The Anonymous Widower

Norrbotniabanan Final Phase To Go Ahead

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The government has decided to press ahead with completion of the Norrbotniabanan coastal railway linking Umeå and Luleå via Dåva and Skellefteå.

Recognising that ongoing investment in industrial development across the north of the country would drive demand for improved transport links, Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth has instructed Trafikverket to continue planning work for the new line.

If you get your maps out, you’ll find that the Norrbotniabanan or North Bothnian Line is at the North of the Baltic Sea.

  • It’s also planned as a high speed line with an operating speed of 160 mph, which is faster than the East Coast Main Line in the UK.
  • It is also 170 miles long.
  • Journey time between Umeå and Luleå will be ninety minutes as opposed to four hours today.

Wikipedia also says this about connections at the Northern end.

Currently, the area is served by the Main Line Through Upper Norrland, which is located inland and with branch lines connected to various towns along the coast. To the north, the line will connect with the Main Line Through Upper Norrland and onwards along the Haparanda Line to connect to the Barents Region and the Finnish railway network. It will also connect to the Iron Ore Line.

Sounds like it will be a great place to go for a rail-oriented holiday.

 

 

August 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Cambridge Station To Get Another Platform Lengthening

Of all the stations I use regularly, Cambridge seems to have more expansion programs than any other station I know.

When I first used it regularly it had the following platforms.

  • One long through platform split into two numbered 1 and 4 to handle most traffic.
  • Two bay platforms pointing North for services to Ipswich and Norwich.
  • Two bay platforms pointing South to London.

These have since been joined by a pair of through platforms to the East of the main lines through the station.

Wikipedia says this about Platforms 1 and 4.

  • Platform 1 is a 12-car bi-directional through platform generally used for southbound services to London King’s Cross and northbound services to King’s Lynn. It is also used for some early morning northbound services to Ely and for some late evening terminating services.
  • Platform 4 is a bi-directional 10-car through platform generally used for northbound services to Ely, King’s Lynn and Birmingham New Street. It is also used for some early morning southbound services to London King’s Cross and London Liverpool Street and for some terminating late evening services.

I was told today, that Platform 4 is going to be lengthened by forty metres at its Northern end.

  • This will make Platforms 1 and 4 the same length.
  • It will probably allow twelve-car trains to be run from London to both Cambridge North and Kings Lynn stations.

As both Greater Anglia and Great Northern already have twelve-car trains, adding forty metres of new platform is probably an affordable way to increase capacity between Cambridge and London.

A West Anglia High Speed Service

I like the concept of a high speed service Between King’s Cross and Cambridge.

Cambridge is sucking in the best scientific, engineering and financial talent in the UK and a high speed service to and from London would be ideal for reverse commuters.

Trains would be as I described in Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?.

  • The trains would run non-stop between King’s Cross and Cambridge.
  • The trains would run every thirty minutes.
  • Between London and Hitchen, the trains would run at up to 140 mph under digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Between Hitchin and Cambridge, the trains would run at up to 100 mph on the Cambridge Line.
  • When Cambridge South station opens, the trains would stop at the station.
  • I would run a pair of trains to Cambridge station, where they would split with one train going to King’s Lynn and the other to Norwich.
  • Trains could split in the lengthened Platform 4 in Cambridge station.
  • Returning to London, they would join in Platform 1 at Cambridge station.
  • The King’s Lynn portion would stop at all stations to King’s Lynn.
  • The Norwich portion would stop at Cambridge North and then all stations to Norwich.
  • The 54 miles between Ely and Norwich would be on battery power.
  • All stations to the North of Ely would get a service every thirty minutes.

I can see other services like this starting all over the country.

  • London Euston and Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds
  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln, Grimsby and Cleethorpes
  • London Paddington and Bristol
  • London Paddington and Cardiff
  • London Paddington and Oxford
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester, Derby and Nottingham.
  • London Waterloo and Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth.

Note.

  1. The enabling factor would be trains running at 140 mph under full digital control.
  2. Existing 140 mph trains like Class 390 and Class 395 trains could also be used.

The services would generally handle shorter distances than High Speed Two and fill in the gaps left by that network.

 

August 4, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Talgo and Repsol To Develop Fuel Cell Trains Powered By Renewable Hydrogen

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

This article follows the pattern, of if you’re going to build hydrogen-powered trains, you need a quality partner for your hydrogen.

I still puzzle, what Talgo will do with their factory in Scotland, if they miss out on the orders for High Speed Two.

  • Russia is an obvious market for their Spanish gauge high speed trains and delivery from Rosyth by ship is probably easier, than from Spain.
  • The UK probably needs a quality modern hydrogen train for remote routes, as does the island of Ireland.
  • As I indicated in LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, there could be a niche for a small fleet of 140 mph hydrogen bi-modes to run between London and the North of Scotland.

Note.

The UK probably has enough capacity for regional and commuter electric and battery trains, with Alstom, CAF and Hitachi all with modern trains in production.

Ireland and Russia, with their similar gauge to Spain could be worthwhile markets.

However, I do believe that the 140 mph hydrogen bi-modes would slot into substantial markets in continents and countries like Africa, Australia, Canada, India, Norway, South America, Sweden and the United States, where there are enormous mileages of standard gauge railways without electrification.

August 3, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

London To Glasgow Train Journey Record Bid Fails By Just 21 Seconds

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

An attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow has failed.

Avanti West Coast’s Royal Scot train arrived at Glasgow Central 21 seconds behind the record of three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds set by British Rail in December 1984, according to rail expert Mark Smith, who was onboard.

Mr Smith, founder of Seat61.com, wrote on Twitter that a temporary speed limit on the track in Carstairs, South Lanarkshire, “cost us 90 seconds”.

It appears to be a valiant attempt that failed by a small margin.

I have a few thoughts.

The Trains

The British Rail 1984 record was set by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) and today’s run was by a nine-car Class 390 train.

  • The design speed of the APT was 155 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 140 mph.
  • Service speed of both trains was and is 125 mph.
  • Record speed of the APT was 162 mph and that of a Class 390 train is 145 mph.
  • Both trains employ similar tilt technology to go faster.

At a brief look the performance of these two trains is very similar.

The InterCity 225

The InterCity 225 train is the ringer in this race to the North.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph
  • The record speed of an InterCity 225 is 161.7 mph.
  • The train doesn’t use tilting technology.
  • The train was built after the APT around 1990.
  • The train holds the record between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours.
  • To rub things in, one of these trains, even holds the London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly record.

But there can’t be much wrong with the InterCity 225 trains as a few are being brought back into service, whilst LNER are waiting for ten new bi-mode trains to be delivered.

Hitachi Class 80x Trains

The various variants of Class 800 trains run to Edinburgh and I’m sure they will run to Glasgow.

  • The design speed is 140 mph.
  • The service speed is 125 mph

If an InterCity 225 can go between Edinburgh and London in around three-and-a-half hours, I can’t see why these trains can’t.

Especially, as Hitachi seem to be able to produce versions like the Class 803 and Class 807 trains, which appear to be lighter and more efficient, as they don’t have any diesel engines.

A Small Margin

I said earlier that it was only a small margin between the times of the APT and the Class 390 train. But why was the InterCity 225 able to run between Kings Cross and Edinburgh at thirty seconds under three-and-a-half hours?

This section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 91 locomotive is entitled Speed Record. This is the first paragraph.

A Class 91, 91010 (now 91110), holds the British locomotive speed record at 161.7 mph (260.2 km/h), set on 17 September 1989, just south of Little Bytham on a test run down Stoke Bank with the DVT leading. Although Class 370s, Class 373s and Class 374s have run faster, all are EMUs which means that the Electra is officially the fastest locomotive in Britain. Another loco (91031, now 91131), hauling five Mk4s and a DVT on a test run, ran between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley in 3 hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds on 26 September 1991. This is still the current record. The set covered the route in an average speed of 112.5 mph (181.1 km/h) and reached the full 140 mph (225 km/h) several times during the run.

It looks from the last sentence of this extract, that the record run of the InterCity 225 train ran up to 140 mph in places, whereas the record run of the APT and today’s run by a Class 390 train were limited to 125 mph.

The Signalling

In the Wikipedia entry for the InterCity 225 train, the following is said.

Thus, except on High Speed 1, which is equipped with cab signalling, British signalling does not allow any train, including the InterCity 225, to exceed 125 mph (201 km/h) in regular service, due to the impracticality of correctly observing lineside signals at high speed.

Note.

  1. I have regularly flown my Cessna 340 safely at altitude, with a ground speed of around two hundred miles per hour.
  2. High Speed One has an operating speed of 186 mph.
  3. Grant Schapps, who is Secretary of State for Transport has a pilot’s licence. So he would understand flight instruments and avionics.

So why hasn’t a system been developed in the thirty years since trains capable of running at 140 mph started running in the UK, to allow them to do it?

It is a ridiculous situation.

We are installing full digital ERTMS in-cab signalling on the East Coast Main Line, but surely a system based on aviation technology could be developed until ERTMS  is ready. Or we could install the same system as on High Speed One.

After all, all we need is a system, to make sure the drivers don’t misread the signals.

But then the EU says that all member nations must use ERTMS signalling.

Didn’t we just leave the EU?

Conclusion

By developing our own in-cab digital signalling we could run trains between London and Scotland in around three-and-a-half hours.

The Japanese could even have an off-the-shelf system!

ERTMS sounds like a closed shop to give work to big European companies, who have lobbied the European Commission.

June 17, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Could Trains From The North Connect To High Speed One At St. Pancras?

I was casually flying my virtual helicopter over the throat of St. Pancras International station, when I took a few pictures.

This Google Map shows the Northern ends of the platforms and the tracks leading in.

Note.

  1. Platforms 1-4 to the West with darker tracks handle the East Midlands Railway services.
  2. Platforms 5-10 in the centre with lighter tracks formed of three shorter islands handle the Eurostar services.
  3. Platforms 11-13 to the East with longer platforms handle the Southeastern HighSpeed services.

This Google Map shows the East Midlands Railway platforms.

Note.

  1. There are two island platforms; 1-2 and 3-4.
  2. The four platforms are served by two tracks, that connect to the fast lines of the Midland Main Line.
  3. The platforms will be able to handle a pair of Class 810 trains, which will be 240 metres long.
  4. Will the two trains per hour (tph) using Class 360 trains between London and Corby always use the same platform at St. Prancras station?

This Google Map shows the Eurostar platforms.

Note.

There are three island platforms; 5-6, 7-8 and 9-10.

The two island platforms in the West are for East Midlands Railway services.

The two longer island platforms in the East are for Southeastern HighSpeed services.

The six platforms connect to two fast lines, that are shared with the Southeastern services.

This Google Map shows the lines proceeding to the North.

Note.

  1. There are four sets of tracks.
  2. The two light-coloured tracks on the left are for Thameslink or sidings.
  3. The next two dark-coloured tracks are the two tracks of the Midland Main Line.
  4. The next set of tracks are those connecting to the six Eurostar platforms.
  5. The two tracks on the right are those connecting to the Southeastern Highspeed platforms.
  6. There are crossovers between the Eurostar and Southeastern Highspeed tracks to allow efficient operation of the trains going to and from the twin tracks of High Speed One.

This Google Map shows where the Midland Main Line and High Speed One divide.

Note.

The two dark-coloured tracks of the Midland Main Line running North.

There appear to be four  tracks running North East towards High Speed One.

Between the two sets of tracks two further tracks lead to the North.

The track closest to the Midland Main Line joins to the slow lines of the Midland Main Line.

The other one connects to the North London Line.

This Google Map shows the connecting lines to the High Speed One tunnel.

Note the tunnel portal is in the North-East corner of the map.

  1. It looks to me that the following connections are possible.
  2. St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and Midland Main Line.
  3. St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and North London Line to the West.
  4. High Speed One and North London Line to the West.

These connections are in addition to those connections needed to run scheduled services.

They would enable trains to take the following routes.

  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and Midland Main Line.
  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and the West Coast Main Line via North London Line
  • High Speed One and the West Coast Main Line via North London Line
  • St. Pancras station Eurostar platforms and the Great Western Main Line via North London Line
  • High Speed One and the Great Western Main Line via North London Line

I suspect most of the times, that these routes are used it is for engineering purposes or behaps dragging a failed train out of St. Pancras.

But the track layout would seem to allow the following.

Direct electric freight and passenger services between High Speed One and Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

Direct electric passenger services between High Speed One and Sheffield and Leeds, with a reverse at St. Pancras, after the Midland Main Line were to be fully electrified.

Was this by design for Eurostar or was it just what Network Rail ended up with?

A Modern Regional Eurostar Service

These are my thoughts on a modern Regional Eurostar service.

Rolling Stock

High Speed Two is coming and this year, the company will order some of the rolling stock.

There will be fifty-four trains

The trains will be Classic-Compatible for running on the West Coast Main Line.

They will be 200 metres long and be able to run in pairs.

They will be able to operate at 225 mph.

The operating speed of High Speed One is 186 mph.

I can see no reason why trains of this type, couldn’t run between St. Pancras and many destinations in Europe.

North Of England And The Continent

Could this be the service pattern?

  • One train could start in the North West and another in the North East.
  • Both trains would proceed to St. Pancras picking up passengers en route.
  • At St. Pancras the two trains would join together.
  • The driver could then position themselves in the front cab and take High Speed One, through the Channel Tunnel.

The train could even split at Calais to serve two different Continental destinations.

Going North, the spitting and joining would be reversed.

What Infrastructure Would Be Needed?

I suspect the following will be needed.

  • The West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line would need in-cab digital ERTMS signalling.
  • Full electrification of the Midland Main Line would probably be necessary, as I don’t think the tunnel allows diesel trains to pass through.
  • Some platform lengthening might be needed.

It would not be an expensive scheme.

What Timings Would Be Possible?

Using current timings you get the following times.

  • Leeds and Paris – Five hours
  • Leeds and Brussels – Four hours forty minutes
  • Manchester and Paris – Five hours
  • Manchester and Brussels – For hours forty minutes
  • Newcastle and Paris – Six hours
  • Newcastle and Brussels – Five hours thirty minutes

Note, that the times are best estimates and include a long stop of several minutes at St. Pancras.

Could Sleeper Service Be Run?

I don’t see why not!

Conclusion

It looks like it may be possible to run regional services to Europe, where pairs of train split and join at St. Pancras.

 

 

 

St

April 20, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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

Think Britain To Belfast Is A Bridge Too Far? Try Tunnelling Across Instead

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Sunday Times.

It is a well-written article, with good graphics and maps, which fills out the descriptive title.

This paragraph sums up the overall objective.

For the rail industry, it is part of a long-term ambition to reduce journeys by rail between London and Glasgow and Edinburgh to below three hours, which it is also advocating in the review. Trains to Belfast would turn west near Carlisle, around the Scottish border, and lorries bound for Ireland could be loaded there.

The article also predicts London and Belfast in four hours, with Dublin in six.

In a A Glimpse Of 2035, I looked into the future and left London at eight in the morning on the first train between London and Dublin and arrived at 13:30.

My predictions were thirty minutes less than The Times.

But I also predicted, that eventually, times will be three hours to Belfast and four to Dublin.

A Deep Water Port At Shannon And Its Consequences

One thing not mentioned in the Times article, is that the Irish Government and the EU have a plan to develop a deep water port at Shannon.

It would have a rail link to any rail link to the UK and would speed goods between Germany and North America, avoiding the increasingly congested ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg. Time savings of as much as a day are predicted.

I should say, that I part-grew up in Felixstowe in the 1950s and 1960s and I can remember a sleepy little dock with a giant crane to lift seaplanes out of the water, before the massive container port we know today. There are now something like forty container trains per day, going along the sleepy branch line to Ipswich and then to the rest of the UK mainland. If anybody had predicted that in 1960, they’d have been laughed at.

If the Shannon Port is built, I can see twenty high-speed freight trains per day between Shannon and the Channel Tunnel. There will probably need to be massive improvements to the freight network in the South East of England, to get all those freight trains through or around London.

Standard Or Irish Gauge

If the EU develops the deep water port at Shannon, this would surely be rail connected to the new tunnel.

But the EU only likes to build standard gauge railways, so everybody can use them. I would expect that all new tracks in the Republic of Ireland would be standard gauge.

If you look at Spain, all their high-speed railways are standard gauge and they have both narrow and Spanish gauge railways as well.

Some of the awkward squad in Ireland will object to the standard gauge railways, but he who pays the piper calls the tune.

As the UK will be paying from London to the place where the tunnel emerges and the EU from South of the Irish border, it would be much cheaper to make all the route standard gauge. But some diehards would be against it!

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Could The Madrid And Lisbon High Speed Line Become Iconic?

This article on Railway Gazette International is entitled ADIF AV Agrees EIB Loan As Extremadura High Speed Link Makes Progress.

This sentence in the first paragraph gives details of the route.

The loan will support completion of the 282 km high speed line between Talayuela, Plasencia Cáceres, Mérida and Badajoz.

It will carry both passengers and freight and eventually link Madrid and Lisbon.

The article shows a spectacular bridge under construction.

So I got out my helicopter and decided to go and look for the bridge.

These are some sections and stations along the line.

The Railway Gazette article says this about the route to the East of Plasencia.

East of Plasencia however, land acquisition and preparatory works have proceeded more slowly. On this section, broad gauge tracks are to be laid as far as Talavera de la Reina, where there would be a junction with the conventional network and a gauge-changer. Passenger trains would then continue over 1 435 mm gauge tracks to join the existing Toledo – Madrid high speed line south of the capital.

Note.

  1. As I started from the East, it’s the other way round.
  2. If there is a gauge change and Iberian (broad) gauge to the West of Talavera de la Reina, is this to make it easier to connect to the Portuguese network?
  3. On the other hand, I thought, that all European-funded lines, as this one is, are supposed to be standard gauge.
  4. Will freight trains use gauge-change to get through?

As the Spanish do gauge-change well, I suspect they know what they’re doing, even if I don’t!

Two Routes From Madrid

Consider.

  • Currently, trains between Madrid and Talavera de la Reina, use a single track line.
  • The only sections of double-track are in stations and on the approaches to Madrid, after the trains pass Humanes de Madrid EMU depot.
  • Plans appear to exist to link the new high speed route to Madrid, by using the existing Madrid and Toledo high speed line.
  • This would reduce journey times and possibly increase capacity.

This Google Map shows the area between Msdrid and Toledo.

Note.

  1. The current single-track line between Madrid and Talavera de la Reina leaves the map in the South-Western corner.
  2. The line goes to the West of Villa Luenga de la Sagra and Yuncler before going to Madrid in a NNE direction.
  3. The Madrid and Toledo high speed line, runs diagonally in a SSW direction from the North-East corner of the map.
  4. The high speed line passes to the West of Cobeja and Pantoja.

Looking at the map, I don’t think it would be impossible to create a link between the two lines.

The Area Is Mainly Agricultural

This Google Map shows the mainly agricultural nature of the land.

Between Madrid and Talavera de la Reina, it also appears to not be very challenging and there doesn’t appear to be a major river, that would need to be crossed.

This should make construction easier!

Talavera de la Reina

This Google Map shows the railway station at the city of Talavera de la Reina.

Note.

  1. Madrid is to the East using standard gauge tracks.
  2. Badajoz is to the West using broad gauge tracks. Or does the standard gauge continue?
  3. The gauge change will be needed somewhere and it looks like it will happen here.

I can’t find any work here concerned with building the new high speed tracks.

Oropesa de Toledo

This Google Map shows the railway station in the town of Oropesa de Toledo.

There is no sign of the high speed line.

 

 

Note.

  1. The high speed line stops rather abruptly. Will it continue in a tunnel?
  2. The current single-track railway, at the top of the map.
  3. The border between the two provinces at the right of the map.

No clues as to the gauge of the high speed lines.

Navalmoral de la Mata

The current line goes through the municipality of Navalmoral de la Mata.

This Google Map shows the station.

There appeared to be no sign of the new high speed line. On one of my maps it is shown to the North.

The Eastern End Of The High Speed Line

The first sight of the new high speed line was at the border of Extremadura.

Note.

  1. The high speed line stops rather abruptly. Will it continue in a tunnel?
  2. The current single-track railway, at the top of the map.
  3. The border between the two provinces at the right of the map.

No clues as to the gauge of the high speed lines.

Casatejada

This Google Map shows the municipality of Casatejada.

Note.

  1. The route of the new high speed line to the North.
  2. Wikipedia doesn’t say much about it.

It may have a station, but it doesn’t have too many trains.

The section of the high speed line ends just to the West of Casatejada, as this Google Map shows.

This section of the high speed line would seem to go all the way to the Eastern edge of Extremadura, which I showed in a previous section.

La Bazagona

This Google Map, shows the area of La Bazagona.

Note.

  1. The current railway curving across the map to the South-East corner.
  2. The two circle farms.
  3. Is a new community being built here?

It certainly looks like a new station is being built to serve the area.

West Of La Bazagona

Consider.

  • West of La Bazagona, except for the current line, that goes via Monfrague, Mirabel and Cañaveral.
  • My European railway atlas, indicates the new high speed route goes between Monfrague and Plasencia and calls at a station called Plascencia Fuenteduñas.
  • I can’t locate Plascencia Fuenteduñas.

This Google Map shows the area to the West of La Bazagona.

Note.

  • La Bazagona is in the South-East corner of the map.
  • Plasencia is creeping into the map in the North-West corner.
  • The location of the current Monfrague station appears as a white dash and dot  and to the West of the North-South road.

The current railway runs East West between La Bazagone  and Monfrague.

Monfrague

This Google Map shows that except for a tobacco factory, there’s not much near Monfrague station.

On other maps, where it is to a smaller scale, the station and the surrounding buildings appear as a dash and a dot.

It appears the station only has one train per day. But it was December, when I checked.

Mirabel

Mirabel is a municipality on the current line, that is shown in this Google Map.

From Wikipedia it appears to be worth a visit.

A Diversion of the Current Route

Between Mirabel and Cañaveral, the old route takes a diversion to the East.

The railway goes to the West of the lake.

The green label indicates, it’s a hiking area.

The High Speed Line Becomes Visible Again

Since La Bazagona, I have followed the current route, but this Google Map shows where construction starts again for the new high speed line.

Note,

This is an enlargement of the South-West corner of the map.

Note the new high speed line, which stops abruptly.

North and South Of Venta El Caldero

This map shows the construction to the North of Venta El Caldero.

And this map shows the construction to the South of Venta El Caldero.

Note.

  1. The scar new railway is to the East of the A66 road.
  2. The railway construction stops abruptly North of Venta El Caldero.

Grimaldo is in the South-West corner of the map.

Grimaldo To Cañaveral

This Google Map shows the route of the high speed line from Grimaldo to Cañaveral.

Note how the scar of the railway construction is to the East of the A66 Motorway.

Cañaveral

This Google Map shows Cañaveral station on the current line and the track of the new high speed line.

This map illustrates how the new high speed line is so much more direct, which in itself will save time.

From Cañaveral To The Tagus

This map shows the scar of the construction of the high speed line from Cañaveral to the Tagus.

Note.

  1. The River Tagus across the bottom of the map.
  2. Cañaveral is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The scar of the railway construction running North-Easterly across the map.

A lot of the features, as the railway crosses the River Tagus, will come clearer in the next section.

Crossing The Tagus

This Google Map shows where the railway crosses the River Tagus.

 

This second map shows the Northern end of the bridge on a larger scale.

Is this bridge a double deck bridge with a road underneath a rail track?

Almonte River Railway Viaduct

This Google Map shows the viaduct over the Almonte river.

Note.

  1. It is the Eastern bridge on the map.
  2. It will carry a double-track high speed railway.
  3. At 384 metres it is the longest railway arch bridge in the world.
  4. It is seventy metres high, so the views should be good.
  5. It is 54 metres longer than the Silver Jubilee bridge over the Mersey.

The other bridge to the West is shown in this Google Map.

It appears to be a double-deck bridge, with a road on top of as single track railway.

This third Google Map clearly shows the arch.

 

It certainly is a bridge I want to experience.

The Old And New South Of The Almonte

I had to include this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The old and the new bridges over the Rio Almonte.
  2. The current railway meanders about.
  3. A lot of the track-bed of the new railway is complete.

There would appear to be a viewpoint and parking to explore the area.

Cáceres

This Google Map shows the joining of the old and new lines to the Nothe of the Cáceres

Note.

  1. The most Westerly line is the scar of the conscruction of the new high speed line.
  2. Next to it, is the current line.

The lines would appear to join to go through Cáceres. This must surely mean, they are the same gauge.

This second map shows the station in the city of Cáceres.

Reading Wikipedia, it looks to be the sort of place for an overnight stop or more.

Building The New Line South Of Cáceres

A new double-track High Speed Line is being built alongside the existing single track, as this Google Map shows.

Note.

  1. The road is the A66.
  2. The new railway is on the Western side, with the old one on the East.

This second map, taken in the same area, appears to show rail and railway being constructed along the same route.

The third map shows a tunnel on the route.

It goes straight through a range of mountains.

Aljucén

This Google Map shows the track layout at Aljucén.

Note.

  1. Aljucen station is on the East bank of the river.
  2. The North branch of the railway goes North to Caceres.
  3. The South branch of railway goes West to Badajoz.

Trains between Caceres and Badajoz, may go East to Mérida to reverse.

Mérida

As I said, the city of Mérida is to the East of Aljucén.

This Google Map shows the area between Aljucén and Mérida .

This second map, shows the large railway yard and the station at Mérida .

Note how the railway splits into two at the West of the station. One line takes the North side of the river and the other the South.

Onward To Badajoz

The Railway Gazette article says this about the section of the railway between Cáceres and Badajoz.

By late November, the 58∙8 km of double track between Plasencia and Cáceres was complete, while a single track has been built over the 80 km between Cáceres, Mérida and Badajoz. At Montijo, between Mérida and Badajoz, a junction is to be built to link the high speed line and the adjacent conventional line, which is to be electrified as part of work to modernise the east-west route across Extremadura between Badajoz and Puertollano.

Puertollano is to the East.

  • The city lies on the main high speed rail line between Madrid and Seville.
  • Trains take four hours between Puertollano and Badajoz.
  • It has a solar thermal power station.

It looks to me, that if I was going to Badajoz, I’d fly to Seville and take the train, with a change at Puertollano.

Guardiana del Caudillo

This Google Map around Guadina del Caudillo station is typical of much of the route between Aljucén and Badajoz.

It appears that a double-track high speed railway is being built alongside the current single track.

Badajoz

This Google Map shows the current single-track railway passing North-West South-East through the city of Badajoz.

Note.

  1. Portugal is a few miles to the North-West.
  2. The station appears to be in the centre of the city.

This second map shows the border.

Note.

  1. The single-track curving around the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Underground water must be good, as they’re farming in circles.

Given the closeness of Badejoz to the border, the Spanish city could be a good place to break a journey.

Conclusion

This high speed line would appear to be easier to build than High Speed Two in some ways.

  • A rail route already exists and in many places, the Spaniards are using a similar route.
  • The population density appears low.
  • The route is only about as long as London and Sheffield.

On the other hand, there are some tunnels and hills and some substantial river crossings.

Writing, this has made me want to visit, this part of Spain, where I’ve never been.

I would fly to Lisbon and gradually work my way back, stopping in places like Badajoz, Caceres and Toledo, before taking a train back to London.

Could The Madrid And Lisbon High Speed Line Become Iconic?

I think it could, as it will be a line with beautiful scenery between two of Europe’s must-visit capitals.

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

High Speed Rail Link To Lift Baltic Economies By Up To 0.6 Per Cent

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

A major new report from Swedbank, a Nordic-Baltic banking group based in Stockholm, Sweden, claims that the construction of a high speed rail link between the Estonian capital Tallinn and Lithuania’s border with Poland could lift GDP in each of the three Baltic states by between 0.2 and 0.6 per cent.

In addition to the direct economic impact in terms of public investment and jobs, the ambitious project will also help the region meet its environmental goals and bring in new technology and know-how.

The article is a must-read and has left me thinking, what will High Speed Two do for the UK?

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 6 Comments

Will Biofuel Save Jet Aviation?

I ask this question as I have just written a post, which is entitled Grant Shapps Announcement On Friday, where I detail a project called Altalto, which its developers hope will convert waste into aviation biofuel.

But there are other factors at work, that will have effects on passenger flying.

Electric Aircraft

Despite the technological problems electric aircraft, I can see that in a couple of years, an electric plane will be available with the following specification.

  • 9-15 passenger capacity
  • 100-200 mile range
  • Half-hour recharge time

These will improve as technology improves. But then everybody who uses a battery in their product says this.

Lightweight Structures

If you’ve ever looked at a high-performance glider, you’ll see that they are the featherweights of the aviation world and are built mainly from ultra lightweight composites.

Boeing have gone this route with the 787 Dreamliner and the aircraft has been a success.

Unfortunately, Boeing’s accountants have trashed the company, by trying to prolong the life of the obsolete 737 too far, instead of developing a composite replacement.

By the end of this decade all aircraft will be made from lightweight composite structures.

Interstingly, the only all new electric passenger aircraft; the Eviation Alice has a fully-composite airframe.

Lightweight structures will help create lower carbon emissions on traditional aircraft, by reducing fuel burn, but will really help in creating new aircraft types. Some of which will look very unusual.

Better Aerodynamics

Aerodynamics are getting more efficient and this will reduce fuel burn and have two effects on aircraft design.

  • They will make existing designs more efficient.
  • They will improve the design of electric aircraft designed on a clean sheet of paper.

Expect to see some very weird looking aircraft. Look at Eviation Alice, which could evolve into a twenty seat aircraft with a range exceeding six hundred miles.

Hybrid-Powered Aircraft

I can’t with current technology, see an all-electric aircraft powered by batteries having a range greater than perhaps six hundred miles and a capacity of greater than perhaps 20 passengers. The mathematics and the physics say no!

Some aero engine manufacturers are talking about hybrid power, where a small turbofan engine is paired with a battery and electric motors.

I think it could be a way to extend the range of electric aircraft, without creating significant emissions. Aviation biofuel would fit well with a hybrid aviation powerplant, as it would further remove emissions.

Completely Automatic Flight

The pilot of a modern airliner does very little flying and there is no reason, pilots couldn’t do as little to fly the plane, as a driver on a Victoria Line tube has done since 1967 to drive the train.

When a train is ready to depart, the driver presses a button and the train moves automatically to the next station.

If anything unusual happens, the driver takes control.

Why not with airliners?

Point-To-Point Air Services

In MagniX Electric Aircraft Engines Take To The Skies, I put this quote from magniX, who make the electric motors for electric aircraft.

magniX says 45% of all airline flights cover less than 800 km, while 5% of flights are sub-160 km.

These flights will be the first to go electric.

But they are not really suited for an airport like Heathrow or Gatwick, as each plane needs a separate take-off and landing slot to fit in with conventional flights.

Heathrow want a third runway to increase capacity.

Perhaps it should be for electric flights only!

  • Electric aircraft will be low-noise and create no pollution.
  • It would have its own terminal.
  • Charging facilities would be built into the terminal.
  • Taxi distances would be short.
  • The runway would only need to be short.
  • Passengers would have to arrive and leave by zero-carbon transport.
  • There might even be space for two runways; one for landing and one of take-off.

I can see a network of both smaller airports and satellites at major airports developing, that are designed for electric aircraft.

  • Some airports, like possibly London City, might convert to all-electric, due to their sensitive locations.
  • Other important towns and cities without an airport, might develop new all-electric airports.
  • Hubs might develop at convenient locations in the UK, for short trips to the Continent and Ireland. Perhaps a high speed rail-connected Manston Airport would be ideal for electric flights to Belgium, The Netherlands and Northern France.

Frequent point-to-point electric flights could create a zero-carbon short-haul network for flights of up to about six hundred miles.

Rail Journeys Less Than Four Hours

It is accepted by many analysts and rail companies, that if a train takes less than four hours, then it is a viable alternative to flying.

  • Could the success of Eurostar’s London and Amsterdam route, be partly down to the that it’s four hours?
  • First Group subsidiary; East Coast Trains have stated they will target air passengers, with a sub four-hour, one-class £25 train journey between London and Edinburgh.
  • High Speed Two is currently promising three hours and forty minute journeys between London and Edinburgh/Glasgow, when their service starts.

I believe that rail companies all over the world will see tempting air passengers to use rail, as a market to develop.

Zoom And Other Internet Techniques

During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, families and others have started using Internet conferencing in a big way.

But will other software develop, that will have the effect of both cutting flying or making it more zero-carbon.

Suppose, I wanted to visit several cities in the United States. Is there an Internet site that tells me how to do it to create the least amount of CO2?

Biofuel For Short Flights

When I laid out the factors, I only mentioned aviation biofuels once.

That was in conjunction with hybrid aircraft, that use both jet and electric power.

If the hybrid technology succeeds, it may mean that flights up to about a thousand miles are possible and this would include a lot of short haul flights around the world. With biofuels and hybrid powerplants, carbon dioxide emissions will be greatly reduced and could probably be managed by carbon offset measures like tree-planting.

Biofuel For Long Flights

As aircraft get more efficient using biofuel will help to reduce the amount of emissions, to a level that could be balanced by carbon offset.

This will be an expensive process for airlines, as probably most fleets will need to be replaced with more fuel efficient planes.

But this is happening, as 757s and A380 are being replaced by Dreamliners and other more fuel efficient types.

Conclusion

By 2035, most short haul flights will be electric or some form of hybrid power, although a lot will be replaced by high speed rail.

Biofuel won’t save long-haul flights, but it will make them economic for the airlines.

I suspect that there will be a lot of aluminium aircraft going for scrap.

June 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments