Friday 25 May 2018

Guest Post - New Stadler Trains for Greater Anglia

A real surprise today when I received an email from Martin, of the East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, who has been on a visit to the Stadler factory in Switzerland. He has kindly written an extensive report, with some pictures not seen anywhere else. Many thanks, Martin, it was clearly a great trip, and I'm more optimistic about the new trains than I was before I read it. Over to Martin!

We’ve all seen and heard a lot about new trains since Greater Anglia were awarded the franchise for the east a year ago and I’ve been lucky enough to see mock up versions of carriages from both Bombardier (Essex and commuter services) and Stadler (Intercity, and regional services). At the time of viewing lots of feedback was taken and an impressive amount of this from seating to sockets and bikes to bins has all been incorporated into the final designs.

This week I had the privilege to join a small group of community rail, local business leaders and other stakeholders from the region on a tour of the Stadler manufacturing base just outside Zurich to see how the new fleet of Flirt vehicles are progressing. The sums are vast with the new franchise bringing an unprecedented £1.4billion investment on over 1000 new carriages, with Swiss manufacturer Stadler building 378 to include 10 new 12 carriage intercity trains, 24 new 4 carriage and 14 3 carriage bi-mode regional trains resulting in a completely new fleet.

As I travelled on the first part of my journey to Switzerland from Suffolk I was grateful to be travelling on a recently refurbished Class 170 as opposed to a 158 or 156 and this did make me wonder just what would an entirely new train fleet bring? East Anglia has not to my knowledge ever had an entirely new fleet, the existing ones are up to 30 years old and even substituted in some locations with 50 year old loco hauled traction. The promise of ‘Jam Tomorrow’ seemed relevant in some way but if you’ve been stuck in a packed, single car unit on a hot day the concept of an entirely new regional fleet for the first time ever would understandably be met with some scepticism.

After a superb flight with Swiss Air from London City Airport (other airports and operators are available!) we enjoyed a brief journey on a double deck train – a first for some, followed by an equally unique modern trolley bus journey, eventually reaching our base on the outskirts of Zurich.

We were made extremely welcome by the team at Stadler, the new fleet for the east will be their first foray into the UK market with the exception of trams and stock for the Glasgow underground therefore it is obvious that a lot is riding on this project, both for them and Greater Anglia. It is easy to be sceptical about promises in the railway, the industry is often hamstrung by regulation, bureaucracy and the management and operation of the very infrastructure needed to operate the tracks. Sadly some people are often quick to criticise and some fear new technology and innovation. Therefore with as much of an open mind as I could muster, I joined the tour of the Stadler manufacturing and testing facilities, a few miles from Zurich.

Our visit began with a by now somewhat over familiar presentation by Greater Anglia, featuring information and graphics about their new trains and how they will transform the service – this is key to how they won the franchise and they are rightfully proud and excited about their ambition but to many of the public only seeing will be believing.

The factory was akin to a big West End show – as the the tour progressed we saw almost every element of production building up to to an impressive finale and unlike many shows this production certainly lived up to the hype.

We started with a look at the way in which the units are built, aluminium is cut, shaped and strengthened to form the body, not wishing to over simplify the process, a mix of manual labour combined with laser cutting and welding forms the shape of the FLIRT units which although in production for European markets for some years, have had to be re-modelled to fit with the UK’s slightly thinner gauging.

After initial assembly, door and window apertures are cut by laser

At this point I should declare I am not in any way an expert on trains, their design or manufacture and therefore just reporting on my interpretation of the process not necessarily the precise procedures involved. Once the shell is formed to include floors, walls and roof, the apertures for windows and doors are cut by laser and then finished by hand. Then the first of several processes to paint the vehicle takes place.

Taking shape – intercity sets have more white livery at the front with three & four car sets more grey

In a separate factory the wheels or bogies on which the cars sit are manufactured (I did say I’m not an expert therefore I’m hoping the photos here and throughout will give a better insight into the process!). 

Wheel set on which the units sit

As we toured the huge multi level, rurally located Stadler plant it did occur to me that it was like a railway version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory with each floor bringing an even more impressive insight into their technically innovative processes, it was also immaculate – not the type of railway engineering works I’d imagined nor seen before.

Soon we had our first glimpse of a completed body, with the windows – designed to be as big as possible being placed into position. From what I could see they are not set within a riveted frame and therefore unlikely to rattle when a unit exceeds 30mph - but are designed to allow replacement without a complicated, time consuming process.

Glazing being installed

The trains we will see throughout Norfolk and Suffolk are to be powered by electricity on the mainline services (Norwich – Ipswich – London) and these will be twelve car length Electric Multiple Units (EMU’s). The services currently running on branch lines which do not have overhead wires are Diesel Multiple Units (DMU’s), however the new stock will feature combined diesel and electric power with a diesel power car unit within the train added.

First look at a bi-mode unit diesel power car

These power car units have four impressive V8 engines enabling services that could run from Lowestoft to London to be powered by diesel between Lowestoft and Ipswich switching to electric traction for the journey southward into London. The same principle will work between Norwich and Cambridge - Stansted Airport too.

V8 Engine

For most regional services in Norfolk three car units (plus power car) will be used with the East Suffolk Line amongst routes having three and four car (plus power car) units. Trains can also be coupled together to form longer sets although it will be unlikely and not practical to change the specific length of the new stock (such as taking out or adding a carriage) hence the specific order and manufacture of three and four car sets. During our visit we saw these V8 engine power car units assembled for the first time. I understand that as technology moves forward these could even be adapted to run on other fuel sources too.

Inside the power car

As we proceeded on our tour we gained our first glimpse of how the units connect together, how a corridor exists inside the power car to enable movement throughout the train and how the units maximise space by not contracting into a thin shape as they join each other.

The red, white and grey livery looks very smart and will certainly have great impact when the units begin to arrive in our region from mid 2019, although some units are nearly complete, rigorous testing and commissioning will need to be undertaken.

The technology we will enjoy for the first time on rural services includes air conditioning, accessible toilets (for the first time all of the units working the region will have a system preventing effluent discharge onto the tracks), plug and USB sockets, CCTV, electronic information displays, indeed the list goes on, and all of this includes lots of wiring and computer technology. Each unit will also feature a black box recorder similar to aircraft and space has been created to install an onboard digital signalling system once this becomes standard in the UK. The completed trains will also be longer, therefore the doors are situated nearer the middle of the carriage and are twice the width to allow better access.

Computer equipment for installation includes a black box recorder

The train units are lower too and early indications show that over 75% of stations will allow flat floor access onto the train with an automatic platform which comes out from the train to bridge any gap. Of course some stations may need modest modification to maximise access points and with the trains being longer, the positioning of doors nearer to the centre of the units will mean none or only moderate changes to platform length at most stations. The trains will also have sensors fitted connected to GPS to enable selective door opening should a unit exceed the length or stop in the wrong position.

Units are coupled together using these elements in a process which requires lifting one on to the other

View of the more centrally located carriage doors

The drivers cab is equally impressive – with great visibility too. I’ve often wondered just how much vision a driver gets in a 158 or 156 but when in control of this new technology I’m sure they’ll feel like they are in charge of something that combines the Starship Enterprise with an ocean going liner!

Drivers cab view

After a further look around we glimpsed a new fleet of narrow gauge trains for Austria, a number of trams in production and were impressed by an internal stock control system based on weight which ensured every component required from bolts to electrical fittings were automatically re-ordered thus saving time and delays awaiting new components.

After an opportunity to question the design team, it was off to another Stadler facility nearby where we got to see the full majesty of these new units with the power car unit in situ and an idea of just how bright and spacious the inside will be. An external yellow panel will also be added below the cab window to assist visibility. The liveries for the intercity and regional fleet have a subtle difference with more white at the cab end on intercity and grey on the three and four car units.

The actual fitting out of the units with seating, toilets, tables, wheelchair accommodation and, for mainline services, catering facilities are now underway. Based upon the mock-ups and what we saw on our visit these will be quite spectacular and will no doubt be the envy of the entire UK rail network.

Fitting out Inside the new units

Just a word to the Doubting Thomas community – the seating will not be the same as is currently being rolled out on other new train fleets or existing European Flirt vehicles. When talking about the new trains this sadly seems to be the only topic mentioned, rest assured great care and attention has gone into their design and development. We have tried these new seats and what is to be fitted will be more akin to a Rolls Royce that anything old or new on the network today.

Four car unit with power car

In closing, I have to say that the team at Stadler have developed a product for which they are rightly proud, it will revolutionise rail travel in the east and I have no doubt these units will be the envy of the entire UK rail network. We are now just one year away from seeing this new fleet start to arrive on our shores and both Greater Anglia and Stadler should be congratulated on their efforts as this incredible project moves forward.

Front end of regional set with yellow visibility panel in place

Thursday 24 May 2018

GTR & Northern Trains Meltdown

As has been widely publicised by some, and kept extraordinarily quiet by others, this week has been a nightmare if you are a commuter on Southern, Great Northern, Northern Trains, and especially Thameslink. The introduction of the most comprehensive timetable change in decades has seen a huge number of cancellations, delays, short terminations and massive overcrowding.

The rail industry's response has been lamentable. Passengers - who pay their wages - have been kept in the dark, not knowing what trains are going to run from one day to the next. The mainstream media was all over it for a couple of days - except for those poor souls in the North, but most of them were going for the sensationalist stuff more than highlighting the real problems. The industry media have collectively caught laryngitis. not wanting to upset their mates on the inside.

On top of this the utter contempt shown by GTR towards the disabled (no train must be delayed due to the boarding of a wheelchair) has been downright inhuman. It has highlighted what everyone, including your humble blogger, has been saying in that removing the guards from trains has a much bigger impact then simply who presses the "doors close" button.

So this page is for those caught up in this utter chaos this week to have a voice - relate your experiences, so that I, and others, can force those who are in charge to look at your accounts and do the decent thing and make changes so the passenger is put first.

I will only approve comments relevant to this topic, and appropriate to be read by all. This is important to a lot of people. It needs to become important to a whole lot more.

Wednesday 16 May 2018

New Ipswich Buses MD and Local Round Up

Ipswich Buses have announced the appointment of a new Managing Director. Heath Williams is taking over from interim MD Rob Bellamy, who succeeded Jeremy Cooper, who is of course now MD at Go East, of which more later.

Heath Williams is vastly experienced in the bus industry, having held director-level positions at Stagecoach and Arriva. He has worked in areas such as Wales, Lancashire, London and the Home Counties over a career spanning over 30 years, and is, according to a friend who has worked under him, a "top bloke". It also turns out Mr Williams grew up in the same area as yours truly, although we were blissfully unaware of each other! However, when I approach him for an interview once he's settled in we will have plenty of common things to talk about already, so I'm looking forward to meeting him and finding out his vision for Ipswich.

Good news!!! New buses are coming to Great Yarmouth. Well when I say "new" I mean new as in never been to Yarmouth before. They are in fact 5 17yo Volvo B7tl ALX400's from First Manchester. To give you an idea of how out of date they are they have Euro 2 engines, which will shortly be illegal in London, Southampton, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds and York! Yet again Eastern Counties get the outcasts from other areas. Must be great to feel valued!

And so to Go Ahead. I'll start with the good news - if you live on Chambers routes 753 or 84 your service is going to see more journeys, with the 753 going half hourly between Colchester and Sudbury, and the 84 having 7 extra Saturday journeys. That is good to see and I really hope it works out. You can see all the details of changes to the Chambers network here.

However if you live in the areas served by Hedingham, Konect, and especially the former Anglian routes it's not so good news. Konect are revising their fares, which of course means increasing them. However, whereas all single and return fares are going up, the price of a day ranger is dropping from £9 to £8. Of course you can't go anywhere near as far as you could a couple of years ago when routes such as the 60, 61 and 2 were in full swing but it's something. And excitingly the cost of a Norwich Cityzone Day Ticket is being reduced from £5.50 to £4.50. Sounds good - except there's a catch - I quote from the Konect website;

"Please note the following places will no longer be in the Norwich cityZone ; Barford, Panxworth, South Walsham, Pilson Green, Shotesham, Saxlingham Nethergate, Hempnall, Hempnall Green, Topcroft, Topcroft Street, Rockland St Mary, Surlingham, Claxton and the whole of route 53C. This is not a decision that has been made lightly but will ensure the commercial viability of the Norwich network. Norwich cityZone weekly/10trip/monthly/annual/termly/3termly bus passes bought before 21 May for these places will still be accepted until the ticket expires"

So basically if you live in the sticks you get hammered again - so much for encouraging bus use. Speaking of which if you use the former Anglian 87 you're in for a shock too  If you live in Stoke Holy Cross your service is being more than halved, only being served now by the hourly Norwich - Bungay service which is being re-numbered 87, and there are some big PM gaps. If you live in Poringland Upgate you are losing your bus altogether so will have to use First's 40. Still no fast service from Halesworth/Bungay into Norwich and it can surely only be a matter of time before First extend the X41 to Halesworth and finish off the 88 once and for all. More details here.

Down in Essex Hedingham are taking over some routes in Clacton due to First's decision to close the town's depot, but at the same time are also planning service cuts in the same area. As I type Hedingham have launched a survey to determine the future of the Brightingsea - Colchester 87 (must be something about that number). You can see that survey by clicking here. You can also see details of the cuts to Hedingham services by clicking here.

First are making minor changes in the Yarmouth/Lowestoft areas but nothing dramatic - the open top Yarmouth Seafront service is returning this year, unlike the Ipswich Buses open top service which isn't!

And that's just about it.

Monday 14 May 2018

You Don't Know What You're Doing!

We will start today's effort with a short resume of my youth. When I was 6 my Mother encouraged me to learn how to read train timetables, and assist her in organising days out. At the same time my Gran got me to understand the Underground map and tell her which line we needed to get to wherever we were going. I will always be grateful to them for that.

When I was 12 I would spend hours in my room, poring over bus timetables to create days out for myself. Mum was happy to let me loose on the world as long as I left her a complete itinerary of where I was going to be and when, and a promise to let her know if anything went wrong resulting in having to amend things. No internet, no mobile phones, just 10p in my pocket for a phone box and a bucket load of trust. I have been organising such days out ever since, for myself and others.

Last week I decided to follow Mr Anon's advice and get off my "lazy ass", and check out the new services in North Norfolk ending up in Kings Lynn. Thus I spent a lot of the previous night scanning timetables to find the best route to take (anything but the XL). I wanted to go via Fakenham to take in First's new X29 from Norwich, which they have introduced following Stagecoach's withdrawal. The idea was to go from Norwich to Fakenham to Wells to Hunstanton to Kings Lynn. Just one problem. The X29 arrives in Fakenham 5 mins AFTER the Coasthopper to Wells departs. No worries, I thought, I'll get the X44 to Cromer, then Coasthopper right round the coast, changing at Wells to Kings Lynn then come back via Fakenham. After all the X29 used to combine with the X8 to provide a Norwich - Fakenham - Kings Lynn service so it's bound to connect. Not so. The X8 is now the 49, operated by Lynx and has been reduced to a two hourly service, except in the afternoon where there is a gap from Kings Lynn between 1400 and 1635. Obviously the 1400 is too early if I want to observe operations in Kings Lynn so the 1635 it is. Unfortunately there is also a 2h12m gap in the X29 from Fakenham and yes, te 1635 from Kings Lynn arrives in the middle of it, meaning a 56 min wait for a connection that used to be a through service. Ahhh I hear you ask, why don't you go Norwich - Fakenham - Kings Lynn as they wouldn't be daft enough to lose the connection at Fakenham would they? Well, if you get the 0950 X29 from Norwich to Fakenham you arrive at 1108, and the next 49 to Kings Lynn is at.....1300! The 1100 departure leaves before the bus the route used to connect with as a through service. Great isn't it!

And it's all my fault! Apparently I'm not good enough to work out these things according to a highly experienced young man who called me out on Twitter, saying it wasn't difficult to arrange a day up there. I should also have caught an earlier bus if I waned to make connections - I was catching the first available bus having driven 20 miles to the stop as it is the closest route to still have evening buses should I wish to stay out later but hey what do I know - and that because he has two part time jobs in the industry and I don't that made him better than me. My nose is still greatly out of joint so I thought I'd share with you one of my pathetic efforts of a day out a few weeks ago. Btw I aborted my trip to Norfolk but have arranged to pay a visit to Lynx in a couple of weeks so I hope it will be worth the wait. I just won't attempt to go via Fakenham!

So, having taken dear Mother back to Kent I stayed overnight, left the car at Bluewater, and started on a circular trip of great proportions. First was a 96 to Woolwich, a perfectly acceptable Gemini2 Volvo B5LH. At Woolwich I started my circle on a 54 to Elmers End.

Leg one a relatively rattle free E400
I actually changed at Beckenham onto a 194 to Croydon. Another Gemini 2 that went via everywhere and had seriously hard seats. Will avoid them in the future.

The Gemini 2 and its unpleasant seats
Despite Croydon trams having been around for 18 years now I still find them a bit of a novelty, and views like this seem continental!

A tram crossing the road in Croydon
After a spot of lunch in Croydon it was time for one of the main events of the day. TfL are looking to increase the number of limited stop services over the next couple of years, but for now the X26 from Croydon to Heathrow is one of the very few existing ones. Its roots lay in the old Greenline 726 which I remember running from Dartford to Heathrow but I'm sure the route used to be even longer.

Today the route is operated by a fleet of single door Gemini 2 bodied B9's, although they have been tuned so low they are barely recognisable as B9's. This is the only TfL decker route operated by single doors. It also boasts usb chargers, although you need to make sure you bring the right lead....! As a route it's not the prettiest I've been on, although the non stop section between Kingston and Heathrow is a joy compared to the stopping services I've been on in the past. The Heathrow perimeter road from the top deck of a bus is to be highly recommended, and I managed to snap this one coming in.

Snapped from the X26 on the Heathrow Perimeter Rd
Heathrow Bus Station seems well organised, with free loos, and it wasn't long before I was on the bus to terminal 5, a First Berkshire Volvo 7900, by far the worst bus of the day. 

Just a horrible bus!
However, the route to Terminal 5 is good, and once again good views of the airport are available. At Terminal 5 I waited in the gloom for the number 8 to Windsor, thankfully this time a Mercesdes Citaro.

The First Berkshire Citaro at Heathrow Terminal 5
I had made good time (for an amateur), and so had time to kill in Windsor as I had requested a particular vehicle on my 702 journey to Victoria. The ever helpful Martijn Gilbert of Reading Buses (who today has announced his departure to Go North East) obliged and, as promised, the on loan Optare Metrodecker turned up. Would it be as good as I remembered and give the BcI Exvellence a run for its money?

The Optare Metrodecker at Windsor
Well yes it did and more. I fell in love with this bus all over again. Bright and airy, quiet and non rattly I would happily travel anywhere on the Metrodecker, and it's up there with the BCI. A word for Bill, our driver who on arrival at Victoria after an exemplary journey was really friendly and chatty, happy to talk about the bus and the other demonstrators (hated the Streetdeck), and insisted he walk my way to the shops! Hope we meet again soon, Bill!

A 148 Borismaster from Victoria to Westminster, then a E400 MMC 53 and I was back at Woolwich.

The Borismaster on the 148

Back at Woolwich after the 53
Another MMC on the 96 took me back to Bluewater which left just the 100 mile drive home. Already planning the next one, and hopefully I won't need to consult any schoolchildren, even if they do have 2 part time jobs in the industry!

Monday 7 May 2018

Kings Lynn Special

Following from the last post, which mentioned recent changes in Kings Lynn, I was delighted and extremely grateful to Graham Smith and David Bell for getting in touch with reports about the new bus scene in the Norfolk town. I'm using all of Graham's report and extracts of David's, and it's an honour to use pictures from a legend in the bus photography world. Thank you to you both, as I was struggling to work out how to get over there myself!

Hi there,

Just been reading your post of 30/4 & here are a few observations made in the K Lynn area Tues 1/5

Firstly I'm sure you are aware that there have been some pretty hefty frequency cuts generally so the area seems a fair bit quieter bus wise.

I've only seen two Go To Town ( West Norfolk Community Transport) buses. Both on service 3 & I would think "on loan" as one in various shades of green & the other in plain white. No sign of the new buses talked of. Could not see destination details on green bus & white bus appeared to have paper route number & destination in windscreen. Go To Town have also apologised on their site for difficulties on the first day & hoping for a smoother day today.

And here is David's report on WNCT and the vehicles they are using, with his pictures.

New vehicles are apparently on order for WNCT - Streetlites I've been told. At the moment a variety of hired in vehicles and ex-demonstrators are working the routes along with two 18-registered Mercs with Mellor Strata bodywork. Amongst the other vehicles are a silver ex-demonstrator wheel-forward Streetlite SK65 PWV, a white door-forward Streetlite DRZ 9713 also ex-demonstrator, two ex-Cumfybus Solo SRs (YJ16 DZO/P) and a standard Solo in dark blue livery new to A1A Travel of Birkenhead but has been with Wheelers of North Baddesley (YN53 SVZ) plus at least one Merc/Mellor Strata demonstrator.

                                                                                            (c) David Bell

                                                                                                         (c) David Bell

                                                                                                       (c) David Bell

                                                                                                   (c) David Bell

                                                                                               (c) David Bell
 Back to Graham...
Lynx, from my observations, seem to be making a better fist of things with several of their smart red tempos viewed on several of their new services, indeed two mid morning services coming in from Hunstanton on 34 & 35 appeared to have standing passengers. Of course this corridor had seven buses per hour up till last week, Lynx have only increased their frequency from three to four per hour to replace the Stagecoach four per hour. Perhaps over provision has become under provision & its not even summer yet!! A rather garish pink & purple double decker was viewed at a distance on Lynx's only town route no 42 to Fairstead.

Buses of varying shades have been spotted in the Lynx depot on the run up to the new services & it is to be hoped that all will soon receive the smart red livery that Lynx are known for, indeed back in 2015 locals commented on how smart & clean their buses were given that they are all second hand. Their smart appearance has continued.

Here s David's review of Lynx operations...

 Lynx had an all-red fleet out on Sunday. Today they had several deckers operating on stage services (they are normally confined to schools) and several of the ex-Lancashire United Tempos are running in yellow/blue livery although two have already been repainted. Lynx apparently took on 19 new drivers in one week and in addition to the Hunstanton services are operating the Fairstead Circular (formerly Stagecoach route 1), the Coastliner (service 36) as far as Wells (Sanders are operating the Wells-Cromer section), the 46 to Wisbech and the 49 to Fakenham (formerly the X8) First are of course running what was the X29 through to Norwich from Fakenham. Julian Patterson told me they now have no fewer than 27 Optare Tempos in the fleet! This is in addition to the Smithdon High School services which they took over from Stagecoach in October 2017 and other lightly-trafficked ex Stagecoach routes such as the 37 to Southery; the 38 to Fair Green and Middleton and the 48 to Grimston and Gayton.

                                                                                  (c) David Bell

                                                                                        (c) David Bell

                                                                                                (c) David Bell

                                                                                                (c) David Bell

                                                                                         (c) David Bell
 It is worth noting that Lynx now have the largest fleet of Optare Tempos in the world. Back to Graham to sum up.

Although it seems that all of the Stagecoach Norfolk services have been covered, frequencies have suffered.
Kings Lynn to Hunstanton corridor 34 35 & 36. 7 per hour to 4.
Kings Lynn town services 2 3 4 5 Loss of late evening Fri/Sat journeys
Kings Lynn town service 6 cut from 20 to 30 min frequency
Kings Lynn town service 42 formerly ser 1 cut from 12 to 20 min frequency.
Kings Lynn to Fakenham 49 formerly x29 hourly to 2hourly.
Kings Lynn to Spalding still Stagecoach 505. 20 to 30 min frequency.

The loss of some of these services is surprising as some were listed by NCC as being subsidised & as the cuts to bus subsidies were overturned their removal is a bit surprising.


Go To Town ( wnct ) poor but they are promising a revamp soon. Wait & see!!

Norfolk C C. Abysmal just directs you to operators sites or traveline, no county wide route map or service list. That would be a start. One gets the feeling that there is very little concern for public transport despite the fact they tell you that they have worked VERY HARD to provide services following Stagecoach withdrawal, they just don't want anyone to know about them!!!!

Stagecoach. Just the same old hard to get your head around site. Is it me or do they really expect folk, who may be tourists, to know the service no they want.

Lynx, I've saved the best till last. Very well laid out & professional for such a small company. Times & fares v easy to find & even a network map. Perhaps I'm biased as I live on a lynx route, but I dont think so. Also well maintained roadside info & map.

Once again huge thanks to Graham and David.  I'm going to have to get out there myself soon.

ADDENDUM: I have been contacted by Graham Smith of Lynx, to point out that he is NOT the Graham Smith whose report I have used in the above post. I hope this avoids any confusion and that those claiming bias can accept there are two Graham Smiths - one a top enthusiast, and the other  a shareholder at Lynx. Cheers!