The Anonymous Widower

Chaos Between London And Leeds

On Tuesday, I had booked myself between Kings Cross and Leeds on the 11:03 LNER train. My idea was to do a short round trip to Harrogate from Leeds before going across the Pennines to Manchester and sign in to my hotel, before going to see Ipswich play at Rochdale in the evening.

But it all went wrong, as someone decided to commit suicide and was hit by a train at Grantham.

Finally, I got to Leeds at around two, which was too late to carry out my plan.

  • I just missed a Harrogate train and it was getting too dark for photographs.
  • I eventually got a very crowded TrainsPennine Express to Manchester Victoria.
  • My supper was just a gluten-free egg and waterfresh sandwich from Marks and Spencer.

At least, I’d only paid just under thirty pounds for my First Class ticket to Leeds, which was only six pounds more than I paid to cross the Pennines.


This is the second time recently, after Did Someone Try To Steal The Electrification?, when I’ve been seriously delayed by problems on the railways, which are nothing to do with the trains or train companies.

Staff at LNER told me that suicides are common in November, as Christmas approaches.

Short of putting a security guard every hundred metres along the railway, I don’t think there’s a certain way of stopping these incyursions.

November 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Plastic Platforms At East Croydon Station

Platforms 1 and 2 at East Croydon station now have glass reinforced plastic surfaces.

They look good and feature.

  • Shorter stepping distance into and out of trains.
  • Underfloor heating to prevent ice and snow build up.
  • Blue LED edge lighting.
  • The lights are blue, so they can’t be confused for signals by the drivers.
  • The lighting is designed to deter suicides.

The keen-eyed will notice that the lights aren’t switched on. Apparently, some have failed!

December 21, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Curse Of The Coeliac Traveller

On Tuesday with my jaunt round the East Midlands, the weather played its part in that my intended pit-stop in Carluccio’s at Lincoln had to be cancelled because of the rain. This wasn’t too serious as I’d had a double-egg pot at Leon in Kings Cross before I left.

I could have got something in Nottingham before I went up the Robin Hood Line, but I decided to do the trip to Worksop first.

Unlike many other main stations like Birmingham, Cambridge, Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield, there is no Marks and Spencer Simply Food, so there was nothing gluten-free to eat in Nottingham station. Except possibly salads and a banana, which I’ve eaten so much of on my travels, that aversion therapy has worked its evil magic.

After returning from Worksop, I had about forty minutes to get something to eat before catching the hourly train to Peterborough to get home. This was not enough time to have a meal in any number of places in Nottingham, so I decided to go to the city centre to get some sandwiches in Marks and Spencer. But they didn’t have any!

I was quite hungry by now, but luckily I found a Holland and Barrett, where I bought a couple of EatNakd bars to replace the two I’d brought from London and eaten en route.

After all I only needed to keep going for another couple of hours until London, where I could either eat at Kings Cross/St. Pancras or after a short bus ride to Islington.

I got to Peterborough with ease and then I sat for an hour in a train waiting for clearance to leave.

But it never did, as there had been someone killed by a train at Sandy.

So in the end hunger got the better of me and I left the train and walked in to Peterborough to get some supper in Carluccio’s.

I finally got home at eleven, which was about three hours later than planned.

I do wish that people wouldn’t practice assisted dying using trains!

It must be so much easier for non-coeliacs to travel, as they can pop-in to so many places to buy a sandwich or a burger.

September 17, 2015 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Two Solutions To Make Crossing A Railway Safe

On the way to football tonight in Ipswich, I went to have a drink with a friend, who lives near Thurston station on the Ipswich to Ely Line, where there is a good real ale and cyder pub. Crossing the tracks at Thurston is via a simple walk across controlled by traffic lights between the two platforms.

Of all the stations I use regularly, this is the only place where such a system is in use. Unless of course you count the trams at Ampere Road by the Croydon Ikea. A few hundred metres to the west of the station a bridle way and cycle path crosses the railway and Network Rail have built this bridge.

There have been reports like this one in the East Anglian Daily Times, which has a headline of Poll: £1.5m ‘monster’ railway bridge at Thurston is dubbed a ‘total waste of money’

This bridge is an interesting case of what to do where there are gated crossings of railway lines.

I think before being too critical of Network Rail we should bare these points in mind.

1. Suicide

This article on the BBC web site talks of a death at a crossing in the Thurston area.  Network Rail get far too many deaths on the railway and it is a sad fact, that stepping in front of a train, is a common method of suicide.

2. The East-West Rail Link

The East-West Rail Link will use this line to get from Ipswich and Felixstowe to Cambridge and Ely. This link will be an electrified 100 mph railway that will run trains between East Anglia and the Midlands and the West. So although the line carries perhaps a couple of trains every hour each way, in perhaps ten years time, this will probably be a few times more. And as the line is pretty straight as the pictures show, the operating speed could be a lot higher.

3, Horses

If you read all the comments about the bridge no-one mentions taking a horse over the railway.

Horses are flight animals and if spooked will run fast away from the perceived danger.

Many horses too, don’t like going under high-voltage cables. Whether it is because they can sense the magnetic field generated by the electricity or they don’t like the whistling sound,I don’t know. But if the crossing is going to be used by horses, it will have to be of the size it has been built.

I’m not sure, but I think this is the only way to get a horse from one side of the railway to the other, unless you go all the way and go under the bridge by Thurston station.

4. Getting The Design Right

This bridge illustrates that getting the design right and satisfying all users and critics who never use the bridge is an almost impossible task.

Aesthetically, I don’t like the bridge, but unless they dig a subway under the railway, there is nothing else that can be done to satisfy all users and critics of the design.

Note that when the railway is upgraded to be part of the East-West Rail Link, Thurston station will have to be rebuilt and I suspect it will have a bridge over the railway, probably with lifts and a price tag well upwards of £2million.

There will be some serious discussions.

August 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Death On The Line

This story on the BBC about a badly-handled death on the railway between Slough and Reading is tragic. These are the first few lines of the story.

A rail company has apologised after a staff member told passengers the train was delayed because someone “couldn’t be bothered to live any more”.

Passengers aboard a train to Plymouth were delayed after a fatality on the line.

But the staff on First Great Western could have handled it better.

On the other hand I sympathise very much with staff and passengers on this stretch of line out of Paddington, as this death was not a once in a decade happening.

Just after a previous incident, I was travelling back on an almost empty train to London from Oxford and I said something like “You must get a  bit fed up with all these incidents.” to the conductor. He replied something like “More than just a bit!”

It is getting to the point, where something drastic needs to be done to stop people getting on the line. I think we really won’t see any improvement until all of the stations between Paddington and Reading become part of Crossrail and there is barrier access and more staff about on the platforms, if they follow a typical Transport for London policy.


May 24, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Long Way Back From Rayleigh

For various reasons, I go to a dentist in Rayleigh near Southend.

Usually, it is a simple out and back from Stratford.

But today although it was easy getting there, coming back was a long journey, as a man was killed by a train at Harold Wood according to this report in the Romford Recorder.

I was informed that there would be a long wait at Rayleigh, so as a bus arrived, which was going to Southend, I took that as if the Liverpool Street was closed, I could at least get a c2c train to Barking or West Ham.

It is only when you are forced to take a bus in a strange town, that is information-free and nearly all your fellow travellers are wearing head-phones, you realise how most buses are terrible outside London.

I haven’t been to the centre of Southend since the 1960s, so it was only because my phone told me, that I was somewhere near the centre, that I got off at the right stop, near Southend Victoria station.

After buying my ticket and a drink, I was then informed that the trains were still not running. So I decided to walk to Southend Central station for the c2c train. This Google Earth image shows the two stations.

Central Southend

Central Southend

Victoria is at the top and Central is on the railway line that runs across the image.

The walk was easy, if rather windy and after ascertaining that c2c would happily accept my GreaterAnglia ticket, in a few minutes I was on a train to London. These pictures taken on the first part of the journey, illustrate the quality of the weather and how close the line is to the coast.

The weather was certainly worse than I encountered on the Cumbrian Coast.

In the end I changed onto the Metropolitan Line at Barking and then came home my usual way via Whitechapel and Dalston Junction.

May 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stopping Suicides On The Railway

Some months ago, I posted about how the rail industry and The Samaritans were getting together to cut suicides.

Today, there is a good article about the results of that initiative, on the BBC’s web site.

The training would appear to be working.

So perhaps we ought to look at other suicide points like bridges and car parks and create some appropriate initiatives, drawing on the railway’s experience.

November 25, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

The Selfishness Of Suicide

A good friend of my late wife’s has recently died of cancer.  He had been suffering for some time and having gone through two cancer-related family deaths in recent years, I can understand in some ways, how his wife felt.

Some doctors were worried I might be suicidal, but I wasn’t, partly because, my wife had prepared me for the future and also because I had strong support from my son and of course, lots of others.

Sadly though, in my late wife’s friend’s case, his wife thought the best thing to do was commit suicide. I don’t think she had any idea of the number of devastated people she would leave behind her. I wish that someone had told me of the cancer, as I might have been able to say something of value. On the other hand, I probably couldn’t have done! But I have been rather down for the last few days!

Life may be very bad at times, but there is no excuse for suicide, unless possibly it is totally in agreement with all those around you.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Times When I’m Glad I Don’t Own A Car

Today, according to this article on  the BBC web site, the Dartford Crossing has been closed to traffic for seven hours. This article doesn’t say why, but it was a man threatening to jump.  In the end according to this article after four hours of negotiating he jumped and later was pronounced dead in hospital.

I’m not going to question the man’s motives or suggest that the police should have taken more radical or forceful action, but why is it, it’s inevitably men, who climb on buildings and bridges and threaten to jump? I can’t remember an incident, where it was a woman, who was the prospective jumper.

I’m just glad though, that I’m a non-driver, as I can’t remember this sort of incident with trains. Perhaps, the men who threaten to jump are frightened of getting smashed into small pieces by something like a Class 66. Thinking about it, most suicides on the railway seem to be with passenger rather than freight trains. I wonder why? I have travelled on passenger trains with freight drivers and they have told me that many that get killed by freight trains are thieves nicking cable and other things in the middle of the night.

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

Paracetamol Deaths Fall

According to this article on the BBC, smaller pack sizes for paracetamol has led to fewer deaths, many of which are suicides..  However the number of suicides on the railways continues to grow to such a level, that special measures had to be taken.

And yesterday, it would appear that someone jumped off the roof of Eastfield. Accident? I doubt it!

The trouble with suicides, is that we try to stop them, by limiting the methods, when it would be better to stop the reasons people feel they might take their own life.

As to pain-killers, I rarely take them! A couple of years ago, I did have some severe pain after the stroke and had to resort to paracetamol, codeine and later amitriptyline. But I haven’t had a pain-killer since late 2010, although I may have had a small glass of the Scottish all-purpose remedy.

February 8, 2013 Posted by | Health, News | , , , , | 2 Comments