The Anonymous Widower

Permali To Develop Composite For Fuel Cell Retrofits

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Power Train Technology International.

This is the two opening paragraphs.

Composites engineering specialist Permali has won UK government funding to develop a lightweight composite solution, which is aimed at allowing existing diesel-powered buses to be retrofitted with zero-emission hydrogen powertrains.

According to the company, its R&D team, located at its main site in Gloucester, will be working on this development project in collaboration with hydrogen and fuel cell specialist company Arcola Energy and the UK National Composites Centre (NCC). The partnership is initially aimed at buses, but the new technology concept should be transferable to a wider range of vehicles, such as heavy-duty goods vehicles, trains and even aircraft.

That is an impressive introduction.

I shall be watching Permali.

 

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Business UK.

This is the opening paragraph.

Project promoter High Speed 2 Ltd has awarded a consortium of Porr UK and Aggregate Industries UK the contract to design and manufacture modular slab track for HS2.

The article also says that with the exception of tunnels and some specialist track, all track will be slab track.

What is slab track and why is it used?

These pictures show slab track on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

This is obviously not due to high speed, but because space is tight.

This page on the British Continuous Paving Association web site, is entitled Why Build Slab Track?

This is the two opening paragraphs.

Slab track, also called ballastless track, is a modern form of track construction which has been used successfully throughout the world for high speed lines, heavy rail, light rail and tram systems.

Slab track technology offers proven higher performance in service and a longer life than traditional ballasted track.

The article also lists these benefits.

  • Very low maintenance requirements
  • Shallow construction depth
  • Reduced dead load
  • Reduced structure gauge
  • Higher speed operation
  • Engineered noise and vibration performance
  • Long design life
  • Increased reliability
  • Increased availability
  • Low whole-life cost
  • A sustainable solution

Increasingly, slab track is being used for high speed railways, so I am not surprised it will be used on much of High Speed Two.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Darlington Station – 28th October 2020

I went to Teesside to have a look round yesterday.

 

These were the pictures I took.

These are my thoughts.

Platform 1 And Platform 4

These pictures show the two main platforms at Darlington station.

Note.

  1. They are affectively a very wide island platform.
  2. Platform 1 handles all trains going South and East to Middlesbrough and Saltburn.
  3. Platform 4 handles all trains going North and West to Bishop Auckland.
  4. The platforms are well over 200 metres long.
  5. Both the main platforms have a second track, between the current track and the walls of the station.
  6. Both main platforms have a large clock.
  7. Platform 1 has some innovative seating.
  8. Uniquely, there is a London Rail Map on the London-bound Platform 1. Every London-bound platform needs one, but they are very rare.

They appear to handle all the current services easily.

There is certainly a lot of space to improve the station.

Station Structure

The station stricture is probably best described as grand, stylish and Victorian and it appears to be in good condition.

  • The tracks through the station are enclosed in two large brick walls.
  • A roof of the period, is supported on the walls and a number of perhaps forty cash-iron columns.

These pictures give a flavour of the station.

There must be few better station structures than Darlington in the UK and as it is Listed Grade II*. I would expect this is recognised by English Heritage.

The Southern Bay Platforms

There are two bay platforms at the Southern end of the station.

There were bay platforms at the Northern end, but these have now been removed.

I wonder, if these two bay platforms could be invaluable in the expansion of services both on the Tees Valley Line.

Current plans envisage the following.

Four trains per hour (tph) between Saltburn and Darlington.

Two tph between Darlington and Bishop Auckland.

One obvious way to achieve this objective would be to do the following.

Run two tph between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland. These trains would run as now with Saltburn services using Platform 1 and Bishop Auckland services using Platform 4 at Darlington station.

Run two tph between Saltburn and Darlington. These trains would use Platform 2 at Darlington station.

The advantages of this are.

  • To get to Middlesbrough or Saltburn, you would go to the island Platform 1/2, as you do now.
  • To get to Bishop Auckland, you would go to Platform 4, as you do now.
  • If battery trains were to be used the bay platforms would be ideal for a Vivarail Fast Charge system.

There would probably need to be some changes to the tracks serving Platform 1 and 2.

Darlington might also be a useful terminal for a service to Whitby via Middlesbrough.

The Western Pedestrian Entrance To The Station

Darlington Town Centre lies to the West of the station and these pictures show what probably was a very grand entrance to the station connected to it by a subway.

This Google Map shows the size of the entrance.

It is one of those building that would be described by a certain breed of estate agent, as having development potential.

  • There are no lifts to the subway.
  • It could be turned into a retail experience.
  • Does the clock tell the right time?
  • Buses were signposted in this direction, but there appeared to be little information.

Surely, it could be turned into an asset to both the railway and the town.

The Southern Approaches To The Station

These pictures show the Southern approach to the station.

The Tees Valley Line to and from Middlesbrough and Saltburn joins to the South of the station and trains going to Bishop Auckland have to cross over the two tracks of the East Coast Main Line.

This Google Map shows the track layout just to the South of the station.

Note.

  1. The Southern ends of the platforms can just be seen at the top of the map.
  2. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from West to East.
  3. The two avoiding lines going past the East side of the station.
  4. The yellow train is one of Network Rail’s Mobile Maintenance Trains.

The Mobile Maintenance Train was parked in the same place yesterday, as this picture shows.

The second Google Map shows Darlington South Junction, where the Tees Valley Line from Middlesbrough joins the East Coast Main Line.

These two maps indicate the problem of train operation at Darlington.

A train between Bishop Auckland in the West and Middlesbrough and Saltburn in the East, can sneak down the Southbound East Coast Main Line and take the Tees Valley Line to continue on its way.

But a train going the other way, needs to cross both tracks of the East Coast Main Line on the flat, which means precision working by drivers and signallers, to avoid causing delays to both main line and local trains.

I suspect all the following are true.

  • The number of London and Scotland expresses will increase.
  • London and Scotland expresses will be running faster.
  • The number of freight services on the route will increase.
  • The number of services between Bishop Auckland and Saltburn will increase from the current hourly only service.
  • High Speed Two will eventually start to run services between London and Birmingham, and at least as far North as Newcastle

All will make the need for improvements South, and probably North, of Darlington station increasingly important.

Could it be that the simplest solution would be to create a dive-under?

  • It would only need to be single-track.
  • It could probably be built without affecting current services, as was the Acton dive-under.
  • There would appear to be plenty of space.

It would only need to allow trains from the Eastern branch of the Tees Valley Line to access Platform 4 at Darlington station.

 

 

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Tunnelling Complete At Bank Tube Station

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Tunnelling work at the project to modernise and expand Bank Underground station in London has been completed, marking a major milestone in the project. The tunnelling, which forms part of the programme to expand the size of the station by 40%, has seen more than 1.3km of tunnels constructed since May 2017.

I use Bank station regularly and it has been fully-functional during the tunnelling.

Hopefully, it will only in 2022.

October 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Werrington Dive-Under – 28th October 2020

I took these pictures as I passed the Werrington Dive-Under on my way North this morning.

It seems to be coming on.

October 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

Two New Black Country Railway Stations Receive Planning Approval

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

Planning permission has been granted for two new railway stations on the Walsall to Wolverhampton line, marking a major milestone in the project to restore passenger services to this part of the Black Country.

The stations at Darlaston and Willenhall will offer local residents vastly improved connections to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Birmingham New Street stations when they open in 2023.

The article also gives full details on the location of the stations and the rail services that will be provided.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

TfL Reveals Project Cost Spikes And Delays

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Transport for London (TfL) has revealed how the coronavirus pandemic has increased costs and delayed the completion of some of its biggest projects.

Points from the article include.

  • TfL still aim to complete the Northern Line Extension by Autumn 2021, but there has been a 64-day delay caused by the covids.
  • The cost of the Bank station upgrade has risen by £88 million after a nine-week covids delay.
  • The Barking Riverside Extension of the Overground is in serious trouble.

On top of that there are all the problems with Crossrail.

 

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Frankfurt Starts Building Fuel Station For World’s Biggest Zero-Emissions Train Fleet

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

These are the two opening paragraphs.

German regional transport group RMV began construction on Monday of a filling station near Frankfurt that will use hydrogen generated as a by-product of chemicals manufacturing to fuel the world’s largest fleet of zero-emissions passenger trains.

France’s Alstom will deliver 27 hydrogen-powered fuel cell trains to the Infraserv Hoechst industrial park in the Rhine-Main region in mid-2022. Starting regular local services by that winter, the fleet will replace diesel engines.

All the investment will be partly funded by fares.

Chlorine Manufacture

I find it interesting, that the article also states that the hydrogen comes as a by-product of chlorine manufacture. When I worked in a ICI’s electrolysis plant around 1970, their plant used the Castner-Kellner process to produce both gases.

The process uses a lot of mercury and Wikipedia says this about the future of the process.

The mercury cell process continues in use to this day. Current-day mercury cell plant operations are criticized for environmental release of mercury  leading in some cases to severe mercury poisoning as occurred in Japan Minamata_disease. Due to these concerns, mercury cell plants are being phased out, and a sustained effort is being made to reduce mercury emissions from existing plants.

Are INEOS, who now own the Runcorn plant, and the Germans still using the Castner-Kellner process?

I remember two stories about the theft of mercury from the Runcorn plant.

Mercury was and probably still is very valuable,  and it was always being stolen. So ICI put a radioactive trace in the mercury, which didn’t affect the process. The result was that all legitimate metal dealers on Merseyside bough Geiger counters to check any mercury before they bought it.

One guy thought he had found the ideal way to steal mercury, so he filled his bike frame with the metal and wheeled it to the gate. Whilst he clocked out, he propped the bike against the gate-house. Unfortunately, it fell over and because of the weight of the mercury, he was unable to pick it up.

My work in the plant, involved devising a portable instrument that would detect mercury in air and a colleague’s project was to develop a way of detecting mercury in urine samples from the plant operatives.

Those projects say a lot, about why we should be careful around any process involving mercury.

 

 

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Trip To Stansted Airport In A Class 745/1 Train

This lunchtime a friend was passing through Stansted Airport on the way to Glasgow. As we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years, we had decided to have a coffee at the Airport.

I took these pictures on the trip.

Property Development At Tottenham Hale

There is a lot of development going on around Tottenham Hale station.

There will be a lot more to come.

The New Class 745/1 Train

I travelled in a new Class 745/1 train, which are replacing the Class 379 trains.

Note.

  • The trains have twelve articulated sections.
  • The trains are 236.5 metres long.
  • Only 11-car Class 390 trains or a pair of five-car Class 80x trains are longer.
  •  The train has767 seats at a density of 3.24 seats/metre

This picture through the train emphasises the train’s length.

Note.

  • There are some light slops, but no steps.
  • A coffee and snack trolley would be possible.
  • The overhead racks are generously-sized.
  • Some seats are higher and you step up into them, as they are over the wheels.

The ride was also excellent.

Class 745/1 Train Performance

I made these observations.

  • My train stopped at Tottenham Hale, Harlow Town, Bishops Stortford and Stansted Mountfitchet.
  • The train was at 80 mph most of the time on the West Anglia Main Line.
  • The maximum speed if a Class 745 train is 100 mph.
  • The operating speed of the West Anglia Main Line is given on Wikipedia as 100 mph maximum.
  • The train was didn’t exceed 70 mph on the Stansted Branch.
  • Between Stansted Airport and Stansted Mountfitchet, the train accelerated to 70 mph and then braked at the right time to stop precisely in the following station.

At all times, I felt the train was running very easily. But then there are 125 mph members of the Flirt family running in Norway.

I can see these trains cutting the current 49 minutes between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport.

Other times to London’s airports are as follows.

  • London Bridge – Gatwick – Thameslink – 48 minutes.
  • Victoria – Gatwick – Gatwick Express – 30 minutes.
  • Victoria – Gatwick – Southern – 32 minutes.
  • Paddington – Heathrow Central – Heathrow Express – 15 minutes
  • Paddington – Heathrow Central – Crossrail – 28 minutes

With the exception of Heathrow Express, the new Stansted Express doesn’t stand up too badly.

Rye House Gas-Fired Power Station

One of the landmarks you pass on the West Anglia Main Line is Rye House power station.

The weather wasn’t good, but the pictures give an impression of the  715 MW gas-fired power station.

This Google Map shows the power station.

Note.

  1. The West Anglia Main Line running SW-NE across the map.
  2. Sainsbury’s distribution centre to the North of the railway.
  3. The power station to the South of the railway.
  4. The grid-like structure is an air-cooled condenser.

But where is the station’s carbon capture equipment?

The Lea Valley is London’s greenhouse, as this second Google Map shows.

Note all the nurseries and salad producers on the map, which is a mile or so to the South East of the power station.

Drax Group used to pipe carbon dioxide to salad producers from Drax power station, so why aren’t they doing it here?

Changing At Tottenham Hale Station

This set of pictures show my change at Tottenham Hale station, when I returned to London.

Note.

  1. The step-free entry to the Class 745 train.
  2. The Stansted Express used Platform 3.
  3. It was then followed in Platform 3, by a train to Liverpool Street via Hackney Downs station.
  4. At the same time, a train arrived in Platform 4, which went to Stratford via Lea Bridge station.
  5. I took the Stratford train to Lea Bridge station.
  6. The train was a Class 379 train, which has been replaced by the Class 745 train.

It looks like all Stansted Expresses have an interchange to trains to Hackney Downs and Stratford after a few minutes.

This sums up, what travellers can do at Tottenham Hale station, after arriving on a Stansted Express.

  • Stay on the Stansted Express for Liverpool Street.
  • Wait for the next train to Hackney Downs and Liverpool Street, on the same platform.
  • Wait for the train to Stratford, on the other side of the same platform.
  • Catch the Victoria Line, as passengers have done for decades.
  • There are also lots of buses and taxis.

When Crossrail opens, there will be connections at Stratford and Liverpool Street.

Lea Bridge Station

I took these pictures at Lea Bridge station.

Note, that not all trains on this route are Class 379 trains.

Property Development At Lea Bridge Station

There is a lot of development going on around Lea Bridge station.

As at Tottenham Hale and Stratford, there will probably be more to come.

Lea Bridge Road In Mid Afternoon

As I just mixed a 56 bus home, I walk about half-a-mile to the next bus stop.

It was not a pleasant walk!

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Design, Energy, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric

Consider.

  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.

Note.

  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York and Durham
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common and York.

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.

Conclusion

I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment