The Anonymous Widower

Composite Footbridge Under Development

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Network Rail has become a Tier 1 member of the National Composites Centre as part of the Futura project to develop a composite footbridge based on a concept designed by Marks Barfield Architects and COWI.

This picture shows the concept.

Network Rail seem to spend a lot of time and money on footbridge designs.

There was the Network Rail/RIBA Footbridge Design Competition, which resulted in this winning design.

I wrote Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition in April 2019.

All now seems to be very quiet on this footbridge design.

Are Network Rail engineers members of the Institute of Meetings Engineers?

I was first introduced to the existence of this august body around 1971.

I am very Marxist (Groucho tendency) on the subject of clubs and institutes and would never join any, that would have me as a member.

Let’s Get Busy!

Both these bridges can be fitted into many stations, by the following sequence of simple operations.

  • Create a level space on either side of the tracks.
  • Add any necessary services like an electricity supply for lift and lighting and any necessary drainage.
  • Lift the bridge into place from a spcial train with a crane.
  • Connect any electrical supply for lifts and test.

These types of bridges can surely be installed quickly in scores of locations.

In Garforth Station To Go Step-Free, I discuss how such a bridge could be installed quickly at Garforth station.

This is surely, the sort of project we need to stimulate the economy after we give the covids, the proverbial boot.

 

 

 

 

 

September 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme – Lower Addiscombe Road / Windmill Bridge

The rebuilding of this bridge is key to the Croydon Enhancement Scheme.

IThe scope is described on this web page.

This is the introductory paragraph.

To provide more platforms at East Croydon station and allow the Selhurst triangle junctions to be remodelled we need to expand the railway from five to eight tracks north of East Croydon. This means we need to rebuild the road bridge over the railway, increasing its span, to provide space for three additional tracks.

This Google Map shows the bridge and East Croydon station.

Note.

  1. Windmill Bridge is the road crossing the railway at the top of the map.
  2. East Croydon station is in the South West corner of the map.
  3. Adding three extra tracks between the new bridge and East Croydon station will be challenging.

I took these pictures as I walked between around the current Windmill Bridge.

Note.

  1. The bridge is very busy with traffic.
  2. It is a nightmare for pedestrians, as pavements are narrow and there is no crossing on the bridge.
  3. I suspect that it is a bridge, that cyclists hate and avoid.
  4. I also believe it may have a low weight limit.

It certainly needs replacing, with something wider and more substantial for road traffic.

Benefits

Network Rail lists these benefits of a new bridge.

  • Longer bridge to accommodate additional tracks
  • Dedicated cycle lanes
  • Vehicle weight restriction removed
  • Opportunity for new pedestrian and cycle links under the bridge.

It certainly looks like it will be a lot better and my observations will be addressed.

Network Rail’s Proposals

The following is taken from the web page.

The construction of the new bridge would take place early in the programme as it is a key enabler for the rest of the Scheme.

To construct the new bridge, we would:

  1. Permanently close the southern end of Gloucester Road (the ramp to the bridge)
  2. Build the new bridge offline south of, and next to, the existing structure, reducing disruption to road users
  3. Slide the new bridge deck across the railway without closing the track below
  4. Close the existing bridge to traffic and pedestrians
  5. Use the new bridge in its temporary location as a pedestrian and cycle route while the existing bridge is closed
  6. Demolish the existing bridge and slide the new bridge into its permanent position.

I would score Network Rail a full ten out of ten for ingenuity.

I don’t think, I’ve ever heard of a scheme, where the new bridge is used temporarily to get pedestrians and cyclists across an obstacle, before it is moved into its final position.

This visualisation from the site shows the completed bridge and the eight tracks underneath.

It looks like it will be a tight fit.

Other Thoughts

These are other thoughts on various issues.

Project Management

Network Rail are saying they will do this sub-project early,

This will mean that they get the space to do all the rest of the work and keep traffic, pedestrians and cyclists away from the following sub-projects.

On the Introduction page of the Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme, the video shows how the bridge will be installed. It is well worth a watch.

Gloucester Road

It took me about five minutes to cross Gloucester Road, where it joins the bridge and the pedestrian provision is terrible.

But will those who live and work on the Southern part of the road, accept the closure?

These pictures show that part of the road.

September 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

ANALYSIS: Managing Our Earthworks – The Task Gets Harder Each Year

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

The on line article is only an introduction and just a taster, of what will be fully available in the magazine.

But it does look to be a serious account of the problems about keeping the railway safe in all this bad weather.

I shall be interested to read the full article, when the magazine hits my door-mat.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh Waverley Masterplan

The title of this post, is the same as that of this page on the Network Rail web site.

This is the sub-title.

Creating A Vision For The Future Of Waverley Station.

Edinburgh Waverley station has improved it, in the near forty years, I’ve used it, but future growth in traffic will mean more capacity and further improvements will be needed.

The page on the Network Rail web site links to a pdf file, which lays out current thinking, which will go forward for consultation and creation of the final design.

If this results in stations as good as London Bridge and Kings Cross in London, Edinburgh will have the gateway station, that it needs.

August 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 911 of Rail Magazine.

This is the opening paragraph.

On July 28, a South Western Railway train ran along the Fawley Branch Line. to make the case for reopening to passenger services after a 54-year gap.

On board were the Rail Minister; Chris Heaton-Harris, Network Rail Chairman; Sir Peter Hendy, Managing Director of South Western Railway; Mark Hopwood and Lord Montagu of Beulieu.

The article reports the trip and fills in more of the details, that make more sense of my sketchy post called Reintroduction Of Passenger Rail Services On The Waterside Line.

These are some points from the article.

The Infrastructure Needs Updating

This is a quote from the article.

The route has a line speed of 30 mph, with lower speed restrictions at level crossings, some of which are still hand-operated. Semaphore signals operated from by mechanical levers from Marchwood remain in use. A token is given to the driver to allow the train to run towards Fawley. All this would require updating.

Elsewhere the article says there are ten level crossings.

Housing Is The Game Changer

This is another quote from the article.

The big change is urban sprawl. In the half century since passenger services ended, housing estates for thousands of people have been built alongside the line. mostly for commuters into Southampton and the surrounding conurbation.

Up to 5,000 further new homes are planned, including an all-new small town on the site of the former Fawley power station on the southern tip of Southampton Water. Planning permission for at least 1,300 homes was granted the very evening before the Fawley train ran.

This Google Map shows the the town of Hythe and the giant Fawley Refinery.

Note.

  1. Hythe is towards the top of the map on Southampton Water.
  2. The refinery is the large beige blob in the middle on Southampton Water.
  3. The Fawley Branch runs close to the water and finishes inside the secure fence of the refinery.
  4. There will be stations at Marchwood, Hythe Town and Hythe & Fawley Parkway.
  5. The parkway station will be to the North of the refinery.
  6. The major housing site is on the former Fawley power station site, which is the Southernmost beige blob.
  7. The blue dot towards the West indicates the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.

It looks to me, that an electric shuttle bus between Hythe & Fawley Parkway, Beaulieu and the various housing sites would be a good idea.

The Cost Of The Scheme

This is another quote from the article.

The campaign to open the line has been spearheaded by the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership.

Chairman Nick Farthing says:

“For £45m, you get the track, signalling and level crossings sorted. You get a 60 mph railway with three stations = upgrading Marchwood, a new station for Hythe, and Fawley park-and-ride (just beyond Holbury, where Hardley Halt used to be).

“Three Rivers commissioned a level crossing study from Network Rail, so we know what has to be done. We’ve used a rail-approved contractor to work out how much the three stations will cost.

Three Rivers have also identified some affordable diesel rolling stock.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains discusses this conversion in detail.

Conclusion

This plan seems to be coming together strongly.

All the partners like Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership, Network Rail, South Western Railway and other local interests seem to be acting together and very professionally.

 

 

August 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Measurement Train – 30th July 2020

Whilst I was at Westbury station today, the New Measurement Train arrived.

It is the first time, that I’ve been up close enough to take pictures.

With all the spare InterCity 125 trains at present, will Network Rail create a second train?

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

An Untidy Railway

I took these pictures as I returned from Eridge.

You see it all over the railways and not just in the UK; general untidiness!

When I joined ICI in 1968, I went on a thorough and excellent induction course.

One very experienced engineer, gave a Health and Safety Lecture and one thing he said, was that a neat and tidy chemical plant was less likely to have silly accidents.

Some years later, I went to the United States to see some of Metier’s clients, of whom some were nuclear power stations. This must have been just after the Three Mile Island accident, which is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Three Mile Island accident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979. It is the most significant accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.

Artemis was involved in maintenance at the nuclear stations I visited. I can remember at AEP Donald C Cook nuclear station being shown a database of work to do and many of the actions were referred to as TMIs and checking them had been mandated by the US regulatory authorities.

I should say, the site on the shores of Lake Michigan impressed me, but another I visited later didn’t. I won’t name it, as it is now closed and it was the most untidy industrial plant of any type I have visited.

As we left, I gave my opinion to our support engineer and he told me they had a very large number of TMIs to process. I wasn’t surprised!

So why are railways generally so untidy?

 

June 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Steventon Listed Railway Bridge Saved From Demolition

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

On the face of it it looks like victory for the Nimbys, who have saved a rather ordinary and possibly decrepit bridge from demolition.

But I believe there is more to this story than meets the eye.

The Bridge

The bridge at the centre of the argument may be Grade 2 Listed, but there are lots of similar bridges on UK railways in better condition with similar heritage, that don’t have a listing.

Type “steventon bridge electrification” into a search engine and you’ll find lots of images of the bridge.

  • One picture shows, the bridge with the railway flooded, which puts an interesting slant on the debate. What are the foundations like?
  • Notice, that the bridge seemed to suffer a rather botched repair at the hands of British Rail’s finest engineers.
  • Having read a lot about this story, I suspect that the locals’ main reason for objecting, is that they don’t want the disruption, whilst it is rebuilt.
  • Incidentally, I suspect Great Western Railway don’t want the bridge rebuilt either, as closure will be a long disruption to all services.

I have been involved in the refurbishment of several buildings of around the same age or even older than the bridge. This is the sort of construction, that will have to be replaced at some time. If it’s not replaced, some of the novel techniques that are now available to Network Rail will have to be applied.

Network Rail

The article says this about Network Rail’s solution to the problem.

But following what the company described as ‘extensive and breakthrough testing’ using computer simulations it found a speed reduction to 110mph through the village meant wires could pass underneath the existing bridge.

I do think, that 110 mph is rather convenient. if you look at the maximum operating speeds of trains and locomotives that will pass through.

  • Class 801 train with digital signalling -140 mph
  • Class 801 with conventional signalling – 125 mph
  • Class 800/802 train on diesel power – 100 mph
  • Class 80x train on battery power – 100 mph
  • Class 387 train – 110 mph
  • Class 90 locomotive – 110 mph
  • Class 91 locomotive – 125 mph
  • Class 93 locomotive – 110 mph
  • High Speed Train – 125 mph

Very few trains will have to slow down.

Any train that used onboard power, like a High Speed Train or a Class 80x with batteries, could theoretically go through at the maximum speed, track, signalling and train taken together would allow.

Hitachi

In Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, which describes Hitachi’s work and plans on battery-powered trains. This is an extract.

Battery power can be used as part of electrification schemes, allowing trains to bridge the gaps in overhead wires where the costs of altering the infrastructure are high – in tunnels or bridges, for example. This would also have the immediate benefit of reducing noise and emissions in stations or built-up areas.

Elsewhere in the article, it is said that Hitachi trains will be able to do 100 mph on battery power for up to 60 miles.

But would they be able to do 125 mph on battery power for perhaps five miles? I can’t see why not!

The Google Map shows the track through Steventon.

Note.

  1. The bridge in question is at the East.
  2. There are also a couple of level crossings in this stretch of track, where the height of wires is also regulated.

Perhaps, the pantograph should be dropped before going through section and raised afterwards, with power in the section taken from a battery.

Avoiding obstacles like this, may be an economic alternative, but it does require that all electric trains using the section are able to use battery power.

I have a feeling, I’ve read somewhere that a Class 88 locomotive can do a similar trick using the onboard diesel engine.

As a Control Engineer, who trained in the 1960s, I would expect that all pantographs can now be raised or lowered with all the precision and repeatability  of an Olympic gold-medal gymnast!

I do wonder, if the Great Western Electrification Project had been designed around discontinuous electrification and battery-electric trains, the project would have gone better.

For instance, the Severn Tunnel is 7,000 metres long and trains take under four minutes to pass through. The Wikipedia entry for the tunnel has a section on Electrification, which details the complicated design and the trouble that there has been with corrosion.

Given that battery-electric trains have other advantages, design by hindsight, says that a tunnel without electrification and battery trains may have been a better solution.

Conclusion

Network Rail and Hitachi will get the speed of trains through Steventon up to 125 or even 140 mph, possibly by using battery power.

But whatever happens, I’m certain that the bridge will have to be rebuilt! It has the air of a derelict house, that will suck up all your money.

 

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Innovation Must Go On

This is a snippet I found on this news round-up on Rail Business UK.

Network Rail has issued a request for information on innovative techniques for undertaking tunnel renewals and enlargement while minimising blockades. NR said it manages 693 tunnels that are typically 150 years old; these require different and increasing levels of maintenance and renewal, but the growth of traffic means there is less access for maintenance.

Someone in Network Rail has got the engineering envelopes out again and is doing their thinking at home under lockdown, rather than in a real ale hostelry.

Companies and other organisations, should use COVID-19 as an opportunity to innovate.

Imagine the unthinkable and the downright bonkers, so long as it’s legal!

Think loony! You know it makes sense!

 

April 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Manchester Piccadilly Through Platforms Become ‘A Station Within A Station’

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

This was the introductory paragraph.

Following what Network Rail describes as ‘a major rethink’, the two through platforms at Manchester Piccadilly which handle up to 14 trains/h are to be managed independently from the rest of the station.

Measures to be taken include.

    • A dedicated Customer Service team.
    • Better customer information screens.
  • An improved satellite lounge with lots of facilities.
  • Platforms will be fitted with windbreaks.
  • Improved train stopping procedures to cut train dwell times.

Network Rail is also going to run a design contest to see if anybody has any other ideas.

I shall be interested to see how this works out.

March 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments