The Anonymous Widower

The New London Pollution Charge — May Be Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ‘Poll Tax Moment’

The title of this post is the same as that of a news story in today’s Sunday Times.

This is the first paragraph.

The ‘ultra-low emission zone’ will force 1m motorists to pay the £12.50 daily charge — or get off the road,

The Sunday Times has done a detailed analysis and makes the following points about the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

  • About a million vehicles will be liable to the new levy.
  • The ULEZ charge of £12.50 will be a nice little earner for Transport for London (TfL).
  • The ULEZ charge will raise three times as much as the Congestion Charge.
  • It could collect up to £1.5billion per year.
  • Some people will be paying £4,000 a year to drive their own car.
  • Initially, the charge will only be levied in Central London, but after 2021, it will apply inside the North and South Circular Roads.
  • The Sunday Times has read some TfL impact assessments.

Reading the full article convinces me, that I made the right decision to give up driving.

I am in favour of the ULEZ, as I suffer from pollution and I don’t have a driving licence because my eyesight was damaged by a stroke.

But Sadiq Khan seems to have forgotten a lesson of recent history, where the City of Westminster voted down his laudable aim of pedestrianising part of Oxford Street.

On that issue, he should have pedestrianised all of it. Just as the City of London seems to be doing!

But the motoring lobby gave Westminster a good kicking and do you think, they will be less active at the ballot box in the next Mayoral Election?

Few would vote for someone, who would tax them an extra £4,000 a year.

Sadiq Khan is a well-meaning politically-correct lightweight, who doesn’t think through the effects of his promises.



December 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Financial Trouble At TfL: Can It Stay Afloat?

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

This is the first paragraph.

London’s public transport provider, TfL, is under increasing pressure. Not only has its government operating grant been slashed but a funding freeze is also expected to cost £640m across the course of the current mayoralty. Can TfL create the commercial income needed to keep it afloat or are there serious causes for concern?

The government is cutting subsidy to TfL, but Sadiq Khan knew that when he stood for Mayor.

So what did he do? He offered a fare freeze until 2020.

It looks like more fantasy Socialist accounting to me, to ensure victory in an election.

The article also says this about the future.

Nevertheless, TfL’s hopes for the future are pinned on the completion of its upcoming Elizabeth Line project, scheduled for the end of the year. The £14.8bn project, which will create a brand new line running underground across London, is expected to be a big revenue raiser. TfL predicts that ridership will increase from the current 46 million passengers on TfL Rail, to nearly 270 million by 2022-2023.

If these predictions are wrong, TfL will be in trouble.

For myself, I suspect that Crossrail will suffer with its own version of London Overground Syndrome, with passenger numbers much higher than predicted. In The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome, I talked about an outbreak in the Scottish Borders, after the opening of the Borders Railway, and said this.

This disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

But for the Mayor to rely on that, is clutching at straws.

May 15, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is There Hope Yet For The Metropolitan Line Extension?

This article in the Watford Observer is entitled Hertfordshire County Council Tables Plans For Met Line Extension Project To Still Go ahead.

This is the start of the article.

Plans will be tabled for the Metropolitan Line Extension to go ahead despite last month’s shock rejection from the Mayor of London.

An emergency cross-party motion has been tabled for Hertfordshire County Council’s budget council on February 20 in a bid to show there is still political support for the project is still ongoing.

The motion has been agreed with the Conservative leader of the council, David Williams, and Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.

The plug was pulled on the scheme last month despite additional government funding of almost £74m.

It looks to be more optimistic about this difficult project.

The article makes the point that TfL are paying for step-free access at Amersham and Rickmansworth, which outside the London area.

I can’t help feeling though that this project is all about politics and very little about seeing, if a more pragmatic solution can be found.

There are several rail projects that serve Watford that need to be taken together.

  • Crossrail up the West Coast Main Line.
  • New trains for the Watford DC Line.
  • The future of the Milton Keynes to East Croydon service.
  • What to do with the Northern end of the Bakerloo Line.
  • Improved Watford services by West Midlands Trains.
  • Possible Chiltern Railways access to Watford Junction along the Metropolitan Line Extension.

I suspect that if all projects are looked at together, a better solution can be found.

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Labour Alienates The Jews And Drivers And Owners Of Diesel Vehicles

I come from mixed Jewish/Huguenot lines and my philosophy is probably humanist, although I’m a confirmed atheist.

But if I’m wrong, finding Heaven could be a bonus when I die!

This article on the BBC is entitled Labour ruling ‘fails Jewish community’, says Chief Rabbi.

Individuals, like Livingstone have no place in an inclusive political party.

This article on the BBC is entitled Date announced for London ultra low emission zone.

I am not against the ultra low emission zone, just the way that it is being brought in unilaterally in London.

We need ultra low emission zones all over the country and there is many things we can do.

  • Cross-city railways and trams.
  • More hybrid and electric buses when they are available at an affordable cost.
  • Park-and-ride facilities.
  • Trucks should be more environmentally and cyclist friendly.
  • Grants will probably be needed to scrap older diesel vehicles and invest in new trucks and buses.

The one thing that is right is to bring in the zone in 2019, which will be just after the Central London section of Crossrail has opened.

There needs to be measures from Central Government, but as ever, staying in power comes first.

I have a feeling that London’s ultra low emission zone will not be good for Sadiq Khan in London, as it’s going to cause inconvenience for many in London.



April 5, 2017 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Has Sadiq Khan Got His Sums Right?

This article on the Rail Technology web site, which is entitled Underground set to undergo biggest capacity expansion ever, is a good summary of Sadiq Khan’s plans for Transport for London.

It’s All About Cash Flow

I am unsure about the plans, as it seems to me that a there is a lot of money to find in two years less to fund the building of the Bakerloo Line Extension.

So there is the double whammy of the fare freeze and accelerated construction!

Crossrail And Thameslink

I also think that Crossrail will contribute some of this money and because it is properly designed, it will stimulate growth in areas like Canary Wharf, Farringdon, Old Oak Common, Paddington, Romford and West Drayton, to name a few places.

The same however, can’t be said for Thameslink.

  • It doesn’t serve many areas ripe for development.
  • As it is not a TfL route like Crossrail, it won’t generate anything like the same fare revenue.
  • Thameslink could turn out to be too much of a long-distance commuter line.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway’s first loyalty is not to London.

On the whole, I don’t think it will benefit London as much as Crossrail will.

The Underground

Until I learn otherwise, I do think that the engineers of the Underground, may have thrown the Mayor a few lifelines.

  1. It would appear that the Victoria and Jubilee Lines can go to 36 trains per hour (tph).
  2. By raising the voltage and installing automatic train control on the sub-surface lines, there can be a 33 % increase in capacity.
  3. New Piccadilly Line trains will be ordered in 2017.

One and two, should happen easily and if the design is right, three could be a big game-changer.

But the problem, is that although these will generate cash flow in the long term, only 36 tph on the Victoria Line will happen in the near future.

I also feel, that although the capacity of the Victoria Line can easily be increased, will the stations be able to cope. Highbury and Islington, Oxford Circus and Victoria are not mentioned in the article.

All of these trains and passengers will also generate lots of heat and although Crossrail is designed to handle the watts, the deep-level Underground trains and stations were not.

This might mean a route change by passengers from older lines to Crossrail, which could have various effects.

The Non-Devolution Of Rail Lines To TfL

I have a feeling that the figures show that this is very much neutral to TfL’s finances, as some of the routes need a lot of money spent on stations and new trains. But under the new arrangement, TfL will probably have more say in service quality on the lines, than they do now.

Good Design Of The Bakerloo Line Extension

There must surely be scope to save more money in the design of the Bakerloo Line Extension. But I suspect that most of the easy savings have already been found.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a radical  design for the extension come out at a late stage. But this is less likely, as because the line is an extension, it must be compatible with the existing line.

The Petty Cash

I think that where the Mayor might make up the shortfall is in the smaller things, that people forget.

For example.

  • Expansion of the Night Tube to all lines, the Drain and the Overground.
  • Tactical and expanded contactless ticketing.
  • Better train scheduling.
  • Expansion of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line and the Barking Riverside Extension.
  • Expansion of the East London and Lea Valley Lines.
  • Extra stations and station entrances.
  • Development of Old Oak Common.

But some things already proposed will be tricky.

  • I don’t think that he’ll save the money he wants on staff.
  • Politicians always overestimate what they’ll earn from property development.
  • You can only build so much affordable housing.
  • Developers might find building housing just outside London is more profitable.
  • The Mayor could have Union trouble.

There are probably a lot more where these came from.


With Brexit and Trump, there is a possibility of a drop in passenger numbers and income, which could derail everything.

It will be a close run thing.

December 9, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Autumn Statement: Is Rail Devolution In London Dead?

This is the title of an article on the BBC web site.

This is how the article starts.

Sadiq Khan is not the first mayor to want more control over London’s rail service.

Previous mayors have managed it – Ken Livingstone took over Silverlink and Boris Johnson gained control of West Anglia.

But it looks like the chances of more takeovers are not that promising.

The article then goes on to make the point, that the timescale for taking over Southeastern metro services is very tight.

As time is a very absolute constraint, action needs to be taken now!

November 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Sadiq Khan Backs Gatwick

This article on the BBC is entitled Sadiq Khan urges swift decision on Gatwick expansion.

Doesn’t most of those living and/or working in london and the South East?

This is said in the article.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged Theresa May to make a quick decision on airport expansion in the South East.

Mr Khan said the new Prime Minister should make the final decision on whether a new runway should be built at Gatwick or Heathrow a top priority.

This decision has been kicked further into the long grass for years, ever since Harold Wilson cancelled Maplin Airport in 1971.

With Brexit on the near hotizon, what better way to say the UK and London is open for business, than by deciding on the next runway in the South East.

I don’t believe Heathrow should build another runway for the following reasons.

  • Building another runway would cause endless problems as the M25 is diverted., if what happened when it was diverted for Terminal 5 is anything to go by.
  • Gatwick will have better rail connections.
  • Heathrow has annoyed a lot of influential and powerful people and organisations in West London.
  • The site is too small, even after demolishing the odd village.
  • I don’t believe they’ll solve the pollution problem.
  • I don’t like approaching the airport over Central London.
  • It is the more expensive option.

You can probably say similar things for Gatwick.

But at least Gatwick’s owners don’t seem to be as greedy and uncooperative as those at Heathrow.

At least Gatwick’s plans seem well advanced, as this visualisation shows.

Gatwick With Two Runways

Gatwick With Two Runways

This appears to me to be a good efficient design.

  • The new runway is on the left.
  • It looks like the secondary North runway, used when the current main runway is under msaintenance, is still in place.
  • Between the two runways is a massive new terminal.
  • Note the station in the bottom right corner, with the Brighton Main Line going across.
  • The red line is a shuttle, that takes passengers between the current North and Main terminals, the new terminal and the train station.
  • Little demolition seems to have taken place.

But in some ways, where the runway is built is irrelevant, if Crossrail and the improved Thameslink work as they say on their tins.

These two high-capacity railways will give Heathrow and Gatwick a shared terminal called London, that unfortunately for them, they will share with  Stansted, Luton, HS2 and Eurostar.

I feel though, that because of Brexit, we’ll see a decision before the end of the year and possibly in the next few weeks.

British governments have fiddled for far too long!


July 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Sadiq Khan Frightened Of Saint Joanna?

This report on the BBC is entitled London Mayor Sadiq Khan backs ‘more accessible’ Garden Bridge plans.

I think the Garden Bridge should be quietly forgotten and the money used to connect Barking Riverside to Thamesmead.

I would have also thought, that the bridge would be the sort of project that  few would mourn its passing.

So is Sadiq Khan frightened of Saint Joanna?

Especially, as last year, he didn’t think it was value for money!


May 18, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Crossrail 2 October 2015 – Tooting Broadway Or Balham

In Crossrail 2 Changes its Mind under Tooting Broadway Or Balham, I wrote this.

Both Tooting Broadway and Balham stations are on the Northern Line, but I think Balham is being preferred as it is also a busy main line station.

As some of the main line services through Balham, are duplicated by Crossrail 2, the new line now offers opportunities to release the pressure off the lines through Balham.

If you look at a map of the railway lines in the area, it may be that Crossrail 2 will send the new tunnels in a wide circle from Balham to Wimbledon under Tooting and Haydons Road stations, so that the tunnels are dug totally under existing railway land.

Using Balham rather than Tooting Broadway seems a good idea.

I don’t live in |South London, or even know it too well, so I’ll accept that what I said could have been a comment in haste.

This report from This is South London is entitled Sadiq Khan demands answers as Balham is proposed instead of Tooting Broadway in Crossrail and says this.

It comes after ground faults near Tooting were discovered, meaning work there would take two years longer than originally estimated and cost more.

The news was met with frustration as many said Tooting needed the station more than Balham.

I know he’s the local MP, so he will stick up for his constituents.

Let’s look at the two stations.

This Crossrail 2 document is entitled Wimbledon To Clapham Junction and I’ve used it for information.

Tooting Broadway

These pictures show the area around Tooting Broadway station.

Tooting Broadway station is a typical Underground station on a busy surburban shopping street, that appears to be ruined by heavy traffic. I certainly wouldn’t go there to shop.

Tooting Broadway station is in the London Borough of Wandsworth

It is on the Northern Line

The Crossrail 2 document says this about a station at Tooting Broadway.

To relieve crowding on the Northern line, we had proposed a station at Tooting Broadway. Land for this was safeguarded earlier this year and further work on the station design has been completed to inform this consultation. Recent assessments have identified that ground conditions in the Tooting area would make it significantly more difficult to build a station at Tooting Broadway than originally thought. As a result of these challenges, we are looking at an alternative station location at Balham.

Work to date has suggested that a station at Balham could be built with significantly less disruption and would still provide many of the same transport benefits as a station at Tooting Broadway.

A station at Tooting Broadway would take up to two years longer to build, would require much larger worksites and thousands more lorry movements. This is because a station there would have to be built from the surface with more material removed by road. This would mean it would be more disruptive and cost nearly twice as much to build than a station at Balham.

I also think that even the world’s greatest architect, would have problems creating a decent station for the area.

If I lived in Tooting, I’d think that all those lorry movements would say that Balham can have the station and I’ll go there for shopping and entertainment.

Perhaps the only reason to build a station at Tooting Broadway, would be that it would make it easy to get away from the place.


These pictures show both the Tube and main line station at Balham.

I have a feeling that Balham is a very rare design for a Tube station in that it has two buildings on either side of the road and I can imagine that Crossrail 2 could serve Balham with a double-ended station with entrances on both sides of the High Road.

A good architect could create a world-class station here, that could act as a magnet for visitors and businesses to the area.

Balham station is in the London Borough of Wandsworth

It is on the Northern Line and also a busy station, through which the Brighton Main Line passes.

There are three trains an hour from Victoria to Epsom via Balham, which is a route duplicated by Crossrail 2. Could there be scope for cutting a few services?

This Google Map shows Balham station.



The Northern Line crosses the main line at virtually a right angle following Balham High Road. The Crossrail 2 line will be built on the Western side of and parallel to the Northern Line.

The two lines would be linked by dedicated passenger tunnels, effectively creating a four platform underground station.

This link means that Crossrail 2 will go some way to meeting a secondary objective of relieving capacity on the Northern line.

It also enables anybody coming from or going to stations south of Balham, like Tooting Broadway for instance, will have a faster route to Central London.

Two work-sites would be used to sink shafts to the new line and Crossrail 2 station.

  • Site B – A Northern one on the site of Balham Waitrose.
  • Site A – A Southern one just south of where the Northern Line crosses the main rail lines.

It is worthwhile looking at the main lines through Balham on this Google Map.

Lines Through Balham Station

Lines Through Balham Station

Note how the lines split to the East of Balham station, with the Brighton Main Line going south.

If you’re building a new Crossrail 2 station at Balham, you should probably rebuild and extend Balham station if that is required to improve services on the Brighton Main Line.

You’ve certainly got a lot of space!

Balham and its new Crossrail 2 station looks an excellent solution, especially as the link between the Northern Line and Crossrail 2 could be made so simple and totally step-free.

Making The Decision

So on a quick look, it would appear that Balham offers the better connectivity and Tooting has ground faults and would be much more difficult, expensive and disruptive to build.

Let’s face it, Tooting does not have any of the charm and space of Balham and save for complete demolition, Tooting Broadway is probably beyond redemption.

In some ways, it gives Sadiq Khan a difficult problem if he is elected Mayor next year. Should he insist as Mayors possibly can, that Crossrail 2 call at Tooting Broadway in his current constituency?

On what I have written here, I think it would be a seriously wrong decision to chose Tooting Broadway.



November 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments