Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Richard Trevithick's Birthday

This is Google's logo for the 13th April 2011, the 240th anniversary of the birth of the engineer Richard Trevithick.  Good for them for marking the day and it's a wonderful drawing but poor old Richard must be turning in his grave at the lack of basic engineering depicted here.   It'll never work!

New LU Signalling Contract

Transport for London have announced that Bombardier Transportation are the preferred bidder for the contract for resignalling the Sub Surface lines of the Underground.  I suppose the Bombardier system will be a version of their "Cityflo 650" ATO product. This means that LU will have three different ATO systems, two of them on the same railway!  You couldn't make it up.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Electrify to Swansea

The recent UK government decision to electrify the Great Western route from London to South Wales has one major flaw.  It has been decided to electrify only as far as the Welsh capital, Cardiff.  The main line and 65% of the trains that use it goes on to Swansea.  The division of traction at Cardiff is a mistake.  The short-terms costs of taking the wires on to Swansea must outweigh the lifetime costs of mixing traction over the route.  Come on you guys, do the sums!

Crow and Cuts

Bob Crow, the general secretary of Britain's RMT union, is rather fond of seeing himself portrayed in the media and his office turns out a regular stream of emotional, rabble-rousing quotes. Such is his apparent vanity that he must suffer withdrawal symptoms if a day goes by without someone mentioning him somewhere. So, to avoid him disappointment, I will mention him here.

He's been quoted in the latest edition of the trade paper "Railnews" (No. 170, April 2011) as saying,  in a piece about future wage negotiations, "We will not accept a situation where our members standards of living are eroded as a result of the mistakes and the reckless gambling of the politicians and the bankers". Well, despite the obvious 1970's "dinosaur", left-wing rhetoric, my usual misgivings about anything this man says are somewhat mollified in this case.

He does have a point. After all, how can the ordinary "man in the street", who has spent years mortgaging himself and his property to the hilt in order to fill his home with luxuries and who has spent to the limit on his wallet full of credit cards to buy expensive clothes, electrical goods and holidays, be expected to consider that, one day he will have to pay it back? Perhaps, if he didn't default on all the credit cards, he might at least be happy that some of his debts were written off. Now he has to expect a period of austerity?  Surely not?  Isn't it all the bankers fault for letting him have all that credit?

Whatever you might think, Crow's words will come to haunt the passenger, as train drivers, many of whom are already earning up to £40k a year, strike for more while the rest of us make do with what we have.