The Anonymous Widower

Plan For £8.25m Plymouth Energy Plant To Generate Power From Cream-Like Fluid

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

These two paragraphs outline the project.

Plymouth’s Hemerdon tungsten mine has been chosen as the site of a pioneering £8.25m hydro energy plant which would see a cream-like fluid used to generate electricity. London-based renewable energy company RheEnergise wants to start construction of the High-Density Hydro storage system at the Plympton site as early as summer 2023.

The company has already spoken to the parish council and is to submit plans to Devon County Council soon. It hopes permission will be given and the site will be in operation by the end of 2023 and then trialled for two years before the technology is rolled out nationally and worldwide.

Note.

  1. RheEnergise has a web page, which describes how their High-Density Hydro storage system works.
  2. The system is sized at 250kW/1MWh and is described in the article as a demonstrator plant.
  3. In the future, rojects will range from 5MW to 100MW of power and can work with vertical elevations as low as 100m or less.

This sentence from the article lays out the potential of the system.

RheEnergise’s analysis of potential project opportunities has indicated there are about 6,500 possible sites in the UK, about 115,000 in Europe, about 345,000 in North America and about 500,000 in Africa and the Middle East.

This method of storing energy could be very useful.

Where Is Hemerdon Tungsten Mine?

This is a Google Map of the Plymouth area.

The red arrow indicates the Hemerdon Tungsten Mine, which has a Wikipedia entry as Drakelands Mine, where this is said about the last three years.

Tungsten West plc, which floated on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market on 21 October 2021,[49] have taken over the mine. They have conducted a review starting from the basics, of what is required to fix the problems that caused Wolf Minerals to fail. A better understanding of the mineralogy, with associated changes to the processing stream, and aggregate sales should lead to the mine re-opening at scale in 2022.

Tungsten West’s share price has had an up-and-down day. But are they adding energy storage to their income streams?

From the map, it does seem to be a possibility.

 

November 29, 2022 Posted by | Energy Storage, Energy | , , , | 1 Comment

Possible Regular Services Between West Somerset Railway And Taunton

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

Hopes are growing that regular scheduled train services will once more operate between the West Somerset Railway (WSR) and the national rail network.

There is an increasing interest in re-opening long-closed stations and lines on the network. To this end, a partnership working group has been set up to look at the prospects of running scheduled trains between WSR’s Bishops Lydeard station and Taunton, which would safeguard the WSR’s long-term future.

The working group comprises representatives of the Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Great Western Railway, Network Rail, Somerset County Council, and WSR Plc.

Given the success of the reopened Okehampton station, that I wrote about in Success For The Dartmoor Line, where 2,500 passengers a week have used the trains since last November, I wonder if Somerset is aiming to emulate Devon’s success, with the West Somerset Railway.

There are certainly similarities between the two routes.

Connection To The County Town

Both routes connect to the county town.

  • The Dartmoor Line connects to Exeter, which is the county town of Devon.
  • The West Somerset Railway connects to Taunton, which is the county town of Somerset.

As the county town usually contains important local services like the council offices and the Courts, this is often convenient.

Connection To The Great Western Railway

Both routes could have excellent connections to the Great Western Railway.

Note.

  1. Both stations have connections to Bristol, London and Cornwall.
  2. The two stations are well-connected to each other.
  3. Both stations have six platforms, which include some bay platforms for branch line services.

This Google Map shows the less developed Taunton station.

Note that there appears to be lots of space for development of rail and related development.

Both Branches Were/Are In Use Before Development

Before the Dartmoor Line was reopened, the route was in occasional use for both freight and passenger trains. Great Western Railway have in recent years run InterCity125 trains to Okehampton station.

With reopening the line to Okehampton, there was no major viaduct or bridges to rebuild, although Network Rail took the prudent decision to relay the track.

It would appear that the West Somerset Railway has similar use for both freight and passenger trains. How much work will be needed to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

Great Western Railway Are Providing Initial Weekend Services

On the Dartmoor Line services started between Exeter and Okehampton in 2019 and Wikipedia says this about initial services between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard station.

In 2019, the WSR entered into a partnership with the modern Great Western Railway (GWR) to operate Summer Saturday services to Bishops Lydeard from Taunton beginning on 27 July 2019. The introduction of these GWR services will mark the first time the station has been connected to the rest of the national rail network since its initial closure in 1971.

Is history going to repeat itself?

The First Step

This paragraph from the Rail Advent article, indicates the first step to reopening a service between Taunton and Minehead.

The first task will be to look at the simplest and most effective way in which the link between the WSR and the mainline can be improved, signalled, and operated. An outline business plan will then be developed to estimate how much it would cost.

This Google Map shows the link between the West Somerset Railway and the mainline.

Note.

  1. The large triangular junction.
  2. The Bristol-Exeter railway runs East-West across the bottom of the map.
  3. Minehead is to the North.
  4. Taunton is to the East.
  5. A disused line to Barnstaple is to the West.
  6. The site to the West of the top of the triangular junction is a ballast cleaning site.

It does appear that there could be the space to create an efficient junction linking the two railways.

Initial Regular Services

This was one of the introductory paragraphs.

There is an increasing interest in re-opening long-closed stations and lines on the network. To this end, a partnership working group has been set up to look at the prospects of running scheduled trains between WSR’s Bishops Lydeard station and Taunton, which would safeguard the WSR’s long-term future.

This page on the Railway Touring Company web site is entitled The West Somerset Steam Express.

This paragraph describes the trip.

This series of trains from London Paddington to Minehead features haulage by two steam locomotives in one day.
One steam locomotive will haul our train from London Paddington to the West Somerset Railway at Bishops Lydeard.
The Heritage Railway will then provide a steam locomotive to haul our train to Minehead and back. This provides a truly fascinating day out travelling through beautiful scenery to the Bristol Channel coast.

So it looks like, the initial services on the between Taunton and Bishops Lydeard stations, will duplicate services that are already planned on a very much less frequent basis.

Bishops Lydeard Station

Bishops Lydeard station is the station, where mainline and West Somerset services meet.

This OpenRailwayMap shows the track layout at the station.

Note.

  1. The station is the Southern terminus of the West Somerset Railway.
  2. Track is single to the North and South of the station.
  3. Bishops Lydeard station has two platforms.
  4. There is a passing loop.

If the terminal station has a serious problem, it doesn’t appear to have much parking.

So it would appear, that a link to Taunton might improve the finances of the West Somerset Railway, by attracting more visitors.

Onward To Minehead

This OpenRailwayMap shows the last section of the West Somerset Railway to Minehead.

Note.

  1. Minehead station is in the North West corner of the map.
  2. Minehead station appears to be a well-equipped station, with two platforms.
  3. Minehead station even has a turntable for turning locomotives.
  4. There are four or five stations close to the coast.

The Wikipedia entry for Minehead, says this about the town.

The parish of Minehead has a population of approximately 11,981, making it the most populous town in the western part of the Somerset West and Taunton local government district, which in turn, is the worst area in the country for social mobility.

The West Somerset Railway could become both a useful and a real bucket-and-spade railway. Surely, that could generate revenue and level-up the area.

Financing

If you want something to work well, you must get the finances right.

I have lived in Dalston in London for twelve years now. When I moved here after my wife died and I had had a serious stroke, which left me unable to drive, I relied on an antiquated mainly bendy-bus-based public transport system.

Then along came the Overground and fleets of shiny new buses and Hackney and Dalston in particular was more than levelled up with London’s more salubrious boroughs.

Shopping improved with M & S returning after at least seventy years. There’s even a Pret, which boomed during the pandemic.

Transport for London got the financing for the Overground right and they created a success.

Conclusion

Can the initial working group find a financial model so that the West Somerset Railway can do for West Somerset, what the Overground has done for Dalston and the Dartmoor Line appears to be doing for Devon?

I thoroughly hope so!

 

May 30, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Two Celtic Sea Floating Wind Projects Could Be Delivered By 2028

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

This is the first paragraph.

Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy have said that they are looking at early delivery of their two floating wind projects in the Celtic Sea, called Llywelyn and Petroc, which have grid connections secured and almost a year’s worth of bird surveys already completed.

These would add two extra 300 MW wind farms to the Celtic Sea.

In Enter The Dragon, I indicated the potential of renewable energy around Wales based on this article on the Engineer is entitled Unlocking The Renewables Potential Of The Celtic Sea. This sentence from the article talks about the possibilities of offshore wind in the Celtic Sea.

The Celtic Sea – which extends south off Wales and Ireland down past Cornwall and Brittany to the edge of the continental shelf – is estimated to have around 50GW of wind generating capacity alone.

The article also talks about Blue Gem Wind and their Erebus and Valorous wind farm projects in the Celtic Sea, that I wrote about in Blue Gem Wind.

There now appears to be four floating wind farms under development in the Celtic Sea between the South-West corner of Wales and the Devon and Cornwall Peninsular.

  • Blue Gem Wind – Erebus – 100 MW Demonstration project  – 27 miles offshore
  • Blue Gem Wind – Valorus – 300 MW Early-Commercial project – 31 miles offshore
  • Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy – Petroc – 300 MW project – 37 miles offshore
  • Falck Renewables and BlueFloat Energy Llywelyn – 300 MW project – 40 miles offshore

But they do create a starter for a GW.

Both consortia seem to have similar objectives.

  • To use a stepping-stone approach, gradually building in size.
  • To involve the local community in creating a supply chain.
  • Create long-term benefits for the region.

If these and other consortia fill the Celtic Sea with 50 GW of floating wind turbines, then we’ll all benefit.

 

April 22, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Over 10,000 People Use Reopened Dartmoor Line In First Two Weeks

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from the Dartmoor Line.

These are the first three paragraphs of the press release.

More than 10,000 people have travelled on the Dartmoor Line in the first two weeks since its reopening.

The line reopened for regular year-round, all-week passenger services on Saturday 20 November and demand for the trains linking Okehampton and Exeter has continued to remain high.

The reopening of the Dartmoor Line is the first of the Government’s Restoring Your Railway schemes, made possible thanks to over £40 million Government investment.

All concerned must be very pleased, especially as it was delivered £10 million under budget and within nine months, ahead of time.

I described my first use of the new route to Okehampton in A Few Hours In Okehampton, where I came to this conclusion.

Exeter and Okehampton is a well-thought out reopening, that will be welcomed in the South West of England.

It would appear the passenger numbers confirm my conclusion.

Since my visit to Okehampton, I have wondered, whether the apparent success of the Okehampton reopening, would have any other effects.

In the December 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled South West Seeks More Reopenings, with a sub-title of Okehampton Service Could Be A Precursor.

The article details a number of projects.

Marsh Barton Station

A new Marsh Barton station is under construction and has a December 2022 opening date.

Edginswell Station

A new Edginswell station is being planned to serve Torbay Hospital on the Riviera Line, with a possible opening of 2025.

Collumpton And Wellington Stations

The last budget chipped in five million, so that preferred options and a full business case can be developed for these two new stations.

  • Collumpton station will probably be developed at the site of the old station, which is close to Collumpton Services on the M5.
  • Wellington station will probably be on a new site at Longworth Farm, where five hundred houses are being developed.

The Modern Railways article also says this about housing.

Thousands of houses are expected to be built in both towns in the next decade, making provision of railway stations highly desirable to avoid soaring road congestion.

Network Rail and Great Western Railway also seem to be experimenting with different service patterns through the two stations.

  • Both hourly and two-hourly services have been tested.
  • In the December 2021 timetable there is now a two-hourly GWR Castle service over the Taunton and Exeter stretch, that will call at the two new stations, when they open.
  • To have an hourly service there will also be a Taunton and Exeter shuttle.

This service would provide access to education and employment in Exeter, Taunton and Bristol.

The cost benefit ratio is above the Government’s limit for backing of two.

Opening of the two new stations is pencilled in for 2025.

Barnstaple And Axminster

The Modern Railways article also says this.

As part of the Devon Metro concept, Devon County Council aspires to extend further eastwards the hourly Barnstaple services that currently terminate at Exeter Central, perhaps as far as Axminster.

This would need track improvements East of Pinhoe station.

The current timings of the two sections are as follows.

  • Exeter Central and Axminster – 37 minutes
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – 74 minutes

These timings probably mean that a round trip between Axminster and Barnstaple can be done in a convenient four hours, so an hourly service would need four trains.

From sometime next year, when the frequency of the Exeter Central and Okehampton service becomes hourly, the services along the route will be as follows.

  • Exeter St. Davids and Axminster – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – Hourly
  • Exeter Central and Okehampton – Hourly

There is also a service, that runs every thirty minutes between Exmouth and Paignton via Exeter Central and Exeter St. Davids, Newton Abbot and Torquay.

The frequencies on the various sections would be as follows.

  • Barnstaple and Crediton – One tph
  • Okehampton and Crediton – One tph
  • Crediton and Exeter St. Davids – Two tph
  • Paignton and Exeter St. Davids – At least two tph
  • Exeter St. Davids and Exeter Central – Five tph
  • Exeter Central and Axminster – One tph
  • Exeter Central and Exmouth – Two tph

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. Other services run between Exeter St. Davids and Paignton stations.
  3. In recent years a new station at Cranbrook has opened between Exeter Central and Axminster.

Extending the Barnstaple and Exeter Central service to Axminster would double the frequency on the Exeter Central and Axminster section.

Axminster station is shown in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. The station appears to have a bridge with lifts.
  3. The station has a good road connection and the parking could probably be extended.

Axminster station could certainly handle a fast train between London and Exeter, a stopping train to Barnstaple and all the passengers.

Devon Metro

It does appear that the services of the Devon Metro are coming together.

  • Paignton and Exmouth is already running.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central is already running.
  • Okehampton and Exeter Central has just started.
  • Exeter St. Davids and Taunton via new stations at Collumpton and Wellington is being planned.
  • Barnstaple and Exeter Central needs to be extended to Axminster.

How many other cities in the UK could benefit from a metro of this quality?

Bere Alston And Tavistock

The Modern Railways article also says this.

Meanwhile, further west on the former Southern network, restoration of services from Bere Alston to Tavistock has long been proposed, giving Tavistock a rail link to Plymouth. Christian Irwin, Network Rail’s Industry Programme Manager (South West), who oversaw the Okehampton reopening that came in early and underbudget, says he is keen to repeat the trick on the Tavistock route.

It is probably more difficult than at Okehampton.

  • The trackbed is mainly intact, but the track has been lifted.
  • The track to be laid is shorter than at Okehampton.
  • Two structures at the Southern end need to be replaced.
  • A new station needs to be built at Tavistock.

Devon County Council seems to be in control of the land needed.

Proposed services seem to be as follows.

  • Plymouth and Gunnislake via Bere Alston – One train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Plymouth and Tavistock via Bere Alston – One tph

Overall it looks like the Tavistock project will be more expensive than that at Okehampton, but there would appear to be more contributions from developers.

Devon County Council are hoping that the Tavistock link could be build in the next decade.

Tavistock And Okehampton

After the reconnection of Tavistock to the National Rail network, the council would hope to complete the link between Tavistock and Okehampton.

This would give the following benefits.

  • Improved public transport connectivity in West Devon and North Cornwall.
  • Improve revenue potential at Okehampton and Tavistock stations.
  • Create an easier freight route.
  • Create an alternative route, if the coastal route is closed.

It is a challenging project, but I feel it will be possible by perhaps 2035.

 

December 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Is The Okehampton Effect Starting?

This article on the Tavistock Times Gazette is entitled Hop Aboard The 118 For Town And Village Connection To Rail.

These are the first three paragraphs.

County council chiefs have confirmed they have launched a new bus service to link residents in Tavistock to Okehampton’s restored railway line.

From Saturday, Service 118 will link Tavistock to Okehampton, via Mary Tavy and Lydford, to provide an integrated connection to the rail services between Okehampton and Exeter during the day. The service is part of a bigger project to improve public transport in Devon.

The move comes as Devon County Council pushes ahead with plans to get trains rolling again in Tavistock — but in the opposite direction.

Note.

  1. Tavistock has almost twice the population of Okehampton.
  2. Okehampton and Tavistock are about sixteen miles apart.
  3. Buses will take about forty minutes.
  4. The railway from Tavistock could eventually go to Plymouth via the existing Bere Alston station and the Tamar Valley Line.

This bus route will complete a circular route between Exeter and Plymouth around Dartmoor.

Devon does seem to be getting itself ready for the next phase of rail development in the county.

But does Devon as the birthplace of those great mariners, Chichester, Drake, Gilbert, Grenville and Raleigh, follow in their footsteps and plan things well and get it done?

My maternal grandmother was born in Dalston of two Devonian parents.

Just before the Second World War my mother asked her if she was prepared for the inevitable war.

My grandmother’s reply was as follows.

I got caught out in the First War, so I’ve got a hundredweight of sugar and a hundredweight of jam in the cellar.

Was that her Devonian genes shining through?

Devon is certainly planning for the future at Okehampton.

  • There are plans for an Okehampton Parkway station, where the railway crosses the A30, which I wrote about in Work Begins On Okehampton Parkway Station.
  • There is this new bus route.
  • Will there be more housing in Okehampton?
  • There will be developments linked to tourism.

I believe the Okehampton Effect is starting.

 

November 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charging The Batteries On An Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

There are several ways the batteries on an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train could be charged.

  • On an electrified main line like the Great Western or East Coast Main Lines, the electrification can be used in normal electrified running.
  • A short length of electrification at the terminal or through stations can be used.
  • The diesel engines could be used, at stations, where this is acceptable.

Alternatively, a custom design of charger can be used like Vivarail’s  Fast Charge system.

In Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, I said this.

Vivarail Now Has Permission To Charge Any Train

Mr. Shooter said this about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

In the November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a transcript of what Mr. Shooter said.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I hope Mr. Shooter knows some affordable lawyers, as in my experience, those working in IPR are not cheap.

I think it’s very likely, that Vivarail’s Fast Charge system could be installed at terminals to charge Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains.

    • The Fast Charge systems can be powered by renewable energy.
    • The trains would need to be fitted with third rail shoes modified to accept the high currents involved.
    • They can also be installed at intermediate stations on unelectrified lines.

Vivarail is likely to install a Fast Charge system at a UK station in the next few months.

These are my thoughts about charging trains at various stations.

Penzance station

This Google Map shows Penzance station.

Penzance would be an ideal station to fully charge the trains, before they ran East.

  • The station has four long platforms.
  • There appears to be plenty of space just to the East of the station.
  • Penzance TMD is nearby.

This picture shows Platform 4, which is on the seaward side of the station. The train in the platform is one of GWR’s Castles.

It is partly outside the main station, so might be very suitable to charge a train.

If trials were being performed to Penzance, it appears that the station would be a superb choice to charge trains.

My only worry, is would the location have enough power to charge the trains?

Plymouth Station

This Google Map shows Plymouth station.

It is another spacious station with six platforms.

Chargers could be installed as needed for both expresses and local trains.

A Zero-Carbon Devon and Cornwall

If the battery trains perform as expected, I can see the Devon and Cornwall area becoming a low if not zero carbon railway by the end of this decade.

  • The Castles would be retired.
  • They would be replaced by battery electric trains.
  • Charging would be available on all platforms at Penzance, Plymouth and possible some other intermediate stations and those on some branch lines.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt tourism.

 

December 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Beeching Reversal – Primrose Line

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This Google Map shows the area of South Devon, where the railway is proposed to be reopened.

And this diagram from Wikipedia shows the line.

 

Note.

  1. The railway runs between South Brent and Kingsbridge stations.
  2. It connected to the double-track Pymouth and Exeter Line.
  3. There were originally stations at Avonwick, Gara Bridge and Loddiswell.
  4. It was single track.
  5. It was twelve miles long.
  6. There was also a planned extension to Salcombe, that was never built.

The Connection At Brent Station

This Google Map shows the former position of Brent station.

There does appear to be plenty of space for two through platforms and one for the branch line on the South side of the main line.

Trains

I suspect that this route will probably be capable of being run by two or three of Vivarail’s Class 230 trains.

Conclusion

This looks a simple scheme, that could be worthwhile, for commuters  residents, shoppers and tourists.

 

 

 

 

 

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 8 Comments

Reopening Of Wellington and Cullompton Stations

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

Wellington and Collumpton stations were two stations on the Bristol-Exeter Line.

  • Both stations were rebuilt in the 1930s with passing loops. Was this to increase the capacity of the route?
  • Both were closed under Beeching in 1964.
  • Little remains of either station.

Looking back with 20-20 hindsight, this does seem to have been a rather pointless closure of two stations serving towns of around ten thousand people, who might need to commute for work.

The South Devon Metro

Some years ago, Devon County Council put forward a plan to create a South Devon Metro based on the various lines centred on Exeter St. David’s station.

Services were also planned to connect Newton Abbot, Okehampton, Plymouth, Taunton and intermediate stations into the system.

  • Some new stations were also added.
  • The trains were to be upgraded, which appears to be happening.

But the development seems to have somewhat stalled.

Collumpton Station

The Wikipedia entry for Collumpton station says this about reopening.

As part of the “Devon Metro” plans by Devon County Council there would be a station near the location of the old station and could form part of the route. The station is a ‘possible’ long term proposal.

I should declare an interest in Collumpton, in that my maternal grandmother was an Upcott, who was born in Dalston. Her father was not the first son of the Devon family from Collumpton, that are mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for the town, so he left for London to find fame and fortune. He set up as a wheelwright opposite Dalston Junction station. She was considered posh by my parents.

I would look forward to taking my Upcott genes back to their ancestral home, when the new station opens.

This Google Map shows Collumpton and its transport network.

Note.

  1. The M5 going down the East side of the map.
  2. The Exeter-Bristol Line follows the M5 on the Western side.
  3. Collumpton Services were built on the site of the former station.

This Google Map shows the area to the South of Collumpton services at an enlarged scale.

There certainly seems to be space to the West of the roundabout.

  • As Tiverton Parkway station is only a few miles to the North, it may be possible to avoid providing hundreds of parking spaces.
  • It’s not a long walk to the Town Centre, which could be along the River Culm.
  • Plenty of bicycle parking would probably be a good idea.
  • Could the road bridge over the railway, be made step-free for travellers, who need to cross the tracks?

I certainly think there are possibilities to integrate the station into the town.

Wellington Station

The site for a new Wellington station is less obvious to locate.

This Google Map shows how the Exeter-Bristol skirts round the Northern side of the town.

Note.

  1. The road that runs up the Western side of the block containing the three large buildings, is the B3187.
  2. It’s also called Station Road. So that must be a clue!

This Google Map shows where the B3187 crosses the railway.

It matches the photo of the goods shed at Wellington station in Wikipedia.

The old station site, must be high on the list of possible sites for the new station.

The Trains

These are a few thoughts on the trains serving Collumpton and Wellington.

Could There Be A Taunton Route In The South Devon Metro?

Consider.

  • When Collumpton and Wellington stations are completed, there will be three stations between Exeter and Taunton.
  • The third station will be Tiverton Parkway station.
  • So if the South Devon Metro were to be created on this route, surely it would be better to go all the way to Taunton station, which has six platforms.
  • This extension would also give easy access to the heritage West Somerset Railway, which runs to the coast at Minehead station.

It would certainly seem likely that a local service from Exeter on this route would terminate at Taunton station.

Could Exeter And Taunton Be Run By Battery-Electric Trains?

As it’s only just over thirty miles, the answer must be in the affirmative!

But they would probably need to be charged at both ends of the route.

On the other hand, all routes on the South Devon Metro could probably be run using battery-electric trains.

Could Paddington And Exeter Be Run By Battery-Electric Trains?

It looks a tough ask, but I feel it is possible with discontinuous electrification.

  • Paddington and Newbury is already electrified.
  • Exeter and Taunton could be electrified.

With a short length of electrification or what I call an electrification island  at Westbury, I am fairly sure, that a Hitachi AT-300 train fitted with batteries could handle the 170 miles.

Would A Fast-Slow Strategy Help?

Greater Anglia do their Norwich-in-Ninety services with two trains.

  • On the hour, a fast train heads off to Norwich or London, only stopping at Ipswich.
  • Ten minutes later, a slow train follows it calling at all stations.

Greater Anglia intends to aim for three trains per hour (tph) between London and Norwich in both directions; two fast and one slow.

Would a philosophy like this work between Paddington and Exeter?

Conclusion

Reopening Collumpton and Wellington stations is a simple and easy-to-implement scheme, that will improve public transport in this area of Devon and Somerset.

 

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Electrification Between Exeter And Plymouth

Eventually, there will be electric passenger trains between Exeter and Plymouth! Great Western Railway’s objective must be for passengers to board their Hitachi AT-300 train at Paddington and be powered all the way to Penzance by electricity, without using a drop of diesel. The added ingredient will be battery power.

In Sparking A Revolution, I gave Hitachi’s specification for a proposed battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

As the distance between Exeter and Plymouth is 52 miles, the Hitachi specification could have been designed around this route, which as these pictures show is in places, very close to the sea, where the line runs along the South Devon Railway Sea Wall.

Global warming will probably mean, we’ll see a repeat of the major sea wall breach  that happened at Dawlish in 2014.

I would suspect that the Network Rail’s solution to the problems of efficient low or zero-carbon traction between Exeter and Plymouth includes the following.

  • A very robust railway.
  • Extreme protection from almost everything the sea and the weather can produce.
  • Could we see some concrete tunnels, like the Swiss and others use in mountainous areas to protect from snow? Rail Magazine says yes! At Horse Cove.
  • No electrification as water and electricity are not a good mix, except in an electrolyser to produce hydrogen, oxygen and/or chlorine.
  • Battery or hydrogen-powered passenger trains or freight locomotives.
  • Digital in-cab signalling. Traditional signalling is even more expensive equipment to be swept away.

From media reports, this looks like the way Network Rail are thinking.

Charging The Trains

Battery-electric trains will need to be charged. There are three convenient stations; Exeter St. Davids, Newton Abbott and Plymouth.

As far as passenger services are concerned, it could be a very efficient zero-carbon railway.

Electrification At Exeter St. Davids

Exeter St. Davids is an important hub for services between Devon and Cornwall and the rest of Great Britain.

  • GWR services run to London Paddington via Newbury.
  • GWR services run to London Paddington via Bristol
  • GWR services run to Plymouth and Penzance via Newton Abbott.
  • GWR local services run to Barnstaple, Exmouth and Paignton.
  • CrossCountry services run to the Midlands, North and Scotland via Bristol.
  • South Western Railway services run to London Waterloo via Basingstoke.

In future, there could be services running to Plymouth on the reopened route via Okehampton and Tavistock.

All these services could be run by battery-electric trains for sixty miles from Exeter, if they could be fully-charged at the station.

Note.

  1. Trains to London Paddington and Bristol could easily reach Taunton, which is thirty miles away.
  2. Trains to London Waterloo could reach Yeovil Junction, which is fifty miles away.
  3. Trains to the West could reach Plymouth, which is fifty-two miles away.
  4. Barnstaple is forty miles away, so would probably need some help to get back.
  5. Exmouth is eleven miles away, so a return journey is probably possible.
  6. Paignton is twenty-eight miles away, so a return journey is probably possible, with a top-up at Newton Abbot if required.

Exeter is going to be very busy charging trains.

It should be noted, that trains to and from London Paddington and Bristol, all share the same route as far as Cogload Junction, where the London Paddington and Bristol routes divide.

  • Cogload Junction is thirty-six miles from Exeter.
  • Cogload Junction and Newbury, where the electrification to London Paddington starts are eighty-five miles apart.
  • Cogload Junction and Bristol Temple Meads, where the electrification to London Paddington starts are forty miles apart.

I wonder if it would be sensible to electrify between Exeter St. David station and Cogload Junction.

  • From my virtual helicopter, the line doesn’t look to be in the most difficult category to electrify.
  • There is only one tunnel and a few old bridges and a couple of level crossings.
  • Some of the route is alongside the M5.
  • Trains would arrive in Exeter with full batteries and could do a quick stop before continuing their journeys.
  • Trains would arrive at Cogload Junction and could reach Bristol Temple Meads without stopping for a recharge.
  • Bristol services that are extended to Taunton and Exeter could be run by battery-electric trains.

I also feel, that with upwards of twenty-five miles of extra electrification between Cogload Junction and Newbury, that battery-electric trains could run between London Paddington and Exeter via the Reading-Taunton Line.

Electrification At Plymouth

As with Exeter St. Davis, Plymouth is an important hub for services between Devon and Cornwall and the rest of Great Britain.

  • Most services run to Penzance in the West and Exeter in the East.
  • There is a local service to Gunnislake, which is fifteen miles away.

Lots of charging capacity, will enable battery-electric trains to reach their destinations, except for Penzance

Trains Between Plymouth And Penzance

Hitachi must have despaired, when it was pointed out that the distance between Penzance and Plymouth is eighty miles! This is fifteen miles longer than the range of their proposed battery-electric train.

The simplest solution would be to build a battery-electric train with an eighty mile range, that could travel between Plymouth and Penzance on a single charge. With charging at Penzance it could return to Plymouth.

The longer range, would also mean that, with perhaps ten extra miles of electrification, that battery-electric trains could bridge the electrification gap between Cogload Junction and Newbury.

Other solutions range from selective electrification, all the way up to full electrification of the Cornish Main Line.

It should be noted that there are the following branches on the Cornish Main Line.

If these branches are going to be served by battery-electric trains, arrangements will have to be made for their charging. This could either be on the main line, at the remote terminal or at both.

Would it be easier to run the branches using battery-electric trains, if the Cornish Main Line was fully electrified?

The Cornish Main Line also carries a number of heavy freight trains, most of which seem to be going to or from Burngullow, so I suspect they are in connection with the movement of china clay.

Currently, these heavy freight trains appear to be hauled by diesel locomotives, but if the Cornish Main Line were to be fully electrified, could they be run by electric locomotives?

Electrification Of A Reopened Northern Route

In the May 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Beeching Reversal Fund Bids.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Bids have been submitted to Government for a share of the £500 million ‘Restoring your railway’ fund launched by the Department for Transport in January. The fund is to be used to support proposals to reinstate axed local services, to accelerate schemes already being considered for restoration and also to promote new and restored stations.

One of the bids is for the Tavistock-Okrhampton Reopening scheme (TORs), which would reopen the former Exeter to Plymouth railway of the LSWR, as a new route between Exeter and Taunton in the East and Plymouth in the West.

  • The original railway was double-track.
  • Most of the infrastructure is intact.
  • The route would totally avoid Dawlish.

This is also said in the Modern Railways article.

It proposes journey times could be as little as six minutes longer than via the existing route between Exeter and Plymouth and that there could be opportunities for freight trains to avoid the steep gradients over the Devon banks between Newton Abbott and Plymouth. Provision of electrification for TORs as part of a wider programme for main lines in the region is also advocated.

Could an electrified route via Tavistock and Okehampton be connected to an electrified Cornish Main Line, to create an electrified route across Devon and Cornwall?

Connecting At The Royal Albert Bridge

This Google Map shows the Royal Albert Bridge and the Tamar Bridge over the River Tamar.

Note.

  1. The Royal Albert Bridge to the South of the modern Tamar Bridge.
  2. The Great Western Main Line running East to Plymouth and West to Penzance.
  3. The Tamar Valley Line running up the Eastern bank of the River Tamar and under the Eastern approaches to both bridges.
  4. Going North on the Tamar Valley Line leads to the TORs and going South leads to Plymouth station.

I can see a difficult design problem at the Eastern end of the Royal Albert Bridge, as a very complicated junction will be needed to allow all trains go the way they need.

Trains wanting to call at Plymouth station and use TORs will need to reverse in the station.

Connecting At The East Of Exeter

This Google Map shows The Tarka Line and the Bristol-Exeter Line join at Cowley Bridge Junction.

Note.

  1. The Tarka Line to Barnstaple and TORs leaves the map in the North West corner.
  2. The Bristol-Exeter Line to Taunton, Bristol and London Paddington leaves the map in the North East corner.
  3. Cowley Bridge Junction is in the South West corner of the map.
  4. Cntinuing South West leads to Exeter St. David’s station.

It looks to me, that Cowley Bridge Junction will need to be made into a full triangular junction, so that trains can go directly between the Bristol-Exeter Line and the Tarka Line.

Trains wanting to call at Exeter St. David’s station and use TORs will need to reverse in the station.

The Reversal Problem

If you wanted to run a passenger service between Taunton and Penzance using TORs with stops at Exeter, Okehampton, Tavistock, Plymouth and Truro, the train would need to reverse twice at Exeter and Plymouth.

These days with modern fast bi-mode multiple units, it’s not a problem, but in the days of Beeching, when the Tavistock and Okehampton route was originally closed in 1968, there probably wasn’t a suitable train other than a slow two-car diesel multiple unit.

I think, that fast expresses to and from Penzance will still take the current route.

  • Battery-electric trains can handle the route at 100 mph.
  • No reversals will be needed.
  • There is a call at Newton Abbott for connections to Torquay and Paignton.
  • Passengers wanting Okehampton, Tavistock and other stations on the TORs route can change at Exeter or Plymouth.

The Modern Railways article says this about services on the TORs route.

The case suggests that services could operate as an extension of the SWR Waterloo to Exeter service, or potentially as an extension of CrossCountry services beyond Exeter. During periods when the coastal route is blocked, additional services could use the TORs route, potentially running non-stop.

Note.

  1. As the extension of the SWR service would run the other way through Exeter St. David’s station, there would be no need to reverse.
  2. But I suspect the CrossCountry service would need the reverse.
  3. I feel for efficiency, that diverted freight services would need the efficient junctions at each end of TORs.

It probably would have helped if the Great Western and the London and South Western Railways had had a better crystal ball.

Fast Electric Freight Services To And From Devon And Cornwall

If the following lines are electrified.

  • Cogload Junction and Exeter
  • TORs
  • Cornish Main Line

I feel that electric freight services will be able to run between Taunton and Penzance.

All it would need to complete the electrified route would be to electrify the following.

  • Cogload Junction and Bristol
  • Cogload Junction and Newbury

What would a high-speed freight route do for the economy of the two South Western counties?

 

 

April 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Exploring Devon And Cornwall In Castles

Castle is the name given by Great Western Railway to their four- and five-car InterCity 125 trains, with which they run services in the West Country.

These pictures show the trains, as I meandered up and down the Cornish Main Line.

These are my observations.

The Doors

These trains now have electrically-controlled sliding doors and it seems to be a conversion, that has been carried out to a high standard.

Certainly, all the doors appeared to be working, as they should.

The Seats And Tables

The seats were comfortable, but not as comfortable as some seats I’ve used in Mark 3 coaches.

Could there be a few more tables?

The Ride

My pocket dynamometer was showing a speed of about 65 mph and the ride was as you’d expect from a well-maintained Mark 3 coach.

Access Between Platform And Train

This is not good as the pictures show.

This is the step on a Castle.

And this is the step on a new Class 755 train

Think buggies, heavy cases and wheelchairs.

The Class 755 train, really is the Gold Standard of step-free access between platform and train.

Conclusion

These iconic trains will do a good job for Great Western Railway.

You could certainly find a good hotel in Devon or Cornwall and have a few enjoyable days riding between Penzance and Exeter, to explore the area

I do hope that they eventually put a catering trolley on the train.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment