The Anonymous Widower

Innovation In Railway Projects

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled NR routes to publish ‘pipeline’ of third party opportunities by year end. It lays out a new philosophy of how rail infrastructure projects could be handled in the future. I suggest you give the article a careful read.

Some politicians will say it is privatisation by another name. But to me it is just a way of getting a project built faster in a safe manner.

This is a paragraph.

By the end of this year, NR’s routes will publish ‘pipelines’ of projects that they want to put out to market. The infrastructure owner will also be working with government on producing a list of third-party opportunities. Initially these opportunities may be at the smaller end of the spectrum such as new stations, depots and car parks.

Take the simple example of a depot. These days fleets of new trains often mean a large increase in depot capacity as trains are longer and fleets are larger. As fleets are often bundled in with maintenance, there is a specialised multi-million pound asset that needs to be created. Big investors create office blocks, sporting venues and shopping centres and lease them to other businesses, so why shouldn’t they build the infrastructure that the railway needs?

This article in the EADT is entitled New rail depot unveiled by Greater Anglia at Brantham on Suffolk/Essex border.

The article dates from February 2017 and says that design is starting and the depot will be open by the end of 2018.

Not a bad timescale for a depot covering 22 acres with fifteen electrified tracks, two of which are under cover.

Why should the taxpayer get involved in a project like this?

Network Rail’s only involvement should be to ensure that the depot interfaces with the railway correctly.

This article on the BBC is entitled Crossrail stations in west London delayed until 2019.

I took this picture at one of the of the five stations; West Ealing, yesterday.

Nothing appeared to be going on, despite the fact that much of the construction is well to the side of the railway. Compare this with the situation at Abbey Wood station, that I saw a few days ago.

I suspect Crossrail wish they had taken control of the Project Management of the five West London stations themselves.

Network Rail seem to have a culture that if assets are built a few years late, it is totally acceptable.

This culture must stop!

 

 

August 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Crossrail Expands Before It Opens

This is certainly something you don’t hear often about a new rail line.

This article in Global Rail News is entitled TfL To Order More Elizabeth Line Trains.

Four new Class 345 trains are being ordered, which will mean that in the Off Peak the following will happen.

  • Trains between Whitechapel and Paddington will increase from 16 trains per hour (tph) to 20.
  • Trains between Paddington and Shenfield will increase by two tph
  • Trains between Paddington and Abbey Wood will increase by two tph
  • Trains between Paddington and Reading will double from two tph to four.
  • Trains between Paddington and Maidenhead will increase from four tph to six
  • From December 2019, six tph will call at Heathrow Terminal 5.

So have Transport for London miscalculated the capacity of the line?

I suspect not!

It’s just that they wanted to be sure that the trains and the signalling can handle the frequency of twenty tph, before ordering the trains.

That has probably been ascertained by now thorough thorough testing.

This article on the BBC, is entitled Crossrail Stations In West London Delayed Until 2019.

I wonder, if this is within the float of these station builds, so that the whole project is not delayed.

Have Crossrail only announced the actual completion date, when it is certain it can be met?

If it is, these two apparently disconnected stories show Project Management at its best, where a project is delivered on the date agreed before as much as a humble spade had entered the ground.

  • If it is late the client and the general public complain.
  • It it is early, the construction team have probably spent too much money.

So hopefully, everybody’s happy!

I would love to see Crossrail’s schedule of announcements until December 2019.

Like the ordering of more trains mentioned in the first article, I suspect some will be pleasant surprises.

The first article also has this paragraph.

The increased service frequency will be achieved, in part, by replacing five Great Western Railway services with Elizabeth line trains.

So could we see Greater Anglia and Southeastern losing paths and becoming better integrated with Crossrail?

In Abbey Wood Station in my series of Kent On The Cusp Of Change posts, I said that it looks like the track layout allows trains to run on to Dartford, Gravesend or even Rochester, as other trains on a modern signalled North Kent Line.

At Shenfield station, provision has been made in the track layout for trains to continue from Platform 4 to Southend Victoria station and Greater Anglia trains already do it.at a frequency of three tph.

I don’t think it will happen, as the journey is too long for a train without toilets.

But if Platforms 4 and 5 at Shenfield were bi-directional, this would allow Crossrail trains to venture down the Southend Branch.

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

More Closures On The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

This article on the Islington Gazette details the further closures on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. This is said.

The Barking to Gospel Oak Overground line will be closed for eight weekends as electrification work continues.

It had originally closed for eight months, reopening in February, but work was not finished on time due to design problems and the late delivery of some materials.

The line will be shut every Sunday from June 4 until July 23, with additional Saturday closures on July 9, 16 and 23.

Further temporary closures will be needed in the future to complete the work.

I know the electrification needs to be completed, but the engineers and planners of this job, have not exactly covered themselves in glory.

Compare this project with the one a few miles away, where Volker Fitzpatrick are rebuilding Hackney Wick station, which seems to have gone a lot smoother, despite I would suspect being a much more challenging project.

Several mistakes would appear to have been made on the electrification and I hope the companies and individuals involved will be properly names and shamed.

May 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Protecting Your Company, Organisation Or Workgroup From Viruses, Ransomware And Other Malware

I am not a computer malware expert and since 1970, I have generally worked alone, with one or more computers , not connected by a network.

But after all the problems of the last few weeks with ransomware, I feel that one of my experiences of a few years ago, should be put into this blog.

A Daisy Demonstration

The Research Department of a major corporation were interested in using my software; Daisy to analyse data being collected in their local offices.

So I was summoned to their offices to the South West of London, so that they could have a proper demonstration.

I found something extremely sensible that I’d not seen before.

The Department had the usual corporate network, as you would expect, with logins, malware protection, but for my demonstration I used another computer.

The Lonely PC

We moved to a lonely PC sitting on a desk in the corner. It had the following characteristics.

  • Adequate power.
  • A recent version of Windows.
  • Direct connection to the Internet through a landline.
  • No connection to the main network.
  • A directly connected printer.
  • A selection of browsers.
  • Microsoft Office, but no e-mail program.

The only thing, that the computer lacked was a large screen.

Uses Of The Isolated Computer

The isolated computer was used for the following.

  • Demonstrations
  • Checking out ideas and web sites in suspect locations.
  • Testing software.

I think that after the recent ransomware attacks, emergency Internet access could probably be added to the list of uses.

Rules For Using The Computer

The Department had setup a series of rules for the use of the computer.

  • The computer could be booked by anybody in the Department.
  • Comprehensive data transfer rules using physical devices had been setup.
  • No software could be installed on computers on the main network, without full testing on the isolated computer.
  • The computer was regularly checked for any viruses or malware.
  • If any nasties were found on this computer, it was immediately restored to a pristine state.

Incidentally, whether it was for my benefit or not, it was one of the cleanest corporate computers, I’ve used for a demonstration.

Benefits

I was told that since the computer had been installed, malware problems on the network had decreased.

But how much was this down to a constantly improving and rigorously updated malware-protection system for the Department’s main network?

An Ideal System

A lot would depend on the type of company and their needs.

The system I used needed a big screen, as often a demonstration needs to be seen by several people.

I also think, that with a large screen, it could be a valuable tool in Corporate Communications.

Some might think, that this type of computer, which bypasses the corporate network, could be used by those with access for nefarious purposes.

Years ago, my software; Artemis was used to do the Project Management on Chevaline. The Ministry of Defence was worried that the Russians might use some unknown technology to read the electromagnetic radiation from the cathode-ray tube of the VDU. So I suggested they put the desk-sized computer in a shielded internal room. But what about the door, they said! I suggested that they get Chubb to put one of their best locks on the door.

A few weeks later, when a software problem struck, I went home with a complete copy of the project on a disc.

I had encoded the data using a personally-designed method that I still believe is unbreakable. But that is another story! Especially, as I’ve never signed the Official Secrets Act!

As this tale illustrates, there are ways to enforce security and holes will always appear.

 

 

 

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Computing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Electrification At Rotherham

These pictures show some of the electrification gantries around Rotherham Central station.

The overhead gantries would appear to be Network Rail’s standard for 25 KVAC, rather than the lighter-weight structures used on the Sheffield Supertram for their 1500 VDC.

So are Network Rail future-proofing the gantries for later conversion to 25 KVAC or are they being wired to that voltage, so that the tram-trains can be tested on the 25 KVAC as well?

The latter would be prudent, so that the problems and strengths of dual-voltage  25 KVAC/1500 VDC tram-trains can be assessed.

However, as I returned to Sheffield later, it appeared that the line connecting Rotherham and Sheffield had both heavy-weight and light-weight gantries in place.

Could there be a last minute change of project scope to include 25 KVAC  running in the Sheffield tram-train trial, which also explains the timing of the rebuilding of the College Road Bridge?

This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for the Sheffield Supertram.

A tram-train extension to Rotherham is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2018, with a fleet of seven Vossloh Citylink Class 399 tram-trains in a UK first. This will involve trams operating on Network Rail’s Dearne Valley Line from Meadowhall Interchange to Rotherham station with a short extension to Rotherham Parkgate Shopping Centre. The proposed station will be a combined tram stop and railway station.[10] It is also planned that Rotherham Parkgate will be the hub for longer distance inter regional services,[11] while Central station will be the hub for local, Yorkshire based services. To cater for the tram train services, Rotherham Central will have a third platform built. It is thought that constructing the station will cost around £14 million (£53 million including the railway service to Leeds) and deliver economic benefits worth over £100 million. A study has concluded that it is not worth expanding Rotherham Central railway station because it would cost £161 million to expand the station but only deliver benefits worth £76 million. This is why constructing a new station is considered more viable.

That explains a lot, especially as it is a big change from what was being said perhaps a year ago.

There is an article in the Yorkshire Post, which is entitled Rotherham could get new rail station, which gives a lot more detail.

  • Parkgate station could cost up to £53.2 million
  • Parkgate would be the inter-regional station.
  • Central would be more local
  • Rotherham should have one train per hour (tph)  to Leeds and Manchester, three tph  to Doncaster and six tph to Sheffield.

As I came through the Rotherham Parkgate area on my train between Leeds and Rotherham earlier,  I didn’t see any evidence of station construction.

I think that Network Rail by putting up gsntries that can accept 25 KVAC electrification have made sure that they can fit any future plans.

So long as they can get some sort of wiring along the route and a reversing facility somewhere in the Rotherham area, I can see tram-trains running next year.

If Parkgate station is built, then provided any tracks are in the right place, this shouldn’t be a problem.

But the interesting idea could be to use Class 319 Flex trains on the route to Leeds via the Wakefield Line. The gaps in the electrification would be initially covered by the trains onboard diesel power.

As electrification is installed, they would eventually be able to do Rotherham Central to Leeds under electric power.

Whilst, Network Rail were electrifying the tram-train route, would it not be prudent to put up the wires to Meadowhall Interchange station or even Sheffield station?

The other way they could also electrify the short Swinton to Doncaster Line, which would allow electric trains from London to reach Rotherham Parkgate, Meadowhall and Sheffield stations.

I can certainly see something like the following services through Rotherham when Parkgate station is open.

  • 1 tph Sheffield to Leeds calling at Parkgate and Central
  • 1 tph Doncaster to Manchester and Manchester Airport calling at Parkgate and Sheffield
  • 2 tph Doncaster to Sheffield calling at Parkgate and Central

Add in three tram-trains per hour between Sheffield Cathedral and Parkway via Central and the required frequencies are achieved.

It will be interesting to see what finally happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Hackney Wick Station Opened On Time

This morning and I was up early to catch the first train train from Dalston Kingsland station to the new Hackney Wick station.

The train was precisely on time at 06:23.

Note that the herd of mammoths, that I photographed on Thursday are still underneath the new embankment.

 

This is a previous picture from Thursday.

From the pictures it would appear that they have picked up the station subway and given it a twirl.

It has certainly been an impressive project to demolish a railway on an embankment, insert a new subway and then rebuild and reopen the embankment, all in four working days.

I feel that they got the project nmanagement spot-on for this project, witn not a minute of wasted time.

But the biggest factor was surely, that the only work they did with the electrification was switch it off at the start and switch it on and test it, at the finish. They also probably used the most careful digger and crane operators they could find!

I wonder, if we’ll be seeing similar robust construction techniques to create and rebuild stations in double-quick time!

April 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Relief For Ely

Ely station is not only a bottleneck for trains, but because the A142 only has a headroom of nine foot under the railway, a serious bottleneck for road traffic and an accident blackspot that stops both road and rail traffic.

But this article from the Cambridge News is entitled Work to start on new Ely bypass as final designs get the go-ahead.

This is the article’s simple description of the by-pass.

The new route will bypass the railway level crossing, as well as the accident prone low-bridge underpass, by providing a new link between Stuntney Causeway and Angel Drove to the south of the city.

Preparatory works are set to start on January 9 to mark out the site area to build the 1.7km of road, which will include two new bridges to cross the River Ouse and its flood plain, as well as additional railway lines.

I have been at Ely station a couple of times in the past week and these pictures show that work has now actually started.

The first four pictures were taken from an Ely to Ipswich train and the last one was taken from Plstform 3 at Ely station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. Stuntley Causeway is the A142, which leads South-East from the station.
  2. The Great Ouse.
  3. The two railway lines meeting at Ely Dock Junction.
  4. Angel Drove is the road labelled A142, that curves from the city to the roundabout at the West of the map.
  5. The work site is in the angle between the Great Ouse and the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds, just to the West of the Hawk Bridge, where railway crosses the river.

As the new road crosses the river, the junction with Stuntley Causeway must be somewhere to the South-East of where the A142 currently crosses the river, which must make the road take a widish loop.

The project would appear to be a well-designed solution.

  • Is the wide loop of the road, to keep noise of heavy traffic away from the river and the city?
  • It should give relief for road traffic at Ely station.
  • Hopefully it will cut bridge strikes.
  • The viaduct over the railway and the river, incorporates a footbridge.

The question must be asked, if the building of the by-pass and the double-tracking of the railway line to Bury St. Edmunds are two projects that will co-operate.

The Hawk Bridge has already got space for a second track, so could this be laid first, so that it could be used as a siding to bring in the heavy components for the viaduct that will be built over the river? Or will they be floated in, using a barge on the river?

The order of construction on this project could be tricky, but the quality of project management has increased greatly in recent times.

 

March 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Reopening Of The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Is Slipping

In October 2016, I wrote The Gospel Oak To Barking Line Is Planned To Reopen On February 6th 2017.

But a couple of weeks ago, this date had slipped to the fourteenth.

I have just checked the reopening date this morning on the National Rail train timetable and it appears to be the 27th of February.

I don’t give it much credence.

 

January 30, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 4 Comments

Up And Down The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been taking photographs of various parts of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBlin).

There would still seem to be a lot to do to restore the railway to operation as a non-electrified railway.

However, the National Rail on-line timetable is showing that from Monday, the 13th of February, 2013, a four trains per hour (tph) service will be working.

It is also worthwhile looking at Transport for London’s Track Closures Six Months Look Ahead. This is usually reliable and states the following.

There is no London Overground service between Gospel Oak and Barking until late February 2017. Replacement buses are running.

It also lists no substantial closures on the GOBlin in the next six months.

There is also this article on Global Rail News, which is entitled Electrification of London Overground’s Gospel Oak-Barking line 80% complete.

These various statements and my pictures could point to a coherent interim set of objectives.

An Interim Set Of Objectives

Both Transport for London and Network Rail will want to get the line open for the following trains as soon as possible.

  • Engineering trains to support the finish of the electrification and station works.
  • Diesel-hauled freight trains.
  • Restoration of the four tph passenger service using the two-car Class 172 trains.

It could be that from the point of view of the electrification, the engineering trains are the most important.

So what will need to be done to meet these interim objectives.

Hopefully, the line will reopen to passenger traffic before the end of February 2017. But no-one would complain, if it happened earlier.

Finishing The Project

Once the limited objectives are met and trains are running, the following will need to be done to complete the modernisation.

  • The completion of platform lengthening, as at Harringay Green Lanes station.
  • Erection of the missing gantries.
  • Installation and testing of the overhead wires.

All of these tasks , can probably be done alongside of the working railway, as similar work has been done on the North and East London Lines and Crossrail.

The contractors will have the following advantages.

  • The track and signalling will be complete.
  • It can probably be arranged that overnight very few trains will use the line.
  • They will have a working double-track railway to bring in supplies and specialist rail-mounted equipment.
  • No electric trains will need to run on the line.
  • They will soon have light evenings in which to work.

If they can fit construction around the passenger service, everybody will benefit.

Handling Regenerative Braking

 

Little has been said about regenerative braking on the GOBlin.

I think, it will be likely, that the Class 710 trains will be able to use regenerative braking on the line, as it typically saves around 20% of the energy required to drive a train.

In Class 710 Trains And Regenerative Braking, I discussed the issues.

I came to the conclusion, that it is highly likely, that onboard energy storage will be used to handle regenerative braking on the Class 710 trains and thus the method would be used on the GOBlin.

As the prototype Aventra is now being tested, any design issues of handling braking energy will probably be resolved soon.

But prudence probably dictates that regenerative braking with batteries must be shown to work before the electrification design is finalised.

So could this explain, the delay in putting up the overhead wires?

Handling Regenerative Braking For Freight Trains

This is more complicated, as the freight locomotives on the UK network are not the most modern units.

I’m not sure, but the Class 92 could probably work the route using rheostatic braking.

Conclusion

I think that this project has been planned to open up a non-electrified railway before the end of February 2017.

This probably gives least disruption to all of the stakeholders.

  • Passengers get a four tph service.
  • Freight operators can run trains through under diesel haulage.
  • A route for engineering trains is maintained to assist in the finishing of the line.

But also by delaying the electrification, they can make sure they incorporate all of the lessons learned by the test running of the Class 345 trains.

Some might think it’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast, but in truth, it could be some very clever project management, which has minimised the closure of the line.

 

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | 2 Comments

Network Rail Get The Project Management Wrong Again!

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Kenilworth station opening delayed until December 2017.

This is said.

Warwickshire County Council has announced that the new station in Kenilworth will now not be opened until this December due to track and signalling issues, one year after services were meant to begin running.

The station will now open on 10 December 2017 after a revised deadline of August this year was pushed back further, with the opening already postponed from the initial date of December 2016.

Surely, if Network Rail agreed to the Aufgust 2017 date, they  felt they could meet it.

There is some very bad Project Managment going on, if you agree a date of August 2017, which in a short time slips to December.

If say it was a serious problem, like old mine workings, that had not been foreseen, then the cause of the delay would be disclosed.

January 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment