The Anonymous Widower

Network Rail Reveals Detailed £2.9bn Upgrade Plans For TransPennine Route

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

It is planned to be a comprehensive upgrade to the Huddersfield Line that includes.

  • Improvement between Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Grade separation or a tunnel at Ravensthorpe
  • Rebuilding and electrification of eight miles of track.
  • Possible doubling the number of tracks from two to four.
  • Improved stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe.

This project should be a major improvement to the Huddersfield Line.

Here are my thoughts on the upgrade.

Where Is Westtown?

Westtown is a difficult place to find on Google Maps.

This Google Map is the best I can do.

Note that Dewsbury station is at the North-East of the map and Ravensthorpe station is in the South-West corner, with the Huddersfield Line going through both stations.

  • To the South-West the line goes to Mirfield, Deighton and Huddersfield.
  • To the North-East the line goes to Batley, Morley, Cottingley and Leeds.

Westtown can be seen indicated to the West of the Huddersfield Line, North of the River Calder.

Railways Between Dewsbury And Huddersfield

This map clipped from the Wikipedia entry for the Huddersfield Line, shows the route between Dewsbury and Huddersfield stations.

Note the Leeds New Line, which was built by the London and North Eastern Railway and opened in 1900.

It appears to have been closed between 1960 and 1990.

Everybody blames Beeching for the closure of railways, but this closure started before he reported.

But it does seem, that LNER decided that four tracks were needed between Leeds and Huddersfield and that British Railways felt that two was enough.

It now appears that part of the solution to increasing capacity is to create a four-track section of the Huddersfield Line between Huddersfield and Westtown.

We often blame the state of our railways on poor Victorian planning and engineering, but it does appear that they got it right here and British Rail got it wrong, in the 1960s.

A Very Busy Line

If you look at the traffic through Dewsbury station, it is a busy train-spotters paradise, with five scheduled trains per hour (tph) typically stopping at the station and several more passing through.

Four-Tracking Between Huddersfield And Westtown

This is Network Rail’s preferred solution to providing more capacity between Huddersfield and Desbury.

It is not going to be simple engineering all the way.

This Google Map shows the Huddersfield Line crossing the River Calder and the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal South of Dewsbury station and to the North of Ravensthorpe station.

Note the two double-track bridges over the waterways.

This page on Georgraph has a picture of the bridge over the River Calder. It looks an excellent example of a Victorian wrought iron bridge.

Depending on their condition, these might need to be replaced, but they will certainly need to be upgraded to four tracks.

This Google Map shows Ravensthorpe station and the rail lines in the area in more detail.

The line going East from Ravensthorpe goes to Wakefield Kirkgate station, although there are no platforms at Ravensthorpe.

The Wikipedia entry for Ravensthorpe station says this.

Ravensthorpe station is adjacent to Thornhill LNW (London North Western) Junction, where a line branches to Wakefield Kirkgate. There are plans to extend the station by building new platforms on this line, which was built by the former Manchester and Leeds Railway.

It looks to me that there are possibilities to rebuild Ravensthorpe station and the lines in the area to meet the following objectives.

  • Two fast lines and two slow lines through the station.
  • Platforms for Dewbury and Leeds services.
  • Platforms for Wakefield Kirkgate services.
  • Four tracks to as close to Dewsbury station as possible.

It must help that a lot of the land North of the line to Wakefield Kirkgate, appears to be devoid of buildings.

The engineering would not be difficult, but probably extensive and expensive.

It should be noted that the Werrington Diver Under near Peterborough, which is a similar scale of project, was costed at £200 million.

West of Ravensthorpe station, there appears to be plenty of space to fit in two extra tracks alongside the current pair.

This Google Map shows Ravensthorpe station and the tracks to the West.

Note that there is space on both sides of the current tracks and a bridge.

But between Ravensthorpe and Mirfield stations, there are at least three more bridges.

This Google Map shows Mirfield station and the tracks to the West.

There could be problems adding extra tracks here.

  • The track and platform layout is unusual.
  • There may be a lack of space at the station.

But the biggest problem will probably be four-tracking the bridge over the River Calder.

This Google Map shows the bridge in more detail.

It does appear that the bridge currently has three tracks and might have at some time had four tracks.

If the two extra tracks could be added to this bridge, it would probably be heroic engineering at a high cost, given the difficulty of the site.

But I think engineers have replaced similar bridges on UK railways in recent years.

After Mirfield, the tracks take a wide loop to the North to go to Deighton station.

The tracks were probably built to follow the contours above the River Calder, so hopefully despite the terrain, they could be fairly level.

This Google Map shows the tracks through Deighton station.

It certainly looks that there should be room for two extra tracks.

Between Deighton and Huddersfield stations, it would appear that four-tracking would be as easy as any part of the route.

Looking at the stations from the air from my helicopter (i.e. Google Maps), I suspect that one way to four-track the line would be to proceed in something like this way.

  • Rebuild and four-track the bridge over the River Calder at Mirfield station.
  • Build the junction and the bridges to the North-East of Ravensthorpe station.
  • Create a pair of fast lines on the South side of the current tracks.
  • Move all traffic onto these new fast lines.
  • Rebuild the existing railway and the stations.

There may be a need for replacement buses, whilst the stations are rebuilt, but hopefully through services could continue.

Electrification

The Rail Technology Magazine opens with this paragraph.

Major station upgrades and plans to rebuild and electrify an 8-mile stretch of track have been put forward by Network Rail as part of a public consultation on a major upgrade to the TransPennine route.

As it is eight miles between Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations, it would seem likely that the electrification will stretch between the two stations.

This would enable TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains to switch between electric and diesel power in the stations, if this is preferred by the operator.

Line Speed

The eight miles section of track will never have a particularly high speed, given the not very straight route and the terrain.

Currently, trains that stop at both Huddersfield and Dewsbury stations take eight minutes for the trip. Even trains going at speed through both stations seem no faster.

Four-tracking will surely allow fast expresses to pass local services and freight trains, but will the improvement save much time?

If trains could average 100 mph between Huddersfield and Dewsbury, just over three minutes could be saved.

Station Upgrades

The three stations between Huddersfield and Dewbury will all be upgraded, as will Hudderfield station.

The three smaller stations will probably be rebuilt as four platform stations or two platform stations with two through lines for fast services.

In Huddersfield And High Speed Two, I showed several pictures of Huddersfield station.

  • It will not be easy to upgrade to a full four-track station.
  • There are three through tracks and some bay platforms.

The two main through platforms are on the South side of the station, so if the two fast lines were on the South side of the route between Huddersfield and Ravensthorpe, this could enable an efficient station at Huddersfield.

I also think, there could be a problem at Huddersfield station, with trains to Sheffield on the Penistone Line, if more and faster trains were going through the station.

A New Timetable

I suspect that, if and when the upgrade is finished, that a new timetable will be brought in.

A possibility could be. that TransPennine Express trains run non-stop between Huddersfield and Leeds.

Now that Northern are getting new trains, perhaps these could run a Turn-Up-And-Go service of a train every fifteen minutes between Huddersfield and Leeds.

Heritage Issues

Huddersfield station is a Grade I Listed building and I suspect that the three bridges I have noted are lListed as well.

Will the Heritage lobby object to electrification in these sensitive areas?

Onward To Manchester

I have flown my helicopter between Huddersfield and Stalybridge and if the proposed improvement is successful, I suspect that the route to the West can be improved as far as Stalybridge.

  • The route is at least double track.
  • It looks like in places, it once had more tracks.
  • The trackside margins are fairly generous.
  • There doesn’t seem to be too many bridges.
  • Electrification will soon be as far as Stalybridge from Manchester.

After my quick look, I don’t think that electrifying between Huddersfield and Manchester would be too challenging, except for possibly, the Standedge Tunnel.

Onward To Leeds

The route between Dewsbury and Leeds is double track, with the only complication of the Morley Tunnel.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that all the difficult bits to creation of an electrified route between Manchester and Leeds via the Huddersfield Line, are in the stretch between Huddersfield and Dewsbury.

So perhaps it makes sense to sort out the difficult bits first, with this £2.9billion project.

 

 

 

 

 

August 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

British Start-Up Beats World To Holy Grail Of Cheap Energy Storage For Wind And Solar

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Daily Telegraph.

If you think it sounds too good to be true, then watch this video from the company behind the technology; Highview Power.

The basic principle is very simple.

  • Electricity is used to turn air into liquefied air using refrigeration technology, that has been around for donkeys years.
  • This is stored in tanks under pressure.
  • To retrieve the energy, the liquid air is allowed to evaporate and creates electricity through a turbine and generator.

These engineers have taken several pieces of readily available industrial equipment, put it together in a novel way. to create an energy storage system.

I believe that this could be the Holy Grail of energy storage!

Why?

In World’s Largest Wind Farm Attracts Huge Backing From Insurance Giant, I discussed how Aviva have invested a billion pounds in wind farms, as it gives them the sort of long-term return they need to provide pensions and pay out insurance claims.

But if you own a Gigawatt-sized wind farm in the North Sea, one thing is missing; the ability to store that energy in an affordable way.

So by investing in this type of energy storage and coupling it with their own wind farms, Aviva can control the output of the wind farms to what the National Grid needs.

All it needs is some more money, that needs a home. And Aviva have lots of that!

It’s also an investment with an ethical and green profile.

  • No polluting technology.
  • Proven technology.
  • Zero-carbon technology.
  • Non-toxic technology.
  • No use of exotic and scant resources.
  • No expensive or dangerous fuel
  • Affordable technology

Systems can also be distributed to where they are needed or where there is surplus electricity.

If you want to know more, watch the video and then look at other videos for Highview Power.

How Much Energy Can Highview Power’s Systems Store?

The biggest energy storage system in the UK is Electric Mountain, which has a power output of 1,728 MW and an energy storage capacity of 9.1 GWh.

That is some battey and it was built in the 1970s for a cost of £425 million, which would be £1.3billion today.

In a video it is claimed that Highview Power are designing a storage system, which has a power output of 200 MW and an energy storage capacity of 1.2 GWh.

You would only need to build nine and you’ve got another Electric Mountain!

Perhaps to maximise security of supply and obtain a fast response, the systems could be placed in Cumbria, Essex, Humberside, Kent, Merseyside, Norfolk, Suffolk, Thurso and Yorkshire.

Would We Need Nuclear Power?

Probably not!

For the same amount of money as a large nuclear power station, you’d get an awful lot of offshore wind farms and the storage thrown in.

Conclusion

This technology could solve the world’s energy problems.

 

 

I

 

August 26, 2019 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 2 Comments