The Anonymous Widower

A Trip To Northfleet

Yesterday, I went to Northfleet station.

Partly, it was to have a drink with my old friend; Ian, but mainly it was to take some pictures to add to Elizabeth Line To Ebbsfleet Extension Could Cost £3.2 Billion.

Normally, when I go to see Ian I take the HighSpeed service out of St. Pancras.

But this service is expensive and as I was leaving from Moorgate, I decided to take the Elizabeth Line to Abbey Wood and get a train to Northfleet station instead.

I have a few thoughts on my journey.

Cost

I used my Freedom Pass to Abbey Wood and then bought an Off Peak Day Return between Abbey Wood and Northfleet for just £4.95 with a Senior Railcard.

Convenience

As you have to use one of the bridges at Abbey Wood to change to and from the Elizabeth Line, I used the one at the station end and popped through the barrier to buy my onward ticket from a machine.

Surely, Freedom Passes should be linked to a bank account, so if you want to stray outside Zone 6, you are automatically charged.

Elizabeth Line Messages On Southeastern

At Swanscombe station today, whilst waiting for my Thameslink train to take me back to Abbey Wood, I noticed that the displays were telling passengers to change at Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth Line.

You certainly wouldn’t use the dreadful Swanscombe station with heavy cases, but stations like Abbey Wood, Dartford, Gravesend and others would enable granny or grandpa to take a sensible-size wheeled case to Heathrow Airport with reasonable ease, once the Elizabeth Line becomes a fully-connected railway between Abbey Wood and Heathrow.

Onward Trains At Abbey Wood

There are two easy onward Thameslink tph at Abbey Wood, that run at sixteen and forty-six minutes past the hour.

You can also take the first Dartford train and then take the first train from there.

If you get the Thameslink train from Abbey Wood timings are as follows.

  • Slade Green – 6 minutes
  • Dartford – 11 minutes
  • Stone Crossing – 16 minutes
  • Greenhithe – 18 minutes
  • Swanscombe – 21 minutes
  • Northfleet – 23 minutes
  • Gravesend – 27 minutes
  • Higham – 33 minutes
  • Strood – 39 minutes
  • Rochester – 42 minutes
  • Chatham – 45 minutes
  • Gillingham – 50 minutes
  • Rainham – 55 minutes

Note.

  1. There are also two Southeastern tph between Charing Cross and Gravesend, but they don’t serve Abbey Wood.
  2. The timings appeared sensible in my two trips; yesterday and today.
  3. Travellers also have a choice in that they can use the more expensive HighSpeed services to selected stations.

After just missing a Thameslink train today by a few seconds, and then had to wait thirty minutes for the next train, I am convinced that there needs to be a four tph service between Abbey Wood and Rainham.

Four tph Between Rainham And Abbey Wood

In Crossrail Ltd Outlines Plan To Complete The Elizabeth Line, I said this about Western branch services.

When Crossrail is fully open, the Western Branch frequencies are planned to be as follows.

  • Reading and Abbey Wood – 4 tph in the Peak and 2 tph in the Off Peak
  • Maidenhead and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day
  • Heathrow Terminal 4 and Abbey Wood – 4 tph all day.
  • Heathrow Terminal 5 and Abbey Wood – 2 tph all day.

This includes 6 tph between Heathrow and Abbey Wood all day.

Crossrail To Ebbsfleet is proposing that the South-Eastern branch will terminate as follows.

  • 4 tph – Abbey Wood
  • 4 tph – Northfleet
  • 4 tph – Gravesend

So will this mean that the six tph to Heathrow will be split equally between Abbey Wood, Northfleet and Gravesend, with two Heathrow tph terminating at each terminal?

The North Kent Metro

My naive mind thinks, why don’t the two Heathrow and Gravesend services terminate at Rainham?

This would give the following.

  • The minimum four tph between Abbey Wood and Rainham.
  • Rainham should be able to turnback for tph.
  • Services would call at Belvedere, Erith, Slade Green, Dartford, Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet, Gravesend, Higham, Strood, Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham.

North Kent would have its own metro running under London Overground rules.

It could even start as soon as Class 345 trains are allowed to run to Rainham.

Airport Connect

Consider

  • The Elizabeth Line service between Abbey Wood and Rainham could serve Heathrow at its Western end.
  • The Thameslink service would serve Luton Airport Parkway.
  • Both services would serve Liverpool Street for the Stansted Express and services to and from Southend Airport.
  • Both services would serve Farringdon for services to and from Gatwick Airport.
  • An extra station at Silvertown could serve London City Airport.
  • In future, there could even be a connection to High Speed Two at Old Oak Common.

One service on the Elizabeth Line would connect all these together.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

HS2 Starts Work On First Pioneering ‘Green Tunnel’

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release on the High Speed Two web site.

These three paragraphs introduce the work at Chipping Warden.

HS2 today [Friday 10th June] announced the start of construction at the site of its first innovative ‘green tunnel’, designed to blend the high speed railway into the landscape and reduce disruption for communities.

Unlike a normal underground tunnel, the one-and-a-half mile (2.5km) Chipping Warden green tunnel in Northamptonshire is being built on the surface using a pioneering off-site manufacturing approach to speed up construction and improve efficiency.

This approach will see more than five thousand giant concrete tunnel segments made in a factory in Derbyshire before being assembled on site. The completed tunnel will then be covered by earth, with trees, shrubs and hedgerows planted to fit in with the surrounding countryside.

Note.

  1. High Speed Two are building five of these tunnels between London and Birmingham.
  2. I know from talking to engineers at Custom House station, which was also built in a factory, that the quality is excellent.
  3. But is it also cheaper and quicker, as all segments on the five tunnels are identical, no expensive tunnel boring machine is required and conventional equipment can be used?

These are some images from High Speed Two, which show the erection of the first segments of the green tunnel.

There is also this video, which shows more about the green tunnels.

I suspect we’re going to see a lot more of these tunnels.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Call For Rail Sector To Mobilise To Get Ukrainian Agricultural Exports Moving

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Rail has a central role in the European Commission’s plan to establish ‘Solidarity Lanes’ for the transport of Ukrainian agricultural exports which would normally use the Black Sea ports that are being blockaded by Russia.

Announcing its plan, the commission said the Russian blockade is threatening global food security, creating an urgent need for alternative transport routes. Ukraine is the largest exporter of sunflower oil (50% of world exports), the third largest of rapeseed (20%) and barley (18%), the fourth of maize (16%) and the fifth of wheat (12%).

It certainly is a big problem and not just for Ukraine, but for any country that habitually buys these agricultural products from Ukraine.

But it will probably require a lot of investment to solve.

These are points from the article.

  • Trains handling 1,400 tonnes are possible.
  • The average waiting time for wagons at the Ukrainian border is sixteen days.
  • The capacity of existing freight corridors must be expanded and new ones must be created.

After reading the whole article, it does seem that an EU plan is being created.

I have my thoughts.

Gauge Change

Consider.

  • There will be a gauge change between standard and Russian gauge.
  • Spanish company; Talgo has developed the technology, so that trains can run on both gauges and even change between gauges at a slow speed.
  • The technology is used on the Strizh train, which runs passenger services between Berlin and Moscow via Warsaw.

I feel it is likely, that Talgo could develop freight wagons to move the agricultural products between Ukraine and ports in Poland or Germany.

Talgo’s Plans

In A Spaniard In The Works!, I outlined Talgo’s plans, which included building a factory at Longannet in Scotland.

But their plans must have been disrupted, as the company did not secure the High Speed Two Classic-Compatible rolling stock contract.

On the other hand Longannet could be an ideal place to build trains for Eastern Europe. They could go on a ferry to Gdansk, Helsinki or other ports.

May 19, 2022 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cycle Paths To Run Alongside HS2 For 200 Miles

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

This is the first paragraph.

The route of HS2, the high-speed railway line from London to Manchester, is to become an unlikely tourist and leisure destination, with a trail for cyclists and walkers that will eventually run for 200 miles.

The article says this about the design of the proposed trail.

  • The cycle path is expected to be 3m wide.
  • The walkers path is expected to be 2.5m wide.
  • The two paths would be separated by a grass verge.

I am pleased that the combined path will be set at some distance from the High Speed Two track, as I don’t like to be near speeding trains.

I have some thoughts.

Rest Areas

In some places, there should be rest areas. Some of these could be close to towns or villages, where there is a convenient cafe or pub.

In Burnley, there is even a Premier Inn on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the manager told me, that in the summer, they get cyclists staying the night, as it’s the mid-point between Leeds and Liverpool.

Mobility Scooters

Will rules for these to use the trail be developed?

Health And Safety

In Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, I talked about a memorable trip, that I made to Inverness.

The route to Inverness is for a long way alongside the A90 and driver told me how on one trip, there was a serious multiple car crash in heavy snow.

So he stopped the train, alerted the emergency services  and even asked the passengers, if there were any medical staff on board.

Obviously, stopping a High Speed Two train from 225 mph is not as practical as stopping an InterCity 125 from perhaps 90 mph.

But the drivers’ eyes or the CCTV systems on the train would probably spot a minor accident on the path, so the appropriate assistance can be called.

Conclusion

I like this idea.

It should be fully developed.

 

 

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

HS2 Reveals Dramatic Carbon Saving With Ambitious Modular Design For Thame Valley Viaduct

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on High Speed Two.

This is the first paragraph.

HS2 today revealed the final designs for the Thame Valley Viaduct and the pioneering pre-fabricated construction methods that will see the 880m long structure slotted together like a giant Lego set, cutting its carbon footprint by an estimated 66%.

This is one of the pictures released in this photoset.

This second picture shows a closer view of a pillar and the catenary.

It does appear in these two views that the catenary and the gantries that support it are more elegant than those that tend to be used on most electrification schemes at the present time.

These paragraphs describe how the design saved carbon emissions.

Applying lessons from recent high speed rail projects in Spain, the design team cut the amount of embedded carbon by simplifying the structure of the viaduct so that every major element can be made off site.

In a major step forward for viaduct design in the UK, the team opted for two wide ‘box girder’ beams per span instead of eight smaller beams – to simplify and speed up assembly.

The production of steel and concrete is a major contributor to carbon emissions, with the new lighter-weight structure expected to save 19,000 tonnes of embedded carbon in comparison to the previous design. That’s the same amount of carbon emitted by one person taking a flight from London to Edinburgh and back 70,000 times.

It would appear that saving weight and using less steel and concrete can save a lot of carbon emissions.

I once got a bonus at ICI because I saved ten metres on the height of a chemical plant. My boss said, I’d saved nearly a million. by using a mathematical model on an analogue computer to show that a vessel in the plant wasn’t needed and this eliminated a complete floor of the plant.

How much concrete and steel has been saved by High Speed Two on this viaduct, by making it more basset than Afghan hound?

Ever since I watched the building of Crossrail’s Custom House station, I have been in favour of off-site construction.

I wrote about it in An Express Station and am pleased to see it being used on High Speed Two.

April 8, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New HS2 Pilot Project Swaps Steel For Retired Wind Turbine Blades To Reinforce Concrete

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from High Speed Two.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Worn-out wind turbine blades destined for the incinerator will instead be used to create carbon-friendly reinforced concrete on Britain’s new high speed rail network, HS2 Ltd has said today (12.03.21).

The innovative project will swap steel rebar, traditionally used to reinforce concrete, with sections of glass fibre reinforced polymer turbine blades that have reached the end of their operational lives generating low carbon electricity.

By 2023, around 15,000 turbine blades will have been decommissioned across the UK and EU. Until now, expired blades have either been ground down to be used as building materials or sent to energy-from-waste incinerators.

Replacing reinforcing steel with sections of retired wind turbine blades is claimed to cut up to 90 % of the carbon generated by steel reinforcement.

It would appear to me, that this is a worthwhile process.

  • In 2018, 295,000 metric tons of steel reinforcing bars were produced in the UK.
  • Retired blades don’t end up in landfill or incinerators.
  • Could we export them as eco-friendly reinforcing bars, to countries with smaller wind industries.

As we have more wind farms, than most other countries, we will probably have more blades to recycle, so perhaps we should research other secondary uses for these blades.

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Upgrade East Coast Main Line Before HS2’ If Leeds And Yorkshire Want Faster Rail Links To London

The title of this post, is the same as that of this letter to the Yorkshire Post.

This is the opening paragraph.

The decision to scrap HS2 running to Leeds is controversial but those who travel to London should not despair.

The writer makes these points.

  • High Speed Two will probably charge a premium fare because of the speed.
  • The current journey time to the capital is two hours 13 minutes at a cost of £28-60, if purchased in advance.
  • Planned improvements on the East Coast Main Line will reduce the journey time to London King’s Cross to one hour 56 minutes.
  • High Speed Two will take one hour 22 minutes.
  • If the line between Doncaster and Leeds were to be improved, the journey time could be reduced to one hour 45 minutes.

The writer finishes by saying that if the government ‘four tracked’ the entire East Coast route, 140mph LNER’s Azuma trains would match the times of High Speed Two.

In What Will Be The Fastest Times Possible Between London King’s Cross And Leeds?, I came to this conclusion.

It looks like a non-stop service between London and Leeds running at 140 mph, with perhaps some sections at perhaps a bit faster, could be able to match the High Speed Two times.

Running non-stop saves a total of eighteen minutes.

In an hour, I would give Leeds one non-stop and one stopping service to London.

March 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Earth Friendly Concrete

I was alerted to this product by this article on New Civil Engineer, which is entitled Keltbray Saves Carbon And Money With Earth Friendly Concrete On East London Job.

The article gave enough clues to find the Earth Friendly Concrete home page.

This is the introduction on the page.

We want to have a positive impact on the environment and supply our customers with an excellent product, that is why we created Earth Friendly Concrete ® by Wagners. It is a concrete that uses no ordinary Portland cement, instead using a geopolymer binder system made from the chemical activation of two industrial waste by-products – blast furnace slag (waste from iron production) and fly ash (waste from coal fired power generation). Our product has ZERO Portland cement and it has a much lower embodied energy compared to ordinary concrete, saving 250kg of CO2 for every cubic metre poured. Importantly, the engineering and construction properties of this environmentally friendly concrete is, in some areas, better than normal concrete. EFC has some significant performance advantages over normal Portland cement concrete, including improved durability, lower shrinkage, earlier strength gain, higher flexural tensile strength and increased fire resistance.

On this page, which is entitled About EFC, this said about the products Environmental Excellence.

EFC is a new class of concrete that contains NO ordinary Cement. Globally, the production of 1 tonne of Portland Cement produces 1 tonne of CO₂ emissions and is responsible for 5 to 8% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of cement, EFC has a geopolymer binder that is made from the chemical activation of two recycled industrial wastes, flyash and slag. This recycled binder reduces the CO₂ emissions associated with Portland cement by 80 to 90%.

Every m3 of 40 MPa EFC saves 220kg CO₂ emissions.

Wagners, the company behind the development, are based in Queensland. Australia.

So it’s a case of Well Done The Aussies!

They have appointed Capital Concrete, to deliver Earth Friendly Concrete in the London area.

Conclusion

Does High Speed Two and other large projects that will need large amounts of concrete, know about this development?

 

March 4, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Winslow Station Site

This Google Map shows the site of the new Winslow station, on the East West Railway.

Note.

  1. The line from north of Wolvercote Tunnel (just north of Oxford) through Bicester to Bletchley would be enabled for 100 mph (160 km/h) double-track running.
  2. There will be two platforms at Winslow station.
  3. The station is planned to open in 2024.

Services at the station are likely to be.

  • Two tph – Oxford and Milton Keynes via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow and Bletchley
  • One tph – Oxford and Bedford via Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. It appears the current Bedford and Bletchley service will continue.

It looks like the one tph service between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes via Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow, Bletchley has been deferred indefinitely.

Consider.

  • Building a single track railway between Aylesbury Vale Parkway station and Claydon Junction on the East West Railway can’t be that challenging or expensive.
  • A single track railway should be able to handle the required train service of up to two tph at Aylesbury Vale Parkway station and occasional freight trains.

It doesn’t look too difficult or costly. So why? The only valid reason I can think of is that High Speed Two doesn’t want it for some reason.

March 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Northern Eden Project Worth £125 million Gets Green Light

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Plans to transform the seafront of a deprived town into a £125 million northern outpost of the Eden Project have been given the green light.

Councillors in Lancashire approved plans for the site on Morecambe seafront which it is hoped will attract around a million visitors and create 400 jobs.

I think the Eden Project Morecambe could be a real Northern success.

Here’s my reasoning.

Location, Location, Location

These are the three most important factors with any house, building or property.

Morecambe has a superb location for visitors coming by car or train, as is close to both the M6 Motoway and the West Coast Main Line.

I wrote about getting to the Eden Project in Getting To The Proposed Morecambe Eden Project By Train.

I suspect visitors coming by road, would drive to a suitable Park-and-Ride and then take a train.

Lancaster Will Be A High Speed Two Station

Lancaster will be served by the following High Speed Two services.

  • London Euston – Two hours and three minutes – One tph
  • London Old Oak Common – One hour and fifty-six minutes – One tph
  • Birmingham Curzon Street – One hour and six minutes – One tph
  • Crewe – Fifty-nine minutes – One tph
  • Warrington Bank Quay – Forty-two minutes – One tph
  • Wigan North Western – Thirty-one minutes – Two tph
  • Preston – Seventeen minutes – Two tph
  • Oxenholme – Twelve minutes – One tp2h
  • Penrith – Thirty-five minutes – One tp2h
  • Carlisle – Fifty-two minutes – One tph
  • Lockerbie – One hour and eleven minutes – One tph
  • Edinburgh – Two hours and twelve minutes – One tp2h
  • Motherwell – One hour and fifty-six minutes – One tp2h
  • Glasgow – Two hours and twelve minutes – One tp2h

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. tp2h is trains per two hours.
  3. A shuttle train between Lancaster and the Eden Project Morecambe will probably add ten minutes.

High Speed Two will make the Eden Project Morecambe one of the best connected entertainment venues in the UK.

Avanti West Coast And TransPennine Express North Of Warrington Bank Quay After High Speed Two Opens

When High Speed Two opens, it is likely that North of Warrington Bank Quay station, the operating speed of this section of the West Coast Main Line will be faster than the  current 125 mph, as the track will have been straightened and digital signalling will have been installed.

It will probably be at least 140 mph.

These trains will be running express passenger services on the route and will be able to match the speed and timings of High Speed Two’s Classic-Compatible trains to the North of Warrington Bank Quay station.

  • Avanti West Coast’s Class 390 trains
  • TransPennine Express’s Class 397 trains
  • TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains

There is likely to be savings of a few minutes on these services.

  • Avanti West Coast – London Euston and Glasgow Central
  • TransPennine Express – Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Glasgow Central
  • TransPennine Express – Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central

Connections from the North-West of England and Southern Scotland will be fast and frequent.

Eden Project Morecambe Will Be A Day Trip For Greater North West England

An area defined by Carlisle, Blackburn, Manchester, Crewe, Chester, Liverpool and Blackpool will be close enough to have a day trip to the venue.

Eden Project Morecambe Is Unlikely To Be A Poor Attraction

The Eden Project Morecambe must be worth attending, but with twenty years experience of running a similar attraction in Cornwall, it is unlikely to be a failure.

Eden Project Morecambe Will Be Easier To Travel To Than The Original Eden Project For Many

I have never even been past the Eden Project in Cornwall, as it is not the easiest place to get to without a car.

I intend to go, but it will probably need two nights in a hotel to do it justice.

But Eden Project Morecambe could well be much shorter trip from London.

Currently, Avanti West Coast’s fastest time between London Euston and Lancaster are two hours and forty minutes, which would mean an under three hours trip both ways to and from Eden Project Morecambe. The Cornish site is probably nearly five hours by public transport.

Conclusion

All these factors should contribute to the success of the attraction.

 

January 31, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment