The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Light Railway Extension To The Barnstaple Branch (Chivenor Braunton) “TawLink”

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This is an unusual project for two reasons.

  • It is based on light railway or tram technology.
  • The case for the extension is fully set out in the Taw Link web site.

None of the other projects, that I have documented have such a comprehensive statement of their case for acceptance.

The Introduction

This is taken from the home page of their web site.

Combe Rail CIO is proposing a modern, light railway between Barnstaple and Braunton. The North Devon Local Plan already urges the protection of former railway routes, to allow for future re-instatement. This former railway route is 98% intact, with sufficient width to accommodate a new single-track railway line alongside the Tarka Trail and South West Coast Path.

It’s now accepted that new and re-opened railways unlock economic growth. The success of the Borders Railway in Scotland is a spectacular example of this. The challenge of North Devon’s ever-growing population demands similar, forward-looking infrastructure planning.

Some of the other projects, that I have documented, could do with such a clear Statement of Intent.

The Route

This graphic from the Route page on web site shows the route.

And this Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Braunton is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Barstaple is in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The River Taw runs East-West across the map.
  4. The runways of the former RAF Chivenor, which is now a Royal Marine Base, can be found.

If you enlarge the map by clicking on it, many of the stations on the TawLink can be picked out.

This paragraph from the Route page describes the route.

Starting from Caen Street in Braunton, it will run tramway-style along Station Road, and then use the old railway formation all the way to the Civic Centre car park in Barnstaple. It will then street-run past the front of the former Town Station and along Castle Street to The Strand in the heart of Barnstaple. There are two options for crossing the river Taw – either to street-run along Long Bridge, or to share the proposed reinstated (former railway) bridge. The line will then street-run along Stickelpath Terrace to re-connect to the National Rail Network at Barnstaple (Mainline.) Intermediate stations will be provided at Velator, Wrafton (for Perrigo),  Chivenor (Business Park and The Landings), Ashford (Garden Centre and Braunton Inn) Pottington (Business Park) and Barnstaple Park-and-Ride (near the A39 downstream bridge – which could potentially have a huge catchment area.)

As the proposals for the Reinstatement Of The Bodmin-Wadebridge Railway, are doing, these proposals are replacing a walking and cycle path with a walking/cycling/single-track rail route.

This pair of South-West proposals could set an important design precedent, that can be applied in other places across the UK.

Are These Two Routes Substantially Level?

Thinking about this similar design, were the two original rail routes built as level as possible, so they are now easy walking and cycling routes?

I suspect, that there’s only a couple of metres difference between the two ends of this route at Barnstaple. So it could be the case here!

If thar is the case, it would mean that less energy would be needed to travel the route!

The Trams

This paragraph from the Trams page on the web site describes the trams.

This will be a modern community- and commuter railway, which will run throughout the year. Its scenic location will also make it highly attractive to tourists. It will use lightweight, battery-electric vehicles – like traditional trams, but without the overhead wires – capable of running safely on-road, and quickly off-road. These vehicles are environmentally-friendly, and very quiet. Visually, and in terms of infrastructure, the railway will be low-impact.

I have liked the concept of coastal trams, even since I rode in the one along the Belgian coast, which I wrote about in Riding The Coast Tram.

A Level Route Would Be Beneficial

If I am right about the level nature of the route, this would mean smaller and lighter batteries would be needed to power the trams.

Through-Running

I suspect through-running would not be possible, unless the Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is electrified, as it is a rather challenging route for a light rail vehicle.

The vehicles also don’t probably have enough capacity, for what can be a busy route in the Peak.

Conclusion

I like this proposal and I have a feeling it will be imitated in the future.

 

 

 

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Project Wareham – Complete The Link

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

A Visit To The Swanage Railway describes an enjoyable visit I made to the Swanage Railway, just after the first part of Project Wareham had been completed.

This was my conclusion in that post.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I suspect that if South Western Railway and the Swanage Railway got into serious discussion, there will be a solution, that would be beneficial to both parties and all those who live and work in or visit Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.

This page on the Swanage Railway web site describes the project.

Completing Project Wareham

I can find very little on the Internet about what is proposed in the completion of this project.

So perhaps, the proposal is to start a project to see what could be developed on the Swanage Railway to the benefit of residents, commuters and visitors.

Hourly Trains

From a railway point of view, I suspect the most important thing, is to make it possible for an hourly train to connect from the Swanage Railway to the South Western Main Line.

This would enable the following.

  • Residents along the route to commute to or go shopping in Poole and Bournemouth.
  • Better public transport connections to the local councils at Dorchester and Warham.
  • Better visitor access to the Isle of Purbreck and especially the Swanage Railway.
  • Development of some possible housing and industrial sites.

There could be a lot of beneficiaries.

What Trains Would Be Used?

The Swanage Railway seem to be proposing running heritage diesel multiple units on connecting services. They have a Class 117 train and a Class 121 train, that were built around 1960, that have been fully-refurbished for the service.

These would be fine for the service and I suspect to cut emissions, they could be run on biodiesel.

I also think that if the service was successful, that more trains would be needed.

Consider.

  • The South Western Main Line is fully-electrified.
  • The Swanage Railway is only 5.5 miles long.
  • South Western Railway probably want to go to an all-electric fleet.
  • Battery electric train technology is improving rapidly.
  • South Western Railway will probably be running battery electric trains on other services in their network.

I believe that South Western Railway could connect Wareham and Swanage with a battery electric train charged on the main line.

I’m sure that Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens or Stadler, would be able to supply a suitable battery electric train to replace the company’s Class 158 and Class 159 diesel multiple units.

Where Would The Trains Run?

Consider.

  • The obvious route is between Wareham and Swanage, but as I showed in A Visit To The Swanage Railway, the timings might not be friendly to an hourly shuttle.
  • Changing trains is something that discourages regular passengers.
  • I believe a service to Poole or Bournemouth may be more attractive to passengers.
  • Some passengers might even like the occasional service to London.

I can see an innovative timetable being developed containing elements like these.

  • One train per two hours (tp2h) between Swanage and Wareham, run by the Swanage Railway. using a heritage diesel multiple unit.
  • One tp2h between Swanage and Poole or Bournemouth via Wareham, run by South Western Railway, using a modern battery electric multiple unit.
  • Some services might extend past Bournemouth to Southampton or Salisbury.
  • Early morning and late night services between Swanage and Bournemouth.
  • At least one train per day in both directions between Swanage and London Waterloo.
  • Services would be seven days per week.

I believe that the more comprehensive the service, the more it will be used.

Conclusion

After my visit in November 2018, I said this.

There is a lot of potential to improve services on the Swanage Railway.

I stand by what I said and feel that comprehensive services between Swanage and Wareham can be developed for the benefit of residents, travellers and train companies.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Shepton Mallet (Mendip Vale)

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This article on Rail Technology News is entitled Shepton Mallet Railway Station And Services Could Be Restored Under New Vision.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

National rail services could be restored to a Somerset town after the local authority unveiled a new vision for the rail route.

Shepton Mallet’s current nearest mainline station is Castle Cary which is over seven miles away, but new stations and a bypass have been proposed in a business case from Mendip District Council for major new transport projects.

In the Wikipedia entry for the East Somerset Railway, this is said.

On 25 March 2007, the East Somerset Railway announced that it had received a £7,500 grant from Shepton 21 Group, a local organisation, set up to regenerate the area around Shepton Mallet. The money was to be spent on conducting a feasibility study into extending the line towards Shepton Mallet, with a possible new terminus at Cannards Grave, on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet

This Google Map shows the South-Eastern edge of Shepton Mallet.

Note.

  1. The scar of the disused railway passing East-West through the town.
  2. Mendip Vale station on the East Somerset Railway on the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The Cannard’s Grave area of the town, with what appears to be a new road system.

Would it be possible to extend the East Somerset Railway to a new Parkway station in the Cannard’s Grave area?

It certainly looks the most likely plan.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route of the railway.

The railway may be only 2.5 miles long, but it does provide a connection for the important Merehead Quarry to the UK rail network.

The tracks to the Quarry and Shepton Mallet join up to the South West of the quarry before joining the Heart of Wessex Line, that connects Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth stations via Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Frome. Castle Cary and Yeovil.

Passenger Train Services

This Google Map shows East Somerset Junction, where the branch line joins the Heart of Wessex Line.

Note.

  1. Frome, Westbury, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads are to the North East.
  2. The double-track railway going South-West is the Heart of Wessex Line to Castle Cary, Yeovil and Weymouth.
  3. The East Somerset Railway is the single-track joining from the West.

There is no direct access to and from the branch from the South-West. But then all of the quarry traffic needs to go to and from via the junction at Westbury.

In Westbury Station – 30th July 2020, I discussed the development of Westbury station.

This was my conclusion.

Could Westbury station develop into a zero-carbon rail transport hub for Wiltshire?

    1. It has an hourly train service between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids.
    2. It has an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
    3. There are hourly services to stations like Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham, Dorchester, Frome, Swindon, Taunton, Trowbridge and Yeovil

It could be electrified to charge battery electric trains as they pass through.

Perhaps, an hourly service between Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations could be added to the services?

  • I estimate that Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations are about 13.5 miles apart
  • With an intermediate stop at Frome, I estimate that it would be a twenty minute journey.
  • A shuttle would need just one train and could run a passenger-friendly clock-face timetable.
  • A two-car diesel multiple unit would probably be good enough to open the service.
  • The service could be fully-integrated with all the other services passing through Westbury.

It would also be a shuttle service, that could be run using a battery electric train charging at Westbury station.

Conclusion

I like this proposal.

  • The only infrastructure required is the Park-and-Ride station at Shepton Mallet Parkway.
  • Much of the route is currently used by heavy freight trains.
  • I doubt that the East Somerset Railway will object.
  • I’m sure, that a diesel multiple unit could be found for the shuttle.
  • The passenger services will have good connections at Westbury station.

In a future zero-carbon world, it could be run by battery electric trains, charging at Westbury station.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Turning Waste Plastic Into Hydrogen – Is This The Future?

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

This paragraph is a description of the process from Myles Kitcher of Peel L&P Environmental.

At Peel L&P Environmental we’ve been working with PowerHouse Energy who have developed a world first plastic to hydrogen technology. The first plant at Protos, our strategic energy and resource hub in Cheshire, is due to start construction later this year. It will take unrecyclable waste plastic – destined for landfill, or worse export overseas – and use it to create a local source of clean hydrogen to fuel buses, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and cars. Not only will this help reduce air pollution and improve air quality on local roads, it’s helping us deal with the pressing problem of plastic waste.

This sounds like an eminently sensible way of dealing with unrecyclable waste plastic.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Germany Builds The World’s First Hydrogen Train Filling Station

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

Hydrogen Trains In Germany

The hydrogen filling station for trains is described under this heading.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The town of Bremervörde in Lower Saxony, Germany, has broken ground on the world’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains. Chemical company Linde will construct and operate the hydrogen filling station for the Lower Saxony Regional Transport Company.

It will provide approximately 1600 Kg of hydrogen per day.

The Supergroup Of ‘Green Energy’

This is a second section, which I find an interest sting concept.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

Oil giant Shell and Dutch utility Eneco have won the tender to build a super-hybrid offshore wind farm in the Netherlands. It will consist of two sites located 11.5 miles (18.5 km) off the west coast, near the town of Egmond aan Zee.

The Shell/Eneco consortium, CrossWind, will build the Hollandse Kust (noord) project. They will pair the offshore wind farms with floating solar facilities and short-duration batteries. It will also generate green hydrogen via an electrolyzer, according to GreenTech Media.

It will be operational in 2023 and have an output of 759 MW.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport, Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Westbury Station – 30th July 2020

I went to Westbury station today and took these pictures.

I found Westbury station to be a station in extremely good condition.

It also had a buffet, where I was able to purchase a delicious ice cream.

Passenger Services Through Westbury Station

I was at the station for about an hour and several trains passed through.

Great Western Railway services through the station include.

  • One train per two hour (tp2h) – London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids – Stops
  • One tp2h – London Paddington and Penzance – Passes through
  • One tp2h – London Paddington and Plymouth – Passes through
  • One train per hour (tph) – Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Stops
  • One tp2h – Great Malvern and Westbury
  • One tp2h – Gloucester and Weymouth – Stops
  • One tp2h – Swindon and Westbury

Train classes included Class 800 trains and Class 166 trains.

South Western Railway services through the station include.

  • Five trains per day – Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads – Stops

Train classes include Class 159 trains.

Battery Trains Through Westbury

Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range could even be sufficient take a train between Westbury and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip.

Many of the trains through Westbury go to the same stations.

Distances are as follows.

  • Bristol Temple Meads – 28 miles
  • Newbury – 42 miles
  • Salisbury – 24 miles
  • Swindon – 32.5 miles
  • Taunton – 47 miles

It looks like all of these places should be in range of an electric train with a battery capability, providing there is a charging facility at the other end.

An Electrification Island At Westbury Station

I have been advocating an island of electrification around Westbury station for some time and feel about a dozen miles of electrification through the station would be sufficient for Class 800 trains with a battery capability to bridge the gap.

  • At Newbury, trains would access the current electrification into London Paddington.
  • Between Exeter and Taunton, the rail route runs alongside the M5, so why not electrify this stretch, as the wires will not be so noticeable?

Looking at Westbury, to my untrained eye, it would appear that a short section of electrification around the station, would not be the most challenging of projects.

I believe that discontinuous electrification between Newbury and Exeter would be possible and could gradually be extended across Devon and Cornwall.

It should also be noted that one of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains has a range of 56 miles, so that these places from Westbury could be an return trip on batteries, with a well-driven train with excellent energy management.

  • Bath Spa – 17 miles
  • Bradford-on-Avon – 7 miles
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 28 miles
  • Chippenham – 16 miles
  • Frome – 6 miles
  • Salisbury – 24 miles
  • Trowbridge – 4 miles
  • Warminster – 9 miles

Obviously, the number of stops and the terrain will play a part.

Freight Might Drive Full Electrification Through Westbury Station

As the pictures show, there are heavy freight trains going through the area, which bring long and weighty loads of stone from the Mendips to London.

  • There are regularly two or three stone trains in an average hour of the day.
  • Like in the picture, I suspect they are usually hauled by a noisy, smelly, polluting and carbon-dioxide emitting Class 66 Locomotive. Not all of these, are as clean and well-maintained, as the one in the picture.
  • Some trains start at Merehead Quarry, which is about fifteen miles from Westbury station.

I believe that we must decarbonise freight trains.

But freight and electric haulage is not a simple subject.

  • I once had extensive talks with a Senior Crane Driver at the Port of Felixstowe during an Ipswich Town Away match. Ports don’t like overhead wires, as containers do get dropped and fall off rail wagons.
  • Suppose a historic line without electrification, like the Settle and Carlisle has a serious land-slip, which it did a couple of years ago. How do you haul in the materials for repair?
  • Because freight can be of a random and unpredictable nature, to electrify freight, you probably need to electrify the whole rail network.

For these and other reasons, we need independently-powered freight locomotives and I feel that a new freight locomotive will develop, that will be needed by the rail industry all over the world.

There are several solutions.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is the simplest solution and would mean that the current diesel locomotives could be used.

In Grant Shapps Announcement On Friday, I talked about Government support for an industrial process, that has been developed by Oxford University and their spin-off company; Velocys, from the the Fischer-Tropsch Process, which can produce, the following fuels from household and industrial waste.

  • Aviation biofuel.
  • Biodiesel.

A plant to process 500,000 tonnes per year of Lincolnshire finest waste is now being built at Immingham to create 50,000,000 litres of fuel, by Altalto, which is a partnership between Velocys, British Airways and Shell.

If nothing else, waste-to-fuel is the interim solution to the decarbonisation of tricky sectors like heavy rail freight, rail construction, large diesel-powered machines, ships or long-distance aviation.

This fuel could be ideal to haul the heavy stone trains from the Mendips.

Hydrogen

I did think, it would be hydrogen powered, but I’m not so sure now, as hydrogen trains and locomotives seem to have a slow development cycle.

Although, there is one factor, that might influence the use of hydrogen as a fuel, which I wrote about in Thirsty High-Rollers … Mining’s Heavy Haulers Prime Candidates For Hydrogen Conversion.

Mining and quarrying don’t have a good green image, but converting mines and quarries to hydrogen power, would surely have operational and good public relational advantages.

It would also ensure a plentiful and convenient supply of hydrogen, for any hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Hydrogen-powered locomotives, with their electric transmissions, would probably be able to use electrification for traction power, so they would put pressure on the Government to electrify between Westbury and Newbury stations, so that there was a fully-electrified route between the Mendips and London.

Rolls-Royce’s Staggering Development

Staggering is not my word, but that of Paul Stein, who is Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer.

He used the word in a press release, which I discuss in Our Sustainability Journey.

To electrify aviation, Rolls-Royce has developed a 2.5 MW generator, based on a small gas-turbine engine, which Paul Stein describes like this.

Amongst the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5 MW. That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.

This generator is designed for flight and the data sheet for the gas-turbine engine is available on the Internet.

  • It has a weight of under a couple of tonnes compared to the thirteen tonnes of the diesel engine and generator in a Class 68 locomotive.
  • It is also more powerful than the diesel.
  • It looks to be as frugal, if not more so!
  • Rolls-Royce haven’t said if this gas-turbine can run on aviation biofuel, but as many of Rolls-Royce’s large engines can, I would be very surprised if it couldn’t!

Rolls-Royce’s German subsidiary is a large producer of rail and maritime diesel engines, so the company has the expertise to customise the generator for rail applications.

I can see this generator ending up in a high-powered heavy independently-powered electric locomotive for hauling stone and inter-modal container trains.

As with hydrogen-powered locomotives, this new breed of gas-turbine locomotive with its electric transmission, will be able to use electrification, where it exists.

So would locomotive developments drive the electrification through Westbury and especially between Westbury and Newbury?

I would rate is likely, that in the future, increasingly rail locomotives will have sophisticated electric transmissions, between their prime motive power of diesel, hydrogen, gas-turbine or whatever and their traction system. All of these locomotives will have pantographs and/or third-rail shoes to access electrification, where it exists.

These locomotives will surely add to pressure to electrify between Westbury and Newbury.

Biodiesel is surely the interim freight solution, if one is needed.

Future Zero-Carbon Passenger Services

Passenger services through Westbury can be divided into three groups.

Great Western Railway’s Services Between London Paddington And Devon And Cornwall

From Beeching Reversal projects put forward over the last few months, it looks like these services will increase and stop at several new and refurbished stations.

I can see discontinuous electrification being used to create a series of electrification islands to allow Class 800 trains, with a battery capability reach the Far South West of Cornwall.

Electrification islands could be at places like

  • Around Westbury station.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter St. Davids stations alongside the M5.
  • Between Plymouth station and the Royal Albert bridge.
  • Around Bodmin Parkway station
  • Around Truro station
  • At Newquay station
  • At Penzance station

Obviously, the number and type of the various installations will depend on the methods used and the engineering required.

I do believe that with Hitachi trains, that meet their specification, that trains will be able to travel between Paddington and Penzance without touching a drop of diesel.

Great Western Railway’s Cardiff Central And Portsmouth Harbour Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Cardiff Central and Filton Junction – 33 miles – Electrified
  • Filton Junction and Bristol Temple Meads – 5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrified
  • Westbury and Salisbury – 24 miles – Not Electrified
  • Salisbury and Southampton Central – 15 miles – Not Electrified
  • Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour – 26 miles – Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave the Great Western Main Line at Filton Junction with a full battery.
  • It can leave the electrification at Westbury station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Southampton Central station with a full battery.
  • Third-rail shoes are fitted for working between Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour stations.

Recharging batteries at Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury stations, although probably welcome, are not necessary.

I can envisage Hitachi Class 800 and Class 385 trains being able to fulfil this role, along with Bombardier Electrostars and Aventras and Siemens Desiros.

As Great Western Railway have forty-five Class 387 trains, conversion of some of these to battery electric operation must be a possibility.

Great Western Railway’s Gloucester and Weymouth Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Gloucester and Bristol Temple Meads – 39 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrifield
  • Westbury and Dorchester Junction – 52 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dorchester Junction and Weymouth – 4 miles – Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Gloucester station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Bristol Temple Meads with a full battery.
  • It can leave Westbury with a full battery.
  • It can leave the South Western Main Line at Dorchester Junction with a full battery.

It would be a tight trip for a battery electric train and I suspect, that there would be some extra electrification between Westbury and Dorchester Junction or perhaps charging facilities at Frome or Yeovil Pen Mill stations.

The alternative would be to fit larger batteries on the train.

As to the train to be used, a Class 387 train with a battery capability would surely be ideal.

Great Western Railway’s Swindon and Westbury Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Swindon and Chippenham – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Chippenham and Westbury- 16 miles – Not Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Chippenham station with a full battery.

This would have sufficient charge to do the thirty-two mile round trip from Chippenham to Westbury and back.

As to the train to be used, a Class 387 train with a battery capability would surely be ideal.

South Western Railway’s Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrified
  • Westbury and Salisbury- 24 miles – Not Electrified

t would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Bristol Temple Meads station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Westbury with a full battery.
  • It can leave Salisbury with a full battery.

But, I do wonder, if with a slightly larger battery, a well-driven train could work the route with only charging the battery at Westbury station?

Conclusion

Could Westbury station develop into a zero-carbon rail transport hub for Wiltshire?

  1. It has an hourly train service between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids.
  2. It has an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
  3. There are hourly services to stations like Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham, Dorchester, Frome, Swindon, Taunton, Trowbridge and Yeovil

It could be electrified to charge battery electric trains as they pass through.

 

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Measurement Train – 30th July 2020

Whilst I was at Westbury station today, the New Measurement Train arrived.

It is the first time, that I’ve been up close enough to take pictures.

With all the spare InterCity 125 trains at present, will Network Rail create a second train?

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Speeding Down To Bristol By Train

On Wednesday, I went to Bristol to take a few photographs.

I took these pictures, where the electrification ran out at Chippenham station.

There is some half-hearted erection of electrification going on between Chippenham station and Box Tunnel, but despite the fact, that the iconic tunnel is ready for wires, construction work seemed noticeable by its absence.

Line Speed Observations

I had my personal dynamometer car connected for much of the journey.

  • Between Southall and Slough we were at times running at only a few miles short of 130 mph. Are Great Western Railway starting to wind up the speed.
  • Most of the journey, when well clear of stations, we were at around 125 mph until Chippenham station.
  • At Chippenham, it was noticeable that the diesel engine under my seat kicked in.
  • Onwards from Chippenham, we were at around 100 mph on diesel.

I suspect that London and Bristol services could be improved and/or speeded up.

  • Timings could be reduced between London Paddington and Reading by running at faster speeds under digital ERTMS signalling. The train certainly felt comfortable at 128 mph.
  • Any increase in electrification past Chippenham station will increase the the reach of a Class 800 train with a battery capability on a mile-for-mile basis.
  • Trains should be able to increase speed towards 125 mph for some of the twelve miles between Chippenham and Bath Spa stations.
  • As trains would not be swapping between diesel and electricity in Chippenham station, would panning up and down happen automatically  further West?
  • It might be possible to fit in a third London Paddington and Bristol service, that doesn’t stop at Chippenham station.

None of these improvements would need the line through Bath Spa station to be electrified.

 

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures of Bristol Temple Meads station, when I visited.

Note.

  1. The station is Listed to the highest level of Grade 1.
  2. London services seem to use Platforms 15 and 16.
  3. There is quite a fair bit of space between the tracks.

.Do Network Rail need all the hassle of full electrification of one of Brunel’s most famous creations?

Bristol Temple Meads Station And Trains With a Battery Capability

Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip. So this means that one of these trains could work the London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads stations service via Bath Spa using the electrification between London Paddington and Chippenham stations.

But where could trains reach, if they were able to leave Bristol Temple Meads station with a fully-charged battery?

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Filton Abbey Wood – 4 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Newport – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Severn Beach – 13.5 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Westbury – 28.5 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles

Note.

  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway, Filton Abbey Wood, Severn Beach and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Other local destinations could be added as the Bristol Metro develops.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The curving nature of the platforms doesn’t make 25 KVAC overhead electrification easy.
  2. Trains to and from London appear to use the two Eastern platforms 13 and 15.
  3. It might be possible to increase platform lengths to run longer trains to and from places like London.

I believe that there are three possible ways of charging the trains in Bristol Temple Meads station.

25  KVAC Overhead Electrification

This could be short length of standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification in platforms, that would be served by trains with pantographs like the Class 800 trains.

The driver would stop in the correct place in the platform and connect the pantograph, whilst waiting in the station.

Note that the Class 800 trains to and from London typically take 35-20 minutes to turn round, which is time enough for a full charge.

750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

This could be short lengths of standard 750 VDC third-rail electrification in platforms, that would be used by standard third-rail shoes on trains.

The train would connect automatically and charging would take place, whilst waiting in the station.

A Specialist Charging Facility Like Vivarail’s Fast Charge System

Vivarail’s Fast Charging system is described in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

This extract from this Vivarail press release explains how the system works.

he concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

I believe that this system or something like it could be adapted to work with all trains with a battery capability in the UK.

I also believe that this system can be designed so that it is ultra-safe and doesn’t disrupt, the visual impact of the station.

Conclusion

Bristol Temple Meads station could be converted into a station, where a high proportion of trains ran solely on electricity.

 

 

 

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Bath Spa Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures as I twice passed through Bath Spa station.

These are my thoughts.

Electrification Gantries On The Platforms

As somebody, whose eyesight is on the wane, I am not a lover of electrification, where the gantries are bolted to the platforms. These pictures show some installations of this type at Crouch Hill station.

Would electrification gantries like these, be appropriate in Bath Spa station?

Could Lightweight Electrification Gantries Be Placed Between The Tracks?

These pictures show the wide gap between the two tracks in Bath Spa station.

Could double-track lightweight structures, based on a design like this be placed between the tracks?

These structures are made out of laminated wood and are surely a possibility.

A Makeover For Bath Spa Station

If you look at much of the woodwork and paint in the fabric of the station, it appears tired and in need of refurbishment.

Whether the station is electrified or not, the station will need a high-class makeover.

Services Through Bath Spa Station

Three train companies run services through Bath Spa station.

There are also some freight services hauled by diesel locomotives.

Trains leave Bath Spa station using one of three routes via either.

Most trains seem to go via Bristol Temple Meads station.

  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Chippenham stations are 24.5 miles.
  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury stations are 28.5 miles.

Neither distance is that long.

An Alternative To Full Electrification

When I look at the distances between Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham and Westbury stations, they tell me that they are within the range of Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip.

Notes for each station follow.

Bristol Temple Meads

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles

Note.

  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Bristol Temple Meads station could become a major hub for battery trains.

All local services and all passing longer distance services could be trains with a battery capability.

I write more about Britol Temnple Meads station as a battery train hub in Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020.

Chippenham

A train would leave Chippenham station with a full battery after charging on the fully-electrified route from London.

Chippenham and Weston-super-Mare would be in battery range with a charging facility at Weston-super-Mare station.

It should be noted that every extra mile of electrification past Chippenham, can be added to the distance electric trains with a battery capability can reach.

Westbury

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Salisbury – 24 miles.
  • Southampton – 49 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line, at Southampton Central station.
  • Weymouth – 53 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line at Dorchester Junction.

Note.

  1. A return trip to Salisbury would be possible.
  2. Trains would need to have the capability to access 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  3. A few extra miles of electrification may make operation South from Westbury station easier, more reliable and allow more destinations to be included.

Westbury station could be a major hub for battery trains.

This Google Map shows Westbury station and the lines around it.

I would probably electrify a few miles either side of Westbury, so that passing trains could be in contact with the overhead wires for perhaps five to ten minutes and take a good long drink.

  • Electrification could be either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC overhead.
  • Newbury, where the electrification to London starts is 42 miles away and trains can pick it up at speed.
  • Taunton is 47 miles away and could be electrified to Exeter St. Davids.

Great Western Railway could run all their services between London Paddington and the South-West using Class 800 trains with a battery capability.

Conclusion

The prolitical, heritage and engineering problems of electrifying through Bath Spa station can be voided, by electrification and charging facilities at stations like Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Westbury and Weston-super-Mare.

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