The Anonymous Widower

The Birmingham Bull – 5th August 2022

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

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

These three introductory paragraphs give an overview of the design.

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

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

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

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Perry Barr Station – 6th June 2022

I visited Perry Bar station in May last year and wrote about it in Perry Barr Station – 7th May 2021.

 

What a difference thirteen months makes!

I have a few thoughts.

Platform Lengths

As some of the pictures show a four-car Class 350 train, which fills the platform, I suspect the station can only accept a four-car train.

Will this be enough for the Commonwealth Games?

Train Frequency

Currently, there are two trains per hour (tph) through the station.

The four-car trains, I took between Perry Bar and Birmingham New Street stations were about half-full and I suspect four tph will be needed for the Games.

Toilets

There is only a single disabled toilet in the station.

Lifts

There is a large lift to each platform.

Ramps

The ramps for the old station have been left.

Will these be used on busy days to expand the capacity.

Steps

Uniquely, the number of steps on each set of steps is displayed.

Is this a good idea, as many passengers with reduced mobility,  will know their Limitations?

Conclusion

I am fairly sure, it will handle the Commonwealth Games

June 6, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses

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

Note.

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

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

Birmingham Buses Have Their Own Hydrogen Electrolyser

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

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

This Google Map shows Tyseley Energy Park.

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Other Towns And Cities Build Similar Energy Parks?

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

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

 

 

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

A Mysterious Attack On My Body

Last Friday, I went to Birmingham and looked at the extension of the West Midlands Metro to Fiveways and Perry Barr station before it is updated for the Commonwealth Games.

I also took a detour to Wolverhampton station to see how the new transport interchange is progressing.

I had travelled between Euston  and Wolverhampton on my least favourite trains – Alstom’s Class 390 trains.

  • The seats don’t align well with the windows.
  • The trains are cramped because of all the tilting mechanism.

These trains must a nightmare for anybody taller than my 1.70 metres or heavier than my sixty-two kilos.

But the biggest problem of these Pendolino trains is that Alstom updated the air-conditioning a few years ago for Virgin a few years ago and I find the air inside too dry.

I am glad to see that Avanti West Coast have ordered new Hitachi Class 807 trains for running to and from Liverpool.

In my few hours in Birmingham, I didn’t have much to eat or drink.

  • I had a hot chocolate from a stall outside Wolverhampton station.
  • I also took a box of Leon’s gluten-free chicken and a lemonade onto the train home.

I was fine until I got to about Watford, but about I felt a need for the toilet. I waited until Euston and then it seemed everything in my body went down the toilet in the station.

Saturday

I had slept well on Friday night going to bed after the ten o’clock news as I usually do.

I spent a very quiet Saturday mainly watching sport on the television and not leaving my house.

Sunday

After a good night’s sleep, I noticed things seemed to have gone a bit wrong with my left hand.

  • I couldn’t get my left arm to co-operate with putting on a shirt.
  • I had trouble opening a yoghurt pot, by gripping it in my left hand and ripping the top off with my right.
  • I couldn’t tie my shoe-laces and had to use a pair of slip on shoes.

But

  • At no time was I having any balance problems and bathed successfully,
  • I did manage to get to the shops at the Angel to get a few bits and pieces I needed.

In the end I phoned 111 and they decided, I should be looked at professionally in hospital.

Royal London Hospital

Once in A & E at the Royal London things started to get better.

  • A CT-Scan had shown no problems.
  • I had a negative Covid test.
  • They did a few blood tests.
  • They told me that I had an infection.

But remarkably after an hour or so, my hand had started working normally.

The only reason, I could think, was that the air in the hospital was fully climate-controlled, whereas at home, it was just hot and dry.

They kept me in overnight and after a couple of human-based checks in the morning sent me home in a taxi.

Conclusion

The whole episode does seem so like an incident I described in A Couple of Days in Hospital.

May 12, 2021 Posted by | Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Perry Barr Station – 7th May 2021

Birmingham will be hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Perry Barr station is to be rebuilt for the games.

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

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

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

I took these pictures on a visit.

Note.

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

This article on the Construction Enquirer indicates the following.

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

It will be a great improvement.

 

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

First Passenger Train In 80 Years Runs On Camp Hill Line

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These two paragraphs described the route, that the train took on the Camp Hill Line.

On Monday morning a train carrying the Mayor, West Midlands Railway’s customer experience director Jonny Wiseman and other representatives from across the rail industry, travelled along the line.

The train followed the route of what would be the re-opened line, stopping at the Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell sites before arriving into Kings Norton, and later returning to Birmingham New Street.

The article has a picture showing the VIPs showing boards indicating the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, that will be reopened.

Wikipedia says this under Future for all three stations.

In 2019, the project to re-open the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell received £15 million in Government funding, with construction due to start in 2020 and aimed for completion in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

£15million seems good value to reopen three stations.

Let’s hope the world has solved the COVID-19 crisis before the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Trains For The Service

The picture in the article, shows the test service was run by a two-car Class 170 train. This is an ideal train to do the testing, but as the Camp Hill Line is not electrified, self-powered trains will be needed for the passenger service.

West Midlands Trains will have a good selection of self-powered trains with which to run the service.

  • They already have a selection of Class 170 and Class 172 Turbostar diesel multiple units in very good condition, which total thirty-seven two-cars and twenty-one three-cars.
  • I’m sure Vivarail will pitch diesel-electric or battery-electric versions of their Class 230 trains.
  • Alstom will probably pitch the Breeze hydrogen-powered train.
  • Porterbrook will probably pitch their proposed Battery/FLEX conversion of Class 350 trains.

I don’t think there will be a problem finding a suitable fleet for this route.

I suspect some form of battery-electric train will be used, as there is lots of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the Birmingham area, that can be used to charge the batteries.

Battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles would also open up the possibilities for other electric services for West Midlands Trains.

A Thought On Construction

Because of COVID-19, there will probably be numbers of unemployed in this part of Birmingham, who have skills that could be useful to do the building work.

So should the non-railway related parts of the reopening be accelerated to put money in the pockets of the local unemployed.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Everton’s New Stadium

This article on the BBC is entitled Everton agree deal for new stadium site.

This is said.

The Premier League club and landowners Peel Holdings have reached agreement on the Bramley-Moore Dock site near the River Mersey.

This Google Map shows Bramley-Moore Dock and its relationship to Sandhills station.

Bramley Moore Dock is the dock at the end of the A5054.

There is also a second article on the BBC entitled Everton’s new stadium ‘could host Commonwealth Games’.

I suspect that depending if and which Commonwealth Games, Liverpool gets, then there will be a different plan of construction.

If it is 2022, as a stand-in for Durban, it would be sensible to go for solution similar to Manchester 2002, which did seem to work pretty well.

The BBC finishes the second article with this paragraph.

But, Liverpool has seen a few false dawns when it comes to massive regeneration projects – and stadiums – and there is the small issue of decent transport links to sort out before hoards of sports fans can be welcomed.

This second Google Map shows the location of the stadium, the A5054 and the Merseyrail’s Northern Line.

I estimate that from the water in the dock to where the Northern Line crosses the A5054 is about five hundred metres. So if a station were to be built at the  crossing point, walking distances would be of the same order as Arsenal, Aston Villa, Charlton, Rotherham and Tottenham.

Plans for a new station at Vauxhall, which is an area just to the South of the Bramley-Moore Dock, have been proposed. This is said in Wikipedia.

Vauxhall railway station is a proposed railway station in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool. If it is constructed it will be sited between Moorfields and Sandhills on the Merseyrail Northern Line. Construction of the new station was proposed in January 2017 by Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson, as part of the city’s North Docks project and also Everton Football Club’s potential plans to build their new stadium in the area.

The current Off Peak frequency at Sandhills station, which would be the next station to the North, is as follows.

  • 4 trains per hour (tph) to Southport
  • 4 tph to Ormskirk
  • 4 tph to Kirkby
  • 4 tph to Hunts Cross via Moorfields & Liverpool Central
  • 12 tph to Liverpool Central (combined – 8 terminate there whilst 4 continue to Hunts Cross)

There will be few sports grounds with as good a train service as that, if a new station is built.

This Google Map shows Liverpool Waterfront between Bramley-Moore and Albert Docks.

Any European city, wouldn’t mess about and would run a tram along a historic waterfront like this.

It’s not as if there isn’t enough space as this picture looking North from behind the Liver Building shows.

A tram line could probably go down the middle of the dual carriageway. Especially, if like Birmingham’s new City Centre extension to the Midland Metro, it could be built without wires.

We shall see what happens!

 

 

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment