In this report on the BBC, they published a list of the healthiest and unhealthiest High Streets. This is the unhealthiest list.
Of these I have only ever been looking for gluten-free food in the first four and Wolverhampton.
In the first four, I drew a blank even in Marks and Spencer on getting anything tasty, except for a gluten-free quiche in Middlesbrough. Although, I did get a gluten-free pizza in Pizza Express in Preston and a Polish gluten-free pastie using a cabbage leaf in Wolverhampton.
What makes things worse in these places, is that none has a Marks and Spencer Simply Food at the station. Preston is so bad at the station, that when I got stuck there once after football in Blackpool, I went home via Piccadilly, so that I could have supper in the Carluccio’s there.
It would be interesting to see how many coeliacs have been diagnosed in these towns.
Look at most large English, Scottish and Welsh cities and there is usually at least one line through the city so that trains can pass from one side of the city to the other. Look at these examples.
1. London is upgrading the main North-South Thameslink route and building another East-West one.
2. Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Reading and Sheffield all have lines that fan out on either side.
3. Liverpool Lime Street is effectively a terminus on the coast, but a North-South line in the city connects stations in the North with others in the South.
When lines connect across a city, this means you don’t have so many terminal platforms in the centre of that city. As an example look at Brighton and Bedford, which have been connected for decades by Thameslink through London. There are several Central London stations where the train calls, so passengers have a lot of journey options. But there are no terminal platforms in Central London used by Thameslink.
Only two major cities don’t have a connection like this.
1. Manchester has two unconnected stations; Piccadilly and Victoria, with the former generally dealing with Southern services and Victoria dealing with the North and East.
2. Glasgow is the same with Queen Street dealing with the North and East and Central dealing with the South and West.
But with the announcement today of the final go-ahead for the Ordsall Curve in Manchester, as reported in this piece on the BBC, Manchester is finally getting the cross-city link it should have got with the building of the Picc-Vic tunnel. This plan was abandoned in 1977.
Will Crossrail Glasgow be announced before the election? I doubt it, as Alex Salmond would label it an English bribe.
But it is desperately needed!
I’m not going to comment except suggest you read this article in the Burnley Express.
Crossrail have put up this time-lapse video of the building of the structure of Custom House station.
If you want to read the full details, it’s here on the Crossrail web site.
I believe the station is a major advance in the construction of buildings.
One of the engineers working on the station, told me that compared to traditional methods of pouring concrete on site, the quality is a lot better.
As Crossrail are claiming the whole structure was put together in a year and a day, it would appear to be quicker too!
On my way back from Oxford, I was able to get these pictures of Airport Junction, which has been updated to take Crossrail to Heathrow.
It would appear to be almost complete.
Some reports say that trains will be using the new upgraded flyover this year.
Some of the overhead electrification installed in recent decades has been rather less than robust. These pictures show some of the structures on the Great Western Main Line and Crossrail.
If you compare these pictures with those that I took at Eccles in October 2013, they do seem to be of a similar standard.
Hopefully, this current electrification won’t have some of the problems of projects that were done earlier.
The pictures show the junction. I was surprised to see that electrification has already started on this line. According to this announcement in 2009, electriofication will go as far as Newbury and Basingstoke.
This Google Earth image shows the junction and the Reading to Basomgstoke line as it goes south and passes within a good walking distance of the Madejsk Stadium. There are plans for a new station here called Reading Green Park. Wikipedia says that if approved by the council this year, it could be opened by 2017.
On the way back from Oxford, I passed Didcot Power station.
The chimney is very distinctive and there are now only three cooling towers, whereas for a long time there were six.
I’ve never visited the site, but a roommate at Liverpool University; Martin Sykes worked on the building before going to university.
In a couple of years Chiltern Trains will go between London Marylebone and Oxford stations around the Bicester Chord. Wikipedia says this about how Oxford station will be expanded to accept the extra services.
The scheme also includes two new platforms at Oxford station, to be built on the site of the disused parcels depot. The new platforms would initially be five carriages in length, but provision will be made for them to be extended southwards to eight carriages.
These pictures show the Parcels Office.
I would suspect that any southward extension would use the car park.The Parcels Office is clearly shown in this Google Earth image of the station.
Note the two coach train in Platform 3, by the Parcels Office, with the white flat roof on the northern end of the station.
Both were badly designed when they were built and although Cambridge now has new platforms and a lot of rebuilding, Oxford is still in need of expansion.
These pictures show the current station at Oxford.
Oxford though has one problem that is nowhere near as bad at Cambridge; freight trains.
All of the issues at Oxford are set out in this document on the City of Oxford web site. It pays particular attention to the following.
1. East West Rail Link
2. Noise and Vibration in the area.
3. Freight Lengthening Project that will allow longer freight trains to go through the station, which has been completed.
It doesn’t deal with new platforms at Oxford station for both Chiltern Railways and First Great Western.
Oxford station will be a very different and busier station in the next few years.