The Anonymous Widower

An Appropriate Story For Today

On Page 58, The Times has an article entitled Frictionless Flywheels Hold Balance Of Power.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Flywheels will be used to balance supply and demand on Britain’s electricity grid in a £3.5million project that could help the country to cope with more wind and solar power.

Sophisticated flywheels that can store electricity for long periods of time are to be installed next to the University of Sheffield’s battery storage facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton, in the first project of its kind in the UK.

By using batteries and flywheels together, this makes a responsive battery that can fill in demand and overcome the degradation problems of lithium-ion batteries.

It looks a promising way of creating an affordable and reliable energy storage system.

Who needs coal? Trumkopf obviously does to buy votes!

In the United States, with its massive mountain ranges, it would be better to create construction jobs by creating hydro-based energy storage systems, as we did in the 1970s at Dinorwig and the Americans, themselves did at Bath County Pumped Storage Station a few years later.

To gauge the size of these plants, Bath County has about the same generating capacity as the UK’s largest power station at Drax, with Dinorwig being about 55% of the size.

Bath County and Dinorwig are big bastards, but their main feature, is the ability to pump water to store the energy.

Energy is like money, the best thing to do with excess is to put it in a secure storage facility.

 

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

If Microsoft Built Cars…

There are loads of jokes that start like this and you can find pages on the Internet  like this.

But what if Microsoft built planes?

This article on the BBC shows the result.

The plan is to use the Stratolaunch plsne to launch satellites. More is here on Wikipedia.

The idea is not new, The North American X-15 of the 1950s, was a space plane that was launched from under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress.

Wikipedia says this about the flights of the X-15

During the X-15 program, 13 flights by eight pilots met the Air Force spaceflight criterion by exceeding the altitude of 50 miles (80 km), thus qualifying these pilots as being astronauts.

Not bad for an conventional rocket-powered aeroplane built over half a century ago!

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

By Rail Between Derby And Manchester via Stoke

In his article entitled Connecting The Powerhouses in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, Colin Boocock, says that the best rail route between Derby and Manchester, is to go via Stoke.

There is one train an hour that takes one hour 44 minutes with a change at Stoke. The two legs appear to take 51 and 42 minutes respectively with an eleven minute wait at Stoke station, which is a well-equipped Virgin station.

Change the destination to Manchester Airport and there is an extra change of train and a journey which is at least half-an-hour longer.

You can actually do Derby to Manchester Airport in a couple of minutes over two hours, if you go via Sheffield.

But it does seem a bit crazy, as Manchester Airport is actually eight miles closer to Derby if you drive.

Stoke is well connected to Manchester with up to four trains per hour to Manchester Piccadilly, some of which take just forty minutes. Manchester Airport takes just over the hour with a change at Crewe or Manchester Piccadilly.

The Crewe to Derby Line links Derby and Stoke via Uttoxeter.

This description of the route comes from this section in Wikipedia.

The route is double track for all of its length except for a three-mile section between Alsager and Crewe, which was singled by British Rail. Whilst the majority of the route is not electrified, the section between Stoke Junction and Crewe is as this is a part of the West Coast Main Line.

This means that it should be possible to run electric trains between Manchester Airport and Stoke. As there would be no chnge at Crewe using best times on Stoke-Crewe and Crewe-Manchester Airport giives a time of about fifty minutes.

The route between Stoke and Derby is not electrified and the operating speed of the line is given as 70 mph.

Surely, as it connects Derby and Nottingham to Stoke and the electrified West Coast Main Line, it should have a faster operating speed. In an ideal world, Derby to Stoke must be a prime candidate for electrification. Some of London Overground’s redundant 100 mph Class 317 trains could probably do Derby to Stoke in perhaps thirty-five minutes.

So with electrification all the way, a time of about one hour twenty -five minutes between Derby and Stoke would be possible in a train, that once graced the Stansted Express. So it’s even got luggage racks.

But Derby to Stoke won’t be electrified for years, so could the current service get passengers to Stoke?

There is a section called Services in the Wikipedia entry for the Crewe-Stoke Line. This is said.

The line sees a basic hourly service in each direction with trains calling at all stations on the route however Peartree which is served by 2 Derby bound trains and 3 Crewe bound trains per weekday.

The majority of services on the route since December 2008 have been provided by Class 153 “Super Sprinter” Diesel Multiple Units however Class 158 “Express Sprinter” and Class 156 “Super Sprinter” units are occasionally used. Overcrowding remains a major issue on the route, particularly in the morning and evening peak and a weekends. Passengers are occasionally left behind.

That is a truly pitiful service, as the main rail route from Derby to Manchester is run by a single-coach Class 153 train at times.

It’s amazing anybody trusts the line enough to use it.

As with the Derwent Valley Line, which I wrote about in Exploring The Derwent Valley Line, the problem is probably down to a shortage of suitable trains.

The line needs a suitable bi-mode train.

  • At least four-cars.
  • Airport interior with  luggage racks.
  • Possibly a First Class compartment.
  • Ability to do the forty miles between Stoke and Nottingham on diesel.

A Flex version of a Class 317 train would do nicely and could probably do Nottingham to Manchester Airport in two hours. This would mean.

  • Four trains could provide an hourly service.
  • Eight trains would provide a two trains per hour service.

Would you believe that London Overground will release the eight Class 317/7 trains with the Airport interior next year, when they are replaced by new Class 710 trains?

Conclusion

The more I do little exercises like this, the more I believe that Porterbrook’s Flex concept is not only high-class engineering, but it is a idea, that has arrived at exactly the right time.

The only problem with converting Class 317 trains, is they are owned by Angel Trains! I’m sure that that is not an insurmountable problem!

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Launch Of Crossrail Trains Pushed Back By TfL

The title of this post is the title of this article in Rail Technology Magazine.

The story I heard from staff, was that more miles need to be accumulated on the trains and that squares with what is said in the article.

But I do wonder if Sadiq Khan has pushed the launch back until after the election, so that politicians he doesn’t agree with can use the trains as a photo opportunity.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Kissing The Innovators Goodbye!

I was part of a team that started a high-tech business n the UK in 1977 at the age of thirty.

James Callaghan was Prime Minister and tax rates were higher than they are today.

In 1984, the business was sold for $128,000,000.

So what advice would I give to my thirty-year-old son, daughter, grandchild, niece or nephew, thinking of starting a high-tech business today?

He or she would in one way be very different to me, in that by the age of thirty.

  • I’d probably only been abroad twice and wasn’t very savvy about how to survive in a foreign country.
  • Now the average thirty-year-old has probably done around a hundred foreign trips.

Due to a broader spectrum of nationalities in the UK today, a group thinking of starting a business would be less white middle-class than we were.

So whereas, we had to start the business in the UK, unless perhaps we wanted to relocate to the US, which I wouldn’t have done, even if I’d known how much money we would realise, so many factors, like the Internet, cheap air travel, better language skills, the easier availability of money, good support services and welcoming governments mean you can start a high-tech business virtually anywhere.

These factors also mean Brexit isn’t a disaster for the high-tech start-up.

If you are a UK-focused start-up perhaps dealing with something that is very UK specific, Brexit will only effect you if the economy goes bust.

If you are selling a world-wide product, the Internet means Brexit is irrelevant or will be in a couple of years.

But who wins the General Election is.

A May victory will probably mean things will carry on as before with a probability upwards of sixty-per-cent, as history teaches us, that in times of unexpected crisis that the UK just keeps calm and carries on.

Consider.

  • Corbyn and his cronies are so Consevative in their thinking.
  • Of all our industries, the NHS is probably our most Conservative.
  • A lot of innovation is disruptive, which destroys existing methods, restrictive practices and industries, but improves employment and quality of life.
  • Good ideas, make their inventors lots of money and they usually desire to keep it.

As an example, what would happen if a revolutionary product came along, that saved the NHS billions of pounds a year, but cut staff by 100,000?

It would never be introduced and if it was, the inventors would be driven out of the country by Corbyn’s proposed high taxation.

So after the disastrous Brexit, a Corbyn victory would probably be equally disastrous for innovation and innovators in the UK.

 

 

June 2, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , | 2 Comments