The Anonymous Widower

‘Walkway’ Rail Station Plan For Magor As M4 Relief Road Scrapped

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

A village heavily affected by the decision to scrap the planned M4 relief road is bidding for help to build a £7m railway station there.

Residents of Magor in Monmouthshire have the mainline rail service to London running through the village, but no station.

They want to create a “walkway” station – one with no car parking that travellers will walk or cycle to.

The original Magor station was shut in the Beeching cuts.

This Google Map shows the location of the villages of Magor and Undy.

Note.

  1. Newport is to the West.
  2. Magor is at the Western end of the map, with to its South-East.
  3. The M4 and M50motorways joining  to the North of the villages.
  4. Severn Tunnel Junxction and Caldicot stations indicate the South Wales Main Line.

I have also flown my helicopter from Severn Tunnel Junction station and Magor village and it is a quadruple track railway with lots of space on either side.

I certainly think, that a station could be built and a stopping train with a frequency of four trains per hour (tph), could probably be incorporated into the timetable.

  • But would a station without car parking be viable?
  • Perhaps the area needs a few electric shuttle buses?

But the station if it is built needs to be linked in with the South Wales Metro.

In an ideal world, there probably needs to be a Turn-Up-And-Go four tph stopping train from Caldicot all the way to Fishguard and Swansea.

 

June 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Left In A Siding: The Rail Link That Could Make Heathrow Greener

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

The article makes a powerful case forvthe building of the Heathrow Southern Railway.

It is a must read.

I can never understand, why the government hasn’t backed this scheme.

  • It creates a four trains per hour service between Heathrow and Waterloo via Staines and Clapham Junction
  • It creates an extension of Heathrow Express to Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking.
  • The extended Hethrow Express creates a much needed commuter route into Paddington.
  • Few properties would be affected by the new railway.

But above all, it will be built with private money.

 

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Struggling With GMail

Many years ago before GMail existed, I started using Chrome and opened a Google account, so that I could run Google Alerts on subjects in which I’m interested.

I’ve had my e-mail for getting on for thirty years and I can’t see any reason to change it.

On my mobile phone, I have created a new Google and GMail  account, so that, when I travel I have access to e-mail, as well aw text.

Everything works fine on the phone, but how do I log in to my GMail on my laptop.

I’m always asked to create a new GMail address, when I try. But I already have one.

How do I sort this mess out?

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Computing | , , | 2 Comments

A Tale Of Two Trains

This morning, I rode between Essex Toad and Moorgate stations in a very graffitied Class 313 trains. Apparently, there are only a few of the new Class 717 trains in service.

It also appears that there are only two new Class 710 trains running on the Gospel Oak To Barking Line.

Surely, now software and signalling issues have been sorted on these trains, a few more should have entered service.

Or is it problems of mileage accumulation or a lack of trained drivers?

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

My Latest Thoughts On The Boeing 737 MAX

I had this message read out on BBC’s Wake Up To Money this morning.

I have been involved in the programming of several first-of-their-kind computer systems dating back to 1969. They are always late ad usually need a couple of goes to get it right! Boeing didn’t do enough testing.

Although, I’ve been mainly involved in programming user systems and I’ve never controlled anything  by a computer program, I have worked with a lot of people who have. One team, I worked alongside, programmed the world’s first computer to fully control a large chemical plant.

But even, when I was writing something as big and complicated as Artemis, you had to take into account, that not everybody using the system, thought the way you did.

Those that fly aircraft differ in one area, that has nothing to do with sex, racial type or religion. Their experience of flying aircraft varies from a couple of thousand hours upwards.

It is no surprise to me, that some of the great aircraft stories of safe landings in difficult circumstances have been done by very experiences pilots, often with years of flying less reliable military aircraft.

They have used their experience to get themselves and their passengers out of trouble

It should be noted that the pilots of both the Indonesian and the Ethiopian planes, had several thousands hours of experience.

  • On the whole, human beings are generally risk averse and pilots are no different to the rest of us.
  • We also don’t like surprises.

How many times have you installed a new copy of a popular software system to find that it is radically different and it takes you several weeks to get used to it?

When I was writing Artemis, I made sure, that, I didn’t create any surprises for customers all over the world. The software was also tested to destruction.

Getting a calculation wrong in Artemis, would be unlikely to have had fatal consequences.

Conclusion

Have Boeing with their MCAS computer software fix to cure the inadequacies of an obsolete air frame, made two big mistakes?

  • They have created an airliner, that goes against pilot experience?
  • They didn’t do enough testing.

I will not fly in any 737 until the day I die!

June 17, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Speculation Increases Over Use Of HSTs

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

This is the second paragraph.

GWR and ScotRail are both introducing modified four and five-coach HSTs on various duties, with GWR’s operating regional services and ScotRail’s Inter7City sets to be used on its core inter-city routes.

I’ve yet to take a ride in either of the GWR oe Scotrail version of the trains and I shall be looking forward to riding both, later in the year.

I’ve only seem one close-up once at Dundee.

But they seem to be very slow in coming in to service.

Abellio Scotrail’s Proposed Fleet

Abellio Scotrail seem to have 54 Class 43 locomotives and 121 Mark 3 coaches, which according to Wikipedia, will be formed into 26 sets: 17 five-car and 9 four-car trains.

Routes include connecting Scotland’s seven cities.

GWR’s Proposed Fleet

Great Western Railway seem to have retained 24 Class 43 locomotives and 48 Mark 3 coaches, which will be formed into 11 four-car trains.

Routes include between Cardiff and Penzance.

Will These Short HSTs Be Successful?

A number of factors will come into play.

  • The trains are liked by passengers and drivers.
  • They are an ideal size for a lot of routes.
  • They have an excellent ride.
  • They have a lot of capacity for oversized baggage, like bicycles, surf boards, sporting equipment and even some urgent or perishable freight.

Only time will tell, but it is my view, they have a good chance of being a success.

Do Short HSTs Have Any Problems?

The two big problems are their age and that they are diesel-powered I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the new franchises in the next few years, deciding to go all electric, with only a small number of diesel or hybrid trains.

Would Short HSTs be able to get an exception on heritage grounds?

The technology now is at a level, that by 2030, the UK railways could be diesel-free, with all trains electric, battery or zero-carbon hybrid.

Are There Any Other Routes Where Short HSTs Could Be Used?

I will break them down by franchis, in this incomplete list.

East Midlands Railway – Norwich And Derby

This new route for East Midlands Railway will be created by splitting the current service between Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

  • The route is 152 miles long.
  • I estimate that current trains will take three hours.
  • The service needs four-car trains at certain times.

Would it be possible for Short HSTs to do a Norwich and Derby round trip in six hours?

GWR – Cardiff And Portsmouth

If the Castles can work Cardiff and Penzance, could they work Cardiff and Portsmouth?

Scotrail – Far North Line

What has surprised me is that Abellio Scotrail are not going to use their Inter7City trains between Inverness and Wick stations on the Far North Line.

  • The distance is 174 miles
  • The current trip takes four and a quarter hours
  • The round trip is nine hours.

So could a short HST do the round trip in eight hours?

A single train could then run to the following schedule.

  • Leave Inverness at 0600.
  • Return from Wick at 1000.
  • Leave Inverness at 1400
  • Return from Wick at 1800

The train would arrive back in Inverness at 2200.

In Is This The Most Unusual Idea For A New Railway Service in The UK?, I wrote about a proposal to introduce Class 230 trains between Wick and Thurso at the far north of Scotland.

This Far North Metro, would sit well with a two train per day service to Inverness.

  • Mark 3 carriages have large windows for sightseeing.
  • A buffet and small bar could be provided.
  • The trains have space for parcels, urgent and perishable freight.
  • The service could link with the ferries to the Orkneys.

A subsidiary objective would be to bring some prosperity to a remote region.

Scotrail – Kyle Of Lochalsh Line

If Short HSTs can work their magic on the Far North Line, I just wonder if they could provide services on the Kyle Of Lochalsh Line.

  • The distance is 83 miles
  • The current trip takes two hours and forty minutes.

So could a short HST do the round trip in six hours?

As with the Far North Line, there would be a much improved service for both those that live along the line and the many visitors.

Transport for Wales – Cardiff And Holyhead

Transport for Wales run a two-hourly service between Cardiff and Holyhead stations. The rolling stock for some services will be a rake of four Mark 4 carriages, a Class 67 locomotive and a driving van trailer.

Isn’t this in effect a train with a similar purpose to a Short HST?

Obviously, Transport for Wales have got good reasons for not running Short HSTs on this route, but the choice of rolling stock does show similar thinking that led to the creation of the Short HST.

Transport for Wales – Heart Of Wales Line

The Heart Of Wales Line runs between Llanelli in West Wales and Craven Arms in England.

  • It is around 150 miles long.
  • Trains take a few minutes over four hours between Swansea and Shrewsbury stations.

It is one of those rail lines, that could be a serious tourism asset.

Would Short HSTs add to the experience?

Transport for Wales -North Wales Main Line

The North Wales Main Line is another line, where iconic Short HSTs might attract passengers.

Conclusion On Routes

There are certainly several places where Short HSTs could be gainfully employed.

Could Any Other Trains Be Used?

The specification could be something like this.

  • Four or five carriages.
  • Diesel, diesel bi-mode or hydrogen bi-mode.
  • Quality interior
  • 100, 110 or 125 mph top-speed.

Trains could be either new build or a rebuilt and/or refurbished older train.

Class 802 Train

Hitachi’s Class 802 train is in service.

  • It meets the specification.
  • It can seat somewhere between 326-342 passengers.
  • It can use electrification if it exists.

It would do a good job.

Class 755 Train

Stadler’s Class 755 train will soon be in service.

  • It meets the specification.
  • It is only a 100 mph train, but I suspect it can be uprated to 125 mph, as the electric version can handle this speed.
  • A four-car train  can seat 227 passengers.
  • It can use electrification if it exists.

It should do a good job.

Could HSTs Have Any Parcel Or Freight Applications?

This is always being suggested, but anything concerning freight or parcels must have the following characteristics.

  • They must be reliable.
  • They must be able to stick to a timetable.
  • They must have a hard-wearing interior, as they will have a hard life.
  • The small single doors would need to be replaced.
  • They must be able to accept standard freight pallets.
  • They must be quick and easy to load.

My biggest worry would be over the last two points. Would the trains just need three much modification to make them suitable for freight and parcels.

Could HSTs Have Heritage Applications?

Already a rake of Mark 3 coaches is going to be used with the  60163 steam locomotive.

But could HSTs in their own right find use in the heritage sector?

I think, that there could be space in the market for a few HSTs, which may have the sort of appeal to the younger generation, that steam trains had to my generation.

After all, I’ve had some of the best meals in my life in an HST.

Conclusion

They may be applications, but each will only use small numbers of trains.

So I’m afraid that some of these trains will go to scrap.

But then no-one can say, that they haven’t done well!

 

 

 

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Mini-Trains To Reverse Beeching’s Cuts

The title of this post is the same as an article in Saturday’s copy of The Times.

This is a paragraph.

The government is funding trials of an “ultra-light”, environmentally friendly train powered by gas from organic waste in place of a conventional diesel engine.

Members of the consortium developing the concept include Birmingham City University and Parry People Movers.

I wrote about the Parry People Mover in Stourbridge And The Parry People Mover.

It did the shuttling of people between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town stations in a professional manner and it can’t have done much wrong, as it still is.

The technology that drives the train is based on a flywheel and is innovative to say the least. This section in the Wikipedia entry for Parry People Movers is called Technology.

This is the first two paragraphs of the section.

PPMs utilise a rotating flywheel as a store of kinetic energy which is then used to power the vehicle. A typical PPM flywheel is made from steel laminates, approximately 1 m (39 in) in diameter and 500 kg (1,100 lb) in mass, designed to rotate at a maximum speed of 2,500 rpm.[8] The flywheel is mounted horizontally at the centre of the unit, beneath the seating area. The flywheel is driven by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor. The flywheel is connected to the rail wheels via a hydrostatic variable transmission system.

The flywheel allows the direct capture of brake energy (when slowing down or descending gradients) and its re-use for acceleration (called regenerative braking). When the vehicle brakes, the hydrostatic transmission feeds the energy back into the flywheel. Since the short-term power demand for acceleration is provided by the energy stored in the flywheel, there is no need for a large engine. A variety of small engine types can be used including LPG, diesel or electric traction.

I have done a calculation of the kinetic energy in the flywheel and it is surprisingly low at 0.6 kWh if it is a disc and 1.2 kWh if it is a ring.

A capacitor of the same mass would hold about the same amount of energy, but would probably need a more complicated transmission.

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Heathrow Plans Runway Over M25 In 30-Year Expansion

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Saturday’s copy of The Times.

This picture, which I downloaded from this page on the Heathrow web site, shows the proposed expansion.

For comparison this Google Map shows the Airport recently.

These are some of my thoughts.

The Position Of The Third Runway

As can be seen, the new third runway is to the North-West of the North Runway.

  • It will extend all the way to the M25.
  • The M25 will be lowered and the new runway and two parallel taxiways will cross the road on a series of bridges.

This enlargement from the first image shows the crossing of the M25 and two other roads.

Note.

  1. The runway is on the left, which increases the spacing with the North Runway
  2. How openings between the runway and the taxiways will allow natural light onto the motorway.
  3. In the picture you can see five angled taxiways joining the runway from the two taxiways. Does this design mean that aircraft spend a minimum of time queuing for take-off? Similar but not so extreme layouts can also be seen on the two existing runways.

What intrigues me, is what looks to be a hole in front of the ends of the taxiways.

Could it be rail or road access to the airport?

This map from Network Rail shows the route of the proposed Western Rail Approach To Heathrow.

It looks like the dark holes could be the railway, between Langley and Terminal 5.

This section of the rail link is supposed to be in tunnel, but I wonder if costs could be saved if it is in a buttressed cutting, designed in cooperation between Heathrow and Network Rail.

Obviously, it will need to be in tunnel to cross under the M25.

I think that rather cleverly, the runway has been slotted in with the best use of the limited land available.

A Phased Construction Program

The Times says this about the construction program.

Only the runway would be built by the opening date of early 2026.

Other facilities such as new terminals, car parks, hotels and transit systems would open from 2030, with an expansion of Terminal 5 the priority

This means that the extra runway capacity can be used initially to better accommodate the same number of flights.

If Heathrow get it right passengers. should see the following.

  • They would suffer less from construction.
  • Fewer taxi delays on the ground.
  • Less long fuel-burning taxiing between gate and runway.
  • More flights leaving on time.

It might also enable air traffic controllers to allocate aircraft noise in a fairer manner.

Car Psrking

Two huge new car parks are to be built North and South of the Airport, which in conjunction with new hotels would be connected to the terminals by an underground transit system.

This article on International Airport Review is entitled Heathrow To Launch First Airport Ultra Low Emission Zone.

So doesn’t the building of large car parks contradict this policy.

It would unless, the car parks are designed for the future.

  • Electric cars only.
  • Intelligent chargers for every parking space.
  • Whilst the cars are parked and connected, they would be a massive energy storage battery for the National Grid.

When you arrived back to your car after a week in Greece, there would be enough power in the battery for your next journey.

By 2030, there will be a substantial need for parking for electric cars at railway stations and airports. Parking solutions like this will help reduce the carbon footprint of airports.

Conclusion

2030 is ten years away and Heathrow will have to work hard to build an airport fit for those times.

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Are Replacement Buses Being Used To Syon Lane Station On July 20-21?

If you look at the on-line rail time timetable from Waterloo to Syon Lane station for Saturday, the 20th and Sunday, the 21st of July, there are no trains and a bus replacement service operates.

I have checked as far as I can in the future and there are no other weekend closures on the route.

In Nothing Seems To Be Happening At Syon Lane Station, I speculated that either the project to erect a step-free bridge at the station, was to be delayed or something very different will be happening.

The two day weekend closure leads me to think that Network Rail are going to install a bridge in two days.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

I believe that if the components were brought in by train, that this sort of bridge could be erected in two days.

This is real engineering, which is not normally seen except in war or times of great emergency like earthquake, fire or floods.

Conclusion

My speculation must be all wrong!

What sane company would attempt to build a footbridge in two days, without the assistance of Anneka Rice or that guy from DIY SOS?

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Will Sadiq Khan Be A One-Term Mayor?

This article on the BBC is entitled Donald Trump Hits Out Again At Sadiq Khan Over London Violence.

I don’t like Trump or many of his policies one bit and if in the unlikely chance, I was invited to meet him, I would decline.

But I’ve met many people, who think we need someone like Trump to stand-up for the man on the Clapham Omnibus.

I have two personal criticisms of Sadiq.

The Unaffordable Fare Freeze

The fare freeze he proposed, that must have impressed a large number of voters, has not been something that London can afford.

Now important projects like the rebuilding of Camden Town and Holborn station have been delayed.

He’s A South London Mayor

To my mind, Sadiq seems to favour his home territory over the North.

  • In the North, we seem to have suffered more from cuts in bus frequencies.
  • He was very slow to act on the problems with the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.
  • Knife crime and violence seems to be worse in the North, so is it Mayoral neglect?

It is probably understandable, as his mates in the South have more chances to bend his ears and you don’t annoy your friends.

I wonder if Ken favoured the North!

I do think though that various effects are working against his reelection.

The ULEZ Effect

The London ULEZ currently only applies to the Congestion one, but from 2021, it will apply to all areas inside the North and South Circular Roads.

How many voters, who will be affected by the ULEZ extension, will vote for Sadiq?

The Brexit Effect

Sadiq has nailed his colours to Remain and is regularly interviewed about Brexit.

Most right-of-centre Brexiteers wouldn’t probably vote for him, but some traditional Labour boroughs voted to Leave, so could his support for Remain cost votes.

On the other hand, if Brexit has happened and going badly, will Sadiq gain votes?

The Next Prime Minister Effect

If Boris becomes Prime Minister, this would be an imponderable. It might help or hinder Sadiq’s reelection.

The Crossrail Effect

The late delivery of Crossrail, is not Sadiq’s fault, but it will have four effects.

  • The late delivery will ffect London’s transport budget and give the Mayor less money for projects.
  • Some people will view his oversight of the project as incompetent.
  • He won’t be able to bathe in the glow of a successful Crossrail.
  • It is a ready-made millstone to hang around his neck.

There will also be many Londoners, for whom, the late delivery of Crossrail caused a financial loss and they will vote accordingly.

The Trump Effect

I would expect, Trump to keep up his criticism of Sadiq.

Who’s to say, whether it will affect Sadiq’s vote, but there are quite a few people, who would support Trump.

Conclusion

There are a lot of questions to answer, but I feel given the state of British politics, that we could be in for a surprise.

Could we see a Brexit, Green or Lib Dem Mayor?

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments