The Anonymous Widower

Very Light Rail – A Revolution

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

It is a good explanation of what very light rail is all about and the design concepts behind the first vehicle, which is called Revolution.

My feeling is that Any Very Light Rail vehicle should be able to run a short branch line route as capably as a Class 153 train.

But hopefully with better passenger and driver comfort and facilities.

  • The speed of Revolution is 65 mph and that of a Class 153 train is 75 mph, so is that close enough?
  • I would hope that Revolution has better acceleration as it has an electric transmission.
  • Revolution has 56 seats and a wheelchair space and is PRM-compliant, whereas the Class 153 train has a few more seats and only some are PRM-compliant.
  • Revolution has wi-fi and power sockets and most Class 153 trains don’t.

The quality of the seats and the view from the trains will probably be the tie-breaker.

The article doesn’t say, but surely they would find more applications, if they could run in pairs, do they might be able to replace a two-car Class 150 train.

Reading the whole article gives me the impression, that the designers have done thorough job to design a lightweight train, that both passengers and drivers will like.

I will reserve my judgement until I see and ride one of these trains.

An Automated Shuttle Train

In An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line, I proposed an automated shuttle on the Greenford branch.

The Greenford Branch Line has the following features.

  • It is 2.5 miles long.
  • It is double-track.
  • It is not electrified.
  • There is a single platform station at both ends with three intermediate stations.
  • The service frequency is two tph.
  • Trains take 11-12 minutes to go between the two terminals.
  • Freight trains also use the line.

To run the ideal four tph, trains would need to do a round trip between West Ealing and Greenford in fifteen minutes.

Suppose the Revolution vehicle was automated with the driver having a supervisory role.

  • The train would shuttle between West Ealing and Greenford, leaving each station, when it was ready, so as many trips as possible were performed.
  • On seeing a green signal, the driver would tell the train to proceed top the other station, if they knew it to be safe.
  • If a freight train needed to come through, the shuttle train would stay in either West Ealing or Greenford stations out of the way protected by the signalling, until the freight train had cleared the track.
  • Freight trains and the shuttle would never be on the same piece of track at the same time, which would greatly aid safety.

I suspect that at least three trains would go between the two stations in every hour, with perhaps four in the Peak.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 9 Comments

CEO: Alice Electric Commuter Airplane’s First Flight Days Away

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

The Eviation Alice prototype has certainly been spotted taxiing on the runway and the CEO has said it won’t be long before the first flight.

I have a feeling that this aircraft is going to be a winner.

  • It’s got a lightweight structure.
  • The aerodynamics look to be right.
  • It has received firm orders from quality companies, like Cape Air, DHL and United Airlines.
  • It would be the ideal corporate aircraft for the green billionaire who wants a toy!
  • It looks sexy like Concorde.

I also think that the range, performance and capacity could fit travel patterns well in the UK and Ireland.

Conclusion

I’m looking forward to my first flight.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Goldman Sachs Invests $250 million In Hydrostor To Advance Compressed Air Energy Storage Projects

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The investment is planned to support development and construction of Hydrostor’s 1.1GW, 8.7GWh of Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage projects that are well underway in California and Australia, and help expand Hydrostor’s project development pipeline globally.

It certainly seems that the big beasts of finance are starting to back innovative energy storage.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Finance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail Pushing Hard For A March Opening Date

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

The Crossrail project is pushing hard to open the new Elizabeth line by the end of March, although there is a warning that this could delay some of the later phases of completing the line.

There have been suggestions that the project team is now confident that the latest tests and the works over Christmas to update ventilation and train software systems could see the line open potentially as soon as Sunday 6th March.

Ian’s article mentions nothing about the feel-good factor that the opening would surely bring.

I feel that this is the main reason the line should open as soon as possible.

I also feel, that as the line has been a long time coming, that passenger numbers will ramp up quickly and bring in more revenue than expected. Just look at the way, passengers used the Borders Railway, the Dartmoor Line and the Overground after they opened.

The line certainly needs to be opened before the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 3 Comments

HS2 Reveals Images Of First Landscaped ‘Green Tunnels’ For Bucks And Northants

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

This image shows one of the proposed tunnels.

The article explains the design and describes how the tunnels will be built in a factory in Derbyshire and assembled on site.

Off-site concrete construction was used at Custom House station on Crossrail. I wrote about the construction of this station in An Express Station.

The picture shows Custom House station under construction. One of the engineers told me, that the quality of the concrete in the station, is so much better than normal.

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Rio Tinto Orders Wabtec FLXdrive Battery Locomotives To Reduce Emissions

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Wabtec.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Wabtec Corporation (NYSE: WAB) and Rio Tinto announced today an order for four FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives to support sustainable operations of the mining company’s rail network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The 100-percent, battery-powered locomotive will help Rio Tinto’s effort to achieve a 50-percent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030.

Some other points from the press release.

  • The locomotives have 7 MWh batteries.
  • The first locomotive will be delivered in 2023.
  •  The FLXdrive is anticipated to reduce the company’s fuel costs and emissions in percentage by double digits per train.

This paragraph describes how the FLXdrive locomotives will be used.

The mining company plans on using the locomotives in multiple applications including as a shunter in the railyard and ultimately in mainline service. In mainline operations, Rio Tinto currently uses three diesel-electric locomotives in a consist to pull trains with 240 cars hauling about 28,000 tons of iron ore. The FLXdrives will transition from the diesel locomotives in mainline service to form a hybrid consist, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking and at charging stations. Wabtec’s next generation energy-management software system will determine the optimal times to discharge and recharge the batteries along to route ensuring the most fuel-efficient operation of the entire locomotive consist during the trip.

I can see this approach leading to even bigger fuel and emission savings.

Especially, if Wabtec developed a compatible locomotive, that was powered by hydrogen.

This was rumoured in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh, where a partnership between Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), Genesee & Wyoming and Wabtec to create the Freight Rail Innovation Institute was described.

Conclusion

There certainly seems to be a consensus between some of the world’s largest mining and rail companies about the  future of heavy freight trains to support the mining industry.

 

 

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drax’s Plans For Cruachan

Cruachan Power Station is a pumped-storage hydroelectric power station in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

  • It can generate 440 MW of power.
  • It has a storage capacity of 7.1 GWh.
  • The power station is owned by Drax.

This Google Map shows the area around the power station.

Note.

  1. Cruachan Reservoir is the upper reservoir for the power station.
  2. The River Awe is the lower reservoir.
  3. The turbines for the power station are in a hollowed-out Ben Cruachan.
  4. There is a visitor centre, which is two-hundred metres from the Falls of Cruachan station, that can be seen on the map, by the river.

More information on visiting can be found at the Visit Cruachan web site.

This second map shows the Southern part of the  Cruachan Reservoir to a larger scale.

Note the strength of the dam.

The Operation Of Cruachan Power Station

Wikipedia says this about the operation of Cruachan power station.

The station is capable of generating 440 megawatts (590,000 hp) of electricity from four turbines, two of 100 megawatts (130,000 hp) and two of 120 megawatts (160,000 hp) capacity, after two units were upgraded in 2005. It can go from standby to full production in two minutes, or thirty seconds if compressed air is used to start the turbines spinning. When the top reservoir is full, Cruachan can operate for 22 hours before the supply of water is exhausted. At full power, the turbines can pump at 167 cubic metres (5,900 cu ft) per second and generate at 200 cubic metres (7,100 cu ft) per second.

What I find surprising, is that they only upgraded two turbines to 120 MW. I would suspect that there was some other factor that stopped all turbines from being upgraded.

So I would be very surprised if Drax upgraded the power of the existing station.

The Wikipedia extract claims that the Cruachan power station can provide power for 22 hours, if the reservoir, which has a capacity of 7.1 GWh is full. A simple calculation gives an average output in 323 MW. Does that indicate an efficiency of 73.4 %, by dividing 323 by 440.

But no pumped storage system of the 1950s is 100 % efficient. The Ffestiniog Power Station, which opened two years before Cruachan has an efficiency of 73 %. , which appears to be in line with the figures for Cruachan.

Cruachan Power Station And Nuclear Power

Wikipedia says this about Cruachan power station and Hunterston A nuclear power station.

Construction began in 1959 to coincide with the Hunterston A nuclear power station in Ayrshire. Cruachan uses cheap off-peak electricity generated at night to pump water to the higher reservoir, which can then be released during the day to provide power as necessary.

Note.

  1. Hunterston A power station closed in 1990.
  2. Hunterston B power station closed a few days ago.
  3. Scotland now only has one nuclear station at Torness.

It looks like the method of operation will have to change.

Cruachan Power Station And Wind Power

The obvious replacement source of energy at night to replace the nuclear power is wind power.

As I write this the UK is generating 8.5 GW of power from wind turbines.

Surely, enough can be diverted to Cruachan to fill the Cruachan Reservoir.

Cruachan 2

Drax’s plans for Cruachan are based around the building of a second underground power station, which is not surprisingly called Cruachan 2. This page on the Drax web site describes Cruachan 2.

  • It will be a 600 MW power station.
  • It will be to the East of the current power station.
  • More than a million tonnes of rock would be excavated to build the power station.

The existing upper reservoir, which can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water, has the capacity to serve both power stations.

I think it is reasonable to assume the following about Cruachan 2.

  • Design of the turbines will have improved in the sixty years since the Francis turbines for the original power station were ordered and designed.
  • The turbines will now be precisely computer-controlled to optimise the operation of the power station.
  • The turbines will have a faster response, than even that of Cruachan 1, which will help to match output to demand.

But most importantly, I suspect that the efficiency will be higher due to improved turbine design.

I can do a simple calculation, where I will assume the following figures for the two power stations.

  • Cruachan 1 – 440 MW – Efficiency – 73 % – Full Power – 323 MW
  • Cruachan 2 – 600 MW – Efficiency – 80 % – Full Power – 480 MW

It looks to me that 1040 MW can be used to store water in the reservoir and at this rate it would take 6.8 hours to fill the reservoir. With just Cruachan 1 in operation, filling the reservoir would take sixteen hours.

It looks like with moderate winds generating sensible amounts of electricity, it should be possible to fill the reservoir overnight using both Cruachan 1 and Cruachan 2.

When running flat-out, the combined station can generate 803 MW. At that rate it will generate the power for just under nine hours.

The Wikipedia entry for Francis turbines says this.

Francis turbines are the most common water turbine in use today, and can achieve over 95% efficiency.

Applying 95 % Efficiency to Cruachan 2 would give the following.

  • An output of 570 MW for Cruachan 2.
  • A total output of 1010 MW for the combined station.
  • This would mean the combined station could deliver 1.01 GW for just over seven hours.

Modern control technology would probably be used to ensure that the output of the combined Cruachan station filled in the gaps between demand and supply.

Could The Size Of Cruachan Reservoir Be Increased?

This would increase the amount of energy stored.

I suspect that it probably can’t be increased, as any increases would have been done by now.

Conclusion

It looks like very good engineering to me.

  • There is a good chance, that on most nights, the reservoir will be filled using wind energy
  • The maximum output of the Cruachan power station has been more than tripled from 323 to 1010 MW.
  • There has been no increase in the size of the Cruachan reservoir.

Scotland will now have a GW-sized hydro-electric power station.

 

 

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 4 Comments