The Anonymous Widower

A Heavy Load From Felixstowe To Manchester

As I waited for my train at Canonbury station this morning, this very long train went through.

After I got home, I found that it was going from the Port of Felixstowe to Trafford Park Freightliner Terminal.

The journey will take around nine-and-a-half hours.

  • This time includes a sixty-five minute stop at Ipswich to change the diesel locomotive or locomotives used to haul the train out of the Port of Felixstowe for the pair of Class 90 electric locomotives for the rest of the journey to the North-West.
  • The two locomotives together have a power output of about 7.5 MW.
  • The train will pick up the West Coast Main Line at Primrose Hill and then take the Trent Valley Line between Rugby and Stafford before approaching Trafford Park, using the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations.
  • As I write this, the train is on time as it approaches Tamworth.

The train has done well as at Watford, it was running twenty minutes late. The train crew have used the 7.5 MW well to claw back the time.

Did it help the crew to regain the schedule, that they had 7.5 MW on hand, as opposed to the less than 3 MW from the UK’s largest diesel locomotive?

To my mind, this illustrates one of the reasons, why long distance trains are best run by powerful electric locomotives.

In Do Cummins And Stadler Have a Cunning Plan?, I describe the new Class 99 locomotive.

  • It is an electro-diesel locomotive.
  • It has 6 MW available on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • It has a 1.8 MW Cummins diesel engine, which may be powerful enough to haul the largest trains in and out of the Port of Felixstowe, where the route is not electrified.

Thirty of these locomotives have been ordered by GB Railfreight.

I believe that one of these locomotives could handle a very heavy freight train between the Port of Felixstowe and Trafford Park Freightliner Terminal.

  • The locomotive working alone could handle the train on the unelectrified line between Felixstowe and Ipswich.
  • There would be no need to electrify the lines in the Port of Felixstowe.
  • There would be no need for a prolonged stop in Ipswich.
  • An hour on the journey could be saved.
  • There might be a saving in the number of crew.

The Class 99 locomotive seems to be well-designed for handling freight trains out of Felixstowe.

Were Freightliner experimenting with what they needed from an electro-diesel locomotive, when I took this picture at Shenfield?

Note.

  1. The Class 90 electric locomotive has 3.7 MW of power.
  2. The Class 66 diesel locomotive has 2.4 MW of power.

Was what I saw an affordable electro-diesel locomotive?

January 17, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Suffolk Doesn’t Do Easy!

Many parts of the UK consider Suffolk to be rather sleepy.

I was conceived in the county and have spent at least half my life there.

I have a strong affection from my adopted county, which always seem to punch above its apparent weight.

  • All thoroughbred horses have bloodlines that can be traced back to Newmarket, which is a town of 17,000 people in West Suffolk.
  • The Battle of Landguard Fort is recorded as the last opposed attack on England, where on the 2nd of July 1667, a much larger Dutch force was repelled by Nathaniel Darrell and his marines.
  • The exploits of Ipswich Town over the years are on a par with those of many prominent clubs in much bigger towns and cities.
  • Since the 1950’s, the Port of Felixstowe has grown to be the United Kingdom’s busiest container port.

This morning I received a marketing e-mail from Adnams; the Suffolk brewer and this is an extract.

Ghost Ship 0.5% is brewed just like our other beers, so you can count on 150 years of brewing heritage. It was crafted to taste like our best-selling brew, so you can also count on its flavour.

It is always our aim to make great-tasting products, but when creating Ghost Ship 0.5%, the brewing team didn’t simply have to make something delicious, it had to taste like a well-loved and well-known beer. They were dealing with great expectations.

Adnams invested in a de-alcoholiser specifically to make this beer. We could brew in the normal way; adding the lovely fruity flavours you get from a full fermentation, before removing the alcohol. This alters the balance and the mouthfeel of a beer, so it still took months of trials and tinkering to get to where we wanted.

We used all our expertise the finest East Anglian malt and bold American hops to create a low-alcohol beer that tastes frighteningly good. It’s now our second most popular brew, and at 0.5% abv, can be enjoyed whenever and wherever the moment takes you. So, you can get out there, travel that little bit further, and taste just a little bit more.

Note in the last paragraph, that it is now their second most popular brew.

  • It tastes just like the halves of bitter, I used to drink around 1960, whilst playing snooker with my father in his club in Felixstowe.
  • Adnams has been my preferred beer since then.
  • Like all zero-alcohol beers, my coeliac gut doesn’t react to it.

As a regular drinker of this beer, it looks like Suffolk has another success on its hands.

I’ll drink to that!

January 12, 2023 Posted by | Food, Sport | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could Greater Anglia Run A Comprehensive Service For East Anglia?

Consider.

  • In the last fifty years, there have been direct trains between London Liverpool Street and Lowestoft stations.
  • In the last forty years, there have been direct trains between London Liverpool Street and Peterborough stations.
  • Greater Anglia currently run an hourly train between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich stations, with stops at Stratford, Shenfield, Chelmsford, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, Kelvedon, Marks Tey, Colchester and Manningtree
  • Frequencies on both routes were not high and less than four trains per day (tpd), but they must have been a demand for these services.
  • Greater Anglia promised to run a Lowestoft service, when they successfully reapplied for the franchise.
  • Greater Anglia have 38 Class 755 trains, of which 14 are three-cars and 24 are four-cars.
  • Class 755 trains can run in twoses and possibly threeses. (Suffolk dialect for twins and triplets!)

Could these elements be assembled to provide a comprehensive East Anglia service?

  • A pair of Class 755 trains would leave Liverpool Street for Ipswich.
  • They would takeover some of the paths of the hourly Liverpool Street and Ipswich service and run possibly about four or five tpd, according to demand.
  • Between Liverpool Street and Ipswich the trains could stop at Stratford, Shenfield, Chelmsford, Hatfield Peverel, Witham, Kelvedon, Marks Tey, Colchester and Manningtree
  • The services would splitgoing North and join going South at Ipswich
  • One train would go to Peterborough with stops at Needham Market, Stowmarket, Elmswell, Thurston, Bury St. Edmunds, Soham, Ely, Manea, March and Whittlesea.
  • The other would go to Lowestoft with stops at Woodbridge, Melton, Wickham Market, Saxmundham, Darsham, Halesworth, Brampton, Beccles and Oulton Broad South.

Note.

  1. The Class 755 trains would use electricity, where electrification exists.
  2. They would use diesel on lines without electrification.
  3. They would be able to hold 100 mph, so wouldn’t delay other trains.
  4. Seventeen towns would get new direct services to and from London.
  5. A Class 745 train is 236.6 metres long, whereas a pair of four-car Class 755 trains is only 161.4 metres.
  6. A three-train formation of Class 755 trains is only 5.5 metres longer than a single Class 745 train.

I am fairly sure no new substantial infrastructure would be required.

I have some further thoughts.

Example Timings

These timings to and from London are based on current timings of the Class 745 and 755 trains.

  • Ipswich – 60 mins
  • Stowmarket -70 mins
  • Bury St. Edmunds – 88 mins
  • Soham – 108 mins
  • Ely – 117 mins
  • March – 136 mins
  • Peterborough – 158 mins
  • Woodbridge – 75 mins
  • Melton – 80 mins
  • Wickham Market – 86 mins
  • Saxmundham – 97 mins
  • Darsham – 104 mins
  • Halesworth – 113 mins
  • Brampton – 119 mins
  • Beccles – 128 mins
  • Oulton Broad South – 138 mins
  • Lowestoft – 146 mins

Notes.

  1. Times to and from Ipswich are based on typical services at the current time.
  2. I have assumed that there are no stops South of Ipswich.
  3. Saxmundham is the closest station to Sizewell and could be important in bringing in construction workers for Sizewell C.

I think some of the times like those to and from Bury St. Edmunds, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Saxmundham and Woodbridge could create popular routes.

Battery-Electric Trains

Consider.

These sections of lines are not electrified on the routes I have talked about.

  • Haughley Junction and Ely – 38 miles
  • Ely and Peterborough – 30.5 miles
  • Westerfield and Lowestoft – 38 miles

As there is electrification at Ely, Haughley, Peterborough and Westerfield and South to London, I am fairly certain the route could be run by battery-electric trains.

Electrification To Sizewell C

In the January 2023 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Rail Set To Support Sizewell C Construction.

It details how sidings will be built to support the construction, with up to four trains per day (tpd), but the electrification word is not mentioned.

This is surprising to me, as increasingly, big construction projects are being managed to emit as small an amount of carbon as possible. High Speed Two is being built this way and I suspect Rolls-Royce’s SMR design will minimise carbon emissions during manufacture and construction. It will be very surprising if Sizewell C doesn’t follow High Speed Two’s example. After all, it may be an isolated site, but in Sizewell B, it’s got one of the UK’s biggest carbon-free electricity generators a couple of hundred metres away.

The writer of the Modern Railways article, thinks an opportunity is being missed.

I feel the following should be done.

  • Improve and electrify the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Saxmundham Junction.
  • Electrify the Aldeburgh Branch Line and the sidings to support the construction or agree to use battery-electric or hydrogen zero-carbon locomotives.

One of the collateral benefits of electrifying from Ipswich to Saxmundham Junction, is that it will make it easier for battery-electric Class 755 trains to work Ipswich and Lowestoft services.

  • If the trains were to leave Saxmundham Junction going North with a full battery, they should be able to travel to Lowestoft and return.
  • Battery-electric Class 755 trains could bring in workers from Ipswich or Lowestoft and further afield.
  • It could even leave behind a zero-carbon branch line to Sizewell, Leiston and Aldeburgh, with two tph to Ipswich.

Sizewell C could be a superb demonstration project for low-carbon construction!

The Lowestoft-Great Yarmouth Conurbation

The Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft says this about the town.

The estimated population in the built-up area exceeds 70,000. Its development grew with the fishing industry and as a seaside resort with wide sandy beaches. As fishing declined, oil and gas exploitation in the North Sea in the 1960s took over. While these too have declined, Lowestoft is becoming a regional centre of the renewable energy industry.

Whilst the Wikipedia entry for Great Yarmouth says this about the town.

Great Yarmouth, often called Yarmouth, is a seaside town and unparished area in, and the main administrative centre of, the Borough of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, England; it straddles the River Yare and is located 20 miles (30 km) east of Norwich. A population of 38,693 in the 2011 Census made it Norfolk’s third most populous. Its fishing industry, mainly for herring, shrank after the mid-20th century and has all but ended.[3] North Sea oil from the 1960s supplied an oil-rig industry that services offshore natural gas rigs; more recently, offshore wind power and other renewable energy industries have ensued.

Wikipedia also said this about the population of the wider Great Yarmouth.

The wider Great Yarmouth borough had a population of around 92,500, which increased to 97,277 at the 2011 census.

Taken together they are one of the largest conurbations in East Anglia.

The main means of transport between the two towns is by road.

Surely, two towns of over 70,000 people, who are only a few miles apart need a rail connection.

Onward From Lowestoft To Great Yarmouth

If the comprehensive East Anglia service, I’m discussing is to be truly comprehensive, it must serve the Norfolk Broads and Great Yarmouth.

This would also improve the connectivity between two of the largest coastal towns in East Anglia, that I indicated in the last section.

This OpenRailwayMap shows a cunning plan proposed by Network Rail to connect Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.

Note.

  1. Great Yarmouth is in the North East corner of the map.
  2. Two lines lead West from Great Yarmouth station, with the more Northerly route going direct to Norwich and the more Southerly one going to Norwich via Berney Arms and Reedham.
  3. Lowestoft is in the South East corner of the map.
  4. Two lines lead West from Lowestoft station, with the Northern route going to Norwich via Reedham and the Southern one going to Ipswich via Oulton Broad South.
  5. The route of a coastal railway connecting the two towns is also shown.

Network Rail’s cunning plan is indicated on this second  nap from OpenRailwayMap.

Note.

  1. Reedham station is in the North-West corner of the map on the line to Norwich.
  2. To the East of the station is a triangular junction.
  3. The track from the North-East corner of the junction is the line to Great Yarmouth.
  4. The track from the Southern corner of the junction is the line to Lowestoft.
  5. Unfortunately, the South-Eastern leg of the junction was removed in 1880.

In Norfolk Rail Line To Remain Closed As £68m Upgrade Project Overruns, I said this.

Network Rail are talking about reinstating the Reedham Chord to create a more direct route between East Anglia’s largest North-Eastern towns. This is said about the Reedham Chord in Direct Yarmouth Services in the Wikipedia entry for Lowestoft station.

In January 2015, a Network Rail study proposed the reintroduction of direct services between Lowestoft and Yarmouth by reinstating a spur at Reedham. Services could once again travel between two East Coast towns, with an estimated journey time of 33 minutes, via a reconstructed 34-chain (680 m) north-to-south arm of the former triangular junction at Reedham, which had been removed in c. 1880. The plans also involve relocating Reedham station nearer the junction, an idea which attracted criticism.

This sounds a good plan to me.

  • It would allow direct services between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
  • It would allow direct services between Ipswich and Great Yarmouth with a reverse at Lowestoft in about two hours.
  • With possible charging at Lowestoft and/or Great Yarmouth, a scenic route could be created between Ipswich and Norwich for battery-electric Class 755 trains. If that doesn’t get people out of their cars then nothing will!
  • Various leisure, tourism and work-related opportunities  would be created.

Never in the field of railway engineering would such a small chord have given so much.

Sizewell C Issues

Sizewell C will be a massive project and I also suspect that like High Speed Two, it will be built in a manner that will be zero-carbon where possible.

We already know from the Modern Railways article, that four tpd will shuttle material to a number of sidings close to the site. This is a good start.

Since Sizewell A opened, trains have regularly served the Sizewell site to bring in and take out nuclear material. These occasional trains go via Ipswich and in the last couple of years have generally been hauled by Class 88 electro-diesel locomotives.

It would be reasonable to assume that the Sizewell C sidings will be served in the same manner.

But the route between Westerfield Junction and Ipswich station is becoming increasingly busy with the following services.

  • Greater Anglia’s London and Norwich services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Felixstowe services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Lowestoft services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Peterborough services
  • Freight services serving the Port of Felixstowe, which are expected to increase significantly in forthcoming years.

But the Modern Railways article says this about Saxmundham junction.

Saxmundham junction, where the branch meets the main line, will be relaid on a slightly revised alignment, retaining the existing layout but with full signalling giving three routes from the junction protecting signal on the Down East Suffolk line and two in the Down direction on the bidirectional Up East Suffolk line. Trap points will be installed on the branch to protect the main line, with the exit signal having routes to both running lines.

Does the comprehensive signalling mean that a freight train can enter or leave the Sizewell sidings to or from either the busy Ipswich or the quieter Lowestoft direction in a very safe manner?

I’m no expert on signalling, but I think it does.

  • A train coming from the Lowestoft direction needing to enter the sidings would go past Saxmundham junction  on the Up line. Once clear of the junction, it would stop and reverse into the branch.
  • A train coming from the Ipswich direction needing to enter the sidings would approach in the wrong direction on the Up line and go straight into the branch.
  • A train leaving the sidings in the Lowestoft direction would exit from the branch and take the Up line until it became single track. The train would then stop and reverse on to the Down line and take this all the way to Lowestoft.
  • A train leaving the sidings in the Ipswich direction would exit from the branch and take the Up line  all the way to Ipswich.

There would need to be ability to move the locomotive from one end to the other inside the Sizewell site or perhaps these trains could be run with a locomotive on both ends.

The advantage of being able to run freight trains between Sizewell and Lowestoft becomes obvious, when you look at this Google Map, which shows the Port of Lowestoft.

Note.

  1. The Inner Harbour of the Port of Lowestoft.
  2. The East Suffolk Line running East-West to the North of the Inner Harbour.
  3. Lowestoft station at the East side of the map.

I doubt it would be the most difficult or expensive of projects to build a small freight terminal on the North side of the Inner Harbour.

I suspect that the easiest way to bring the material needed to build the power station to Sizewell would be to do the following.

  • Deliver it to the Port of Lowestoft by ship.
  • Tranship to a suitable shuttle train for the journey to the Sizewell sidings.
  • I estimate that the distance is only about 25 miles and a battery or hydrogen locomotive will surely be available in the UK in the next few years, that will be able to provide the motive power for the return journey.

In The TruckTrain, I wrote about a revolutionary freight concept, that could be ideal for the Sizewell freight shuttle.

Great Yarmouth Racecourse

Great Yarmouth Racecourse is one of my favourite racecourses and I believe it is one of the attractions in Great Yarmouth, that would benefit from an improved rail service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, as it would almost double those with efficient public transport access to the racecourse.

The walking distance between Great Yarmouth station and the racecourse is walkable for many and I remember doing it since C died.

With the train connection to Lowestoft and perhaps a courtesy bus from the station, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that a Lowestoft-Yarmouth rail connection being very good for the racecourse. Especially as road traffic between the two towns can be not the best.

Finishing At Norwich

There are operational reasons to carry on to Norwich, where Crown Point, is the home base for the Class 755 trains.

But it would also link a lot of places that are dependant on tourism and are also heavily involved in East Anglia’s energy industry.

Onward From Peterborough To Lincoln

If the Lowestoft service can extend to Great Yarmouth, an extension of the Peterborough service to Lincoln via Spalding and Sleaford might be possible.

But with LNER also serving Lincoln from Kings Cross, I doubt the route would carry many passengers to and from London.

Conclusion

A service from London, that splits into two trains at Ipswich for Lowestoft and Peterborough has possibilities.

 

 

 

December 27, 2022 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sizewell C Nuclear Plant Campaigners Challenge Approval

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

These three paragraphs introduce the article.

Campaigners against the Sizewell C nuclear power station have written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to legally challenge his decision to give the scheme the go-ahead.

The £20bn project for the Suffolk coast was given government approval in July.

However, the decision was against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate and those against the scheme said the consent was therefore “unlawful”.

I summed up my attitude to nuclear power in Sizewell C: Nuclear Power Station Plans For Suffolk Submitted, where I said this.

As a well-read and experienced engineer, I am not against the technologies of nuclear power.

But I do think, by the time it is completed , other technologies like wind and energy storage will be much better value. They will also be more flexible and easier to expand, should we get our energy forecasts wrong.

I wrote that in May 2020, which was before Vlad the Mad started his war in Ukraine. So our energy forecasts are totally wrong! Thanks for nothing, Vlad!

In Plan To Build £150m Green Hydrogen Plant At Felixstowe Port, I talked about ScottishPower’s plan to build a large electrolyser at Felixstowe.

The Port of Felixstowe has in the past talked of using electricity from Sizewell C to create hydrogen.

So is the port backing another horse or just playing safe?

August 12, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plan To Build £150m Green Hydrogen Plant At Felixstowe Port

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

These two paragraphs introduce the project.

A £150 million green hydrogen plant is to be built at the UK’s busiest container port according to proposals by ScottishPower, it emerged yesterday.

The energy company has devised plans for a 100MW plant at the Port of Felixstowe which will provide fuel to power trains, trucks and ships.

There’s a lot more to this project than it would appear at first.

Where Will The Electrolyser Be Sited?

The Times article says this.

The site will be around the size of a football pitch, on brownfield land within the port.

I have flown my virtual helicopter over the port and there could be a couple of suitable football pitch-sized plots.

Where Will The Electricity Come From?

The East Anglia Array is a proposed massive series of offshore wind farms, which will be about thirty miles off the Suffolk coast.

Wikipedia says this about the size.

Up to six individual projects could be set up in the area with a maximum capacity of up to 7.2 GW.

But the main thing about the East Anglian Array is that it is being developed by a partnership of ScottishPower and Vattenfall.

Negotiations shouldn’t be difficult.

This Google Map shows the town of Felixstowe.

Note.

  1. The Ports of Felixstowe and Harwich are opposite each other on the two banks of the River Orwell.
  2. The power cable to the East Anglia Array comes ashore at Bawdsey in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. The Port of Felixstowe has two rail links, which are not electrified.

I suspect that the electric power to the electrolyser might well be routed underwater to the Port of Felixstowe either from Bawdsey or possibly direct from the wind farm.

A Meeting With A Crane Driver

I used to regularly go to Ipswich Town away matches and at one match, I met a senior crane operator from the Port of Felixstowe. We got talking about electrifying the rail link to the port and decarbonisation of the port in general.

He was adamant that electrification of the rail lines in the port, wouldn’t be a good idea as containers occasionally get dropped or crane drivers aren’t as accurate as they should be.

Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotives

When, I told him about the possibilities of hydrogen rail locomotives, he felt this was the way to go, as no rail electrification would be needed in the port.

Hydrogen-electric hybrid locomotives would also be able to take containers cross-country to the main electrified routes to the North and West, where they would raise their pantographs and use electric power.

How many trucks would be removed from the A14, A1 and M6?

Will Greater Anglia Convert Their Class 755 Trains to Hydrogen?

Class 755 trains have a short PowerPack in the middle and are designed for conversion to hydrogen-electric operation.

Note the PowerPack has four slots for diesel engines, batteries or hydrogen fuel-cells.

A Better Working Environment

But my fellow supporter felt the biggest gain in the port, would come with replacement or updating of all the vehicles and handling equipment, as if all these machines were hydrogen-powered, this would greatly improve the working conditions for the dock workers.

ScottishPower’s Vision

This press release on ScottishPower’s web site is entitled ScottishPower Vision For Green Hydrogen Fuels Hub At Port Of Felixstowe.

Conclusion

The Port of Felixstowe is doing the planning for this in the right way, as ensuring the hydrogen supply in the port first, is the logical way to transition to hydrogen power.

But then, I’ve watched the Port of Felixstowe grow since the 1960s and they usually get their decisions right.

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • ScottishPower explores green hydrogen at Port of Felixstowe to help decarbonise the UK’s busiest port.
  • The project could help kick-start the low carbon transformation of the UK’s heavy transport sector.
  • 100MW facility could deliver up to 40 tonnes of green hydrogen per day – enough to power 1300 hydrogen trucks.
  • International export also being explored.

And these two paragraphs.

ScottishPower, with Hutchison Ports, is exploring the opportunity to develop, build and operate a multi-hundred MW green hydrogen production facility at the Port of Felixstowe – with the potential to decarbonise industry and transportation in the region.
Both companies have set out their vision to help create a greener port, which could provide clean fuel for customers at Britain’s busiest container port.

Plans are being developed to use green hydrogen for onshore purposes, such as road, rail and industrial use, with the potential to create liquid forms, such as green ammonia or e-methanol. This could, in turn, provide clean fuels for shipping and aviation, and create opportunities for cost-effective export to international markets. The project aims to continue engineering and site development works to align with customer demand from 2025 onwards.

It is certainly a very extremely ambitious vision!

But then the county of my conception, has a tremendous determination to succeed. And often against all conventional logic!

 

August 9, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Freightliner’s New Livery

.As I passed through Ipswich yesterday, I took these images of Freightliner’s locomotives in their new livery.

Note.

  1. Freightliner’s new depot on the town side of the Great Eastern Main Line appears to be fully open.
  2. Freightliner’s Class 90 locomotives, which they received from Greater Anglia now seem to be in the new livery.
  3. Freightliner’s Class 08 shunter is also shown in the new livery.

It also looked like up to four Class 90 locomotives were parked by Ipswich station.

This Google Map shows the tracks at the Western end of Ipswich station.

Note.

  1. The Greater Anglia Class 755 train in Platform 1 of Ipswich station.
  2. The two Freightliner Class 90 locomotives in the old green livery in the locomotive parking.
  3. I wonder, if freight trains are now changing to electric haulage after being hauled out of Felixstowe into Ipswich Yard, before continuing their onward journey.

Yesterday, by the use of Real Time Trains, I found these trains changed to electric haulage at Ipswich.

  • 0250 – 436K – Felixstowe North to Garston – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.
  • 0912 – 496K – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.
  • 0932 – 497K – Felixstowe North to Ditton
  • 1113 – 412L – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park
  • 2046 – 410M – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park
  • 2152 – 412M – Felixstowe North to Garston – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.

These are my thoughts.

Changing Locomotives At Ipswich

It seems to take about 25 minutes to change a locomotive from diesel to electric.

At Ipswich, this seems to fairly easy.

  • The freight train from Felixstowe stops in Ipswich Yard to the West of the station.
  • The diesel locomotive is detached and probably moved to the yard to the South of the station.
  • The electric locomotive is moved from by the station and attached to the train.
  • The train goes on its way using electric traction.

All locomotive movements don’t seem to be too challenging.

Could More Electric Services Be Run?

I found these paths yesterday, where services left Felixstowe and went South to London.

  • Coatbridge – 1
  • Ditton – 2
  • East Midlands Gateway – 1
  • Garston – 2
  • Hams Hall – 2
  • Lawley Street – 3
  • Trafford Park – 5
  • Wentloog – 3

This is a total of nineteen trains and currently only six are electrified between Ipswich and London.

Would Bi-Mode Locomotives Be More Efficient?

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I wrote about how GB Railfreight were planning to acquire a fleet of bi-mode locomotives.

In the related post, I said this.

I feel that, as the locomotive must fit current routes and schedules, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following specification.

  • UK loading gauge.
  • Co-Co
  • Class 90 locomotive power and operating speed on electricity of 3.7 MW and 110 mph.
  • Class 66 locomotive power and operating speed on diesel of 2.5 MW and 75 mph.
  • Ability to change between electric and diesel power at speed.
  • Ability to haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe.
  • Ability to haul passenger trains.

Stadler will have one eye on the fact, that if they get this design right, this order for up to fifty locomotives could be just the start.

These locomotives would be ideal for Felixstowe to Ditton, Garston and Trafford Park.

  • They would eliminate changing locomotives on these routes.
  • They would reduce carbon emissions and fuel usage.
  • They would be able to run at at least 100 mph on the Great Eastern and West Coast Main Lines.

They might also open up other partially electrified routes from Felixstowe via London.

Felixstowe And Wentloog

Wentloog freight terminal in South Wales.

In Movable Overhead Electrification To Decarbonise Freight, I used the Ipswich and Wentloog route to show how a long route could be decarbonised by the use of moveable electrification.

Conclusion

It looks like a philosophy is emerging to decarbonise a large proportion of freight services out of the Port of Felixstowe.

 

 

 

March 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Norfolk And Suffolk Be Powered By Offshore Wind?

This week this article on the BBC was published, which had a title of Government Pledges £100m For Sizewell Nuclear Site.

These are the first three paragraphs.

The government is putting up £100m to support the planned Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk, Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has announced.

The investment marks the latest stage in efforts to build the £20bn reactor on the east coast of England.

However, it does not commit the government to approving the project, which is still subject to negotiations.

My view of the proposed Sizewell C nuclear plant is that of an engineer, who used to live within thirty minutes of the Sizewell site.

  • Hinckley Point C power station, which is currently being constructed, will have a nameplate capacity of 3.26 GW.
  • Sizewell C would probably be to a similar design and capacity to Hinckley Point C.
  • Sizewell C would likely be completed between 2033-2036.
  • Sizewell B is a 1250 MW station, which has a current closing date of 2035, that could be extended to 2055.
  • East Anglia and particularly the mega Freeport East, that will develop to the South at the Ports of Felixstowe and Harwich will need more electricity.
  • One of the needs of Freeport East will be a large supply of electricity to create hydrogen for the trains, trucks, ships and cargo handling equipment.
  • Sizewell is a large site, with an excellent connection to the National Grid, that marches as a giant pair of overhead cables across the Suffolk countryside to Ipswich.

But.

  • We still haven’t developed a comprehensive strategy for the management of nuclear waste in the UK. Like paying for the care of the elderly and road pricing, it is one of those problems, that successive governments have kept kicking down the road, as it is a big vote loser.
  • I was involved writing project management software for forty years and the building of large nuclear power plants is littered with time and cost overruns.
  • There wasn’t a labour problem with the building of Sizewell B, as engineers and workers were readily available. But with the development of Freeport East, I would be very surprised if Suffolk could provide enough labour for two mega-projects after Brexit.
  • Nuclear power plants use a lot of steel and concrete. The production of these currently create a lot of carbon dioxide.
  • There is also a large number of those objecting to the building of Sizewell C. It saddened me twenty-five years ago, that most of the most strident objectors, that I met, were second home owners, with no other connection to Suffolk.

The older I get, the more my experience says, that large nuclear power plants aren’t always a good idea.

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

In Is Sizewell The Ideal Site For A Fleet Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?, I looked at building a fleet of small modular nuclear reactors at Sizewell, instead of Sizewell C.

I believe eight units would be needed in the fleet to produce the proposed 3.26 GW and advantages would include.

  • Less land use.
  • Less cost.
  • Less need for scarce labour.
  • Easier to finance.
  • Manufacturing modules in a factory should improve quality.
  • Electricity from the time of completion of unit 1.

But it would still be nuclear.

Wind In The Pipeline

Currently, these offshore wind farms around the East Anglian Coast are under construction, proposed or are in an exploratory phase.

  • East Anglia One – 714 MW – 2021 – Finishing Construction
  • East Anglia One North 800 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Two – 900 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • East Anglia Three – 1400 MW – 2026 – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Vanguard – 1800 MW – Exploratory
  • Norfolk Boreas – 1800 MW – Exploratory
  • Sheringham Shoal/Dudgeon Extension – 719 MW – Exploratory

Note.

  1. The date is the possible final commissioning date.
  2. I have no commissioning dates for the last three wind farms.
  3. The East Anglia wind farms are all part of the East Anglia Array.

These total up to 8.13 GW, which is in excess of the combined capacity of Sizewell B and the proposed Sizewell C, which is only 4.51 GW.

As it is likely, that by 2033, which is the earliest date, that Sizewell C will be completed, that the East Anglia Array will be substantially completed, I suspect that East Anglia will not run out of electricity.

But I do feel that to be sure, EdF should try hard to get the twenty year extension to Sizewell B.

The East Anglia Hub

ScottishPower Renewables are developing the East Anglia Array and this page on their web site, describes the East Anglia Hub.

This is the opening paragraph.

ScottishPower Renewables is proposing to construct its future offshore windfarms, East Anglia THREE, East Anglia TWO and East Anglia ONE North, as a new ‘East Anglia Hub’.

Note.

  1. These three wind farms will have a total capacity of 3.1 GW.
  2. East Anglia ONE is already in operation.
  3. Power is brought ashore at Bawdsey between Felixstowe and Sizewell.

I would assume that East Anglia Hub and East Anglia ONE will use the same connection.

Norfolk Boreas and Norfolk Vanguard

These two wind farms will be to the East of Great Yarmouth.

This map from Vattenfall web site, shows the position of the two wind farms.

Note.

  1. Norfolk Boreas is outlined in blue.
  2. Norfolk Vanguard is outlined in orange.
  3. I assume the grey areas are where the cables will be laid.
  4. I estimate that the two farms are about fifty miles offshore.

This second map shows the landfall between Eccles-on-Sea and Happisburgh.

Note the underground cable goes half-way across Norfolk to Necton.

Electricity And Norfolk And Suffolk

This Google Map shows Norfolk and Suffolk.

Note.

  1. The red arrow in the North-West corner marks the Bicker Fen substation that connects to the Viking Link to Denmark.
  2. The East Anglia Array  connects to the grid at Bawdsey in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. Sizewell is South of Aldeburgh in the South-East corner of the map.
  4. The only ports are Lowestoft and Yarmouth in the East and Kings Lynn in the North-West.

There are few large towns or cities and little heavy industry.

  • Electricity usage could be lower than the UK average.
  • There are three small onshore wind farms in Norfolk and none in Suffolk.
  • There is virtually no high ground suitable for pumped storage.
  • There are lots of areas, where there are very few buildings to the square mile.

As I write this at around midday on a Saturday at the end of January, 49 % of electricity in Eastern England comes from wind, 20 % from nuclear and 8 % from solar. That last figure surprised me.

I believe that the wind developments I listed earlier could provide Norfolk and Suffolk with all the electricity they need.

The Use Of Batteries

Earlier, I talked of a maximum of over 7 GW of offshore wind around the cost of Norfolk and Suffolk, but there is still clear water in the sea to be filled between the existing and planned wind farms.

Batteries will become inevitable to smooth the gaps between the electricity produced and the electricity used.

Here are a few numbers.

  • East Anglian Offshore Wind Capacity – 8 GW
  • Off-Peak Hours – Midnight to 0700.
  • Typical Capacity Factor Of A Windfarm – 20 % but improving.
  • Overnight Electricity Produced at 20 % Capacity Factor – 11.2 GWh
  • Sizewell B Output – 1.25 GW
  • Proposed Sizewell C  Output – 3.26 GW
  • Largest Electrolyser – 24 MW
  • World’s Largest Lithium-Ion Battery at Moss Landing – 3 GWh
  • Storage at Electric Mountain – 9.1 GWh
  • Storage at Cruachan Power Station – 7.1 GWh

Just putting these large numbers in a table tells me that some serious mathematical modelling will need to be performed to size the batteries that will probably be needed in East Anglia.

In the 1970s, I was involved in three calculations of a similar nature.

  • In one, I sized the vessels for a proposed polypropylene plant for ICI.
  • In another for ICI, I sized an effluent treatment system for a chemical plant, using an analogue computer.
  • I also helped program an analysis of water resources in the South of England. So if you have a water shortage in your area caused by a wrong-sized reservoir, it could be my fault.

My rough estimate is that the East Anglian battery would need to be at least a few GWh and capable of supplying up to the output of Sizewell B.

It also doesn’t have to be a single battery. One solution would probably be to calculate what size battery is needed in the various towns and cities of East Anglia, to give everyone a stable and reliable power supply.

I could see a large battery built at Sizewell and smaller batteries all over Norfolk and Suffolk.

But why stop there? We probably need appropriately-sized batteries all over the UK, with very sophisticated control systems using artificial intelligent working out, where the electricity is best stored.

Note that in this post, by batteries, I’m using that in the loosest possible way. So the smaller ones could be lithium-ion and largest ones could be based on some of the more promising technologies that are under development.

  • Highview Power have an order for a 50 MW/500 MWh battery for Chile, that I wrote about in The Power Of Solar With A Large Battery.
  • East Anglia is an area, where digging deep holes is easy and some of Gravitricity’s ideas might suit.
  • I also think that eventually someone will come up with a method of storing energy using sea cliffs.

All these developments don’t require large amounts of land.

East Anglia Needs More Heavy Consumers Of Electricity

I am certainly coming to this conclusion.

Probably, the biggest use of electricity in East Anglia is the Port of Felixstowe, which will be expanding as it becomes Freeport East in partnership with the Port of Harwich.

One other obvious use could be in large data centres.

But East Anglia has never been known for industries that use a lot of electricity, like aluminium smelting.

Conversion To Hydrogen

Although the largest current electrolyser is only 24 MW, the UK’s major electrolyser builder; ITM Power, is talking of a manufacturing capacity of 5 GW per year, so don’t rule out conversion of excess electricity into hydrogen.

Conclusion

Who needs Sizewell C?

Perhaps as a replacement for Sizewell B, but it would appear there is no pressing urgency.

 

 

January 29, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Direct Rail Services Disposes Of Heritage Locomotives

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

This is the first paragraph.

Direct Rail Services, the rail arm of Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS), has announced details of its much-anticipated plan to sell off some of its heritage fleet of locomotives and coaching stock.

The main job of Direct Rail Services is to move nuclear fuel and other cargoes around the country in support of the UK’s nuclear industry. For this purpose, they have a substantial fleet of over fifty modern Class 66, Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives, which seem to have taken over from the heritage fleet, which are now starting to be passed on to other operators.

Direct Rail Services also tend to be the odd-job men and innovators of the traction business.

  • They have provided modern motive power for both regular, charter and replacement passenger services.
  • They haul freight trains for supermarkets and others.
  • They sub-lease Class 68 locomotives to other operators.
  • Both the Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives are 100 mph-capable, which must widen their markets.
  • They have supplied locomotives for Thunderbird duties.
  • They are happy to specify a new locomotive and bring it into service, as they did with the Class 68 and Class 88.

According to Wikipedia, they have issued a tender for a further ten new-build diesel-electric locomotives.

Will these be an existing design or another new design?

This is a section of the Wikipedia entry for the Class 88 locomotive.

Akin to the Class 68, the Class 88 can achieve a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), sufficient for regular passenger operations, while operating under OHLE, it has a power output of 4,000 kW (5,400 hp). Under diesel power, provided by its 12-cylinder Caterpillar C27, it has a maximum power output of 708 kW (949 hp); however, the maximum tractive effort is available in either mode. The locomotive’s engine, which is compliant with the current EU Stage IIIB emission restrictions, has limited available power as a result of the customer’s choice to give the Class 88 comparable power to a traditional Class 20.

It almost looks like a design for all purposes.

  • It can pull a passenger train at 100 mph.
  • With the right rolling stock, it must be able to pull a freight train at 100 mph.
  • A 100 mph freight capability must be very useful on double-track electrified main lines like the East and West Coast Main Lines, where it would increase capacity.
  • It probably has enough power to drag a freight train out of the depot on to an electrified main line.
  • The locomotive would appear to be able to do anything that one of Direct Rail Services’s Class 20 locomotives can do, which would surely enable it to pick-up a nuclear flask from a remote power station.
  • But it would also be able to transport the flask back to Cumbria using electric power, where it is available.
  • In ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut, I describe how a Class 88 locomotive moved a flask from Sizewell to Crewe.
  • It is compliant with the latest emission regulations.
  • It can use regenerative braking, where the electrification can handle it.

I wonder, if Direct Rail Services are going to add a locomotive to their fleet, that is capable of bringing the longest and heaviest freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • The Felixstowe Branch is a fairly flat track.
  • The only moderately severe gradients ae either side of the Spring Road Viaduct.
  • Some electrification could be added.
  • A 100 mph freight capability would help in increasing the capacity of the Great Eastern Main Line to and from London.

The right locomotive might be able to haul smaller freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

Conclusion

There has been no news about the extra ten locomotives that Direct Rail Services will order.

The company has form in designing the right locomotive for the job they will do.

I think, that when the order is placed, it could add another type of locomotive to Direct Rail Services’s fleet.

January 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Freight On The East West Main Line

This page on the East West Main Line Partnership web site, describes their ambitions towards freight.

This is said.

The freight and logistics sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Greater use of rail for freight and logistics provides additional resilience for the business community, while also acting on the need to achieve net zero.

Whilst not part of East West Rail, removing the bottlenecks on the Felixstowe to Midlands
corridor remains an immediate strategic priority for three sub-national transport bodies (England’s Economic Heartland, Transport East and Midlands Connect wrote to the Chancellor in this regard in July 2020).

However, the design and operation of the East West Main Line should take into account and contribute to the delivery of the requirements of the national rail freight strategy. In due course Great British Railways will have a statutory duty to consider the needs of rail freight and to take those needs into account in planning the future of the rail network.

It is therefore important that the East West Main Line is designed and delivered with the capability of supporting rail freight services without the need for additional works. In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

I have my thoughts.

Cutting Carbon Emissions In The Freight Sector

The obvious way to do this, would be to electrify every line in the country and purchase a new fleet of electric freight locomotives.

But the problems with this are the expense, disruption and timescale, it would take to replace all the locomotives and put up electrification on every line that might possibly be used by freight trains and  locomotives.

A solution is needed now, not in ten years.

But there are already solutions being demonstrated or developed that will cut carbon emissions from locomotives.

  • Stadler bi-mode Class 88 locomotives are already hauling freight trains and cutting emissions by using electric power where possible. But there are only ten of these locomotives.
  • The thirty Stadler tri-mode Class 93 locomotives on order for Rail Operations Group could or well be a game-changer. It is already known, that they will be able to cruise at 100 mph using electrification, so they will be able to mix it with the expresses on the Great Eastern Main Line. I suspect that these locomotives have been designed to be able to haul freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe, by juggling the power sources.
  • In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, I describe how Clean Air Power are converting a Class 66 locomotive to run on both diesel and hydrogen. This could be a very fruitful route, especially, if the diesel-electric Class 66 locomotives could be fitted with a pantograph to use electrification where it exists.
  • I have been very impressed with the work Wabtec have done to convert a large American diesel-electric locomotive into a battery electric locomotive. I wrote about it in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh. In Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?, I concluded that it might be possible to convert Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives using Wabtec’s technology.
  • In Powered By HVO, I talk about DB Cargo’s use of HVO to cut carbon emissions.

I am also sure that there are probably other solutions to decarbonise freight locomotives under development.

I would hope that over the next few years the amount of diesel fuel used in the freight sector will decrease significantly.

Improved Freight Routes

Currently, freight trains to and from Felixstowe take one of these routes.

  1. Via London – Using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line or Gospel Oak and Barking Line, and the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Via Nuneaton – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Peterborough and Leicester before joining the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.
  3. Via Peterborough – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely and Peterborough before taking the East Coast Main Line or the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln.

The first two routes routes have capacity problems, whereas the third route has been improved by the use of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line.

Problems on the first two routes include

  • The Great Eastern Main Line is only dual-track.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London are at full capacity.
  • The route via Nuneaton does not have much electrification.

The East West Main Line will open up a new route directly across the country for some services, that currently go via the London or Nuneaton routes.

  • Felixstowe and Birmingham
  • Felixstowe and Glasgow
  • Felixstowe and Liverpool
  • Felixstowe and Manchester

These services could use the East West Main Line to connect with the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley, if the track were to be modified.

In addition services between Felixstowe and South Wales and the West Country could use the East West Main Line to Oxford and then join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot.

The East West Main Line could reduce the number of freight trains on these routes.

  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak and Barking Line
  • Peterborough and Leicester Line

The first three lines are certainly at capacity.

The Newmarket Problem

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common, I talked about previous plans of the East West Rail Consortium, who were the predecessor of the East West Main Line Partnership for the rail line between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge through Newmarket.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I have a feeling that if this plan were to be pursued, the Racing Industry in Newmarket wouldn’t be too keen on all the freight trains passing through the town.

Knowing the town and the racing industry and horses, as I do, I suspect that there will need to be serious noise mitigation measures through the town.

One would probably be a noise limit on the trains passing through, which might be very difficult for long freight trains, even if hauled by a much quieter battery-electric or hydrogen-powered locomotive.

Were the East West Main Line Partnership thinking of Newmarket, when they wrote the last sentence of the web page for freight.

In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

Newmarket is a unique town with a strong character and you shouldn’t take the town on lightly.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

Route Map Of The East West Main Line

 

 

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Route Map Of The East West Main Line

This image shows a schematic map of the East West Main Line.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of detail at the Eastern end. Is that the East Anglia influence in the Partnership?
  2. Bury St. Edmunds has been missed out. Is that the Ipswich influence in the Partnership?
  3. Of the four new stations only Winslow is not in Cambridgeshire. Is that the Cambridge influence in the Partnership?

It should also be noted that there are two links at the East, to the two ports of Freeport East; Felixstowe and Harwich.

Conclusion

This map makes a bold statement.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

October 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments