The Anonymous Widower

Should The Blackpool South Branch Be Electrified?

I can find nothing on the Internet, which states whether the branch line between Kirkham and Wesham and Blackpool South stations will or won’t be electrified.

However, I did get create this Google Map of Kirkham West Junction, where the lines to the two Blackpool stations divide.

Note.

  1. Kirkham and Wesham station is to the East.
  2. Blackpool North station is to the North-West.
  3. Blackpool South station is to the South-West.

This image was captured during the recent construction phase on the Blackpool Branch Lines.

As my train to Blackpool North on Monday afternoon passed the junction I took these pictures.

It looks to me, that the contractors are doing the following.

  • Improving the junction.
  • Laying some new track at the start of the branch line.
  • I also think, that the junction is being electrified.

The electrification could be for the following reasons.

  • It is the start of electrification of the branch.
  • Network Rail are providing an electrified turn-back facility at Krkham and Wesham station.
  • It could also be sensible future-proofing to make sure the branch can be electrified easily in the future.

If the branch is going to be worked by Class 769 trains or other bi-mode or battery powered trains, then I believe the work becomes clearer.

  • Trains from Blackpool South would have an electrified place, where they can change to electrical power and wait until the main lines are clear before crossing over to the Preston-bound track.
  • Trains to Blackpool South would be able to wait in Kirkham and Wesham station, until the line to Blackpool South was clear.
  • Trains to Blackpool South  could of course start their journey, as soon as the train from Blackpool South is waiting to cross over, using the new track, that is visible in my pictures.

The works will also create a very safe junction at Kirkham West.

The Blackpool South Branch 

The branch line has the following characteristics.

But there are other issues that should be considered.

Football At Bloomfield Road

If you are going to football at Bloomfield Road, as I have several times, Blackpool South is the closest station.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach has its own station, but there are reports on the Internet, that the walk between the station and the theme park needs to be improved.

An Increase In Capacty And Frequency

I once travelled between Colne and Blackpool South stations on a beautiful sunny day in early September.

  • Northern had laid on a pair of Pacers, working as a four-car train.
  • They were packed with families going for a day on the coast.

The conductor told me this often happens, when the weather is good.

When I passed through Preston station earlier in the week, I might have seen a notice, saying that the service between Colne and Blackpool South will run all week.

Passing Loops

There is no passing loop on the branch, so it makes it very difficult to run a more passenger-friendly two tph.

Until, the works at Kirkham West Junction are complete we probably won’t know if the junction is being designed, so that a train entering the branch could wait safely for a train to emerge from the branch.

But this would be more for reliable operations, than increasing frequency of trains.

The Open Championship At Royal Lytham And St. Annes

Ansdell and Fairhaven station is nearest to the course at Royal Lytham.

  • The Open Championship is a very important event on the golfing calendar.
  • Other important golfing events are also held on the course
  • Royal Lytham and St.Annes, last held the Open in 2012 and 2001. So it might come back to Royal Lytham in the mid-2020s.

Ansdell and Fairhaven station used to have two platforms, as described in Wikipedia.

The station was set out as an island platform with tracks on both faces until the singling of the line in the 1980s. Trains now only use the southern face. A disabled access ramp now covers the northern part of the station.

So could a rebuild of the station do the following?

  • Restore two platforms on an island at the station.
  • Put in full disabled access.
  • Create a passing loop.
  • Lomger platforms might be a good idea.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The disabled ramp winding away.
  2. The platform is probably about a hundred metres long.
  3. It would appear that there is space at the far end to extend the platform.

I suspect that an ambitious architect with vision, could design a station that met all objectives.

Rebuildng Of The Railway Between Skipton And Colne

The link between Skipton and Colne stations is promoted by SELRAP and has now been backed by the Government and large businesses like Drax, who say it would improve efficiency of biomass deliveries.

This map from Wikipedia shows the route.

Note that if the missing link is built, it does the following

  • Creates another much-needed route across the Pennines
  • Creates a second route between Leeds and Blackpool
  • Encourages visitors to the area.
  • Creates an easy link between Lancashire and the Settle and Carlisle Line.
  • Creates an alternative and faster freight route across the Pennines.

It could even become an iconic route famed for the scenery.

I feel that if this missing link were to be reinstated, it would be very well-used by passengers.

This increase in passengers would surely increase traffic between Colne and Blackpool South stations, means more pressure for two tph.

How Fast Could A Train Go Between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South Stations?

Currently, the Class 142 trains take around 27-29 minutes to do the journey six intermediate stops.

Trains like a Class 769 train have improved performance.

  • They are being converted from Class 319 trains, that were built for high frequency commuter services.
  • The trains have two double-doors on each side of each of the four carriages.
  • Seat layout diagrams show the possibility of wide aisles and a lot of 2+2 seating.
  • They are faster, as the Class 142 trains have an operating speed of 75 mph and this article on Rail Magazine, says that the Class 769 trains can do 91-92 mph on diesel.
  • They have better acceleration and braking.
  • They can probably carry out stops much faster.

Newer trains built in the last couple of years will be even better.

Other factors will also speed up the service.

  • Level access between train and platform at all stations.
  • Relaying the track to allow higher operational speeds.
  • Modern signalling.
  • High-quality train driving and operation.

I am sure that the the time for a train to go from Kirkham and Wesham to Blackpool South and back will be substantially reduced.

But is it possible to do the trip in under thirty minutes, so that two tph will be possible?

Could Two Tph Be Run Between Preston and Blackpool South Without Electrification?

I believe that the Class 769 trains could be fast enough to run a two tph service on the Blackpool South branch, when passenger numbers say it is needed and track and station improvements have been completed.

An express shuttle could be provided for big events at Royal Lytham.

  • It would run between Preston and Blackpool South stations.
  • It would stop at Kirkham and Wesham and Ansdell and Fairhaven
  • The platforms at Ansdell and Fairhaven  and Blackpool South stations were to be lengthened to accept two Class 769 trains working as an eight-car train.

Network Rail would only need to lengthen two platforms and increase the operating speed of the line.

Effectively, by replacing a 1980s scrapyard special with a refurbished train of the same vintage and improving the track, the capacity of the Blackpool South Branch can be increased.

If some platforms were to be lengthened, it should be possible to run eight-car trains for events like the Open Championship at Royal Lytham.

Who needs electrification?

The Blackpool South Branch certainly doesn’t!

 

 

 

 

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April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Tendering Begins For German Hydrogen Train Order

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the International Railway Journal.

This is the first paragraph.

 Rhine-Main Vehicle Management (Fahma), a subsidiary of Rhine-Main Transport Authority (RMV), published a tender notice in the Official Journal of the European Union on April 20 for a contract to supply a fleet of hydrogen fuel cell multiple units for regional services on non-electrified lines in the Taunus area of Hessen.

But then the Germans seem to be much easier to use gases of various types to solve problems, than other countries.

I’ve spoken about hydrogen trains to people in Germany and the UK and the Germans are more enthusiastic, whereas the Brits just question hydrogen’s ability to catch fire.

Perhaps, Gemans teach chemistry better?

Who knows? But the orders for hydrogen trains keep coming.

 

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Barratt To Pay For Fire Safety Cladding Upgrade On Croydon Block

The title of this post is the same of that on this article on ITV.com.

This is the first couple of paragrphs.

Developers of a high-rise block that failed fire safety tests will pay for safety measures estimated to run into the millions of pounds, including replacing its Grenfell-style cladding, the Government has said.

Barratt Developments has said it will pay for backdated and future fire safety costs to make the Citiscape housing complex in Croydon, south London, safe, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said.

The ITV article has a video report.

I feel that they are in a difficult place, as their architects probably thought the cladding was safe to use. So I don’t think there has been too much malfeasance on the part of Barratt.

But to hold up their hand and say we’ll fix it, probably means everyone will be a winner.

  • Barratt get to fix the block for the cost of two or three of their more expensive houses.
  • If Barratt get an agreement on the deal, they should avoid complex and expensive legal wrangles.
  • Replacing the cladding now, will probably be a lot easier on a new building, that was probably built to a high standard in the last couple of years.
  • The Government should be pleased as there appears that the hand of Sajid Javid has applied some pressure.
  • Croydon Council should be pleased, as it is unlikely many owners will need to be moved to emeergency accommodation.
  • Hopefully, the owners will be pleased, as it appears they should get the value of their properties back.

The ITV article quotes a Barratt’s spokesman as saying.

Following the recent ruling that the costs for necessary recladding at Citiscape will fall on the individual apartment owners, many of whom were originally Barratt customers when it was built in 2002, we have decided that we will pay for the work. “Citiscape was built in line with all building regulations in place at the time of construction. While we don’t own the building or have any liability for the cladding, we are committed to putting our customers first. “The important thing now is ensuring that owners and residents have peace of mind.

I suppose Barratt could be accused of spinning a good line, but it is all good publicity for the houses they are building.

Whether other developers, who used the same cladding, as that involved in the tragedy of Grenfell, will follow Barratt’s example is another manner!

 

 

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

OVO Energy Drops 4 Product Bombshells, Including New Vehicle-to-Grid Charger

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Clean Technica.

This is the first paragraph.

n London yesterday, OVO Energy took to the stage and dropped not one new product but four product bombshells that are aimed at creating a new energy ecosystem that is accessible to residential energy consumers.

The products are.

  • A Vehicle-to-Grid Charger for the Masses
  • 7kW Smart Charger
  • One Ring To Rule Them All
  • Residential Energy Stoage

The article discusses them in detail.

If I still drove, I’d be very interested in the vehicle-to-grid charger, as I’d fit one in my garage.

The amount of car use, I would have would probably be fairly minimal, so most of the time the car would be sitting in the garage, acting as a storage battery for the National Grid.

Suppose ten million homes in the UK, had a vehicle-to-grid charger and an electric car with a 30 kWh battery. that would be 300 MWh of energy storage, which would be ideal for storing wind energy generated at night.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Nineteen Tri-Mode Flex Class 769s For GWR

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

This brings the number of  Class 319 trains to be converted to Class 769 trains, to thirty five.

  • These will be tri-mode trains and able to operate on 25 KVAC  overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification and diesel power.
  • The Rail Magazine article, says they will support the introduction of refurbished Class 387 trains on Heathrow Express and on services from reading to Gatwick and Oxford.
  • The trains would release diesel Class 165/166 trains to improve services in the Bristol area.

Although, there appears to have been so sighting of a Class 769 train on the UK network, the trains must have shown up well in testing, as no-one would order nineteen trains, that didn’t meet the specification.

According to the Future section in the Wikipedia entry  for the Class 319 trains, there are forty-five of the trains sitting in sidings off lease.

So there won’t be a shortage of trains to modify.

I do find this story rather heartwarming.

When the Advanced Passenger Train project fell well behind schedule, Terry Miller and his team at Derby, came up with a proposal for a High Speed Diesel Train, which when launched in 1975 was known as the InterCity 125.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

The design of the Mark 3 carriages was used by British Rail to build large numbers of electric and diesel multiple units, of which the Class 319 train was just one of seventeen classes of train based on the Mark 3.

The legacy of Terry Miller and his team echos down the years.

The Class 769 train is one of several of those echos.

April 20, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Report: Gravity-Based Energy Storage Could Prove Cheaper Than Batteries

The title of this post, is the same as this article on Business Green.

This is said.

Storing energy by suspending weights in disused mine shafts could be cheaper than batteries for balancing the grid, new research has found.

According to a report by analysts at Imperial College London and seen by BusinessGreen, gravity-fed energy storage systems can provide frequency response at a cost cheaper than most other storage solutions.

 

This was the conclusions of the Imperial College report.

According to the paper, gravity-fed storage providing frequency response costs $141 per kW, compared to $154 for a lithium-ion battery, $187 for lead acid batteries and $312 for flywheel.

Despite its high upfront cost, the paper argued that unlike battery-based storage systems, gravity-fed solutions have a long lifespan of more than 50 years and aren’t subject to degradation. This means they could cycle several times a day – allowing them to ‘stack revenues’ from different sources.

I always puzzle why this idea hasn’t been seriously tried before.

April 19, 2018 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Work Starts On £225m Luton Airport Automated People-Mover

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

This is said about the contractors.

A VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier joint venture is the project’s civil works contractor and Doppelmayr Cable Car UK is supplying the APM system.

Note that Doppelmayr Cable Car  built the Emirates Air-Line and the AirRail Link at Birmingham Airport.

This video shows the proposed system at Luton Airport.

It appears to be very similar to the Birmingham system.

This Google Map shows the position of the terminal at Luton Airport Parkway station.

The terminal is in Bartlett Square, which is indicated by the red arrow in the top right corner.

My initial thought, is that it could be a long walk for some.

April 18, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Passenger Crowding On Platform 14 At Manchester Piccadilly Station

After changing trains at Salford  Crescent station, I arrived  on Platform 13 at Manchester Piccadilly station.

Everybody says the two island platforms need more capacity and another two platforms.

This picture shows a train in Platform 14.

Note all the passengers alongside the train at the bottom of the stairs. Many of whom are waiting for later trains.

There are also few passengers waiting on the platform.

Consider.

I am writing this at eight in the morning and there are seventeen trains in total calling at Platforms 13 and 14, in the next hour.

  • As one train starts from Platform 13, that is just nine trains per hour (tph) on each platform.
  • The two platform station at Canada Water on the  London Overground handles sixteen tph and in 2016-17, around 25 million passengers used the station.
  • By comparison Manchester Piccadilly station handles around twenty-seven million passengers on fourteen platforms.

Because of the numbers of trains and passengers involved, I believe strongly that a rebuild of Platforms 13 and 14 could raise the numbers to those currentl achieved at Canada Water.

So what are the differences between Platform 13 and 14 ar Manchester Piccadilly and Canada Water?

  • Both were originally built in the Victorian era.
  • Both have been improved since 2000.
  • The Manchester Platforms have a lift, two staircases and an up escalator, whereas each platform at Canada Water has a lift, and at least one of both a staircase and an  escalator.
  • Access at the Manchester Platform is all at one end, whereas access at Canada Water is to the centre of the platforms, where there is a wide lobby set back from the platform.
  • The Manchester Platforms are narrower, than those at Canada Water.
  • Canada Water has the advantages that it is only served by Class 378 trains and there is level access between platform and all trains.
  • Canada Water is a well-designed light and airy below ground station, whereas the Manchester Platforms have all the dtyle and charm of a Victorian toilet block.

So what would I do to Platform 13 and 14 at Manchester Piccadilly?

  • If all trains were at least four carriages, this might encourage people to spread out, instead of hanging about at the bottom of the main stairs.
  • If platforms could be released in the main section of Manchester Piccadilly station, by virtue of the Ordsall , this might help.
  • Increase the width of the platforms.
  • Add more escalators.
  • Put an enlarged waiting room on top of the current platforms, with quality information, so passengers can wait in the warm, with perhaps a cup of coffee.

In addition, the ultimate solution would be to built a long footbridge to connect the Southern end of all platforms.

It would be wide

Each pair of platforms would have lift and escalator  access to the footbridge.

  • It could have a lift to street level at both ends.
  • I believe that this could be built, without disrupting the current traffic through the station.

Hopefully, this will all be sorted, when the HS2 station is built.

If something like it is not built, it will be a very long walk, between the HS2 platforms and Platforms 13 and 14.

 

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

No Wires At Bolton Station – 17th April 2018

These pictures show the state of the electrification at Bolton station.

 

Little seems to have happened since my last visit on November 17th last year.

Although it does seem that the new Manchester-facing bay platform is complete except for the electrification.

I also saw no electrification between Bolton and Salford Crescent stations.

If I reckoned that the progress of the electrification on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line was slow, this beats it by a country mile!

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

No Wires At Salford Crescent Station – 17th April 2018

These pictures show the state of the electrification at Salford Crescent station.

Note that there were no overhead wires through the station and also on the line to Salford Central and Manchester Victoria station. There still appears to be a lot of work to do.

Under Improvements the Wikipedia entry for the station says this.

In 2007, Network Rail recognised that Salford Crescent could not cope with existing passenger levels, leading to platform overcrowding. It suggested expansion of the station with extra platforms, greater use of it as an interchange and use as a terminus for services from east of Manchester. It also raised the possibility of moving the station.

In 2012, improvement work started at the station, including platform extensions, a new rain canopy and the relocation of the ticket office to street level. The works were completed in October 2013 and officially opened by Mayor of Salford, Ian Stewart.

This Google Map shows the station.

I think, it will be a tight fit for extra platforms, as the station is surrounded on all sides by Salford University.

The solution would probably be to build on top of a new station, that was in a strong concrete box.

Changing Trains At Salford Crescent Station

Today, I arrived at Salford Crescent on a train running between Bolton and Manchester Victoria stations.

As I needed to go to Manchester Piccadilly station, I left on a train running between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport stations.

Consider.

  • In the few minutes, I was on the station, I must have heard staff asked, which train do I get to Piccadilly or Victoria, several times.
  • Surrey Quays station handles three routes at the South end of the Thames Tunnel and currently  handles sixteen trains per hour (tph)
  • With high-quality signalling and a measure of automatic train control, I could expect Salford Crescent station to handle at least 12 tph, in both directions.
  • Is the island platform wide enough?
  • Is loading slowed as a lot of trains calling at the station are just two cars, with four doors?
  • Is loading slowed as many of the trains, aren’t step-free from the platform to the train?
  • Are there always staff on the platform.

I believe that operation of the station could be improved.

Reversing Direction At Salford Crescent Station

The current island layout allows passengers to change direction by walking across the platform.

As an example, if you go between Farnworth and Swinton stations, one of the recommended routes is via Salford Cresent.

An Improved Design For Salford Crescent Station

Perhaps before deciding to rebuild the station, serious work should be done to see if the station throughput in terms of trains and passengers can be improved.

My ideas would include.

A Wider Platform

This picture shows the island platform at Canonbury station.

It could handle a whole company of Grenadier Guards and all their kit, whereas Salford Crescent would struggle with a platoon.

Canonbury’s wide platform also has the following in the centre.

  • A large covered shelter.
  • A large number of seats.
  • A coffee stall

It also allows passengers to stand well-back when a train goes through the station, without stopping.

Note that Canonbury is a station, where the platforms are uncovered. Would this be a wise idea in Manchester, even with a large central shelter?

Lomger Trains

a lot of trains going through Salford Crescent station are just two cars.

Northern‘s new trains will include, the following electric trains and bi-mode trains.

32 – four-car Class 319 trains

12 – four-car Class 331 trains

31 – three-car Class 331 trains, which will replace the Class 323 trains.

11 – four-car Class 769 bi-mode trsins.

If all trains calling at Salford Crescent were four-cars or more, this would probably mean at least eight doors, which would would speed up loading and unloading.

This would reduce dwell times at the station and increase capacity in terms of the number of trains per hour.

Level Access Between Platform And Trains

If the platforms are widened, I susopect with Harrington Humps, that this could be achieved.

This picture shows two Hsrrington Hump is at Canonbury.

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If passengers in wheelchairs, buggy-pushers and those  pulling heavy cases could just walk or push the,selves across.

Again, this would reduce dwell times and increase capacity.

Better Information

Given that I heard passengers asking the same question, I suspect that better informayion, could make the station easier fot  interchang passengers.

Using the displays on Thameslink and at London Bridge station would be a good start.

An Up Escalator

Sal;ford Central station has a long set of stairs and a lift.

Many passengers with movement difficulties would welcome an up escalator.

Conclusion

I believe that a much improved station can be creased , without the expence of adding a new platform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment