Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Wall of rubbish

The latest generation of high speed missiles seem to be worrying some in the Navy, namely the Zircon,  given the need for a quickish response here is a solution using equipment that is either all ready on board or can be fitted quickly, and there is nothing exotic about it.
One of the weak points on naval system at the moment is how to engage something with is not line of sight but is close in, say shielded by a small island or another ship. If it is a long way away then a missile or shell can just be fired over the top, but close in you might not be able to get the gun high enough to fire via a high trajectory, and given the high velocity of the round it will be a while before it comes down. Missiles are expensive and still difficult to get to something which is close into say a cliff on the far side of an island.
In a lot of these cases a mortar would be ideal, especially with smart shells, the question is could a mortar be used against a fast missile, say Mach 6. Well given the right round and enough warning yes. If I was in a ship under attack by a Mach 6 missile I would want every possible system used to defeat that threat and want them all at the same time, I don't want to try 1, then have a think and try another. So if an missile is detected in bound then all possible system should engage. It's impossible to make a Mach 6 missile stealthy, its nose and any leading edges will literately be glowing a dull read with heat from the friction and the shock waves will show up on radar.
So I'll assume all the normally anti air weapons are being readied from missiles to guns that are in a position to lay down flak and they are all being coordinated via a battle network such as the Cooperative Engagement Capability system of the US Navy
Some ships in the fleet may be blocked by others from direct fire. Unless they have mortars which can be used to add to the flak clouds. The also may have an advantage of artillery flak, when it comes to sea skimming missiles. The shells will be coming in vertically, if they are fitted with an annular blast fragmentation warhead, then rather than have to fly through the thin disk, the missile would have to fly along a chord of the disk. Coordinating this with Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact along the path would create clouds of shrapnel which would play hell with an air breathing missile. Ships at greater distance could add to the flak cloud with artillery.
Assuming you can only defeat speed with speed is wrong, the important thing is time, if you have AEW, whether from a drone and a Merlin, then you might have enough time. Which reminds me does Crowsnest have an IR seeker?
The type of weapon needed would be some form of combination of 2B9 Vasilek

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  learn something from this one, 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 Northern 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 is getting a bit longer.
At a junction with a line coming in from Bergen in Norway, we hand a hard left out to 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 line round the south of the island and one around the north, to keep the route open when various bits of Iceland are exploding. Once 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 followed by the longest tunnel 1160 km under the ice of Greenland 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 175 km sea crossing to Kangiqsujuaq,Quebec and our first touch of the continental Americas.

It is 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 6137 km 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 TBMs 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 LOR's 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 LOR 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 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 top 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

Merseyrail's plans involve leaving the North Mersey Branch at the Aintree North Curve that might be a reasonable thing, however, it would also be possible to reinstate the line beyond Aintree to Fazakerley Junction.  It would then join Merseyrail's 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 and 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 Kirkby 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 lines 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, bringing the total for the system to £550 & 1280 million. The biggest disruption in the build would be putting the track down on Kirkby's roads.