The Anonymous Widower

Rescued By Timpsons

Putting my boots back to go to the Football at around five, one of the laces gave up the ghost.

Timpsons? Surely, they could help.

But I would have to hurry, as it shut at six o’clock. I suppose the good peoiple of Manchester have to get up early to work in the satanic mills, so shops close early.

I eventually found a Timpsons in the Arndale Centre and for a few pounds, I got some new laces.

As the price included fitting, that must be three cheers for Timpsons!

As I left the Arndale Centre, many shops were closing.

Could the decline in High Street sales be partly because opening hours no longer fit the times, when the public now want to shop?

I regularly shop for everyday needs in the evening, if the television is rubbish and will go out for a snack supper to say a Leon or Carluccio’s and then perhaps pop-in to a Marks and Spencer to get food for a few days or perhaps some clothes from Eastfield. Usually shops in Inner London close at nine or ten.

My local M & S foodhall in Dalston, which is shutting at ten tonight, is just two bus stops away.

Perhaps, more people need to live in City Centres to revive them?

 

 

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , | 3 Comments

Just Look How The Port Of Felixstowe Has Grown

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Felixstowe Branch Line Capacity Enhancement Goes Live.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Funded by the Strategic Freight Network, with a contribution from Hutchinson Ports UK (HP-UK), a £60.4 million investment to create a new 1.4km loop on the Felixstowe branch line in Suffolk was successfully brought into service on 29 May 2019, on time and on budget. It facilitates an increase from 33 to 47 freight train paths a day in each direction on this key artery, carrying the highest freight tonnage in the country and serving the largest container port in the UK.

High Speed Two it is not, but if you read the article, you’ll see that a substantial amount of work has been done, involving track, footbridges, level crossings and signalling.

I can remember the Port of Felixstowe, when it was a just a small basin, with the Little Ships Hotel, a couple of warehouses and the giant seaplane crane. A couple of times, I used the Harwich Ferry to cross the harbour to Harwich on the Brightlingsea.

In some ways Felixstowe has come a long way in those sixty years.

With the increase in capacity on the Felixstowe Branch Line, the rail link can handle the container traffic through the Port better!

Note this about trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

  • 47 freight trains per day between Ipswich and Felixstowe is roughly two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • The current passenger service is one tph.
  • In addition, there is an hourly Ipswich and Lowestoft train, which shares track between Ipswich and Westerfield Junction.
  • The new Class 755 trains are faster and will have shorter dwell times than the current trains.

Between Ipswich and Westerfield, there are four tph.

  • The route is double-track.
  • Not all trains stop at Westerfield
  • The level-crossing at Westerfield station has been improved and is now is a Manually Controlled Barrier with CCTV
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box.

Between Westerfield and Felixstowe, there are three tph.

  • The route is single track with loops to the East of Derby Road and the West of Trimley stations.
  • The level crossings have been improved and three have been converted to Manually Cntrolled Barriers.
  • The signalling has been improved and moved to Colchester Power Signal Box..

It looks to my untrained eye, that these service pattern are possible.

So what will happen in the future?

In the next few sections, I talk about the future.

Could More Passenger Trains Be Run To Felixstowe And Lowestoft?

I suspect here, that the limiting factor will be platform capacity at Ipswich station.

Ipswich station will have at least four tph running between Stowmarket and Colchester (3 x London and Norwich and 1 x Peterborough and Colchester), that will use Plstform 2 at Ipswich station. I suspect that this means Lowestoft and Felixstowe trains will have to share the Bay Platform 1.

With good signalling and precision driving, I suspect that the single platform could handle 2 tph to both Felixstowe and Lowestoft.

There would only ever be one train in Platform 1 at Ipswich station, unlike now, where two trains share. The new Class 755 trains will be just too long.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?

The current timetable is as follows.

  • Leaves Ipswich at XX:58 and arrives Felixstowe at XX:24
  • Leaves Felixstowe at XX:28 and arrives Ipswich at XX::54

Note.

  1. The clock-face nature of the timetable.
  2. Both journeys are 26 minutes
  3. There is four minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

This service would need two trains and if there’s one thing that Abellio Greater Anglia aren’t short of, it’s three-car Cl;ass 755 trains.

If the trains had the branch to themselves, there could be a two tph service between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

But they have to share it with freight trains running at two tph.

This would mean the following.

  • Five tph between Ipswich and Westerfield
  • Four tph between Westerfield and Felixstowe.

As two tph between Ipswich and Felixstowe is likely to be on Greater Anglia’s wish list, I suspect the new track layout was designed with this service in mind.

Currently, there is one or two cars per hour between Ipswich and Felixstowe, but a two tph service would mean a minimum of six cars per hour or a massive increase in capacity.

Could Two tph Be Run Between Ipswich And Lowestoft?

The current timetable between Ipswich and Lowestoft stations is as follows.

  • An almost clock-face hourly service in both directions.
  • A journey time of just under one-and-a-half hours.
  • There are nine stops on the route.
  • There are several minutes for the driver to change ends and have a break.

When the new Class 755 trains are working the route, the following will apply.

  • The Class 755 trains are faster and have a shorter dwell time in stations.
  • There will be four London and Lowestoft services per day.

I think it is true to say, that journey times will be reduced.

I suspect that the following could be possible.

  • A journey time of perhaps one hour and twenty minutes.
  • Trains would leave Lowestoft at XX:07
  • Trains would leave Ipswich at XX:37

This or something like it, would be an acceptable clockface timetable.

I strongly believe that an improved service will be possible between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

  • I feel that two tph between Ipswich and Lowestoft might be difficult to achieve without extra works on the track.
  • Extra capacity can be added by using four-car Class 755 trains on the route.
  • Faster services will certainly be introduced, as the train’s faster speed and shorter dwell times will knock several minutes from the journey.

I also think, that it may be possible to introduce a second service on the Southern section of the route, which runs to perhaps Leiston or even Aldeburgh. This would give the busier Southern section of the route two tph.

So Platform 1 at Ipswich station could see the following trains.

  • Two tph Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • One tph Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • One tph Ipswich and Leiston/Aldeburgh

I believe that timetabling of the route would not be a difficult task!

Four Trains Per Day Between Lowestoft and London

The London and Lowestoft service could be arranged as follows.

  • Lowestoft station has three platforms., so one could be reserved for the London service.
  • If the last service arrived back late or the first service needed to leave early, the dedicated platform could be used for overnight stabling.
  • When running between Ipswich and Lowestoft it would take over, one of the Ipswich and Lowestoft paths.
  • The trains will stop at all stations between Ipswich and Lowstoft, as there will be jealousy between users.
  • It would call in the through platforms 2 and 3 at Ipswich station..
  • The trains would make as few calls as possible South of Ipswich, as the Lowestoft train will be a fourth fast London service in the hour.

No new infrastructure would be required.

Could London And Lowestoft Services Be A Dedicated Shuttle Train?

This may have marketing advantages, as the train could have its own livery and perhaps a buffet or a catering trolley.

If you assume that the working day for a train is 0600-2400, then this means the following.

  • A round trip must be performed in four and a half hours.
  • A London and Lowestoft time of two hours and fifteen minutes,.
  • The journey time would include the turnround time at the destination.

As Ipswich and London times of an hour are possible with a 100 mph trains, like the Class 755 train, Ipswich and Lowestoft would have to be run in a time as close to an hour as possible.

Consider.

  • The only trains on the East Suffolk Line will be Class 755 trains between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
  • Class 755 trains may be able to stop at stations in under a minute.
  • Line speed could possibly be increased, as the route appears reasonably straight
  • Some level crossings could probably be removed.
  • The current average speed on the line is around 35 mph.

I also suspect that Greater Anglia have run tests with the current Class 170 trains, which are 100 mph trains to determine what times are possible.

I wouldn’t be surprised if using a single shuttle train to run the four trains per day between London and Lowestoft, is possible.

  • Services could leave Lowestoft at 06:00, 10:30, 15:00 and 19:30
  • Services could leave Liverpool Street at 08:15, 12:45, 17:15 and 21:45

The last service would arrive back in Lowestoft at midnight.

Tram-Trains Between Ipswich And Felixstowe

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the Eastern section of the East-West Rail Link.

This is said in the report.

Introduction of a tram-train service on the Felixstowe branch, with doubling between Derby Road and Felixstowe and street running through
Ipswich.

It is also said, that there will be a frequency of four tph  between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

It looks like the plan is to fully-double the branch line to the East of Derby Road station.

To the West of Derby Road, the line is mainly single track until it joins the East Suffolk Line close to Westerfield station.

The problem is that the single-track railway goes over the over the Spring Road Viaduct. Rebuilding the viaduct to add the second track, would be something that everybody would want to totally avoid, as how would the containers from forty-seven freight trains per day in both directions, be moved in and out of the Port of Felixstowe?

If the capacity can’t be increased, the demand will have to be reduced.

A Possible Tram-Train Proposal

The East West Rail report is proposing that the 1-2 tph passenger service between Ipswich and Felixstowe should be replaced by a four tph tram-train service.

  • The tram-train service would start at Ipswich station, running as a tram.
  • It would probably meander through Ipswich, serving places like Portman Road, the Town Centre< Christchurch Park, the new housing in the North, Ipswich Hospital and the Retail Parks in the East.
  • If Ipswich gets a new Northern Ring Road, the tram-trains, might run on the original by-pass, that goes past Ipswich Hospital.
  • It would then join the double-track section of the Felixstowe Branch Line on the Eastern outskirts of the town.
  • Extra stops might be built between Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • At Felixstowe station, the tram-trains could revert to tram mode and might even go as far as the sea-front, using battery-power.

There are a lot of possibilities to give Ipswich and Felixstowe, one of the best local transport links in the world.

There will be some collateral benefits.

  • Extra freight trains can probably be squeezed through.
  • Ipswich Hospital will get the updated transport links, that it badly needs.
  • Road traffic would be reduced.

I also believe that the tram-train could be added to the Felixstowe Branch Line without disrupting trains, freight or passengers.

Electrification

I can remember reports from the 1960s, which said that felt the Felixstowe Branch Line would be electrified.

  • With a frequency of four tph, the route would surely be electrified for the tram-trains.
  • It would probably be electrified at 25 KVAC, so that freight trains could take advantage.
  • When street running in Ipswich and Felizstowe,, 750 VDC electrfication or battery-power could be used.

There would be no extra electrification needed to enable all freight trains going via London to be electric-hauled.

Freight Locomotives

I think it likely, that increasingly, we’ll see Class 93 locomotives and other electro diesel locomotives with a Last Mile capability taking freight trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

These new breed of 110 mph locomotives will be able to take maximum-length freight trains on routes to, from and through London, but a new locomotive will be needed to take trains across East Anglia to Ely and Pryrtborough and then on to the Midlands and the Notth.

Conclusion

The Port of Felixstowe and the railways connecting it to the rest of the UK have come a long way in sixty years and they will expand more in the next decade or two!

August 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Park-and-Ride Expansion At Rotherham Parkgate

This is a short-term objective and is probably sensible, as I know in the past that parking in Sheffield wasn’t easy and parking never gets better.

This Google Map shows the large Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre

Note the railway running around the South of the sight.

There is a blue dot , which is the position of the Rotherham Parkgate station, that is used by the tram-train.

To the North-East and the South of the Shopping Centre, there appears to be a lot of spare land.

Will these be spaces be more shops of car-parking?

The Tram-Train Frequency

Currently, the tram-train frequency between Cathedral and Rotherham Parkway is a tram-train every twenty minutes.

 

As the tram-train route could be extended from Rotherham Parkgate, more capacity will probably be neeeded.

Will this go to one tram-train every fifteen minutes, to increase capacity?

July 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Mayor’s Plan For Shopping That’s Right Up Your Street

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on page 48 of Saturday’s Times.

This is the precis.

The former John Lewis boss is using his retail experience to help to rejuvenate Walsall.

|According to the article, Walsall town centre is in a bad way with large numbers of empty shops.

The article is positive about Andy Sreet’s plans and feels, that if anybody can bring about a transformation, then he can with his retail experience.

I wish him and Walsall luck!

June 1, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Orchestra Pit At Waterloo Station – 14th March 2019

These pictures show the area nicknamed the orchestra pit at Waterloo station.

It looks like it could be open soon!

Although Network Rail and their pandering to the terrible tastes of the average rail traveller, this are will probably filled with gluten-rich junk food.

I’d like to see a Leon added to Waterloo, as they already have two Marks and Spencers and a Carluccio’s.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Plastic Bag Fee ‘To Double To 10p’ And Include Every Shop

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

This is the guts of the story.

The 5p fee for plastic carrier bags in England will be doubled to 10p, and extended to all shops, under plans set out by the environment secretary.

The change is contained in a government consultation aimed at further reducing the plastic used by consumers and could come into effect in January 2020.

Smaller retailers, who are exempt from the current levy, supply an estimated 3.6 billion single-use bags annually.

I’m all for this, if it cuts down the amount of plastic, that blows around the country, before ending up in the seas.

This is the bag I use.

Note.

  1. It folds up, so that it first into my man-bag.
  2. It easily holds two days of my food shopping.
  3. The handles re very comfortable, even when carrying eight bottles of beer.
  4. I’ve had it over a year now and it is finally showing the odd sign of wear.
  5. It is big enough to hold a copy of the Sunday Times without folding.

It did cost be five pounds from M & S, but how much have I saved on five pence bags?

It is not a perfect bag, but it is a good start.

Other things, in the same vein, that I’d like to see.

  • A charge on takeaway food, especially pizza boxes, which seem to end up in front of my house.
  • A fine for piling household and commercial waste around litter bins, which is very prevalent in this area, despite council camnpaigns to stop it.
  • Remove the foxes back to the countryside, so they don’t spread the rubbish all over the street.

As to the latter, foxes seem to have eaten most of the cats, hedgehogs and birds, so it is their only way to get food.

December 27, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

The Knightsbridge Desert

On Saturday, I visited an event between Knightsbridge and Sloane Square stations. I was thirty minutes early and the person, I was meeting was running a few minutes late, so I decided to have a coffee.

I remember Sloane Street from the 1960s, when we would take the kids to the area to area to perhaps do a bit of specialist shopping, have a browse and have lunch in one of the many nice cafes. Or in the 1990s, when C and myself, would stay overnight in the area, see a show and buy a few clothes we needed. I still wear the Gieves and Hawkes jacket C bought me in Harrods over thirty years ago, on such a trip.

But now it is a desert of expensive shops, with nothing else in sight. I could afford to shop there, but I have two problems. I can get better value for myself in local shops or markets and I don’t have a lady of my own age to indulge.

I eventually found a pub and had a very good coffee.

The only thing I found interesting in the area, was the rebuilding of Knightsbridge station.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Contactless Payments For Food In Marks And Spencer

I have been using contactless bank cards to buy my food in Marks and Spencer for about sixteen months now.

I started making a note of my spending this way, as I wanted to check that this method of payment was secure.

It is!

What has dropped out of my research is that the average price of an item over those sixteen months, has been a couple of pence over two pounds.

So now, I usually only  buy fifteen items, so that I’m just below the contactless payment limit.

  • If it’s a couple of pounds over, I just drop a couple of pound coins in from my pocket, before using the card.
  • As it happens fifteen items always fit in my reusable bag, which I stow in my manbag.
  • I haven’t bought a new bag for a year and rarely pay 5p. for a plastic one.

The self-imposed fifteen item limit has certainly speeded up my shopping.

I wonder if other chains have the same item cost!

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , | 1 Comment

My Ruined Saturday Mornings!

Since, I moved to Dalston in 2010, my Saturday morning routine has been something like this.

  • Take a 30 Bus to St. Mary’s Church.
  • Visit the Carluccio’s and have a gluten-free breakfast, like a full English or an eggs benedict.
  • Visit Waitrose for half my shopping.
  • Visit Marks and Spencer for my gluten-free shopping.

But things have changed.

Egyptian Buses On Route 30

A few weeks ago, new buses started on route 30.

I don’t use them, except as a last resort.

They were built in Egypt. Now, I’ve nothing against Egyptians or their country, but we make very good buses in this country and we should have British buses for British bottoms!

The new company running the route seems to not provide the same frequency anyway, so catching a 30 bus, would often involve a longer wait.

Carluccio’s Has Closed

But the need to take a 30 bus decreased, a few weeks ago, when Carluccio’s in Islington closed.

As there is no other place in Islington to get a quick gluten-free breakfast, that put a big hole in my Saturday mornings. I could go to Bill’s or Cote, but they take a lot longer and are much more expensive.

Waitrose

Waitrose too, are annoying me.

They have redone their self-service tills and they are useless for my way of shopping.

I have a large reusable M & S bag, that folds into my man-bag and although it was fine for their original tills, it’s too big for their new tills.

So to shop in Waitrose, I put the bag in the trolley, load my purchases onto the till without a bag and then after payment move them into my shopping bag. How inefficient is that?

I now limit my purchases at Waitrose by using the much-more customer friendly Sainsburys next door.

Anyway, Sainsburys have a much better gluten-free selection, than the terrible range in Waitrose, where no care is taken to make ranges of foods like sausages and burgers gluten-free.

In fact, I wouldn’t trust Waitrose on their allergen philosophy. The labelling might be correct, but it’s all about how different product types and ranges are handled.

You wouldn’t shop in Waitrose if you were a family with one member who was coeliac or gluten-free!

Marks And Spencer

Marks and Spencer at the Angel carry on as normal, as they have done since my paternal grandmother shopped there ibefore the First World War and, when C and I used to shop there in the 1970s.

But they have competition in that I am ringed by others of their stores in Dalston, Finsbury Pavement, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and London Bridge.

Yesterday, I ate breakfast in Leon at Kings Cross and then roamed the shops before doing my Saturday shopping in their Finsbury Pavement store. That one is now opening on Saturdays and I can get two buses directly from the store to the zebra crossing by my house.

Conclusion

All of these factors are combining to make me use Islington less.

What the Angel needs is a Leon, so I can have a fast gluten-free breakfast on the go.

One of the great things about breakfast in Leon, is that there is often time and space to layout your tabloid-sized newspaper and eat a leisurely breakfast.

 

November 18, 2018 Posted by | Food, World | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bad Logic From Marks And Spencer

I am not the largest of individuals being around one metre seventy and sixty-one kilos.

But then many coeliacs are on the smallish side.

So when I saw this small meal which was entiled Beef Chilli & Cheese Filled Jacket Potato, I suspected that it could be gluten-free, as it seems most of Marks and Spencer’s beef chillis are made without gluten.

On turning the packet over, I found my reasoning was correct, as the dreaded g-word was missing.

Next to this baked potato on the shelf, was a Smoked Haddock Mornay Filled Jacket Potato.

Now this is where the logic is bad

  • Some of their fish dishes with a Mornay sauce are gluten-free and others are not. This was one of the ones with gluten!
  • Surely, if all chillis can be gluten-free, then all fish Mornays should be the same as to gluten.
  • Perhaps, all baked potato dishes like this should also be the same as to gluten.
  • I also think that with fish, shepherds and cottage pies with a potato topping, whether a pie is gluten-free or not depends on the range.
  • And with sausages and burgers, they are all gluten-free.

If you are vegan or need to be dairy-free, I’m certain there are other examples of similar products varying as to acceptability.

How Was The Eating?

Not bad at all! I’ll try another, but I would love to try the smoked haddock variety!

Conclusion

I believe that a regular shopper in a particular supermarket chain, should be able to ascertain, if a product is suitable by just reading the title. They can always check by reading the detailed labelling

 

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , , | Leave a comment