The Anonymous Widower

The Strange People You See On The Underground

As I got on my Victoria Line train at Highbury and Islington station, scruffy individual got on carrying a claw hammer. One or two others noticed him and as he got off at Green Park, we had a safe journey!

February 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | | 5 Comments

It’s Got Easier To Visit Belarus

I’ve visited Belarus before, as I wrote in this post called Belarus.

I enjoyed the trip to see England in qualification for the World Cup.

The outstanding thing I found about the country was the friendliness of the people. And that included the police! Before the match, they made sure that all fans could frantenise and exchange banners and greetings.

The Times today has a two-page travel article about cycling in Belarus. Tom Chesshyre enjoyed it.

He mentioned that there is now a five-day tourist visa waiver, which was introduced last year. That surely would be a lot easier than the Stalinist bureaucracy, I had to fight through at the embassy to get my visa in 2011.

I shall now return to Belarus.

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | | 2 Comments

Would The Gravitricity Concept Work At Sea?

The North Sea and other similar places have lots of oil oil and gas platforms, that are coming to the end of their lives.

Many are being dismantled and scrapped.

But could some be used to store energy by replacing the refitting the deck with a Gravitricity energy  storage system. The massive weight would be hauled up and down from the sea bed.

It would be fed generated electricity from nearby offshore wind turbines and would store or feed the electricity to the shore as required.

Remember that some of these oil platforms have been built to support decks weighing thousands of tonnes, so would be strong enough to support the massive weight needed for a Gravitricity system.

If the height was say 500 metres and the weight was 10,000 tonnes, this would equate to just under 14 mWh.

 

February 10, 2018 Posted by | World | , | 2 Comments

Gravitricity Sets Sights On South Africa To Test Green Energy Tech

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on ESI Africa, which describes itself as Africa’s Power Journal.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Disused mine shafts in South Africa have been identified as an ideal location to test UK-based energy start-up Gravitricity’s green energy technology.

The company announced plans to transform disused mine shafts into hi-tech green energy generation facilities through a system that uses gravity and massive weights.

This is surely a classic fit, as Africa has plenty of sun and some of the mine shafts in South Africa, like the TauTona mine are getting towards two miles deep.

A weight of 1,000 tonnes in a two mile deep shaft would store nearly nine MWh. By comparison, Dinorwig Power Station or Electric Mountain, has a capacity of 500 MWh.

But Electric Mountain was built in the 1970s, cost £425 million and took ten years to construct.

 

February 10, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Islamic State ‘Beatles’ Duo ‘should be tried at The Hague’

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Two captured British fighters should be tried in an international criminal court, rather than sent to Guantanamo Bay, a defence minister has said.

Tobias Ellwood told two newspapers it was important that “terrorists from any origin are transparently and fairly held account for their actions”.

I feel that Tobias Ellwood has got this absolutely right.

I suspect that Donald Trump, will not go along with the plan!

February 10, 2018 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Extend Crossrail To Southend Airport

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the Southend Echo.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Southend Airport’s boss has suggested that high-speed Crossrail trains should be extended to the airport to provide a faster service for travellers to and from London.

Glyn Jones, chief executive of Stobart Aviation, suggested to transport secretary Chris Grayling that the £16billion rail project from Heathrow Airport should be extended to Southend.

I like this idea and I wrote about it in Crossrail Tests Its Trains In Southend, where I finished the post like this.

I have come to these conclusions about services between Liverpool Street and Southend Victoria stations..

  • A Fast Greater Anglia express service could probably achieve a sub-fifty minute time.
  • A Slow Crossrail service, could probably do the trip in an hour.
  • Better interchange with Crouch Valley Line and Great Easstern Main Line services would be achieved.
  • Four Fast and four Slow services in each hour is possible.

My choice for the Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria service would be as follows.

  • Four trains per hour – Crossrail Class 345 trains – Stopping at all stations.
  • Four trains per hour – Greater Anglia Class 745 trains – Stopping at Southend Airport, Billericay, Shenfield and Stratford.

Or the simple option of just running the four Crossrail trains.

 

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Is There Hope Yet For The Metropolitan Line Extension?

This article in the Watford Observer is entitled Hertfordshire County Council Tables Plans For Met Line Extension Project To Still Go ahead.

This is the start of the article.

Plans will be tabled for the Metropolitan Line Extension to go ahead despite last month’s shock rejection from the Mayor of London.

An emergency cross-party motion has been tabled for Hertfordshire County Council’s budget council on February 20 in a bid to show there is still political support for the project is still ongoing.

The motion has been agreed with the Conservative leader of the council, David Williams, and Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst.

The plug was pulled on the scheme last month despite additional government funding of almost £74m.

It looks to be more optimistic about this difficult project.

The article makes the point that TfL are paying for step-free access at Amersham and Rickmansworth, which outside the London area.

I can’t help feeling though that this project is all about politics and very little about seeing, if a more pragmatic solution can be found.

There are several rail projects that serve Watford that need to be taken together.

  • Crossrail up the West Coast Main Line.
  • New trains for the Watford DC Line.
  • The future of the Milton Keynes to East Croydon service.
  • What to do with the Northern end of the Bakerloo Line.
  • Improved Watford services by West Midlands Trains.
  • Possible Chiltern Railways access to Watford Junction along the Metropolitan Line Extension.

I suspect that if all projects are looked at together, a better solution can be found.

February 10, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Eurostar Announces Launch Date For Amsterdam Service

The title of this post is the same as this article in Global Rail News.

This is said.

  • The service will start on April the 4th.
  • London to Amsterdam will take three hours and forty-one minutes.
  • London to Rotterdam will take three hours and one minute.
  • Trains will leave London at 08.31 and 17.31.

But going to London will require a stop at Brussels to clear UK Immigration and security.

Hopefully, by the end of 2019, they’ll be a direct service in both directions.,

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Will Some Of The New Buildings For Heathrow Be Built In Scotland?

It’s all explained in this article on the Offsite Hub website, which is entitled Heathrow To Offer Offsite Hubs To Other Mega Projects.

This is the first two paragrahs.

Airport says schemes such as HS2 and Hinkley could make use of planned offsite manufacturing hubs

Heathrow Airport has said it hopes its idea for a series of offsite manufacturing hubs to help with its £16bn expansion plans will be used by other major projects, including the new nuclear power station at Hinkley and the HS2 railway.

Sounds a good idea to me.

A few other points.

  • Offsite accounts for 10% of the construction industry.
  • Heathrow are aiming for between 25% and 40%.
  • It will reduce the peak on-site workforce at Heathrow.
  • Offsite was safer, cleaner and less weather dependent.
  • Four hubs are plans, with one definitely in Scxotland.

A few months ago I talked to one of the managers building Custom House station, which was largely built offsite in Sheffield.

He told me, that the quality was so much better, than if it had been built traditionally.

The quality certainly wasn’t traditional pre-fab either.

Could this be part of the solution to our housing crisis?

 

 

 

February 9, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Funding Gives Weight To Idea For Storing Electricity

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on Page 45 of today’s copy of The Times.

It talks of a company called Gravitricity, which has used the same principle as every weight-operated clock to store energy and especially energy generaed from intermittent sources like wind and solar power.

The company has just secured a £650,000 grant from Innovate UK.

In Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand, I looked at how solar farms and batteries could be used to power third-rail railway electrification.

Because of energy losses, third-rail electrification needs to be fed with power every three miles or so. This gives a problem, as connection of all these feeder points to the National Grid can be an expensive business.

A series of solar farms, wind turbines and batteries, controlled  by an intelligent control system, is an alternative way of providing the power.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

If I assume that trains are five cars and will be efficient enough to need only 3 kWh per vehicle mile, then to power a train along a ten mile section of track will take 150 kWh.

As the control system, only powers the track, when a train needs it, the whole system can be very efficient.

So why will Gravitricity battery ideas be ideal in this application?

Appropriate Size

By choosing the right weight and depth for the Gravitricity battery , appropriate energy storage can be provided at different points on a line.

Some parts of a journey, like accelerating away from stations will need more electricity than others, where trains are cruising along level ground.

Supposing my five-car example train is travelling at 60 mph, then to cover ten miles will take 10 minutes, with 15 kW being supplied in every minute.

If the train weighs 200 tonnes, then accelerating the train to 60 mph will need about 20 kWh.

I’m sure that a Gravitricity battery could handle this.

I would suspect that batteries of the order of 100 kWh would store enough power for the average third-rail electrified line.

A proper dynamic simulation would need to be done. I could have done this calculation in the 1960s, but I don’t have the software now!

Response Time

For safety and energy-efficiency reasons, you don’t want lines to be switched on, when there is no train present.

I suspect that if there is energy in the battery, response would be fast enough.

Energy Efficiency

The system should have a high efficiency.

How Big Would A 100 kWh Gravitricity Battery Be?

A quick calculation shows the weight would be 400 tonnes and the depth would be 100 metres.

Installing the batteries

Each battery will need a 100 metre deep hole of an appropriate diameter.

This sequence of operations would be performed.

  • A rail-mounted drilling rig would drill the hole.
  • The heavy weight of the battery would arrive by train and would be lifted into position using a rail-mounted crane.

As the equipment will generally be heavy, doing all operations from the railway will be a great help.

 

 

 

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment