The Anonymous Widower

Remodelled Station Opens In Canfranc Ahead Of Reopening Of Cross-Border Link

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

On April 15, a RENFE DMU carrying invited guests from Zaragoza became the first train to arrive at the remodelled and relocated station in Canfranc, marking a further step in the long-running plan to reinstate the railway through the Pyrénées mountains linking Pau with Huesca.

I have an ambition to visit Canfranc station, where the Spanish and French railways meet at one of the largest stations in Europe.

  • On the French side the Pau-Canfranc Railway is gradually being reopened.
  • On the Spanish side there is a railway to Zaragoza, from where there are high speed trains to Barcelona and Madrid.

Both routes appear to be mainly single-track

There would appear to be pressure for reopening  the full route In a Section entitled Renovation and Reopening, Wikipedia says this.

In present economic development, the transport route beneath the Aspe peak via the Gave d’Aspe valley is changing from a relatively unknown into a major transport channel. This is not only due to the regional pressure between Bordeaux and Zaragoza (which on the Spanish side alone has a regional population of 1 million people), but also the importance of the international route between Paris and Valencia. These economic pressures – in part driven by the General Motors plant located in Zaragoza – have in recent years resulted in heavy truck and car traffic on the roads of the upper Gave d’Aspe valley, and an increased number of accidents.

Sounds like this indicates a powerful case.

Madrid And London By The Scenic Rail Route

The route would be as follows.

  • Madrid and Zaragoza by High Speed Train.
  • Zaragoza and Canfranc by local train  through the mountains.
  • Canfranc and Pau by local train  through the mountains.
  • Pau and Paris by TGV
  • Paris and London via Eurostar.

Note.

  1. According to the Railway Gazette, a luxury hotel is being built at Canfranc.
  2. Bordeaux is a good city for an overnight stop.
  3. Prior to the covids, Eurostar were hoping to run a direct London and Bordeaux service.

I hope to do this trip in the next couple of years.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | 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

Calais – Mediterranean Rail Motorway Bids Called

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The government has called for expressions of interest to operate a lorry trailer carrying service between the English Channel port of Calais and the Mediterranean port of Sète south of Montpellier. Submissions are required by May 16.

Further details include.

  • It is aimed to start the service in 2022.
  • Government financial help  ight be available.
  • In French it is called an autoroute ferroviaire.
  • There is also a similar service between Perpignan and Paris.
  • I would expect the service saves carbon emissions.

This certainly seems like a good idea.

I do wonder if we will eventually see trains carrying trucks running between Barking and Sete through the Channel Tunnel.

  • The loading gauge will probably allow it.
  • It would be electrically hauled all the way.
  • Other destinations in Europe would be possible.
  • It might need less drivers, who would only work in the UK or Europe.
  • Would it help with Covid-19 bio-security?

If not Barking, what about to the Freeport being developed at Dagenham by the Thames?

It would

 

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

€190m Order To Bring Hydrogen Trains To Regions In France

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

This is the introductory paragraph.

What is believed to be the first order of dual mode electric-hydrogen trains has been made today (8th April) for the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie regions of France.

I very much hope that Alstom’s Class 600 trains for the UK are dual mode, as that surely is the best design option.

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | 4 Comments

First French Region Signs Hydrogen Train Contract

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Bourgogne-Franche Comté region has signed a contract with Alstom, through operator French National Railways (SNCF), for the supply of three Coradia Polyvalent electro-hydrogen dual-mode multiple units.

These are some points from the article.

  • The three trains are from an order for 14 from four French regions.
  • The trains can use 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC electrification.
  • They will be able to use hydrogen power, where there is no electrification.
  • Range on hydrogen will be 400-600 km.
  • Operating speed will be up to 160 kph.
  • Trains will be four cars, with a capacity of 220 passengers.
  • Trains will start test running in 2024 on the 19km non-electrified Auxerre – Laroche – Migennes line.

As with the Alstom  Class 600 hydrogen trains for the UK, deliveries don’t seem to be fast.

I wrote Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead in January 2019. This is the first few paragraphs.

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Hydrogen trains will be introduced in as little as two years under ambitious plans to phase out dirty diesel engines.

The trains, which are almost silent and have zero emissions, will operate at speeds of up to 90 mph and release steam only as a by-product. The new trains, which will be called “Breeze” will be employed on commuter and suburban lines by early 2021.

Wikipedia is now saying, that these trains will enter service in 2024.

As Alstom haven’t got any orders for the train, I will be very surprised if they achieve that date.

Is it Alstom, French project management or problems with hydrogen?

I don’t think it’s anything to do with hydrogen, as the Germans built the successful iLint for Alstom and Birmingham University put together a hydrogen demonstration train in double-quick time.

Given all the problems that the French are having with rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine could it be that the French have a Can’t Do! attitude, rather than most other countries, which seem to have a Can Do! attitude.

 

 

 

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Health, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mon Dieu! Le Soleil A Volé Notre Titre

The Sun today has a headline of Brexit 1 – Brussels 0!

The title of this post, is possibly the reaction of the editor of the leading French newspaper; Le Figaro, that according to Andrew Marr, used the headline first.

January 31, 2021 Posted by | Health, News | , , , | Leave a comment

French Pharma Giant Sanofi To Produce Rivals’ Covid Vaccines

The title of this post, isthe same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A growing sense of national failure in France over the inability to produce a viable Covid-19 vaccine has been compounded by the decision of its largest pharmaceutical company to produce doses developed by its rivals, Pfizer and Biontech.

France doesn’t seem to have backed the right horse!

But at least producing doses of the Pfizer vaccine will help to solve Europe’s severe vaccine shortage.

January 28, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On Mass Vaccination

We should steal an idea from the French.

In the first wave of the virus, they had to move seriously ill patients all over the country and to Germany, where there was bed space.

So they converted a TGV to a hospital train.

This page on the SNCF web site, is entitled Covid-10: Behind the Scenes Of Our High-Speed Hospital Train.

Could we not create a Vaccination Train using one of the recently withdrawn InterCity 125s?

They are easily shortened to any convenient length and the carriages have a very smooth ride.

The French converted their hospital train in 48 hours, so surely we can do as well!

The trains have the advantage, that they are certified go to over ninety percent of UK main line railway stations.

Network Rail have a track inspection train, called the New Measurement Train, that works a pattern all over the UK. It is based on an InterCity 125 and is full of delicate instruments, designed to keep the railways of the UK safe.

The picture shows Network Rail’s New Measurement Train at Westbury station.

The Vaccination Train or Trains could be based at a convenient central location, where the vaccine would be safely stored.

  • Trains would be loaded overnight with the vaccine and other stores and locate  early to their site for the day.
  • Sites would typically be stations, where a platform existed that was long enough for the train.
  • Staff to both process the vaccine and treat patients could either go on the train or be drawn from local medical staff, or be a mixture of the two.
  • Specialists handling the vaccine would probably come from the centre, as this would ensure totally correct handling of the vaccine.
  • They would set up at a suitable site and handle the patients booked for the day.
  • Injections could even take place on the train, in specially fitted out carriages.

I would think, that the train would be self contained and generate all its own electricity.

 

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Diesel-Battery Hybrid TER Train To Be Tested Next Year

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

These are the two introductory paragraphs.

Testing of a Coradia Polyvalent electro-diesel regional trainset fitted with a battery hybrid traction system is to begin early next year and passenger services are planned for 2022, Alstom has announced.

Two of the trainset’s four diesel engines are to be replaced by lithium-ion batteries, which will be used to recover and store braking energy for reuse. It is hoped that this will reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, as well as reducing operating and maintenance costs.

Other points from the article.

  • Testing is planned for 2021, with service entry, the year after.
  • There are 300 of these Polyvalent trains in service.
  • TER trains will stop using diesel by 2030.
  • France intends to run its last diesel train in 2035.

It looks like Alstom are using a similar approach to that of Hitachi in the UK.

It looks like the French are ahead of us in the decarbonisation timetable for rail.

December 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

France Devotes €30 Billion To Energy Transition

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

This is the introductory paragraphs.

The French government has launched a new Covid-19 recovery plan that includes €30 billion to invest in the energy transition.

The top priority is the creation of a hydrogen economy, with €2 billion to be invested by the end of 2022 and €7.2 billion up to 2030. The money will be used for R&D activities and industrial electrolysis development projects.

The full plan for hydrogen will be published on September the 8th.

Other plans include.

  • €7 billion for building renovations.
  • €11 billion for the transport section.
  • 100,000 terminals for electric vehicles by 2021.

I feel, that they will need to do more to decarbonise the transport sector.

 

September 5, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | | Leave a comment