The Anonymous Widower

Conservative Manifesto On The Railways

The Conservative Manifesto says this on railways.

We will focus on creating extra capacity on the railways, which will ease overcrowding, bring new lines and stations, and improve existing routes – including for freight. We will increase services on our main lines and commuter routes, and launch new services to places which are poorly served or host major new housing projects.

This would seem a sensible policy and it is probably very little different to what has been done over the last fifteen years.

  • Quite a few new trains have been procured.
  • New rail and tram lines like the London Overground, the Borders Railway, the Manchester Metrolink, the Midland Metro and others have been opened.
  • Around seventy new stations have been opened.
  • Some lines have been electrified.
  • Some lines have been improved and resignalled.
  • Mechanisms have been developed , so that developers can help to provide stations for their new developments.

But there is one big difference.

A lot of quality trains are now being replaced by new or much better trains in the next few years.

Some of these were built this century and will have plenty of takers, whilst others despite being a lot older have already been earmarked for substantial refurbishment.

Remember that, just as our architects and builders are good at taking ruins and creating high quality dwellings, offices or commercial buildings, our engineers, designers and train building and refurbishment companies are good at taking trains of an advanced age and creating high quality trains and locomotives, as comfortable, reliable, safe and passenger, crew and operator-friendly, as new ones straight from the factory.

In What Train Is This?, I show a refurbished Great Western Railway Class 150 train. This picture shows the quality that can be achieved, by refurbishing a thirty-year-old Mark 3-based train.

Who would complain about this superb refurbishment, which I suspect was done by Great Western Railway’s depot at Laira in Plymouth?

This table summarises what has been planned and what trains are worth saving.

  • Forty of the hundred InterCity 125 sets are being converted into quality four and five carriage trains for ScotRail and Great Western Railway – Equivalent to forty four-car diesel trains.
  • Some InterCity 125 sets might end up as high-speed parcel trains. Although if Scotrail and Great Western Railway prove the Pocket Rocket four-car HST to be viable, other companies may copy the concept.
  • Will the 137 Class 150 trains be refurbished to the standard shown in the picture?
  • The 114 Class 156 trains can be refurbished to a high standard for local routes. – Perhaps half will go to new operators.
  • The twelve Class 170 trains were built in 1999 and will go to another oiperator – Probably equivalent to another six four-car diesel trains,
  • The 72 Class 317 trains are in surprisingly good condition for thirty-year-old trains. They are also 100 mph units and Mark 3-based. If Network Rail were good at electrification, they would find a home. They are seventy-two four-car electric trains.
  • The 86 Class 319 trains will find homes, with some converted into Class 319 Flex bi-mode trains. – Probably equivalent to another thirty four-car trains, of which some would be electric and some bi-mode.
  • The Class 90 locomotives will go to freight operators.
  • The 130 Mark 3 carriages will find a use, as they always do. Chiltern probably need some more.
  • The 100 Class 321 trains could be refurbished and go to another operator. They are 100 four-car electric trains .Some could even be converted to bi-modes.
  • The 10 Class 350 trains were built in 2013 and will go to another operator. They are 10 four-car electric trains.
  • The 26 Class 360 trains were built in 2002 and will go to another operator. They are twenty-one four-car and five five-car electric trains.
  • The 30 Class 379 trains were built in 2010 and will go to another operator. They are thirty four-car electric trains.

The totals in four-car trains are roughly  as follows.

  • Diesels and bi-mode – 100 – 50 already allocated
  • Electric – 170

These totals don’t include all the plans.

What will the new owners of these franchises do?

  • East Midlands
  • London Midland
  • Southeastern
  • South West Trains
  • Wales

Only South West Trains has been settled and it looks they’ll be releasing the new Class 707 trains.

Conclusion

It does look that there could be enough diesel trains.

  • There could be quite a number of Sprinters, Class 170, Class 172 and Class 185 trains, which after refurbishment could be providing excellent service for perhaps another twenty years.
  • The pride of lions in the room will be the shortened InterCity 125s, that Scotrail and First Great Western are creating and introducing in the next couple of years.
  • Will they have cubs or be imitated, by creating rakes of four or five Mark 3 coaches, with a Class 43, Class 68 or Class 88 locomotive at each end?
  • TransPennine Express have already ordered Mark 5 coaches and Class 68 locomotives to do the same thing.
  • A hybrid electric/diesel/battery locomotive could be used with the coaches. Hitachi created such a beast from a Class 43 some years ago and the Germans are experimenting.

Terry Miller should be awarded a posthumous knighthood, as his amazing stop-gap design that saved British Rail forty years ago, could be about to play an encore.

If there is a problem, it is that there are a lot of electric trains.

  • The more recent ones like Class 379, Class 350, Class 360 and Class 707 trains will probably find homes in places like Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Scotland.
  • Surely, Class 379 trains would be ideal on shorter distance services to Manchester Airport, as they were designed for Stansted services.
  • If the Class 319 Flex train is a success, expect to see more of these trains converted to 100 mph dual-voltage four-car bi-modes trains.

There is still a lot of electric trains to be allocated.

The Class 319 Flex train may be based on the forty-year-old Mark 3 coach design, but I believe it fits the specification of the train we need to expand our rail services.

  • 100 mph on either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 90 mph on diesel.
  • Four-coaches meeting all regulations laid out to the operator’s required configuration.
  • Can work in eight and twelve car formations.
  • Ability to go on virtually all rail lines in the UK.
  • Proven reliable systems.
  • In service by the end of 2017.
  • Liked by the drivers
  • Fits the niche below the five-car Hitachi Class 800 bi-mode.

But above all there are numerous Class 319 trains available for conversion and they are affordable.

If the concept takes off in a big way, then the engineers would just move on to the Class 321 trains.

But there will still be a lot of quality electric trains left over.

They will have to be scrapped or exported, unless Network Rail can get its electrification work into line.

Perhaps we will see limited electrification between existing electrification and major cities and junctions, with services run by bi-mode, battery or diesel trains to jump the missing electrification.

Areas where this approach might work could include.

  • South Yorkshire between Leeds, Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham.
  • North Yorkshire between Leeds, Skipton, Harrogate, Ripon and York.
  • East Yorkshire between Doncaster, Hull, York and Scarborough.
  • Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Burnley, Colne and Hebden Bridge.
  • Southport, Preston, Kirkby, Wigan and Manchester.
  • Crewe, Chester, Wrexham, Shotton and the Wirral.
  • Darlington, Middlesbrough and Teesside.
  • Birmingham, Snow Hill and Camp Hill Lines
  • Edinburgh to Dundee and the branches to Leven and St. Andrews.

Engineering is the Science of the Possible, whereas Politics is Dreaming of the Impossible.

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , | Leave a comment

Labour’s Spending Plans

In my varied life, I have had a lot of experience of the mechanics of borrowing money and the costs of running financial companies.

Consider.

  • One of my best friends was the Business Banking Director of a well-known Clearing Bank
  • Another good friend was the Chief Management Accountant of the same Bank.
  • I learned a lot of the mechanics of leasing and managing assets and obtaining the finance to do so from a Company Accountant.
  • I owned a Local Finance Company.
  • I was an early investor in Peer-to-Peer Lending.
  • I have extensively modelled banking and finance systems, including the aforesaid Clearing Bank.

After reading summaries of the billions that Labour propose to spend and borrow, I fear that their plans have one serious hole.

What makes them think, that any reputable Bank, Pension Fund or Financial Institution, thinks they will lend them what they need?

Blair’s Government was able to borrow because, it was offering profitable deals like PFI, which I doubt the Corbynistas would.

Corbyn, McDonnell et al are in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | 2 Comments

Stephen Fitzpatrick Of OVO On Energy Policy

Stephen Fitzpatrick, the founder of OVO Energy was on BBC Breakfast this morning.

Some of what he said was very enlightening.

Nationalisation Of Distribution Networks

He indicated that this was almost irrelevant, as the technology of energy distribution is changing.

I agree.

Near to where I live, is the Bunhill Energy Centre, which has been built by Islington Council to provide heat and electricity to a local area.

Systems like this are common in some European countries and increasingly, we will see small scale units like this in cities.

In the countryside, solar and wind power linked to energy storage will become more common.

Large industrial users of energy will increasingly generate their own power.

So the distribution networks will become less and less important.

Energy Efficiency

This will become increasingly important, as innovators make devices and appliances that use energy more efficient.

It is interesting, that no Political Party has so far said, that they will promote devices and items that use less energy, by perhaps sponsoring ideas.

OVO’s Customers Spend Forty Percent Less On Gas Than When The Company Started

This was surprising, but it probably indicates that our houses and businesses are getting more energy efficient.

Energy Price Caps

He was in favour, because he believes it opens up the market for energy.

I think it also favours innovative, ethical and highly-regarded energy companies.

Say an energy company predicts that because of the price cap, it will become less profitable.

It can do one of the following.

  1. Increase the number of customers.
  2. Sell customers new and innovative goods and services.
  3. Go out of business.

OVO are taking over a respected boiler servicing company.

I think one of the good things about an energy price cap will be, that bad suppliers, big or small, will be forced out of business.

Conclusion

It was an impressive performance and the BBC should sign him up for Question Time.

 

May 17, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

You Need Timing!

As the song says, and any good sportsman will tell you, timing is all important!

When we created Artemis, what helped us to be successful was a growth in large projects around the UK and the alternative methods of large mainframe computers, needed more space and a lot more money to do the same job.

We did to the Project Management industry, what Issigonis did to the UK car market with the Mini, Apple did to the music industry and Dyson did for vacuum cleaners, by launching the right product at the right time.

Because of the UK Electoral System, Theresa May was able to start the 2017 General Election campaign at a time convenient to the Conservative Party and its resources.

I think she chose well, when she announced the election on April 18th, as the organisation was already in place for the Local Elections on May 4th. Building a team is surely one of the major costs of fighting an election, so the costs of fighting the General Election can be shared.

This double election will also save costs for other parties, but are their finances in a robust enough state to fight two elections close together? Especially, when they were only planning for one election!

Theresa May’s manifesto could have been planned to be a very easy-to-write document, as she must have been working out policies with her cabinet since she became Prime Minister last Summer, many of which would have been implemented with or without the General Election.

But then she had the luck, that someone by accident or design, leaked the Manifesto, written by the Corbynistas.

This has enabled the Conservatives to wait to disclose their Manifesto last, just releasing the odd morsel here and there.

Policies like housing have been outlined, but they are by no means complete.

The big surprises if there are any, will be disclosed when the manifesto is finally launched!

How many times have your football team lost or won by a late goal?

 

May 16, 2017 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Ovo Energy Snaps At Heels Of Big Six With Corgi HomePlan Takeover

Ovo Energy seem to be making a play for the big time according to an article in City AM, with the same title as this post.

If it comes about, I think I’ll sign up for my boiler, as I’m with Ovo.

May 12, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Welcome To The Corbyn Comedy Channel

The leaking of the Draft Labour Manifesto is to my mind, proof, if it were needed, that the current Labour Party can’t be trusted to organise a piss-up in a brewery.

I have only read summaries, but most of the policies show such a disregard for the rules of economics, taxation and politics, that it could have been written by someone with Monty Python’s grasp of comedy.

May 11, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Stephen Fitzpatrick On May’s Energy Cap

Stephen Fitzpatrick is the chief executive of OVO Energy, so you could expect a well-thought out response to Theresa May’s proposed cap on energy prices.

This article on Sky is entitled May vows to cap energy bill increases if Tories win election.

This is reported as comments by Stephen Fitzpatrick in the article.

He described the policy as a “bold and ambitious move” – and argued that a cap on standard variable tariffs would not harm consumers or competition.

“It will be painful for some companies, especially those currently taking advantage of customer disengagement, but it will offer consumers a safety net, protecting them from some of the worst practices of the industry whilst still allowing innovative suppliers to compete,

I just wonder, if the energy cap is more targeted than we think.

 

May 9, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Unlimited Energy Is More Than A Pipe Dream

This is the title of a comment in Friday’s Times from Ed Conway, who is economics editor of Sky News.

He says how energy storage will eventually solve our energy supply problem, by storing the energy generated from solar, tidal, wave and wind.

He mentions a storage idea from a company called ARES or Advanced Rail Energy Storage, which uses trains to store energy by pushing weights up hill.

This article from Interesting Engineering is entitled These Cool Energy Storage Trains Simply Work With the Power of Gravity.

This is said.

  • Trains are loaded with concrete blocks.
  • Trains are powered by third rail electrification.
  • Energy is released using the regenerative braking, when the trains come down.
  • Very little environmental damage is sustained.
  • No water is used.

I have a feeling that in the right place, this idea could be made to work.

Consider the following facts and thoughts.

Dinorwig Power Station

Dinorwig Power Station in Snowdonia colloquial known as Electric Mountain is the UK’s largest pumped storage hydroelectric scheme.

Wikipedia says this about the power of Dinorwig.

From standstill, a single 450-tonne generator can synchronise and achieve full load in approximately 75 seconds. With all six units synchronised and spinning-in-air (Water is dispelled by compressed air and the unit draws a small amount of power to spin the shaft at full speed), 0 MW to 1800 MW load can be achieved in approximately 16 seconds. Once running, the station can provide power for up to 6 hours before running out of water.

So Dinotwig can effectively store about 6 x 1800 or 10800 MwH of electricity.

How  Much Energy Would A Train Store?

If we took a 100 tonne wagon and raised it through a thousand metres, it would acquire 0.272 MwH of energy.

On a rough calculation, you would need to raise 40,000 wagons  to have the capacity of a Dinorwig.

That would need a very large marshalling yard at the top and the bottom.

How Powerful Is A Locomotive?

A modern electric locomotive like a Bombardier TRAXX can be as big as 6 MW.

This locomotive doesn’t come with third-rail electrification, but that could easily be arranged.

If it took the train with say four locomotives, two hours to climb from the low to the high yards, this would expend 48 MwH of electricity.

So this energy would be enough to raise about two hundred wagons to the top.

Making All The Numbers Bigger

The numbers seem challenging and I think the idea is only possible with larger numbers.

  • The trains would need to be raised through a much greater height – Say 2,000 metres
  • The wagons would need to be very heavy – Say 2,000 tonnes
  • The locomotives would need to be more powerful – Say 10 MW.

These give the following.

  • The wagon would acquire 10.88 MwH of energy.
  • Each train would expend 80 MwH of energy.
  • A Dinorwig-sized facility would need about a thousand wagons.

Making the components bigger certainly reduced the numbers.

Could A Heavy And Powerful Self-Powered Wagon Be Designed And Built?

Concrete has various attributes including heavy weight, ease of use and affordable cost.

Boat builders have even built high-performance yachts from concrete.

Could it be possible to create a self-powered wagon with the following characteristics?

  • A number of powered bogies, with a total power of perhaps 20-30 MW.
  • Third rail power collection.
  • Regenerative braking to generate power on the way down.
  • A weight of 10,000 tonnes.

I suspect that the engineering exists to do it.

It would also need a very robust railway to carry it.

The potential energy acquired by the wagon at 1,000 metres would be 27.2 MwH.

If the time to get up the hill and the power of the wagon were balanced, I could see an efficient design being created.

Conclusion

This project might just be possible in an area like Nevada, where it could be coupled to massive solar farms, but I believe there are few other places in the world, where it would be as feasible.

 

 

May 7, 2017 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Good Riddance To The Garden Bridge!

This article on the BBC, is entitled Garden Bridge: London mayor Sadiq Khan withdraws support.

It looks like that’s it for the complete waste of money!

Unless of course, some private individual decides to pay for it. Hopefully, Sadiq Khan, will tell the donor, “Thsnks! But no thanks!”

April 28, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Beginning Of The End For Coal In The UK

This article on the BBC is entitled First coal-free day in Britain since Industrial Revolution.

This is opening two paragraphs.

Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says.

The energy provider said Friday’s lack of coal usage was a “watershed” moment.

Let’s hope it’s not a long goodbye.

Sadly, whilst there are people like Trumkopf about, it will be a long time before coal burning across the world descreases to a low level.

April 23, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment