We’ve arrived in Australia

We are now settling into our new life in Sydney. We have a flat in an amazing location on the North Shore with some amazing views.  We have the flat for a few more weeks then we need to find somewhere for ourselves, which is easier said than done in Sydney.

This is the view from the balcony of our flat.

I am working just up the road from here on Pacific Highway so only a ten minute walk to work for me!  Sure beats an hour and three quarters on the train or in the car!

Unfortunately we cannot see the Opera House from the flat, but we have a great view of the bridge and over towards Balmain.

A view of the bridge at night with a Cruise ship passing under neath.

A move to Australia!

I have got a start date for a job in Australia.
I am due to start on 22nd March, working in Sydney. I am going to work for a company called Transfield Services.
Transfield Services is a service provider to the industrial, resources and infrastructure industries.
Their web site is:

 

Transfield Services

 

We are now busy trying to decide what to take, and what to leave. We also have to decide where we want to live in Sydney, it is all very expensive!

A little bit of a tribute to Brunel

Nadine and I have recently been on holiday down in Cornwall.
On our journey around the bottom Left hand corner of the British Isles we visited several sites associated with Brunel.
Here are a few photos for those that like this sort of thing.

SS Great Britain
SS Great Britain

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Clifton Suspension Bridge

Royal Albert Bridge in the rail!
Royal Albert Bridge in the rail!

All rather impressive, especially considering when and how they were built.

East Midlands IMT comes to an end

Today is the end of the East Midlands Integrated Management Team delivering track renewals for Network Rail.
 
Back in April 2004 GrantRail took over the contract to deliver track renewals as part of Network Rail’s new IMT renewals strategy. GrantRail lost the contract to Jarvis back in September/October 2007.
This IMT has now come to an end with Jarvis relocating some of the staff from Derby, whilst others have been made redundant. The relocations have been to Doncaster and Peterborough.
It appears that Network Rail have endorsed this move as they are reorganising their people to reflect this new Jarvis structure.
 
One cannot help but wonder if Derby and the East Midlands are once again going to become the forgotten back waters of the UK rail network, with energy focused on the East and West Coast lines. (Plus the Great Western Electrification.)
 
The redundancies have added to the already significant numbers of railway staff out of work. However, with major projects about to start or ramping up in London, news of the Electrification of the Great Western Main Line and a few tram projects looking likely to get going soon, I am sure there will be an up turn in six to eight months.
I also wonder how Network Rail will be able to meet the commitments they have made for Control Period 4.
 
Control Period 4 Delivery Plan 2009
 
Is High Output and Modular S&C really going to deliver the benefits and cost savings they are expecting, I am very sceptical.

Clay Cross North installation by Derby IMT
Clay Cross North installation by Derby IMT

I can foresee that the demand for Platelayers, Technical and Management staff will rise dramatically when Network Rail realises it will have to use conventional methods to meet the renewal and improvement commitments it has signed up to.

Bedford South Junction, crossover installed by Derby IMT
Bedford South Junction, crossover installed by Derby IMT

How many of our key staff will have left for Australia, China, India, US or the Middle East by then. Rail investment is booming internationally and our experienced staff will be highly sought after. Does any of this have a sense of deja vu for anyone???

Return from Romania

I have just got back from a week in Romania, I had a great time and it is a beautiful country.
It is amazing how ones preconceived ideas are so governed by what we see on TV. Romania has moved on a long way from the images of orphanages that were on our screens 10-15 years ago. It feels like a thoroughly modern country looking to play its part in Europe.
The country is rammed full of history with Transylvania seeming to have a castle or church on every hill. Unfortunately Dracula was not at home when we visited Bran Castle, although it is an amazing place to have a look around.

Bran Castle, the alleged home of Dracula
Bran Castle, the alleged home of Dracula

Sighisoara is the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, so called because he was partial to having his enemies impaled on stakes and then put on display. He sounds like a particularly pleasant chap, and is supposed to be the chap who inspired the character of Dracula for Bram Stoker’s stories.
Sighisoara
Sighisoara

Brasov from the top of the cable car
Brasov from the top of the cable car

One of the most surprising places we visited were the salt mines near Praid. The journey down was via a ‘Bendy Bus’ and a walk through a steeply inclined shaft. The door then opened out into a huge open cavern.
Salt Mines
Salt Mines

The caverns were huge and interlinked, it is alleged that the air down there has medicinal qualities and the locals spend the whole day down there playing games and there is even a functioning chapel. All very strange but very interesting.
Targu Mures central station at rush hour!
Targu Mures central station at rush hour!

Targu Mures station is not what one could call the busiest in the World. The single line through the town looks decidedly tired. The gauge here is 1520mm, for those that are interested.
Palace of Culture, Tagur Mures
Palace of Culture, Tagur Mures

Targu Mures was the base for our trip in Transylvania. This is a medium sized town with a pleasant town centre and all the stuff one would need in a modern city.

The Railway of Ethiopia

Back in November of last year Nadine and I visited her parents who were working in Addis Ababa.
We spent just over a week with them travelling around parts of the country. On one of the mad journeys around Addis we decided to have a look at the train station.
(The images files are large so if you have a slow connection they may take a while to load, sorry, but feel free to print or use as you like.)

The facade of Addis Ababa Station
The facade of Addis Ababa Station

There is only one station in Addis, there is only really one line in Ethiopia, and that is the line to Djibouti.
The station has not seen a train service in many years and looks abandoned, however as we approached the building a man comes out to say hello and ask us what we are doing. We ask if we can have a look around and to our surprise he seems only too keen to give us a tour.
So we go through the main building and out on to the platform.
The abandonded platform
The abandonded platform

Looking along the platform towards the museum
Looking along the platform towards the museum

It is clean and tidy and it is this chaps job to make sure the place is kept looking respectable. After standing on the platform for a few minutes thinking ‘well that was interesting’ he beckons us to follow him down the track towards some buildings.
Some point work for the spotters!
Some point work for the spotters!

I am a very untrusting sort and thought this looked a little dodgy, but the wife and in laws, who are a bit more used to this sort of thing, set off after him.
As we are walking he says he wants to show us the imperial carriages, which are in a museum at the end of the sidings.
Sure enough, there is a little museum, all locked up, with four carriages in it. They do look quite grand compared to their surroundings but I don’t think they have turned a wheel for a very long time.
The Rail Way Museum and the Imperial Carriges
The Rail Way Museum and the Imperial Carriges

He then shows us some other rather old vehicles that are slowly rotting away in the yard before heading back to the station building.
Never complain about a Pacer again!
Never complain about a Pacer again!

He tells us that there are plans afoot to get the line back into use to reconnect Addis with Djibouti, but that may take a while to sort out, in the mean time he just looks after the abandoned station and gets a few Birr or Dollars of any tourists who are interested.
The age of steam lives on (kinda)
The age of steam lives on (kinda)

A rather old section of rail, I'm sure the underground can beat this though?
A rather old section of rail, I'm sure the underground can beat this though?

Lots of track, no trains!
Lots of track, no trains!

Wagons with no where to go
Wagons with no where to go

This little visit was one of those completely unexpected delights of our trip to Ethiopia, yes I am a fan of railways, but the history of why the station was built, why it is no longer in use and the fact it connects two countries who are effectively now at war made this quite a special afternoon in Addis Ababa.

Yorkshire get stuffed by Lancs

A visit to Old Trafford to watch Yorkshire play Lancashire on Tuesday evening.
The weather was a little unpredictable, rain, sun and wind.

The sun did shine, but it also poured with rain.
The sun did shine, but it also poured with rain.

Yorkshire were very, very bad. It was a bit like watching an under 14s match, with Yorkshire’s bowlers trying to knock the batsmen’s heads off on a slow wicket. The result was predictable, boundaries all round.
Old Trafford was relatively full, but then half the ground is rubble whilst it is redeveloped.
Quite a full house.
Quite a full house.

Shammy keeping warm and trying to look cool.
Shammy keeping warm and trying to look cool.

Shammy did not seem to be overly impressed by the action, but then he wasn’t on Wednesday either, come on Barcelona!

A report from Munster

I am back from Munster now I really enjoyed the visit, got a little bit sun burnt and saw some new ideas at the show.

Overview of the show.
Overview of the show.

I visited the show with Carsten Eichberg and Kevin Shilcock, Kevin and I flew into Düsseldorf airport from where Carsten picked us up for a dash down the Autobahn to Munster. After checking in to our accommodation (a Church hostel, quite nice actually) we managed to find a local pub to have a few beers and a Potato Salad and Sausage.
Kevin and Carsten at the show.
Kevin and Carsten at the show.

One of the most interesting things at the show was the new S&C excavation machine from SERSA and MATISA. They have joined forces to develop a machine to be used to excavate the ballast for an S&C renewal in quicker time. I would be very keen to see the machine work. However I have a few concerns about the machine, not least the safety of working next to the cutting wheel, I think they may need to put some form of guard around it.
The SERSA MATISA S&C excavation machine
The SERSA MATISA S&C excavation machine

Anyway, thats enough on my trip to Munster.