The Anonymous Widower

Fortescue Making Plans To Test ‘Green’ Locomotives At Rail Operations In 2022

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The decarbonisation of Fortescue Metals Group’s (Fortescue) locomotive fleet is ramping up with the arrival of two additional locomotives at Fortescue Future Industries’ (FFI) research and development facility in Perth, Western Australia.

The two four-stroke locomotives will undergo further testing on the new fuel system, joining the first two-stroke locomotive which underwent testing earlier this year.

FFI aim to test the locomotives in 2022.

Reading the International Mining article reveals an interesting philosophy for decarbonisation.

FFI have set up a Green Team and it appears that they have a free rein to stick their noses into any decarbonisation issue in Fortescue Metals Group’s business.

I know it is a technique that works from personal experience.

When I worked for ICI Plastics Division in the early 1970s, I was in their Computer Techniques Section. The section had been setup by the Divisional Board to see if these new-fangled computers had a use in the running and development of the business outside of the company’s billing and accountancy.

We had a right to stick our noses anywhere.

It certainly gave me a wonderful apprenticeship into how to apply computers to diverse and difficult problems.

December 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Rail Minister Officially Opens Werrington Tunnel

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Werrington Tunnel, an underground freight tunnel running beneath the East Coast Main Line near Peterborough, has been formally opened by Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

A key step in the £1.2bn East Coast upgrade, the opening of the tunnel allows for freight services to be ran underneath the main rail artery, significantly improving passenger service reliability on the East Coast Main Line.

I also think, that the tunnel will be used creatively by passenger and freight operators.


There is a possibility that the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line (GNGE) between Werrington and Doncaster via Lincoln could be electrified.

  • It would allow the many freight trains using the route to be hauled by electric locomotives.
  • It would create a by-pass for the East Coast Main Line during engineering works, that could be used as a diversion route by electric trains.
  • Werrington and Lincoln are just over fifty miles and might be handled by battery-electric trains, if the GNGE were to be partially electrified.

According to one report, the Werrington Tunnel has been readied for electrification, should that be decided.

An Improved Peterborough And Lincoln Service

In the past, I have travelled between London and Lincoln with a change at Peterborough. In one case, I just missed my connection, as it was a long crowded walk between the two platforms.

The Werrington Tunnel will enable trains to and from Lincoln to use platforms on the West side of Peterborough station.

Train times and platform allocations could be arranged to make connections at Peterborough easier.

A London And Lincoln Service Via Spalding And Sleaford

There are two possible routes between London King’s Cross and Lincoln

  • The current LNER service leaves the East Coast Main Line at Newark.
  • An alternative route  would leave the East Coast Main Line at Peterborough and be routed via the Werrington Tunnel, Spalding and Sleaford.

These notes apply to the alternative route.

  1. The Lincoln service wouldn’t call at Grantham and Newark.
  2. Some services could also call at other stations.
  3. The current hourly Peterborough and Lincoln service via Spalding is run by a Class 153 train , which stops four times and takes fourteen minutes longer than LNER’s service via Newark.
  4. An easy connection to and from Skegness could be arranged at Spalding,

LNER also plans to extend some Lincoln services to Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes. Timings will dictate which will be the better route.

The Werrington Tunnel would add a large degree of flexibility in routing services between London King’s Cross and Lincoln and Lincolnshire.

Splitting And Joining At Peterborough

If the Werrington Tunnel makes Lincoln timings via Spalding and Sleaford viable, I wonder if it would be possible for trains to split and join at Peterborough.

  • One train would go to Lincoln via the Werrington Tunnel, Spalding and Sleaford.
  • The other might go North to Bradford, Hull, Middlesbrough, Scarborough or York.

The Werrington Tunnel again adds flexibility.

A Round-The-Wash Service Between Doncaster And Ipswich/Norwich

In Is There A Case For A Round-The-Wash Service Between Doncaster And Ipswich/Norwich?, I suggested this service, which would be an hourly Doncaster and Cambridge service via Scunthorpe, Grimsby Town Cleethorpes, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Werrington Tunnel and Peterborough that would alternatively extend to Ipswich or Norwich.

The Werrington Tunnel again opens up possibilities.


I’m sure that the Werrington Tunnel and the technology that built it will be imitated elsewhere.



December 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

HS2 Ltd Awards Landmark Rolling Stock Contracts To Hitachi-Alstom Joint Venture

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from High Speed Two.

The press release gives two major bullet points.

  • Major boost for UK train-building as HS2’s state-of-the-art fleet of 225mph (360km/h) high speed trains will be built by Alstom and Hitachi Rail at their factories in County Durham, Derby and Crewe
  • Landmark contract set to support 2,500 jobs across the UK and boost the economy by over £157m each year

The press release then gives a link to this video clip.

The video doesn’t appear to show much.

These are my thoughts.

The Train Specification

This document on the Government web site is the Train Technical Specification for High Speed Two Classic-Compatible Trains.

The Bare Bones Of The Contract

These three paragraphs in the press release outline the contract.

HS2 Ltd today confirmed that a Hitachi/Alstom JV has been awarded the contracts to build Britain’s next generation of high speed trains at their factories in Derby and County Durham in a major deal set to support 2,500 jobs across the UK.

The landmark contracts – worth around £2bn – will see the JV design, build and maintain a fleet of 54 state-of-the-art high speed trains that will operate on HS2 – the new high-speed railway being built between London, the West Midlands and Crewe.

Capable of speeds of up to 225mph (360km/h), the fully electric trains will also run on the existing network to places such as Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and the North West. Building on the latest technology from the Japanese Shinkansen ‘bullet train’ and European high-speed network, they will be some of the fastest, quietest and most energy efficient high-speed trains operating anywhere in the world.

The third paragraph is probably the most significant, with the last few words standing out.

They will be some of the fastest, quietest and most energy efficient high-speed trains operating anywhere in the world.

That is a high bar and let’s hope the joint venture achieves it.

The Fastest Trains?

In Wikipedia’s section on High Speed Rail, this is said.

China has the fastest conventional high-speed rail in regular operation, with the Beijing–Shanghai high-speed railway reaching up to 350 km/h (217 mph).

It may not be the fastest, when it opens, but the Hitachi/Alstom JV train will certainly put the wind up the Chinese.

The Quietest Trains?

In Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!, which I wrote in May 2017, I said this.

This morning I was sitting waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

Platform 8 is separated from Platform 9 by just two tracks, so you notice a train, when it goes through Platform 9 at speed.

Usually, the trains that go through Platform 9 at speed towards Liverpool Street station are Class 321 trains or rakes of Mark 3 coaches oulled by a Class 90 locomotives.

Today, a new Class 345 train went through and the level of noise was extremely low compared to other trains.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

I have since confirmed the quietness of Aventras many times.

I know the Aventra is only a suburban trundler, but have the JV applied all the knowledge that makes an Aventra such a quiet train to their new high speed train.

One of the best ways to cut noise on a vehicle or train, is to make sure all the components are as quiet as possible.

On a train, a surprising amount of high-frequency noise comes from the pantograph.

This article from Rail Technology Magazine is entitled HS2 Ltd Awards Hitachi-Alstom JV Landmark Rolling Stock Contracts. This is said about the pantograph.

The new trains will utilise a pioneering low noise pantograph, the arm which collects power from the overhead wires developed by Hitachi Rail. The technology was first developed in Japan and will make the new HS2 trains quieter than comparable high speed trains.

There’s nothing wrong with that logic.

The Most Energy Efficient Trains?

There are several clues to the energy efficiency of these trains.

The Rail Technology Magazine article also says this.

Regenerative braking to boost energy efficiency.

Nothing is said about whether the energy is returned to the track in any of the articles on the train.

But in the specification for the train, in Section 7.3 Braking, this is said.

The Unit shall be capable of achieving this deceleration for any payload up to Normal
Payload (HDL) without regenerating to the 25kV power supply.

So what does the train do with the energy?

It must be stored on the train and reused to accelerate the train or provide hotel power, which means the train must have integrated battery storage.

This would contribute to the train’s energy efficiency.

Other factors, that would contribute are a lighter weight and good aerodynamics.




Relationship To The Zefiro 300

The Zefiro 300 is a high speed train, that was built by a consortium of Bombardier and Hitachi Rail in Italy.

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Zefiro 300.

An evolution of the Italian version of the Zefiro 300 was also offered by Bombardier (joined with Hitachi Rail) for High Speed 2 commercial tender.


  1. The Zefiro 300 uses FLEXX Eco bogies.
  2. The Zefiro 300 is a 300 kph train.
  3. The Zefiro 300  is called a Frecciarossa 1000 in Italy.

There is also a Zefiro 380 in China, which is a 380 kph train.

I’ve ridden one of these trains and describe it in Riding The Frecciarossa.

I think the High Speed Two trains will have level boarding.


The bogies are one of the most important parts of the train. Like the Zefiro 300, will the train have FLEXX Eco bogies?

This article on Global Railway Review is entitled FLEXX Eco: The Leading Lightweight Passenger Bogie Design and it gives details on the bogie and its history.

Some of the concepts were developed at British Rail Research and some were applied to the bogies of the legendary British Rail Mark 3 and Mark 4 coaches, which ride better than some of today’s trains.

The Rail Technology Magazine article says this about the bogies.

Further supporting the UK rail supply chain, all of the bogies for the new trains will be assembled and maintained at Alstom’s facility in Crewe – which is the first time since 2004 that both jobs have been done in the UK.

It sounds sensible to have one factory to assemble and maintain the bogies.

Will this factory also supply the bogies for Aventras, which are also FLEXX Eco?


The press release says this about assembly.

  • The first stages including vehicle body assembly and initial fit-out will be done at Hitachi Rail’s facility at Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
  • The second stage of fit out and testing will be done at Alstom’s Litchurch Lane factory in Derby.


I find it interesting, how improvements in one area help another.

The JV has worked hard to perfect this design.



December 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 21 Comments

Solidity Or Speculation, It’s Your Choice

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Solid-state batteries are made using a technology that promises massive improvements in lithium-ion battery efficiency and capacity, so a breakthrough could see ranges in electric vehicles (EVs) extended well beyond the few hundred miles that the most advanced models can currently achieve.

It then lists four companies, that are possible investments; Gelion Technologies, Ilika, Superdielectrics and Solid State.

I am sure the technology will break through, but finding the winner will be difficult.


December 9, 2021 Posted by | Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment