The Anonymous Widower

Step-Free Access Between Train And Platform On The Elizabeth Line

Any new railway with new trains, should have step-free access train and platform.

I know that this has not always happened in the last few years, but how does the Elizabeth Line match up.

I’ve taken these pictures in the last couple of days.

On  this evidence, it certainly seems that the access between train and platform is step-free.


May 25, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

The Story Behind The Concrete Panels On The Elizabeth Line.

These are a selection of the pictures I took yesterday inside Elizabeth Line stations.


  1. The walls and ceilings appear to be covered in light grey panels with holes.
  2. The material appears to look like concrete.
  3. Every one is a totally different shape, so how were they manufactured?

This article on Ian Visits is entitled How Crossrail Is Using 3D-Printing To Build Its Stations.

This is the two opening paragraphs.

When you start to use the new Elizabeth line stations, among its many achievements will be the first large scale use of 3D-printing in concrete.

The use of 3D printing has made possible one of the more distinctive features of the future Elizabeth line stations — the curved concrete panels that will line the inside of the passenger tunnels and some stations, and sinuously glide around corners in a way never seen before in a tube station.

There will be a total of something like 36,000 of these panels and although printing each in concrete is possible, Crossrail would probably have been delivered in the 2040s or 2050s.

The contractors used an innovative process called FreeFAB, which had been invented by an Australian architect.

  • The process creates a wax mould for each panel using 3D printing.
  • This mould is then used to create the actual panel.
  • After each panel is cast, the wax is melted off and recycled.
  • The panels are made in a factory in Doncaster.

We will see a lot more of this technique used in the construction industry.

May 25, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Line – Custom House Station – 24th May 2022

I took these pictures at Custom House station on the Elizabeth Line.


  1. The station was built in a factory and the concrete beams were assembled on-site. Traditionally, the concrete structure would have been poured on site.
  2. The quality of the columns is excellent and an engineer I spoke to a few years ago, said that the methods used at Custom House station ensure a high quality building. Look at the last two pictures.
  3. The two escalators are in-line, rather than side-by-side and it looks like this was done to squeeze in the station.
  4. There were signs up for toilets, that are visible in picture 4. Are they going to be installed?

The ideas used to create Custom House station, will be borrowed by architects and builders all over the world.

May 25, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Medway Council is working with Network Rail and other industry players in an effort to make restoration of a passenger service to Hoo on the Isle of Grain branch feasible. The Council was awarded £170 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund in 2020 to support schemes to facilitate building of 12,000 new houses in the area, with £63 million of the HIF money for reinstatement of services on the Hoo Branch.

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

  • A new station South of the former Sharnal Street station.
  • Works to level crossings, of which there are six between Gravesend station and proposed site of the new Hoo station.
  • A passing place at Hoo Junction, where the branch joins the North Kent Line.
  • A passing place at Cooling Street.


  1. The single-platform Bow Street station cost £8 million.
  2. The single-platform Soham station cost nearly £22 million, but it has a bridge.
  3. Reopening the Okehampton branch and refurbishing Okehampton station cost £40 million.

I think costs will be very tight.

Possible Train Services

This is said in the article about the train service on the branch.

While third rail electrification was originally proposed, this idea has been discarded in favour of self-powered trains on the branch, such as battery-operated trains. Possible destinations include Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet for interchange with trains going to London, or extension of London to Dartford or Gravesend services over the branch, using hybrid third-rail/battery trains.


  • Merseyrail will be using battery-electric trains to provide services to the new Headbolt Lane station, as permission was not available for extending the existing third-rail track.
  • Electrification would probably cost more than providing a charging system at Hoo station.
  • Turning the trains at Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet could be difficult and a new bay platform would probably break the budget.
  • Both Dartford and Gravesend have two trains per hour (tph), that could be extended to the new Hoo station.
  • Hoo junction to Hoo station is no more than five or six miles.
  • The Dartford services have a possible advantage in that they stop at Abbey Wood station for Crossrail.
  • It may be easier to run services through Gravesend station, if the terminating service from Charing Cross were to be extended to Hoo station.
  • A two tph service between London Charing Cross and Hoo stations, with intermediate stops at at least London Bridge, Lewisham, Abbey Wood and Dartford would probably be desirable.

I feel that the most affordable way to run trains to Hoo station will probably be to use battery-electric trains, which are extended from Gravesend.

It may even be possible to run trains to Hoo station without the need of a charging system at the station, which would further reduce the cost of infrastructure.

Possible Trains


  • According to Wikipedia, stopping Gravesend services are now run by Class 376, Class 465, Class 466 and Class 707 trains.
  • Real Time Trains indicate that Gravesend services are run by pathed for 90 mph trains.
  • Class 376, Class 465 and Class 466 trains are only 75 mph trains.
  • Class 707 trains are 100 mph trains and only entered service in 2017.

I wonder, if Siemens designed these trains to be able to run on battery power, as several of their other trains can use batteries, as can their New Tube for London.

In Thoughts On The Power System For The New Tube for London, I said this.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled London Underground Deep Tube Upgrade.

This is an extract.

More speculatively, there might be a means to independently power a train to the next station, possibly using the auxiliary battery, in the event of traction power loss.

Batteries in the New Tube for London would have other applications.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Moving trains in sidings and depots with no electrification.

It should be born in mind, that battery capacity for a given weight of battery will increase before the first New Tube for London runs on the Piccadilly line around 2023.

A battery-electric train with a range of fifteen miles and regenerative braking to battery would probably be able to handle a return trip to Hoo station.


I believe that a well-designed simple station and branch line could be possible within the budget.

A battery-electric upgrade to Class 707 trains could be key.





May 2, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Class 99 Electro-Diesel Locomotive Order Confirmed

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

This first paragraph gives details of the order.

GB Railfreight, leasing company Beacon Rail and Stadler have signed an agreement for the supply of 30 Class 99 six-axle electro-diesel locomotives for entry into service from 2025. The operator said they would the first electro-diesel locomotives capable of hauling heavy freight at main line speeds on the UK network.

The article also gives these technical details of the Class 99 locomotives.

  • Ability to operate under 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Up to 6,000 kW under electrification.
  • Maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 mph)
  • ‘high-power low-emissions’ Stage V diesel engine.
  • Tractive effort of up to 500 kN
  • The locomotives will be compatible with British the UK loading gauge and specifications.

This document on the Stadler web site is the specification for the Stadler Euro Dual locomotives, that have been sold to German operator; HVLE.

These are some technical details.

  • Ability to operate under 25 KVAC overhead electrification or 15 KVAC  German overhead electrification.
  • Up to 6,000 kW under electrification.
  • Maximum speed of 120 km/h
  • Caterpillar C175-16 Stage IIIB diesel engine.
  • Engine output of 2,800 kW
  • Tractive effort of up to 500 kN
  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a length of 23 metres
  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a 3,500 litre fuel tank.

Wikipedia gives details of a Stadler Class 68 locomotive, which is shown in this picture.

These are some details.

  • There are 34 Class 68 locomotives in service in the UK.
  • Caterpillar C175-16 Stage IIIB diesel engine.
  • Engine output of 2,800 kW
  • A Class 68 locomotive has a 5,000 litre fuel tank.
  • A Class 68 locomotive has a length of 20.5 metres.
  • It should be noted, that a Class 66 locomotive has an engine output of 2,500 kW.

These are my thoughts on the design and specification of the Class 99 locomotive.

The Diesel Engine

The Class 68 and the Euro Dual appear to have a diesel engine, with these specifications.

  • Caterpillar C175-16 Stage IIIB diesel engine.
  • Engine output of 2,800 kW

Whereas the Class 99 locomotive is stated as having a ‘high-power low-emissions’ Stage V diesel engine.

So have Stadler fitted the latest Caterpillar C175-16 Stage V diesel engine into a Class 99 locomotive?

This would surely be likely, as any reputable diesel engine company would strive to reduce the emissions of their engines and make them compatible with the latest regulations.

Will 2,800 kW Be Enough Power On Diesel?

If the Class 99 locomotive has 2,800 kW from the latest Caterpillar diesel engine, this is the same as for a Class 68 and the Euro Dual, so it is likely to be enough power.

It is also more power, than is available from a Class 66 locomotive.

What Will Be The Length Of The Class 99 Locomotive?

It does appear that the Class 68 locomotive is 20.5 metres long and the Euro Dual is 23 metres long.

But this is not really unexpected as the Euro Dual has two larger three-axle bogies.

I suspect to use the equipment layout of the Euro Dual, that the Class 99 locomotive could be 23 metres long.

What About The UK Loading Gauge?

When it came to designing the Class 68, 88 and 93 locomotives, Stadler had no difficulty fitting all the gubbins in a 20.5 metre package.

If I am right in surmising that a Class 99 locomotive will be longer because of its larger bogies, I suspect that modern computer-aided design will enable Stadler to create a locomotive, that will fit the UK loading gauge.


It does appear that a design based around the latest version of a Caterpillar C175-16 will be possible.

April 29, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two More Floating Wind Projects In The Celtic Sea

In Two Celtic Sea Floating Wind Projects Could Be Delivered By 2028, I said this.

There now appears to be four floating wind farms under development in the Celtic Sea between the South-West corner of Wales and the Devon and Cornwall Peninsular.

  • Blue Gem Wind – Erebus – 100 MW Demonstration project  – 27 miles offshore
  • Blue Gem Wind – Valorus – 300 MW Early-Commercial project – 31 miles offshore
  • Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy – Petroc – 300 MW project – 37 miles offshore
  • Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy Llywelyn – 300 MW project – 40 miles offshore

But they do create a starter for a GW.

Last night, I found two other projects being developed in the Celtic Sea, under the collective name of the Llŷr Project.

The sponsoring company, which appears to be called Llŷr Wind has a web site, with a title of Harnessing Welsh Energy, which has this outline description underneath.

Situated off the Pembrokeshire coast, in southwest Wales, is a flagship project that could transform the world’s ability to generate renewable electricity from wind. The Llŷr projects are exploring the potential of two innovative floating offshore wind technologies.

The next statement is key.

Combined, the two 100MW projects will generate enough renewable electricity to power around 250,000 homes. If successful, we will be able to offer highly cost-effective, floating offshore wind farms to the rest of the world by 2030.

The Llŷr Project would appear to be a research project to find the best way to generate electricity using floating wind turbines in deep water.

  • It appears that the two wind farms will use different floats for the turbines.
  • The Llŷr projects are located in the approaches to the Bristol Channel in the Celtic Sea approximately 40 kilometres offshore at depths averaging 60-70 metres.
  • These offshore sites enjoy high average windspeeds which are, typically, in excess of 10 metres per second. That is over twenty miles per hour.
  • Each 100MW project will comprise 6 to 8 next-generation turbines which are too large to be deployed on land.
  • 6 x 20 MW turbines will be 120 MW.
  • 8 x 12 MW turbines will be 96 MW.
  • Each project will have an offshore substation.
  • There will be up to two connections for each substation.
  • Will the Llŷr Projects test manufacturers’ new turbine designs?
  • It is hoped that installation of the turbines will start in 2025/26, with power being delivered in 2026/7.
  • The project is being developed by Floventis Energy, which is a joint venture of SBM Offshore and Cierco.

It does look to me that SBM Offshore, who are a Dutch company, are using their extensive oil and gas experience to develop floating offshore wind.

This appears to be a very well-thought out research project in a location, where there is everything needed.

  • Lots of wind, which can be boosted by dragons if needed.
  • Deep water.
  • Ports for assembly of turbines onto floats.
  • Steelworks and fabrication.
  • Good electrical connections to the National Grid.
  • Excellent universities.
  • Good transport connections.
  • An experienced engineering workforce.

There is also the ultimate potential of 50 GW of floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.


The Llŷr Project could have a very positive input into the worldwide development of floating offshore wind.

I have read the web sites of Floventis, SBM Offshore and Cierco and these companies appear to be aiming to dominate the floating offshore wind industry.

Their strategy is stated on the Floventis web site.

Our strategy is simple. We plan to maximize the local benefits of our projects and minimize their impact. Our technologies are far more benign than conventional offshore wind and more suited for deployment in remote and sensitive environments.

Already driving demonstration projects in California and the UK, Floventis is building a portfolio of projects to take floating offshore wind, through a stepwise process – increasing project size, to full scale commercial development proposals by 2030.

We believe that the floating offshore wind industry is a model for a “just transition” to clean energy, at scale, which will reward communities, in the broadest sense, with skilled jobs and enhanced social equity.

I can certainly live with that! And I’m certain the world can too!


April 28, 2022 Posted by | Design, Energy | , , , | 1 Comment

HS2 Reveals Dramatic Carbon Saving With Ambitious Modular Design For Thame Valley Viaduct

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

This is the first paragraph.

HS2 today revealed the final designs for the Thame Valley Viaduct and the pioneering pre-fabricated construction methods that will see the 880m long structure slotted together like a giant Lego set, cutting its carbon footprint by an estimated 66%.

This is one of the pictures released in this photoset.

This second picture shows a closer view of a pillar and the catenary.

It does appear in these two views that the catenary and the gantries that support it are more elegant than those that tend to be used on most electrification schemes at the present time.

These paragraphs describe how the design saved carbon emissions.

Applying lessons from recent high speed rail projects in Spain, the design team cut the amount of embedded carbon by simplifying the structure of the viaduct so that every major element can be made off site.

In a major step forward for viaduct design in the UK, the team opted for two wide ‘box girder’ beams per span instead of eight smaller beams – to simplify and speed up assembly.

The production of steel and concrete is a major contributor to carbon emissions, with the new lighter-weight structure expected to save 19,000 tonnes of embedded carbon in comparison to the previous design. That’s the same amount of carbon emitted by one person taking a flight from London to Edinburgh and back 70,000 times.

It would appear that saving weight and using less steel and concrete can save a lot of carbon emissions.

I once got a bonus at ICI because I saved ten metres on the height of a chemical plant. My boss said, I’d saved nearly a million. by using a mathematical model on an analogue computer to show that a vessel in the plant wasn’t needed and this eliminated a complete floor of the plant.

How much concrete and steel has been saved by High Speed Two on this viaduct, by making it more basset than Afghan hound?

Ever since I watched the building of Crossrail’s Custom House station, I have been in favour of off-site construction.

I wrote about it in An Express Station and am pleased to see it being used on High Speed Two.

April 8, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Design Contract Awarded To Extend Railway Arches Low Line Concept

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Plans to revamp the railway arches running through Wandsworth and Lambeth to create an extension of Southwark’s “low line” have taken a step forward after a contract was awarded to a design agency.

The extension would create a continuous walking and cycling route from Battersea to London Bridge, to connect communities with the creation of new spaces alongside the viaduct.

It looks to be an interesting concept with lots of possibilities.

March 19, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Crossrail Article That Everyone Must Read

This article on Ian Visits is entitled A Sneak Preview Of London’s New Elizabeth Line Railway.

As the title of this post indicates, Ian’s article is very much a must read and it gives everybody something worthwhile to look forward to, after what has been the worst two years of many peoples’ lives.

The Crossrail Opening Date

There are a few more tests to do and Ian says the line could open a few weeks after Easter. With the Bank station upgrade apparently going well as I reported in Final Tunnelling Gets Underway On Bank Station Blockade and likely to open in mid-May, I wonder if TfL would prefer that the two projects opened at different times for management and operational reasons.

Easter is the 17th of April, and two weeks later is May Day, with the Bank Holiday on the Monday.

If they can do all the tests, there would be good reasons to open Crossrail on the first of May.

  • It’s a different day to the opening of the Bank station upgrade.
  • They would have two clear days to get Crossrail open.
  • A lot of people will be going to Central London.
  • Other Mayors would have organised a party.
  • A Bank Holiday would give the new infrastructure a proper test with real passengers and lots of children.
  • Crossrail could also help to cover for a late-opening Bank Station Upgrade.

If I needed to bet on it, my money would be on an opening on Sunday, the first of May.

The Bakerloo Line Link At Paddington Station

Ian writes this interesting paragraph.

Something though that was added to Paddington station after the funding was approved was a new direct deep tunnel link from the platforms to the Bakerloo line. London Underground contractors built the link, and Andy Lord suggested that they are considering opening up the link before the Elizabeth line opens fully as it would help with offering step-free access for Bakerloo line customers.

Many people find getting to Paddington difficult, as I do from Dalston.

I typically use some roundabout and slow routes and most end up with arriving at Paddington on the Bakerloo Line.

Opening the link early would have the following effects.

  • It would make things a lot easier for me and probably many other passengers.
  • It would add passengers to London’s least-used Underground line.
  • It would add capacity to the Bakerloo Line station at Paddington.

It would also give a piece of the infrastructure, a good soak testing with real passengers and may flag up some changes that needed to be made to details like signage.

Opening The Liverpool Street and Moorgate Pedestrian Link

In London’s First Underground Roller Coaster, I described this link, which I believe will be used by more than just rail passengers.

I feel that like the Bakerloo Line Link at Paddington station, that this link could be opened early.


I can’t wait for Crossrail to open.


March 15, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Penge East Station – 11th March 2022

When I wrote Advance Warning Of Brixton To Beckenham Junction Rail Closure In July, I realised I’d never been to Sydenham Hill station.

So when I visited Sydenham Hill station this morning, I decided to take the train through Penge Tunnel to take some pictures of Penge East station.


  1. The station is a Grade II Listed Building.
  2. It has been well-painted since I last visited.
  3. It would be very difficult to make the existing bridge step-free.

I think this station could be difficult to incorporate into a Penge Interchange station.

But it would be a shorter walk along the platforms to a lift and stairs to the high level platforms, than the current one to Penge West station.

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment