The Anonymous Widower

Would A North-East And South West Sleeper Service Be A Good Idea?

I ask this question as in the October 2021, there is an article entitled A New Sleeper, which has this explanatory sub-title.

Des Bradley describes his concept for a North-East to South-West Overnight Service

Paraphrasing his resume from the article, Des Bradley is probably best described as a rail enthusiast, who has travelled all over Europe by train, especially on sleeper trains. He has also worked recently with ScotRail, where he led their integrated travel activities.

I regularly use the Caledonian Sleeper on my trips to Scotland,  often taking a sleeper one way and a day time train the other. Towards the end of next month, I have tickets booked for a low-cost Lumo train to Edinburgh and a sleeper back to London in the evening.

In this blog, I have regularly written about the sleeper trains being introduced across Europe and this summer I had intended to go via Eurostar and NightJet to Vienna. But the pandemic has kept me in England for two years.

An Edinburgh And Plymouth Sleeper

Des Bradley is proposing a sleeper train between Edinburgh and Plymouth.

  • A typical daytime trip on this route takes eight hours and forty-five minutes.
  • Intermediate stops would be Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham New Street, Cheltenham Spa, Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Exeter St. David’s and Newton Abbot.
  • Journey time would be just over twelve hours.
  • By comparison a sleeper between London and Edinburgh takes about seven hours and thirty minutes.

He calls the service the NESW Sleeper.

I have some thoughts on the proposal.

A Spine Route Between Edinburgh And Penzance

The route is effectively a spine between Edinburgh and Plymouth on which other services can be built.

Unlike the Caledonian Sleeper, Des Bradley doesn’t feel the train should split and join as it travels up and down the country.

But I do think that the NESW Sleeper can be timed to fit in with high-quality connecting services to extend the coverage.

An Innovative Timetable

Des Bradley’s timetable is innovative.

  • Trains leave Edinburgh and Plymouth around 21:00.
  • Trains arrive at their destination around 09:00.
  • Trains stop for about two hours at Derby.
  • After resting at Derby, the trains are effectively early morning trains.

Note.

  1. The wait at Derby, adds extra time, that can be used to make up for engineering diversions, which often happen at night!
  2. The trains could be used by non-sleeper passengers to get to Plymouth or Edinburgh early.

The consequence of the second point, is that the trains will have to offer some Standard Class seats.

Should The Train Serve Penzance?

The Great Western Railway’s Night Riviera sleeper train calls at Liskeard, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, St.Austell, Truro, Redruth, Cambourne, Hoyle and St. Erth between Plymouth and Penzance.

According to a proposed NESW timetable, the Night Riviera has long gone, before the NESW Sleeper arrives in Plymouth at 08:58.

But I’m sure Great Western Railway could arrange for a convenient service between Plymouth and Penzance to pick up passengers in the morning and deliver them in the evening. This picture taken at Plymouth, indicates that cross-platform interchange may be possible.

This picture shows a pair of GWR Castles, which regularly work additional services between Plymouth and Penzance.

What About Wales?

I suspect that Cardiff, Swansea and other towns and cities in South Wales, can be served in a similar way, by connecting with GWR services at Bristol Parkway station.

Other Connecting Services

Birmingham New Street, Derby, Leeds and Newcastle are important interchange stations and I can see services being timed to bring passengers to and from the NESW Sleeper.

Rolling Stock

The author offers choices for the trains, based on what is used currently in the UK and adding multiple units. But he is definitely tending towards fixed formations.

I feel that the trains should meet the following criteria.

They should be of similar standard as the Caledonian Sleeper.

They would need an independently-powered capability for sections without electrification.

They should be zero-carbon.

They should offer a range of accommodation including Standard Class seats to cater the early birds and budget travellers.

The possibility to run at 100 mph or faster might be useful to catch up time on some sections of the route.

I think that two trains could be possible.

  • A rake of coaches hauled by a hydrogen-electric locomotive.
  • A battery-electric Sleeper Multiple-Unit with a range of perhaps eighty miles on batteries.

This is a sentence from the article.

The concept of ‘Sleeper Multiple-Units’ has also emerged in recent years, and this idea could be attractive; although it has some inherent inflexibility, it could in the future allow multi-portion or experimental new routes to be tagged onto the core service.

Sleeper Multiple Units might enable a South Wales and Edinburgh service, that used the same train path between Edinburgh and Bristol Parkway, where the two trains would split and join.

Conclusion

I like this proposal and definitely think it is a good idea.

 

 

 

September 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project

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

This is the first paragraph.

New solar and wind under development in Morocco is to be linked with Britain, with developer Xlinks also seeking to develop a cable manufacturing industry.

It looks to be a very challenging project.

  • The HVDC cable will be 3,800 km long.
  • The plan envisages 10.5 GW of electricity being generated.
  • There will be a 5GW/20GWh battery in Morocco.
  • They will export 3.6 GW of electricity to the UK for at least twenty hours per day.
  • The electricity will be exported to the UK by a cable that skirts to the West of Spain, Portugal and France.
  • The UK end of the cable will be at Alverdiscott in Devon.

All except the last are pushing current technology to the limit.

There is more information on the Morocco-UK Power Project page on the Xlinks web site.

  • The company claims, that it can supply renewable energy, that acts like baseload power.
  • When complete, it could supply eight percent of the UK’s energy needs.

These are my thoughts.

The 3,800 km. HVDC Link

This paragraph on the project web page describes the HVDC link.

Four cables, each 3,800km long form the twin 1.8GW HVDC subsea cable systems that will follow the shallow water route from the Moroccan site to a grid location in Great Britain, passing Spain, Portugal, and France.

It appears that would be 15200 kilometres of cable.

The longest HVDC link in the world is 2375 km. It’s overland and it’s in Brazil.

I can’t think otherwise, than that this will be a very challenging part of the project.

This Google map shows the area of Morocco, where the energy will be generated.

Note.

  1. Guelmim Oued Noun is outlined in red.
  2. The Canary Islands are just off the map to the West.

At least the project will be able to have convenient access to the sea.

This second Google Map shows the <Moroccan, Portuguese and Spanish coasts from Guelmim Oued Noun to the Bay of Biscay.

Note.

  1. The light blue of the Continental Shelf
  2. The darker blue of deeper water.
  3. Guelmim Oued Noun is outlined in red.
  4. The Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean to the West of Guelmim Oued Noun.
  5. Could the cable bring power to Gibraltar?
  6. There are other large cities on the route in Morocco, Portugal and Spain.

This third Google Map shows the Bay of Biscay.

Note.

  1. The light blue of the Continental Shelf
  2. The darker blue of deeper water.
  3. There are a series of islands off the Spanish and French coasts.
  4. Could these islands be used as stepping stones for the cable?

This fourth Google Map shows the Western Approaches to the UK.

Note that the prominent red arrow indicates Alverdiscott, where cable connects to the UK National Grid.

The article also says that they may be building their own cable-manufacturing facility. Does this indicate that there is a shortage of HVDC cable?

10.5 GW Of Zero-Carbon Electricity

This sentence on the project web page describes the power generation.

This “first of a kind” project will generate 10.5GW of zero carbon electricity from the sun and wind to deliver 3.6GW of reliable energy for an average of 20+ hours a day.

It appears that they will be providing a baseload of 3.6 GW to the UK for over twenty hours per day.

Consider.

  • Hinckley Point C has an output of 3.2 GW.
  • As I write this around midnight, the UK is generating 22.2 GW of electricity.

This paragraph from their web site describes the advantages of Morocco.

Most importantly, Morocco benefits from ideal solar and wind resources, required to develop renewable projects that could guarantee suitable power production throughout the year. It has the third highest Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) in North Africa, which is 20% greater than Spain’s GHI and over twice that of the UK. Furthermore, the shortest winter day still offers more than 10 hours of sunlight. This helps in providing production profiles that address the needs of the UK power market, especially during periods of low offshore wind production.

It is not a small power station in the wrong place.

The 5GW/20GWh Battery

That is a massive battery.

The world’s largest lithium-ion battery is Gateway Energy Storage in California. It has a capacity of 250 megawatts for one hour.

The proposed battery in Morocco is eighty times as large.

If I was choosing a battery for this application, I believe the only one that has been demonstrated and might work is Highview Power’s CRYOBattery.

I wrote about Highview’s similar type of application to Morocco in Chile in The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery.

But that installation only will only have storage of half a GWh.

But I believe Highview and their partner; MAN Energy Solutions can do it.

Conclusion

I wish the company well, but I have a feeling that there’s a chance, that this will join the large pile of dead mega-projects.

But I do feel that the solar and wind power station in Morocco will be developed.

And like the project in Chile it will have a large Highview CRYOBattery.

 

 

 

September 26, 2021 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Cummins Accelerates Work On Hydrogen-Fueled Internal Combustion Engines

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

This is the first paragraph.

Global power leader Cummins Inc. is accelerating its work on internal combustion engines fueled by low-carbon hydrogen.

Cummins aren’t the only company going this route, as JCB have also developed a hydrogen-powered internal combustion engine.

In some ways it makes sense, as in a truck, railway locomotive or specialist machine, the conversion of the current diesel version to a hydrogen one could be easier.

From my experience of selling software to Cummins, they see themselves as specialists in providing customised diesel engines for anybody who wants them.

So could they supply customised hydrogen engines which are a direct replacement for a diesel engine?

It could be a very profitable market for Cummins, good for the environment and a quick way to decarbonise a lot of applications.

September 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , | Leave a comment