The Anonymous Widower

Riding In A Train Designed To Run On Battery Power

Today, I had my first ride in a train, that has been designed to be able to run on battery power.

  • Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains run normally using third-rail electrification.
  • But they are also designed to run on battery power.
  • I took these pictures of the train as it went from Liverpool Central station to Kirkby station and back to Moorfields station, from where I took a train back to Liverpool Lime Street station.

I took these pictures on the route.


  1. Every seat has access to a power and USB socket.
  2. Every head-rest has leather facings.
  3. The end lights change from white for front, to red for back, when the train changes direction.
  4. Door lights are green when it is safe to enter.
  5. There is a lot of attention to detail in the design.

If there is a better suburban train in Europe, I’ve yet to see or ride in it.

Noise And Vibration


  • I have ridden in two trains converted to battery-electric operation and both were very quiet.
  • This train was also very quiet, but it has been designed for battery operation.
  • I suspect that the train is very frugal with electricity.
  • I wonder, if the small battery, that is carried on the train for depot movements, is also used for regenerative braking.
  • It might not be a traditional battery, but a supercapacitor, some of which are made from curved graphene.

This train certainly sets new standards in noise and vibration.

February 7, 2023 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

World’s First Offshore Wind Farm Using 16 MW Turbines Enters Construction In China

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

This is the sub-heading.

China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) has started construction of the second phase of its offshore wind farm Zhangpu Liuao. The project will be both China’s and the world’s first wind farm to comprise 16 MW wind turbines.

I hope the Chinese have done all their calculations, research and testing. The dynamics of large wings are tricky and there are a lot of square law factors involved. I’d always be worried that at a particular wind speed a dangerous vibration will be setup.

How many Chinese engineers have seen videos of Galloping Gertie?

As the video says, no one was injured or killed, when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge fell into the river, but we nearly had a very similar disaster in the UK. I used to work at ICI in Runcorn and at the time, I lived in Liverpool, so every day, I went to work I crossed the Silver Jubilee Bridge twice.

One day, after a party in Cheshire, I even got so drunk, I had to stop the car on the bridge and was sick into the Mersey. It was before C and myself were married and she always claimed she nearly called the marriage off, after the incident.

But have you ever wondered, why that bridge is a through arch bridge rather than a suspension bridge as over the Forth, Hmber and Severn, which were all built around the same time?

Wikipedia has a section, which describes the Planning of the bridge.

The new bridge had to allow the passage of shipping along the Manchester Ship Canal. Many ideas were considered, including a new transporter bridge or a swing bridge. These were considered to be impractical and it was decided that the best solution was a high-level bridge upstream from the railway bridge. This would allow the least obstruction to shipping and would also be at the narrowest crossing point. The first plan for a high-level bridge was a truss bridge with three or five spans, giving an 8 yards (7 m) dual carriageway with a cycle track and footpaths. This was abandoned because it was too expensive, and because one of the piers would be too close to the wall of the ship canal. The next idea was for a suspension bridge with a span of 343 yards (314 m) between the main towers with an 8 yards (7 m) single carriageway and a 2-yard (2 m) footpath. However aerodynamic tests on models of the bridge showed that, while the bridge itself would be stable, the presence of the adjacent railway bridge would cause severe oscillation.

The finally accepted design was for a steel through arch bridge with a 10-yard (9 m) single carriageway. The design of the bridge is similar to that of Sydney Harbour Bridge but differs from it in that the side spans are continuous with the main span rather than being separate from them. This design feature was necessary to avoid the problem of oscillation due to the railway bridge. The main span measures 361 yards (330 m) and each side span is 83 yards (76 m).

But that misses out part of the story that I learned about at ICI.

I developed a very simple piece of electronics for ICI Runcorn’s noise and vibration expert. The equipment allowed the signals from two noise meters to be subtracted. This meant that if they were pointed in different directions, the noise generated by an object or piece of equipment could be determined.

The noise and vibration expert had tremendous respect from his fellow engineers, but his involvement in the design of the Runcorn bridge had elevated him to a legend.

The designers of the suspension bridge, that is detailed in the Wikipedia extract, presented their design to the ICI (Merseyside) Scientific Society.

The noise and vibration expert was at the meeting and questioned the design and said it would collapse due to oscillations caused by the presence of the railway bridge. He advised aerodynamic tests should be done on the bridge.

His back of the fag packet calculations were shown by tests to be correct and the bridge was built as a through arch bridge.

These pictures show the bridge.

They were taken from a train on the railway bridge.


February 6, 2023 Posted by | Design, Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Protected: An Elegant Solution

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February 3, 2023 Posted by | Design, Energy | , , , , , | Enter your password to view comments.

Containerised Coal Overcomes The Break-Of-Gauge

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Railway Gazette.

Innofreight containers are being transferred from broad to standard gauge trains as part of a through journey for the first time.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has forced Poland to seek alternatives to Russian coal, but Polish ports have limited capacity to handle the required volumes.

As a result, coal is being imported via the Lithuanian port of Klaipėda. LTG Cargo’s 1 520 mm gauge trains are loaded with 60 Innofreight MonTainer XXL bulk goods containers of coal for transport to Kaunas or Šeštokai, where the containers are transferred to 15 standard gauge InnoWagons for onward transport to Braniewo in Poland.

It sounds like a simple solution, with advantages.

Innofreight says that this is faster than discharging the coal from one train and reloading it onto another, and also avoids creating dust.

On their home page, Innofreight describe themselves like this.

The focus of our corporate activity is the development of innovative wagons, containers and unloading systems for and in cooperation with our customers.

Certainly after the war in Ukraine is finished, there should be a large market for dual-gauge systems like that being used to get coal to Poland.


January 30, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel, Design | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recovering A Broken Down Battery-Electric Train

I was on a bus recently, where the brakes locked on and we had to all get off and wait to be rescued, by the next service.

To aid recovery on trains, it is usual for a broken-down train to be able to be rescued by another train of the same type.

But how do you rescue a battery electric train?

There will be two main groups of failures.

  • Those where even the world’s most powerful locomotive will be unable to move the train.
  • Those where a train with enough power can move the train to safety.

Let’s assume we have a four-car battery electric train.

  • Trains can run for 40 miles, when starting with a full battery.
  • Trains can run as pairs to provide higher capacity services or recover trains.

It is running on a ten-mile single-track branch line with a terminal station at the remote end.

It would be reasonable to assume, that the train could do two round trips before it needed a recharge.

The battery could also be said to have a capacity 160 car-miles.

Suppose a train broke down for some reason at the remote end, with a fault, that still allows the train to be moved, by towing.

  • A second train can be used to remove the first train.
  • It will use up 40 car-miles of energy to reach the first train.
  • This leaves 120 car-miles of energy in the battery.
  • When the two trains are connected, they are an eight-car train.

120 car-miles of energy in the battery, should be able to move the pair of trains fifteen miles.

I suspect that track layouts for battery-electric trains are designed with care, so that one train has enough battery capacity to rescue another.


January 28, 2023 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | | Leave a comment

A Trip Along The Central Line – 26th January 2023

Today, I took a trip on the Central Line from Leyton station in the East to Ealing Broadway station in the West.

The trip was about eleven this morning and one aim was to assess how busy the line was.

For much of the journey between Leyton and Marble Arch, the train had about half the seats taken, but by the time we got to Ealing Broadway, there were only two of us in my carriage.

After arriving, I had a short chat with the cheery Scots lassie, who had driven us across London.

  • She said, that passenger levels had held up on the Central Line, despite the competition from the Elizabeth Line.
  • But she also said that large numbers of passengers transfer from the Elizabeth Line to the Central Line at Stratford in the Morning Peak.
  • She didn’t say, but there is probably an opposite change in the Evening Peak.

With the exception of a couple of ladies with babies in buggies, most passengers were not travelling with any heavy luggage.


January 26, 2023 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

European Company To Make All Wind Turbine Blades 100 % Recyclable, Plans To Build Six Recycling Factories

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

This sub-heading outlines what the company plans to do.

A Denmark-based company Continuum plans to make all wind turbine blades fully recyclable and stop landfilling and their emissions-intensive processing into cement with six industrial-scale recycling factories across Europe, backed by investment from the Danish venture capital firm Climentum Capital and a grant from the UK’s Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP).

Other points in the article include.

  • Continuum plan six factories.
  • The first factory will open at Esbjerg in Denmark in 2024 and will be able to accept end-of-life blades this year.
  • The second factory will be in the UK and it will be followed by others in France, Germany, Spain, and Turkey.
  • Each factory will have the capacity to recycle a minimum of 36,000 tonnes of end-of-life turbine blades per year.

This paragraph describes, what will happen to the recycled turbine blades.

The company will recycle wind turbine blades into composite panels for the construction industry and the manufacture of day-to-day products such as facades, industrial doors, and kitchen countertops.

Looking at their description of their mechanical separation process, I suspect that they could recycle other products and manufacture lots of others.

January 16, 2023 Posted by | Design, Energy | , , , | 2 Comments

Zero-Carbon Lighting Of Large Spaces

In Cockfosters Train Depot – 12th January 2023, I took a series of pictures of Cockfosters Train Depot, of which these are a selection.

Note, the lamp clusters on top of tall poles to light the area.

You see lots of these lights to illuminate play areas, car parks, rail sidings and truck depots.

Could a SeaTwirl or another vertical wind turbine be placed as high as possible up the pole, that supports the lights?

  • A battery would be needed for when the wind doesn’t blow.
  • A control system would be used to use the lights, when they are needed.
  • The poles would be able to be laid down, like many lights can be, for servicing from the ground.

Cockfosters would be an excellent location for a test, as the wind is always blowing and the site has an altitude of nearly a hundred metres.

January 14, 2023 Posted by | Design, Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

My Solution To Single Use Plastic Cutlery

The Government has announced that single use plastic cutlery will be banned.

I am 75 and like to start my day with a Full English breakfast, that comes in a cardboard pot from a well-known takeaway chain.

I found the solution in the cutlery drawer in my kitchen.

On Monday night, when Radio 5 was discussing single use plastic cutlery my solution was read out.

I now carry an iconic set of 1960s Sheffield-made cutlery in my brief-case for takeaways, which were wedding presents, my late wife and myself bought for ourselves. They have smooth stainless steel implements and black engineering plastic handles. A good cat’s lick and a wipe with a serviette and they’re ready for next time. Quality always wins, even with plastic.

Colin Murray, who was the presenter, was very complimentary.

These pictures show the spoon in use in Leon, this morning.

The design is called Sheba and the spoon was made by Butler in Sheffield, who are now owned by Arthur Price.

The handles are in an engineering plastic called Delrin from Dupont.

The spoon that I used this morning must be fifty years old and for much of that time, it’s been washed at least once a week in a dishwasher.



January 10, 2023 Posted by | Design, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Norwegian Companies To Explore Using Aluminium In Floating Offshore Wind Turbines

This is based on this press release from World Wide Wind, which is entitled WORLD WIDE WIND AS and HYDRO ASA Signs Letter Of Intent Aiming At Using Aluminium In Offshore Floating Wind Turbines.

This is the first paragraph.

Hydro, the world leading Norwegian aluminium and energy company and World Wide Wind AS, a Norwegian company developing a floating wind turbine, have signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) to explore the use of aluminium in the renewable wind industry. The two Norwegian companies are partnering up to develop floating wind turbines with a design specifically meant for offshore conditions. The goal is to use sustainable and recyclable materials in the construction, including aluminium.

In Do All Wind Turbines Have To Be Similar?, I said this about the radically different turbines of World Wide Wind.

I’ll let the images on the World Wide Wind web site do the talking.

But who would have thought, that contrarotating wind turbines, set at an angle in the sea would work?

This is so unusual, it might just work very well.

As aluminium is lighter, it might be a factor in the success of the design.

This is the last paragraph of the press release.

World Wide Wind’s integrated floating wind turbines are scalable up to 40MW – 2,5 times current wind turbines – and will use less materials and have a smaller CO2 footprint than conventional turbines. It is World Wide Wind’s ambition that these turbines will represent future design for floating wind turbine design.

40 MW is a very large turbine. This is definitely a case of handsome is as handsome does!


January 9, 2023 Posted by | Design, Energy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment