The Anonymous Widower

Glencore & Strategic Partner Britishvolt Strengthen Relationship And Agree To Build Battery Recycling Ecosystem In The UK

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release from Glencore.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Glencore is proud to have entered an industry-leading battery recycling joint venture with strategic partner and battery pioneer Britishvolt, the UK’s foremost investor in battery cell technologies and R&D.

The joint venture will develop a world-leading ecosystem for battery recycling in the UK. This ecosystem will be anchored at a new recycling plant located at the Britannia Refined Metals operation (BRM-located in Northfleet), a Glencore company. BRM will continue with its current production and trading operations.

These appear to be some of Glencore’s objectives for the project.

  • They intend to recycle a minimum of 10,000 tonnes of lithium-ion batteries per year, including but not limited to valuable battery manufacturing scrap, portable electronics batteries and full EV packs.
  •  They intend to recycle Britishvolt’s scrap.
  • They intend to be up and running by mid-2023.
  • They intend to be 100 % powered by renewable energy in the longer term.

It all seems admirable.

These are my thoughts.

Britannia Refined Metals

This Google Map shows the Britannia Refined Metals site at Northfleet.

Note.

  1. Britannia Refined Metals is indicated by the red arrow.
  2. The Port of Tilbury is on the other side of the Thames.

This second Google Map shows the site in more detail.

Note.

  1. It is not a very large site.
  2. There doesn’t appear to be much space for expansion.
  3. They appear to have a wharf on the river.

I’ve found this company video from the 1980s on the Internet.

They do seem to have developed a sophisticated process for recycling lead-acid batteries.

Renewable Energy

There are these offshore wind farms in the Thames Estuary.

Two of these could be extended.

I am sure that there could be more space in the Thames Estuary for more wind power.

Recycling Batteries

I have found this article on the BBC, which is entitled As The World looks To Electrify Vehicles And Store Renewable Power, One Giant Challenge Looms: What Will Happen To All The Old Lithium Batteries?.

This is the third paragraph.

While this may sound like the ideal path to sustainable power and road travel, there’s one big problem. Currently, lithium (Li) ion batteries are those typically used in EVs and the megabatteries used to store energy from renewables, and Li batteries are hard to recycle.

The article talks about possible solutions.

  • Don’t treat the batteries as disposable.
  • Increasing the number of batteries recycled from the measly five percent.
  • Automate the recycling process, which currently is labour intensive.
  • Give the cathode, anode and other parts a second life in new batteries, by refurbishment.
  • Batteries that degrade on command.

But the idea, I like is described in this paragraph from the article.

The next step for scientists pushing direct recycling of Li batteries forward is working with battery manufacturers and recycling plants to streamline the process from build to breakdown.

In context with the tie-up between Glencore and Britishvolt, you can imagine engineers from both companies, getting together to improve the design of the battery, so that manufacturing and recycling of batteries are two mutually efficient and complimentary processes.

I can also see some very sophisticated logistics systems being developed to return batteries to an approved recycler, who may be in another country.

But then we are dealing with something that could have a substantial value.

Deals Between Battery Manufacturers And Recyclers

I can see more deals like this between battery manufacturers and recyclers.

  • It could reduce the cost of batteries.
  • It could impress governments seeking to reduce the about of batteries going into landfill.
  • It would reduce the amount of new metals to be mined.

It may even help, in the protection of intellectual property rights, that are concerned with battery manufacture and recycling.

A Second Similar Glencore Deal

There is also a second deal about battery recycling mentioned in a press release on the Glencore web site, which is entitled Glencore & Managem Set Up Partnership For Moroccan Production Of Cobalt From Recycled Battery Materials.

  • The press release was issued only a few days before the one announcing the deal with Britishvolt.
  • It is for 12,000 tonnes of recycling.
  • The press release mentions renewable power.

I do wonder, if Glencore or one of their companies has developed a new process.

February 6, 2022 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gigafactory Gets A Financial Boost From abrdn

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

It looks like Britishvolt is limping towards the start line.

January 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

UK To Norway Sub-Sea Green Power Cable Operational

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The world’s longest under-sea electricity cable, transferring green power between Norway and the UK, has begun operation.

The 450-mile (725km) cable connects Blyth in Northumberland with the Norwegian village of Kvilldal.

The BBC article is based on this press release from National Grid.

The link has been called the North Sea Link (NSL).

These are some thoughts.

What Is The Capacity Of The North Sea Link?

The National Grid press release says this.

[The link] will start with a maximum capacity of 700 megawatts (MW) and gradually increase to the link’s full capacity of 1400MW over a three-month period.

It also says this.

Once at full capacity, NSL will provide enough clean electricity to power 1.4 million homes.

It is more or less equivalent to two or three gas-fired power stations.

What Is The Operating Philosophy Of The North Sea Link?

The National Grid press release says this.

The Norwegian power generation is sourced from hydropower plants connected to large reservoirs, which can respond faster to fluctuations in demand compared to other major generation technologies. However, as the water level in reservoirs is subject to weather conditions, production varies throughout seasons and years.

When wind generation is high and electricity demand low in Britain, NSL will enable renewable power to be exported from the UK, conserving water in Norway’s reservoirs. When demand is high in Britain and there is low wind generation, hydro power can be imported from Norway, helping to ensure secure, affordable and sustainable electricity supplies for UK consumers.

It almost seems to me, that the North Sea Link is part of a massive pumped-storage system, where we can bank some of our wind-generated electricity in Norway and draw it out when we need it.

I would suspect that the rate and direction of electricity transfer is driven by a very sophisticated algorithm, that uses detailed demand and weather forecasting.

As an example, if we are generating a lot of wind power at night, any excess that the Norwegians can accept will be used to fill their reservoirs.

The Blyth Connection

This page on the North Sea Link web site, describes the location of the UK end of the North Sea Link.

These three paragraphs describe the connection.

The convertor station will be located just off Brock Lane in East Sleekburn. The site forms part of the wider Blyth Estuary Renewable Energy Zone and falls within the Cambois Zone of Economic Opportunity.

The converter station will involve construction of a series of buildings within a securely fenced compound. The buildings will be constructed with a steel frame and clad with grey insulated metal panels. Some additional outdoor electrical equipment may also be required, but most of the equipment will be indoors.

Onshore underground cables will be required to connect the subsea cables to the converter station. Underground electricity cables will then connect the converter station to a new 400kV substation at Blyth (located next to the existing substation) which will be owned and operated by National Grid Electricity Transmission PLC.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The light grey buildings in the North-West corner of the map are labelled as the NSL Converter Station.
  2. Underground cables appear to have been dug between the converter station and the River Blyth.
  3. Is the long silver building to the West of the triangular jetty, the 400 KV substation, where connection is made to the grid?

The cables appear to enter the river from the Southern point of the triangular jetty. Is the next stop Norway?

Britishvolt And The North Sea Link

Britishvolt are are building a factory at Blyth and this Google Map shows are to the North and East of the NSL Converter Station.

Note the light-coloured buildings of the NSL Converter Station.

I suspect there’s plenty of space to put Britishvolt’s gigafactory between the converter station and the coast.

As the gigafactory will need a lot of electricity and preferably green, I would assume this location gives Britishvolt all they need.

Where Is Kvilldal?

This Google Map shows the area of Norway between Bergen and Oslo.

Note.

  1. Bergen is in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Oslo is at the Eastern edge of the map about a third of the way down.
  3. Kvilldal is marked by the red arrow.

This second Google Map shows  the lake to the North of Kvilldal.

Note.

  1. Suldalsvatnet is the sixth deepest lake in Norway and has a volume of 4.49 cubic kilometres.
  2. Kvilldal is at the South of the map in the middle.

This third Google Map shows Kvilldal.

Note.

  1. Suldalsvatnet is the dark area across the top of the map.
  2. The Kvilldal hydro-electric power station on the shore of the lake.
  3. Kvilldal is to the South-West of the power station.

Kvilldal doesn’t seem to be the biggest and most populous of villages. But they shouldn’t have electricity supply problems.

Kvilldal Power Station And The North Sea Link

The Wikipedia entry for Kvilldal power station gives this information.

The Kvilldal Power Station is a located in the municipality of Suldal. The facility operates at an installed capacity of 1,240 megawatts (1,660,000 hp), making it the largest power station in Norway in terms of capacity. Statnett plans to upgrade the western grid from 300 kV to 420 kV at a cost of 8 billion kr, partly to accommodate the NSN Link cable] from Kvilldal to England.

This power station is almost large enough to power the North Sea Link on its own.

The Kvilldal power station is part of the Ulla-Førre complex of power stations and lakes, which include the artificial Lake Blåsjø.

Lake Blåsjø

Lake Blåsjø would appear to be a lake designed to be the upper reservoir for a pumped-storage scheme.

  • The lake can contain 3,105,000,000 cubic metres of water at its fullest.
  • The surface is between 930 and 1055 metres above sea level.
  • It has a shoreline of about 200 kilometres.

This Google Map shows the Lake.

Note the dam at the South end of the lake.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator, it appears that the lake can hold around 8 TWh of electricity.

A rough calculation indicates that this could supply the UK with 1400 MW for over eight months.

The Wikipedia entry for Saurdal power station gives this information.

The Saurdal Power Station is a hydroelectric and pumped-storage power station located in the municipality of Suldal. The facility operates at an installed capacity of 674 megawatts (904,000 hp) (in 2015). The average energy absorbed by pumps per year is 1,189 GWh (4,280 TJ) (in 2009 to 2012). The average annual production is 1,335 GWh (4,810 TJ) (up to 2012)

This Google Map shows the area between Kvilldal and Lake Blåsjø.

Note

  1. Kvilldal is in the North West of the map.
  2. Lake Blåsjø is in South East of the map.

This second Google Map shows the area to the South-East of Kvilldal.

Note.

  1. Kvilldal is in the North-West of the map.
  2. The Saurdal power station is tight in the South-East corner of the map.

This third Google Map shows a close-up of Saurdal power station.

Saurdal power station is no ordinary power station.

This page on the Statkraft web site, gives a brief description of the station.

The power plant was commissioned during 1985-1986 and uses water resources and the height of fall from Lake Blåsjø, Norway’s largest reservoir.

The power plant has four generating units, two of which can be reversed to pump water back up into the reservoir instead of producing electricity.

The reversible generating units can thus be used to store surplus energy in Lake Blåsjø.

Is Lake Blåsjø and all the power stations just a giant battery?

Economic Effect

The economic effect of the North Sea Link to both the UK and Norway is laid out in a section called Economic Effect in the Wikipedia entry for the North Sea Link.

Some points from the section.

  • According to analysis by the United Kingdom market regulator Ofgem, in the base case scenario the cable would contribute around £490 million to the welfare of the United Kingdom and around £330 million to the welfare of Norway.
  • This could reduce the average domestic consumer bill in the United Kingdom by around £2 per year.
  • A 2016 study expects the two cables to increase price in South Norway by 2 øre/kWh, less than other factors.

This Economic Effect section also talks of a similar cable between Norway and Germany called NorGer.

It should be noted, that whereas the UK has opportunities for wind farms in areas to the North, South, East and West of the islands, Germany doesn’t have the space in the South to build enough wind power for the area.

There is also talk elsewhere of an interconnector between Scotland and Norway called NorthConnect.

It certainly looks like Norway is positioning itself as Northern Europe’s battery, that will be charged from the country’s extensive hydropower and surplus wind energy from the UK and Germany.

Could The Engineering Be Repeated?

I mentioned NorthConnect earlier.

  • The cable will run between Peterhead in Scotland and Samnanger in Norway.
  • The HVDC cable will be approximately 665 km long.
  • The cable will be the same capacity as the North Sea Link at 1400 MW.
  • According to Wikipedia construction started in 2019.
  • The cable is planned to be operational in 2022.
  • The budget is €1.7 billion.

Note.

  1. Samnager is close to Bergen.
  2. NorthConnect is a Scandinavian company.
  3. The project is supported by the European Union, despite Scotland and Norway not being members.
  4. National Grid is not involved in the project, although, they will be providing the connection in Scotland.

The project appears to be paused at the moment, awaiting how North Sea Link and NordLink between Norway and Germany are received.

There is an English web site, where this is the mission statement on the home page.

NorthConnect will provide an electrical link between Scotland and Norway, allowing the two nations to exchange power and increase the use of renewable energy.

This sounds very much like North Sea Link 2.

And then there is Icelink.

  • This would be a 1000-1200 km link between Iceland and the UK.
  • It would have a capacity of 1200 MW.
  • National Grid are a shareholder in the venture.
  • It would be the longest interconnector in the world.

The project appears to have stalled.

Conclusion

I can see these three interconnectors coming together to help the UK’s electricity generation become carbon-free by 2035.

 

 

 

 

 

October 3, 2021 Posted by | Computing, Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A New Timetable For The East Coast

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Modern Railways article describes in detail the thinking behind the proposed timetable for the East Coast Main Line, that will be introduced in May 2022.

The new titletable would appear to be a compromise and judging by the number of complaints that have appeared in the media, the compromise doesn’t suit everyone.

A lot of my programming was concerned with the allocation of resources in large projects and that expertise convinces me, that the East Coast Main Line doesn’t have enough capacity to accommodate all the services that passengers need and train companies want to run.

These are my thoughts.

High Speed Two

When High Speed Two is completed to Leeds, it will add the following services to Leeds.

  • Three trains per hour (tph) between London Euston and Leeds in a time of one hour and twenty-one minutes.
  • Two tph between Birmingham Curzon Street and Leeds in a time of forty-nine minutes.
  • One tph between Bedford and Leeds, run by Midlands Connect, in a time of one hour and thirty-six minutes.

Leeds will benefit from these services from the South on the new High Speed Two.

But the High Speed Two network has been designed to need to run three tph between York and Newcastle, which will have to share with other East Coast Main Line services.

Both High Speed Two and the aspiration of providing more services on the East Coast Main Line mean that more capacity must be provided between York and Newcastle.

High Speed Two is not mentioned in the Modern Railways article.

I know the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two is many years away, but surely, it should have an influence on the design of East Coast Main Line services.

For instance, destinations like Bradford, Cleethorpes, Doncaster, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Peterborough, Redcar, Scarborough, Skegness and Sunderland are unlikely to be served by High Speed Two services, so how does that determine our thinking, when planning train services to  these destinations.

Perhaps, there should be lists of secondary destinations, that should be served by the various operators.

London And Leeds In Two Hours

This is mentioned in the Modern Railways article as being an aspiration of Virgin Trains East Coast, when they ran the franchise.

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I did a few rough calculations and said this.

Consider.

    • The fastest current trains between London Kings Cross and Leeds take between two hours and twelve minutes and two hours and fifteen minutes.
    • I suspect that the extra tracks into Kings Cross, that are currently being built will save a few minutes.
    • There must be some savings to be made between Doncaster and Leeds
    • There must be some savings to be made between London Kings Cross and Woolmer Green.
    • There could be a rearrangement of stops.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

It is my view, that any new East Coast Main Line timetable should include services between London Kings Cross and Leeds in a few minutes under two hours.

London And Edinburgh In Four Hours

This must be another objective of the train companies, as it is competitive with the airlines.

But it is not a simple process as cutting stops to save time, often annoys the locals.

So achieving the objective of a four-hour trip between London and Edinburgh probably needs some major upgrades to the East Coast Main Line.

Some of the improvements needed are detailed in Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line.

Projects in the related article include.

  • Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade
  • York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Darlington Station Remodelling
  • The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction
  • Use Of The Leamside Line
  • Full Digital ERTMS signalling.

It would appear there’s a lot of work to do, but all of it, will be needed for High Speed Two.

The Modern Railways article does point out, that the new Hitachi trains have superior acceleration to the InterCity 225 trains, that they have replaced. So that will help!

Although it is a worthwhile objective, I think it will be some years before London and Edinburgh times of under four hours are obtained on the East Coast Main Line.

Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

These trains are described in this Hitachi infographic.

Within a couple of years these trains will start to be seen on the East Coast Main Line serving destinations like Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield,  Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

Although, it says batteries will replace one engine in the infographic, I believe the standard five-car train for the East Coast Main Line will have two battery packs and an emergency diesel engine. Before the end of the decade, they will be fully-decarbonised with three battery packs.

Splitting And Joining

Although the Hitachi trains can accomplish splitting and joining with ease, it is only mentioned once in the Modern Railways article and that is concerned with a service to Huddersfield, which will split and join at Leeds.

I can see this being used to make sure that each train running into Kings Cross is either a nine-car or a pair of five-car trains, as this would maximise capacity on the route.

Currently, trains to York and Lincoln share a path into Kings Cross, with trains alternating to each destination, so each destination gets one train per two hours (1tp2h).

It would surely be possible for a pair of trains to leave Kings Cross, that split at Newark, with one train going to York and the other to Lincoln.

  • The Modern Railways article says that the Middlesbrough service will be an extension of the 1tp2h York service.
  • This means Kings Cross and Middlesbrough would call at Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark North Gate, Retford, Doncaster and York.
  • So at some time in the future could the Middlesbrough and Lincoln services share a path, with a split and join at Newark?

If the Lincoln and Middlesbrough services were to be run at a frequency of 1tp2h, the intervening paths could be used for other destinations.

Theoretically, by using pairs of five-car trains and splitting and joining, four destinations can be given a service of 1tp2h to and from London, that all use the same path.

I think the following splits and joins would be feasible.

  • Lincoln/Middlesbrough splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Lincoln/Scarborough splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Nottingham/Sheffield splitting and joining at Newark North Gate.
  • Harrogate/Huddersfield splitting and joining at Leeds.
  • Bradford/Skipton splitting and joining at Leeds.
  • Hull/Leeds splitting and joining at Doncaster.

Note.

  1. The two Lincoln splits and joins at Newark North Gate could possibly be arranged, so that Middlesbrough got roughly 1tp2h and Scarborough got perhaps two trains per day (tpd).
  2. Hull would be a very useful destination, as it is a large station to the East of the East Coast Main Line.
  3. Nottingham and Sheffield could be useful destinations during any disruption on the Midland Main Line, perhaps due to installation of full electrification.

The permutations and combinations are endless.

All Fast Trains Must Have Similar Performance

East Coast Trains, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express all use trains with similar performance.

But other operators like Great Northern use slower trains on the East Coast Main Line.

As the Hitachi trains will be running at up to 140 mph under the control of full digital signalling, it strikes me that for safe, fast and efficient operation, the other operators will need faster trains, where they run on the fast lines of the East Coast Main Line.

Grand Central

Grand Central‘s fleet of Class 180 trains will need to be replaced to decarbonise the operator and will surely be replaced with more 140 mph trains to take advantage of the digitally-signalled East Coast Main Line.

As their routes are not fully-electrified, I suspect they’ll be using similar Hitachi battery-electric trains.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge is becoming one of the most important cities in the world, let alone England and the UK.

It is generating new businesses at a tremendous rate and it needs an expanded rail network to give access to housing and industrial premises in the surrounding cities and towns.

  • Peterborough is in the same county and is developing alongside Cambridge.
  • Bury St. Edmunds, Norwich and other towns are being drawn into Cambridge.
  • East West Rail to Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford is coming.

Cambridge is well-connected to London, but needs better connections to the North and Midlands.

King’s Cross And King’s Lynn

Currently, this route is run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.

These trains are just not fast enough for Network Rail’s 140 mph digitally signalled railway between King’s Cross and Hitchin.

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I examine how 125 mph trains and full digital signalling could be used to run between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge.

This would allow the trains to use the fast lines into King’s Cross.

I also feel, that to maximise the use of paths into King’s Cross, that the King’s Lynn service could be paired with a new Norwich service. The two trains would split and join at Cambridge.

Liverpool Lime Street And Norwich

This service is currently run by Class 156 trains and needs decarbonising. It also runs on 125 mph lines between.

  • Peterborough and Grantham
  • Nottingham and Sheffield

It certainly needs a thorough redesign and modern rolling stock to replace the current rolling road blocks.

East West Rail will certainly increase Cambridge and Norwich services to two tph, so why not terminate this Liverpool service at Cambridge rather than Norwich?

  • Cambridge station has a lot of space to add extra platforms.
  • The service would not need to reverse at Ely.
  • It would add much-needed capacity to the Cambridge and Peterborough route.
  • The service could even terminate at the new Cambridge South station.
  • There have been plans for some time to split this service at Nottingham.

As between Peterborough and Grantham is a fully-electrified four-track line, I suspect that a Cambridge and Nottingham service could be handled by a 110 mph battery-electric train based on a Class 350 or Class 379 train.

Similar battery-electric trains could probably handle the Northern section between Nottingham and Liverpool Lime Street.

Stansted Airport And Birmingham Via Cambridge

After the work to the North of Peterborough at Werrington, this service has a clear route away from the East Coast Main Line, so it can be ignored.

The service does need decarbonisation and I suspect that it could be run by a 110 mph battery-electric train based on a Class 350 or Class 379 train.

CrossCountry And TransPennine Express Services

CrossCountry and TransPennine Express also run services on the Northern section of the East Coast Main Line.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Leeds and Edinburgh via York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar (1tp2h)
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Sheffield and Newcastle via Doncaster, York, Darlington and Durham.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough via Leeds, Garforth and York
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Redcar via Leeds, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby, and Middlesbrough.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth.
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle via Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Chester-le-Street (1t2h)

In addition LNER and East Coast Trains also run these services on the same section.

  • LNER – 1 tp2h – London Kings Cross and York
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via York, Northallerton (1tp2h), Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Alnmouth (1tp2h)
  • East Coast Trains – 5 tpd – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Newcastle and Morpeth.

Aggregating the stops gives the following.

  • York – 8.5 tph
  • Darlington – 6 tph
  • Durham – 5 tph
  • Chester-le-Street – 0.5 tph
  • Newcastle – 6 tph and 5 tpd
  • Morpeth – 1 tph and 5 tpd
  • Almouth – 1.5 tph
  • Berwick-on-Tweed – 2 tph
  • Dunbar – 0.5 tph

Note.

  1. 1 tp2h = 0.5 tph
  2. Scotland is building two new stations at Reston and East Linton.
  3. Northern run trains between Newcastle and Morpeth.

It does appear from comments in the Modern Railways article, that the various train companies and passenger groups can’t agree on who calls where to the North of York.

Perhaps the Fat Controller should step in.

Between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed

With the reopening of the Northumberland Line between Newcastle and Ashington, there may be an opportunity to reorganise services between Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed.

  • Morpeth could be served via the Northumberland Line.
  • Britishvolt are building a large gigafactory for batteries at Blyth.
  • It would probably be a good idea to remove slow diesel services from the East Coast Main Line.
  • Reston station will need a train service.
  • Morpeth and Newcastle are under twenty miles apart on the East Coast Main Line and the route via Ashington is perhaps only ten miles longer.

It looks to me that local services on the Northumberland Line and between Newcastle and Reston on the East Coast Main Line could be run by a 110 mph battery-electric train.

Conclusion

There would appear to be a lot of scope to create a very much improved timetable for the East Coast Main Line.

I do think though that the following actions must be taken.

  • Ensure, that all the long-distance train companies have trains capable of running at 140 mph under the control of digital signalling.
  • Develop a 110 mph battery-electric train to work the local routes, that run on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Get agreement between passengers and train companies about stopping patterns to the North of York.
  • Use splitting and joining creatively to squeeze more trains into the available paths.

LNER would also need to increase their fleet.

 

 

August 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Reston Station

This page on the Scotland’s Railway web site, gives an overview of the project to build a new Reston station on the East Coast Main line about 3.5 miles North of Berwick-upon-Tweed station.

This is the project summary given on the web page.

Network Rail has developed proposals to create a new station at Reston in the Scottish Borders.

We worked with local partners and stakeholders to develop plans for the station and liaised with the local community in advance of submitting a planning application to Scottish Borders Council.

Planning consent was granted in February 2021 and the team are gearing up to deliver a challenging programme of work to create the new station.

The page also says that work on the station started in March 2021. Certainly, by May 2021, there was quite a bit happening.

This Google Map shows the village of Reston.

Note.

  1. The A1 running East-West at the top of the map.
  2. Main Street running East-West across the middle of the map.
  3. The East Coast Main Line runs North West-South East across the South-West corner of the map.

The station would appear to be East of the road called The Orchard.

Station Facilities

Looking at the video the station appears to have the following facilities.

  • Two platforms.
  • About seventy car-parking spaces, which is designed to be expanded
  • Five disabled car-parking spaces.
  • Electric car charging.
  • Bicycle storage
  • Full step-free access, at the South-Eastern end of the station.

There does not appear to be any avoiding line for freight trains or a bay platform to reverse trains.

But there appear to be a pair of crossovers to the North of the station site.

Distances Between Reston Station And Selected Towns

This are road distances between Reston station and selected towns.

  • Duns – 10 miles
  • Galashiels – 38 miles
  • Hawick – 47 miles
  • Kelso – 26 miles

Are there plans for new housing in the area?

Services Between Newcastle And Edinburgh

The following services run between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh/Glasgow – Stops at Alnmouth (irregular), Berwick-upon-Tweed (irregular), Dunbar (1tp2h)
  • East Coast Trains – 5 tpd – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh – Stops at Morpeth
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh – Stops at Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • LNER – 1 tph – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh – Stops at Alnmouth (1tp2h)
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh – Stops at Morpeth

Note.

  1. tpd is trains per day.
  2. tph is trains per hour.
  3. tp2h is trains per two hours.
  4. All services are run by 125 mph trains
  5. All services stop at Edinburgh and Newcastle.
  6. A typical service averages around 88.9 mph between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

The timetable appears to be arranged to ensure at least 4 tph between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

I have a few thoughts.

How Many Services Should Call At Reston?

On an urban line, stopping frequencies of services of up to four or even six tph are common, which would probably be in excess of what is needed at Reston.

Most rural main or secondary lines have frequencies of one or two tph.

I would suggest that if you’re designing and building a station, that will cost several million pounds, then the station must have at least an hourly service, but that two tph would be much more preferable.

In an ideal world, there might be two tph.

  • A slow train that stopped at all the larger stations, which could include East Linton, Dunbar, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Almouth and Morpeth.
  • A fast train that stopped just once at Reston station between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

Note.

  • Like Reston station, East Linton station is also under construction.
  • Reston station, is likely to have a selection of buses to Galashiels and other towns in the Borders.
  • Reston station has space for a sensible amount of parking.

I would also expect bus and train services to obey these conditions.

  • Be timetabled to arrive and leave at the same time each hour.
  • Run from early until late.
  • Provide an easy interchange, so that travellers don’t have to endure too much unfriendly weather.
  • Have a comprehensive ticketing system to attract passengers.

I also think that a warm waiting room and cafe should be provided.

Will Reston Station Have A Direct Service To London And The South?

Both of LNER’s services between Edinburgh and London call at York, Darlington and Newcastle, with only one service calling at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

This Google Map shows the location of Berwick-upon-Tweed station.

Note.

  1. The long island platform between the tracks.
  2. There are 124 parking spaces.
  3. The A1 is some distance away to the West.

It all looks very cramped.

So if, one of LNER’s London services stopped at Reston, would it be better for all travellers and operators.

I would suggest that it would probably be ideal if one of LNER’s two services stopped at Berwick-on-Tweed and the other stopped at Reston.

It would also probably be a good idea for ticketing to consider Reston as a Berwick-on-Tweed station.

Will ERTMS Signalling Be Used Between Edinburgh and Newcastle?

I don’t think this is a question of will, but more one of when.

  • It will enable trains to run at up to 140 mph.
  • It will handle trains efficiently, when they are running at different speeds.
  • It will allow the increasing of the frequency of trains on the double-track route.
  • All trains on the route will probably be fitted with equipment to run under in-cab digital ERTMS signalling in a few years.

I would expect that ERTMS signalling could be used to run an increasingly complex pattern of trains between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

Will There Be 140 mph Running Between Edinburgh and Newcastle?

I have flown my helicopter along the route between Edinburgh and Newcastle and ridden it in a 125 mph train many times.

Given how Network Rail have squeezed increased speeds out of routes like the Midland Main and Great Eastern Main Line, I have no doubt that some 140 mph running will be possible between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

I estimate that with a substantial amount of 140 mph running between Edinburgh and Berwick-on-Tweed could save as much as fifteen minutes on current timings.

What Trains Will Be Used Between Edinburgh and Newcastle?

Consider.

  • It is a fully-electrified double-track railway.
  • There will be 125 mph and possibly 140 mph express trains passing through.

I suspect that to avoid getting in the way of the expresses, trains with at least a 110 mph capability would be needed.

Some of the redundant Class 350 trains would probably do fine.

How Will LNER’s Extra Paths Affect Trains Between Edinburgh and Newcastle?

In the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes.

This is the last paragraph.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2022), from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour out of King’s Cross, compared to five today. As an interim measure  LNER is retaining seven rakes of Mk. 4 coaches hauled by 12 Class 91 locomotives to supplement the Azuma fleet and support its timetable ambitions until new trains are delivered.

In A New Elizabethan, I suggest that one of these extra paths could be used to run a third hourly service between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh.

I would think it likely, that it only would only stop at Newcastle, if it provided a fast service between the two capitals.

Is Reston Station About Borders Unemployment?

This post has been up for a few days now and there have been comments about the cost of this station and the more-than-adequate car-parking provision for the small villages.

This article on the Southern Reporter is entitled Unemployment In Borders Up Almost 120% Year On Year.

Could it be that one of the purposes with its expandable car-parking is to allow people to get to jobs in Edinburgh and Newcastle?

  • It should also be noted that Britishvolt are planning to build a £4 billion battery factory at Blyth, which according to reports will employ between three and five thousand people.
  • It is a distance of seventy miles and Google says it will take nearly an hour-and-a-half.
  • I suspect a 110 mph train between Reston and Bebside stations on the Northumberland Line would take about forty-five minutes.
  • Bebside station is on the Northumberland Line and will have a shuttle bus to the Britishvolt factory.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery/FLEX version of their 110 mph Class 350 trains.

By choosing to build a station will the possibility of large amounts of parking are the Scottish Government doing the best for the unemployed in the Borders?

You can imagine a scenario in the employment office at Britishvolt.

  • They are getting a lot of letters and e-mails asking about jobs.
  • Someone does a bit of counting and realises their planned car-park is too small.
  • Problems are outlined to ministers in the UK and Scottish Governments.
  • The reopening of the Northumberland Line and the building of Reston station do appear to have been accelerated.

Perhaps the rail developments are a small price for both governments to pay to secure a £4 billion investment,

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to Reston station, than first appears.

 

May 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Ashington Targets 2023 Opening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the sub-title.

A half-hourly service to Newcastle is planned.

The two trains per hour (tph) service and the opening date sounds just what is needed. Not just on the Northumberland Line, but in many places in the UK.

I would suggest some of the following.

There are also some much-needed stations, that could be added.

If we can create and manufacture a vaccine in a year, we can surely do a lot on a rail project in two years. And a lot of them! How many construction firms and workers would it keep employed?

The Modern Railways article gives a few more details.

How, Not If

This is the title of the first sub-section and sounds good to me!

It looks like Network Rail and others intend to apply good project management to deliver the project, fast and at a good price.

They haven’t been the best in the past, is all I’ll say!

Six Stations

This is said.

In summary, six new stations are proposed, at Northumberland Park (interchange with the Tyne and Wear Metro), Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington. An extension at the Northern end to Woodhorn is possible at a later stage.

Other points made include.

  • Ashington is envisaged as the terminus.
  • There are level crossing issues between Ashington and Woodhorn
  • There will be a cycleway connecting Blyth Bebside with the town centre. With all those B’s, they need an Geordie equivalent to Boris bikes!

It sounds well-thought out to me.

Butterwell Freight Line

This is said.

Also for consideration at a later stage is conversion of the currently freight-only Butterwell Line to passenger use, permitting a service from Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth to Newcastle via Bedlington.

This Google Map shows the railway lines North of Ashington.

Note.

  1. The big grey building at the bottom of the map is Asda’s Ashington superstore.
  2. There is a rail junction to the West of the superstore.
  3. The line going South leds to Bedlington and Newcastle.
  4. The line going North-East goes to Woodhorn, Lynemouth Power station and the Alcan Smelter.
  5. The Line going North West through the trees is the Butterwell Line, which goes to the Butterwell Opencast coal mine, Widdrington station and up the East Coast Main Line to Berwick-on-Tweed.

This second Google Map shows to the North of the first one.

Note the Butterwell Line runs from the South East corner of the map through the woods and to the East of the Ellington landfill site.

This third Google Map shows the route of the line to the East Coast Main Line.

Note.

  1. The electrified East Coast Main Line runs North-South down the Western site of the map.
  2. The large fields may indicate that coal has been removed and they have been restored.
  3. The Butterwell Line meanders its way across the map.
  4. Trains would appear to be able to enter and leave the Butterwell Line to or from the East Coast Main Line to and from the South only.
  5. The next station to the South is Pegswood and to the North is Widdrington.
  6. At the East of the map, the line connects to the line to Ashington through the woods.
  7. The Butterwell Line appears to be a mix of single and double track.

I wonder if Network Rail and train companies have a cunning plan for train services on this section of the East Coast Main Line.

Current services on the East Coast Main Line, that use the section of the line between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed include.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh/Glasgow – Stops irregularly at Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
  • East Coast Trains – 5 trains per day (tpd) – Stops at Morpeth
  • LNER – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Berwick-on-Tweed
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Stops at Manors and Cramlington
  • Northern Trains – 2 tpd – Newcastle and Chathill – Stops at Manors, Cramlington, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Morpeth

Note.

  1. Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get at least one fast tph to both Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  2. Stations between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get only a two tpd service.
  3. Stations between Newcastle and Morpeth get a 1 tph service.
  4. The East Coast Main Line is only two tracks and I suspect that Northern’s slow diesel multiple units are not ideal trains for the route.

The obvious improvement would surely be to run an hourly train between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, via Bedlington.

  • It would stop at Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, Ashington, Pegswood, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth.
  • There would be a reverse at Morpeth.
  • It would join the East Coast Main Line between Pegswood and Widdrington stations.
  • Trains could be timed, so that passengers between Cramlington and Alnmouth only waited a couple of minutes during change at Morpeth.
  • Faster trains would be used to ease train pathing on the East Coast Main Line.

Current fastest times between Newcastle, Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed are as follows.

  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Newcastle – LNER – 67 miles – 46 minutes – 87 mph
  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth – LNER – 50.2 miles – 30 minutes – 100.4 mph
  • Morpeth and Newcastle – TransPennine Express- 17.5 miles – 26 minutes – 40.4 mph

It looks to me that because of the times North of Morpeth, that a high performance train or some cunning signalling will be needed.

Britishvolt’s Gigaplant

BritishVolt are building a factory to produce lithium-ion batteries at Blyth.

The Modern Railways article says this.

Recent news concerning Blyth is that it has been selected as the site for Britain’s first ‘gigaplant’ for electric car battery production, with a planning application for the 95-hectare site on the north of the river Blyth (the location of the former Blyth power station) submitted by Britishvolt in February. The £2.6billion scheme is expected to generate about 3000 jobs; if all goes well, lithium-ion batteries could be produced on the site by the end of 2023. The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

I looked at Britishvolt’s web site and if I was graduating soon, I don’t think it would fire me up, unlike others in similar sectors.

We live in exciting times, so don’t have a boring web site, as it will not attract exciting and enthusiastic people.

This Google Map shows the Port of Blyth.

Note.

  1. The red arrow at the top of the map labelled as a former power station, which must be Blyth power station.
  2. There is certainly a large cleared site to the South of the arrow.
  3. The Port of Blyth is to the East.
  4. Because of the power station and the port the site could be rail connected fairly easily.

Britishvolt seem to be planning to use rail freight to bring in raw materials and take out finished product.

The Modern Railways article says this.

The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

As there is a rail connection, at some point in the future could a shuttle train be used? Or perhaps a few trains per day between the factory and Newcastle.

A Bridge For The A1061 At Newsham

The Modern Railways article says this.

A new road bridge will be built on the A1061 to replace Newsham level crossing.

This Google Map shows where the Northumberland Line crosses the A1061 at the level crossing at Newsham.

Note.

  1. The railway is double-track through the level crossing.
  2. It doesn’t appear to be a challenging project.
  3. A bridge could either be built along the existing route or a few metres to the South.

But as it looks like there could be more housing development in the area, would a bold design, that would allow a station to be added later be better?

Two Footbridges

The Modern Railways article says this.

In addition, there will be two new footbridges; Palmersville Dairy (replacing Palmersville foot crossing) and Chase Meadows (replacing Chase Meadows foot crossing).

This Google Map shows the Palmersville foot crossing to the West of Palmersville station on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Note.

  1. The Northern pair of tracks are the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  2. The Southern pair of Tracks are the Northumberland Line.
  3. Palmersville and Northumberland Park stations are to the East.
  4. The current foot crossing is shown over the Northumberland Line.

It would appear that there is plenty of space for a footbridge.

Two Trains Per Hour

The Modern Railways article says this about infrastructure improvements to enable two trains per hour.

An extension of the double-track south from Newsham, for about 1 km in the direction of Seaton Delaval, along with a new 2.4 km passing loop between Holywell and Seghill, are in place in order to permit a half-hourly service in both directions.

From the maps, it looks like about half the route between Northumberland Park station and Seghill will be double-track.

It may even be possible to extend the double-track further South towards Northumberland Park station, if there became a need to run more trains on the Northumberland Line.

Operations

The Modern Railways article says this.

It is assumed that Class 158 DMUs will be the rolling stock for the first couple of years of service to Ashington, with three or four units required. Conversion of these trains (or replacement with new) to allow battery-electric operation is envisaged for the later years of this decade. There will be provision for two-car services at the outset with passive provision for extension to four-cars in the infrastructure works.

In Trains: £34m For Revival Of 50-Year-Old North-East Railway Line, I felt that the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be ideal for this route.

I said this.

I’m drawn inextricably to the conclusion, that the trains should be 100 mph battery-electric trains.

Hitachi, who have a factory in the North-East, have announced their Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

These trains can be based on Class 385 trains.

    • They are 100 mph trains.
    • They come in three- and four-cars lengths.
    • The three-car trains have 206 seats.
    • They can work in pairs.
    • They can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • They have a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on battery power.
    • The batteries would be charged on the ECML between Benton North junction and Newcastle station.
    • The battery packs will be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation in Sunderland.
    • They have big windows for the views.

I’m sure Hitachi, Hyperdrive and Britishvolt would like a fleet in service, just up the road from their factories.

Now that the extension to between Ashington and Berwick-upon-Tweed via Morpeth is being talked about, I suspect that battery-electric trains, will be ideal for this route.

Distances without electrification of the two routes are as follows.

  • Benton North Junction and Ashington – 19 miles – 38 miles round trip
  • Benton North Junction and Widdrington – 27 miles

These distances are well within the planned range of the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains and they would even be capable of working a round trip to Ashington without charging at the Northern end of the route.

Batteries can be charged on the East Coast Main Line on the following sections of the route.

  • Between Benton North Junction and Newcastle.
  • Between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations.

Their fast acceleration and 100 mph operating speed mean that it could keep out of the way of the 140 mph Hitachi trains North of Morpeth.

Calling At Manors Station

The Modern Railways article says that because the East Coast Main Line is so busy, some peak services may have to omit the call at Manors station in the suburbs of Newcastle that is envisaged for the off-peak services.

I wonder with their faster acceleration, if the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be able to handle the stop at Manors station for all services.

Development At Ashington

The Modern Railways article gives this quote from Network Rail’s manager for the reopening project.

For instance in the centre of Ashington there’s a rather grim 1960s tower block that is owned by the county council that could be replaced by something more appropriate to today’s needs. This is Wansbeck Square in the centre of the town; the square is in line to be remodelled to make it more attractive. The integrated station and development need to be delivered at the same time for maximum impact.

This Google Map shows the Northerland Line going through the centre of the town of Ashington.

Note.

  1. Station Road running East-West .across the top of the map.
  2. The 1960s block could be to the West of the railway, especially as the Southern part is labelled Northumberland County Council.
  3. The site to the West of the railway does appear to be quite large.

The new station and the Wansbeck Square site does look look to have strong development potential.

 

 

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UK’s First Car Battery ‘Gigafactory’ To Be Built By Two Startups

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Two British startups have announced plans to invest as much as £4bn in building the UK’s first large-scale battery factory, in a move that could prove a major boost to the country’s struggling car industry.

AMTE Power and Britishvolt have signed a memorandum of understanding saying they will work together on plans for a plant to make lithium ion batteries, the key component in electric cars as well as energy storage products.

So who are AMTE Power And Britishvolt?

AMTE Power

The AMTE Power web site, has this mission statement.

The cell market demands flexibility in design and chemistry, AMTE has focused on supporting niche customers who want to develop and build solutions where standard cell options fail to deliver against their business design objectives.

The forecast demand for cells production, will see delivery shortages as Automotive and Energy storage markets develop. AMTE can supply its customers with bespoke solutions eliminating the need to accept second best in cell choice.

Give the customers, what they want is rarely a bad philosophy.

Britishvolt

The Britishvolt web site, has this mission statement.

We have identified the United Kingdom as the potential location to build our first Gigaplant. Britishvolt is looking to produce high performance batteries better than anyone else, establishing the country as the leading force in battery technology and the center of sustainable energy storage. We are ready for the World 2023.

Having read both companies web sites, I think the two companies have more than a little in common.

So why not team up and move forward.

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment