The Anonymous Widower

Vivarail At COP26

This press release from Network Rail is entitled Network Rail And Porterbrook To Showcase Britain’s Green Trains Of The Future At COP26.

These two paragraphs are from the end of the first section of the press release.

It is envisaged that the HydroFLEX may also be used to transport visitors to see the Zero Emission Train, Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train.

Network Rail is also in the earlier stages of planning a similar event with Vivarail to bring an operational battery train to COP26.

Vivarail have taken battery trains to Scotland before for demonstration, as I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

Will other train companies be joining the party?

Alstom

It looks like Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Class 600 train will not be ready for COP26.

But I suspect that the French would not like to be upstaged by a rolling stock leasing company and a university on the one hand and a company with scrapyard-ready redundant London Underground trains on the other.

I think, they could still turn up with something different.

They could drag one of their Coradia iLint trains through the Channel Tunnel and even run it to Scotland under hydrogen power, to demonstrate the range of a hydrogen-powered train.

Alstom have recently acquired Bombardier’s train interests in the UK and there have been rumours of a fleet of battery-electric Electrostars, even since the demonstrator ran successfully in 2015. Will the prototype turn up at COP26?

Alstom’s UK train factory is in Widnes and I’ve worked with Liverpudlians and Merseysiders on urgent projects and I wouldn’t rule out the Class 600 train making an appearance.

CAF

Spanish train company; CAF, have impressed me with the speed, they have setup their factory in Newport and have delivered a total of well over a hundred Class 195 and Class 331 trains to Northern.

I wrote Northern’s Battery Plans, in February 2020, which talked about adding a fourth-car to three-car Class 331 trains, to create a battery-electric Class 331 train.

Will the Spanish bring their first battery-electric Class 331 train to Glasgow?

I think, they just might!

After all, is there a better place for a train manufacturer looking to sell zero-carbon trains around the world to announce, their latest product?

Hitachi

A lot of what I have said for Alstom and CAF, could be said for Hitachi.

Hitachi have announced plans for two battery-electric trains; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

I doubt that either of these trains could be ready for COP26.

But last week, I saw the new Hitachi Class 803 train speeding through Oakleigh Park station.

This is not a battery-electric train, where battery power can be used for traction, but according to Wikipedia and other sources, it is certainly an electric train fitted with batteries to provide hotel power for the train, when the overhead electrification fails.

Are these Class 803 trains already fitted with their batteries? And if they are, have they been tested?

And who is building the batteries for the Class 803 trains?

The traction batteries for Hitachi’s two battery-electric trains are to be produced by Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland, which is not far from Hitachi’s train factory at Newton Aycliffe.

As an engineer, I would suspect that a well-respected company like Hyperdrive Innovation, can design a battery-pack that plugs in to Hitachi’s trains, as a diesel engine would. I would also suspect that a good design, would allow an appropriate size of battery for the application and route.

I feel it is very likely, that all batteries for Hitachi’s UK trains will be designed and build by Hyperdrive Innovation.

If that is the case and the Class 803 trains are fitted with batteries, then Hitachi can be testing the battery systems.

This document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme, gives a very comprehensive description of the electrical and computer systems of the Hitachi trains.

As an engineer and a computer programmer, I believe that if Hyperdrive Innovation get their battery design right and after a full test program, that Hitachi could be able to run battery-electric trains based on the various Class 80x trains.

It could be a more difficult task to fit batteries to Scotland’s Class 385 trains, as they are not fitted with diesel engines in any application. Although, the fitting of diesel engines may be possible in the global specification for the train.

It is likely that these trains could form the basis of the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic.

Note.

  1. The Class 385 and Regional Battery trains are both 100 mph trains.
  2. Class 385 and Class 80x trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  3. Regional Battery trains could handle a lot of unelectrified routes in Scotland.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi bring a battery-equipped train to COP26, if the Class 803 trains have a successful introduction into service.

Siemens

Siemens have no orders to build new trains for the national rail network in the UK.

But there are plans by Porterbrook and possibly other rolling stock leasing companies and train operators to convert some redundant Siemens-built trains, like Class 350 trains, into battery-electric trains.

According to Wikipedia, Siemens upgraded East Midlands Railways, Class 360 trains to 110 mph operation, at their Kings Heath Depot in Northampton.

Could Siemens be updating one of the Class 350 trains, that are serviced at that depot, to a prototype battery-electric Class 350 train?

Stadler

Stadler have a proven design for diesel-electric, battery-electric and hydrogen trains, that they sell all over the world.

In the UK, the only ones in service are Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which are diesel-electric bi-mode trains.

The picture shows one of these trains at Ipswich.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Diesel, battery or hydrogen modules can be inserted in the short PowerPack car in the middle of the train.
  • Diesel-battery-electric versions of these trains have been sold for operation in Wales.
  • The interiors of these trains are designed for both short journeys and a two-hour run.

There is a possibility, that these trains will be upgraded with batteries. See Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’.

Conclusion

Times will be interesting in Glasgow at COP26!

 

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Class 319 Train, But Not As We Know It!

This article on Rail Advent is entitled COP26 To Showcase Britain’s Sustainable Trains Of The Future Thanks To Network Rail And Porterbrook Partnership.

The article talks about and shows pictures of Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX or Class 799 train, which has been developed by the University of Birmingham, fitted out for COP26.

I have downloaded this picture of the interior from Network Rail’s media centre.

Who’d have thought a Class 319 train could look so grand?

But then some Class 319 trains used by commuters don’t look their age of over thirty years.

These pictures were taken on the Abbey Line in 2018.

There’s also this BBC Profile and video of the technology behind the HydroFLEX train.

Conclusion

It looks like Network Rail and Porterbrook are doing their best to showcase the best that Britain and Scotland can offer.

I am reminded of a tale, that I heard from a former GEC manager.

He was involved in selling one of GEC’s Air Traffic Control radars to a Middle Eastern country.

The only working installation of the radar was at Prestwick in Scotland, so he arranged that the dignitaries and the sales team would be flown to Prestwick in GEC’s HS 125 business jet.

As they disembarked at Prestwick and walked to the terminal, the pilot called the GEC Manager over.

The pilot told him “The Scottish Highlands at this time of the year, are one of the most beautiful places in the world! Would you and your guests like a low-level tour on the way back? I can arrange it, if you say so!”

Despite knowing GEC’s draconian attitude to cost control he said yes.

The sale was clinched!

Are Network Rail, Porterbrook, the UK and Scottish Governments, setting up the same Scottish treatment to all the delegates to COP26?

 

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Piney Point: Emergency Crews Try To Plug Florida Toxic Wastewater Leak

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Emergency crews in Florida have been working to prevent a “catastrophic” flood after a leak was found in a large reservoir of toxic wastewater.

This Google Map shows the location.

Note.

  1. At the top of the map is an area called Tampa Bay Estuarine Ecosystem Rock Ponds.
  2. The reservoir appears to be in the South East corner of the map.
  3. There appear to be several chemical works to the West of the highway.

This second Google Map shows the reservoir at a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The picture in the BBC article was taken from the North West.
  2. The problem reservoir is right and above of centre.
  3. To its right is Lake Price, which appears to be the sort of lake to sail a boat and perhaps do a bit of fishing and swimming.
  4. Moore Lake to the South appears similar to Lake Price.

It looks to me that it is not the place to have an environmental incident.

This article in The Times says this.

Engineers are furiously pumping the phosphate-rich water into the sea to avoid an uncontrolled spill at Piney Point, whose failure could unleash a 20ft-high wall of toxic effluent.

Pumping it into the sea? Surely not?

I suspect there could have been a mixture of sloppy management and loose regulation, with minimal enforcement and I’ll be interested to see what recommendations are put forward by the inevitable investigation.

In my varied past, I was once indirectly involved, in the toxic waste that comes out of chemical plants. At the time, I was working for ICI in Runcorn and my main job was building designing and building instruments for the various chemical plants in and around Runcorn.

As they had hired me because of my programming skills, they asked me if I could do a few small jobs on their Ferranti Argus 500, which could be plugged in to both their Varian NMR machine and their AEI mass spectrometer.

With the former, to get better accuracy in analysis of chemicals, I would take successive scans of a sample and aggregate them together. The accuracy of the results would be proportion to the square root of the number of scans.

The second to my mind was more difficult and much more interesting.

This explanation of mass spectroscopy is from Wikipedia.

Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are typically presented as a mass spectrum, a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used in many different fields and is applied to pure samples as well as complex mixtures.

ICI at Runcorn had a lot of complex mixtures and the aim of my project, was to take a mass spectrum and automatically decide what chemicals were present in the mixture.

The mass spectra were presented as a long graph on a roll of thermal paper. I noticed that operators would pick out distinctive patterns on the graph, which they told me were distinctive patterns of chlorine ions.

Chlorine has an unusual atomic weight of 35.5 because it is a mixture of two stable isotypes Chlorine-35 and Chlorine-37, which produced these distinctive patterns on the spectra.

I was able to identify these patterns to determine the number of chlorine atoms in a compound. By giving the algorithm a clue in stating how many carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms could be involved, it was able to successfully identify what was in a complex mixture.

All this was programmed on computer with just 64K words of memory and a half-megabyte hard disc.

ICI must have been pleased, as I got a bonus.

One of the jobs the software was used for was to identify what chemicals were present in the lagoons alongside the River Weaver, which are shown today in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The chemical works, which were part of ICI in the 1960s, to the North of the Weaver Navigation Canal.
  2. The two former lagoons between the canal and the River Weaver, which seem to have been cleaned out and partially restored.
  3. Was that a third large lagoon to the South of the River Weaver?
  4. There also appears to be a fourth smaller triangular lagoon between the canal and the river.

There certainly seems to have been a better clear-up in Runcorn, than in Florida.

I moved on from Runcorn soon after, I’d finished that software and have no idea how or if it developed and was used.

But the techniques I used stayed in my brain and were used at least four times in the future.

  • In the design of a Space Allocation Program for ICI Plastics Division.
  • In the design of two Project Management systems for Time Sharing Ltd.

And of course, they were also used in designing the scheduler in Artemis for Metier.

I

 

April 5, 2021 Posted by | Computing, Design, World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recycling In Islington

I took these pictures by the bus stop round the corner from my house.

It is often as bad as this and it is regularly cleaned up by the street cleaners.

There are people for whatever reason, put their rubbish by the litter and then the foxes sort through it looking for scraps of food.

Someone said on the radio, that it is caused by illegal sub-lets, as these tenants are told not to use the normal rubbish system, as it draws attention.

So their idea of recycling, is to get others to sort it!

March 16, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

UK Cruise Ships Scrapped In India’s ‘Ship Graveyard’

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Two UK cruise ships have been scrapped on an Indian beach despite assurances they would continue to be operated.

The ships are the Marco Polo and the Magellan, whose owner went bust due to the pandemic.

After a couple of transactions, they will be heading to the ship-breaker at Alang in North-West India.

This Google Map shows the yard. Or beach!

What a mess!

It looks to me, that someone has been doing a bit of sleight of ship to get round UK regulations, which class ships at the end of their lives as hazardous waste and make it illegal to send them to developing countries.

 

 

March 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Alstom Calls For Hydrogen Rail Fleets In The UK

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2View.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Alstom has called for a £10bn investment programme in UK rail and mass transit systems, through which it would like fleets of clean, zero emission hydrogen trains to replace pouting diesel alternatives.

Titled: The UK’s New Green Age; A Step Change in Transport Decarbonisation, the report states that 300-400 hydrogen trains could be launched simply with a like for like replacement of diesels and would deliver huge environmental benefits.

The report was released after recent research revealed that the UK is lagging behind surrounding countries in comparable infrastructure. For example, France has over double the number of mass transit systems as the UK, whilst Germany has four.

There is a rapidly developing argument between the proposers of hydrogen and battery trains.

Consider.

  • Both types of train can ve a straight replacement for diesel trains, often with very little modification to stations.
  • As both hydrogen and battery trains have electric traction, they could have improved performance, so tracks and signalling might need upgrades to make full use of that performance to provide a better service for passengers.
  • Hydrogen trains will need a refuelling strategy.
  • Hydrogen trains need to carry a large tank of hydrogen.
  • Battery trains may well need charging systems or extra lengths of electrification for charging.
  • The UK will have plenty of green hydrogen and zero carbon electricity.

I also believe that hydrogen and battery trains designed from scratch will be much better than conversions of existing stock.

Conclusion

I think the environment will win this argument.

I can see cost and local circumstances deciding, whether to use battery or hydrogen trains.

For instance, Ipswich and Norwich, where there are an electrified main lines, might become battery train hubs, whereas Middlesbrough, where there is a plentiful supply of hydrogen, might use hydrogen trains for local services.

January 14, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Restoring Your Railway Fund Could Provide A Toolkit For Town Transformation

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

The article talks a lot of sense and is a must-read for improving a town, that is on its uppers.

It uses the Northumberland Line between Newcastle and Ashington in the North East as an example and describes how the fund can be used with the Towns Fund.

This paragraph gives a few examples of rail lines that could be improved using the fund!

Potential priorities for future rounds of funding could include the South Yorkshire Joint Line, a freight line serving 50 000 people between Doncaster and Worksop; the Leamside Line, a disused line which would serve 70 000 in Washington; March to Wisbech, a disused line which would connect 35 000 people in Wisbech to the network; and the line from Yate to Thornbury, another freight line which would connect 15 000 people in Thornbury to Bristol and beyond.

In the early sixties, I lived in the crap town of Felixstowe, with a sparse rail service to civilisation (London). Now the town has an hourly rail service to Ipswich in a smart new train and the town is more successful.

There’s a lot of chicken-and-egg syndrome at work here, but sorting the rail routes could be a good start.

In some cases, it’s not necessarily rebuilding infrastructure, as that is there for freight or an inadequate passenger service using a scrapyard special. But why not use refurbished trains powered by battery or hydrogen, on these routes to provide an hourly service. The curiosity value of the unusual propulsion, might even be a selling point to those reluctant to give up their PPVs, (Personal Protective Vehicles)!

June 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Coronavirus, What’s Next? China: More Coal, US: More Oil, EU: More Renewables

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

The title says it all, but read the article to get the detail.

June 2, 2020 Posted by | Health, World | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lancashire’s Eden Project Encouraged By Survey Results

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

Apparently, 99 % of those surveyed were in favour.

More can be found at edenproject.com/north.

March 23, 2020 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Eco-Friendly Party Bag Wrapping

I usually do the party bags for Christmas Day and these pictures show how I wrap the goodies.

Note.

  1. The cotton drawstring bags come from The Clever Baggers.
  2. I found the little plastic pots called Mini Bites in Robert Dyas.
  3. The Mini Bites have a screw lid, which is easier to open than most packaging.

They have lots of reusable possibilities.

  • Last night, I found that the capacity of one Mini-Bite is ideal for frozen peas for one.
  • I keep shoes in the cotton bags.
  • I shall be using a Mini Bite to hold a selection of my daily pills.
  • As the pictures show, they hold a sensible portion of nuts, sweets or chocolate.
  • Are they a daily pack of forbidden foods, like chocolate and sweets?

We need more packaging ideas like these!

 

December 22, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment