The line is only 4.3 km. long.
  • The bay platform at West Ealing station could be easily electrified to charge the trains.
  • Either a new train or a refurbished one with batteries could work the line.
  • Two trains would be needed to run the promised four trains per hour service.
  • Little new infrastructure would be needed.

I believe that battery trains are an affordable alternative to full electrification.

Battery Trams

Battery trams are being introduced into Birmingham to extend the Midland Metro. This article in the Railway Gazette, which is entitled Midland Metro trams to be converted for catenary-free operation, gives full details.

  • The only construction required is to lay the rails, build the stops and install the signalling.
  • Putting up overhead wires in a historic or sensitive city centre can be a legal and logistical nightmare and very expensive.
  • Battery trams work in Seville and Nanjing.
  • Trams charge the battery at either a charging station or when running under wires outside of the centre.

I can see a time, when in city centres, most trams will be battery-powered.

It will be interesting to see how Brummies take to their battery trams.

Connectivity Improvements

Compare arriving in Birmingham New Street and Euston stations, needing to go a few miles to say Centenary or Trafalgar Squares respectively.

At Euston, you go to the nearest bus stop, look up the spider map with all the destinations from Euston and it tells you how to get to about a hundred locations. Job done!

But in Birmingham, the brand new station doesn’t have that information on display in an easy-to-understand form.

Birmingham isn’t too bad and is certainly better than Manchester, but why can’t cities copy the London system.

You may get to these places easily, but the connecting and ticketing arrangements, tell you to bring your car next time.

Contactless Bank Card Ticketing

London now allows anybody to use their contactless bank card, as a ticket on all modes of public transport.

I don’t have the figures, but I believe that every time a new feature is added, like the new Bus Hopper, there is an increase in public transport usage.

After London’s experiences, I have no doubt, that contactless bank card ticketing increases the use of public transport and removes traffic from the roads.

Introducing contactless bank card ticketing, should be a condition of Central Government finance for public transport projects.

But every city in the world will introduce this form of ticketing!

Not doing it, will make sure visitors don’t come back and tell their friends what a crap place they’ve visited.

Cross-City Railways And Trams

A lot of cities and conurbations have a lot more traffic and the resulting pollution, as getting from one side of the city to the other is not easy, without driving through the city centre.

As an example, Crossrail will improve access to Heathrow from East and South-East London, where the alternative is a drive round the M25 or through the city centre, on congested roads. But Crossrail is only one of many successful cross-city routes in the UK.

  • The Central, District, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines of the London Underground.
  • The East, North and West London Lines and the Gospel Oak to Barking Line of the London Overground.
  • Thameslink in London
  • The Northern Line in Liverpool.
  • The Cross-City Line and Snow Hill Lines in Birmingham
  • The East and West Coastway Lines in Brighton.
  • The Metro in Newcastle.
  • The Nottingham Express Transit in Nottingham.
  • The Valley Lines in Cardiff

All of these lines are well-used and there are plans to upgrade those, not to the standard of the London Overground.

Efficient Deliveries

If I have my window open, I can sometimes hear several delivery trucks call at my various neighbours in a short period of time.

This is not efficient and surely something better can be done.

I was once offered delivery of a small parcel to my Local Sainsburys, which is about a hundred metres away.

Organised properly with enough drop points, that must be more efficient and convenient.

This is one we don’t need to worry about, as the big shopping groups will make it happen as they go for greater sales and more profits.


Park-and-Ride is a good way of keeping, passenger cars away from City Centres.

Nottingham may be a lot smaller than London, but it is a city that has designed the Nottingham Express Transit with several Park-and-Ride sites, at the edges of the city.

Compare that with the non-existent Park-and-Ride provision on Crossrail, which I wrote about in Crossrail’s Park-And-Ride Facilities.

Railway Electrification

Electrification of rail routes across cities and replacing diesel trains with electric ones, is always an option to cut pollution.


  • London is currently electrifying the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and this will also allow noisy and polluting Class 66 diesel locomotives to replaced with electric ones on freight trains on this route.
  • Lines in Liverpool and Birmingham are also being electrified.
  • Electric trains also seem to be passenger magnets as the Class 378 trains of the London Overground have shown.

But remember, that every passenger on an electric train, can’t be using their car and is rteducing their pollution footprint.

Rewards For Going Car-Free

I have met several people recently, who have given up owning a car in Central London.

So could those, who don’t bring their car into the congested area, receive some form of reward.








November 2, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment