The Anonymous Widower

Japanese Car Rental Firms Discover New Trend Of Renting Vehicles For A Nap Or Quiet Lunch

The title of this post is the same as that of this story on The World News.

It was flagged up first on BBC Breakfast.

But is it any difference to my behaviour?

I generally get up, do all my daily chores and have a bath.

Then, I’ll go out about nine and take an Overground train or a bus to somewhere quiet for breakfast.

I will sometimes go as far as Richmond for breakfast in Leon.

And if the weather is hot like is it is now, I might even just sit on an air-conditioned train and read my paper or watch the news on my phone, stopping where I fancy for a coffee or a drink.

All I need to ensure, is that at some point, I stop off at a Marks and Spencer to get the food I need for supper.

Courtesy of my Freedom Pass, all this travel costs me a big fat zilch.

I call it Freedoming.

Today, though I’m roaming a bit further; Manchester. Hopefully, I’ll get a ride in one of the new Class 195 trains to Manchester Airport.

 

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

TfGM Announces Contactless Payments On Metrolink Trams

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

This is the first paragraph.

Passengers will be able to ‘touch-in’ using their contactless cards on Manchester Metrolink trams from July 15, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) announced today.

I shall be there with my contactless credit card on Monday week, to check that this is not fake news.

I look forward to the day, when Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds are all one contactless card area for trams, trains and buses.

When you consider that the combined area will be smaller than Greater London’s contactless area and that the distance between Lime Street and Leeds or Sheffield, is less than Reading to Shenfield, which will be contactless when Crossrail opens, the problems can’t be technological.

If the leaders of the four major Northern cities can agree this advance in ticketing, they will do more for the North, than any other short-term  transport development will achieve.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cadent Launches Report Mapping Out Routes To Hydrogen Fuelled Vehicles On UK Roads

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

This is the first paragraph.

A roadmap using hydrogen to decarbonise transport, particularly commercial transport, in the North West of the UK, has been unveiled by the country’s leading gas distribution network Cadent.

The article makes some points about hydrogen-powered transport.

  • Using Cadent’s network to deliver hydrogen, rather than tube trailers, massively reduces the cost and makes fuel cell electric cars (FCEVs) available to the general public for around the same price as a battery electric vehicle or a conventional diesel car.
  • FCEVs can travel further than battery electric vehicles and take the same time to refuel as a conventional petrol car.
  • Grid-supplied hydrogen is the most cost-effective way of supplying hydrogen transport fuel at the required volume – up to six times cheaper than if delivered by trailer and 70 per cent cheaper than electrolysis.

Cadent‘s interest in all this, is not about selling gas, as their interest and income is totalling in transporting gas from producers to end users. So they don’t care whether they transport natural gas or hydrogen.

Hydrogen Storage

The article also discloses plans of INOVYN, a wholly owned subsidiary of INEOS, to develop a grid-scale hydrogen storage facility.

It will be in salt caverns in mid-Cheshire.

It will be able to hold 2,000 tonnes of hydrogen.

It is cheaper to store hydrogen in salt caverns, than on the surface.

The salt caverns have been used to store gas for decades.

This is a quote from the INOYN spokesman.

Storage is a vital component of delivering a viable hydrogen energy system in the UK.

I only had an indirect quick glimpse underground, when I worked at ICI in the area around 1970, but ICI’s salt expert, said they had enough salt in Cheshire to last 9,000 years at the current rate of extraction.

Salt in Cheshire, is a unique geological formation, that is very valuable to the UK and it looks like in the future, thar could enable hydrogen power.

Hydrogen Generation

The hydrogen will still need to be produced. Wikipedia has an entry caslled Hydrogran Production, which is fairly dismissive of electrolysis.

But in my view, hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis using wind power, as other methods like steam reforming of methane produce carbon-dioxide.

I particularly like the idea of building wind farms in clusters around offshore gas platforms, that have extracted all the gas from the fields, they were built to serve.

  • Instead of running electricity cables to the wind farms,  hydrogen is produced by electrolysis on the platform and this is transported to the shore using the same gas infrastructure, that brought the natural gas onshore.
  • This could enable wind-farms to be developed much further offshore.
  • If carbon capture is ever successfully made to work, the existing gas pipe could also be used to transfer the carbon dioxide offshore for storage in worked-out gas fields.
  • The pipe between platform and shore could easily be made reversible, carrying hydrogen one way and carbon dioxide the other.

All of the technology required would also appear to be fully developed.

Conclusion

I am convinced that in the next few years, a hydrogen gas network can be created in parts of the UK.

The North West has advantages in becoming one of the first parts of the UK to have an extensive hydrogen network.

  • It has the means to produce hydrogen gas.
  • It has large wind farms in Liverpool Bay.
  • There are worked-out gas fields, that might in the future be used for carbon storage.
  • If INOVYN can store large quantities of hydrogen, this is a big advantage.

The biggest problem would be converting large numbers of houses and commercial premises from natural gas to hydrogen.

But, we’ve been through that process before, when we changed from town gas to natural gas in the 1960s and 1970s.

Should We Remove Gas From Our Houses?

I only use gas for heating.

  • I feel that naked flames are not a good idea to have anywhere near people, as they can produce oxides of nitrgen, that causes health problems.
  • Gas cookers are also a major cause of household fires.
  • Technology is moving against cooking with gas, as more more to electric induction hobs.
  • If you are fitting a new gas boiler, make sure it can be connected to hydrogen.

When I buy my next property, it will be all electric.

 

June 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Trying To Get Near The Footbridge Underneath The Ordsall Chord

The Ordsall Chord scheme incorporates a foiotbridge across the Irwell, which should give good a good view of the massive bridge.

I tried to get near it yesterday.

But as you can see, I failed.

There’s just too much construction in the way!

February 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

New Piazzas And Public Space Next To Historic Stephenson’s Bridge And Beneath Ordsall Chord Could Open ‘This Winter’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Manchester Evening News.

This is the first paragraph.

It had been feared the space would remain closed for years – but Salford Council say they will make sure it opens as soon as they take ownership.

It is good news for those like me, who like interesting city walks.

It is also time for Network Rail and Lewisham and Southwark Councils to sort out what is to happen around London’s new rail structure; the Bermondsey Dive-Under.

This article on the Landscape Institute web site from 2017, is entitled New Railway Junction Gets Top Marks For Biodiversity., describes how the work at Bermondsey has won an award. This is said.

The project involved removal of 21,900 tonnes of contaminated material and eradicated the Japanese knotweed. To increase biodiversity, wildflower planting and green walls were installed to offset vegetation lost in the process of removing the contaminated soils. The project includes 765m2 of green walls under arches and access ramps, and the planting of wildflowers on the railway embankments to create green corridors and stepping stones to the wider area. The team also carried out extensive community engagement, including upgrading the garden in the Lewisham Community Centre.

I think there should be a public walking route through this area.

 

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Stunning New Public Space Under The Ordsall Chord Might Not Open To The Public For Years

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Manchester Evening News.

As I understand it, the new Orsall Chord in Manchester has been designed to open up a public space by the River Irwell.

The headline says it all and there appears to be no-one who knows when it will open.

For one time too, it doesn’t seem that Network Rail is the villain of the piece.

I suppose the trouble is that this development has nothing to do with football!

Come on Manchester, get your act together!

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Does A New Service Start Between Wigan North Western And Alderley Edge Stations Using Class 769 Trains On May 20th?

On the Wikipedia entry for Class 769 trains, this is said about the introduction into service of the trains by Northern.

Scheduled to begin entering service in May 2018, Northern plans to deploy its Class 769 units on the Windermere branch line and also their Manchester Airport to Windermere, Wigan North Western to Alderley Edge and Wigan North Western to Stalybridge services

I have looked at the National Rail timetable for the 19th of May and looked up getting between Wigan North Western and Alderley Edge station involves a change at Manchester Piccadilly station.

But look at the journey on the 21st of May and there is an hourly direct train.

  • First train – 08:50
  • Last train – 19:50
  • Journey time – 78 minutes

The train will stop at Hindley, Westhoughton, Bolton, Salford Crescent, Deansgate, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Piccadilly, Levenshulme, Heaton Chapel, Stockport, Cheadle Hulme, Handforth and Wilmslow.

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

  • Hourly
  • First train – 06:49
  • Last train – 19:48
  • Journey time – 70 minutes

It is an ideal route for a Class 769 train.

  • Between Wigan North Western and Bolton is not electrified.
  • I also suspect that Bolton and Salford Crescent won’t have the wires completed by the 20th of May.

Manchester will be getting another cross-city service courtesy of a thirty-year-old electric train, with a couple of diesel engines slung underneath.

Wigan North Western And Stalybridge

An hourly service from Wigan North Western to Stalybridge also appears to be in the timetable from the 21st of May.

  • First train – 08:08
  • Last train – 22:50
  • Journey time – 59 minutes

The trains will stop at Hindley, Westhoughton, Bolton, Moses Gate, Farnworth, Kearsley (Manchester), Salford Crescent, Salford Central, Manchester Victoria and Ashton-under-Lyne.

In the other direction, the service is as follows.

  • First train – 06:30
  • Last train – 21:29
  • Journey time – 63-66 minutes

It is another ideal route for a Class 769 train.

  • Between Wigan North Western and Salford Central not fully electrified.

As the current service between Wigan Wallgate and Stalybridge seems to have been discontinued, it looks like Pacers and elderly diesels are being replaced by electric trains.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that as the electrification through Bolton and Salford Crescent, that Northern are doing the best they can with what they have available.

I estimate that Northern will need around six trains to run these two services, one of which is new and the other a change of terminus from Wallgate to North Western at Wigan.

 

 

April 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Liverpool Manchester Hydrogen Clusters Project

The project is described briefly on this page on the Cadent web site.

This is the introduction.

The use of hydrogen in place of natural gas could offer a route to widespread decarbonisation of gas distribution networks.

The Liverpool-Manchester Hydrogen Cluster project is a conceptual study to develop a practical and economic framework to introduce hydrogen into the gas network in the Liverpool-Manchester area.

It proposes converting natural gas into clean-burning hydrogen gas, using a process called steam methane reforming. The process also removes CO2 from the gas, which can then be captured using existing carbon and capture storage technology and stored in depleted offshore gas reservoirs.

The hydrogen gas would then be supplied to a core set of major industrial gas users in Liverpool-Manchester and fed into the local gas distribution network as a blend with natural gas.

Note.

  1. At Runcorn, Ineos make hydrogen and chlorine by the electrolysis of brine.
  2. When I worked in Castner-Kellner works at Runcorn, it was generally taken away be truck.
  3. The Burbo Bank wind farm in Liverpool Bay, can produce 348 MW of electricity using some of the biggest wind turbines in the World, according to this article in The Guardian.
  4. Using excess  electricity generated by win turbines at night, is used by the Germans to create hydrogen.

It doesn’t look like the project will suffer from a shortage of hydrogen.

Alsthom And Hydrogen Powered Trains

Alsthom have a site at Widnes, where they modify and paint trains. They have also indicated, that they might build new trains in the UK.

They have also developed a hydrogen-powered train called the Alsthom Coradia iLint, which starts test running with passengers in a couple of months.

This promotionalvideo shows how Alsthom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint works.

The North Wales Coast Line would be an ideal test track.

  • It’s around eighty miles long.
  • It is nearly all double-track.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • It’s probably pretty flat, as it runs along the coast.

I don’t think too many people would bother about a few extra quieter trains, just emitting steam and water vapour.

North Wales could be getting a new environmentally-friendly tourist attraction.

 

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Manchester United By Ordsall Chord

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Rail Engineer.

These two paragraphs introduce the article.

With the timetable change on 10 December, passengers were able to travel directly between Manchester’s Victoria and Oxford Road stations over the Ordsall Chord for the first time. Although initially there are only six trains a day each way over the chord, May 2018 will bring big changes with a major timetable recast for the North Western electrification and to make best use of the Ordsall Chord.

This will increase the train services over the chord to three trains an hour each way and provide a direct link between Piccadilly and Victoria station. These trains will be a mix of TransPennine Express and Northern Rail services from Manchester Airport to Leeds and beyond. Liverpool to Scarborough trains will be routed via Victoria instead of Piccadilly.

The words show thew complexity of the project to create the Ordsall Chord.

Some facts, history and points are given in the article.

  • The chord will mean trains won’t have to reverse at Piccadilly so often.
  • Platform space will be used more efficiently at Piccadilly.
  • The frequency of trains between Deansgate and Piccadilly will be4 increased by three trains per hour.
  • Platforms 13 and 14 will be improved by platform refurbishment and better staff organisation.
  • Longer trains and digital signalling will improve capacity.

Read the article for full details.

After reading the article, I feel that by good old-fashioned operational research and squeezing improvements everywhere , that a significant increase in capacity can be created.

 

 

 

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 2 Comments

A Double Crossing Of The Ordsall Chord

I caught the first morning train from Manchester Victoria station across the Ordsall Chord to Manchester Oxford station, where after buying hot chocolate, I took the same diesel multiple unit back to Hebden Bridge station.

A few points about the Ordsall Cord and its effects.

Mancunians Have Been Quick To Use The Chord To Their Advantage

It was only the second weekday of this Ordsall Chord service, but what surprised me was that quite a few of the early travellers went to the extra two added stations on the service.

This bodes well for the future in that when Piccadilly and the Airport are added, the passengers will surely travel.

Manchester Victoria Is An Inadequate Station For The Number Of Passengers

The station may have improved in recent years, since the new roof, better tram access and more retail facilities have been added, but it is still a rather poor station for passengers to walk around, compared to others with similar amounts of trains.

 

I took this picture as the train before mine unloaded passengers at Victoria station.

It is the typical scrum that you get at busy stations in the North.

The Ordsall Chord will affect Victoria in the following ways.

  • There will be more trains passing through. This will increase the number of passengers entering and leaving the station.
  • Passengers will change trains but not platforms at Victoria. This will mean that passengers will regularly wait for 15-30 minutes on the platform.
  • Ideally services like Liverpool to Leeds and Newcastle, should have same or cross platform interchange with local services using the Ordsall Chord.

So what needs to be addressed?

Platforms

The Ordsall Chord is currently served by Plstforms 5 and 6.

These platforms are totally inadequate for the extra numbers of passengers and especially the extra passengers, who will wait on the platform, whilst changing trains.

  • A coffee kiosk is needed on both Ordsall platforms.
  • The platforms are not wide enough.
  • There are not enough seats.

Both platforms are used to terminate services, which is totally against the philosophy of the Ordsall Chord. This must and hopefully will stop.

Ideally, Ordsall Chord services and important cross-Manchester services should have a platform layout, that means as many changes as possible are level.

Take the case of the elderly passenger with their presents in a bulky case going from say Liverpool to perhaps Rochdale for Christmas. They will not want to negotiate the bridge at Victoria, even by lift to change trains. And neither will staff.

But a cross or same platform interchange would be ideal for everyone.

The layout would all depend on how many services are going through the station..

Currently, the station has the following services.

  • Five tph terminating at the station going West
  • Six tph terminating at the station going East
  • Three tph cross-Manchester services stopping at the station.

If these services could be simplified by joining East and West services back-to-back, we are looking at perhaps ten tph.

As there are many stations in London that handle fourteen to sixteen tph on two platforms, the following would surely be possible.

  • Use one platform for all Westbound cross-Manchester and Ordsall Chord services.
  • Use one platform for all Eastbound cross-Manchester and Ordsall Chord services.

Platform 5 and 6 would not be ideal for this, as the services should be on either side of a wide island platform, to allow passengers to reverse direction without changing level.

Lighting

I know it was early in the morning, but the picture shows how dark and dingy the station still is. Surely, just on the grounds of Health and Safety, the lighting levels must be improved.

The Overbridge

Surely, if the rebuilt Reading and Leeds stations can have escalators for their overbridges, then the equally important. but smaller Manchester Victoria, should have some on the busy overbridge.

The Interchange Between Tram And Train At Deansgate

Did people get off the train at Deansgate station to use the Metrolink?

Changing from train to tram at Victoria, involves a fight through crowds to get up the stairs to the bridge and then another another set of stairs to get to the Metrolink.

But at Deansgate station coming from Victoria, it is just a level walk across to the major Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink interchange.

It would appear that 2015 redevelopment of the tram stop and its link to the station were designed for the extra passengers, that the Ordsall Chord will surely bring.

Deansgate-Castlefield with its three platforms, also has a comprehensive list of services.

  • 5 trams per hour to Altrincham
  • 5 trams per hour to Ashton-under-Lyne
  • 5 trams per hour to East Didsbury
  • 5 trams per hour to Eccles via MediaCityUK
  • 5 trams per hour to Etihad Campus
  • 5 trams per hour to Manchester Airport
  • 5 trams per hour to Rochdale Town Centre
 And these are just the Off Peak, before the important Trafford Park Line opens in 2021.

Avoiding Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is one of my least favourite stations in the UK for using the trains.

  • I always travel to and from Manchester in Standard Class, to avoid the crowded walk up and down the platform at Piccadilly.
  • I know there’s a bridge at the London end of the train, but it is not directly connected to the Metrolink underneath.
  • Buying a ticket for the Metrolink is a tiresome business, when I should just be able to touch in and out with my bank card.
  • The forecourt of the station is always crowded.
  • Only the above average food offerings for a coeliac give me any cheer.

Hopefully, when the services across the Ordsall Chord are fully developed, a lot of places I want to go will be available by changing trains at Crewe or Stockport.

Manchester’s Third City Crossing

In some ways the nearest London has to the Ordsall Chord is the railway across the South Bank connecting London Bridge, Blackfriars, Waterloo East and Charing Cross stations, which carries in excess of twelve tph. It appears to me and staff I have talked to, that passengers are using this route  between Westminster and London Bridge, instead of the Jubilee Line. Especially, if they have bicycles!

Will Mancunians use the frequent service on the Ordsall Chord across the city, as a Third City Crossing?

Platforms At Salford Central Station

I hope the planned extra platforms at Salford Central station are built in the near future, as this would surely increase the use of the Ordsall Chord

Tickets To Manchester Stations

My ticket to Manchester from Euston was to Manchester Stns, which means i can get out at Deansgate, Oxford Road, Piccadilly or Victoria.

Surely, it should include Salford Central station.

Platforms At

There’s Still A Few Snags

In my trip, I went across the Orsall Chord four times.

Each time, the train waited a minute or so before proceeding over the bridge. Were there signalling issues, the trains were not quite to time or were the drivers just being cautious.

Conclusion

Now that the difficult phase is complete, it will be interesting to see how the swervices build up.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments