Archive for December 12th, 2008


Friday, 12 December 2008


BobbaLew – blogging with a professional polish

(Click to go to blog.)

I read maybe a dozen blogs a day. Some I read for their news content, some for pleasure and some in an attempt to make some sense in what is happening in a crazy world. Sadly, only a handful of the blogs that I read are well written. Those that are a pleasure to read (although I may disagree with the views expressed) include: Mike Dembinski’s W-wa Jeziorki, Iain Dale’s Diary, Tom Harris’s And Another Thing and Christian Wolmar’s Christian Says. So it was a pleasure to discover BobbaLew’s – The Keed. Here’s a taste.

Were it not for knowing it burned oil, ya’d think it burned coal.
3751 was upgraded in 1938, essentially what we see here. Increased boiler-pressure, larger steam passages, and 80-inch boxpok (“box-poke”) drivers. —Also roller bearings in a lotta places in the drive.
A lot of the footage is shot from way overhead from a helicopter.
It’s dramatic, but far enough away to lose the sound.
So Pentrex resorts to the old dubbed sound cheap shot.
“Chuf-chuf-chuf-chuf!” Sorry, but the spinning rods tell me it’s working a lot faster than that.
Once-in-a-while they’re close enough to actually capture the sound.
“Roar;” 30-40 mph. “Chuf-chuf-chuf-chuf,” is 10 mph.
The engine whistles for grade-crossings, emitting a visible plume of steam from 3751’s whistle.
At this point Pentrex dubs in the whistle sound; it’s actually 3751’s whistle.
Another sound is the locomotive’s bell.
It’s not an automatic bell ringer.
The locomotive’s bell is atop the smokebox front, and is rung by a long rope from the cab that swings the bell.
“Ker-clang; ker-clang; ker-clang; ker-clang!”
NICE, automatic bell-ringers can be irksome.
Pentrex dubs in the “ker-clang” when the bell is swinging. Sometimes it doesn’t. We’re far above, but I can see that bell a-swinging. (No “ker-clang.”)

I hope you enjoy BobbaLew as much as I did.


AGV running regularly at 360 km/h

Friday, 12 December 2008


AGV on the Velim circuit in the Czech Republic.

The Railway Gazette carries an informative article describing how, after 4 months of testing on the Velim test track in the Czech Republic, the Alsom built AGV demonstrator train has been running on the Champagne-Ardenne to Lorraine section of the LGV Est. Although, on the Velim circuit the trains have been limited to a maximum of 125 mph (200 km/h), on the LGV Est they are being run at their designed top service speed of 225 mph (360 km/h).

Currently the record holders for the world’s fastest service trains are the Chinese who are running at up to 219 mph (350 km/h) on the Beijing and Tianjin Inter City Railway, which was built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The French – who hold the world record for the fastest ever run of a steel wheel on steel rail technology train of 359.25 mph (574.8 km/h) – currently run their service trains on the LGV Est at 200 mph (320 km/h). Eight countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom) run service trains at up to 187.5 mph (300 km/h). Although the United Kingdom has a place on this list, 300 km/h running occurs only on the short Channel Tunnel Rail Link or ‘HS1’, elsewhere the highest service speed is limited to 125 mph (200 km/h).

It is a sad reflection of the priority that the UK government gave to its railways, its railway industry and the revolutionary technology being developed by the BR Research Laboratory in Derby, that Britain’s tilting Advanced Passenger Train – which was designed to operate at 155 mph (250 km/h) on existing railways lines – was abandoned in the 1980s.

The worst airport in Poland?

Friday, 12 December 2008


Lodz Airport opens on 13 September 1925

I’ve not had a good day. I’m supposed to be sitting typing this in the UK. The fact that I’m actually typing this in Poland will give you a measure of how bad the day has been. The Neostrada broadband connection went down at 09:10. The usual technique of going off to do something else didn’t work, nor did resetting the modem, nor did ringing TPSA’s technical support line 10 times. What did work was losing my temper and demanding to speak to the manager. He had my connection up and working within 30 minutes.

That was the least bad part of the day. The worst bit was still to come. The TPSA adventure had cost me seven hours. At 21:10 I should have been at the check in desk at Lodz Wladyswlawa Reymonta Airport, I got there at 21:15. We’re sorry sir, the check in desk is closed.

Yes I can see that, but I would be ever so grateful if you could see what you can do. The counter attendant attempted to make a phone call, but no one answered. Finally, another colleague appeared and spoke to someone by radio telephone.

Has he got and luggage to go in the hold?

Yes, I said.

Then It’s too late.

All right I’ll leave my luggage.

It’s still too late.

Exhausted by my battle with TPSA, I hadn’t the energy to make a scene at the airport. Besides which the security guard looked as if he was hoping I might try. As I walked away from the check in desk the first passengers to have come off the plane started coming through. Lodz Airport is tiny. It serves 8 flights daily. My flight was the last of the day, all the other passengers had cleared security and were being kept in a holding area barely 20 yards away from me for another 35 minutes.

I remembered a long time a go when an election rally by Jimmy Carter had delayed my arrival at Boston Airport. When I reached the departure hall, there wasn’t a person to be seen. Yet within minutes someone had appeared and quickly rustled up a car which drove me down to the end of the runway where the plane was waiting for clearance for take off. The other customers glared as I got on board, but in fact the plane had not been waiting for me, but for some fog to clear in New York. I reached London Heathrow without any further mishaps

Now that really was good customer service.