The Anonymous Widower

The First North American Commercial Hydrogen Ferry Is In The Works

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

The 84-passenger ferry will be called Sea Change and will operate in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What is interesting about this project are some of the companies and organisations involved, who include BAe Systems, Cummins and the California Air Resources Board, who are chipping in with a $3 million grant.

I’ve said before that Cummins are making investments in hydrogen and modern, reliable and eco-friendly ferries across iconic rivers and estuaries wouldn’t harm the companies involved in their creation.

This page on the Switch Maritime gives more details of the Sea Change.

Ferries Across The Mersey

The current Mersey Ferries in Liverpool entered service in the 1960s.

These pictures shows Snowdrop, when she had been given a razzle-dazzle paint scheme by Sir Peter Blake.

Note.

  1. There is more about this colour scheme in the Wikipedia entry for Dazzle Ship (14-18 NOW).
  2. Snowdrop is much larger than the Californian ferry
  3. Mersey Ferries are different and the current pair will need to be replaced soon.

To me, hydrogen is the obvious choice for propulsion for a new ferry.

Freeport East

Freeport East is a new freeport to be built around the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe.

It will also be a hydrogen hub, as this infographic shows.

I would expect that the ferry between the two ports will be upgraded to a hydrogen one.

Conclusion

Ferries will be one of the first application of hydrogen power to ships.

 

June 5, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

France Passes A Law That Prohibits Domestic Flights, For Trips That Can Be Made By Train In Less Than Two And A Half Hours

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

I actually wonder, if this is something that is almost a complete ban on domestic flights except to islands like Corsica, as with the growth of the TGV network there can’t be many pairs of places in France, where the train takes more than two and a half hours.

I need to go to Pau at some time in the near future.

Pau is actually four and a half hours from Paris. Would most people take the train?

Other distances for comparison include.

  • Biarritz – 4 hours 11 minutes
  • Bordeaux – 2 hours 11 minutes
  • Marseilles – 3 hours 2 minutes
  • Nice – 6 hours
  • Strasbourg – 2 hours

It just shows how big France is.

By comparison in the UK, you can get to the following places in two and a half hours from London.

  • Preston from Euston
  • Hull from Kings Cross
  • Leeds from Kings Cross
  • Northallerton from Kings Cross
  • Exeter St. Davids from Paddington
  • Port Talbot Parkway from Paddington

Other roughly two and a half hour journeys would include.

  • Edinburgh and York
  • Glasgow and Preston
  • Aberdeen and Edinburgh

I would think, that the French have got the limit in their law about right.

Should We Have A Similar Law In The UK?

I have once taken a flight on a scheduled airline in the UK, shorter than London and Edinburgh. That was between London and Newcastle in the 1970s in a Dan-Air Comet 4.

In the last fifty years, four flights to Edinburgh and one to Aberdeen and Belfast, are probably all the domestic flying I’ve done in the UK.

I suspect, it is unlikely, that I will be affected if a similar law to France, were to be enacted in the UK.

There is also an interesting development in the provision of long distance rail services in the UK.

  • East Coast Trains are bringing in a fast, no-frills, one price service on the London and Edinburgh route.
  • Other companies are looking to do the same from London to Blackpool, Cardiff and Stirling.

I feel, that we’ll see some interesting services introduced by rail and ferry companies to compete with airlines.

London Euston And Dublin By Low Carbon Boat Train

Currently, you can get to Dublin from London by train to Holyhead and then a ferry.

  • The non-stop train between London Euston and Holyhead takes just over three and a half hours.
  • Avanti West Coast will be replacing their trains with new faster Class 805 bi-mode trains, which in a few years could be capable of running at up to 140 mph between London Euston and Crewe.
  • Irish Ferries have a fast ferry that goes between Holyhead and Dublin in one hour and forty-nine minutes.

I can see a fast train and ferry service between London Euston and Dublin getting very close to five hours.

It could be quite likely that new technology, faster trains and targeted marketing will reduce the number of internal flights in the UK.

The same forces will probably do the same in several countries, including France.

So do we really need a law?

April 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gulf Of Mexico Train Ferry Fleet Renewal

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The first of two train ferries ordered for CG Railway’s route across the Gulf of Mexico has been launched by CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Co in China.

The CGR joint venture of Genesee & Wyoming and SEACOR Holdings transports 10 000 wagons/year between Mobile in Alabama in the USA and Coatzacoalcos in Mexico.

I was surprised about this article, as between the US and Mexico wasn’t where I would expect to find a train ferry.

But it obviously makes sense as two new ships don’t come cheap.

Some other points from the article.

  • The two new ships will increase capacity by forty percent.
  • There will be a 44 % reduction of CO2 emissions compared to the all rail route.
  • The ships are designed to be pandemic proof.
  • The ships take five days for the trip, which is half the time of the all-rail route.

I can see this investment being copied in various places around the world.

 

 

March 15, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 7 Comments

Scotland To Trial World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Ferry In Orkney

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The world’s first hydrogen-fuelled ferry is set to undergo testing as Scotland powers forward in the green energy race.

I wonder how many of these there are in the world?

This paragraph lists those behind the project.

The HyDIME project is made up of a consortium of partners being led by Ferguson Marine. Partners include ULEMCo, Lloyd’s Register, HSSMI and Orkney Islands Council.

I suspect ULEMCo will provide the motive power, as their speciality is converting vehicles to run on hydrogen or dual-fuel of hydrogen and diesel.

There is also a HyDIME web site.

This is the project description from the web site.

  • HyDIME (Hydrogen Diesel Injection in a Marine Environment) is a 12 month, Innovate UK funded project that will use an environmentally friendly form of hydrogen as a fuel for a commercial ferry operating between Shapinsay and Kirkwall in Orkney.
  • HyDIME aims to make waves in the marine industry by proving the safe integration and use of hydrogen on vessels. One of HyDIME’s goals is the design and physical integration of a hydrogen injection system on a commercial passenger and vehicle ferry which will be the first of its kind worldwide.
  • The hydrogen used in the HyDIME project will be cleanly produced from renewable energy. Excess energy generated from Orkney’s abundance of wind and tidal power will be used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, resulting in carbon free, ’green’ hydrogen.
  • Looking to the future beyond the project, HyDIME will conduct a scale-up analysis, addressing key questions such as, “How much hydrogen and renewable energy would be required to fuel the Shapinsay ferry PLUS a fleet of hydrogen vehicles in Orkney?” and “Can this project be replicated in other areas of Scotland and the rest of the UK?”.
  • The HyDIME project will provide a stepping stone to accelerate and de-risk future hydrogen marine projects and will contribute towards growing the hydrogen economy in the UK.

This looks to be a very professional project, as they seem to be trying to answer all the questions, anyone will ask.

 

October 13, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Transition Your Ships To Zero-Emissions With Ballard’s New FCwave

The title of this post, is the same as that of this post on the Ballard blog.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Today, the maritime sector accounts for approximately 2.5% of global carbon emissions, equivalent to 940 megatonnes each year . But the industry is now moving into a new era of mobility, where sustainability and climate change issues are top of mind.

And this paragraph introduces Ballard’s solution.

At Ballard, we’re here to support ship operators and marine propulsion integrators in this transition. Today, we’ll introduce you to our new FCwave™ fuel cell module—the world’s first commercial fuel cell solution for marine vessels.

There is a link to a brochure.

The blog also has two videos and a picture of a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, which is labelled Ballard Fuel Cell Powered HySeas Consortium Ferry, so is a hydrogen-powered ferry coming to an island near you or where you like to go?

This article on the Liverpool Echo is entitled Plans For A New Ferry To Cross The Mersey.

As the current two ferries, were in service when I was a student at Liverpool University in the 1960s, replacement of one of the most iconic, if not the most iconic ferries in the world with hydrogen power would be a smart move, by both Liverpool and Ballard.

Especially, as the Liverpool area is not short of hydrogen.

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Channel Islands To France Tunnel Would ‘Cost £5.6bn’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Construction News.

The tunnel would be built as follows.

  • Phase One would be a 28 km. rail tunnel between Jersey and Guernsey.
  • Phase Two would be a 32 km rail tunnel between Jersey and Normandy.
  • Both journey times would be around fifteen minutes.
  • The tunnels would take ten years to build.
  • It is claimed they would double the GDP of the islands in a decade.
  • The Governments of Guernsey and Jersey are supporting the idea.

One factor driving the idea, seems to be the ageing population of the Channel Islands, which means they will need a commuting population to provide services.

There is also an article on the Jersey Evening Post, which is entitled Jersey-Guernsey-France Tunnel Proposed, that gives a few more details of the proposals.

  • The tunnel will start in St Sampson’s in Guernsey and travel under Herm and Sark.
  • An artificial island would also be built between Sark and Jersey which could house a combined Channel Island’s airport, hospital, prison and university.

These are a few of my thoughts.

The Route

This Google Map shows the Channel Islands.

Note.

  1. Herm is shown by the red arrow.
  2. Sark is llabelled as La Rade.
  3. The coast of the Cherbourg Peninsular is shown in the East.

From this map it appears that the distance of the two phases of construction would be similar.

Operating Speed

Both tunnels are proposed to be around twenty miles in length, so if the journey time is fifteen minutes, that means an average speed of eighty mph.

For comparison, the Channel Tunnel is just over thirty miles long and has a safety speed limit of 99 mph.

So it would appear that with good design, the timings are possible.

I also think that we could see speeds like these.

  • 200 kph (125 mph) on the surface in France.
  • At least 100 mph between France and Jersey.
  • 80 mph between Jersey and Guernsey, where there are three stops.

Timings of sub-forty-five minutes would be possible.

Single Or Double Track

I feel it would be possible to build each phase of the railway as a single-track tunnel, both of which would be paired with a service tunnel. There would be a double-track section in Jersey, so that trains could pass.

This would allow a four trains per hour (tph) service between Guernsey and France, with the services passing under Jersey.

This frequency would be a Turn-Up-And-Go service.

The article doesn’t say, whether a single or double track tunnel would be built.

As the tunnel would only be built once and probably never increased in capacity, the design must be right first time.

Tunnel Loading Gauge

Would the tunnel be built to take UK-sized trains or the bigger Continental-sized trains?

Consider.

  • The trains will probably terminate on the French side in a station.
  • The larger the tunnel, the more costly it would be to bore.
  • The tunnel would have to incorporate electrification.

I feel that the size of the tunnel will end up as a compromise between cost, convenience and compatibility with French railway standards.

Freight

Consider.

  • If the tunnel was the right diameter some freight could be transferred through the tunnel.
  • Parcels and smaller freight could also be carried on a shuttle train based on a passenger train.
  • A larger tunnel would increase the cost.
  • If freight were to be carried on the railway, then a freight terminal would be needed on the surface on Jersey and Guernsey where space is at a premium.
  • As less passengers would be using the ferries, this might mean money invested in new ferries between the islands and France and the UK for freight and road vehicles, would give a better return.

I think on balance, that building the rail link, so that it could handle freight trains, other than perhaps a parcel shuttle would not be a viable idea.

Rail Link Power Supply

I think there are two possible power sources for the trains on the rail link; electrification or battery.

Electrification would certainly be possible and would probably use the French (and UK!) system of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

As it is a tunnel, an overhead rail would probably be used as on Crossrail and other similar railways.

|As a battery range of eighty files would be needed for a round trip and hundred percent reliability would be desirable, I think it would be unlikely, that batteries would be the primary source of power.

But batteries could be fitted to handle regenerative braking and provide a back-up power source.

Connection To French Railways

The nearest French railway is the main Cherbourg and Paris railway, which is electrified using 25 KVAC overhead.

It would seem sensible to allow trains from the Channel Islands to terminate at Cherbourg.

  • It is a municipality of 80,000 people.
  • It is a major port.
  • It has a station with what looks to be a large capacity.
  • It has a rail service to Paris, where passengers can change for London.
  • There is probably space in Cherbourg station to incorporate a platform with passenger, freight and Immigration and Customs facilities.
  • Trains could probably run between Cherbourg and the Channel Islands Rail Link in less than thirty minutes.
  • France plans to start a TGV service between Paris and Cherbourg, which would have connections to Eurostar.
  • Cherbourg would probably be an ideal place for a depot.

It looks like that about thirty kilometres of new railway would be needed to connect the Channel Island tunnel to the Paris and Cherbourg Line.

Rail Link Signalling

As the trains would be running in France, the whole route would be signalled to the French standards, that are used on any shared track.

The Artificial Island

Consider.

  • The artificial island would contain an airport, a hospital, a prison a university and possibly other important facilities.
  • It would release land on Jersey and Guernsey for development.
  • It is not far from halfway between Guernsey and France.

I like this concept and I also think, that it could ease the construction of the railway.

A fair-sized site will be needed to insert the tunnel boring machines and deal with the spoil they bring to the surface.

I believe that using modern construction techniques, that creating the perimeter of the artificial island first and then boring the tunnels from the new land would be possible.

Tunnel spoil could be used to build up the island or taken away by ship for use elsewhere.

Electricity For The Channel Islands

Much of the electricity for the Channel Islands is produced by La Collette Power Station on Jersey, which is powered by fossil fuel and waste.

If as I believe the rail link would be built with a service tunnel, then would it not be better to import zero-carbon energy from France and distribute it to other islands, using an interconnector cable in the service tunnel?

My electrical engineering is basic from over fifty years ago, but I suspect that if the rail link used 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that the electrification could be used to supply the islands with power.

Hospital Access

There is no point in building a world-class hospital on the artificial island, if patients die because they take too long to get there.

Seriously-ill patients will take forever, if they have to go in an ambulance by ferry and although a helicopter is quick, these are too expensive, especially if you have to keep enough on standby to handle every eventuality.

But the artificial island is less than fifteen minutes from Jersey and Guernsey by train. As trains could be fifteen minutes apart, that means a patient could always be in hospital thirty minutes after being picked up.

But it would need the following.

  • A mini-A & E unit in all four stations, where patients could be triaged and admitted or treated, after being brought in by ambulance.
  • The ability to take a hospital trolley on all trains.
  • The ability to take a patient in a wheelchair on all trains.

I am pretty sure, that an efficient system can be devised.

The Stations

All the stations would be underground, including the terminal at St Sampson’s station on Guernsey.

  • Surface access would be by lifts, escalators and stairs.
  • Platform-edge doors would be fitted.
  • Al stations would be able to handle a hospital trolley.
  • Guernsey, Artificial Island and Jersey would probably have two platforms.
  • Other stations would probably only need a single bi-directional platform.
  • I doubt there would be a second station other than Cherbourg in France, as this would require Customs and Immigration.

I would also make the platforms long.

  • Crossrail’s platforms are over two hundred metres long and even London’s suburban platforms are often this length.
  • They could have separate sections for passengers and freight.
  • They would be difficult to extend in the future, so make them long enough for any possible future needs.

This would enable capacity increases to be made by just lengthening the trains.

The Trains

I have left the trains to last, as I wanted to lay out everything else first, so anything effecting the train design will have been covered.

  • An operating speed of 125 mph or 200 kph would be desirable to make maximum use of the infrastructure, especial in France.
  • The ability to run a round trip between Cherbourg and Guernsey in under two hours.
  • Trains could be either separate passenger and light freight versions or a combi version that could handle both passengers and light freight.
  • Trains could be built to a lower height than a typical French train, to allow for a smaller and more affordable tunnel to be bored.
  • A long-reach pantograph would be used to reach the higher French electrification.
  • All access between train and platform would be level for bags, bikes, buggies and wheelchairs.
  • All passenger trains must have the ability to take a hospital trolley, so urgent patients can be rushed to hospital.

My design would be based on a train like a Stadler Flirt, Bombadier Aventra or Siemens Desiro, built to a UK-loading gauge.

  • The train would have an ambulance car in the middle to get the best ride quality.
  • On one side of the ambulance car would be a passenger section and on the other side would be a light freight or parcel section.
  • Trains and stations would be designed together to minimise loading and unloading times.

I’m certain Stadler could build a version of the Class 745 train, that would fit the application.

TGVs To Cherbourg

The French have plans to run TGVs to Cherbourg, which will link up with Eurostar in Paris.

This will improve journey times to Cherbourg and then to the islands, if the Channel Islands rail link terminates in Cherbourg.

But I doubt TGVs would ever run to the Channel Islands.

  • It would need large tunnels that would cost a lot more.
  • TGVs would have to be designed to work with platform-edge doors.
  • It would be difficult to schedule four or more Channel Islands Rail Link trains per hour and the occasionally TGV through the tunnels.
  • Two tunnels would probably be needed.
  • TGVs are large trains and could need longer platforms in Jersey and Guernsey and other places they call.
  • TGVs would take several minutes to rurn round in Guernsey, whereas the Channel Islands Rail Link trains would turn in under five minutes.

There would probably only be a need for a couple of trains per day and a frequent shuttle to Cherbourg would give a much more customer-friendly service. Especially if the TGV service between Paris and Cherbourg was an hourly service.

Electric Airliners

A large proportion of the flights from Jersey and Guernsey airports would be suitable for electric airliners, which I’m certain will be flying before the earliest date the new combined Channel Islands Airport opened.

This would mean that to get to the Channel Islands from say Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Geneva, London or Rotterdam can be done faster in a zero-carbon electric airliner.

The Channel Islands could provide the necessary infrastructure for electric airliners and say all airlines must use them for services to the new airport.

What would it do for Channel Islands tourism to have the world’s first zero-carbon airport?

Surely, with the  Channel Islands Rail Link, the airport could be the preferred one for passengers in the area, wanting to travel to the UK and Ireland.

 

What’s In It For The French?

France will be a beneficiary of the project.

  • The French build tunnel boring machines.
  • The Channel Tunnel Rail Link will create job opportunities in the Cherbourg area.
  • If economic activity increases around Cherbourg, the case for the TGV to Cherbourg gets better.
  • The French get a new modern airport for the Cherbourg area.
  • The French could get an increased market for their nuclear electricity.

I can see the French liking this project.

Conclusion

I think the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is a good idea and could transform the economy of the Channel Islands.

It will also be good for the surrounding area of France.

 

 

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Is This French Punishment For Brexiters?

This article on the BBC web site is entitled Dover ferry port passengers hit by traffic chaos. This is said.

Holidaymakers have been hit by delays of up to 12 hours through Kent to get to the Port of Dover, with many being stuck in traffic overnight.
Port authorities said delays built up due to French border checkpoints being understaffed overnight during heightened security levels.

There’s always some problem with the French and the Channel every summer.

But this summer it appears to be worse!

Could it be that the French are showing Brexiters, that they control the border?

After all, we never seem to get a problem with the Belgians!

The strange thing last night, as I came in from Brussels on Eurostar, was that there was some form of overcrowding in the terminal at St. Pancras.

 

July 23, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

A Second Trip To Wemyss Bay

These pictures show my second trip to Wemyss bay station with its ferry terminal.

The buildings were designed by the architect; James Miller.

You might ask why this was my second visit to Wemyss Bay. In the 1960s, I caqme up to see Spurs play Glasgow Celtic at Hampden Park in what was a pre-season Glasgow Cup.

I’d arrived early in the morning, after hitching a lift from Gretna in a van that had been delivering newspapers.

So for some reason, I took the brand-new Blue Train to Wemyss Bay station and slept for an hour or so on the beach.

 

June 24, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Match Nineteen – Charlton 0 – Ipswich 1

Unlike Bournemouth, Charlton was only a short trip across the Thames. I actually crossed on the Emirates Air Line.

On The Emirates Air Line

On The Emirates Air Line

It was then a short ride on a 486 bus to Charlton station.

As I set out, I thought we might have had a chance of a win, but hopes were beginning to fade as a close fought match, which had produced 40 shots according to the BBC, was coming to the end.

But then substitute, Noel Hunt playing his first match for Ipswich, came on and a few minutes after suffering a blood injury, he managed to drill home his first goal for nearly two years.

We certainly all celebrated long after the match.

Getting home everything seemed to be locked solid, so I walked to Woolwich and got the ferry to my side of the River.

On The Woolwich Ferry

On The Woolwich Ferry

I wonder how many people have flown to a football match and then taking a ferry home.

At least, when I got home around five, I had the pleasure of knowing that Ipswich are now up to second in the Championship.

I also looked at the map after I got home.

The O2 To The Valley

The O2 To The Valley

Note the O2 in the top left, with North Greenwich station just below and The Valley in the bottom right, with Charlton station close by.

I would estimate that next time, I get stuck there, it will take about half-an-hour to walk to North Greenwich station for the Jubilee line.

 

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossing The Strait Of Messina

The Strait of Messina is the strip of water between Sicily and the Italian mainland. you don’t change trains, but they shunted it into a ferry for the crossing.

Unlike the crossing from Denmark to Germany, I took in my return from Stockholm, you can stay in the train if you like.

October 9, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment