The Anonymous Widower

Call For Major Investment In Hydrogen Hub To Help Sector Thrive In Northern Ireland

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Northern Ireland is ready to become a global leader in a future hydrogen economy but needs investment of at least £15m from government, politicians have said.

The article makes points about Northern Ireland and hydrogen.

  • Hydrogen-powered buses are built in Ballymena.
  • There is plenty of wind and water to create the hydrogen.
  • Hydrogen could improve export potential and create skilled jobs.

The proposals certainly have good political support.

 

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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

Covid-19 Vaccination On The Island Of Ireland

Every day, The Times publishes a table of how many people in various countries have been vaccinated against the Covids.

Today’s figures included.

  • UK – 11 %
  • Ireland – 3 %

Out of curiosity, I calculated today’s figure for Northern Ireland. It was 10.4 %.

As the people of Ireland form a rich pattern of families, commerce and employment on both sides of the border, will these figures cause tensions in the Republic?

January 29, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 4 Comments

Ireland’s First Green Hydrogen Project To Come On Stream ‘In Weeks’

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Belfast is set to receive Ireland’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker buses in coming weeks using fuel coming from wind energy generated in nearby north Antrim.

The initiative is the first “green hydrogen” project on the island of Ireland and the first step to decarbonise Northern Ireland’s public transport by 2040, according to Mark Welsh, energy services manager with Energia, which is generating the hydrogen at its wind farm near Ballymena.

Green hydrogen is produced by an electrolyser powered by renewable electricity.

The article gives a good summary of the use of hydrogen in Ireland in the future.

But isn’t all hydrogen created and used on the island of Ireland green?

November 4, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wrightbus Boss Eyes All-Island Green Transport Plan

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

THE new owner of manufacturer Wrightbus says 12,000 buses on the island of Ireland as well as trains could be replaced with hydrogen engines to usher in a new era of environmentally friendly transport.

These points are made in the article.

  • Jo Bamford, who is the owner of Wrightbus, plans to decarbonise all buses and trains on the island.
  • A hydrogen infrastructure would need to be setup.
  • The Enterprise train between Belfast and Dublin would be run by hydrogen.
  • Jo Bamford has yet to talk to the Irish Government.
  • Wrightbus is seeking a £500m subsidy from the UK Government to built 3,000 hydrogen-powered buses by 2024.
  • This would bring 1,500 jobs to Ballymena.
  • The ydrogen-powered buses, will be the same price as diesel.
  • New Whightbus hydrogen buses will be on the streets of London and Aberdeen later this year.

This is one of the last paragraphs of the article.

He (Jo Bamford) said that the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the environment, with a clearer sky and cleaner air resulting from the fall in traffic, could be an inspiration for greener transport.

It may be an ambitious plan, but then you would expect ambition to be flowing in large quantifies in the veins of someone from the family, that gave us JCB.

Will Hydrogen Double-Deck Buses Become Commonplace?

There are now three different designs of hydrogen-powered double-deck bus in design, if not production.

There is also the hydrogen-powered version of the Van Hool ExquiCity tram-bus, that I wrote about in Ballard-Powered Fuel-Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now In Revenue Service In France.

There are some big players making large investments in hydrogen-powered buses. I suspect at least three and possibly all four will succeed.

Designing A Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle

Two hydrogen-powered vehicle designs have impressed me this week.

Both designs use the existing electric transmission and seem to have been relatively straightforward for experienced engineers who are working in the field.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see other suitable vehicles redesigned for hydrogen power.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

JCB Heir And Wrightbus Owner Jo Bamford: ‘We Can Sell Our Hydrogen Bus Around The World’

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

The sub-title is.

The Wrightbus boss has a dream: using JCB skills, he hopes to turn its iconic red ‘Boris bus’ green.

The article is hope for the future of Northern Ireland.

Remember that hydrogen buses like diesel buses need an appropriate fuel, so where do they get hydrogen from?

Step forward ITM Power, who are the UK’s  hydrogen company, based in Rotherham.

They are backed by a variety of companies and Government agencies including JCB.

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

A Fixed Link To Northern Ireland

The title of this post is the same as an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, that has been written by Jim Steer, who is a well-known rail engineer.

It is very much a must-read and he is in favour of the link.

  • It’s all about reducing carbon footprint of travel between the UK and Ireland.
  • The bridge would be rail-only.
  • Goods currently sent by truck, would go by rail.
  • There would be a 125 mph rail link across Galloway between the bridge and HS2/West Coast Main Line.
  • A London and Belfast time of three-and-a-half hours would be possible.
  • A frequent Edinburgh and Belfast via Glasgow service would be provided.
  • He believes the Northern Ireland rail network should be converted to standard gauge and expanded, so that large areas of Northern Ireland will benefit.

Increasingly, serious people are coming behind this project.

February 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 8 Comments

Gore Street Contracts NEC For 100 MW Of Storage

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Solar Power Portal.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Gore Street Energy Storage Fund has awarded NEC Energy Solutions both EPC and long-term O&M contracts for 100MW of storage in Northern Ireland.

What I find most comforting, is the matter-of-fact tone of the article.

Although, the author does seem to think that MW and MWh are the same, when in fact MW is used to define the rate of energy used or transferred and MWh the quantity.

If you use one MW for an hour, that is one MWh.

Gore Street appear to have needed two 50 MW energy storage systems for Drumkee and Mullavilly in Northern Ireland to back up a solar farm investment.

And they appear to have just ordered them off the shelf from NEC, in much the way, an individual might buy a Tesla Powerwall for their house.

According to this article on OVO Energy, the average European house uses 3,600 kWh per year.As there are 8760 hours in a year, the average consumption for a year is 0.4 kW per hour.

So if we assume that these two energy storage systems can deliver 50 MW for an hour, the following can be said.

  • The total capacity of each system is 50 MWh.
  • Each system can supply  125,000 houses for an hour or 25,000 houses for five hours.
  • As each housing unit has an average occupancy of 2.66 people, this means that a 50 MWh battery could supply a town of 66,500 people, for five hours.

Note that Lowestoft in Suffolk has a population of 71,000.

These batteries are not small.

January 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , | Leave a comment

Election 2019: DUP Manifesto At A Glance

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

This is said under Infrastructure.

The infamous bridge from Northern Ireland to Scotland makes an appearance in the manifesto. It has been mooted on a number of occasions, despite a number of potential barriers to its construction.

Not everyone believes those barriers are insurmountable, though.

I don’t and feel strongly, that the bridge should be built and linked to High Speed Two

  • London and Belfast in four hours
  • London and Dublin in five hours.
  • Belfast and Glasgow in under two hours.

Not forgetting, it would become an important freight route..

 

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Glimpse Of 2035

Today, I was on the first direct train between London and Dublin.

I arrived at Euston early for the eight o’clock departure time and took my seat in First Class of the train built by Spanish company Talgo at Longannet in Fife.

The train appeared to be little different to the High Speed Two trains, that I have ridden extensively since they started running in 2029.

What differences there were, were in the decor and colour schemes, with the train wrapped in a rainbow of colours reflecting the red, white and blue of the UK and the orange, white and green of the Irish Republic.

We left on time and after a brief stop at Old Oak Common to pick up passengers we were soon speeding towards Birmingham whilst eating breakfast. I had requested a gluten-free Full English and the quality showed how far railway food has come in the two decades.

Birmingham at 08:40

Running at 225 mph, the spectacular Birmingham International station was reached on time at 08:40 and there were quite a few passengers who both left and joined.

Birmingham International

Since Heathrow’s plans for a third runway crashed in the planning process and the opening of Gatwick’s second runway, High Speed Two has enabled long distance travellers to use Birmingham Airport, which since the opening of High Speed Two in 2029 and its subsequent extensions to Manchester and Leeds, has grown at a fast pace.

As a jokey advert shown around the world by Visit Britain said, London now has three main airports; London South (Gatwick), London West (Heathrow) and London North (Birmingham).

On a recent trip to the Gambia, I used Birmingham Airport for both flights and coming back, I was in my house in East London, around an hour after I set foot in the terminal at the Airport.

High Speed Two and the expanded Birmingham Airport have certainly  improved the economics of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands.

Crewe Before 09:00

Next stop was Crewe station, which from today has been renamed Crewe International, to indicate that you can get trains to England, Scotland, Wales and now Ireland.

The station is unrecognisable from the tired Victorian station, I first passed through in 1965 on my way to Liverpool University for the first time.

Like Birmingham and the West Midlands, the area around Crewe has benefited immensely from the arrival of High Speed Two in 2030 and the continuing expansion of Manchester Airport.

From today, Crewe is now served by these trains in both directions, in each hour.

  • London – Belfast and Dublin
  • London – Glasgow (2 trains)
  • London – Liverpool (2 trains)
  • London – Lancaster

The ticketing and capacity is such, that Crewe now has a genuine turn-up and-go service to the capital, which is just under an hour away.

Preston At 09:20

The train was now on the upgraded West Coast Main Line and the train was limited to 140 mph, but Preston was reached on time, just eighty minutes from London.

When High Speed Two opened to Crewe in 2030, the journey time was a few minutes longer, but improvements to trains, tracks and signalling in the intervening years, had reduced the time.

On the journey from Crewe, the train had passed the massive construction site of the new Central Lancashire station, or as Scouse comedians have dubbed it – Wigan International.

This new  station will be a hub linking the following.

  • The West Coast Main Line
  • High Speed Three between Liverpool and Manchester.
  • The M6 and M62 motorways
  • Manchester Metrolink
  • Merseyrail

The station should have probably been built years earlier, when High Speed Three opened in 2029, but all forecasts of the number of passengers who would use the new High Speed Lines, were much lower than they were in practice.

Preston station like Crewe is a station  that has been rebuilt to handle two of the 200 metre long trains running as a pair.

These long platforms are now used at Preston to join and split some services, to give Blackpool, Blackburn and Burnley three fast services per day to and from London, in under two hours.

Carlisle At 10:20

We sped through the Lake District at 140 mph, to reach Carlisle in under two and a half hours from London.

It should be noted that timings North of Crewe have improved over the last couple of decades.

  • All passenger trains running on the fast lines North of Crewe are capable of matching the speed of the High Speed Two trains
  • Some of these trains used for services between Liverpool/Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh were built by Talgo to High Speed Two standards.
  • The few freight trains running in the day are now hauled by 125 mph electric locomotives.
  • The continuous upgrading of the Cumbrian Coast, Settle-Carlisle and Tyne Valley Lines has also allowed some trains to divert away from the West Coast Main Line.

Effectively, the West Coast Main Line North of Crewe has become a high-capacity 140 mph line.

Belfast At 11:30

When I saw that it was planned that trains would reach Belfast from London in the same time that it takes to go between London and Glasgow, I didn’t believe it would be possible.

But we arrived at the Belfast Parkway station on the outskirts of the City on time.

The journey between where we left the now-electrified Glasgow and South Western Line just to the West of Gretna to the bridge across the North Channel had been nearly all at 140 mph and there was little interruption before we ventured onto the bridge to Northern Ireland.

A few minutes later we were waiting to continue our journey at Belfast Parkway.

There had been political arguments about the gauge of the tracks on the thirty mile section between Scotland and Belfast.

But in the end the engineers got their way.

  • There is a standard gauge line as far as Belfast Parkway.
  • From Belfast Parkway, there is Irish gauge for the rest of the journey.

There would be no change of train at Belfast Parkway, as the Talgo High Speed Trains have had the ability to change gauge at a slow speed for thirty years.

Dublin At 13:30

This has been the slowest part of the journey, but we pulled into Dublin on time to a lot of celebrations.

Conclusion

This route has been a long time coming, since it was first seriously proposed in 2018.

There will be improvement in the next few years.

  • A service between Edinburgh and Dublin via Glasgow and Belfast starts next year.
  • The West Coast Main Line North of Crewe will allow faster and more trains.
  • The EU are funding and building a High Speed Line from the Irish border to Dublin.
  • This Irish High Speed Line will be linked to a new deep water port at Shannon.

I can see London to Belfast in three hours and London to Dublin in four.

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 16 Comments