The Anonymous Widower

New East Linton Station Development Given The Go Ahead

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

This is the first paragraph.

Proposals to open a station in the village of East Linton, for the first time in over half a century, have just been approved by East Lothian Council’s planning committee.

In The Scottish Borders Have Caught London Overground Syndrome, I said this.

It would also appear that because of the success of the Borders Railway, that there are suggestions to add new stations on the East Coast Main Line at Reston and East Linton. This is said under Future in the Wikipedia entry for East Linton station.

Proposals to reopen the station, along with the former station at Reston, have received the backing of John Lamont MSP, who has taken the case to the Scottish Parliament. A study published in 2013 proposed that East Linton and Reston stations be reopened. Since Abellio ScotRail took over the franchise in April 2015, they have now committed to reopening East Linton and Reston Stations as part of the local Berwick service by December 2016 but due to the shortage of rolling stock this will now commence in December 2018.

So it would appear there is a high chance it will happen.

Reston station is well on the way to completion and the site is shown in this Google map.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line running between the North-West and South-East corners of the map.
  2. The brown scars around the railway indicate the site of the station.
  3. The main A1 road is just off this map to the North.

In New Rail Service From Newcastle To Edinburgh To Stop At These Northumberland Stations, I indicated that a new service from TransPennine Express will start running in December 2021 and will call at Reston station, when it opens.

Now East Linton station is on its way.

This Google Map shows the village of East Linton.

Note.

  1. The East Coast Main Line going through the middle of the village.
  2. The A1 curves South of the village.

Will the station be built in the middle of the village?

The page on Scotland’s Railway, indicates it will be.

East Linton and Reston stations seem to be progressing at speed, but then so did Horden and it appears Soham will be open this year.

Network Rail seem to have at last got their project management right.

 

September 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Installation Of OLE Begins In The Valleys

The title of this post, is the same as that of a short article in the September 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Construction of Core Valley Lines (CVL) overhead electrification equipment commenced  on 26 July, when the first piles for masts were installed on the Aberdare branch.

The article appears has several small stories buried in the text.

Was This Good Project Management?

This is a paragraph.

The work, between Penrhiwceiber and Mountain Ash took place a year later than Transport for Wales had aimed for prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, TfW does not expect significant delays to completion, because the CVL transformation has been rescheduled and revised.

It certainly sounds like it to me that good Project Management has brought the electrification back on track.

I have seen this happen many times over past decades.

Yesterday, at Whitechapel station, I asked one of Crossrail’s Senior Managers, who in the past had used Artemis, if good project management was bringing Crossrail under control. He gave a knowing smile and said that there’s still a lot to do with the trains and gave me the official First Half Of Next Year answer.

But I do wonder, if we’ll get a surprise!

Battery Power To The Rescue

This is a paragraph.

Less overhead line electrification will be needed than was expected when the plans were announced in 2018. Improvements in battery technology enable the battery/electric dock to run further without OLE than had been assumed.

There must be an optimal point, where the extra expense of battery/electric trains are paid for by the savings and disruption of not installing overhead line equipment.

Using The Pandemic To Advantage

This is a paragraph.

TfW also accelerated preparatory works between Radyr and Pontypridd with a three-week blockade last winter taking advantage of low passenger numbers during the second Covid-19 lockdown.

It sounds like another case of good Project Management.

Dealing With A Level Crossing

This is a paragraph.

A crossing on the Rhondda Line will be permanently closed as a result of TfW purchasing the only building accessed by it! Deputy Climate Change Minister Lee Waters said it was more cost-effective for TfW to acquire the former army barracks at Pentre than spend an estimated  £450,000 to bring the nearby crossing up to the requisite safety standards.

This Google Map shows the site.

It strikes me, that Transport for Wales will have to be very innovative to find a sensible use for a site hemmed in by the railway on one side and the River Rhondda on the other.

Conclusion

As we do more electrification in the UK, hopefully we’ll get better at it.

 

August 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Building Council Flats In London

I was told this tale by the Head of the Construction Branch of the Greater London Council, who was a big user of the first Project Management System;PERT7, that I wrote in the 1970s.

The GLC were building some council flats alongside the railway.

There were four parallel blocks with five floors and I’ll number them 1 to 4, with 4 alongside the railway and 1 furthest away.

The plan to build them involved the following.

  • Deliveries were planned, so that the many residents around the site and British Rail were not inconvenienced.
  • Site access was arranged with British Rail along the railway on a track to and from a major road a few hundred yards away.
  • The site would be cleared with all the rubble going out in the reverse direction.
  • The plan then was to build the blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4 towards the railway.
  • This was logical, as when each block was completed it could be occupied and the new tenants wouldn’t be living in a building site, as what needed to be done was towards the railway.

But he was overruled by a vociferous local lobby and some local politicians, who had convinced themselves that building away from the railway in a 4, 3, 2, 1 order would be better.

In the end they were built in the 4, 3, 2, 1 order with budget and time overruns and endless complaints from residents.

If there is a lesson from this fairly insignificant project, it is that in a construction project, there is often one way to build it, that minimises construction time and disturbance to neighbours and maximises the cash flow from the development.

August 22, 2021 Posted by | Computing, Design, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Should London Euston’s High Speed Two Station Have Ten Or Eleven Platforms?

This article on Ian Visits is entitled Call For A Rethink Of HS2’s Euston Station Plans.

These two paragraphs describe the current plan for Euston station.

The current plans for the HS2 station at Euston will see it delivered in two phases, with six platforms opened first to carry HS2 trains on the first stage of the railway up to the West Midlands. The second phase of the Euston station would open later, with an additional 5 platforms to manage demand when HS2 is extended to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds.

Phase one was scheduled for completion in 2026, and phase two in 2033.

This paragraph describes the latest idea from the Department for Transport.

However, the Oakervee review from last year called for a redesign of the station scaling back the station and increasing the amount of oversite development to fund it. Earlier this year it was revealed that the Department for Transport has instructed HS2 to refine the development to build it in one phase, but with just 10 platforms instead of 11 platforms.

There are now two camps arguing as to whether the station should be built with ten or eleven platforms.

I used to write project management software for four decades.

I have seen and heard of many arguments like these where money, time and resources push the design of a project one way or another.

My feeling is that Oakervee is right to recommend increasing the amount of oversite development to fund the station, as there are a lot of knockers of High Speed Two, who object to the amount of money being spent.

But this might mean that the station should be built in one phase, so that the oversite development can proceed at pace on the whole site, rather than just half at a time. I wasn’t involved in the planning of Canary Wharf, but it did seem to go up faster than other developments. And it was a large site!

So perhaps building the station in one phase will get it finished earlier in a better financial state.

But the downside of that, is the station will have ten platforms instead of eleven. But it will have ten platforms from the day it opens!

I would object to the reduction in the number of platforms, if it made High Speed Two more difficult to operate.But I do tend to believe those who say that High Speed Two can manage with ten platforms, as signalling, train design and operation is improving fast.

As an example, I think the next generation of high speed trains will be able to be turned faster in a terminal station.

The test of this statement will come in a few months, when I take a ride to Edinburgh on the new East Coast Trains service, which seems to be proposing to run to a tight timetable. This says to me, that they have found ways of running more efficiently!

Conclusion

I will let others choose the number of platforms at Euston, but I reserve the right to criticise their decision.

Although, I do believe that it could be better to build the station in one phase to maximise the oversite development and optimise the cash flow to pay for the project, both during the building and in the operation.

I would also hope to see some radical ideas for the uses of the oversite development. But I suspect, it will be more of the same.

August 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

East Kilbride Electrification Underway

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

These are the last two paragraphs.

As well as electrification, improvements on the line will include an upgrade of East Kilbride station, relocation of Hairmyres station 600 metres to the west, platform extensions and accessibility upgrades. The aim is to provide a four trains per hour eight-car electric service at peak periods. A parallel project will cover electrification between Busby Junction and Barrhead.

The Scottish Government’s plan is to decarbonise its passenger rail services by 2035, chiefly through electrification. It has recently been confirmed that partial electrification of the Borders and Fife Circle routes will follow after the East Kilbride and Barrhead lines, with battery EMUs deployed on these lines.

Because partial electrification is mentioned, it looks like Scotland is getting serious about using battery-electric trains.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the section of the Glasgow South Western Line, that includes Kilmarnock station and the branch to East Kilbride station.

The route North of Strathbungo continues to Glasgow Central station.

Which Sections Will Be Electrified?

I will take each of the sections in turn starting at the North.

Between Muirhouse South And Busby Junctions

This sentence is from the Modern Railways article.

Contractor SPL will commence on-site activities between Muirhouse South Junction and Busby Junction, including piling and construction steelwork foundations to support overhead masts.

On the map, Muirhouse South Junction is to the North of Stratbumgo and Busby junction is clearly marked and is where the East Kilbride branch joins the main line.

This section of new electrification is only around two miles long.

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail: Strathbungo Locals Vote For New Footbridge.

There have been many bridge replacements for electrification, but this surely must be one of the first, where local people have voted for their preferred design.

The only other bridges on this section appear to be two substantial road bridges, where with any luck, it should be possible to squeeze the wires underneath.

Between Busby Junction And Barrhead Station

The other section listed for electrification is between Busby junction and Barrhead station.

This second section is only around 3.7 miles long and there are only two overbridges, both of which look modern.

Taking the two sections of electrification together they total under twelve track-miles and they are in a continuous straight line

I doubt, that together, they are the one of the world’s most challenging railway electrification projects.

Busby Junction and East Kilbride Station

There is no specific information about electrification between Busby junction and East Kilbride station.

  • The branch is 7.8 miles long.
  • There are fifteen overbridges on the branch.

In Plans To Introduce Battery Powered Trains In Scotland, Hitachi are quoted as saying that their trains will do sixty miles on batteries.

This should be more than enough range to run services to East Kilbride on battery power.

Barrhead and Kilmarnock Stations

There is no specific information about electrification between Barrhead and Kilmarnock stations.

  • The distance is 16.8 miles.
  • There are eleven overbridges between the two stations.

It would appear that Hitachi’s quoted sixty mile range, would be sufficient to enable battery-electric trains to run between the electrification at Barrhead and Kilmarnock station.

Operation

The various services between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride and Kilmarnock stations will probably operate as follows.

  • Glasgow Central To East Kilbride – Electrification for traction and battery charging to Crossmyloof station and then battery power.
  • East Kilbride To Glasgow Central – Battery power and gravity to Crossmyloof station and then electrification.
  • Glasgow Central To Barrhead – Electrification for traction all the way.
  • Barrhead to Glasgow Central – Electrification for traction all the way.
  • Glasgow Central To Kilmarnock – Electrification for traction and battery charging to Barrhead station and then battery power.
  • East Kilbride To Glasgow Central – Battery power to Barrhead station and then electrification.

Note.

  1. All power changeovers could be arranged to take place in stations.
  2. Gravity can be used to assist trains from East Kilbride to Glasgow Central.
  3. Glasgow Central and Barrhead services don’t need trains with batteries.
  4. The return trip between Crossmyloof and Glasgow central stations, should be more than enough to charge the batteries.

The project would appear to have been very well-designed for a fleet of battery-electric trains, with respect to reliability and electrical efficiency.

Onward To Carlisle And Stranraer

Hitachi’s system for discontinuous electrification, that I discussed in Solving The Electrification Conundrum, would appear to be ideal to extend electric trains to Carlisle and Stranraer.

Barrhead and Carlisle are 108 miles apart and Barrhead and Stranraer are 90 miles apart.

By adding two or three intermediate sections of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, it should be possible for electric trains to reliably travel between Glasgow Central and Carlisle or Stranraer.

Project Management

This electrification project could be a Project Manager’s dream.

Electrification projects in the UK can turn out to be nightmares, as if it can go wrong, it inevitably will.

But with this project, it appears that it is planned to get the often-troublesome job of erecting the gantries out of the way early.

The electrification between Muirhouse South junction and Barrhead station can even be completed first, so that passengers can see the benefit of electric trains and the electrification can be fully tested.

There are then a series of independent projects, that can be performed in the most convenient order.

  • Track upgrades.
  • Rebuild East Kilbride station.
  • Move Hairmyres station to its new position.
  • Platform extensions.
  • Improve accessibility.
  • Deliver the new battery-electric trains.

Note.

  1. It looks to me, that all of these smaller projects can be performed, whilst maintaining a full rail service on the railway. Doing that with conventional electrification usually results in some disruption.
  2. Late delivery of the battery-electric trains will not delay the overall project, if there are enough diesel multiple units to fill in.
  3. Passengers will see benefits and new facilities delivered in a stream, rather than all at once.

Similar processes can be used to extend the network to Carlisle and Stranraer.

Conclusion

This is a well-designed project.

 

August 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossrail: Report Finds Not Enough Money To Finish Project

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

The cost of completing Crossrail exceeds available funding, the government spending watchdog has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the cost of the new rail link will be between £30m and £218m above the current funding.

After such a good start with the tunneling and surface line going well, how did we get here?

My main business for nearly forty years was writing project management software and that gave me a deep insight into the dynamics and mathematics of large projects.

The software, I created in the 1970s; Artemis was deeply involved in the most important project of the time; North Sea Oil.

But then more by luck, than any judgement on my part, it was well suited to solving the management problems of North Sea Oil.

The software ran on a small Hewlett-Packard mini-computer with an attached display and a printer, whose footprint, gave Artemis an advantage over competitors who needed a mainframe, for which there was no office space in Aberdeen.

I had first got involved in scheduling resources at ICI about five years earlier and because from previous experience I knew resources would be critical, I gave the program extension resource aggregation and scheduling capabilities.

I have been told that the latter proved invaluable in successfully developing North Sea Oil. People may have been flattering me, but I do know that Shell used to ensure that all their suppliers used Artemis, so they could check easily if they were being told the truth.

I suspect that Shell and others used the aggregation capability to see that they weren’t overloading the pool of labour available.

Artemis definitely proved itself capable of handling the various projects in the North Sea.

We have now moved on forty years, but has project management moved on to cope with the advances in technology of the modern world?

As with North Sea Oil in Aberdeen, in the 1970s, Crossrail and other large projects like Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport will always have a need for large numbers of resources, be they men, materiel or machines.

I have some questions.

  • Do all contractors working on Crossrail use the same software?
  • Does Crossrail have the right to inspect the contractors project management systems?
  • Is the upward reporting what it needs to be?
  • Does the software the contractors use, have an aggregation capability?
  • Do Crossrail track and predict the resources needed?

Someone I respect told me, that a lot of modern project management software doesn’t even have an aggregation capability- Enough said!

I must admit, aggregation and scheduling software is difficult to write, so it might be easier to cut it out and let your clients muddle through!

Worsening The Resource Problem

Crossrail,the Greater London Authority and the Boroughs should have been monitoring this growing resource problem, but I doubt they were in anything other than a perfunctory way!

Instead the politicians were giving planning permission to anybody with money, who wanted to build a shiny new development close to a station.

These project would need more men, materiel or machines.

As many of these new developments are backed by companies or funds with bottomless pockets to get their developments finished they are prepared to pay more for their labour.

So labour has been deserting Crossrail in droves, thus further delaying the project.

Senior politicians in the Greater London Authority and the boroughs should accept some responsibility for Crossrail’s delay.

They didn’t need to withhold the planning permission, just say that construction could’t commence until an appropriate phase of Crossrail was open.

In some parts of the world, brown envelopes will have changed hands, but it would be nice to know how many mayors and senior politicians have had holidays in places, they would not normally visit.

Senior project managers tell me, that they would not be surprised if developments along Crossrail had delayed the project.

The Covid Problem

No-one saw Covid coming, except possibly the Chinese.

But good project management is all about negotiating the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

There is the story of the miniMetro production line.

The first body shells coming out of the automated welder were crooked and it turned out that the machine had hit a motorway bridge in Germany. But by good project management using Artemis, British Leyland engineers were able to get the second line working before the first and the car was launched on time.

With Covid, the Mayor shut construction, and it was some months before it restarted again.

I am certain, that with good project management we could have done better.

Covid is also a good excuse for lateness.

On the other hand good project management got the vaccines developed, manufactured and delivered into arms.

Covid also blew a big hole in Transport for London’s finances.

But then so did Sadiq Khan’s Fare Freeze, that brought him to office.

Could Crossrail Have Part-Opened Earlier?

I often ponder this and others ask me if it would be possible.

The Victoria Line was built with crossovers and it was able to open in phases.

Crossrail has crossovers in the following places.

  • Either side of Custom House station
  • To the West of Whitechapel station
  • Between Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations

Note.

  1. It doesn’t appear to have been built for part opening.
  2. From media reports, it appears Whitechapel station is the basket case in the East.

The answer is probably that Crossrail can’t be part-opened, but there are reasons, why it could be opened earlier.

  • To generate a small amount of revenue.
  • To give travellers and Londoners in general a lift.

The only practical service would be a few trains turning at Farringdon.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Rolls-Royce Seeks Private Funds To Power Nuclear Project

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

The article is based on this press release on the Rolls-Royce web site, which is entitled More Power And Updated Design Revealed As Nuclear Power Team Targets First Place In The Assessment Queue In Autumn 2021.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The consortium, led by Rolls-Royce, which is creating a compact nuclear power station known as a small modular reactor (SMR), has revealed its latest design and an increase in power as it completes its first phase on time and under budget.

It has also announced it is aiming to be the first design to be assessed by regulators in the second half of 2021 in the newly-opened assessment window, which will keep it on track to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.

It would appear that they are following AstraZeneca’s example and building the relationships with the regulators early, so the process of regulation doesn’t delay entry into service.

An Updated Design

These two paragraphs describe the design changes.

As the power station’s design has adjusted and improved during this latest phase – with more than 200 major engineering decisions made during this latest phase – the team has optimised the configuration, efficiency and performance criteria of the entire power station , which has increased its expected power capacity, without additional cost, from 440 megawatts (MW) to 470MW.

The refreshed design features a faceted aesthetic roof; an earth embankment surrounding the power station to integrate with the surrounding landscape; and a more compact building footprint, thanks to successes optimising the use of floor space.

These changes appear to be positive ones.

Transformation To A Focussed Business

Rolls-Royce are transforming the current consortium to an as yet unnamed stand-alone business, as detailed in this paragraph from the press release.

With a focus on continuing its progress at pace, the UK SMR team is transitioning from being a collaborative consortium to a stand-alone business, which will deliver a UK fleet of power stations to become a low carbon energy bastion alongside renewables, while securing exports to make the power station a key part of the world’s decarbonisation toolkit.

Are Rolls-Royce aiming to repeat the success they’ve had with Merlins in World War II and large turbofan engines for airliners with small modular nuclear reactors that decarbonise the world? The strategy is certainly not going against the heritage of the company.

Use Of A Small Modular Nuclear Reactor

This paragraph from the press release outlines a few uses.

The power station’s compact size makes it suitable for a variety of applications, helping decarbonise entire energy systems. Each power station can supply enough reliable low carbon power for around one million* homes, or be used to power net zero hydrogen and synthetic aviation fuel manufacturing facilities, desalination plants or energy intensive industrial sites.

Their size would appear to increase the number of applications.

Hydrogen Production

I particularly like the idea of using an SMR to produce hydrogen for chemical feedstock or to make steel.

I indicated this in Will INEOS And Rolls-Royce Get Together Over Hydrogen Production?

I estimate that a 470 MW SMR would produce around 4,900 tonnes of hydrogen per day.

The numbers certainly seem convenient.

Cost Of Energy And Capital Costs

Tom Samson, Chief Executive Officer of the UK SMR consortium is quoted as saying.

Nuclear power is central to tackling climate change, securing economic recovery and strengthening energy security. To do this it must be affordable, reliable and investable and the way we manufacture and assemble our power station brings down its cost to be comparable with offshore wind at around £50 per megawatt-hour.

Hinckley Point C has a strike price of over £80 per megawatt-hour.

The release also gives a price of around £2.2 billion per unit dropping to £1.8 billion by the time five have been completed.

Benefits To The UK

The press release lists these benefits to the UK.

  • create 40,000 regional UK jobs by 2050
  • generate £52 billion of economic benefit
  • have 80% of the plant’s components sourced from the UK
  • target an additional £250 billion of exports – memoranda of understanding are already in place with Estonia, Turkey and the Czech Republic

The value of exports would indicate export sales of over a hundred reactors.

Lifetime

The press release indicates the following about the lifetime of the reactors.

  • The reactor will operate for at least 60 years.
  • The design, which will be finalised at the end of the regulatory assessment process, proposes that all used fuel will be stored on each site for the lifetime of the plant.

I would assume that Rolls-Royce are developing a philosophy for taking the SMRs apart at the end of their life.

Construction

This paragraph from the press release talks about the construction process.

The power station’s design cuts costs by using standard nuclear energy technology used in 400 reactors around the world, so no prototyping is required. The components for the power station are manufactured in modules in factories, before being transported to existing nuclear sites for rapid assembly inside a weatherproof canopy. This replicates factory conditions for precision activities and further cuts costs by avoiding weather disruptions. The whole sequence secures efficiency savings by using streamlined and standardised processes for manufacturing and assembly, with 90% of activities carried out in factory conditions, helping maintain extremely high quality. In addition, all spoil excavated will be reused on site to build the earth embankment, removing the need for it to taken off site, reducing road journeys that are both financially and environmentally costly.

I have talked to project managers, who have assembled factory-built railway stations and their experiences would back the Rolls-Royce method of construction.

My project management knowledge would also indicate, that the construction of an SMR could be much more predictable than most construction projects, if the factory-built modules are built to the specification.

Funding

According to the article in The Times, the consortium now seems to be in line for £215 million of Government funding, which will unlock £300 million of private funding.

Conclusion

It looks like this project will soon be starting to roll.

 

May 18, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Finance | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ashington Targets 2023 Opening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the sub-title.

A half-hourly service to Newcastle is planned.

The two trains per hour (tph) service and the opening date sounds just what is needed. Not just on the Northumberland Line, but in many places in the UK.

I would suggest some of the following.

There are also some much-needed stations, that could be added.

If we can create and manufacture a vaccine in a year, we can surely do a lot on a rail project in two years. And a lot of them! How many construction firms and workers would it keep employed?

The Modern Railways article gives a few more details.

How, Not If

This is the title of the first sub-section and sounds good to me!

It looks like Network Rail and others intend to apply good project management to deliver the project, fast and at a good price.

They haven’t been the best in the past, is all I’ll say!

Six Stations

This is said.

In summary, six new stations are proposed, at Northumberland Park (interchange with the Tyne and Wear Metro), Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington and Ashington. An extension at the Northern end to Woodhorn is possible at a later stage.

Other points made include.

  • Ashington is envisaged as the terminus.
  • There are level crossing issues between Ashington and Woodhorn
  • There will be a cycleway connecting Blyth Bebside with the town centre. With all those B’s, they need an Geordie equivalent to Boris bikes!

It sounds well-thought out to me.

Butterwell Freight Line

This is said.

Also for consideration at a later stage is conversion of the currently freight-only Butterwell Line to passenger use, permitting a service from Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth to Newcastle via Bedlington.

This Google Map shows the railway lines North of Ashington.

Note.

  1. The big grey building at the bottom of the map is Asda’s Ashington superstore.
  2. There is a rail junction to the West of the superstore.
  3. The line going South leds to Bedlington and Newcastle.
  4. The line going North-East goes to Woodhorn, Lynemouth Power station and the Alcan Smelter.
  5. The Line going North West through the trees is the Butterwell Line, which goes to the Butterwell Opencast coal mine, Widdrington station and up the East Coast Main Line to Berwick-on-Tweed.

This second Google Map shows to the North of the first one.

Note the Butterwell Line runs from the South East corner of the map through the woods and to the East of the Ellington landfill site.

This third Google Map shows the route of the line to the East Coast Main Line.

Note.

  1. The electrified East Coast Main Line runs North-South down the Western site of the map.
  2. The large fields may indicate that coal has been removed and they have been restored.
  3. The Butterwell Line meanders its way across the map.
  4. Trains would appear to be able to enter and leave the Butterwell Line to or from the East Coast Main Line to and from the South only.
  5. The next station to the South is Pegswood and to the North is Widdrington.
  6. At the East of the map, the line connects to the line to Ashington through the woods.
  7. The Butterwell Line appears to be a mix of single and double track.

I wonder if Network Rail and train companies have a cunning plan for train services on this section of the East Coast Main Line.

Current services on the East Coast Main Line, that use the section of the line between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed include.

  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh/Glasgow – Stops irregularly at Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
  • East Coast Trains – 5 trains per day (tpd) – Stops at Morpeth
  • LNER – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Berwick-on-Tweed
  • Northern Trains – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Stops at Manors and Cramlington
  • Northern Trains – 2 tpd – Newcastle and Chathill – Stops at Manors, Cramlington, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Newcastle and Edinburgh – Stops at Morpeth

Note.

  1. Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get at least one fast tph to both Newcastle and Edinburgh.
  2. Stations between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed get only a two tpd service.
  3. Stations between Newcastle and Morpeth get a 1 tph service.
  4. The East Coast Main Line is only two tracks and I suspect that Northern’s slow diesel multiple units are not ideal trains for the route.

The obvious improvement would surely be to run an hourly train between Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed, via Bedlington.

  • It would stop at Northumberland Park, Seaton Delaval, Newsham, Blyth Bebside, Bedlington, Ashington, Pegswood, Morpeth, Pegswood, Widdrington, Acklington and Alnmouth.
  • There would be a reverse at Morpeth.
  • It would join the East Coast Main Line between Pegswood and Widdrington stations.
  • Trains could be timed, so that passengers between Cramlington and Alnmouth only waited a couple of minutes during change at Morpeth.
  • Faster trains would be used to ease train pathing on the East Coast Main Line.

Current fastest times between Newcastle, Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed are as follows.

  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Newcastle – LNER – 67 miles – 46 minutes – 87 mph
  • Berwick-on-Tweed and Morpeth – LNER – 50.2 miles – 30 minutes – 100.4 mph
  • Morpeth and Newcastle – TransPennine Express- 17.5 miles – 26 minutes – 40.4 mph

It looks to me that because of the times North of Morpeth, that a high performance train or some cunning signalling will be needed.

Britishvolt’s Gigaplant

BritishVolt are building a factory to produce lithium-ion batteries at Blyth.

The Modern Railways article says this.

Recent news concerning Blyth is that it has been selected as the site for Britain’s first ‘gigaplant’ for electric car battery production, with a planning application for the 95-hectare site on the north of the river Blyth (the location of the former Blyth power station) submitted by Britishvolt in February. The £2.6billion scheme is expected to generate about 3000 jobs; if all goes well, lithium-ion batteries could be produced on the site by the end of 2023. The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

I looked at Britishvolt’s web site and if I was graduating soon, I don’t think it would fire me up, unlike others in similar sectors.

We live in exciting times, so don’t have a boring web site, as it will not attract exciting and enthusiastic people.

This Google Map shows the Port of Blyth.

Note.

  1. The red arrow at the top of the map labelled as a former power station, which must be Blyth power station.
  2. There is certainly a large cleared site to the South of the arrow.
  3. The Port of Blyth is to the East.
  4. Because of the power station and the port the site could be rail connected fairly easily.

Britishvolt seem to be planning to use rail freight to bring in raw materials and take out finished product.

The Modern Railways article says this.

The new factory will be about 2.5 miles from Bebside station and there has been talk of linking to the site with a shuttle bus.

As there is a rail connection, at some point in the future could a shuttle train be used? Or perhaps a few trains per day between the factory and Newcastle.

A Bridge For The A1061 At Newsham

The Modern Railways article says this.

A new road bridge will be built on the A1061 to replace Newsham level crossing.

This Google Map shows where the Northumberland Line crosses the A1061 at the level crossing at Newsham.

Note.

  1. The railway is double-track through the level crossing.
  2. It doesn’t appear to be a challenging project.
  3. A bridge could either be built along the existing route or a few metres to the South.

But as it looks like there could be more housing development in the area, would a bold design, that would allow a station to be added later be better?

Two Footbridges

The Modern Railways article says this.

In addition, there will be two new footbridges; Palmersville Dairy (replacing Palmersville foot crossing) and Chase Meadows (replacing Chase Meadows foot crossing).

This Google Map shows the Palmersville foot crossing to the West of Palmersville station on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Note.

  1. The Northern pair of tracks are the Tyne and Wear Metro.
  2. The Southern pair of Tracks are the Northumberland Line.
  3. Palmersville and Northumberland Park stations are to the East.
  4. The current foot crossing is shown over the Northumberland Line.

It would appear that there is plenty of space for a footbridge.

Two Trains Per Hour

The Modern Railways article says this about infrastructure improvements to enable two trains per hour.

An extension of the double-track south from Newsham, for about 1 km in the direction of Seaton Delaval, along with a new 2.4 km passing loop between Holywell and Seghill, are in place in order to permit a half-hourly service in both directions.

From the maps, it looks like about half the route between Northumberland Park station and Seghill will be double-track.

It may even be possible to extend the double-track further South towards Northumberland Park station, if there became a need to run more trains on the Northumberland Line.

Operations

The Modern Railways article says this.

It is assumed that Class 158 DMUs will be the rolling stock for the first couple of years of service to Ashington, with three or four units required. Conversion of these trains (or replacement with new) to allow battery-electric operation is envisaged for the later years of this decade. There will be provision for two-car services at the outset with passive provision for extension to four-cars in the infrastructure works.

In Trains: £34m For Revival Of 50-Year-Old North-East Railway Line, I felt that the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be ideal for this route.

I said this.

I’m drawn inextricably to the conclusion, that the trains should be 100 mph battery-electric trains.

Hitachi, who have a factory in the North-East, have announced their Regional Battery Train in July 2020, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

These trains can be based on Class 385 trains.

    • They are 100 mph trains.
    • They come in three- and four-cars lengths.
    • The three-car trains have 206 seats.
    • They can work in pairs.
    • They can use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • They have a range of 90 kilometres or 56 miles on battery power.
    • The batteries would be charged on the ECML between Benton North junction and Newcastle station.
    • The battery packs will be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation in Sunderland.
    • They have big windows for the views.

I’m sure Hitachi, Hyperdrive and Britishvolt would like a fleet in service, just up the road from their factories.

Now that the extension to between Ashington and Berwick-upon-Tweed via Morpeth is being talked about, I suspect that battery-electric trains, will be ideal for this route.

Distances without electrification of the two routes are as follows.

  • Benton North Junction and Ashington – 19 miles – 38 miles round trip
  • Benton North Junction and Widdrington – 27 miles

These distances are well within the planned range of the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains and they would even be capable of working a round trip to Ashington without charging at the Northern end of the route.

Batteries can be charged on the East Coast Main Line on the following sections of the route.

  • Between Benton North Junction and Newcastle.
  • Between Morpeth and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations.

Their fast acceleration and 100 mph operating speed mean that it could keep out of the way of the 140 mph Hitachi trains North of Morpeth.

Calling At Manors Station

The Modern Railways article says that because the East Coast Main Line is so busy, some peak services may have to omit the call at Manors station in the suburbs of Newcastle that is envisaged for the off-peak services.

I wonder with their faster acceleration, if the Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be able to handle the stop at Manors station for all services.

Development At Ashington

The Modern Railways article gives this quote from Network Rail’s manager for the reopening project.

For instance in the centre of Ashington there’s a rather grim 1960s tower block that is owned by the county council that could be replaced by something more appropriate to today’s needs. This is Wansbeck Square in the centre of the town; the square is in line to be remodelled to make it more attractive. The integrated station and development need to be delivered at the same time for maximum impact.

This Google Map shows the Northerland Line going through the centre of the town of Ashington.

Note.

  1. Station Road running East-West .across the top of the map.
  2. The 1960s block could be to the West of the railway, especially as the Southern part is labelled Northumberland County Council.
  3. The site to the West of the railway does appear to be quite large.

The new station and the Wansbeck Square site does look look to have strong development potential.

 

 

 

April 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Piney Point: Emergency Crews Try To Plug Florida Toxic Wastewater Leak

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Emergency crews in Florida have been working to prevent a “catastrophic” flood after a leak was found in a large reservoir of toxic wastewater.

This Google Map shows the location.

Note.

  1. At the top of the map is an area called Tampa Bay Estuarine Ecosystem Rock Ponds.
  2. The reservoir appears to be in the South East corner of the map.
  3. There appear to be several chemical works to the West of the highway.

This second Google Map shows the reservoir at a larger scale.

Note.

  1. The picture in the BBC article was taken from the North West.
  2. The problem reservoir is right and above of centre.
  3. To its right is Lake Price, which appears to be the sort of lake to sail a boat and perhaps do a bit of fishing and swimming.
  4. Moore Lake to the South appears similar to Lake Price.

It looks to me that it is not the place to have an environmental incident.

This article in The Times says this.

Engineers are furiously pumping the phosphate-rich water into the sea to avoid an uncontrolled spill at Piney Point, whose failure could unleash a 20ft-high wall of toxic effluent.

Pumping it into the sea? Surely not?

I suspect there could have been a mixture of sloppy management and loose regulation, with minimal enforcement and I’ll be interested to see what recommendations are put forward by the inevitable investigation.

In my varied past, I was once indirectly involved, in the toxic waste that comes out of chemical plants. At the time, I was working for ICI in Runcorn and my main job was building designing and building instruments for the various chemical plants in and around Runcorn.

As they had hired me because of my programming skills, they asked me if I could do a few small jobs on their Ferranti Argus 500, which could be plugged in to both their Varian NMR machine and their AEI mass spectrometer.

With the former, to get better accuracy in analysis of chemicals, I would take successive scans of a sample and aggregate them together. The accuracy of the results would be proportion to the square root of the number of scans.

The second to my mind was more difficult and much more interesting.

This explanation of mass spectroscopy is from Wikipedia.

Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are typically presented as a mass spectrum, a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used in many different fields and is applied to pure samples as well as complex mixtures.

ICI at Runcorn had a lot of complex mixtures and the aim of my project, was to take a mass spectrum and automatically decide what chemicals were present in the mixture.

The mass spectra were presented as a long graph on a roll of thermal paper. I noticed that operators would pick out distinctive patterns on the graph, which they told me were distinctive patterns of chlorine ions.

Chlorine has an unusual atomic weight of 35.5 because it is a mixture of two stable isotypes Chlorine-35 and Chlorine-37, which produced these distinctive patterns on the spectra.

I was able to identify these patterns to determine the number of chlorine atoms in a compound. By giving the algorithm a clue in stating how many carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms could be involved, it was able to successfully identify what was in a complex mixture.

All this was programmed on computer with just 64K words of memory and a half-megabyte hard disc.

ICI must have been pleased, as I got a bonus.

One of the jobs the software was used for was to identify what chemicals were present in the lagoons alongside the River Weaver, which are shown today in this Google Map.

Note.

  1. The chemical works, which were part of ICI in the 1960s, to the North of the Weaver Navigation Canal.
  2. The two former lagoons between the canal and the River Weaver, which seem to have been cleaned out and partially restored.
  3. Was that a third large lagoon to the South of the River Weaver?
  4. There also appears to be a fourth smaller triangular lagoon between the canal and the river.

There certainly seems to have been a better clear-up in Runcorn, than in Florida.

I moved on from Runcorn soon after, I’d finished that software and have no idea how or if it developed and was used.

But the techniques I used stayed in my brain and were used at least four times in the future.

  • In the design of a Space Allocation Program for ICI Plastics Division.
  • In the design of two Project Management systems for Time Sharing Ltd.

And of course, they were also used in designing the scheduler in Artemis for Metier.

I

 

April 5, 2021 Posted by | Computing, Design, World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Way Out Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine Row With The EU

This article on the BBC is entitled Brexit: EU Introduces Controls On Vaccines To NI.

These are the introductory paragraphs of the article.

The EU is introducing controls on vaccines made in the bloc, including to Northern Ireland, amid a row about delivery shortfalls.

Under the Brexit deal, all products should be exported from the EU to Northern Ireland without checks.

But the EU believed this could be used to circumvent export controls, with NI becoming a backdoor to the wider UK.

The row involving AstraZeneca, the UK and the EU is now getting serious,

I think, the EU are missing an opportunity.

My Experience Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine

Yesterday, I received my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which I wrote about in Job Done – I’ve Now Had My First Covid-19 Vaccination.

As I am an engineer, who helped to finance a drug-delivery system, I know a bit about the subject of drug delivery.

My jab yesterday seemed to have been administered very quickly and painlessly, without fuss. I regularly have B12 injections as I’m coeliac and this AstraZeneca one was certainly less painful for me.

Have AstraZeneca designed the vaccine and its delivery system so that it will have application in mass vaccination situations like refugee camps, where thousands may need to be vaccinated quickly?

Consider.

  • It can be transported and stored at easy-to-manage temperatures.
  • I suspect that a skilled vaccinator can vaccinate more patients per hour, than with other vaccines.
  • I didn’t feel a thing, which must help those with needle phobia.
  • The vaccinator didn’t need to apply a plaster, just using a cotton wool pad and pressure. This must save time.

This looks to me, like disruptive innovation is at work.

Surely, though by streamlining the vaccination process, this will increase the number of patients vaccinated by a well-trained team. This will be what doctors ordered.

The Real Problem With The AstraZeneca Vaccine

I have worked a lot in the design of project management systems and very often, when projects go awry, it is due to a lack of resources.

It strikes me that the problem with the AstraZeneca vaccine, is that there are not enough factories to make the vaccine.

As it is easier to distribute and AstraZeneca are making it without profit, perhaps the EU should approach the UK about creating a couple of large factories to make the vaccine in suitable places across the UK and the EU.

A proportion of this increased production could be distributed to countries, that couldn’t afford a commercial vaccine or didn’t want to get ensnared by the Chinese in a Vaccines-for-Resources deal.

It should also be remembered that Oxford are at the last stages in the testing of a vaccine for malaria. That would surely be a superb encore for Oxford University and AstraZeneca. I suspect the UK will back it, but it would surely be better, if the EU backed it as well.

January 29, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments