The Anonymous Widower

Lying Not Flying, As Nightjet Sleeper Train Reaches Brussels

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first sentence.

Under the slogan ‘lying not flying’, Austrian Federal Railways launched its twice-weekly Wien – Brussels Nightjet overnight train on January 19.

These are some of the details of the service.

Two trains per week in both directions.

  • Brussels to Vienna on Mondays and Thursdays, leaving at 18:04 and arriving at 08:27
  • Vienna to Brussels on Sundays and Wednesdays, leaving at 20:38 and arriving at 10:55
  • The timings are such that you could leave London on the 12:58 Eurostar and have nearly two hours to get the sleeper.
  • Coming back, you would probably arrive in London at 14:05

I shall have to try this service.

January 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 7 Comments

Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles

In Friday’s copy of The Times, there is an article entitled Hydrogen Lifts Off: An Old Fuel Showing New Promise.

The article talks about Shell’s plans to create a network of filling stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles.

This is a paragraph.

A potential alternative is electrolysis, the method that Shell’s partner ITM Power is using to produce hydrogen at the Gatwick site. There, in a yard behind the refuelling pump, temporary buildings house equipment that purify tap water and convert AC electricity from the grid to DC current. This is used to split the water through electrolysis into hydrogen and harmless waste oxygen, which is vented out.

Note.

  1. Electrolysis is an alternative to the use of steam reforming of methane, which produces a lot of carbon dioxide.
  2. If the electricity is from renewables like solar, wind or tidal, then the hydrogen produced can be considered green.
  3. They is also a quote from Shell, which says that as renewable power gets cheaper and electrolysis more efficient, this will be the standard way to produce hydrogen.

It does seem to me that we could see hydrogen stations all over the place, as each is stand-alone and only needs tap water, an electricity feed and customers.

Who is iTM Power?

iTM Power are a company based in Sheffield.

Read more about them on their Wikipedia entry or their web site.

They claim to have the world’s largest PEM electrolyser factory.

They are also developing a network of hydrogen filling stations.

Currently opened include.

  • Beaconsfield Services Hydrogen Station
  • Gatwick Refuelling Station
  • Rainham Solar Hydrogen Station, Essex
  • Rotherham Wind Hydrogen Station
  • Shell Cobham Services Hydrogen Station
  • Swindon Hydrogen Station
  • Teddington Hydrogen Station

And these are currently planned.

  • Birmingham Bus
  • Birmingham Passenger Vehicle
  • Pau Bus, France

Note.

  1. Some as you can see are to support hydrogen buses.
  2. Some are powered directly by renewable electricity.
  3. Birmingham’s two stations are co-located.
  4. Two; Beaconsfield and Cobham are at motorway service areas.
  5. Pau is probably  to support the hydrogen-powered busway that is being created in the town. There is more on that in this article on rfi, which is entitled Amid Transport Chaos, France Rolls Out World-First Hydrogen Bus Fleet.

It’s looks to me that iTM are working to a sensible plan.

  • They can supply a system for a range of purposes.
  • They can be placed on fairly small sites.
  • They don’t need connection to a hydrogen grid.
  • Is it sensible to put one in for a fleet of buses, trucks or vans first?
  • Systems for buses and other vehicles can be co-located.

I can see in a few years, that everyone will be within sensible reach of a hydrogen filling station.

As the range of a hydrogen-powered car is in the hundreds of miles. it looks to me that the range anxiety of battery vehicles will be overcome.

I don’t drive or have a car, but if I needed one, I’d buy hydrogen over battery, when there was a filling station in my part of London.

 

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

The New Warrington West Station

These pictures show the new Warrington West station.

The station looks to have a similar layout to Maghull North station, which I described in Maghull North Station – 29th June 2018.

The two stations have a lot in common.

  • The cutting and the contours of the land are used to create a simpler station.
  • Provision for car-parking.
  • Links to the bus network.
  • Enough car-parking. Warrington West has 387 spaces, with 156 spaces at Maghull North.
  • Fully step-free.
  • A separate amenity building, with a booking office, waiting area and toilets.

Surprisingly, the two stations were designed by different architectural practices.

The Major Problem

The major problem is that Warrington West station only has two trains per hour (tph), in the Off Peak.

  • The route connects Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport and Manchester Oxford Road stations alternately.
  • Manchester Airport services also call at Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • All services call at Deansgate station for the Manchester Metrolink.
  • There are links to Merseyrail’s Wirral Line at Liverpool Lime Street.
  • There are links to Merseyrail’s Northern Line at Liverpool South Parkway and Hunts Cross.
  • Liverpool South Parkway, Warrington West and Birchwood stations are already step-free.
  • Hunts Cross, Irlam, and Manchester Oxford Road stations are in the queue for step-free access.
  • Most of the services on Liverpool’s Merseyrail network have four tph.
  • There is a lot of housing and other development on this route,

I’m sure that four tph and full step-free access will be needed on this route before too long.

Possible Electrification

It could be argued that this route between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road stations, should be fully-electrified.

Currently, just over twenty-eight miles of the route between Manchester Oxford Road and Liverpool South Parkway stations is not electrified.

  • Between Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool Lime Street stations has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Between Hunt’s Cross and Liverpool Central station is part of Merseyrail’s Northern Line and has 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Manchester Oxford Road station has 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The bay platform at Manchester Oxford Road station could be electrified or fitted with a fast charging station for battery trains.
  • Battery trains can easily do forty miles after a charge of perhaps ten minutes, as I wrote in Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power.

I think, that the route between Manchester and Liverpool via Warrington is a very suitable route for running using battery-electric trains.

  • It is electrified at both ends.
  • The section without electrification is less than thirty miles.
  • Charging can be performed using the existing electrification or with a charging station at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  • Northern’s Class 331 trains, which are being built by CAF. I suspect that battery-electric versions are possible as CAF have successfully built battery-electric Urbos trams for Luxembourg, Seville and the West Midlands.
  • Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains, can be converted to battery-electric operation.
  • The route is not busy.
  • There aren’t many freight trains on the route.

Using battery-electric trains would probably cause a lot less disruption, than full electrification of the route.

Possible ways to increase trains on the route include.

  • Merseyrail could extend Northern Line trains from Hunt’s Cross to Manchester Oxford Road.
  • The Manchester Metrolink could even be connected to the route at somewhere near Pomona and run tram-trains to Liverpool.
  • Northern could run battery-electric trains on the route.

There must also be the possibility of running hydrogen-powered trains on the route.

Negotiations between Liverpool and Manchester over who provides the extra services will be tough.

Conclusion

It is a neat new station, that will attract passengers.

The station could be an important link in improved rail services between Liverpool and Manchester via Warrington.

  • This route could probably handle at least six tph in both directions.
  • Would turning back four tph in the bay platform at Manchester Oxford Road station, ease the pressure on the Castlefield corridor.
  • It serves the important stations of Liverpool Lime Street, Liverpool South Parkway, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport.
  • It connects Merseyrail’s to Northern and Wirral Lines and the Manchester Metrolink.
  • An increasing number of stations on the route are step-free.

I suspect too, that it could be an important feeder line for High Speed Two.

 

January 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

How Good Is ‘Freezing Air’ The Solution For Electricity?

The title of this post is the same as that for this article on Energy News 24.

The article discusses Highview Power’s proposed 400 MWh installation in Vermont, where they are installing lots of renewable power sources and need a way to store the energy, which is partly wasted.

Read the article and especially the last sentence.

Vice President Jason Burwen Energy Storage Association said the capacity of the plant would be “on par with today’s largest grid energy storage projects under construction.” He said it would be the equivalent electricity needed “to power maybe 50,000 homes for eight hours.”

Are the British coming?

The Highview Power system to me is a blindingly obvious simple idea, based on proven technology, that has been used for many decades. Add in clever computing technology to control it and blend it with renewable energy and every wind or solar farm, tidal power station and sizeable town or city should have one, where there is a site the size of a football pitch.

January 19, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Everybody Aim For NoDrive Months?

Over the last few years, we have had vegan and alcohol-free months.

So why shouldn’t people try to organise months, when they don’t drive?

I suspect people would perhaps start with one summer month in a particular year.

 

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

Could The Scilly Isles Have An Electric Air Service?

St. Mary’s Airport on the main island of the same name in the Scilly Isles used to be considered a good test of airmanship.

When, I flew my Cessna 340A into the airport in the early 1990s, the runway was very hump-backed and it was a case of coming in slow, landing, cutting power and slamming on the brakes, so you didn’t run away downhill.

I remember having a telephone briefing before, I took off for the Airport and landed safely.

But there was a wrecked plane after the end of the runway.

Returning from the Airport was tricky. Maximum power was applied and you, accelerated up the hill on full power and along a short piece of flat runway on the hump. Eventually, I lifted the plane over the end of the runway and over the adjacent cliff. I maintained level, but once clear I deliberately lost altitude and this added the safety of flying speed. I then flew on at about two hundred feet or so above the sea, before turning to the East for home.

According to Wikipedia, a new runway was built in 1991, so hopefully aircraft like Islanders and Twin Otters can get into the islands with increased ease and safety.

The Future Air Service To The Scillies

Last night there was a discussion on Radio 5 about Flybe and other flights in the South West of England.

A text message to the program, said that the helicopter service to the islands was to be increased and it would be the sole way to get by air to the islands

Wikipedia says that the current air service run by Isles of Scilly Skybus, will be only flying nineteen-seater turboprop Twin Otters after March 2014..

Project Fresson

Project Fresson is a project to create an electric version of the Britten-Norman Islander by Cranfield University, with backing from the manufacturer, Rolls-Royce and some specialist suppliers.

  • The power could be electric or hybrid electric.
  • Rolls-Royce seem to be aiming for a low or zero-carbon power plant for a nineteen-seater airliner.
  • First flight is planned for 2022.
  • Sixty minute endurance with a thirty minute reserve is planned.
  • The aim is to design a kit that can be retrofitted to the up to seven hundred Islanders all over the world.

This could be an interesting project to watch, as Loganair needs an aircraft like this for its Scottish island services.

Conclusion

I very much feel that by 2030, one way or another, the airport on St. Mary’s will be hosting an electric passenger service.

January 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Modern Energy Systems Have A Secondary Role?

Close to where I live is a small heat and power system, that I wrote about in The Bunhill Energy Centre.

I first went over the centre during Open House.

Several of these modern systems are very good demonstrations of the principles of maths, physics and engineering.

So do these innovative energy systems do their bit in educating the next generation of scientists and engineers?

Some of the modern systems, that are in development like Highview Power’s energy storage using liquid air would be ideal for a secondary education role!

Most too, are very safe, as there are no dangerous processes or substances.

And in the next few years, there will be more systems all over the country and many in the hearts of towns and cities. Some schools, colleges and especially universities, will have their own innovative energy sources.

Liverpool University already has a system, which is described here.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prowling for Solutions To Unleash Renewable Energy

The title of this post, is the same as this article on Toolbox.

It is a good summary of the best methods of storing renewable energy without using chemical batteries.

Gravitricity, Energy Vault and Highview Power are all mentioned.

This last paragraph, explains some of the philosophy behind Vermont looking seriously at Highview Power.

Vermont may well be tempted by liquid air energy storage because of its flexibility — simply requiring a two-acre site anywhere. One possible location could be near an abandoned power station. That’s a beautiful solution because the transmission lines that once transported the electricity from the plant are built and ready to use in the renewable era.

Note that a two-acre site is slightly smaller than a football pitch.

It is rather elegant to replace a coal- or gas-fired power-station with an environmentally-friendly energy storage system on the same site, which effectively does the same job of providing energy.

The article doesn’t mention employment, but surely many of the existing workforce can be easily retrained for the new technology.

January 16, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Retired London Underground Train Travels Forty Miles Solely On Battery Power

This article on Railnews is a summary of today’s news and has a subtitle of Battery Train Sets British Record.

This is the first sentence.

A battery train from Vivarail has achieved a British first by travelling 64km on battery power alone, and the feat has been repeated many times during tests.

The train was a Vivarail  Class 230 train, that is based on retired London Underground D78 Stock.

The picture shows the prototype battery train, when I rode it in 2018 at the Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

The article also says this.

Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter  is predicting that production versions of the battery trains will be able to run for almost 100km between charges, which will take just 10 minutes.

Battery trains appear to be going places.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on Derbyshire Live.

The idea of using hydrogen power came about after some people worried about the noise of trains, if the full route were to reopen.

The Proposed Route

The proposed route that would be reopened is the Leicester and Burton-on-Trent Line.

  • The route is double-track.
  • It is around forty miles long.
  • It is still used by freight trains, so the track must be in serviceable condition.
  • There are no stations.

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.

Note.

  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

There is only one class of passenger train, that can go round tight curves and that is a Class 399 tram-train!

So to enable trains to go direct around the corner, the option is either expensive disruptive demolition or use something like tram-train technology or a specially designed bendy train.

The Ivanhoe Line

The route was originally planned to be the second part of the Ivanhoe Line, but this was discontinued after rail privatisation.

Services on this line is an hourly service between Leicester and Lincoln Central stations.

  • Intermediate stations are Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Beeston, Nottingham, Newark Castle, Collingham, Swinderby and Hykeham.
  • Services can get overcrowded, as the service is run by two-car trains.
  • Platforms would need to be lengthened for longer trains.

Extending this service to Burton station would surely be good for connectivity at and through Leicester.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Possible New Stations In Leicester

I have mentioned new stations in Leicester, so here’s a few more thoughts.

Leicester Reversal Station

A friend said that to reverse the trains between Leicester and Burton, a station has been proposed to be built, south of Knighton Junction.

This Google Map shows the junction and the line to the South.

Only a single-platform station would be needed and it would be a simple and affordable solution to British Rail’s lack of vision of the future.

Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would eicester City want a station?

Braunstone Station

This Google Map shows the rail line running through Braunstone.

The rail line is at the top of the map.

Leicester Forest East Station

I wrote about this possible station in A Station At Leicester Forest East.

Burton Station

Intriguingly, Burton station is run by East Midlands Railway, who run no services to the town.

Services are provided by CrossCountry using a variety of long distance services.

The South Staffordshire Line connects Burton and Birmingham.

Part of this line is being converted to become an extension of the West Midlands Metro and Staffordshire County Council have looked at converting the whole route to tram-train operation to bring trams to Burton to promote tourism.

Hydrogen Power

I estimate that the distance between Lincoln and Burton is about a hundred miles.

Alstom are predicting a range of several hundred miles for their hydrogen trains for their Breeze train, which should mean a round trip to Lincoln from Burton will surely be in range.

Refuelling could be at a suitable place on the route.

In Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles, I talk about how iTM Power are building hydrogen refuelling stations for road vehicles.

As the company is already building stand-alone hydrogen fuelling stations for fleets of buses in Birmingham and Pau, I’m sure that one for a fleet of trains is not a problem.

All their filling stations need is a small amount of space, a supply of tap water and a connection to the electricity grid.

It should be noted that Central Rivers Depot is four miles South of Burton.

Possibilities

There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to Eat Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment