Tuesday, 21 March 2017


Corbynites and Momentum can go on about policy till there blue in the face, they still miss the point that the electorate hates Corbyn, no matter how many quite sensible socially progressive policies they put forward looming large over them will be Corbyn and his ilk.
What the voters see with Corbyn is a pathetic whiney little man who could not organise a piss up in a vegan brewery.  He is also a charisma black hole, with no hint of leadership ability, that no one outside of his cliche can imagine as PM, he would be as out of place as PM as Trump is as President.

Let me list the problems.


This as far as the general population is concerned is a weakness, if you have views and beliefs then you should be prepared to fight for them, as a private set of views very few will see them as a major fault however when it comes to a Prime minister, then it is a disbar. If through some accident or misfortune you end up a hostage of some warlord or tyrant in the middle of nowhere, then you don't want to find that the PM has moral objections to sending in a bunch of highly trained heavies to get you out. If someone wants to sign a note and opt-out of any use of violence to rescue them, then fine.


For all its failing western civilisation has achieved a lot, you might think the poor are hard done by but there is no one who would find their standard of living or life expectancy any better 100 years ago but Corbyn reeks of disdain for the west.


While he may have been correct about the mess of the Iraq war, we don't know for certain that through some unforeseen set of circumstances it might have been worse if the war had not happened. Corbyn's objects to the war were not based on the specific set of circumstances of the war it was part of a blanket objection, which given that others are prepared to start wars, is not a vote winner.


The first year of his leadership was a mess and it hasn't got much better. With the Virgin trains stunt, only a moron could have made such a hash of it. He and his team seem incapable of understanding that if you attack anyone, justified or not, they will defend themselves. This inability to see that others will look after their own self-interest rather than just roll over is something Corbyn shares with the brexiteers and the likes of Farage. The empty-headed love some Kippers have for Farage is mirrored in the Corbynites love of JC.


His performance in the Brexit campaign was abysmal. His decisions to impose a 3 line whip to support the government line was bad, but to make it even worse he, later on, managed to condemn the everything that 3 line whip had been put in place to support. His varying position looks very much like political expedience on a moment by moment basis, as if by support a point of view half the time and opposing it the other half of the time will result in him being supported by both sides, it will not it will end up with the support of none.


The constant slagging off of Tony Blair and the Blairites is very counter productive but it is about the only thing that unites the Corbynites, but even if Blair had only achieved 1 thing it would be more than Corbyn has achieved, he has been a disloyal back bencher for years and Blair achieved more for the poor the Corbyn ever has or will, see.


Corbyn hold the record for the most votes against the Labour leadership, that he and has supporters go on so much about the disloyalty of others is just pathetic hypocrisy and obviously so, watching his supporters twist and turn as they try to defend the abuse heaped on those who do not follow "the leaders" will is galling.


The biggest area of liability is his supporters, they are just appalling in general. The more they behave like themselves the more they make him unelectable.The average Labour voter is appalled by them but the Corbynites are only interested in themselves, they have no idea whose votes put Labour in power and whose votes lost Labour power.

Len McCluskey


Monday, 20 March 2017

Cheer leader

Someone has accused me of being the cheerleader for mediocre architecture in Liverpool. IMHO nothing could be further from the truth. It may seem, to some, that by not condemning the new buildings provided they are adequate, that I'm setting the bar far too low. However, on a lot of the sites that are being developed the bar is currently several feet below the ground and any improvement is to be welcomed.
From just before WW2 until very recently Liverpool was certainly on the back foot economically and hence in terms of its architecture, the fine examples were allowed to rot until they were in danger of falling down, and others were swept away in an attempt to modernise to get back on the development path by correcting what were seen as infrastructure failings. In reality, this did very little. Liverpool's decline was a product of 2 factors, firstly the decline in the British Empire, this removed the stranglehold British manufacturing had on the former colonies and simply British industry protected behind imperial trade barriers could not cope, the colonies bought from other places with world class products. This decline led to both a decrease in imports and exports, from the north and midlands, the source of a lot of Liverpool's trade.  Secondly, technology led to increased concentration of management etc in London, previously you had needed a Liverpool office to handle the day to day running of any business with an interest here, but gradually the increase in telecommunications reduced the need when head office was only a phone call, fax or email away. Coupled with changes in maritime technology, bigger boats and containerisation.
One way or another Liverpool suffered people moved out of the city centre to the suburbs and new town around. When housing redevelopment happened, first high-density tower blocks were built, each one the same, destroying large areas, some of which needed to go others need to be restored. Then the tenements went, Gerrard gardens, Kent gardens etc, again some needed to go. Then the tower blocks went, replaced with out of place semi detached. Reducing once lively and bustling areas near the city centre to misplaced suburbs.
Businesses in the city centred pottered along but the to Let signs were becoming more numerous and the derelict buildings more common. There were some attempts at speculative buildings, some of which went wrong. The site of Peters Building has been empty since the mid-70s after a scheme to develop the site went bust before the new build was started. The area around Hackins Hey suffered a similar fate and lies mostly empty now. Opportunities missed and mistakes were made by the beginning of the 90s things had bottomed out. The UK as a whole and especially the south-east had gone through several economic booms followed by recessions, Liverpool had only had the recessions.
Things began to look up in the 2000s, perhaps because they could get much worse, and at least when the 2008 crash came, we were at least in the same boat as everyone else, for the first time in a long time, but town was horribly pock marked with car parks and ruined buildings, but sprouting amongst them this time were cranes, perhaps more cranes that have been in Liverpool since WW2. They were beginning to fill in some of the spaces, cover some of the blight. What they were building wasn't always welcomed but it was clean and tidy and spoke of new life. It wasn't the highest level of architecture but it was functional.
If you turn up at a job interview wearing a cheap but presentable suit all spit and polish and with a willingness and enthusiasm, then you will be in with a chance. Get it right and the next time you have to go looking for a job it can be an Armani suit. Liverpool's new buildings are that cheap suit, they are the foot in the door, in 10 or 20 years time if Liverpool's on the up, developers will be willing to disregard these buildings and replace them with better and bigger with the same alacrity we would dispose of the cheap suit.
If we insist on not doing any interviews until we have a good suit then we are likely to be out of work for a long time, in the end, the quickest way to an Armani suit is via an M&S special.
In the process of putting up these buildings, there is also the buzz of industry and progress, something which adds to the attraction of the place. People may not like the stag nights and hen parties roaming town of a weekend but not only do they provide employment, they also show that the young do not share the views of Liverpool gained from Brookside, Bread & Militant. The bigotry and closed minded attitude towards Liverpool can hopefully be a thing of the past and help, every good night in Liverpool, every good student experience is one more positive attitude to Liverpool, even if they never come back they only have to say they had a good time a few times to make it worthwhile.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Long and Winding Road

For several years now I have been pushing out various ideas for extension of various rail networks, mostly Liverpool's Merseyrail, all of which have managed to attract zero attention, in the local press, unlike some others. Despite there being a lot of similarity in the plans and mine coming out first. The latest plans share 99% commonality with my own, as we both shamelessly use google maps to draw on. I did from this one learn something, and that is that you can customise the place name markers on Google Maps. This may have been one flaw but another made clear to me is that I must use a Beatles reference in the name. So for this on I have picked the Long and Winding Road.
So here it is the ultimate extension to Merseyrail to Thurso and not just Thurso but Thurso, Quebec via Thurso, Scotland which already has the most northerly railway station on the island of Great Britain.  Thurso, Quebec also has a railway station which is on the main Ottawa to Montreal line.
So here is the first map of Merseyrail Transatlantic.

The first part of the route would be too extended the Norther Line beyond Kirkby and via Wigan to Thurso on the north east type of Scotland. You might think that America being to the west then the west would be the way to go, but unfortunately not, despite the invite of a station in Dublin, the 3000+ km from the west of Ireland to Newfoundland is a bit too long and the waters a bit too deep. Then there is the volcanically active mid-Atlantic Ridge, which stretches on average 2,5 cm a year. So it to the north and a bit of island hopping. So first it is Thurso, Kirkwall on Orkney at a modest
54km, just a warm up, the tunnel would unlikely to surface but have a vent shaft combined with the station. Then on further north to Lerwick, Shetland at 166 km it getting a bit longer.
At a junction with a line coming in from Bergen in Norway, we hand a hard left out tp Torsharvenon Faroe at 366 km which is beginning to push it out a bit.

Then a further 500 km to Höfn í Hornafirði in Iceland where a lot of surface running will start one round the south of the island and one around the north, to keep the route open when various bits of Iceland are exploding. One we get to the west coast at Nanteyri it back into a tunnel for the 360 km tunnel to Greenland to a place I can best describe as  68°44'46.36"N  26°22'34.17"W follow by the longest tunnel 1160 under the ice of green land to  good old Sisimiut, a good place for a station. This would be the longest tunnel on the route only helped by the fact that the water above is frozen solid.

A 340 km hop brings us to Baffin Island on the west coast just opposite Cape Dyer.  While we are actually on dry land with no ice pack it may be best to stay underground as the weather is awful, like north wales on a June day and anyway we have a lot of fjords and the like to cross before we get to Kimmirut on the Davis Straight for the last 175km sea crossing to Kangiqsujuaq,Quebec and our first touch of the continent Americas.

It now plain tunnelling to Thurso, Quebec and the main rail lines of north America, if the technology exists to get this far the might as well tunnel it to keep the scenery pretty and quite.

All in all, it is 6137km Thurso to Thurso, at HS2 speeds of 400 kph that is 15 hours 21 minutes. Personally, I would recommend standard gauge but I'd wait till full automatic tunnelling can be done, with diggers capable of handling the pressure, if there is a breakthrough of the ocean, and being able to fill the hole. Perhaps using Q-carbon to provide strength for the walls.
It would have to consist of multiple parallel interlinked tunnels possibly 6 or more to provide the ventilation necessary and provide the volume to handle the blast from the trains shock. Plus the extensive cabling to provide power on the longer sections, and escape and rescue.
Additional tunnels would be provided for freight which would only require slow extremely long trains.
OK, I admit it is a Beatles themed Trans-Atlantic tunnel, but is quite likely a more practical scheme for long distances travel than Hyperloop.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

New LOR North extension.

If the LOR was rebuilt as per my earlier blog, then it still wouldn't connect to one of the original destinations of Merseytram, Kirkby.

In it final form the LOR was connected to the main rail network at Seaforth, see this map. Until the 1990s the route was still clear, though now it has been filled in with houses. The LORs trains usually terminated at Seaforth & Litherland station. During the Grand national meeting, some trains would go to Aintree Racecourse railway station via the North Mersey Branch.

The North Mersey Branch heading east as it crosses the Southport line.
From it junction with the Southport line, there remains a single unelectrified set of rails, maintained by network rail to their minimum standard and used by maintenance vehicles to access the Ormskirk line. A junction connects the remaining line to Aintree station, but beyond the junction one bridge has been removed but the rest of the route is clear to Fazakerley junction on the Kirkby line between Kirkby and Fazakerley.


In my original plan, I terminated the New LOW at Sandhills station. The track there is now down to 2 set of rails, previously there were many more lines as out to Southport was quad and the North Liverpool Extension Line also passed through, see here. In the intervening stations between Sandhills and the Junction for the north Mersey Branch the remains of the extra lines can clearly be seen. This would allow extra lines if needed to connect the New LOR from Sandhills to the North Mersey branch. Though as the lines currently only carry four trains per hour, it would be possible to fit additional services in a Tram Trains.    
Mersey rail has long term plans to reintroduce services on the North Mersey branch to Aintree, with at least 2 intermediate stations. On the map at the stop of the page, the line from Sandhills to Aintree is marked in white as it is either in use or Merseyrail has expressed some interest in use/

Beyond Aintree

Merseyrails plans involve leaving the North Mersey Branch at the Aintree North Curve that might be a reasonable thing, whoever it would also be possible to reinstate the line beyond Aintree to Fazakerley Junction.  It would then join Merseyrails line into Kirkby, taking advantage of the Bridge over the M57, though as this is only a single track it may represent a bottleneck.
At Some point, the line would leave Merseyrail, perhaps after Kirkby station on revert to tram running through Kirkby, where it could be used not only for people intending to use the LOR into Liverpool but also as a feeder for Kirby station for trains heading East or West. This corresponds to the purple line on the map at the top.
This is an additional 7 km of surface line over what Merseyrail has either work at the moment or plans to have in use. Which using the costing in the original article come to between £119.21 and £238.41 million, bring the total for the system to £550 & 1280 million. The biggest distribution in the build would be putting the track down on Kirkby's roads.

Saturday, 7 January 2017


You don't hear much about new overhead railways being built, they are things that exist in New York, Chicago and in Liverpool's case the past, but new ones are surprisingly common.  The Docklands Light Railway is largely overhead as are sections of the Newcastle Metro, European cities have or had some elevated railways, sections of Hamburg Hochbahn are elevated.
The very earliest overhead systems where simply brick viaducts, while the arch spaces could be used they took up a lot of space and often ran heavyweight trains. Later systems used lighter weight trains and lighter weight viaducts enabling the systems to be raised on steel or concrete columns. Leaving space beneath for roads. Some like the Liverpool Overhead were built above other railway lines, that ran along the street for freight transport between docks.
The main advantage of the overhead railway is, that like an underground it leaves the surface free or largely free for other uses, such as roads, pedestrians or surface level tram lines. Compared with underground it is cheaper to build and easier to maintain, as well as requiring less safety system. As they do not have to cooperate with other surface vehicles the can also have double the capacity of surface level trams.
Liverpool lost both its tram and overhead railway in the 1950s, things which, with hindsight seem like a mistake. There was even an attempt in the 2000s to create a new tram system as Merseytram, but that too failed, even after the purchase of the land and even the rails had started.


A large part of the original Liverpool Overhead Railway's business was messengers moving between the docks, the widespread of the telephone put an end to that. Changes in technology and the docks have meant that that need has not returned. However, the rise of the area as residential and the move of the retail area of Liverpool further towards the river may offer a source of passengers.
There are some other unused old rail resources in central Liverpool which could be brought into use to produce a more integrated system, especially if Tram-Train technology is thrown into the mix, a central network connected, via existing heavy rail lines to subsystems on the outskirts, can be created.
Original the LOR was an isolated system but it was finally connected to the main rail network with a link to the North Mersey Branch, which allowed connections to all the north line to Southport and the line from Aintree to Ormskirk, it would have provided access as far as Kirkby but the North Mersey Branch was not electrified that far. The change of use does not extend far beyond Sandhills Lane so there would be little case for extending the line back to Litherland. However, joining the Northern line near Sandhills could use the wider track section provided by the CLC route.
To the south, a connection to the Northern line at Brunswick could be made. Further links could be made by the Wapping Tunnel and the Waterloo Tunnel to Edge Hill, where a curve would create a triangular loop line. Extra stations could be provided along the length of the tunnel.
In order to use the tunnel, the line would have to drop down to ground level. The normal clearance required on motorways is 15.1 meters, if this is required for the new railway then this would put the rails some 17 meters above the ground. The steepest gradient on the Docklands Light Railway is 1 in 17 (5.88%), at that gradient, the ramps would need to be 119 meters long. This length easily fits into the available space where transitions are required.
Merseyrail already plans a connection from the northern line, south of Central station to the Wapping tunnel as part of it Edge Hill Link scheme, with at least one additional station at Crown Street. Part of their plan is to open up the area around Wavertree by rebuilding the LOR as Tram-Train and lining it to Edge Hill the link could be fully utilised and the Trams go beyond Edge Hill and at some point leaving the railway and mix with ordinary traffic as a street tram.
The tighter turns of light rail would allow, with some tunnel works a connection to the wapping tunnel heading west, though the floor would have to be lower to clear an intrusion into the tunnel.
The Waterloo tunnel passes within 400 metres of Lime Street underground on the loop line, a short branch from the Waterloo could provide a platform parallel to the current loop line platform and provide access to both Loop Line and Mainline passengers.
With a connection made to Lime Street then a short spur of a loop which passed down Princes' parade would allow the cruise liner terminal to be connected conveniently to the mainline station, with just a short walk.


It difficult to estimate costs but is found Comparison of Capital Costs per Route-Kilometre in Urban Rail from a Danish university.  Which contains this table

There are about 7km of existing tunnel, which as the tunnel is already built I have priced as surface, 8 of elevated and an extra 0.6 miles of new tunnel. All figures in millions.

2000 → 2017 $ 1.4016
2017 $ → £ 0.81

Cost Kilometre 2000 prices 2017 prices 2017 $ → £
Surface $15.00 7 $105.00 $147.17 £119.21

$210.00 $294.34 £238.41

Elevated $30.00 8 $240.00 $336.38 £272.47

$600.00 $840.96 £681.18

Underground $60.00 0.6 $36.00 $50.46 £40.87

$108.00 $151.37 £122.61



So roughly £275 to £685 million for the overhead rebuild or between £435 and £1045 million for the complete system.

Monterrey Metro

From Garcia Bridge Engineers 
 This is not for light rail but it shows how a viaduct is built

which has quite a lot of similarities with how the original was built! Though instead of being counterbalanced the front is supported by mobile columns on their own railways.
From YOLiverpool


For a plan to extend further to Kirkby see New LOR North extension.


Know with added Bramley Moore station marked to cater for Everton FC fans if their new stadium goes ahead. See Liverpool Echo story.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Tower Blocks for Norwich

Having turned my non-existent training in urban planning to solving all the problems of Liverpool, I have decided to have a look at some other places I have been to, this is going to be quite a short list but I thought I'd start with Norwich, a place I quite like.
National Library of Scotland side by side, modern & historic map.
One of the main problems that might face Norwich is where could it expand without destroying its current atmosphere? The answer is provided by the disused route of the Lynn and Fakenham Railway line. The red line below.

Using this route to provide access to a new high rise zone to the north of the city, about where the industrial estates are. It would not only be reinstated as a rail line but also as a cycle and walkway, to provide quick access to the city centre for work etc.
The line would be extended through the city to the current railway station by a new build tram line, in blue above. This would act as the core line for a future Norwich tram system.


The reinstated line would not be heavy rail but would be light allowing it to connect to a tram line, which could connect to the mainline railway station, then using a tram/train concept out on the Brecklands line towards Attleborough or the various railway lines, current and disused, to the south and east of Norwich, providing the city with  a proper light rail system, including the Norfolk Orbital Railway.

While it isn't the cheapest I think Norwich would be a suitable place for a modern ground-level power supply type of tram, the Bordeaux tramway being an example.


Just in case any is concerned about the idea of tower blocks, perhaps I should have said sky scrapper but it this kind of thing I had in mind, which are current proposals for Liverpool, from a distance they would provide a great view of Norwich and look good when looking from the city centre out.
From the Liverpool Echo

From the Liverpool Echo

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation: The directors cut.

After several months most of the comments for Liverpool City Council's Draft Liverpool Local Plan seem to be in or at least the first 1137 of them. So as a follow up to my seminal Hell in the PDF:Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan Consultation I thought I would comment on the comments.
There is only one set of cloned comments from the supporters of Sefton Meadows, the idea seems to be that if you repeat a lie often enough it will become true. The are filled with the normal false environmental claims and due to a mistake by LCC, some of the locations of these commenters was released. Showing that the vast majority could only be termed vested interests.
Some councillors seem to have gone for the mass voting scheme as well where all 3 of a ward's councillors would submit the same comments.
One of the main misconceptions of the green commentators is that grass can somehow aid in the fight against global warming. It cannot for a couple of reasons, every so often it is mown down, doing this uses energy which at the moment if diesel. I'm not sure exactly what happens to the cuttings but unless they are sealing in vacuum packs and placed into the disused coal mines around St Helens, then the carbon they contain will soon be back in the atmosphere.
One of the councils own departments recommends adopting a system pioneered in Bristol where instead of replacing any trees removed with a sapling. The number of saplings planted is proportional to the girth of the tree. This is the Bristol Tree Replacement Standard it seems very sensible to me.
The exact process from now on is a little unclear but by the end of 2017, the comments the full plan is supposed to be ready. Though when it becomes legally binding is not clear. How the comments will be assessed and integrated has not be made clear, there dow not seem to be anything other than a very vague provision for some kind of feedback. I suspect a lot of the comments will just quietly be ignored. No public committee meetings no week of debate on a comment by comment basis by the councillors. For a document that may be very important to the future of the city, the lack of public debate is quite astounding. Especially if you consider the kind of scrutiny thatHS2 was given the transport committee, were multiple members of the public were called in to expand or explain on their comments.
Surely it is worth a week of the councils time to debate this in public and with the public, if for no other reason than to let the population see how the council works.
Any chance Malc?

Monday, 7 November 2016

Paddington Village

Paddington Village: Spatial Regeneration Framework

By council standard's this is quite short at only 53 pages of A4 or 105 pages of A5 depending how you look at it. It has a contents page with no internal hyperlinks. Hypertext was first postulated in 1945, first implemented in 1968, it would be nice to think the council could actually use them properly by 2017? Producing documents to the PDF/A format allows internal links, it is ridiculous to produce a document that is not designed for e-reading.

What I actually said

I believe that the location of the car park is flawed. Placing a multi-storey car park directly over the railway cutting is the sensible things to do. This has been done in several places in the UK. Other structures have also been built. In Liverpool, the section of cutting through University Place has been covered. See http://peterirate.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-green-line.html for more details. This frees up more space for buildings or green infrastructure.
Not only should green roofs be encouraged on site, so should green agriculture see http://sustainablefoodtrust.org/articles/can-urban-growing-feed-cities/ & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2xyUsHSRdk & http://www.huffingtonpost.com/x-prize-foundation/urban-farming-hits-the-ro_b_8149592.html Space is limited but as with the railway cuttings no space should be left unused. It is a pity that with Networks Rails proposed remodelling of the Lime Street Approach the opportunity is not taken to enclose the cutting.
Additional pedestrian and cyclists connections to Edge Hill station should also be incorporated.

What I meant

The lack of recommended uses for the roof space is a bit worrying. A building properly built with a roof that uses the sunlight for one purpose or another is making full use of the land if that roof is also used for growing things then it could be argued that it is a zero loss of green space as far as biology is concerned.
The other thing was how rectilinear all the proposed designs where I do like some curves in the buildings.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Pete Burns

So Pete Burns has died and the musical wannabes and art types are beside themselves. Well my impression of him was that he was a git. I sure he suffered a fair amount of crap when growing up, mostly the scallies but that doesn't excuse his behaviour when humiliating people who didn't share his taste in music or his outlook. The stories the people tell about him in Probe are true and I'm sure he upset a fair number of people in their teenage years. I was a prog rock/heavy metal fan and going into Probe, when Burns was there, was just a pain, just enjoying snide little remarks etc. I used to just rummage through the Albums out front there was just too much sneering if you asked for something the staff didn't like in Probe.
Lots of the comments about him have referred to him being High NRG and High maintenance, which to me sounds like he was an absolute pain in the arse. The kind of git who would put music on loud at 5am and then complain about someone putting music on at 3pm because he was trying to sleep.
I have had several comments deleted when being critical of Burns on Liverpool sites, most of which were just pretty plain stories about what he was like in Probe.
The one thing I am sure about those is that he wouldn't have given a flying fuck about what I said about him, he knew he was a screaming bitch and didn't care, those who want to play this side of him down, and dealt my comments would have incurred his scorn for being so fucking childish. He might not have been that nice, IMHO, but at least he was honest unlike his fandom.
I'd happily have Burns alive and Pete Price dead if that any consolation.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Programmer's dilemma

When faced with any new task, that isn't the writing of software the first question that any self-respecting programmer will ask is "Can I write some software to do it", if the answer is yes, then a junior with perhaps as little as 5 years under their belt, will proceed to write it.
Towards the end of their first 5 years, they may begin to realise that spending 2 weeks writing a small utility that automates a process that takes 3 hours by hand needs some justification.

The will after some time come up with an inequality like the one below.

Time to write app + (time to prepare app + time to run app)* times job needs doing < (time to do by hand*times job needs doing)

and an app to do it, as, of course, that is the only way to get reliable results, basic arithmetic is not a software developer's strong point, computer science is, after all, a branch of mathematics.
Of course, this is only Version 1 of the software and its inadequacies will become apparent somewhere towards the beginning of gamma testing when it begins to indicate that software you actually want to write is not viable.
The obvious flaw in the calculation is that it does not take into account the number of similar tasks that the application could be rewritten to help with and the time saved in writing these. 

They will after some time come up with an inequality like the one below.

Number of similar app * ((Time time to write app-Time saved if first app written)+((time to prepare app + time to run app)* times job needs doing))  <
Number of similar app *(time to do by hand*times job needs doing)

again, of course, this will need to be developed as software Version 2. 

Well of course soon you will see the flaw that writing this app or a version of it for different types of task, which have different numbers of preparation tasks and post run tasks, is not fully catered for, and is going to need to be handled by some similar but different software. This means that Version 3 will not now be an application but will be a Library or Generic class with some demonstration builds, 2 of which will be implications of Versions 1 & 2.

To make it even more even more generally available Version 4 will be a set of Excel macros, while version 5 will be an Excel clone. This is actually how all truly useful software is conceived and developed any other way just leads to things which would be better done on paper. All good software is the results of Software Developers or at a push, computer scientists solving their problems while trying to do other things that interest them, most of which are writing programmes. If people start trying to develop software to fix other peoples problems we will end up with it being fitted nasally.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Moorfields North Junction

The master plan for the expanded knowledge quarter has been released and a Merseyrail station for Paddington is mentioned, again and even appears on one of the CGIs. See Revealed: billion-pound Liverpool masterplan to create THOUSANDS of jobs and transform part of city. Other than a connection to central it doesn't say much else about it.

In my blog A New Edge Hill, I speculated that it was the resurrection of the Edge Hill Spur scheme, part of the original plan for Merseyrail(MALTS). This would involve building tunnels along the route in yellow and blue below. This would require about 1 mile of new tunnel.


Some have suggested the alternative below, which uses more of the length of the Victoria/Waterloo tunnel and about half a mile of new tunnels, to connect to Merseyrail north of Moorfields. The light blue section is the new tunnels.

While the new tunnels may be half the length of the MALTS scheme, overall length is longer, as a much longer section of the old tunnel is used, and while tunnelling may be thought to be the expensive bit, building the stations is far more expensive and restoring the old tunnel will not be cheap. Once you have got all the kit on site and people trained up the difference in cost will be minimal. It is also unlikely that this northern junction could be constructed without interfering with services. The preparatory work in the 70s done for the Edge Hill spur, south of central makes that much more likely.
The major argument against this plan is service provision, currently the northern line at Moorefields has 12 trains per hour passing in each direction, any new service would have to fit into that.
Then there is the question of where the trains will go after central, currently of the 3 services running into central only the Southport service continues on to Hunts Cross.  The other two either sit at a platform or use the reversing siding, this was not what the station was designed for, it was designed with the Edge Hill spur in mind so that all services would pass through, 1 of the terminating services would have gone on to St Helens and another to the outer loop or perhaps Widnes South. Adding an extra service, which terminated, would most likely mean adding an extra platform which would not be cheap.
The Edge Hill spur scheme could add access to both old tunnels, so that, eventually, more city centre stations could be added, with connections to central and possibly the airport.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

A New Mersey Railway tunnel

For 6 weeks there will be no direct civilised form of transport between the Wirral and Liverpool as Merseyrail refurbish the lines in the original Mersey Tunnel, which is 130 years old this year. So things have moved on a bit since it was first built and you would hope that in real terms building a new one would be cheaper.
The original railway where about £500,000 per mile in 1885, about £57 million today. The Queensway Road tunnel of 1934 cost £8 million or about £517 million in 2016, while, the Kingsway tunnel was twin bore and completed in 1972  for £33.5 million which is about  2016 £470 million in 2016.
The Crossrail tunnels 2011 twin bore tunnels cost £69 million per km in 2011 about £80 million now. I'm using Stephen Morley's site for calculating the modern value, other sites give different results.

The orange line one possible route connecting the Northern line, heading south, with the Wirral line toward Chester & Ellesmere port and beyond, it 3.2 km long, giving a total of £256 million. Given the improvements in tunnelling technology and bearing in mind the extra expense that was put into the approached for Kingsway and that it is double bore of larger diameter and that Queensway has an even larger diameter that does seem like a reasonable cost. It could be cheaper if a single bore was used, which may be allowable with such a short tunnel, though modern safety regulations could mean it has to be 2. The short blue line would allow the integration of parts of the Birkenhead dock lines.
One reason to build it, other than to improve redundancy, would be to allow extra trains directly to Wrexham, through the original tunnel or if a junction facing Hamilton square was also included then a loop using both tunnels via the Stock Interchange Line could be provided.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Labour Conference Day 4a

The wind is blowing but the wind turbines are not going around.
On the streets of Liverpool, amphetamine prices have reached an all-time, fueled by the need of delegates to stay awake during Diana Abbott's speeches.
LSD has been stockpiled in expectation of a big demand in perpetration for the leader's speech, while combi packs of Prozac and E are available for Wednesday.
Special supplies of 20:20 have been rushed in for Dennis Skinner and an emergency order has been placed with both Greggs and Sayers on the expectation of big demand from John Prescot after Joe Anderson turned up and answered the big question of who ate all the pies.
The Rosicrucians were everywhere aided by the fact the did not exist.
Ships chandlers across Liverpool reported brisk business as the Fabian wing of the party battened down for squall Momentum to blow itself out.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Aldi The Village Bakery Eccles Cakes

One of the finer things in life is the Eccles cake, with its light flaky pastry it is far better than the dry husk of a Chorley cake or Welsh cake, these inferior products show that the sum is not always greater than the parts. A true Eccles cake warm is a fantastic thing, with a light custard or vanilla sauce, well worth the risk associated with such a things, especially if you wear the recommended safety gear.

If you can get to Sayers just after the have been taken out of the oven then you are in luck, these are possibly the best Eccles cakes in the world. The Aldi cakes are of course prepared off site and come plastic wrapped but they are wonderfully moist and perhaps just a little too sweet, the slight tang of the fruit is missing but all in all a very good effort, especially at about 95p, compared to about 160p for Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes which are too close to a Chorley Cake for comfort and rather dry.

I do not bake but this looks like a decent recipe to me
Hobbs House Bakery, though there a plenty out there and extra bit of zingy zest does not go amiss.

7.5 out of 10, best you will get in a plastic pack or cold from Sayers etc. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Labour Conference Day 5

Well, it appears that the drugs were working, at least for me, I managed to hang around gormlessly outside the conference for all 5 days. Today though was a special day, I got there just before kicking out time and got to watch the Labour party leave on mass, all in all, it was a collection of the terribly mundane, trooping out back into reality or from a couple of overheard fragments straight back into the nearest pub.
In a feat or organization, not seen since Corbyn took over, one group even dispatched several members before the speech ended to grab places or report back on vacancies in bars, at least 2 of their reccie teams found that other more determined groups hand grabbed prime positions in the area and watched the speech from the pub.
Outside the entrance, a small group of Corbynites had gathered and had a go at some of the realist members of the party as they left, with what will be described as thrilling and witty repartee in The Canary and shallow slogans everywhere else.
Corbynite prepares and attempted haranguing Tom Watson
First out of the building was Derek Hatton, in a hurry to get back to his Merc.
Derek does one.
The most visible presence outside the conference all week has been the pro-European one, each day has had a different group or 2 for who BREXIT is a key issue.
Some reports from inside the halls suggest that inside the atmosphere has been a bit more bad-tempered than usual but under control. The noise made when Corbyn left, the conference or his hotel were significant but not overwhelming. While JC may be able to get his supporters to pay some cash to have a say it doesn’t look like he has got them to turn up for the conference. It seems like that, as with the other humdrum work being a party member should require, they cannot be bothered to do it, any commitment beyond the odd rally is beyond them, well beyond the sheep anyway, not sure about the shepherds, but after last night speeches at the Black-E, there will likely be 1 less shepherd to worry about.
Clive Lewis claiming the conference hasn't been good for his liver.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Labour Conference Day 3

It was raining so people were not standing around to chat, though I did talk to some people handing out invites to their own fringe meeting. They seem to be in agreement with the views of some others that the general mood of the conference was a bit down.

Had a quick look through one of the big windows into some form of Atrium, saw the beast of Bolsover and left. At least it getting me out of the flat for the afternoon walk a little earlier, so I at least am enjoying conference a bit.
If you are the person I spoke to about BREXIT and the legal hurdles here is the link.
The best stunt outside was by Associate British Ports(APB) with some men singing shanties, I doubt they were from ABPs operation down at Garston Docks.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Labour Conference Day 2

Well! I did go back mainly for the free WiFi, in the course of this I took in the save the Liverpool Women's Hospital march and rally as well.
First things first the decision about where is best for the hospital should be based on clinical imperatives there are competing factors, pregnancy and birth are not illnesses and should be treated as such, this is the official position but it also can result in emergency admission. The decision should not be a political football for either side of the argument.
March turns onto Berry Street
The first thing I noticed about the placards was the usual SWP brand and Left Unity, there were the usual SWP salesmen, has anyone ever seen an SWP saleswoman? Given the exodus from the SWP, I think the entire membership was here. Given the some of the reasons for the exodus it makes the SWP presents rather tasteless. See The SWP leadership has turned the party into a sinking ship
While some organisation come to show support the SWP is usually there to gather support and to make itself seem bigger than it is, I doubt the people carrying the SWP brand banners were actually SWP, it just is just more of their attempts to co-opt members.
The March probably contained 1000 or so by the time they turned up at the entrance to the dock estate, that number quickly dropped off as the speakers began, the only one I recognised was Diane Abbot, though Tony Mulhearn was also there and the I think Lesley Mahmood, who is one of the founders of the group, both ex-Militant, Richard Branson and Tony Blair came in for particular treatment, which you would think was a bit strange, given that neither has anything to do with the hospital or the NHS these days, and the Blair/Brown governments did massively increase funding for the NHS. In short, it had descended into rather typical Corbynite/SWP territory. So basically your average every day hijacking of a good cause. If you are holding a rally do the sensible thing and ban SWP placards, they are claiming that you support them, they are not supporting you.
I did have another look around the conference and yet again saw both Dennis Skinner and Marie Le Conte, still wearing those bloody shoes, the only addition to my I Spy book of MPs was Hilary Benn. The Conference seemed to be hiding in the woods.

I missed going to the meeting of the Continuity Labour party, with Hilary Benn, because I didn't know it was happening but the Fabian wings meeting spilt onto the street.

Labour Conference Day 1

Well not actually the conference in full actually the women's conference. I don't actually have a pass for the conference, so this is basically what I heard randomly walking around and for long periods sitting on the large concrete blocks by the entrance to the arena area. The last one I did this for was the LibDems in 2014, in the same place, the BT Conference centre. That had a lot more people security but they were in government then, today's game of spot the special branch officer, was really a non-starter though there were a fair number of normal cops in the area and at least 3 evidence gathering teams with videos.
Saw 5 MPs, Lucian Berger, Louise Ellman and Angela Eagle were local, while Denis Skinner & Harriet Harman were not. There may have been others around but didn't recognise them. Saw only a few Journos, one being Marie Le Conte who has since blocked me, for taking the piss out of her god awful boots, on twitter.
Denis Skinner walked past me claiming loudly "the fucking woman with the safety pin has fooking following me around all day". Skinner looked and sounded every bit the brightly dressed arsehole I have always imagined him to be.
The main topic of decision that was in the air was, of course, Corbyn's victory, and the attitudes to it were quite predictable from different groups. There were some very happy Asian men and some unhappy sharp-suited young white men, who at various times decided to stand or sit by me and talk quite loudly of their opinions.
The main reason for going down was just to assess the mood and see what people who go to these things look like, and on that basis today was a bit of a failure, there simply were not enough people out and about in the precinct but I'm not sure I can be arsed doing it tomorrow, might just swing by on my afternoon promenade.
One thing I must do is hunt down the alleged Lib Dem recruitment stand.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Green Line

The quest for more green space in Liverpool continues.

The High Line

New York has the High Line Park, a disused overhead railway converted to a park.
The High Line by Beyond my Ken
Unfortunately, the Liverpool Overhead Railway was not only closed but demolished in the 1950s

Even after that had gone, between Sandhills and Exchange, there were a large collection of raised lines of which only a small amount now remain, some of which carry Merseyrail, a small unused section running parallel to Love Lane seem to have greened itself but there is no access. It only 250m long but with something to separate it from the rail would make a park. Some of the bridges over roads have been removed, so it would not be the cheapest park in the world.

The Very Low Line

There are a lot of people asking for more green places in Liverpool, the problem is there are very few places that do not have more profitable uses, but there are a few.
When Lime Street station was first opened  it was connected to Edge Hill via a tunnel. The tunnel was not well ventilated and the build up of smoke caused vision problems, which lead to several accidents, so in 1881 large portions of the tunnel were opened out.
Opening out the tunnel
As time past and signalling improved the ventilation became irrelevant and some places had the cuttings covered over. The most obvious section was the section through the university from Brownlow Hill to Crown Street in 1965, only a small section now remains open.

Courtesy of Graham Newell

Courtesy of Graham Newell
 The changes can be seen here on side by side maps.
Lime Street Approach, cuttings outlined in black
The total length of the cuttings combined is about 676 meters, with a width of at least 16 meters, which give a total area of 10,816 m2, 1.08 hectares or 2.6 acres.
Cuttings North of Kirkdale on various lines.
These are deep cuttings, the system used to cover these was large I-Beams at the surface level, so leaving a large amount of space over the lines. The walls of the cutting act as the load bearing element. I'm sure the beams could be placed closer to the track or arches within the cutting but this might be more difficult while the track is in use. Though if you were building a structure above it would provide some basement space.  

In addition to the cuttings above, there are others in Dingle.

The Not so Low Line

There is another technique that has been used down south most notably at Gerrards Cross, though it made the news for all the wrong reasons, see the Gerrards Cross Tunnel Collapse. This is suitable for shallower or wider cuttings, it could even be used on surface lines to reattach 2 pieces of land, bisected by the railway leaving with only a modest hill.

Timo Newton-Syms
Timo Newton-Syms
As you can see it was quite a simple idea put an arch over the line then back fill. Like a rather delayed Cut and Cover operation. This was all done while the line remained in operation. The technique is sufficiently common that specialised systems exist and several projects have been completed since Gerrard's Cross, such as  BEBO® Concrete Arch System & Tech Span  PreCast Arch
There are several places that such a system could be used on Liverpool's various used and disused railway, perhaps the most obvious are near Kirkdale and perhaps the main line at Speke.

Things built over railway lines

Mutley Plain Car Park, Plymouth

Spring Road Station
The bridge beyond station is a multi-storey car-park built for the former Lucas factory site off to the right.

Update March 3rd 2017

On 1st of March part if the retaining wall on, one one of the cuttings collapsed, scattering 200 tonnes of wall and earth over the track, bringing down the overhead lines and unsurprisingly bringing trains to a halt, the current estimate is it will take a week to get it sorted. The deep set arches at the level of the old tunnel roof seem like a good idea now, put them in and cover to a depth of a meter in concrete, to protect the track.  The in the space above cellars car park whatever and a garden on the top, or more car park.

See Owner of land next to collapsed Lime St wall previously sanctioned for "double stacking" containers