The Anonymous Widower

A Heritage Class 315 Train For The Romford-Upminster Line

The Romford To Upminster Line is slated to get a brand-new Class 710 train to work the two trains per hour shuttle.

This article in London Reconnections, which is entitled More Trains for London Overground: A Bargain Never to be Repeated,   says that it is possible that this line could be served by a Class 315 train, held back from the scrapyard.

This would mean a new Class 710 train could be deployed elsewhere, where its performance and comfort levels would be more needed.

Surely, a single Class 315 train, would be enough capacity for the line and a lot cheaper than a new Class 710 train! Provided of course, that it was reliable, comfortable and could maintain the current service.

A Heritage Unit

Why not market the train, as an updated heritage unit?

  • It could be painted in British Rail livery from the 1980s.
  • It would have wi-fi!
  • It might have an information car, describing the history of the line and the area.
  • It might even have a coffee kiosk!

It would be very much a quirky train to asttract regular passengers and even tourists.

But of course, it would be run as professionally as any other train on the network.

An Educational Purpose

I feel strongly, as do many in education, that not enough people are choosing subjects like engineering as a career.

Could it be used to show that engineering and particularly rail engineering could be a worthwhile career move?

Surely, it could also be used for training staff!

A Technology Or Capability Demonstrator

Eversholt Rail Group own sixty-one of these Class 315 trains, which although they are nearly forty-years old, don’t seem to feature much on BBC London’s travel reports.

They are reportedly destined for the scrapyard, but if they were to show they could still perform after a refurbishment, they might find a paying application somewhere.

Research

Regularly, innovations are suggested for the railway, but often finding somewhere to test them can be difficult.

However, as the Romford to Upminster Line is an electrified single-track line without signalling, the line is about as simple as you can get.

So supposing a company wanted to test how a sensitive electronic instrument behaved on a moving vehicle, this could be done without any difficulty.

Conclusion

If it is decided that a Class 315 train is to be used on the Romford to Upminster Line, I believe that the service could be marketed as a quirky heritage unit, that in conjunction with its main purpose of providing a public service, could also be used for other education, training, marketing, innovation and research purposes.

Eversholt Rail Group might even shift a few redundant Class 315 trains!

November 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

A RAT Sighted At Acton Town Station

I was surprised to see an old train running through North Action station.

As it said on the side it was a Rail Adhesion Train, that I wrote about in Specialist Trains Lead The Charge Against Leaf Fall on The Piccadilly Line.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Leaf Fall On The London Underground and it gives more details on Rail Adhesion Trains and their use.

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A First Visit To Walthamstow Wetlands

Walthamstow Wetlands opened today, so I went to take a look.

It was well worth a visit.

I shall return!

October 20, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Arriva London Engineering Assists In Trial To Turn Older Diesel Engine Powered Buses Green

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on the Arriva London web site.

This sums up the project.

A new idea to turn older diesel engine buses into much more environmentally friendly vehicles has been developed by Vantage Power Ltd based in Greenford, West London in association with Ensign Ltd, the largest reseller of buses in the UK.

The new unit will start trials in July, when two of Arriva London’s 2005, Volvo B7TL, Euro 3 buses, with Alexander Dennis bodies, VLA99 and VLA100 will resume service following their conversion. The trials are fully supported by TfL.

Effectively two twelve year old buses will become hybrids with new electric drive systems.

The objectives of the project are ambitious.

The new system will be tested to see how well it performs against its targets of 40% reduction in the use of fuel, 80%+ reduction in emissions, and a cost saving for the unit which is estimated to be 80% less than a new Hybrid bus.

They are also developing a technique called geo-fence technology. This is said.

This technology, uses GPS information combined with route information, and can enable the vehicle to ensure its batteries are at full charge before entering certain areas (such as the ULEZ), or past schools, or libraries, and upon entering these areas, the engine can shut itself down and the vehicle then operate as an almost silent ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle).

So the buses get new hybrid drives, which work as battery buses in sensitive areas and London gets cleaner air. And Arriva London gets a cashback!

I wonder how many old buses can be converted into cleaner hybrids. This conversion was on a Volvo B7TL chassis, of which there were 790 in London alone.

I also wonder if London’s current hybrid buses can have the geo-fence technology applied.

Close to my house there are six London bus routes, that go into or through the ULEX; namely routes 21, 30, 38, 56, 76 and 141 of which the 21, 38 and 76 are New Routemasters, which are modern hybrid buses. In addition, the 141  is run by seven-year-old hybrid buses. These routes would all be candidates for geo-fence technology.

October 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

An Interesting Snippet From The Engineer

The Engineer is a magazine that reports on engineering and has done since 1856.

This article is entitled What’s Driving The UK’s Rail Renaissance?.

It is a worthwhile read.

This is a snippet from the section which talks about the Bombardier Aventra.

The “building blocks” of Aventra are being used for commuter train bids in India, South America and Australia.

I would take this to mean, that Bombardier have designed the train and its sub-assemblies, so that it can be put together locally.

Looking at what we know about assembly in Derby, which I reported on in How Long Will It Take Bombardier To Fulfil Their Aventra Orders?, I know or have surmised the following.

  • Bombardier are aiming for a production rate of 25 carriage a month.
  • The sides of the trains are one piece aluminium extrusions.
  • Sub-assemblies designed with suppliers feature in the design.

In addition, there has been a complete rethinking of everything about the design, manufacture and operation of the train.

The aluminium extrusions that appear to make up the sides of the train are revolutionary, with inner and outer skins and strengthening ribs between, probably being extruded in one pass, giving the following advantages.

  • High strength
  • Light weight
  • Thin train sides for greater interior width.
  • Simple, fast, affordable manufacture.

What helps is that train sides and roofs are simple shapes with a constant cross-section. Cars have much more fancy shapes.

See Wikipedia for more on extrusion.

But could it mean, that to set up a factory in say Australia, you only need to export the extruders and the handling rigs to create the body-shells for the locally-assembled trains.

Once the body-shells have been assembled, you just fit the components. Some might be manufactured locally, but other complicatedpartts like bogies, which Bombardier design in the UK, but make in Sweden, would probably be imported.

Hitachi by contrast, build the body-shells in Japan and send them by ship to their factories in Europe. How inefficient and costly is that?

Australia would get new modern trains, that were assembled locally, at a timely rate.

 

September 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The Class 769 Trains Are Progressing

The August 30th Edition of Rail Magazine gives a few details about the creation and testing of the Class 769 trains at Brush Traction in Loughborough.

  • A test rig will be built to test the combination of MAN diesel engine and ABB alternator.
  • The first train will be fitted with a power unit in the next eight weeks.
  • After static tests it will move to the nearby Great Central Railway. for dynamic testing.
  • The first train will be joined by a second train to test compatibility and multiple working.
  • After returning to Brush for approval, they will move to Allerton Depot, where they will be based.
  • It is planned that all eight trains for Northern will be in the North West by April 2018.

I find it intriguing that the testing is done on the local heritage railway.

There are two parts of the Great Central Railway separated by the Loughborough Gap.

It is not said, whether the testing is North or South of Loughborough.

The two heritage railways are trying to bridge the gap at present and I can’t help feeling that once it is bridged, there will be winners all round.

 

September 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Saving Fuel In Rail Vehicles

The title of this post is the same as this page on the web site of a company called Artemis Intelligent Power.

The first paragraph sums up the project and the participants.

Since 2013, Artemis has been proud to work with leading companies Ricardo and Bombardier on the project ‘Digital Displacement® Rail Transmission with Flywheel Energy Storage’ which has been supported by the government funding body Innovate UK.

So who are the players, mentioned in this paragraph.

  • Artemis Intelligent Power, is a company that has been spun out of Edinburgh University, that is now owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. In 2015, the company won a MacRobert Award, which is regarded as the leading prize recognising UK innovation in engineering.
  • Ricardo is one of those companies, that have shaped our lives, but few people have ever heard of. At some time most of us would have driven a diesel car, where the engine has been designed around patents or ideas from Ricardo.
  • Bombardier in the UK are best known for the trains they build in Derby.
  • Innovate UK is the UK Government’s innovation agency.

I think it is true to say, that these players wouldn’t be short of ideas, engineering knowledge and resources, including money.

This second paragraph, describes in simple details, what they aim to achieve.

The system is based on the use of Artemis Digital Displacement® pump-motors to capture braking energy from diesel multiple unit (DMU) rail cars, store it in high tech Ricardo flywheels and then use it to displace diesel fuel during vehicle acceleration. Such energy recovery is commonplace on modern electric trains but there is general agreement in the rail industry that are many routes where electrification is unlikely ever to make economic sense.

There is also a press release from Ricardo, which has this title Significant fuel savings and rapid payback shown for rail flywheel hybrid technology.

The project has a name of DDFlyTrain and searching for this word, found this article in the Railway Gazette, which gives more details. These are the last two paragraphs of the article.

The delivery of the flywheel will now enable the assembly of a test rig for laboratory verification trials. Ricardo said its latest flywheel represents a significant advance on products available two years ago, drawing on research undertaken for Formula 1 cars. The flywheel spins in a permanent vacuum to reduce energy losses, with transmission by a magnetic gear system which does not require rotating seals or vacuum pumps The flywheel will be mated with Artemis’ Digital Displacement hydraulic transmission technology, which combines mechanical electric and software elements to facilitate efficient operation despite the varying speeds and loadings of a rail environment.

There are currently no firm plans for installation on a real trainset, but this could be undertaken in the future following laboratory tests.

I shall be searching for DDFlyTrain.

Conclusion

Artemis Intelligent Power and Ricardo have developed some very advanced technology.

The News page on the Artemis IP web site, details some varied applications for their technology in the fields of wave power, excavators, diesel railcar transmissions and wind power.

Ricardo’s flywheel has the name of TorqStor and looks to have potential in other applications.

Could we be seeing a larger version of Torqstor in Electrical Multiple Units, like the new Aventra?

With technology companies like Ricardo and Artemis IP, you never know what is possible, until it has been done!

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s Floating Wind Farm

This article on the BBC is entitled World’s first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland.

In the early 1970s, I worked on a unique concept for a reusable oil platform called a Balaena.

I wrote about using a Balaena for a wind turbine in Could a Balaena-Like Structure Be Used As a Wind Power Platform?.

There is also a brief description of the idea in The Balaena Lives.

I have a strong feeling that revisiting all of the work done for a Balaena over forty years ago, could enable a better way to build a floating wind farm.

I would build my Baleana-based floating wind-power turbine like this.

  • A steel cylinder is built, which will form the tower, horizontally in a dry dock.
  • It is floated out horizontally to some very deep water perhaps in a fjord.
  • It is then raised to a vertical position by letting a calculated amount of sea water into the tank.
  • It will float vertically, if the weight profile is right and by adjusting water levels in the tank, the top can be raised on lowered.
  • The tower is adjusted to a convenient height and the turbine is placed on the top.
  • It would then be towed vertically into position.

Note that Balaenas were designed to sit on the sea-bed using a skirt and a gum-boot principle to hold them to the bottom, with extra anchors and steel ropes.

 

July 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Get Fracking

In Fracked Or Fiction, I talked about my attitude to fracking. These two paragraphs, were my conclusion.

My overwhelming conclusion after the lecture was that before we can embrace fracking in earnest, we must collect a lot more information. For example, we don’t know the background levels ofearthquakes and natural gas seepage in this country. So if say it is thought, that fracking had caused a small earthquake, can we be sure that that isn’t one that we habitually get in this country.

A secondary conclusion, is that my engineering knowledge indicated that there are several very fruitful areas for the development of new technological solutions to mitigate some of the possible problems of fracking.

But things have changed a bit in the over three years, since I attended the lecture at the London Geological Society.

We still get gas from the North Sea and a few smaller fields, but we have to buy in gas from places like Algeria, Russia and Qatar.

I suspect too, that we can always ship liquefied natural gas from the United States.

The Green Party would say that we shouldn’t burn natural gas, but what do we do about?

  1. People do with gas boilers who keep themselves warm in winter?
  2. Businesses that use gas as part of their industrial processes.
  3. In 2015, thirty percent of our electricity was produced from gas.

Renewables such as solar and wind are increasing, but for the forseeable future, we wil still need gas.

But how would you feel, if the Government said, that you must change your boiler for an electric one, as you can’t have any more gas?

We can continue to get our gas from those shining democracies of Algeria, Russia and Qatar or buy it from Trumpland, which would probably not be acceptable to everybody.

There is also the problem, that countries like Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands are also short of gas and are relying increasingly on the Russians.

Surely, the best solution to avoid the cold and loss of employment in industries reliant on gas, is to extract the gas from our own fields, using fracking in a professional and engineeringly-sound manner.

We have form in the extraction of hydrocarbons in this way from land in the UK. The is the first paragraph, from the Wikipedia entry for Wytch Farm.

Wytch Farm is an oil field and processing facility in the Purbeck district of Dorset, England. It is the largest onshore oil field in western Europe. The facility, recently taken over by Perenco was previously operated by BP. It is hidden in a coniferous forest on Wytch Heath on the southern shore of Poole Harbour, two miles (3.2 km) north of Corfe Castle. Oil and natural gas (methane) are both exported by pipeline; liquefied petroleum gas is exported by road tanker.

Is there is an onshore oil-field in a more sensitive environment? Wikipedia says this under Environment.

Most of the field is protected by various conservation laws, including the Jurassic Coast world heritage site, Purbeck Heritage Coast and a number of sites of special scientific interest, areas of outstanding natural beauty and nature reserves (including Studland and Brownsea Island), so the gathering centre and most of the well sites are small and well screened by trees. Directional drilling has also contributed to reducing the impact on the local environment, with extended reach drilling from the Goathorn Peninsula attaining distances in excess of 10 km.

Note the reference to directional drilling, which according to a friend, who was associated with the development of the project, was very much pioneered at Wytch Farm.

Directional drilling is often very much part of the fracking process, prior to the actual hydraulic fracturing. I’m very much of the opinion, that to be a successful fracker, you need to have very good directional drilling capabilities.

I’ve heard it on good authority, that fracking is used in the Highlands of Scotland to extract drinking water. But the F-word is so sensitive, there is nothing about it on the Internet. I did find this web page from a company called Clearwater Drilling Company in Tennessee, which is entitled Hydrofracturing -A procedure designed to increase the amount of water in existing dry and low yield water wells.

Would you prefer to give money to dodgy regimes or build on the Wytch Farm experience and develop the World’s best fracking industry to keep us warm in winter and preserve jobs?

It may seem a stark choice to some, but I believe in the competence of engineers, as demonstrated at Wytch Farm!

Let’s get fracking!

June 8, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Heathrow Plan To Build Third Runway – On Stilts Over M25

This is the title of an article in the Business section of the Sunday Times.

Apparently, three viaducts would be built over the M25, with a wide one for the runway and two narrower ones for the taxi-ways.

Sounds fine by me!

I also feel that the technique of using stilts could be applied to build new housing and commercial properties over roads and railways.

Look at all that space over some city centre stations!

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment