The Anonymous Widower

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Linking To The Oxted Line

I believe that everybody in the South East of England needs the best access possible to the Elizabeth Line, by train from where they live.

  • The Elizabeth Line serves the important places like Brick Lane, Canary Wharf, the City of London, Heathrow Airport, Liverpool Street station, the Olympic Park, Oxford Street and Paddington station directly.
  • Because of its connection to Thameslink, the Elizabeth Line also serves important places like Bedford, Brighton, Cambridge, Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport and Tate Modern with a single change at Farringdon station.
  • Using the Elizabeth Line, Thameslink and perhaps a bus, it is possible to get to most important places in Central London.
  • The more passengers that use the Elizabeth Line and Thameslink, the more London’s businesses will thrive creating employment and tax revenues.
  • It should also be remembered, that using a train to visit central London, probably cuts your carbon footprint.
  • The Elizabeth Line also cost a fortune, so perhaps by using it, you will be getting some of your portion of what it cost you back.

This post is the first of several, where I discuss how to bring more passengers into the Elizabeth Line network.

The Oxted Line

The Oxted Line is a line with two branches; East Grinstead and Uckfield, which runs South from East Croydon station.

  • The branch to East Grinstead is electrified, but the branch to Uckfield is not and is still run by diesel trains.
  • Plans exist to run battery-electric trains on the Uckfield branch, but they always seem to be awaited,
  • Network Rail are now saying that they will electrify the Uckfield branch with third-rail.
  • All platforms on both branches can take ten-car trains, if not twelve.
  • A reasonable amount of money has been spent on the Uckfield branch to improve it.
  • Services on both branches are one train per hour (tph).
  • London terminals of trains are London Bridge and Victoria, both of which have no easy connection to the Elizabeth Line.

The major faults of the current services are as follows.

  • One tph is not enough.
  • Victoria is an overcrowded terminal with no connection to the Elizabeth Line or Thameslink
  • At London Bridge and East Croydon, there are tortuous step-free change to Thameslink.
  • From London Bridge you can use the Northern Line to transfer to the Elizabeth Line, but it wouldn’t be the best route when taking a heavy case to Heathrow.
  • From Victoria, you can use the Circle and District lines to the Elizabeth Line at Paddington.

The Oxted Line service needs to be improved.

I would do the following.

Move Uckfield Branch Services To Thameslink

This would mean that Uckfield services would call at East Croydon, London Bridge, Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St. Pancras and then terminate somewhere to the North.

  • There would be a step-free change to the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon.
  • East Croydon and London Bridge are still served.
  • There are connections to the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Lines of the Underground.
  • There will be no need for a terminal platform at London Bridge.

I believe that this gives much better connectivity.

Electrify To Uckfield

This is a long-debated question.

But as Thameslink trains are Class 700 trains, which are dual voltage, I’d electrify the Uckfield branch with 25 KVAC overhead electrification between Hurst Green and Uckfield.

Lightweight catenary could be used to reduce visual intrusion.

Note.

  1. The curved beam at the top of this overhead electrification gantry is laminated wood.
  2. Power changeover would take place at Hurst Green station.

Hopefully, the electric trains would offset any anger at overhead wires.

Run Two tph To Uckfield

I am fairly certain that when Network Rail lengthened the platforms on the Uckfield branch, that they arranged the track and signalling, so that two tph could use the branch.

Run An Hourly Shuttle Between Oxted And East Grinstead

This service would be as follows.

  • It would terminate in the bay platform at Oxted station.
  • This would give 2 tph on this route.

The existing hourly service between East Grinstead and Victoria would continue.

Conclusion

I believe that this simple scheme could give very good benefits to all stakeholders.

 

 

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Extending The Elizabeth Line – A Service Between Heathrow And Southend Airports

The Wikipedia entry for Crossrail, has a section about an extension to Southend Airport, where this is said.

Stobart Aviation, the company that operates Southend Airport in Essex, has proposed that Crossrail should be extended beyond Shenfield along the Shenfield–Southend line to serve Southend Airport and Southend Victoria. The company has suggested that a direct Heathrow-Southend link could alleviate capacity problems at Heathrow. The extension proposal has been supported by Southend-on-Sea City Council.

I think there could be a big problem, in that I estimate the journey will take a few minutes short of two hours. Surely, this will mean toilets will need to be fitted.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Extending The Elizabeth Line – Rebuilding Shenfield Station

I have a feeling that Shenfield station will become a bottleneck on the Great Eastern Main Line.

  • I feel that both passenger and freight traffic will increase through the station in the next ten years.
  • I also feel that there is a possibility that the Elizabeth Line will be extended to Southend/Airport/Victoria and/or Beaulieu.
  • Yesterday, I changed between a Southend and a Lizzie Line service, which meant down in one lift and up in another.
  • With more and more housing likely to be built in the area, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot more parking.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the station needing to be rebuilt and expanded in the next few years.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shell To Start Building Europe’s Largest Renewable Hydrogen Plant

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

This is the first paragraph.

Shell Nederland B.V. and Shell Overseas Investments B.V., subsidiaries of Shell plc, have taken the final investment decision to build Holland Hydrogen I, which will be Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen plant once operational in 2025.

Theconstruction timeline for Holland Hydrogen 1 is not a long one.

The next paragraph describes the size and hydrogen production capacity.

The 200MW electrolyser will be constructed on the Tweede Maasvlakte in the port of Rotterdam and will produce up to 60,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day.

200 MW is large!

The next paragraph details the source of the power.

The renewable power for the electrolyser will come from the offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust (noord), which is partly owned by Shell.

These are my thoughts.

Refhyne

Refhyne is a joint project between Shell and ITM Power, with backing from the European Commission, that has created a 10 MW electrolyser in Cologne.

The 1300 tonnes of hydrogen produced by this plant will be integrated into refinery processes.

Refhyne seems to have been very much a prototype for Holland Hydrogen 1.

World’s Largest Green Hydrogen Project – With 100MW Electrolyser – Set To Be Built In Egypt

The sub-title is the title, of this article on Recharge.

It looks like Holland Hydrogen 1, is double the current largest plant under construction.

Shell is certainly going large!

Will ITM Power Be Working Again With Shell?

Refhyne has probably given Shell a large knowledge base about ITM Power’s electrolysers.

But Refhyne is only 10 MW and Holland Hydrogen 1 is twenty times that size.

This press release from ITM Power is entitled UK Government Award £9.3 m For Gigastack Testing.

This is the first paragraph.

ITM Power (AIM: ITM), the energy storage and clean fuel company, announces that the Company has been awarded a contract by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), under its Net Zero Innovation Portfolio Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2 Competition, to accelerate the commercial deployment of ITM Power’s 5 MW Gigastack platform and its manufacture. The award for the Gigatest project is for £9.3m and follows initial designs developed through previous BEIS funding competitions.

Note.

  1. The Gigastack is 2.5 times bigger, than ITM Power’s previously largest electrolyser.
  2. Forty working in parallel, in much the same way that the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids, will be needed for Holland Hydrogen 1.
  3. ITM Power have the world’s largest electrolyser factory, with a capacity of one GW. They have plans to create a second factory.

ITM Power would probably be Shell’s low-risk choice.

My company dealt with Shell a lot in the 1970s, with respect to project management software and we felt, that if Shell liked you, they kept giving you orders.

The Hollandse Kust Noord Wind Farm

This wind farm is well described on its web site, where this is the introduction on the home page.

CrossWind, a joint-venture between Shell and Eneco, develops and will operate the Hollandse Kust Noord subsidy-free offshore wind project.

Hollandse Kust Noord is located 18.5 kilometers off the west coast of the Netherlands near the town of Egmond aan Zee.

CrossWind plans to have Hollandse Kust Noord operational in 2023 with an installed capacity of 759 MW, generating at least 3.3 TWh per year.

This Google Map shows the location of Egmond aan Zee.

Note that the red arrow points to Egmond aan Zee.

Will The Electrolyser Be Operational In 2025?

If Shell choose ITM Power to deliver the electrolysers, I don’t think Shell are being that ambitious.

I would suspect that connecting up an electrolyser is not the most complicated of construction tasks.

  • Build the foundations.
  • Fix the electrolyser in place.
  • Connect power to one end.
  • Connect gas pipes to the other.
  • Switch on and test.

Note.

  1. If ITM Power deliver electrolysers that work, then the installation is the sort of task performed on chemical plants all over the world.
  2. ITM Power appear to have tapped the UK Government for money to fund thorough testing of the 5 MW Gigastack electrolyser.
  3. Enough wind power from Hollandse Kust Noord, should be generated by 2025.

I feel it is very much a low risk project.

Shell’s Offshore Electrolyser Feasibility Study

This is mentioned in this article in The Times, which describes Holland Hydrogen 1, where this is said.

Shell is also still involved in a feasibility study to deploy electrolysers offshore alongside the offshore wind farm. It has suggested this could enable more efficient use of cabling infrastructure.

I very much feel this is the way to go.

Postscript

I found this article on the Dutch Government web site, which is entitled Speech By Prime Minister Mark Rutte At An Event Announcing The Construction Of Holland Hydrogen 1.

This is an extract.

By building Holland Hydrogen 1, Shell will give the Dutch hydrogen market a real boost.
So congratulations are in order.
And this is only the beginning.
Because countless companies and knowledge institutions are working now to generate the hydrogen economy of tomorrow.
The government is supporting this process by investing in infrastructure, and by granting subsidies.
Because we want to achieve our climate goals, though the war in Ukraine won’t make it any easier.
We want to reduce our dependence on Russian gas.
We want the Netherlands to lead the way in the European energy transition.
And all these ambitions are combined in the Holland Hydrogen 1 project.

Mark Rutte seems to believe in hydrogen.

Conclusion

This is a very good example of the sort of large electrolyser, we’ll be seeing all over the world.

In fact, if this one works well, how many 200 MW electrolysers will Shell need all over the world?

Will they all be identical?

 

 

 

 

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bluebell Heritage Railway Planning Western Extension

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Bluebell Railway, a heritage railway that runs through Sussex has filed a pre-planning application as it seeks to extend the railway westwards along a partially disused railway alignment.

It seems to be a well-thought out plan.

  • Part of the route is a freight line to bring aggregates out of the area.
  • The Bluebell Railway appear to have been talking to Hanson Aggregates and the plan would not appear to affect Hanson’s business.
  • The eventual destination is Haywards Heath station, where from maps and Wikipedia, it appears that not too much work would need to be done.

A Hayward’s Heath connection would surely be good for the finances of the Bluebell Railway.

I also suspect that Hanson Aggregates would come out of this with a certain amount of good publicity.

Do Network Rail Have A Plan To Increase Capacity South Of Oxted?

In Kent Railway Viaduct Set For £3.5m Makeover, I wrote about Network Rail giving a viaduct a makeover, that will last for the next fifty years.

Could a reason for the makeover, be that once the trains to Uckfield are zero-carbon, there is a possibility that the frequency of trains on the route could be doubled to two trains per hour (tph)? This would surely increase the stresses and strains on the viaduct. Especially, if two trains were timetabled to pass in Ashurst station, where the line is double-track.

This would increase the trains North of Oxted station in the Off Peak from one train to Victoria and one to London Bridge to one to Victoria and two to London Bridge. Once capacity at East Croydon has been increased, this would provide a fifty percent increase in trains between London and Oxted.

If the capacity is increased through East Croydon and into London, I can see more people using the trains into London from Oxted and the South.

But there are some missing links.

  • Both London Bridge and Victoria don’t have easy connections to the Elizabeth Line.
  • Getting between Heathrow and Oxted is a double-change.
  • There doesn’t appear to be large amounts of parking, on the Oxted Line.
  • It also doesn’t look like there are obvious places to add stations.

I also suspect that faster electric or battery-electric trains working the Uckfield branch will attract more passengers.

Various solutions must be possible after an increase in capacity at East Croydon station.

  • As someone, who lives at the Northern end of the East London Line, we only have a connection to West Croydon station, rather than the much more useful East Croydon station. Will this change, after a remodelled East Croydon station?
  • In Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station, I wrote about possible improvements at Norwood Junction station. This upgrade would surely allow better connection between Southern, Overground and Thameslink, with the latter two lines giving access to the Elizabeth Line.
  • I also think that there could be more scope for trains to and from the South to stop at New Cross Gate station for interchange with the Overground.

It should also be noted that the Uckfield branch could become a twelve-car electrified branch.

Thameslink To Uckfield?

There has been talk of increasing the frequency of Thameslink through London from its current 20 tph. As Thameslink, already runs to Oxted and East Grinstead in the Peak, perhaps Thameslink could take over the Uckfield Branch?

  • This would give direct access to the Elizabeth Line at Farringdon station.
  • Services would still serve East Croydon and London Bridge.
  • There would also be direct access to Eurostar services at St. Pancras.

Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo would all be easy journeys, with no more than a single step-free change.

The service could even use the existing trains, if Hurst Green to Uckfield were to be upgraded with 25 KVAC overhead electrification. I would use lightweight catenary like this.

Trains would change over in Hurst Green station.

An East Grinstead And Oxted Shuttle

Could East Grinstead services be improved by adding a shuttle between East Grinstead and Oxted?

  • It would use the bay platform at Oxted station.
  • The timings would be arranged so there was an easy interchange.
  • East Grinstead and Oxted is electrified.
  • Oxted station is a step-free station.
  • The current service takes seventeen minutes between East Grinstead and Oxted, so an hourly service would be possible, which would mean both Uckfield and East Grinstead branches had a two tph service.

Such a service could certainly have possibilities.

How Does This Help The Bluebell Railway?

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the proposed extension.

Note.

  1. Horsted Keynes station is in the North-East corner of the map.
  2. The Bluebell Railway runs North-South through this station.
  3. Haywards Heath station  is in the South-West corner of the map.
  4. The Brighton Main Line runs North-South through this station.
  5. Copyhold junction, which is to the North of Haywards Heath station, is where a short branch line serves Hanson Aggregates.

The proposed extension will run between the Hanson Aggregates site and Horsted Keynes station.

In my view, the obvious service would be to run between Haywards Heath and Oxted.

  • Haywards Heath station has been designed to turn trains.
  • Oxted station has a bay platform.
  • The route is electrified between Oxted and East Grinstead.
  • Copyhold Junction and Haywards Heath is electrified.
  • Only about thirteen miles of the route are not electrified.
  • The route services Lingfield racecourse and of course the Bluebell Railway.

Passenger numbers are incredibly hard to predict, but I believe that an hourly service could be very useful to some.

What Trains Could Be Used Between Oxted And Haywards Heath?

I wrote The Future Of The Class 387 And Class 379 Trains in February 2022 and in that post, I mused about the future of two fleets of excellent Electrostars.

  • In total, there are thirty Class 387 trains and a hundred and seven Class 387 trains.
  • Some of these trains are just sitting in sidings, which isn’t very productive for their owners.
  • One of the owners of some of the Class 387 trains, is Porterbrook, who are not afraid to innovate.

In the July 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an interview with Southeastern Managing Director; Steve White, under a title of Southeastern Under The State.

This is said on page 75.

More positive is the outlook for restoration of passenger services on the Hoo branch, where 12,000 new houses are proposed and Medway Council is looking to build a new station halfway down the branch to serve them. As the branch is unelectrified, one idea that has been looked at is a shuttle with a Vivarail battery train or similar, turning round at Gravesend or another station on the main line.

Steve White worries that this could mean spending a lot of money on infrastructure work and ending up with what would be a sub-optimal solution. ‘Do people really want to sit on a train for 10 minutes before having to get out and change onto another train? I don’t think so. Ideally what you want is through trains to London, by extending the Gravesend terminators to Hoo.’

That would require a battery/third rail hybrid unit, but Mr. White thinks that is far from an outlandish proposal; with Networker replacement on the horizon, a small bi-mode sub-fleet could dovetail neatly with a stock renewal programme. Medway Council and rail industry representatives are working on coming up with a solution for Hoo that could do what it does best; facilitating economic regeneration in a local area.

One solution for the battery/third rail hybrid unit to Hoo, would be a battery/electric four-car Class 387 or Class 379 train, which could run in formations of four, eight or twelve cars.

These trains would also be ideal for the Marshlink Line and would surely be able to handle the thirteen miles without electrification on the route between Oxted and Haywards Heath.

The sooner, someone makes a decision about some four-car battery-electric trains, the sooner we can see if they are a useful solution.

July 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments