The Anonymous Widower

A Long Journey Home

A friend had booked between London and Edinburgh today on the 13:00 LNER train from King’s Cross. She was also travelling with her miniature Schnauzer.

.We had arranged to meet at Marylebone, so I could help them across London to King’s Cross and have a much-needed hot chocolate in King’s Cross before they caught the train North and I went to a meeting organised by my cardiologist.

I had checked out King’s Cross earlier and there was trouble with srveral delayed and cancelled trains.

It wasn’t strikes or bad management from LNER and the problem is explained in this article from the Yorkshire Evening Post, which is entitled Trains From Leeds To London Cancelled Or Delayed After Thieves Steal Signalling Cables From Railway Tracks.

In the end we made the train in time and also had time to have a hot chocolate in LEON, whilst we sat out the back with the dog.

We were texting each other most of the afternoon and with assistance from Real Time Trains, the journey went as follows.

  • The train left King’s Cross at 13:08, which was eight minutes late.
  • By Peterborough, the train was running seventeen minutes late. 
  • The driver kept this delay until Retford, where he lost another eighty minutes.
  • The train was now running 97 minutes late and this grew by four more minutes by Newcastle.
  • My friend reported that they stopped at Newcastle, as they had no driver.
  • In the end, LNER found a driver or a way for the current driver to continue to Edinburgh and the train left Newcastle after a thirty minute stop.
  • The train was now two hours and ten minutes late.
  • Eventually, it pulled into Edinburgh, two hours and five minutes late, after the driver had picked up a few minutes on the approach to Edinburgh.

Note.

  1. The incoming train that formed this service arrived in King’s Cross from Edinburgh seventy two minutes late, mainly because of the cable theft. It should have arrived and returned to Edinburgh an hour earlier. But it arrived conveniently to form the 13:00 to Scotland.
  2. As the train presentation team turned the train in nineteen minutes instead of twenty-one, they saved a couple of minutes.
  3. I suspect the delay at Retford was getting through the area without any signalling.
  4. Had the driver run out of hours by Newcastle, as he had been in the cab for four-and-a-half hours?
  5. Normally, four-and-a-half hours would have enabled the driver to have driven to Edinburgh.

These are my thoughts.

Cable Theft

In the days of British Rail, I did some work for British Rail using my software called Daisy, which led to a report entitled Failure Reporting And Analysis On British Rail, which was written by J. S. Firth CEng, MIEE, MIRSE, who worked for SigTech, which was a Business Unit of the British Railways Board.

If anybody who has a legitimate reason to read the report, I still have the complimentary copy sent to me by Mr. Firth and would be happy to provide a copy.

I did flag up a project called Unauthorised Cable Removal And Fault Triage, as one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition organised by the Dept of BEIS.

If there is anything I can do to help, let me know.

Problems In France

A friend in France told me that there is a problem with stealing overhead electrification cables in France.

This article on RFI is entitled Copper Wire Thieves Force France’s High-Speed TGV To Go Slow.

There are several similar stories on French and other European web sites.

Signalling Using Radio

The East Coast Main Line is being signalled using modern ERTMS digital signalling, where drivers read the signals on an in-cab display, which is connected by radio to the signalling system.

This extract from Wikipedia describes the first project.

In June 2020 it was reported that the UK government would provide £350 million to fund the UK’s first digital signalling system on a long-distance rail route. The signalling is to be fitted on a 100-mile (161 km) section of the East Coast Main Line between Kings Cross, London, and Lincolnshire, which will allow trains to run closer together and increase service frequency, speed and reliability. No date for when the new technology, already in use on the Thameslink lines at London Bridge and some London Underground lines, has been given.

If the cables are removed will this reduce crime?

LNER Delay Repay

My friend will be entitled for a full refund of her single ticket.

This page on the LNER web site gives full details.

Note.

  1. You have 28 days to claim.
  2. If you have a return ticket, you may be entitled to something for that leg of the journey.

I would add, that you should always keep all your tickets, in case the return journey goes belly-up.

December 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

ZERRCI – Zero Emissions Repowering Of Railway Construction Infrastructure

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10037562

Project title: ZERRCI – Zero Emissions Repowering Of Railway Construction Infrastructure
Lead organisation: EMINOX LIMITED
Project grant: £59,852

Public description: Eminox, HS2 and SCS Railways propose a solution for the delivery of a low emissions, greener
railway. Our solution covers the development of an electric motor and battery system, which can be
retrofitted into existing construction equipment, replacing the traditional diesel engine with a quieter,
cleaner, zero emissions drivetrain. These pieces of plant and equipment will be used as direct
replacements for diesel machines in the constructing and maintaining railway infrastructure.

Eminox is leading this project with its experience in providing cost effective retrofit emissions
solutions and together with HS2 and SCS JV will be involved in demonstrating the first repowered
construction equipment in a real-world rail infrastructure environment.

This proposed venture has been instigated by HS2 in line with their ambition as set out in their Net
Zero Carbon plan for diesel free construction sites by 2029. As the solution will extend the life
expectancy of the machine, it will contribute to HS2’s vision of net-zero by 2035.

This solution will offer a more cost-effective route to zero emissions construction compared to
purchasing similar new electric powered equipment by extending the life expectancy of existing
plant and machinery. With a target of 50% the price of purchasing new excavators it is expected to
incentivise the broader uptake of demand in electric plant and equipment at scale across the
industry supply chain.

Phase 1 of this project aims to deliver a proposal for a prototype zero-emissions excavator. By
performing a feasibility study on the conversion principals, we intend to extract a broad
understanding of the challenges associated with integration and develop an optimised battery and
motor system specification.

Phase 2 will involve the conversion, commissioning and delivery of a repowered excavator, and
subsequent in-service validation. By using this converted machine to conduct initial trials, it will be
proven that no machine functionality or safety features have been compromised during conversion,
and we will establish power storage requirements to provide adequate duty cycle performance.

This will result in a fully proven demonstrator with real-world validation enabling further
development of optimised battery solutions.

My Thoughts And Conclusion

November 20, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

ECML Net Zero Traction Decarbonisation

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10036245

Project title: ECML Net Zero Traction Decarbonisation
Lead organisation: SIEMENS MOBILITY LIMITED
Project grant: £59,983

Public description: Electrification is the foundation of all modern railways and fundamental to decarbonisation. Through
delivering faster, smoother, quieter and more reliable train services, rail electrification reduces
industry fuel cost by 45%, rolling stock costs by 33%, and track maintenance costs by 10-20%
(compared to diesel operation). Electric railways are the most efficient, lowest carbon form of
transportation in the UK.

Network Rail operates the largest power distribution network in the UK, and is the largest consumer
of electricity in the UK, consuming 4TWh electricity per year. Power is provided from the electricity
supply industry, a mix of gas, nuclear, coal and renewables, emitting approximately 944,000 tonnes
of carbon dioxide annually. Connecting new renewable generation directly to the railway reinforces
the railway power supply, while reducing coal and gas use in the UK and is a longstanding Network
Rail industry challenge statement. To date, engineering incompatibilities between renewable,
electricity supply systems and the railway single-phase electrical and other railway systems have
prevented local renewable connection in rail.

In a world first, Siemens Mobility, working with British Solar Renewables, DB Cargo UK, Network
Rail, ECML operators, and the University of York, will directly connect large-scale renewable
generation to the East Coast Mainline. The demonstrator phase will deliver up to 1GWh green
electricity direct to trains each year, reducing UK gas imports by 151,000 cubic metres and carbon
emissions by 236 tonnes annually. It will gather vital data creating a new green industry, creating a
precedent and setting standards to enable larger scale roll-out across the UK.

My Thoughts And Conclusion

This page on the Network Rail web site is entitled Power Supply Upgrade.

Since 2014, Network Rail and its partners have been upgrading the overhead electrification and the associated substations and electricity supply on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

  • It is not a small project which includes fifty new substations and 1,600 km. of new cabling between London and Edinburgh.
  • When complete, fleets of electric trains on the route will be receiving high-quality electric power from the upgraded overhead electrification.

However, the East Coast Main Line is unique among British electrified main lines, in that it runs more or less close to a coast, that is populated by a large number of massive wind farms.

I believe the objective of this project, is to more directly connect the massive wind farms to the East Coast Main Line.

Lessons learned could then be applied to other electrified main lines.

We may even see onshore wind farms or small modular nuclear reactors built to power the railways.

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

State Of The Railway Compiler Data Solution (SORClite): Open Access Real-Time Signalling Data

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10038973

Project title: State Of The Railway Compiler Data Solution (SORClite): Open Access Real-Time Signalling Data
Lead organisation: PARK SIGNALLING LIMITED
Project grant: £217,128

Public description: Our project seeks to support Network Rail in regaining understanding and ownership of key
signalling asset information so that this data can be used to adopt new performance measures,
identify bottlenecks within the rail network and target the 800,000 unexplained delay minutes that
occur annually. The project combines a number of existing technologies to deliver the hardware,
pipeline, analytics, and visualisation as a working demonstration. The data stores will also be
available for use by train operators and the wider data analytics supply chain, removing some of
the systemic blockers around access to data.

My Thoughts And Conclusion

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Portable Track Geometry Measurement System

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10037542

Project title: Portable Track Geometry Measurement System
Lead organisation: MONIRAIL LTD.
Project grant: £249,148

Public description: Rail incidents can take many forms and can results in many different types of intervention from
temporary speed restrictions to full track closures. Many incidents either result from or cause track
damage and in order to remove any speed restrictions or track closures engineers need to be
confident that the track is in a safe condition. It is therefore common practice after many incidents
where track damage is suspected or track repairs have been undertaken for Track Recording
Vehicles (TRVs) to be required to run the track before passenger or freight vehicles are allowed to
run the line again. However, the availability of these vehicles can cause significant delays to line
reopening or removal of speed restrictions.

MoniRail has developed an in-service track monitoring system that can be permanently fitted to
passenger vehicles and is currently on trial with Network Rail (NR) in Scotland and also fitted to 2
Eurostar vehicles on HS1. One potential use-case for the permanent system is for speedier
removal of speed restrictions. However, even with the fixed solution delays are likely as track
monitoring systems are only likely to be fitted to 1/3 to 1/2 of all vehicles, approx 1500 of 5100
vehicles.

This project aims to overcome these delays by providing track engineers with the first ever portable
dynamic track geometry measurement system by modifying the permanent solution into a portable
one that can be temporarily fixed to vehicles along with a lineside sensor array that can provide
additional safety critical track information to the engineer. This solution will therefore provide
immediate track information to track engineers such that can make informed decisions about the
safety of the track and to what extent speed restrictions can be lifted or line re-opened.

My Thoughts And Conclusion

I am surprised that this hasn’t been developed before.

It surely must have export potential.

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Trains With Brains(R)

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10036632

Project title: Trains With Brains(R)
Lead organisation: JR DYNAMICS LIMITED
Project grant: £248,046

Public description:

Trains with Brains(r) aims to integrate data from a range of remote condition monitoring sensors
into Network Rail’s monitoring and planning systems/processes, to enable operations and
maintenance teams to address key cost efficiency and performance priorities via more informed
possession planning.

This will be delivered via a head to toe monitoring solution, enabled via bi-directional integration
between Transmission Dynamics and Network Rail.

My Thoughts And Conclusion

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Unauthorised Cable Removal And Fault Triage

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10038790

Project title: Unauthorised Cable Removal And Fault Triage
Lead organisation: FOCUS SENSORS LIMITED
Project grant: £215,310

Public description: When cable thefts occur the operation of the railway, often in nationally critical locations, can be
brought to a standstill with significant impact on passengers and freight supply-chains. Under
extreme industry and public pressure, Network Rail must delay scheduled activities and scramble
teams to effect repairs and get critical railway operational systems working again. Current
technology may not be able to locate the break to better than a few km accuracy, meaning long
periods of manual inspection are required to locate the exact position of the theft before the repair
can be started. This wastes valuable time, increasing the effect of the theft on the efficiency of the
network and creating cost for operators and delays for customers.
This proposal is for a technology solution, using existing trackside optical fibre cables, which can be
used to locate cable thefts instantly to within +/- 1m. After a theft is reported or detected by other
system, automatic analysis will pinpoint the location of the acoustic signatures of the theft activity.
The location of the theft will be instantly displayed, both on a map overlay with geographical
coordinates, and as a linear ELR, miles and yards track location. This will enable first-responder
policing and security to be deployed sooner and more accurately. Secondly, with an accurately
timed and positioned event signature, there is an opportunity for other parties with evidence
collecting abilities (e.g. Forward Facing CCTV on trains) to more proactively, and possibly
automatically, to retain evidence which may support prosecution. Thirdly the Network Rail
engineering team will be given advanced information to allow them to attend the site with the right
materials and resource to affect an earlier resolution.

As secondary activity we will enable location of optical cable by creating a companion
georeferencing co-reference for the trackside fibre cable, so that faults and fibre issues can be
located instantly to a more precise physical location. This provides a valuable tool for Network
Rail’s engineering teams, to reduce time for maintenance and fault finding.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

My software; Daisy was used by British Rail or was it Railtrack to analyse cable faults many years ago. Because of the discussions, we had at the time, I believe that this could be a very successful project.

 

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel, Computing | , , , , | 2 Comments

Optimal Prediction of Sand For Adhesion

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10039258

Project title: Optimal Prediction of Sand For Adhesion
Lead organisation: GOVIA THAMESLINK RAILWAY LIMITED
Project grant: £153,228

Public description: Train services are affected by seasonal variables particularly leaf fall between September and
December. They can also be compromised by wet weather, icy and snowy conditions at a regional
or very localised level on a particular route. Maintaining wheel-rail contact to ensure adequate and
safe braking requires the use of sand in low adhesion conditions. Sand is dispensed to trains in
response to a combination of train service plans and of weather forecast. However, not all trains
are currently able to be replenished during overnight stabling and servicing with attendant risks of
delays and damage to trains and infrastructure. Also, there is a high level of safety risk when sand
replenishment on trains is carried out on a third-rail yard.

“Optimal Prediction of Sand for Adhesion” (OPSA) lead by Govia Thameslink Railway, the major
Train Operating Company on third rail in the UK, will deliver a more efficient and cost-effective
means of predicting the dispensing of sand to trains to ensure services are not compromised by
adhesion losses and train sets are not required to be removed from planned operating diagrams
because of inadequate on board sand supplies. The algorithm developed as a results of this project
will base the estimates on an integrated framework that includes the forecast adhesion, track
maintenance and the expected speed profile in order to capture the change in weather and the seasonal factors.

The algorithm developed represents a cost effective solution to predict the use of sand and
schedule the maintenance of trains enhancing in turn safety and reducing the impact of delays on
the timetable. The algorithm will be developed including direct measure of sand dispersion, braking,
wheel slip and line speed diagram also accounting for human behaviour effects such as driving
style.
Govia Thameslink Railway has engaged with Cranfield University to deliver the disruptive
innovation proposed in this project. The algorithm will enable a more efficient train scheduling
improving public performance measure (PPM) addressing train delay targeting in particular the
25% of delay up to 15 minutes cause by several concurrent issues including train rescheduling and
the National Rail Passenger Survey satisfaction.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

November 18, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rail Flood Defender

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10038342

Project title: Rail Flood Defender
Lead organisation: University of Sheffield
Project grant: £249,770

Public description: Rail Flood Defender will deliver a more reliable railway network that is safer for all stakeholders,
and empower Network Rail (NR) and the UK to become global leaders in intelligent holistic rail
drainage management. It will future-proof rail transport against the effects of climate change where
more intense and regular rainstorm events are expected.

The project will explore principles of autonomous active flow control to reduce manual operations
associated with protecting rail infrastructure from the effects of flooding. It achieves this by taking
the latest advances in edge computing and applying it to real-time automation of mechanical and
electrical equipment to control the flows in rail drainage systems, thus protecting the track drainage
from being overloaded and flooded during rainstorm events.

The importance of managing rail drainage infrastructure cannot be overstated. It is designed to
carry stormwater safely water away from the track via a system of pipes and channels. When
drainage infrastructure is compromised or inadequate, flooding can occur. Flooding causes delays
to passengers and costs to asset owners, but crucially can also affect other assets such as
structures and signalling, which endangers human life (e.g. Watford Tunnel
Derailment https://www.gov.uk/raib-reports/derailment-and-subsequent-collision-at-watford). This
project aims to collaboratively investigate the application of AI-powered automated real-time control
(RTC) for protecting the railway system and mitigating any impact on adjacent land.
The feasibility project will identify how the following benefits and sustainability opportunities can be
delivered:

  • Reduce risk of rail services being disrupted during rainstorm events.
  • Make the drainage design process more efficient.
  • Avoid capitally and spatially expensive flood solutions (e.g. stormwater retention tanks).
  • Provide a means for automated flushing to clear blockages (reduce manual intervention).
  • Reduce surcharging on adjacent rural or urban areas.
  • Explore additional opportunities such as rainwater harvesting for agriculture.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

Fifty years ago, I wrote and provided the software, that the Water Resources Board used to plan the water flows and new reservoirs in a large part of England. As over the intervening years, there have been few water shortages due to lack of reservoirs, I am led to believe that the WRB must have done a good job.

Now fifty years later our computing capabilities are much more advanced and I feel that the aims of this project are readily achievable.

November 18, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

FEIDS – FOAS Enabled Intruder Detection System

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10038989

Project title: FEIDS – FOAS Enabled Intruder Detection System
Lead organisation: THALES GROUND TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS LIMITED
Project grant: £223,660

Public description: Intruders in a railway environment and critical sites are a major problem for the rail industry, and
one that can cause severe delays if not prevented. Conventional monitoring technology is low
range, impractical and has a high deployment and operational cost. Instead, a system that can
monitor the perimeter of a large area with minimal human supervision and can be used to direct rail
staff to the correct location is required to introduce work efficiencies.

Thales’ subcontractor Focus Sensors have developed the technologies capable of delivering a
persistent perimeter detection system that can detect persons approaching a site before they reach
the perimeter boundary and alert railway staff to their precise location. This will support railway staff
to respond effectively and reduce delay minutes, insuring efficiency and cost benefits.

We propose to showcase a first-of-a-kind application of Focus Sensors’ next-generation Fibre Optic
Acoustic Sensing (FOAS) technology to deliver accurate and real-time information and alerts on
intruders or potential intruders in a rail environment using our lateral-positioning technology
developed for detection trains. This capability will enable security staff to rapidly respond to
incidents and ensure intruders can be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

The FOAS-Enabled Intrusion Detection System (FEIDS) will use FOAS to detect objects moving
near the fibre/perimeter, identify them and determine the distance from a boundary. This monitoring
is both real-time and persistent, enabling alerts to be sent when a person or vehicle gets too close
to or crosses a boundary. The high fidelity of the system means that an intruder’s location can be
determined to an accuracy of +/- 50cm, and this information is crucial to ensuring that on-site
security teams are able to quickly and efficiently deal with the intruder.

This technology can be utilised both along sections of the railway and at specific, sensitive sites.
Due to the long range and autonomous nature of the system, it drastically reduces the workload of
railway staff. Staff will be provided with an automatic alert that will provide them with information on
the nature of the intruder(s) and the exact location. This reduces the time for intervention, enabling
trains slowed due to the risk to resume at normal speed quicker, lowering the impact of trespass. It
also increases the likelihood of trespassers being stopped committing vandalism, which can disrupt
operations, and reduces the likelihood of reoffending.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

November 18, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment