The Anonymous Widower

Norfolk Wind Farms Offer ‘Significant Benefit’ For Local Economy

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

This is a comprehensive article, which looks at the benefits of the huge Norfolk Boreas and Norfolk Vanguard wind farms will have to the economy of Norfolk.

The last section is devoted to Norfolk Nimby; Raymond Pearce.

This is the section.

Following the re-approval of the decision by the government, Mr Pearce says he is considering a new appeal over what he calls “a very poor decision”.

He is also sceptical of claims the two new wind farms will bring the economic gains promised by Vattenfall.

“It’s renewable energy at any cost and the cost here is to the environment in Norfolk,” he says.

“I don’t blame them for being positive about it, it’s their industry but they’re not looking at it holistically.”

He says he is not against renewable energy but thinks a better plan is needed to connect the offshore windfarms and minimise the number of cables and substations onshore.

It’s his money if he appeals, but we do need more wind, solar and other zero-carbon energy to combat global warming and its effects like the encroachment of the sea around Norfolk.

I believe, that building wind farms off the coast of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk is a good move, as in the future, if we have spare electricity, it will be easy to export energy to Europe, through existing interconnectors.

But I do agree with him, that a better plan is needed to connect the offshore windfarms and minimise the number of cables and substations onshore.

A Norfolk Powerhouse

This map from Vattenfall, the developer of the two wind farms, shows the position of the farms and the route of the cable to the shore.

Note.

  1. The purple line appears to be the UK’s ten mile limit.
  2. Norfolk Boreas is outlined in blue.
  3. Norfolk Vanguard is outlined in orange.
  4. Cables will be run in the grey areas.
  5. Both wind farms are planned to have a capacity of 1.8 GW

Landfall will be just a few miles to the South of the Bacton gas terminal.

Bacton Gas Terminal

Bacton gas terminal is much more than a simple gas terminal.

With the need to decarbonise, I can’t help feeling that the Bacton gas terminal is very much on the decline and the site will need to be repurposed in the next few years.

Blending Hydrogen With Natural Gas

If you blend a proportion of hydrogen into natural gas, this has two beneficial effects.

  • Gas used in domestic and industrial situations will emit less carbon dioxide.
  • In the near future we will be replacing imported natural gas with hydrogen.

The hydrogen could be produced by a giant electrolyser at Bacton powered by the electricity from the two Norfolk wind farms.

At the present time, a research project call HyDeploy is underway, which is investigating the blending of hydrogen into the natural gas supply.

  • Partners include Cadent, Northern Gas Networks, the Health and Safety Executive, Keele University and ITM Power and Progessive Energy.
  • A first trial at Keele University has been hailed as a success.
  • It showed up to twenty percent of hydrogen by volume can be added to the gas network without the need to change any appliances or boilers.

Larger trials are now underway.

A Giant Electrolyser At Bacton

If hydrogen were to be produced at Bacton by a giant electrolyser, it could be used or distributed in one of the following ways.

  • Blended with natural gas for gas customers in Southern England.
  • Stored in a depleted gas field off the coast at Bacton. Both Baird and Deborah gas fields have been or are being converted to gas storage facilities, connected to Bacton.
  • Distributed by truck to hydrogen filling stations and bus and truck garages.
  • Greater Anglia might like a hydrogen feed to convert their Class 755 trains to hydrogen power.
  • Sent by a short pipeline to the Port of Great Yarmouth and possibly the Port of Lowestoft.
  • Exported to Europe, through one of the interconnectors.

Note.

  1. If the electrolyser were to be able to handle the 3.6 GW of the two wind farms, it would be the largest in the world.
  2. The size of the electrolyser could be increased over a few years to match the output of the wind farms as more turbines are installed offshore.
  3. There is no reason, why the electrical connection between Bacton and the landfall of the wind farm cable couldn’t be offshore.

If ITM Power were to supply the electrolyser, it would be built in the largest electrolyser factory in the World, which is in Sheffield in Yorkshire.

A Rail Connection To The Bacton Gas Terminal

This Google Map shows the area between North Walsham and the coast.

Note.

  1. North Walsham is in the South-Western corner of the map.
  2. North Walsham station on the Bittern Line is indicated by the red icon.
  3. The Bacton gas terminal is the trapezoidal-shaped area on the coast, at the top of the map.

I believe it would be possible to build a small rail terminal in the area with a short pipeline connection to Bacton, so that hydrogen could be distributed by train.

How Much Hydrogen Could Be Created By The Norfolk Wind Farms?

In The Mathematics Of Blending Twenty Percent Of Hydrogen Into The UK Gas Grid, I said the following.

Ryze Hydrogen are building the Herne Bay electrolyser.

  • It will consume 23 MW of solar and wind power.
  • It will produce ten tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The electrolyser will consume 552 MWh to produce ten tonnes of hydrogen, so creating one tonne of hydrogen needs 55.2 MWh of electricity.

Each of the Norfolk wind farms, if they were working flat out would produce 43.2 GWh  of electricity in a day.

Dividing the two figures gives a daily production rate of 782.6 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

But what happens if the wind doesn’t blow?

This is where the gas storage in the Baird, Deborah and other depleted gas fields comes in.In times of maximum wind, hydrogen is stored for use when the wind doesn’t blow.

Conclusion

I believe a plan like this, would be much better for Norfolk, the UK and the whole planet.

Using the existing gas network to carry the energy away from Norfolk, could mean that the electricity connection across Norfolk could be scaled back.

 

 

February 17, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Flirt Akku And Class 755 Train Compared

This article on Focus Transport is entitled 224-kilometre Battery Range For FLIRT Akku – Stadler Sets World Record For Guinness Book Of Records.

These facts about the record run are given.

  • The route was from from Berlin to Warnemünde.
  • It appears to have been independently verified.
  • The distance was 224 kilometres or 139 miles.
  • This distance is more than London to Great Yarmouth via Norwich.
  • It is reported that the temperature was around zero, which is not very battery-friendly.

No mention was made in the article of the number of passengers on board or the average speed.

Various articles have stated that the Flirt Akku is a three-car train, but I was not sure, if it included a PowerPack car like the Class 755 train.

So I flew my virtual drone over the route and got this picture.

Compare the front end with this picture of a Class 755 train at Lowestoft.

And the side view with this diagram of the trains, that I clipped from Wikipedia.

I can come to these conclusions.

  • The two front ends are very different, although the basic layout of doors and windows appears the same.
  • The Akku seems to have a flatter side.
  • The Akku lacks the PowerPack of the British train.

It also looks like the Greater Anglia train has better step-free access between between train and platform. But then you never seem to find good step-free access on German trains.

Some extra information and thoughts .

Testing The Flirt Akku

This article on Railvolution is entitled FLIRT AKKU Research Project Completed.

The article comprehensively described the testing process  and gave more details of the train.

  • The train was running at 140 kph or 87 mph.
  • This speed is available from the catenary or battery.
  • Battery charging takes twenty minutes.
  • The train seats 154 passengers in a 2 + 2 configuration.

The train appears to be roughly the same size and performance as a three-car Class 755 train.

Range On A Battery-Electric Class 755 Train

The battery range needed on various Greater Anglia routes are as follows.

Ipswich and Cambridge – 41.3 miles

  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – 15.6 miles
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – 48.9 miles
  • Ipswich and Peterborough – 71.2 miles
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 18.3 miles
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 23.5 miles
  • Norwich and Sheringham – 30 miles
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – 53.7 miles
  • Marks Tey and Sudbury – 11.8 miles

Note.

  1. Cambridge, Ely, Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough are stations with full electrification.
  2. I suspect some services will need charging at the remote station.

It looks like to handle all routes will need a train with a range of around 80 miles or around 129 kilometres.

Conclusion

I don’t think that it would be impossible for Stadler to create a battery-electric Class 755 train with enough range.

December 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Soham Station – 14th December 2021

I visited the new Soham station today.

I took four trains in total.

  • The 11:12 from King’s Cross, which arrived at  Ely at 12:23
  • The 12:31 from Ely, which arrived at  Soham at 12:39
  • The 12:51 from Soham, which arrived at  Ely at 12:59
  • The 13:18 from Ely, which arrived at King’s Cross at 14:33

The outward journey took  87 minutes, with the return taking 102 minutes.

I took these pictures at Soham station.

Note.

  1. The train is a three-car Class 755 train.
  2. There is only a single platform.
  3. There are dropped kerbs everywhere on the walking routes.
  4. There is plenty of car parking.
  5. There are disabled car parking spaces.
  6. There is a circular turning area in front of the station, which forms a high-capacity Kiss-and-Ride, with space for a couple of buses.
  7. The track towards Ely is single-track
  8. The track towards Bury St. Edmunds and Ipswich is double-track.
  9. The bridge is ready for a second platform, should it be needed and/or installed.
  10. The station is unmanned.

These are some further thoughts.

Is Soham The Ultimate Step-Free Station?

Consider

  • Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains are level with the platform, as they have gap fillers.
  • Walking from the car parking to the train is step-free.
  • There are lots of dropped kerbs and tactile pavements.

I suspect it is one of the few stations in the UK, where if you arrive on foot or by car or bus, that there is no step to the train.

This document on Network Rail says this about the footbridge.

A stepped footbridge across the railway to connect to an existing public right of way, designed for future installation of lifts if a second platform is constructed.

It looks like Network Rail have all eventualities covered.

The Station Has Adequate Parking

This picture from the gallery shows the parking to the South of the station.

The Network Rail document says that the car park can accommodate 50 vehicles and has four spaces for blue badge holders.

But looking at this picture, there could be space for more parking.

The Station Is Well-Connected To The Road System

This Google Map shows the town of Soham.

Note.

  1. Soham has a by-pass around the Eastern side of the town.
  2. The railway passes to the West side of the town.
  3. The station is marked by the small blue dot to the left of the word Soham in the middle.
  4. The old road goes through the centre of the town.
  5. Soham is a town of nearly eleven thousand people.
  6. I suspect the town is fairly flat and many will walk or cycle to the station.

Hopefully, the station will attract a lot of passengers.

Does The Station Need A Second Platform?

Network Rail have shown with the Borders Railway and the Avocet Line, that two trains per hour (tph) can be run reliably on a line with sections of single-track and some stations with only one platform.

One of the problems with a second platform at Soham, would be that lifts would be needed for many to cross the track.

It is not the cost that is the problem, but lifts do not have a hundred percent reliability.

Would installing lifts mean providing staff at the station?

I think, that unless the station attracts a lot of passengers, the second platform will never be built.

Would A Second Track Be Provided At Soham Station?

This is a different question, with possibly a different answer.

A large number of freight trains pass through Soham station each day and to increase their number Network Rail have proposed double-tracking the route between Soham and Ely.

As Soham and Ely are just over five miles apart, I wonder if Network Rail are thinking of putting a freight loop through Soham station, that continues to Ely.

These pictures show a long freight train waiting in the freight loop at Ely station before proceeding to Peterborough and the West.

I think that this loop is bi-directional.

Could the new freight loop be built, so that the following happens?

  • The freight loop starts to the South of Soham station.
  • The freight loop connects to the freight loop at Ely station.
  • All passenger trains use the current single-track.
  • All freight trains use the freight loop.
  • Both tracks would be bi-directional.
  • Freight trains don’t pass through the current platform at Soham station.

It stood be noted that passenger  and freight trains take less than ten minutes between Ely and Soham stations.

As both freight and passenger trains would have their own tracks, I suspect that a total of at least four passenger tph and four freight tph would be able to pass between Soham and Ely.

The A14 Parkway Station

I wrote this section originally in Soham Station Aims For December 2021 Opening, but it still applies.

The A14 Parkway station is a proposal from the East West Railway.

  • It would be just to the East of Chippenham junction and would be served by both Greater Anglia’s services between Ipswich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Peterborough.
  • It would also be close to the major road junction, where the A11 and the A14 meet.
  • It would be a Park-and-Ride station.

I believe it could be a major factor in cutting road mileage in East Anglia, as drivers going to Cambridge from Ipswich, Norwich, a large area of North-East East Anglia and North Essex could find that using the A14 Parkway station an easier and faster route. But the A14 Parkway would need a frequent service to the soon-to-be-three main Cambridge stations.

A Soham and Cambridge service could reverse at the A14 Parkway station or by careful timetabling, passengers would be able to change trains in a minute or two.

A Cambridge And Soham Service

I do wonder, if Cambridge could benefit from a triangular metro.

The three points of the triangle would be A14 Parkway, Cambridge South and Ely stations.

The three legs would have the following stations.

  • A14 Parkway and Cambridge South – Newmarket, Dullingham, Six Mile Bottom *, Fulbourne *, Cherry Hinton * and Cambridge
  • Cambridge South and Ely – Cambridge, Cambridge North and Waterbeach
  • Ely and A14 Parkway – Soham and Fordham *

Note.

  1. Stations marked with an asterisk (*) are possible new stations.
  2. The basic frequency would be one tph.
  3. Trains would reverse at A14 Parkway, Cambridge South and Ely stations.

The triangular nature of the service may mean that to avoid the driver constantly changing ends, that automation and video technology may allow driving from either end of the train.

These existing services would fit in with the triangular service.

  • Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • Ipswich and Peterborough via A14 Parkway, Soham and Ely
  • Ipswich and Cambridge via A14 Parkway, Newmarket and Dullingham
  • Wisbech and Cambridge via Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.
  • Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Waterbeach and Ely.

Note.

  1. All services would probably be one tph.
  2. Some services currently terminating at Cambridge, may be extended to Cambridge South.
  3. There will be other services from East West Railway.

The frequencies on the various legs would be as follows.

  • A14 Parkway and Cambridge South – 2 tph plus one tph from East West Railway
  • Cambridge South and Ely – 5 tph plus one tph from East West Railway
  • Ely and A14 Parkway – 2 tph

The route between A14 Parkway and Cambridge would need to be improved, but this is planned by East West Railway.

Would It Be Possible To Commute From Soham To London?

My timings of around ninety minutes are probably well within the endurance of the average commuter.

Conclusion

Soham station is not your run-of-the-mill rural station.

 

December 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is There A Case For A Round-The-Wash Service Between Doncaster And Ipswich/Norwich?

I suggested this service in The Integrated Rail Plan For The North And Midlands And The East Coast Main Line.

Effectively, it would join East Midlands Railway’s Doncaster and Peterborough service with Greater Anglia’s Cambridge and Ipswich service.

  • The service could go via Scunthorpe, Grimsby Town, Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town, Market Rasen, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Newmarket, Bury St. Edmunds and Stowmarket.
  • There would be reverses at Cleethorpes and Cambridge.
  • There may be extra stops in Lincolnshire and across Suffolk.
  • The service would not use the East Coast Main Line, but would use the new Werrington Dive-Under and the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line to the East of the East Coast Main Line.
  • The frequency would be one train per two hours (1tp2h).
  • Ideal trains could be Class 755 trains, perhaps running on batteries or hydrogen.

It would be paired with a new Doncaster and Norwich service, that could partly replace East Midlands Railway’s Liverpool and Norwich service.

  • The service could go via Scunthorpe, Grimsby Town, Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town, Market Rasen, Lincoln, Sleaford, Spalding, Peterborough, March, Ely, Cambridge North, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham.
  • There would be reverses at Cleethorpes and Cambridge.
  • There may be extra stops in Lincolnshire and across Norfolk.

As with the Ipswich train it would not use the East Coast Main Line and have a frequency of 1tp2h.

The Objectives Of The Service

I believe this service could have several objectives.

Remove Slower Trains From The East Coast Main Line Between Peterborough And Doncaster

There aren’t many except freight, but this plan could provide a better solution to the Liverpool and Norwich service.

Providing Better Connections To The Biggest Growth Point In The UK – Cambridge

Cambridge needs better connections, so that it can bring in the staff and workers, that the high-tech capital of the UK needs.

Better Connection Of East Anglia And Lincolnshire To Northern England And Scotland

In Peterborough and Doncaster the route has two main interchanges to bring about these connections.

Promoting Tourism

For a start the route has five cathedrals; Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Lincoln, Norwich and Peterborough and the historic city of Cambridge.

But I do believe that there are numerous places, where tourists might stay on the route and use it to explore the East of the country.

A Few Questions

These are a few questions.

Would The Route Be Electrified?

I don’t believe it will be fully electrified for two reasons.

Freight locomotives will increasingly become hydrogen-powered and also be able to use electrification, where it exists.

Plans by the likes of Hitachi ABB Power Grids and Furrer and Frey are likely to enable discontinuous and battery-electric trains to be able to work the route.

This philosophy would avoid all the disruption and reconstruction of structures of electrification and probably be much more affordable.

Would York Or Leeds Make A Better Northern Terminal For The Route?

Both have possibilities.

  • York would need running on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Leeds would probably need trains capable of 125 mph running.

On the other hand both Leeds and York would have superb connectivity.

Conclusion

I feel this would be a very valuable new service and it could be created without building any new infrastructure other than perhaps some strategic stations.

November 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Would A Lumo-Style Service Work Between King’s Cross And Norfolk?

This is a bit of a fantasy and you’ll never know the real reason why I have written it!

With the upgrade of the East Coast Main Line to full digital signalling, there will be a problem South of Hitchin with 140 mph Azumas and Hitachi Class 802 trains and similar from Grand Central , Hull Trains and Lumo hogging the fast lines to and from King’s Cross. I first wrote about it in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

One solution would be to replace the current Class 387 trains with a 140 mph train , such as a Hitachi Class 802 variant. This would enable these fast King’s Lynn and Cambridge trains to join the 140 mph trains on a fast run to and from King’s Cross.

The Future Of Cambridge

Cambridge is one of the UK’s four world cities, with its heritage and lately its high position in any technology league table.

The Current Rail Service Between London And Cambridge

Currently, it has a good service into King’s Cross, Liverpool Street and St. Pancras.

  • Great Northern – two tph to King’s Cross – A stopping train using Class 700 or Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between Ely and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Great Northern – one tph between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross – A fast train using Class 387 trains.
  • Thameslink  – two tph to Brighton – A semi-fast train using Class 700 trains.
  • Greater Anglia – two tph to Liverpool Street – A semi-fast train using Class 720 or Class 379 trains.

Note.

  1. tph means trains per hour.
  2. The similar Class 387 and Class 379 trains are both late-model Bombardier Electrostars with sensible seats and a large number of tables. Both train types can or could be modified to run at 110 mph.
  3. The Class 700 trains are unsuitable for the route, as they have ironing-board seats and no tables. These are only 100 mph trains.
  4. The Queen’s bottom doesn’t like the Class 700 trains.

A large proportion of the passengers and commuters between to and from Cambridge work in high-tech or information-rich businesses and I believe if the trains were more geared to this market they would attract passengers away from the roads.

The Cambridge Employment Problem

Fast-growing Cambridge is taking over the region and it is always looking for towns and villages to develop as places for dormitories and to build premises for the hundreds of high-tech businesses.

This is one of the reasons why Greater Anglia acquired new Stadler Class 755 trains to run services from Cambridge to Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough and Stansted Airport.

If you’re going to lure Cambridge’s well-paid high-tech commuters out of their cars, you must give them an equivalent seat to their car. The Class 379, 387 and 755 trains do this.

Living In Norfolk And Suffolk And Working In Cambridge

This has always been the choice of many who work in Cambridge, but using rail into Cambridge didn’t really take-off seriously until modern three-car Class 170 trains replaced the single-car Class 153 trains.

Greater Anglia have followed the upward trend in passenger numbers, by running hourly  four-car Class 755 trains from Cambridge to both Ipswich and Norwich.

Before the pandemic, it was starting to look like Norwich and Cambridge would soon need a second service, especially with the planned opening of the new Cambridge South station in 2025.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital And The Cambridge Biomedical Campus

Cambridge South station is being built to serve Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which intend to be create the foremost medical research cluster in the world.

Staycations And Holiday Homes In East Anglia

Life is changing because of the covids and more people are taking staycations or buying holiday homes.

And many are following the example of the Queen and going to Norfolk for their relaxation.

The Undoubted Need To Improve Rail Services Between London King’s Cross And Norfolk Via Cambridge

These factors convince me that there is a need for a new or repurposed rail service  between London King’s Cross and Norfolk via Cambridge.

  • The need to provide a high-class commuter service between London and Cambridge.
  • The need to bring workers into Cambridge from Norfolk.
  • The need to provide a fast high-class rail link to Cambridge South station with all its medical research.
  • The need to provide a comprehensive working environment on the trains.
  • The need to cater for all those people relaxing in Norfolk after a hard week in London.

It is my view, that a radical design of train is needed for this route.

  • It would need to have a high-class interior.
  • It would need at least a 125 mph capability, so that it can use the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross.
  • The train may need the ability to split and join.
  • It would need an independent power capability for running on the Breckland Line between Ely and Norwich.
  • Because of Cambridge and because East Anglia is easy country for cycling, it would need a sensible capacity for cycles.

I also believe that because of the need to decarbonise, the train should be zero-carbon.

These are my thoughts.

Operating Speed

Because of running on the fast lines between Hitchin and King’s Cross with the 140 mph trains from the North, I suspect that an operating speed of at least 125 mph is needed. But if the Hitachi trains of LNER, Hull Trains, Lumo and in the future possibly other operators like Grand Central, will be capable of 140 mph, this speed could be desirable.

Speed limits once the trains have left the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin North junction are as follows.

  • Hitchin and Cambridge – 90 mph
  • Cambridge and King’s Lynn – 90 mph
  • Ely and Norwich – 75-90 mph

I can see Network Rail using their expertise to raise the speed limit on sections of these lines.

Flighting Of Trains On The East Coast Main Line

To increase capacity on the East Coast Main Line, I believe that at some point in the not too distant future that trains will be flighted. This will involve two or more trains leaving King’s Cross in a sequence and proceeding with all trains at a safe distance from each other.

I can envisage a flight like this from King’s Cross.

  • An Edinburgh train with York as the first stop – Leaves at XX.00
  • A Leeds train with Doncaster as the first stop – Leaves at XX.03
  • A Lincoln train with Peterborough as the first stop – Leaves at XX.06
  • A Cambridge train with Stevenage as the first stop – Leaves at XX.09

Note.

  1. The Edinburgh train would set the speed.
  2. Trains would maintain their time behind the lead train.
  3. Everything could be controlled by the digital signalling.
  4. Gaps between the trains would be sufficient for a safe stop.
  5. No train in the flight would make a station stop unless it was the last train in the flight.
  6. The last train in the flight would drop off and go to their destination.

As there are at least two tph to Edinburgh, Leeds and Cambridge, there would be two main flights per hour leaving King’s Cross, with the second flight perhaps incorporating a service to Hull.

Digital signalling and precise driving would enable the flights to be built in the opposite direction into King’s Cross.

The big advantage would be that instead of needing eight paths per hour on the East Coast Main Line, only two would be needed.

All trains would need to have similar performance, so this is another reason why the Cambridge trains need to be at least 125 mph trains.

Train Interiors

Lumo has broken new ground in train interiors.

  • It is one class.
  • Everybody gets a decent seat.
  • Everybody gets good legroom.
  • Everybody gets some form of table.
  • There are decent-sized overhead racks for hand-baggage and coats.
  • There is space for bicycles and heavy luggage appropriate to the route.

This can be built on to provide a good working and playing environment suited to the passengers who would use a fast King’s Cross and Norfolk service via Cambridge.

  • Lots of tables for four, as in the high-class Electrostars.
  • Better bicycle storage.
  • Better alignment of seats with windows.

Hitachi could obviously produce a train to this specification.

But what about other manufacturers.

Stadler’s Class 755 trains are surely a possibility.

  • A senior driver from Greater Anglia told me that the design speed for a Class 755 train is 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • They have good seats.
  • They have flat floors.
  • They have large windows.
  • They have step-free access between train and platform.
  • Like the Hitachi trains, they are in service.

I believe the closely-related Class 745 trains are probably the best commuter trains in the UK and are the only alternative to the Hitachi trains on a125 mph fully-electrified route.

Bridging The Electrification Gap Between Ely And Norwich

Between Norwich and Ely stations is 53.8 miles and this section is not electrified, although both stations have full electrification.

The line is not heavily used with typically only two passenger trains and the occasional freight trains in each direction in an hour.

This Hitachi infographic describes the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

A 90 km. range could be sufficient to cover the gap between Norwich and Ely.

Could Hitachi build a Class 802 train or similar with a battery range of 90 km or 56 miles?

Certainly, a speed of 100 mph would probably be sufficient to bridge the gap in a decent time.

Improving The Breckland Line

The Breckland Line is the route between Cambridge and Norwich.

  • Cambridge and Norwich is 68.5 miles
  • Only the sixteen miles between Cambridge and Ely North junction is electrified.
  • There are thirteen stops between the two cities.
  • A typical time is 79 minutes
  • This is an average speed of just 52 mph.
  • The operating speed is 75-90 mph.

I am sure that Network Rail can squeeze a few minutes here and there to get the operating speed up to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

But the big problem at Norwich is the Trowse swing bridge.

It is only single track and it is likely that this bridge will be replaced soon.

This Google Map shows Trowse junction, a short distance South of the swing bridge.

Note.

  1. The electrified double-track of the Great Eastern Main Line goes across the map from North East to South West.
  2. The double-track railway to the East of the main line is the unelectrified Breckland Line to Cambridge, which turns West and goes under the main line.
  3. On the West of the main lines are the Victoria sidings that I wrote about in Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project.

As the replacement of the swing bridge will require some work to be done to the electrification, I wonder if at the same time Network Rail would electrify the Norwich end of the Breckland Line.

There must be a balance point adding electrification or batteries to the trains.

As the Breckland Line has few freight trains, electrification is not needed for freight.

Ticketing

A high-speed high-capacity service as I’m proposing must be easy to use.

It is a classic route, where nothing short of London-style contactless ticketing will do, as I’m certain this encourages people to use the trains.

As East Anglia is self-contained and has few services that don’t terminate in the area or in London, I am certain that this could be achieved.

If you remove First Class as Greater Anglia has done on many services, you actually simplify the ticketing, so a Lumo-style mid-class is ideal.

High Speed Train Services

Currently Great Northern run two tph from King’s Cross to Ely via Cambridge.

  • One service is extended to King’s Lynn.
  • I could see the second service extended to Norwich.

Both services would need to be run by 125 mph trains because of the speed of other trains on the East Coast Main Line.

Conclusion

I think duch a system would be possible.

November 21, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Carbon Emissions Cut With The New Trains In East Anglia

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

The article explains the various ways Greater Anglia’s new trains cut carbon emissions.

The picture shows a PowerPack car of a Class 755 train.

 

The article indicates that these cars are more intelligent than I thought.

  • Regenerative braking can be used to power the trains systems.
  • The trains have a coast mode to cut emissions.
  • The article also confirms, that with time some diesel engines will be replaced with batteries.

It will be interesting to see how much carbon emissions are saved, when the trains have batteries and software developments are complete.

 

The picture sh

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

Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested

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

This is the first paragraph.

A prototype Voltap rapid charging station for battery trains has been tested under real-world conditions for the first time.

The Voltap system is from Furrer + Frey and this is the data sheet on their web site, which is entitled Voltap Charging Station For Battery Trains.

Looking at the pictures in the article, the system seems to consist of two components.

  • An overhead conductor rail suspended from pantries on the platform.
  • A container that contains all the power supplies and control systems.

It certainly looks to be a simple system to install and operate.

  • Charging would appear to take place through the pantograph, with no cables to handle.
  • It is claimed to be able to charge a train in an extremely short time.
  • The system is designed for areas, where the electricity network is perhaps a bit weaker.
  • It is available in 15 KVAC and 25 KVAC.
  • The system is future-proofed.

I can see these being suitable for several stations in the UK.

Norfolk And Suffolk

As an example, it looks like all the branch lines in Norfolk and Suffolk could be made suitable for battery-electric trains with Voltap systems at Cromer, Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Sheringham, Sudbury and Yarmouth.

Note.

  1. The Class 755 trains would be converted to battery-electric trains.
  2. Some stations would need more than one platform to have a charger.
  3. There may be other chargers to ensure that services like Norwich and Stansted Airport could be run electrically.

These pictures show Class 755 trains in various East Anglian stations.

Felixstowe and some other stations may need a slightly different installation due to the narrow platforms, but I’m sure Furrer + Frey have installations for all platforms.

I think Great British Railways are going to need a lot of these chargers and the battery-electric trains to go with them.

The Uckfield Branch

The Uckfield Branch probably needs to have some form of charging at Uckfield station.

The picture shows the single long platform at Uckfield station.

Consider.

  • Trains to work the branch will need to be able to use third-rail electrification between London Bridge station and Hurst Green junction.
  • Hurst Green junction to Uckfield station and back is probably too far for a battery-electric train, so charging will be needed at Uckfield station.
  • Third-rail charging could be used, but I suspect that Health and Safety will say no!

But using a dual-voltage train and a Voltap system at Uckfield station would probably be ideal.

Middlesbrough

From December the 13th, LNER will be running a new daily service between Middlesbrough and London, which I described in LNER’s Middlesbrough And London Service Starts On December 13th.

The route is fully electrified except for between Middlesbrough and Longlands Junction, where it joins the electrification of the East Coast Main Line, which is a distance of twenty-two miles.

Hitachi are developing a battery-train, which they call the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. LNER’s current Class 800 trains will probably be able to be converted to this train.
  2. Normally, these trains have three diesel generators.
  3. A range on battery power of upwards of forty miles would be expected.

If the range on battery-power can be stretched to perhaps sixty miles, this train should be capable of serving Middlesbrough without the need for any extra charging at the terminus.

I have just looked at the planned path of the first train on December 13th.

  • The train comes from Heaton depot in Newcastle via Sunderland and Hartlepool.
  • It passes through Middlesbrough station.
  • It then reverses amongst the chemical and steel works to the East, before returning to Middlesbrough station.

Once back at Middlesbrough station, it waits for eight minutes before leaving for London.

It looks to me to be a safe route, to make sure that the train leaves on time. It also only occupies the platform at Middlesbrough station for less than ten minutes.

But it would also be possible to find space amongst the chemical and steel works to find space for a well-designed reversing siding with refuelling for the diesel-electric trains or a Voltap charging system for a battery-electric train.

Lincoln

I have been looking at the pattern of LNER’s London and Lincoln service today.

  • There have been six trains per day (tpd) in both directions.
  • Trains going North take up to seven minutes to unload passengers at Lincoln station before moving on to Lincoln Terrace C. H. S., which I would assume is a convenient reversing siding.
  • Trains going South wait up to thirty-forty minutes at Lincoln station after arriving from Lincoln Terrace C. H. S., before leaving for Kings Cross.

It looks to me, that if London and Lincoln were to be run by a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, that the timings would be ideal for charging the batteries on the train in either the reversing siding or the station.

But surely, the charging system in the station would allow extension of the service to Grimsby and Cleethorpes, which has been stated as being part of LNER’s plans.

This picture shows Lincoln station.

I suspect that Swiss ingenuity could fit a Voltap charging system in the station.

These are a few distances from Lincoln station.

  • Cleethorpes – 47.2 miles
  • Doncaster – 35.4 miles
  • Newark North Gate – 16.6 miles
  • Peterborough – 56.9 miles

How many of these destinations could be reached by a battery-electric train, that had been fully-charged at Lincoln station.

 

 

October 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced

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

This is a small electrification project compared to many, but it still includes.

  • 13 miles of electrification.
  • 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions.
  • Modifications to 17 bridges and two level crossings.
  • Platform extensions at Westhoughton, Hindley and Ince stations, so that they can handle six-car trains.

Completion is expected to be 2025.

The numbers indicate it could be be a small project with quite a bit of work.

I have a few specific thoughts.

How Far Will The Electrification Go?

This document on the Government web site is entitled Green Light Given For Wigan To Bolton Electrification.

These are two paragraphs.

The track between Wigan North Western station and Lostock Junction near Bolton will receive a £78 million upgrade, targeted to complete in 2024/2025.

Through electrifying almost 13 miles of infrastructure and lengthening platforms, this investment will ensure that CO2 emitting diesel trains are replaced by electric rolling stock. As longer trains with additional capacity, these will provide passengers with greener, more comfortable and more reliable journeys.

Note.

  1. Lostock junction is on the Manchester and Preston Line which was electrified in 2019.
  2. As is typical, the electrification continues for a short distance from Lostock junction towards the Wigan stations.
  3. Wigan North Western station is a fully-electrified station on the West Coast Main Line.
  4. Wigan Wallgate station is not electrified.
  5. The distance between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station is 6.9 miles.
  6. Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station is double-track all the way.
  7. My Track Atlas shows crossovers that allow trains to and from Lostock junction to access some platforms at Wigan North Western.

These facts lead me to these conclusions.

  • As thirteen files of electrification would be 6.5 miles of double-track electrification, the new electrification would create a fully-electrified line between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station.
  • By electrifying the crossovers at Wigan Station junction, electric trains would to able to access both Wigan stations.

But this does mean, that electric trains can’t run past Wigan Wallgate station, as the wires seem to stop there.

Electrification At Wigan Wallgate Station

Mark Clayton has made this comment to this post.

Yes there is a single track connecting from the track through Hindley to the WCML and vice versa, however at Wallgate there are buildings straddling the line and the station itself. Maybe the track could be lowered, but it could well be a major engineering project to get the wires under Wallgate.

The best picture, that I can get of the tracks under Wallgate is this 3D image from Google Maps.

It does seem a bit tight in terms of height.

I have also looked at several videos of trains going trough the station and I suspect that the tracks may need lowering to get the wires through.

Or they could use some of the discontinuous tricks being used on the South Wales Metro.

It could be difficult, but I don’t think it will be impossible.

I do suspect though for operational reasons, Network Rail and the train operators would want the wires to extend to the station.

  • Train operators probably prefer to raise and lower the pantograph in a station, in case anything goes wrong.
  • If battery-electric trains should be used on the line, then if necessary, they could wait in the station to charge the batteries.
  • If the station is wired, then the West-facing bay-platform can also be wired, so that it could be used for a battery-electric shuttle train to Kirkby or Southport.

It looks to me, that for lots of reasons, the engineers will have to find a way of getting the wires under the low bridge under Wallgate.

Services That Use All Or Part Of The Route Between Lostock Junction And Wigan

These services use all or part of the route.

  • 1 tph – Southport and Alderley Edge via Ince (irregular), Hindley, Westhoughton and Bolton
  • 1 tph – Southport and Stalybridge via Hindley, Westhoughton and Bolton
  • 1 tph – Kirkby and Manchester Victoria via Ince (irregular), Hindley, Daisy Hill, Hag Fold, Atherton, Walkden, Moorside, Swinton and Salford Crescent.
  • 1 tph – Wigan Wallgate and Blackburn via Hindley, Daisy Hill, Atherton, Walkden, Swinton and Salford Crescent.
  • 1 tph – Wigan Wallgate and Leeds via Daisy Hill, Atherton, Walkden and Salford Crescent.

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. The two services that terminate at Wigan Wallgate sometimes terminate in Wigan North Western station.
  3. Wigan Wallgate station would appear to get up to five tph to Manchester, via a variety of routes.

I wonder how many of these services could be run by a battery-electric train, with a performance like the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note 90 kilometres is 56 miles.

I will look at each route in detail.

Southport And Alderley Edge

The only section without electrification will be between Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations, which is a distance of 17.4 miles.

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run a return trip between Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations on battery power and have time for a leisurely turnround in Southport.

The batteries would be charged on the fully electrified section of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Alderley Edge stations.

Southport And Stalybridge

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations – 17.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge stations – 7.6 miles

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run a return trip on both sections without electrification.

The batteries would be charged on the fully electrified section of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Wigan Wallgate and Kirkby stations – 12.1 miles
  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run services on both sections without electrification.

The batteries would be charged on the two fully electrified sections of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Blackburn stations – 39.4 miles

The first section could be easily run by a battery electric train, but the second section would need a charger at Blackburn station to return to Manchester Victoria station.

The batteries would be charged on the two fully electrified sections of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Wigan Wallgate And Leeds

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations – 50.2 miles

The first section could be easily run by a battery electric train.

But the second section would be very much touch-and-go with a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, despite the fact that both Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations are electrified.

It should also be noted that Network Rail has plans in the TransPennine Upgrade to electrify the route between Leeds and Heaton Lodge junction between Mirfield and Brighouse stations. This would reduce the second section without electrification to a more manageable 37.1 miles.

I suspect that by the time the TransPennine Upgrade is complete, battery range would have improved to allow Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations to handle the route.

Battery-Electric Trains That Could Run The Services Through Wigan Wallgate Station

I have used the Hitachi Regional Battery Train as an example of a train that might run the services through Wigan Wallgate station.

  • It has an operating speed of 100 mph.
  • It could be based on a Class 385 train, which have three or four cars.
  • It would have a battery range of 56 miles.

I suspect a demonstration train will run by 2025, which is the expected date of completion of the Lostock and Wigan electrification project.

But other manufacturers and rolling stock companies could also supply trains, with this specification.

  • Alstom could create a battery-electric train based on an Electrostar, like a Class 379 or Class 387 train.
  • CAF are developing a battery-electric train based on a Class 331 train.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric train, based on a Class 350 train.
  • Stadler could probably deliver a battery-electric Flirt based on a Class 755 train.

Competition would hopefully result in an excellent train, that would be suitable for many routes in the UK.

Northern’s Battery Plans And CAF

I suspect though that CAF could be the front runner as Northern already have forty-three Class 331 trains in service.

In Northern’s Battery Plans, I describe how CAF and Northern are planning to convert a number of three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • The fourth car would contain batteries.
  • Batteries would also be added to the PTS (pantograph) car.

I suspect that the battery range could be arranged so that all routes suitable for battery-electric operation could be handled.

In this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Northern Plans More New Trains After CAF Milestone, this is a paragraph.

A CAF source confirmed that a lot of work was ongoing with Northern, including the continued development of a battery EMU that is planned to be tested on the Oxenholme-Windermere route.

As the article dates from January 2021, things should be progressing.

Possible routes for battery-electric operation could be.

  • Northumberland Line – Under construction
  • Csrlisle and Newcastle – 61.5 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Wigan Wallgate and Leeds via Dewsbury – 50.2 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds via Hebden Bridge – 49.8 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Leeds And Carlisle via Settle – 86.8 miles between electrification at both ends.
  • Leeds and Morecambe – 37.8 miles between electrification.
  • Manchester Airport and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.7 miles from electrification
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere – 10.9 miles from electrification

Note.

  1. The distance is the longest section without electrification.
  2. Some routes have electrification at both ends.
  3. Some need an out-and-back journey at one end of the route.

I was surprised that the Settle and Carlisle Line could be included and as battery technology improves it certainly will be possible.

What a tourist attraction that line would be if worked by battery-electric trains.

Conclusion

This electrification of just 6.5 miles of double-track between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station seems to be one of the smaller electrification projects.

But on closer examination, when linked to a fleet of battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles, the electrification enables battery-electric trains to run these services.

  • Southport And Alderley Edge
  • Southport And Stalybridge
  • Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

With a charging station in Blackburn station, then the Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn service can be added.

It also looks that with the completion of the TransPennine Upgrade between Huddersfield and Leeds, that it might even be possible to run Wigan Wallgate and Leeds using battery-electric trains.

There will be a long list of stations, previously served by diesel trains, that will now only be served by electric or battery-electric trains.

  • Appley Bridge
  • Atherton
  • Bescar Lane
  • Burscough Bridge
  • Daisy Hill
  • Gathurst
  • Hag Fold
  • Hindley
  • Hoscar
  • Ince
  • Kirkby
  • Meols Cop
  • Moorside
  • New Lane
  • Orrell
  • Parbold
  • Pemberton
  • Rainford
  • Southport
  • Swinton
  • Upholland
  • Walkden
  • Wigan Wallgate
  • Westhoughton

That is a total of twenty-four stations.

Never in the field of railway engineering, has one small section of electrification delivered electric trains to so many stations.

 

September 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Level Boarding As A Policy

In his Informed Sources column in the August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, Roger Ford says this.

GBR might, for example, set level boarding as a long-term policy.

By GBR, Roger means Great British Railways.

If vibrant Liverpool and sleepy East Anglia can do it, then surely all trains can be this way.

The pictures show the particularly bad example of a Class 395 train.

It is very surprising to me, that these trains didn’t have level boarding as many of the platforms they serve were new when the trains were introduced.

I blame the Treasury!

But this is what can be done.

The pictures show Greater Anglia’s Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

As I’m not getting any younger, I would like to see Roger’s suggestion made the standard.

 

 

August 15, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Comings And Goings At Ely Station

On my meander around the Fens yesterday, I spent twenty minutes or so at Ely station, as the variety of trains came through the station, whilst I waited for a train to March.

Ely and the surrounding lines are to be remodelled, so that more trains can pass through the complicated junctions.

I had hoped to see a freight train pass through, which would have used the avoiding lines to pass the station.

In some ways, Ely sums up the problems of some of our major railway junctions.

  • Several important passenger services needing to pass through.
  • Several long freight trains a day.
  • Level crossings everywhere.
  • More passenger services are needed.

And on top of it all, there is a need to decarbonise.

British Rail and Network Rail have been trying to sort Ely for decades and it should be noted that the Fen Line to King’s Lynn station was electrified in 1992, which was probably an early phase of their master-plan.

Ely And Battery-Electric Trains

These are the distances without electrification on the various routes from Ely.

  • Ipswich – 39 miles
  • Norwich – 52 miles
  • Peterborough – 30.5 miles
  • Wisbech – 25 miles

Routes to King’s Cross, King’s Lynn, Liverpool Street, Stansted Airport and Stevenage are all fully electrified.

It does appear to me, that the new generation of battery-electric should be able to handle services from Ely on battery power.

For many of these services, which are or will be run by Greater Anglia, the required battery range can be achieved by swapping some of the diesel engines in the Class 755 trains for batteries.

Freight And Hydrogen Power

In Was This The Most Significant Statement On Freight Locomotives Last Week?, I referred to this press release from Freightliner, which is entitled Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project.

This sixth paragraph from the press release is very significant.

This sustainable solution will support a programme to decarbonise freight operating companies’ diesel fleets in a cost-efficient manner that does not require significant short-term investment and facilitates operational learning in support of a longer-term fleet replacement programme, potentially using 100% hydrogen fuel.

I believe the paragraph indicates, that Freightliner and possibly the other companies involved in the building and operation of heavy freight locomotives have concluded, that the technology is now such, that a zero-carbon rail locomotive powered by 100 % hydrogen is now possible.

Hydrogen offers several advantages.

  • Large amounts of power.
  • Range comparable with diesel locomotives.
  • Depots and freight terminals can be without electrification.
  • As hydrogen-powered locomotive will most likely have an electric transmission, this opens the possibilities of using electrification where it exists and regenerative braking to an onboard battery.

My unreliable crystal ball says that we’ll see hydrogen-powered locomotives by 2026.

 

August 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments