The Anonymous Widower

The Birmingham Bull – 5th August 2022

The non-human star of the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham was a mechanical bull.

This article on the BBC is entitled Commonwealth Games: Scots Creator Reveals Secrets Of Metal Bull.

These three introductory paragraphs give an overview of the design.

The secrets of the mechanical bull that wowed audiences during the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games have been revealed by its Scottish creator.

The 10m high scrap metal sculpture was one of the stars of the celebration in Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.

Michael Dollar, of creative model makers Artem, said it took six people to operate the giant structure.

The BBC also revealed today, that the bull would be parked for a few days in Centenary Square outside the Library of Birmingham.

So as my day had fallen apart, I got on a Chiltern train to Birmingham and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The first picture has the The Library Of Birmingham in the background, with its lattice frontage and gold dome.
  2. The Bull seems to have been built on a loader chassis.
  3. There were a large crowd in Centenary Square looking at the Bull.

I have never seen a public work of art surrounded by such a crowd, most of whom were taking selfies or traditional pictures.

This article on the BBC is entitled Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Ceremony Bull To Stay.

The BBC article says this about the future of the bull.

A giant mechanical bull that became the star of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games opening ceremony it set to stay in the city.

The 10m sculpture is on display in Centenary Square after its debut last week, although its future has been less clear.

Largely made of foam, it was due to be dismantled at the end of the Games, sparking public outcry.

But Birmingham City Council has confirmed the bull has won a reprieve.

It will stay in the square until the end of September before being moved indoors.

This wonderful work of engineering art, is far too good and is now too well-loved to be scrapped.

As it needs to go inside, why not bring it inside High Speed Two’s new Curzon Street station, to greet passengers visiting Birmingham?

 

August 5, 2022 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

West Midlands To Run ‘Largest Hydrogen Bus Fleet’ Due To New Funding

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

These are a few points from the article.

  • The region is set to get 124 new hydrogen vehicles.
  • The West Midlands is set to run the UK’s largest hydrogen bus fleet after securing new funding.
  • The region will get 124 new buses after it won £30m from the Department for Transport to fund a switchover.
  • Twenty four of the new vehicles will be articulated tram-style buses set to run on a new bus priority route between Walsall, Birmingham and Solihull.

Does the last statement mean, that they will buying a hundred double-decker hydrogen buses?

A few thoughts.

Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses

These are a few pictures from Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses.

They were excellent buses from Wrightbus.

The Tram Style Buses

The Belgian firm; Van Hool have a product called Exquicity. This video shows them working in Pau in France.

These tram buses run on rubber types and are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

Could these be what the article refers to as tram-style buses?

It should be noted, that the West Midlands and Pau have bought their hydrogen filling stations from ITM Power in Sheffield.

So has there has been a spot of the Entente Cordiale between Pau and the West Midlands?

Will The West Midlands Buy The Other Hundred Buses From Wrightbus?

There doesn’t seem to be any problems on the web about the initial fleet, so I suspect they will.

It should also be noted that Wrightbus make the following types of zero-emission buses.

These would surely enable the West Midlands to mic-and-match according to their needs.

 

March 29, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses

I went to Birmingham today and took one of their new hydrogen buses on route 51 to Perry Barr and another one back.

Note.

  1. As the pictures show Perry Barr is a bit of traffic bottleneck because of the reconstruction of Perry Barr station an other developments in the area, because of the Commonwealth Games, which are going to e held in Birmingham in 2022.
  2. The route goes past the High Speed Two site.
  3. Birmingham is a city of highways, flyovers, underpasses and roundabouts.
  4. The buses have wi-fi and charging points for phones.

I very much feel that the buses are the best hydrogen-powered vehicles, that I’ve travelled in, as they are smooth, comfortable, quiet and seem to have excellent performance.

Birmingham Buses Have Their Own Hydrogen Electrolyser

London bring their hydrogen in by truck from Runcorn, where it is created by electrolysis, for their hydrogen-powered buses.

On the other hand, Birmingham Buses have their own electrolyser at the Tyseley Energy Park.

This Google Map shows Tyseley Energy Park.

Note.

  1. The Birmingham Bus Refueler hadn’t opened, when this map was last updated.
  2. Tyseley Energy Park is only a few miles from the City Centre and route 51.
  3. I estimate that the Tyseley Energy Park occupies around four hectares.

This page on the Tyseley Energy Park web site described the refuelling options that are available.

  • Fuels available include hydrogen, biomethane, compressed natural gas, diesel, gas oil and AdBlue.
  • There are a range of charging options for electric vehicles.

The 3 MW electrolyser was built by ITM Power of Sheffield, which I estimate will produce nearly 1.5 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

According to this page on the Wrightbus website, a hydrogen-powered double-deck bus needs 27 Kg of hydrogen to give it a range of 250 miles. The refuelling of each bus takes eight minutes.

So the current fleet of twenty buses will need 540 Kg of hydrogen per day and this will give them a combined range of 5000 miles.

It would appear that the capacity of the electrolyser can more than handle Birmingham’s current fleet of twenty buses and leave plenty of hydrogen for other vehicles.

Could Other Towns And Cities Build Similar Energy Parks?

I don’t see why not and it looks like ITM Power are involved in a proposal to build an electrolyser at Barking.

Some would feel that London ought to follow Birmingham and create its own hydrogen.

 

 

.

 

January 7, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

National Express Deploys Hydrogen Double-Deckers In The West Midlands

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Renewable Energy Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

National Express has deployed 20 hydrogen double-decker buses purchased by Birmingham City Council, serving West Midlands route 51 to Walsall via Perry Barr from 6th December 2021– the only hydrogen buses operating in England outside London.

The buses are from Wrightbus.

The article also says this about the source of the hydrogen.

The council are also collaborating with ITM, who are producing and dispensing the hydrogen fuel from the new re-fuelling hub at Tyseley Energy Park.

This is surely the way to do it. Hydrogen buses with a local source of freshly-picked hydrogen.

 

 

January 6, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 4 Comments

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Extension Of The Birmingham Cross-City Line

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

In that post, decide that the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are based on the three-car Class 730/0 trains that have been ordered by West Midlands Trains for Birmingham’s electrified Cross-City Line.

I then go on to say.

There are plans to expand the line in the future and I do wonder if the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could be the ideal trains for extending the network.

Expansion plans are detailed a section called Future, in the Wikipedia entry for the Cross-City Line, where these plans are indicated.

In addition, the Walsall and Wolverhampton Line is being reopened to passenger trains.

These new and possibly other services will need no new tracks, but more electrification and extra new trains.

In 2015, I wrote Electrification May Be In Trouble Elsewhere, But The Brummies Keep Marching On, which looked at electrification progress in the UK and the Birmingham in particular, where the electrification of the Chase Line seemed to be going well. So unlike in some places, where electrification seems to be accident-prone, Birmingham seems to avoid the sort of problems, that happened in the Preston and Blackpool and GOBlin electrifications.

But the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra gives Birmingham and the West Midlands a unique advantage compared to say Leeds or Manchester.

Birmingham can obtain a unified fleet, which to the passengers and the drivers looks the same, but in fact are two separate classes of three-car trains;  the Class 730/0 electric train and the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

  • Where electrification exists, the Class 730/0 trains will be used and where there is no electrification, the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra will work the route on hydrogen.
  • All that is needed is to provide good tracks and signalling and the Alstom Hydrogen Aventras will take you where you want to go.
  • Through the centre of Birmingham, these trains will use the existing electrification.
  • It would be a network, that would be simple to expand.

The only other English city to use a similar technique will be Liverpool, where Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains will use battery power outside of the electrified core.

Conclusion

If Birmingham uses their disused but still existing railway lines and adds new trains as required, they can create a world-class suburban network, with the Cross-City Line at its centre

 

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Property Buyers Want Train To Take The Strain, Says Rightmove

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in today’s Times.

Aooarently people are buying houses within an hour’s commute to London, with Chelmsford, Crewe and Sittingbourne being especially popular.

Note.

  1. Chelmsford will soon be served by a new train fleet.
  2. Sittingbourne is served by Southeastern’s HighSpeed trains.
  3. Crewe is served by fast services and will be on High Speed Two, earlier than many places.

Liverpool and Birmingham City Centres are also popular according to the article.

September 30, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Avanti Train Wedding: The Couple Who Said ‘I do’ On A 125 mph Train To Birmingham

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

I’ll put one quote from the article here.

The couple say they were worried about missing the train and having to catch a “marriage replacement service”

Obviously, they didn’t!

The article doesn’t say, if anybody has got married on a train before.

  • I suspect that some heritage railways can and have arranged it.
  • It appears that you can get married on the Bluebell Railway. But is that in a station or on a train.
  • This web site offers Wedding Train Chartering

But only three train companies have the trains and routes to offer you a wedding at 125 mph.

Conclusion

This could start a trend!

August 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 5 Comments

Perry Barr Station – 7th May 2021

Birmingham will be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Perry Barr station is to be rebuilt for the games.

This page on the West Midlands Railway web site explains what will happen.

This is the first two paragraphs.

From Monday 10 May 2021, Perry Barr Railway Station will be closed for a large refurbishment project. This means trains will not call at the station during this time, and passengers will not be able to get on or off trains from this station.

The closure is part of a large regeneration plan for the area, being built on the existing site. The current station will be demolished to make way for a new, modern and more accessible station for Perry Barr, scheduled to reopen in May 2022.

I took these pictures on a visit.

Note.

  1. The station certainly needs a lot of improvement.
  2. The stairs are steep.
  3. The information displays are total crap.
  4. There are ramps.
  5. Crossing the main road outside the station is difficult.

This article on the Construction Enquirer indicates the following.

  • There will be a bus and train interchange for the Athletes Village.
  • Pictures in the article clearly show lift towers.

It will be a great improvement.

 

May 8, 2021 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , | 6 Comments

The West Midlands Metro Reaches Towards Five Ways

Whilst I was in Birmingham today, I took a ride on the West  Midlands Metro as far as Library and then walked along the route as far as I could get.

I took these pictures,

Note.

  1. The tracks fit neatly into the road.
  2. There appears to be no poles for wires to the West of the Library.
  3. It looks like the trams will be running under battery power between Library and Five Ways.

A worker told me, that it could open in a couple of months.

Will Edinburgh trams use a similar system?

May 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Birmingham Announces Hydrogen Bus Pilot

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The city council has bought 20 new hydrogen double-decker buses as part of its Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot to kick-start the hydrogen market as a viable zero-emission fuel.

The buses will be built by Wrightbus.

October 7, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment