The Anonymous Widower

Is A Cap On Energy Prices A Good Idea?

All political parties including the Motherhood and Apple Pie Tendency think this is a good idea, but I’m not sure.

I changed to OVO Energy, one of the smaller companies a couple of years ago, so I looked up on a comparison site to see if I could make a big saving by changing supplier.

Sixty-three suppliers would give me a saving of up to four pounds a month.

As my solar panels haven’t been installed for a year and I don’t know the full affect on my bill yet and I would be changing with solar panels, I shall not be changing my supplier now.

But the interesting figure is that sixty-three different deals were offered. That says to me that competition is working in the energy field.

An Ideal Energy Market

Most consumers would prefer a fixed low price.

But surely, that is impossible as there has to be an equilibrium between the price energy companies pay for their energy and the price they charge consumers.

What happens if there is a global crisis and energy prices are universally high?

The other problem with a low energy price, is that doesn’t encourage consumers to save energy.

The UK’s Energy System

The energy system and market is a constantly changing dynamic system and since energy privatisation in the UK, there have been massive changes to the generation, supply and use of electricity.

  • A nnetwork of interconnectors is starting to stretch over Western Europe to allow interchange of electricity.
  • Wind and solar power generation are increasing dramatically.
  • Coal is dead for generating electricity.
  • Consumers have invested in low-energy appliances.

There will be more developments in the next few years.

  • A planned interconnector to Iceland could be a game changer.
  • Solar panels and energy storage will increasingly be fitted to homes.
  • Millions of electric cars will be sold.
  • Some high-priced nuclear energy will come on stream.

All of these developments have and will continue to move the energy price up and down.

As a Control Engineer, I know that the best way to get a dynamic system like this to a stable point acceptable to all parties, is to apply as few restrictions as possible.

An energy price cap will impose a condition, that will distort the equilibrium and it might not be in the way that politicians want.

Politicians would be better to concentrate on actions that helped the current system find an equilibrium acceptable to all.

  • Make it as easy as possible for consumers to change energy supplier.
  • Avoid backing high-priced energy generation like Hinckley Point C.
  • Promote lower-cost generation and energy storage systems.
  • Fund energy research at universities.
  • Build more interconnectors.

But above all they should not distort the market.

As an aside here, I don’t object to Nicola Sturgeon setting up a tax-payer funded energy company in Scotland. In a free market, it will only promote more competition and possibly lower prices.

But it might lose Scotland a lot of money!

October 12, 2017 Posted by | World | , | 3 Comments

Upgrades For Northern And Jubilee Lines Have Been Brought To A Halt By Transport for London

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in City AM. This is the first paragraph.

Planned upgrades for the Northern and Jubilee Lines have been paused by Transport for London (TfL), though train drivers’ union Aslef says they will be cancelled entirely.

But is it such a disaster?

The Jubilee and othern Lines need more trains to increase the service frquencies. This is said in the article.

The Northern Line upgrade plan was to buy 17 additional trains so the Northern Line could run a 30 trains per hour service on all branches of the line, while the Jubilee Line would have had 10 new trains to operate a 36 trains per hour service.

So it looks like twenty-seven new trains are needed.

The Central Line Train Upgrade

This article on Railway-news.com is untitled London Underground’s Central Line Trains Set For Upgrade.

Currently, the Central Line‘s 1992 Stock have DC motors, which will be replaced by more efficient motors  and a sophisticated control system.

Transport for London are only making a reliability claim for the upgrade. Hopefully, if the trains are more reliable, then more can be in service. so can a higher frequency be run?

I also think in addition, the trains could possibly accelerate faster from stops, thus reducing the dwell times at stations and ultimately the journey times.

  • Epping to West Ruislip currently takes ninety minutes with 38 stops.
  • Ealing Broadway to Newbury Park takes sixty minutes with 24 stops.
  • Northolt to Loungton takes sixty-seven minutes with 28 stops.

Saving just ten seconds on each stop will reduce journey times by several minutes.

I suspect that Transport for London will rearrange the timetable to increase the service frequency from the current twenty-four trains per hour (tph).

It will be interesting to see what frequency of trains and journey times are achieved, when all the Central Line trains have been updated.

The Victoria Line Upgrade Of 2016

In 2016, the Victoria Line track was upgraded at Walthamstow Central station, so that services could be increased to thirty six tph.

Could The Jubilee And Northern Line Trains And Stations Be Upgraded?

I’ve no idea, but I suspect that Transport for London have looked into the possibility.

The Jubilee Line

Currently,  the Jubilee Line is worked by sixty-three 1996 Stock trains.

Wikipedia gives a good description of the Traction Control of the trains. This is the first sentence.

1995 and 1996 stocks have similar body shells but they use different AC traction control systems. The 1995 stock system is more modern, since the 1996 stock design specification was frozen in 1991.

This gives me the impression, that a more modern traction control system could improve the train performance, as electronics have moved on in the last twenty years.

The Northern Line

Currently, the Northern Line is worked by one hundred and six 1995 Stock trains.

Upgrading The Traction Control

I wonder if the most economic way to update the traction control on both trains with the same system.

Upgrading The Stations

I suspect that Transport for London will upgrade the stations with Harrington Humps and other facilities to make train loading and unloading easier and less likely to delay the train.

I suspect that all the lessons learned in raising the Victoria Line to 36 tph will be applied.

Crossrail And The Jubilee Line

Crosrail appears to have been designed, so that it works in co-operation with London’s older Underground lines.

When considering Crossrail’s relationship with the Jubilee Line, the following must be take into account.

  • The two lines have interchanges at Bond Street, Canary Wharf and Stratford.
  • Perhaps more importantly, there is a cross-platform interchange at Whitechapel.
  • Crossrail has good connections to the Metropolitan and Baskerloo Lines, which in North-West London serve Jubilrr Line territory.

These features will divert passengers away from the Jubilee Line, as they were probably intended to do.

Will this make upgrading the Jubilee Line, less urgent?

London Bridge, Thameslink And The Jubilee Line

One of the problems with the Jubilee Line is that you have to walk miles to get to the platforms at some stations.

London Bridge and Waterloo stations are good examples.

These two stations are now connected by a fourteen tph link across the South Bank, which goes from London Bridge to Charing Cross via Waterloo East.

I use the route regularly back from Waterloo, as I can get a 141 bus to my home at London Bridge station.

Next year, when Thameslink is fully open even more passengers will be able to avoid the Jubilee Line.

The Splitting Of The Northern Line

Once Camden Town and Bank stations have been upgraded in 2025, the Northern Line will become two separate lines, with cross-platform interchange at Camden Town and Kennington stations. This will  enable thirty-six tph on both branches and allow trains to be used more efficiently.

I do wonder, if in the detailed design and planning of the station extension at Camden Town, has shown that the split can be performed earlier, thus efficient train usage can  start earlier.

Thameslink And The Northern Line

My late wife used to live in Barnet until we were married.

From that area in the 1960s, you could either take the Northern Line from High Barnet station or the two tph local train into Kings Cross from Oakleigh Park or New Barnet stations.

The local rail service is now three tph to Moorgate. Not a great improvement in fifty years!

However, things are changing at New Barnet and Oakleigh Park stations.

  • New trains and an uprated service into Moorgate.
  • Thameslink will add a two tph service to Sevenoaks.

Will these developments take the pressure off the Northern Line.

The Provision Of Depot Space

One of the disadvantages of buying more trains, would be that the depots would need to be expanded, so they could be stored.

London is a crowded city, which is short of land.

So is this a problem?

Replacing The Whole Jubilee And Northern Fleets

It is intended that new trains will be in service on the Piccadilly Line around 2022. Wikipedia says this about Siemens proposal for the trains.

Siemens has publicised an outline design, which would feature air-conditioning and would also have battery power enabling the train to run on to the next station if third and fourth rail power were lost. It would have a lower floor and 11% higher passenger capacity than the present tube stock. There would be a weight saving of 30 tonnes, and the trains would be 17% more energy-efficient with air-conditioning included, or 30% more energy-efficient without it.

By the end of the 2020s, the Jubilee and Northern Line trains will be over thirty years old, and by then the two lines will be in need of even more capacity.

Replacing the current trains with a London-proven new train would surely be a distinct possibility.

Conclusion

The more I look at whether the top-up order for new trains is needed, the more I’m convinced it isn’t!

 

 

October 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment