The Anonymous Widower

Will The Railway Between Buxton And Matlock Be Reopened?

In Issue 901 of Rail Magazine in an article about reopening the Northern route between Exeter and Plymouth, this is said, about possible rail re-opening of Beeching cuts.

Although not yet confirmed, they are believed by RAIL to include bids to reinstate the former Midland Railway route from Matlock-Buxton, and the line between Lostwithiel and Fowey.

I have found this news story on the Matlock Mercury, which is entitled Quarry Firms And Heritage Operator Consider Peak District Railway Line.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Proposals to revive a disused rail line through the Peak District have moved a step forward, but not the passenger service some have called for.

The reasons for the reinstatement are given in the story.

  • There is an enormous demand for stone from projects like Crossrail 2, High Speed Two and Heathrow Expansion and Derbyshire is a major source.
  • Currently, stone trains between Derbyshire and the South-East take a roundabout route via the congested and unsuitable Hope Valley Line and Sheffield.
  • A route via Matlock would join the Midland Main Line nearly thirty miles further South.

It should be noted that the original track-bed still exists and part is used for the double-track Peak Rail, with much of the rest being used for the cycling and walking route; the Monsal Trail.

Thoughts About The Design Of The Railway

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an excellent article, which is entitled Connecting The Powerhouses, that was written by Colin Boocock.

I wrote a post with the same name, based on his article, from which a lot of the following thoughts are taken.

Colin Boocock’s Thoughts On The Design

I said this in my previous post.

The track bed of the Peak Main Line is still intact and the author of the article suggests that there could be two ways of rebuilding the railway.

  • As a 75 mph single-track railway sharing the track-bed with the Monsal Trail.
  • As a 90 mph double-track railway, after moving the Monsal Trail to a more picturesque route.

Four or five, reopened or new stations could be built with passing loops to enable the minimum service frequency to be achieved, which the author suggests should be the following in both directions in every hour.

  • One fast passenger train
  • One stopping passenger train.
  • One freight train; full or empty.

But there are possible problems.

  • The A6 has to be crossed.
  • One local landowner didn’t allow consultants access to the line for an inspection.
  • Severn Trent Water are digging a large pipe into the track-bed.
  • Peak Rail have plans to extend their heritage line to Bakewell. Could both groups co-exist?

It sounds to me that everybody should find a good hostelry and thrash out a comprehensive co-operation agreement on the backs of engineering envelopes, fuelled by some excellent real ale.

But various improvements to the route and railway technology in general, in the last few years have probably made the reinstatement less challenging.

Ambergate Station And Junction

Ambergate station and the associated junction is where trains for Matlock station, leave the Midland Main Line and take the Derwent Valley Line.

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Rail Works To Affect Derbyshire Train Services and it describes work done to improve Ambergate Junction.

It is to be hoped, that the updating of the junction is at least well-documented, so that it can be updated easily to accept stone trains to and from the Derwent Valley Line.

Improved Handling Of Freight Trains At Buxton

In £14m Peak District Rail Freight Extension Unveiled, I indicated that the improvements at Buxton had been completed.

  • There are now two long sidings, that can each take a 26 wagon stone train and allow them to reverse.
  • Capacity has increased by 44 %
  • No more trains will be running.

According to this document on the Network Rail web site, the sidings operate on a 24 hour basis and on average, accommodate 6-10 freight trains every 24 hour period.

I’m not sure, but it looks like the sidings also allow all stone trains to access the following.

  • All quarries in the area with a rail connection.
  • The Great Rocks Freight Line to access the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield
  • The proposed reopened rail line to Matlock, Derby and the South.

The track layout at Buxton station would appear to allow trains to go between Manchester and Derby, once the Matlock and Buxton railway is reinstated.

Ambergate Station And Junction

Ambergate station and the associated junction is where trains for Matlock station, leave the Midland Main Line and take the Derwent Valley Line.

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Rail Works To Affect Derbyshire Train Services and it describes work done to improve Ambergate Junction.

It is to be hoped, that the updating of the junction is at least well-documented, so that it can be updated easily to accept stone trains to and from the Derwent Valley Line.

Signalling Improvements

One of Colin Boocock’s options for the route, is a 75 mph single-track railway sharing the track-bed with the Monsal Trail.

Single-track railways running an intense schedule could be a challenging signalling problem in the past, but with in-cab digital signalling, as used on Thameslink and the London Underground, it is much less onerous.

It should be possible to handle Colin Boocock’s desired minimum frequency of three trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

Colin Boocock’s second option of a 90 mph double-track railway, after moving the Monsal Trail to a more picturesque route, would be very much easier to signal to a very high degree of safety.

Electrification

Electrification would surely, be the best way to get heavy freight trains in and out of the area.

But I suspect the line could not be electrified in a traditional manner, as heavy gantries in the Peak District would not go down well!

But what about a design something like this?

I talk about this design in Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed.

It does seem to be a good attempt to reduce the clutter of girders, gantries and wires!

Freight Locomotives

If electrification is not possible, which is probably the case, as the locomotives will need access to large amounts of freight sidings, then diesel power will be needed,

The current Class 66 locomotives are not the most environmentally-friendly locomotives, but hopefully in a sensitive area like the Peak District, some more advanced locomotives could be used.

Passenger Trains

Quiet battery-electric or hydrogen-powered trains would be ideal for the route.

How Many Stone Trains Will Use The Route?

With the current lockdown because of COVID-19, it’s a bit difficult to ascertain how many stone trains are currently going into and out of the quarries in an hour.

But from the Network Rail figures, I have found and Colin Boocock’s minimum figure,  it looks like one tph would be a frequency for which to aim.

Could this frequency be handled between Matlock And Buxton?

Even if the route was single-track with passing loops, Colin Boocock’s minimum timetable could be achieved.

Note that the Great Rocks Freight Line will still be capable of handling trains via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield.

Conclusion

I think that this scheme could be feasible, if engineers used modern signalling and other designs to blend in with the scenery.

 

 

March 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Battery Storage Paves Way For A Renewable-Powered Future

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Modern Diplomacy.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Battery storage systems are emerging as one of the key solutions to effectively integrate high shares of solar and wind renewables in power systems worldwide. A recent analysis from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) illustrates how electricity storage technologies can be used for a variety of applications in the power sector, from e-mobility and behind-the-meter applications to utility-scale use cases.

The article then goes on to outline a good summary of the uses and expected growth of battery storage.

March 29, 2020 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

The Ipswich Lockdown

Around 1960, my parents bought a second home in Felixstowe, where they eventually retired some years later. This memory could have been earlier, as we were always going to Felixstowe, often staying in the Ordnance Hotel.

In those days, there was no Southern by-pass to the town, so you had to go around the old by-pass, which now passes the current Ipswich Hospital before taking the Felixstowe Road from St. Augustine’s roundabout.

We used to go to the house in Felixstowe most weekends and I can remember one trip, where instead of going around the town, we went through it past the old County Hall and up Spring Road.

I can remember looking out of the MG Magnette (registration number 676 RME) and seeing that the streets of Ipswich were completely deserted.

The reason was that the town had been hit by an outbreak of polio and people weren’t venturing out.

Strangely, I can’t find anything on the Internet about this polio outbreak!

March 29, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Nottingham Targets Multimillion-Pound Tram Extensions

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 901 of Rail Magazine.

The Nottingham Express Transit (NET) is a quality tram system and seems to have been taken to the heart of the people of the city.

Three separate extensions are proposed.

Clifton Pastures

Clifton Pasures is a proposed development of 3,000 houses and 2,000 jobs to the South of the Clifton South Park and Ride stop on the NET.

This Google Map shows the area, bounded in the West by the A453.

Note.

  1. The red arrow marks the vehicle entrance to the Park-and-Ride from the A 453.
  2. A short extension of the NET will be built, which has been costed at £49 million.

It looks to be a well-thought out extension.

Toton Lane Park and Ride To East Midlands Hub Station

This extension from Toton Lane Park-and-Ride stop to the East Midlands Hub station for High Speed Two was first proposed in 2015.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Toton Lane Park-and-Ride is on the Eastern side of the map.
  2. East Midlands Hub station will be built on the Western side of the map on Toton sidings.
  3. It doesn’t look like there is any serious construction problems in between. There would probably be bridges or tunnels over the B6003 and the railway.
  4. Would the NET cross the East Midlands Hub station on a bridge at right-angles, as it does at Nottingham station?

This extension of the NET has been costed at £106 million.

The original plans discussed here in Wikipedia, envisaged continuing to Derby.

Nottingham Racecourse And Gedling

The Rail Magazine article describes this extension as follows.

The third (and the longest) proposed route would involve construction of a new route towards Nottingham’s eastern suburbs via Meadow Lane, the Cattle Market, Daleside Road and Nottingham Racecourse.

It is hoped this route could one day stretch as far as a new Park & Ride site planned near Gedling Country Park, although this is not included in the current plans.

This Google Map shows Central Nottingham.

Note.

  1. The red arrow shows Nottingham station.
  2. Nottingham Racecourse is at the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The A6011 is Meadow Lane, which passes Notts County football ground.
  4. Daleside Road connects Meadow Lane to Nottingham Racecourse.
  5. The estimated cost of this extension is quoted at between £96 million and £116 million.

It appears to me, that the branch will break East from the main route going South to Clifton South and Toton Lane tram stops and then on the streets along Meadow Lane and Daleside Road to Nottingham Racecourse.

Points And Questions

I have some points and questions on the route.

Access To The Football And Cricket Grounds

Will the Nottingham Racecourse extension improve access to the two football grounds and Trent Bridge cricket ground?

It  would be much closer to the sports grounds, than any current tram stop.

Access To Holme Pierrepoint

Will the Nottingham Racecourse extension have a stop at the Holme Pierrepoint National Watersports Centre?

Will There Be A Park-and-Ride At Nottingham Racecourse?

I think there already is one, so will the NET connect it to the City Centre?

Would it be useful to connect this Park-and-Ride to the Queen’s Medical Centre on the Toton Lane branch?

Will There Be Opposition To All The Street-Running?

Every time, I’ve driven near Meadow Lane, Daleside Road and Nottingham Racecourse in the past, it’s been very congested.

Will voters allow these roads to have street-running trams?

Will Trams Be Able To Go Between All Branches?

After the completion of these three new branches, there will be five branches; Clifton Pastures, East Midlands Hub, Hucknall, Nottingham Racecourse and Phoenix Park. All branches will have one or more Park-and-Ride sites.

I can see that there are arguments for these connections.

  • Between the Nottingham Racecourse extension with all its major sporting venues and the other branches.
  • Between the Queen’s Medical Centre on the Toton Lane branch and the Nottingham Racecourse extension.

I can see that the junction between the Nottingham Racecourse extension and the current NET network being rather complicated, as it must allow these connections.

  • East to North
  • East to South
  • South to East
  • North to East

This junction will need a lot of space and get increasingly expensive.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

My Daily Exercise

My father always said I was born lucky!

When I bought this house in Dalston after my stroke, I bought it because of the location.

  • There are four London Overground stations within walking distance.
  • Four bus stops are within a hundred metres, which are served by five bus routes, one of which goes to King’s Cross, St. Pancras and Euston
  • There are more than ten bus routes within walking distance.
  • I have three bus routes to and from the Angel for the shops and Chapel Market, where my paternal grandmother, used to shop before the First World War.
  • If I walk the other way, there was the rather run down Kingsland Road with a Sainsbury’s and lots of unhealthy takeaways.

But then Marks and Spencer opened a Simply Food store in the Kingsland Road by Dalston Kingsland station.

  • It is about a fifteen minute walk from my house.
  • It has a full range of their gluten-free food.
  • It stocks everything I need regularly.

It was certainly my luck, that they opened this store.

Today, I took my daily exercise by walking to the store and bringing home enough food for a couple of days.

  • Is this killing two birds with one stone?
  • The walk along the Balls Pond Road was notable because there was only little traffic and few pedestrians on one of East London’s main arteries.
  • A sizeable proportion of the shops were shut.

It was also very breezy and was this good to protect me from COVID-19, by blowing it away?

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

The Spirit Of Renkioi Hospital Lives

Renkioi Hospital was the prefabricated hospital built for the Crimea.

I read the story of the hospital in L T C Rolt’s biography of the engineer; Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Wikipedia says this about how the hospital was designed.

In February 1855, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was invited by the Permanent Under Secretary at the War Office, Sir Benjamin Hawes (husband of his sister Sophia), to design a pre-fabricated hospital for use in the Crimea, that could be built in Britain and shipped out for speedy erection at still to be chosen site.

Brunel initially designed a unit ward to house 50 patients, 90 feet (27 m) long by 40 feet (12 m) wide, divided into two hospital wards. The design incorporated the necessities of hygiene: access to sanitation, ventilation, drainage, and even rudimentary temperature controls. These were then integrated within a 1,000 patient hospital layout, using 60 of the unit wards. The design took Brunel six days in total to complete.

Brunel didn’t hang about!

Let’s hope that the Nightingale hospitals are as successful, as Renkioi Hospital was in the Crimea.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ventilators On Click

Click, the BBC’s technology program has just shown an item about ventilator development.

They showed a picture of the dyson machine and video of several others.

  • One created its own oxygen.
  • One was designed for developing countries.
  • One was designed to be a minimal size.
  • One was designed to be 3D printed.
  • One cost around five hundred euros.

Developments were also from several countries in addition to the UK, including Canada, France and Spain,

I think the world is on a path to get enough ventilators.

The program will be repeated in BBC Breakfast tomorrow!

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Boots March In To COVID-19 Testing

There has just been an item on BBC Breakfast, where the Managing Director of Boots claimed that the chemists were rolling out COVID-19 testing.

Only hundreds a day at the moment, but the plans seem impressive!

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | 2 Comments

Lockdown ‘Is On Course To Reduce Total Death Rate’

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Britain is on course for an estimated 5,700 deaths from coronavirus, far lower than originally predicted, experts believe.

It’s all contained in a paper by Tom Pike at Imperial College,

Apparently, it is based on the premise that the UK follows the lockdown and social distancing.

Here’s hoping!

The story is also in the Mail and the Express.

March 28, 2020 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

A Comment On The Dyson Ventilator

This comment was posted on this article in The Times talking about ventilators.

I work in ITU- I’m with the dyson option. Ventilators are mostly large cumbersome things complicated devices…. if he delivers in time I have no doubt they’ll be great…& maybe better than what we have now…

We have to assume it’s a genuine comment.

Note that the article gives a good description of a ventilator and how it works. As an engineer, it doesn’t seem to be the most complicated piece of equipment.

Think over the last two hundred years how many radical redesigns of common products have been made, that have changed markets.

  • George Stephenson and the railway.
  • Frank Whittle and the jet engine.
  • Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone
  • Alec Issigonis and the Mini
  • Trevor Baylis and the wind-up radio and wind-up torch.
  • James Dyson and the vacuum cleaner.
  • Transistors and integrated circuits have taken over from electronic valves.
  • Mini computers have taken over from mainframes.
  • Flat screens have taken over from cathode ray tubes
  • On-line systems like auctions. banking and peer-to-peer lending.
  • High speed rail is taking over from short distance flights.

We can all nominate our favourite examples of disruptive innovation.

James Dyson and his team have probably looked at the current design of ventilator and concluded that it is complicated, expensive to make and difficult to use and have come up with a better design, that can be built quickly and easily in large numbers.

 

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | 2 Comments