The Anonymous Widower

Getting Our Own Back With Putin And The Russians

Perhaps we ought to get our own back on the Russians.

I’m sure some of our best scientists can create a high-strength laxative, that can be strategically smeared on handrails and door-knobs in Russia.

September 21, 2021 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Russian Convoys

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Five-Train Platoons To Operate With Virtual Coupling.

This is the first paragraph.

Russian Railways is planning to use platooning technology to operate flights of up to five freight trains next year using radio data exchange between locomotives to create a virtual coupling. The aims to reduce headways from 12 to 6 to 8 min, increasing capacity on congested sections of the Trans-Siberian main line.

As a Control Engineer, I must believe that if the Russians get the programming right, then it should work.

Similar techniques will probably be used with digital signalling in the UK and Europe, where each train is controlled by the signalling. But each train will probably have a driver.

The problem in Russia could also be the large number of ungated level crossings, which according to some I’ve met  are prone to a lot of accidents, as drivers regularly chance it after too much vodka.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Talgo and Repsol To Develop Fuel Cell Trains Powered By Renewable Hydrogen

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

This article follows the pattern, of if you’re going to build hydrogen-powered trains, you need a quality partner for your hydrogen.

I still puzzle, what Talgo will do with their factory in Scotland, if they miss out on the orders for High Speed Two.

  • Russia is an obvious market for their Spanish gauge high speed trains and delivery from Rosyth by ship is probably easier, than from Spain.
  • The UK probably needs a quality modern hydrogen train for remote routes, as does the island of Ireland.
  • As I indicated in LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, there could be a niche for a small fleet of 140 mph hydrogen bi-modes to run between London and the North of Scotland.

Note.

The UK probably has enough capacity for regional and commuter electric and battery trains, with Alstom, CAF and Hitachi all with modern trains in production.

Ireland and Russia, with their similar gauge to Spain could be worthwhile markets.

However, I do believe that the 140 mph hydrogen bi-modes would slot into substantial markets in continents and countries like Africa, Australia, Canada, India, Norway, South America, Sweden and the United States, where there are enormous mileages of standard gauge railways without electrification.

August 3, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

‘Super Train’ In Finland Sets New Record: The Equivalent Of 92 Trucks

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Finnish railway company VR Transpoint has introduced another heavy weight to the railways. Dubbed the Super Train, it carries a weight of 7,000 tonne, and 80 wagons. Moreover, it is about one kilometre long. According to the company, this sets a new record on Finnish railways.

These are a few points about the service.

  • The service runs between Vainikkala and Hamina.
  • The route appears to be electrified.
  • The super train is hauled by two Vectron locomotives.
  • Longer trains are more efficient.
  • Long trains regularly run in Russia.

This map shows the border crossing at Vainikkala.

Note.

  1. The border running South-West and North-East across the map.
  2. The giant Finnish marshalling yard in the North-West.
  3. The large Russian marshalling yard in the South-East.

This Google Map shows the Finnish Marshalling yard at Vainikkala.

I estimate that the yard is over a kilometre in length.

Passenger Trains Between Helsinki And St. Petersburg

There is also a passenger service between Helsinki and St. Petersburg, that uses this route called Allegro, that usually runs thrice daily.

The trains are Alstom Pendolinos, specially designed for the route and are detailed in this section called Vehicles in the Allegro Wikipedia entry.

The journey time is just three and a half hours.

If you want to buy tickets, this page on The Man In Seat 61 gives all the details.

Conclusion

It looks like the Finns and the Russians have co-operated well to create a quality passenger and freight link between their two countries.

April 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Coronavirus: Why Combining The Oxford Vaccine With Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine Could Make It More Effective

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

The Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, gives the basic details of the vaccine.

The Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (codenamed AZD1222) is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca given by intramuscular injection, using as a vector the modified chimpanzee adenovirus ChAdOx1. One dosing regimen showed 90% efficiency when a half-dose was followed by a full-dose after at least one month, based on mixed trials with no participants over 55 years old. Another dosing regimen showed 62% efficiency when given as two full doses separated by at least one month.

It puzzles me and I suspect it puzzles experts, that the two different vaccination regimes gave different answers.

The article on the Conversation says this.

This was intriguing. Why would giving people less of the vaccine lead to a more effective immune response? The answer to this may lie in the design of the vaccine, and could mean that there are ways to make this vaccine – and others that use the same design – more effective.

I will attempt to answer this question, in the rest of this post.

The Russian Sputnik V Vaccine

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for the Oxford–Russian Sputnik V vaccine, gives the basic details of the vaccine.

Gam-COVID-Vac, trade-named Sputnik V, is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, and registered on 11 August 2020 by the Russian Ministry of Health.

In most countries following guidelines of the World Health Organization, vaccine candidates are not approved for regular use until safety and efficacy data from Phase III trials are assessed and confirmed internationally by regulators. Gam-COVID-Vac was initially approved for distribution in Russia on the preliminary results of Phase I-II studies eventually published on 4 September 2020.

The quick approval of Gam-COVID-Vac was met with criticism in mass media and precipitated discussions in the scientific community whether this decision was justified in the absence of robust scientific research confirming the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

In December 2020, interim analysis from 22,714 participants in a Phase III trial were published, claiming 91% efficacy with no unusual side effects.

Wikipedia says, that a medical citation is needed for the Phase III trial.

Both Vaccines Are Viral-Vector Vaccines

The Oxford vaccine is based around a modified chimpanzee adenovirus ChAdOx1, whilst the Russian vaccine is based on two human adenoviruses.

Adenoviruses are a family of viruses, that include the common cold.

The two shots of the Oxford vaccine are identical in composition, but the two shots of the Russian vaccine use a different adenovirus.

Both vaccines are what is known as viral vector vaccines.

Both vaccines would appear to deliver the same details of the spike protein of the virus to prime the body’s immune system to fight the real virus.

A Possible Problem With Viral-Vector Vaccines

This is a paragraph from the article on the Conversation, which talks of a problem with viral-vector vaccines.

When a person is given a viral-vector vaccine, as well as generating an immune response against the coronavirus’s spike protein, the immune system will also mount a response against the viral vector itself. This immune response may then destroy some of the booster dose when it is subsequently delivered, before it can have an effect. This has long been recognised as a problem.

It looks like a case of shoot the messenger to me.

The Russian Solution To The Problem

The Russian vaccine appears to get round the problem, by using two different adenoviruses in their two shots. There are fifty adenoviruses that affect humans, so they have a wide choice.

The first shot would only prime the immune system to the spike protein and one adenovirus, which could mean that the second and different adenovirus gets through without being attacked.

Co-Operation Between AstraZeneca And The Russians

This is the last sentence from the article on the Conversation.

This has now led to AstraZeneca testing a new hybrid vaccine schedule, comprising one dose of its vaccine and one of the Ad26-vector Sputnik V, to see if this makes the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine more effective.

I like the thinking behind this idea.

The priming for the immune system gets delivered by two totally unrelated delivery systems.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this type of hybrid vaccine developed.

Surely, if we need to vaccinate every year against an ongoing Covid-19 threat, eventually, a succession of viral-vectors can be developed to fool the immune system.

The negotiation with the Russians could be tricky.

January 23, 2021 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

A New Design For Flow Batteries

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in phys.org, which documents a development from the Mendeleev University in Russia.

The Russians are claiming they have developed a novel architecture.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage | , , | Leave a comment

DHL Targets 10-day China – Europe Transit Time

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

A few points from the article.

  • The route is 9,400 km long.
  • The train goes through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave.
  • Entry to the EU is at Braniewo in Poland.
  • The current terminals are Xi’an in China and Hamburg and Neuss in Germany.
  • Other proposed terminals include Budapest and Milan.
  • Estimated transit time is 10-12 days, as opposed to the current 15-plus days.

I’ve actually been to the area around Braniewo, which before the Second World War was partly in Germany. I wrote Railways In North East Poland about my trip, which was mainly to see wildlife.

We also got to see the Russian border.

The tag Poland In Winter shows all the posts from that trip.

 

 

April 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Oil Storage Close To Being ‘Overwhelmed’

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ships, pipelines and storage tanks holding surplus oil could be “overwhelmed” within weeks as the coronavirus pandemic causes unprecedented drops in fuel usage, the International Energy Agency warned yesterday.

So what are we going to do?

I can’t see Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States cutting oil production.

But that is what must happen!

April 16, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , | 5 Comments

President Putin To Set Up Russian Web Encyclopaedia To Rival ‘Unreliable’ Wikipedia

An article with this title, was published in yesterday’s Times.

The title is a very good summary.

December 5, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Kremlin Lets Women Drive The Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in The Times on Friday.

This was the first two paragraphs.

For decades, Russian girls who have dreamt of becoming train drivers or mechanics or captaining a ship have been forced to abandon their ambitions.

Laws prohibiting women from physically demanding employment, or jobs that could harm their chances of bearing children, were introduced by the Soviet Union in 1974, and updated by President Putin in 2000.

No wonder Russia a basket case, as they are not making best use of their resources. As do countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria!

Remember, that during the Second World War, the Nazis didn’t let women work in the war effort.

I seem to remember they lost!

 

 

 

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments