The Anonymous Widower

BHP Investor Revolt Over Links To Fossil Fuel Lobby

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

BHP is facing a shareholder revolt after influential investors urged the giant miner to suspend membership of contentious trade groups that lobby for the fossil fuels industry.

So who are these revolting investors?

Greenpeace with a couple of shares and a lot of placards!

No!

They are Standard Life Aberdeen and Aviva, who are two of the biggest financial beasts in the City of London, with support from the Church of England.

It’ll be an interesting Annual General Meeting next week!

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Business, Finance | , , , | Leave a comment

Blackpool Tramway Is Reaching Towards The Station

On Saturday, I went to Blackpool and rode the Blackpool Tramway to Fleetwood to see Ipswich play.

This Google Map shows the current walking route between Blackpool North station and the North Pier tram stop.

Note.

  1. The station is in the North East corner of the map.
  2. The North Pier tram stop is by the North Pier!
  3. The main tram route passes North-South across the map, close to the shore end of the pier.
  4. The walk is along Talbot Road.
  5. Close to the station is a branch of Wilko.

The new tram tracks will be laid along Talbot Road and these pictures show the current progress of the new tracks.

Note.

  1. The spur is twin-track.
  2. The first two and the last pictures appear to show the tram tracks going into Wilko.
  3. The tram tracks appear to share the road with other traffic.
  4. There is a full triangular junction where the spur meets the main North-South tramway.

A few extra facts and thoughts.

What About Wilko?

The Wilko store will either be demolished or modified and the space will be used by a tram stop.

  • It will be reached by an underpass from the station.
  • I suspect it will have two platforms.
  • One platform might be for trams to the North and the others for trams to the South.
  • There will probably be a few kiosks and small shops.

Done well and it would give passengers a good welcome.

The Track Layout

The track layout with the full triangular junction and a double-track to the station gives a lot of flexibility.

  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the North.
  • Trams can go between the the tram station and the South.
  • Trams could even come from the North, reverse in the station and go out to the South! Or vice-versa!

I also think it has been designed to be ready for expansion of the Blackpool Tramway.

A Tram Stop At Talbot Square

I have found a document on the Blackpool Council web site, that says this.

A tram stop on Talbot Square would be developed while road layouts are being examined so the new scheme would interfere as little as possible with drivers.

There is certainly enough space.

Could Tram-Trains Connect At Blackpool North Station To The Blackpool Tramway?

This Google Map shows Blackpool North station and the nearby Wilko.

I think it would be possible for tram-trains to come straight through the railway station and connect to the Blackpool Tramway.

  • I would suspect that a frequency of between four and six trains per hour (tph) would be possible.
  • The Tram-trains would have a battery capability with a range of perhaps twenty or thirty miles.
  • The tram-trains would obviously come from Preston.
  • But would they go on to Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Colne, Ormskirk, Southport and/or Todmorden.

The designs of the tracks, Blackpool North station and the proposed Blackpool North tram stop, would not seem to rule out the creation of a tram-train network with the Blackpool Tramway as the Western terminus.

Tram-Trains To The South

The new tram link at Blackpool North station will link the station to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and other attractions South of the North Pier.

To not annoy and discourage visitors, the frequency should be at least six tph or one tram every ten minutes. as little Harry and little Summer won’t late any longer!

Tram-trains to and from Preston and beyond, would have the following effects.

  • A lot of visitors wouldn’t have to change between train and tram.
  • They would reinforce the service between Blackpool North station and the Southern terminus at Starr Gate.
  • They might cut the number of cars needing to park in Blackpool.
  • Blackpool would become the only place in the world where you could see heritage trams, modern trams and tram-trains using the same system.

This tram-train link would surely improve the economy of Blackpool and the \Fylde Coast.

But the tram-trains don’t need to terminate at Starr Gate.

This Google Map shows the Blackpool Tramway’s Southern terminus and depot at Starr Gate and the nearby Squires Gate station.

Note.

  1. Starr Gate Depot on the West side of the map.
  2. The turning loop for the trams outside.
  3. Squires Gate station four hundred metres to the East.

I don’t think it would be difficult to connect the two rail systems.

  • Tram-trains would be able to more freely between the Blackpool Tramway and the South Fylde Line to Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations.
  • The route between Kirkham & Wesham and Preston stations is electrified.
  • The length of the section without electrification between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South stations is just over twelve miles.
  • The route West of Kirkham & Wesham station is single-track, but could probably be capable of handling more trains per hour, with some improvements like sections of double track.

I can’t see why tram-trains with a battery capability, which could be similar to those destined for the South Wales Metro, couldn’t run an extended service between Preston and the Blackpool Tramway.

  • Tram-trains would change systems at Blackpool North station and Squires Gate/Starr Gate.
  • Tram-trains would call at all stations and tramway stops in both directions.
  • A frequency of at least two tph in both directions would be my preference.
  • Tram-trains could easily handle the section without electrification on batteries charged on the existing electrification.
  • It would provide improved public transport links to the important golf course at Royal Lytham.

I also feel that running battery tram-trains on the South Fylde Line could be an affordable solution to improving public transport in the area.

Tram-Trains To The North

The same arguments that can be used to allow tram-trains to go South along the Blackpool Tramway, will also work, for allowing tram-trains to go to the North.

But there is no railway in good condition to create a loop, as can be done to the South.

Perhaps, two tram-trains per hour could go to Fleetwood Ferry tram stop and use the loop to return to Blackpool North station.

Fleetwood would regain a rail service to Preston, that appears to have been discontinued in the 1960s.

Reinstatement Of The Fleetwood Branch Line

The Association of Train Operating Companies has proposed the reopening of the Fleetwood Branch Line, which would connect Fleetwood with Poulton-le-Fylde on the electrified line to Blackpool North station.

The branch is also being developed for heritage purposes.

I do wonder though, that a tram-train solution, where tram-trains run between Preston and Fleetwood via Kirkham  & Wesham, Blackpool North and the Blsckpool Tramway, may give a higher return.

Obviously, a full study needs to be done.

Other Issues

On my trip to Fleetwood, two other issues were obvious.

A Distinct Lack Of Shelters

I took this picture, as I returned to the trams after the match.

At the time it was chucking it down!

Perhaps, they’d increase ridership, if passengers had some more shelter.

Bank Card Ticketing

I rarely carry cash these days, as I generally use contactless payments, for all payments under thirty pounds.

But on the Blackpool Tramway, you have to use cash!

That is so Nineteenth Century!

Conclusion

Blackpool Tramway can be built into a much more comprehensive and more customer-friendly tram and tram-train network.

 

 

 

 

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Europhoenix Earmarks ‘91s’ For European Freight Use

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

Class 91 locomotives are the locomotives at one end of an InterCity 225 train.

The picture shows three Class 91 locomotives lined up at Kings Cross station. Locomotives are normally at the Northern end of the train, with driving van trailers, which are dummy locomotives with a cab, at the other end of the train. The locomotives have a pantograph.

They are electric locomotives, with an unusual transmission, described like this in Wikipedia.

The locomotive body shells are of all-steel construction. Unusually, the motors are body mounted and drive bogie-mounted gearboxes via cardan shafts. This reduces the unsprung mass and hence track wear at high speeds. The locomotive also features an underslung transformer so that the body is relatively empty compared to contemporary electric locomotives. Much of the engineering specification for the locomotive was derived from the research and operational experience of the APT-P.

Wikipedia also says this about the locomotives.

  •  Have a power of 4.83 MW.
  • Have a weight of 81.5 tonnes.
  • Can work on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Have a service speed of 125 mph
  • Have a service speed of 110 mph going blunt end first.
  • Can operate as a  normal locomotive.

According to Wikipedia, there are a total of 31 locomotives.

They are powerful locomotives, that were designed to haul nine heavily-loaded coasches at 140 mph.

Europheonix’s Plan

Europhoenix, which is described as a railway locomotive hire company by Wikipedia, intend to do the following, according to the Rail Magazine article.

Up to twenty Class 91 locomotives will be acquired and they will be used for freight in Eastern Europe.

Two have already been purchased and these are being readied for tests.

This paragraph gives more details on the modifications and how they will be used.

EP owner Glenn Edwards told RAIL on October 4 that the locomotives would work in permanent pairs, with the blunt ends coupled together. Currently, ‘91s’ are not suitable for heavy freight haulage duty, so in partnership with Voith they will be re-geared to a lower rating to enable them to operate in this manner.

A few of my thoughts!

The Double Locomotive

British Rail gets a lot of criticism.

Some of this is justified, but on the other hand, some of their track,locomotive and carriage design has admirably stood the test of time.

In his quote, Glenn Edwards seems very confident that the engines can work in permanent pairs.

As the Class 91 locomotives were designed to work as normal locomotives, perhaps the ability to work as a pair, was part of the original specification.

But as no-one ever used them to haul heavy freight trains, the feature was never needed.

British Rail has form in using pairs of electric engines to haul freight.

 

The picture shows a pair of Class 86 locomotives, which were built in 1965-66, pulling a heavy freight train through Canonbury in 2019.

I also must show this picture of a British Rail-era Class 90 locomotive double-heading a heavy freight train with a Class 66 diesel locomotive.

Is this the ultimate bi-mode locomotive for the UK?

I’ve never seen the formation again or found any reference on the Internet.

I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that running two Class 91 locomotives, blunt end together, was part of the original design.

The pair would be a powerful beast.

  • Almost ten MW of power.
  • Eight driven axles.

But the pair would have a lowish axle loading of around twenty tonnes.

Modifications Planned

The only modification noted in the Rail Magazine article is to change the gearing from that needed for a 140 mph passenger train to that needed for a slower freight train.

Hopefully the manufacturer of the original gear-boxes are still in existence.

Other Information

There is a discussion about these locomotives on this topic on RailUK Forums.

One post says this.

I spoke to a colleague the other day who said ROG were getting 2X91’s for testing the new wires on the MML.

ROG is Rail Operations Group and they are should be well-qualified to do the testing.

According to Wikipedia, there is a lot of space inside the locomotive, so could this space be used to house instrumentation used to test the overhead wires?

Could Pairs Of Class 91 Locomotives Be Used For Freight In The UK?

I think it all depends on the routes, the amount of electrification and the economics.

On the other hand new Stadler Class 93 locomotives might be a better alternative.

Conclusion

It does look like Eirophoenix have organised an export deal, that is to the benefit of several parties.

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment