The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On The Wash Barrier

I first learned about tidal power, when I worked for a few months at Frederick Snow and Partners and one of their engineers briefed me about their plans for the Severn Barrage.

That was in about 1973 and it should be remembered, that I didn’t see my first large wind turbine until the last few years of the last century at Swaffham in Norfolk.

I suspect that an engineer revisiting the Severn Barrage would design it differently now.

The Wash Tidal Barrier Corporation

This company is proposing the Wash Barrier, which has a web site.

The name suggests they will generate tidal power.

The home page has a picture of wind turbines, which could be lined up on the barrier.

It also has this introduction to the project.

Sea level rise and climate change are major threats to the Wash coast and fenland environment. Sea level is predicted to rise by at least one metre by 2100 and sea temperatures, already 1°C higher, are increasing by 0.4°C each decade. Storm surges sufficient to overwhelm the Wash coastal defences are becoming ever more likely.

Raising the height of existing coastal defences would not only be prohibitively expensive, but also have a major impact on marginal habitats such as salt marsh, inter-tidal mudflats and sandbanks.

A tidal barrier across the Wash will provide us with the opportunity to manage the tide height and range within the Wash. The Barrier also offers a number of additional benefits – in particular, the generation of a large and reliable amount of green electricity and flood protection for more than 500,000 people, 300,000 hectares of grade 1 agricultural land and billions of pounds’ worth of assets.

The Wash Tidal Barrier Corporation plc is a private company, founded by Cambridgeshire-based entrepreneur Peter Dawe specifically to promote and build a barrier.

The proposed barrier will span the Wash from Hunstanton in Norfolk to just south of Skegness in Lincolnshire, a distance of approximately 18km, with an additional 5km of barrier in Lincolnshire in order to reach high ground.

Following are many of the design considerations we need to assess.

If you click on the Next button, you are led though a few pages that describe the barrier and the issues it raises.

I feel it is a comprehensive outline of what could be done.

It’s also quite old, as it suggests completion in 2012.

This are my thoughts.

Transport Across The Barrier

Some of the world’d barrages across rivers and estuaries have either road or rail links on the top.

Frederick Snow’s original plans for the Severn would have carried a Second Severn Crossing.

In Thoughts On Belgium’s Coastal Tram, I said this.

Along The North Norfolk Coast

This is a route, that could be developed, to ease the traffic problems in the area.

It could connect Kings Lynn and Sheringham stations.

And why shouldn’t it be extended to Skegness?

If the Dutch can put a road across the IJsselmeer, why can’t we put a road across the Wash.

Flood Protection

One of the things I remember from my chat at Frederick Snow and Partners fifty years ago was someone saying, that if you build a barrage, then make sure it sorts out any flooding.

The Wash Barrier web site, says this about flood protection.

The Barrier will provide flood protection for more than 500,000 people, 300,000 hectares of grade 1 agricultural land and billions of pounds’ worth of assets. While building higher significantly adds to the cost, the probability of the Barrier being overwhelmed is greatly reduced.

The promoter of this project would be in deep trouble, if after completion, it didn’t solve the flooding problems, as they said it would.

This article from the Eastern Daily Press, is entitled Norfolk’s Darkest Night: Remembering The 1953 Floods.

No-one wants something like that to happen again.

Electricity Generation

As I said earlier there are possibilities for both wind and tidal power in the project.

As an experienced mathematical modeller, I would be surprised if the power generation and costs of a project like this couldn’t be predicted to a reasonable degree of accuracy by an expert.

Planning Permission

Given the problems that have been associated with building electricity substations and their power cables in Norfolk recently, I would be surprised if planning permission for a Wash Barrage was a piece of cake.

It Could Be One For The Accountants

Once a project like this has been defined, I believe it should be possible to go through the standard financial procedures to see if it was worthwhile to proceed.


March 5, 2023 Posted by | Energy, Finance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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 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

  • 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

Roaming Around East Anglia – North Sea Floods Of 1953 Memorial Garden At Felixstowe

This picture shows the memorial garden to the forty-one who died in the North Sea Flood Of 1953 at Felixstowe.

My memories of the floods are minimal, as I was only five. But I can remember my father pointing out to me, the story of Reis Leming at a later date.


March 4, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Roaming Around East Anglia – The Ordnance Hotel, Felixstowe

The Ordnance Hotel in Felixstowe is long gone and has now been replaced by a Premier Inn.

The Ordnance Hotel played a large part in my life, in that according to my father, I was conceived there.

It was rather strange to walk out of the front of the hotel and imagine in my mind, the view from perhaps in 1958, when we stayed as a family in the hotel.

In those days, you could still see the tide mark on the walls of the nearby houses, which was caused by the North Sea Flood of 1953.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Large Hydropower Dams ‘Not Sustainable’ In The Developing World

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

This is the first four paragraphs.

A new study says that many large scale hydropower projects in Europe and the US have been disastrous for the environment.

Dozens of these dams are being removed every year, with many considered dangerous and uneconomic.

But the authors fear that the unsustainable nature of these projects has not been recognised in the developing world.

Thousands of new dams are now being planned for rivers in Africa and Asia.

I think the report has a sound basis and we should think much deeper before we build a large dam.

Storing energy and preventing of floods are probably good reasons, whereas others are not, considering, that solar and wind power are becoming more affordable.

November 6, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

If Your Train Is Late Should You Blame Henry The Eighth?

I have just read this fascinating article in the Rail Engineer, entitled Fulwell’s Blue Lagoons.

This is the first paragraph.

What do we have to thank – or blame – King Henry the Eighth for? The Church of England? Some very ruined abbeys? The fashion for padded shoulders? Flooding and subsequent train delays on the Shepperton branch?

Yes, they’re all down to him.

Henry’s need for water at Hampton Court Palace, meant that a whole series of problems were left for Victorian railway engineers, when they built the Shepperton Branch, that have persisted to the present day.

Read the article to find out how Network Rail have hopefully solved the problems.

This Google Map Shows the area around Fulwell and Strawberry Hill stations.

Between Fulwell and Strawberry Hill Stations

Between Fulwell and Strawberry Hill Stations

The tunnel talked about in the article is to the West of Fulwell station.

October 30, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , | 1 Comment

Will Merseyrail Rescue Croston?

Like everybody, I have been watching the news and in particular the floods in the North.

There have been several reports from the village of Croston, which has suffered particularly badly!

I don’t know the village, but I looked it up on Wikipedia and found that there is a Croston station serving the village.

This Google Map shows the village and the station.

Croston Station

Croston Station

Croston station lies on the Ormskirk Branch Line, which connects Ormskirk on the Mersetrail network around Liverpool, to Preston and the the West Coast Main Line. The Ormskirk Line one of those terrible and neglected pieces of infrastructure, left behind after the cuts of the 1960s and 1970s,

Merseyrail have ambitions to connect Liverpool to both Preston via Ormskirk and Manchester via Kirkby with new electric trains. I wrote on this in Is Liverpool Planning To Invade Manchester By Train? I said this.


In the October 2015 edition of Modern Railways, there is an article about Merseytravel looking for a new fleet of trains for their 750V DC network, which is entitled New Trains For Liverpool. This is said.

Merseytravel has indicated that it will be seeking ‘innovative proposals’ from manufacturers, with considerable emphasis being placed on the overall cost of operating the fleet rather than just the basic cost of the trains themselves. Options such as regenerative braking and onboard systems to store energy under braking to be used for acceleration will attract particular interest. The independently-powered EMU (IPEMU or battery train) concept evaluated earlier this year on a modified Class 379 in East Anglia ,might see an application here.

It does appear on a quick look, that a version of the new Aventra train, which comes with an IPEMU capability as standard might be suitable for Merseyrail, as it could connect Preston to Ormskirk and Manchester to Kirkby, without any more electrification.


Some of my thoughts in the Invading Manchester post, is based on this document, which is entitled Liverpool City Region Long Term Rail Strategy, so it is not idle speculation.

A half-hourly four-car service through Croston and other stations in the area linking to Liverpool and Preston using IPEMU trains, would not help directly with the floods, but would get people into and out of the area without needing to use a vehicle on flooded roads.

I’m sure that the engineers from Bombardier and Network Rail will ensure that an IPEMU can operate some kind of service in conditions as we’ve experienced over the last few days.

Intriguingly, I have just been reading this article in Rail Technology Magazine, which is  entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. In a section entitled Market Applications, this is said.

Bombardier has started assessing potential customers for battery-powered trains, looking first at branch line applications. Batteries could be a solution allowing non-continuous electrified infrastructure, and emergency rescue and last-mile opportunities. 

Although emergency rescue is probably more about power loss than floods, Bombardier obviously feel that an IPEMU has some genes inserted from a cross-country vehicle.

Knowing the way Liverpudlians think, I suspect that what was said about IPEMUs for Merseyrail in the October 2015 edition of Modern Railways will happen.

December 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Is This Sense For Somerset?

It would appear that the report commissioned by the government is going to recommend a barrage of the River Parrett downstream from Bridgwater, according to reports like this one on the BBC.

Over forty years ago, my modelling software Speed was used by the now-superseded Water Resources Board to model water flows in river basins. I’m sure that these days, scientists and engineers could do much better, but then a scientifically correct solution often ignores powerful interests like farmers, the RSPB and politicians, who know a cause to get themselves re-elected.

The only thing I will predict with certainly, is that there will be a large argument over what is to be done.

They should do what Network Rail  seem to doing at Dawlish. And that appears to be getting the job done as quick as possible using every possible method.  The BBC is now stating that the line will open on April the 4th. So it would appear that the engineers are winning!

My one time neighbour in Suffolk, a past Colonel in an Engineering Regiment in the British Army, said that in case of war, you burn all Rule Books. He did say, that you keep the Instruction Manuals.

It’s certainly a war our there against the floods!

March 5, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

I’m All Right, Jack

When I bought the house that I live in, I checked all the maps and it looked as far as I could tell it was unlikely to flood.

But then C and myself lived in six places and we were never flooded once.  Admittedly, three properties were flats on the third, fifth and eleventh floors of well-built blocks.

My father had always said buy a house on top of the hill, so you don’t get flooded! I think he may have had trouble once, as he lived in a house in River Avenue in Palmers Green.

To make this current house even safer, I live on the first floor above the garage and the downstairs bedrooms and bathroom.

The roof does leak slightly though, but I think I’m more likely to be killed by a falling aircraft in my bed than be drowned.

But some of the flooded houses I’ve seen on the news, were in such a position, that even Noah wouldn’t have looked at them!

If you want to read some sense on the floods read Charles Clover in The Sunday Times today.

He misses out one thing that would improve matters and that is build more flats! As you can’t predict weather like we’ve been having lately and it’ll probably get worse in the next twenty years, if the geography of a site could possibly lead to flooding, then build accordingly.

February 16, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Leave It To The Marines

This is a good story from the floods in Cornwall. Especially, when the Marines’ involvement started on a suggestion of a ten year old boy.

I suspect though the locals were friendlier than some of the idiots the marines have dealt with lately.

January 16, 2014 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment