The Anonymous Widower

Wrightbus: Ballymena Company Gets Order For 117 Buses

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

This is the sub-heading.

County Antrim firm Wrightbus has secured a £25.3m order to build 117 zero-emission buses for use in England

And this is the first paragraph.

Operated by First Bus, the vehicles will be used in Yorkshire, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampshire.

They don’t say, whether the buses are battery or hydrogen powered.

March 4, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Portsmouth Waterfront – 1st November 2021

I took these pictures as the ferry to the Isle of White left Portsmouth.

I would have taken some of the ferry, but I caught it with just twenty seconds to spare.

November 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Eight New Freeports Set To Open In The UK

Today, in his 2021 Budget, Rishi Sunak announced eight new freeports.

This article on the BBC, which is entitled Freeports: What Are They And Where Will They Be?, gives a brief guide to the freeports.

This links link to the nearest I can find to an official web site for each of the freeports.

The Government has said that the freeports will start their operations late this year.

March 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Could South Western Railway Use Class 395 Trains Instead Of The Proposed Class 442 Trains?

In When Do Mark 3 Coaches Accept The Inevitable?, I mused about why South Western Railway were using refurbished Class 442 trains on the routes betweenLondon and Portsmouth.

The reasons for using these refurbished trains include.

  • They could be very powerful trains if they were retractioned.
  • The Portsmouth Direct Line is very challenging.
  • The trains might become 100 mph plus trains, which could save minutes on journey times and aid timetabling.

|The current Class 444 and Class 450 trains working the route may be 100 mph trains, but could it be that the required performance improvements need a more powerful and/or faster train?

I suspect too, that as the trains are based on legendary Mark 3 coaches, the interiors can be refurbished to a high standard with everything passengers need and want.

In Ultimate Class 395 Train, which is part of my analysis into Kentish routes in Kent On The Cusp Of Change, I proposed upgrades to a new batch of Class 395 trains.

  • Batteries To Enable Working To Hastings For The New Southeastern Franchise
  • Wi-Fi And 4G Capability
  • Up To 125 mph Capability On 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

Would these trains be an alternative to the Class 442 trains for the Portsmouth Direct Line even using batteries to handle the topography of the line, regenerative braking and save energy?

If they were working a line like the Portsmouth Direct Line, where acceleration and power is probably more important than outright speed, the trains could be rated accordingly. The operating speed on the line is currently 90 mph, but how much time would be saved with perhaps a 110 mph train and some or all of the line able to handle speeds of 100 mph plus?

The choice of refurbished Class 442 trains, which are claimed to save five minutes on fast services and seven minutes on slow ones, says a lot about what is possible between London and Portsmouth.

But would a Class 395 train, similar to those needed on Kentish routes without the 25 KVAC capability be an off-the-shelf new train that could give the same or even better journey time improvements?

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A Maritime Tour Of England

My trip to Portsmouth yesterday, got me thinking.

As I waited for my train to return to London, there was a First Great Western train waiting in Portsmouth Harbour station waiting to depart to Cardiff via Bristol.

So why if you are thinking of visiting England  and you’re interested in the sea and ships, why not visit England’s three western maritime cities; Portsmouth, Bristol and Liverpool? All have their main attractions close to the city centres and with the exception of Bristol, the stations are too!

Trains between Portsmouth and Bristol are every hour and take about two and a half hours and those between Bristol and Liverpool have the same frequency but take just over three hours.

So it is feasible to perhaps start your trip in London and then spend say two or three days in each city.  Remember that Portsmouth and Bristol are near to excellent beaches for swimming and sunbathing and Liverpool is near to the amazing beach at Formby with its statues by Antony Gormley.

After Liverpool, you might carry on to Newcastle or Glasgow for a maritime theme or take the flight home from either Liverpool or Manchester airports.

As all cities are to the west, the weather is more likely to be sunny and warm, than some other places I could mention. The weather in Portsmouth yesterday was supposed to be of cloud and rain, but I ended in the sun all day.

Two things would improve your trip.

Some rail companies allow you to break your journey, provided you keep going in the same direction.  So for instance, between Portsmouth and Bristol, you might like to break your journey at Salisbury for lunch.

But if you do, I suspect there’s no Left Luggage facilities at the station.

As to hotels, you would obviously pay your money and take your choice.  I think that in each city, there are ones at all prices in the city centres or by the stations.

Remember if you’re over sixty, you can buy a Senior Railcard for a third off rail fares. If you are someone, who can stick to a timetable, the three tickets linking London, Portsmouth, Bristol and Liverpool, booked in advance over the Internet will probably cost around £30 each leg or £20 with a Railcard.

Judging by the number of foreign tourists, that I meet on trains, this type of holiday is getting much more common.

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Day Out In Portsmouth

I’ve been to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard before, but as my yearly ticket can be used as many times as I like for £24.25, I thought I had better go again. I chose today, as the weather looked it might by sunny in the afternoon. I got the weather wrong, as it was sunny from when I arrived in Portsmouth Harbour station at about 12:30, courtesy of South West Trains for £23.30 in ninety minutes.

I walked to Carluccio’s in the Gunwharf Quays shopping centre by the station so I could have some lunch. But it would be much nicer if there was a direct connection between the station and the shopping centre.

Every time I visit Portsmouth there seems to be more to see, especially in the Dockyard.

May 13, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

The Bilbao Metro

The Bilboa Metro is only about twenty years old, so it still has a new feel about it.

Note the name of fosterito in tribute to Norman Foster, who designed a lot of the architecture. Read more about the design of the Metro here.

I can’t understand why I’ve never seen fosteritos on other Metro systems, as they work superbly, as covers for the up and down escalators. They also stand out from a distance and act as locators for the stations.

I liked it except for a couple of small points.

I like to surf down handrails with one hand for safety and this was difficult, as the hand rail supports tended to catch my hand. The DLR is the same in places.

I also had some trouble with buying the Barik card, which is their version of London’s Oyster.  I needed cash, as the system didn’t seem to work with any of my cards.

All Metro, tram and bus systems, should be like London’s buses and accept any bank card with a touch ability.

This is one thing that will happen worldwide.

The biggest advantage is that to top up my Barik card, I was constantly using up small change and notes, as I explored the city. With a bank card as a ticket, all you need to do is make sure you’ve credit available.

One piece of trivia for a pub quiz, is that the Bilbao metro map, must be the only non-UK map, with an English town shown as a destination. Look at the map in the pictures and you’ll see a ship labelled Portsmouth.

December 9, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Tripe Talked About Building Warships In The UK

I have been listening and watching the debate about BAE ‘s decision to end warship building at Portsmouth  and move this all to Glasgow.

Much of the argument has been based on emotional facts like Portsmouth has been building warships since the Mary Rose and political considerations of  keeping Scotland happy. Little has got anything to do with having a Royal Navy that is fit for purpose.

This article on the BBC, gives a pretty good assessment of the political story. This section is the heart of the article.

So was this a sweetener to Scotland, to stave off a Yes vote? The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was asked repeatedly in the Commons to say whether the Scottish poll had influenced his choice.

He made, broadly, three replies to the variety of ways in which he was posed that question. Firstly, he stressed that the decision to locate warship building solely in Glasgow was taken by BAE, with endorsement from the Ministry of Defence. It was, thereby, primarily an industrial rather than a political choice.

Secondly, he stressed the importance of cost. His entire statement was predicated upon the drive to contain rising costs in the aircraft carrier contract. The identification of a sole location was also, he suggested, driven by cost efficiency.

But, thirdly, he made a point with regard to the forthcoming orders for Type 26 ships. Mr Hammond’s core point in respect of the carriers was that a blunder had been made (by the predecessor government) in placing the contracts for these vessels before design was completed.

He would not repeat that error, he said, with the Type 26 contract. It would not be placed before design was “mature”. That would be at the end of 2014. He noted, twice, that would be after the Scottish referendum in September of that year.

So BAE, had to make a decision, before they know what orders are coming. They are a supposedly commercial organisation, so they will do what they see is best for the company. Given that costs are higher in Portsmouth than Glasgow for most things, I suspect that there was only two solutions; persuade the Government to buy lots of warships that we don’t need or close Portsmouth.

In the arguments I heard, no-one seemed to bring up the Falkland Islands. When Argentina invaded, as regards warships we were ill-prepared and had to scramble hard to get a task force together. But the rest as they say is history!

The one thing we can say with certainty, is that if we need to use the Navy in anger again, we’ll have the wrong ships, and they’ll be in the wrong place.

It was always thus!

I would suspect that the Navy goes through some of the most bizarre scenarios, and works out how they will handle them and that there will be a lot of improvisation in there.

Look at the operational history of HMS Ocean and you’ll find a lot of it, is in response to events. If you read the Wikipedia entry for HMS Ocean, you’ll find this gem.

While Swan Hunter viewed the ships as entirely military, “VSEL thought the design was basically a merchant ship with military hardware bolted on.” VSEL’s decision to sub-contract the build phase took advantage of lower overheads at a civilian yard as well as efficiency drives by its parent, Kværner. The cut-price build to commercial standards means that Ocean has a projected operational life of just 20 years, significantly less than that of other warships.

VSEL and Swan Hunter were completing for the work. But there was some serious innovation in the construction of this, in my view,  successful warship. It’s certainly got us out of trouble a few times.

Innovation has been lacking over the years in the design of warships, which partly explains, why we and probably every other Navy has the wrong ships for a serious crisis.

One thing that should be thrown in, is if warship building is so important and BAE are so good at it, why aren’t we exporting ships to other friendly nations?

So are we subsidising warship building and BAE to an unsustainable high level?

November 7, 2013 Posted by | News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware Of Angry Tweets

According to this article in the Daily Mail, an analysis of Twitter messages from rail passengers has shown that South West Trains are the least popular train company.

I took the company yesterday to Portsmouth Harbour in order to go to the Isle of Wight and I have no complaint about them, except that for First Clash passengers, they are the meanest.  On a similar length journey to Ipswich, I may not get many perks, but at least I can get a free bottle of water or a coffee.

I know it’s not much, but it’s the thought that counts.

I wouldn’t choose the company, if there was an alternative, except that Waterloo is a better station for me than say Victoria.

Perhaps though companies should take more notice of what is said on sites like Twitter!

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Mary Rose Next Week

Now that the Mary Rose museum has opened in Portsmouth, it has given me a suggestion about where to go next week.

As I’m also going to see the Vasa in Stockholm later next month, it will be an interesting comparison.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , | Leave a comment