The Anonymous Widower

A Spaniard In The Works!

Whilst it was pantomime season at Westminster today, with the usual fights over, who would be best at ruining this country, something more important was happening close by.

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled Talgo Names Longannet As Site Of New Train Factory.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Spanish train manufacturer Talgo plans to build trains in Longannet, in Scotland, after confirming that its preferred location for its UK factory will be at the site of the closed power station.

The company made the announcement at Westminster today (November 14), following an 18-month search for a UK site. It also confirmed that a Research and Development site would be built at Chesterfield, although it would not be drawn on the relationship between the two sites.

The article also says.

  • Up to a thousand will be employed at the Scottish site.
  • Construction starts in 2020.
  • Work on trains starts eighteen months later.
  • The factory will cost £40million.
  • The branch line to the power station could be developed and used by passenger trains.
  • The site was chosen because of good access by road, rail and sea.

The article is very much worth reading.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Did Or Does Brexit Affect The Investment?

Talgo are on the short-list for the trains for High Speed Two and have always said, that they would build the trains in the UK.

I suspect that if they were to be dropped from the short-list for High Speed Two or High Speed Two were to be cancelled, these would have a bigger effect. than Brexit.

What Are Talgo’s Strengths?

The company is strong on innovation and their trains are a bit different.

The picture of two of Talgo’s high-speed trains was taken in Seville.

I think it could be an AVE Class 102 train. They are nicknames pato in Spanish, which means duck!

I wonder why?

Talgo also makes trains, that can run on both Spanish and standard gauge, which enables trains to go direct between Madrid and Paris. The company is also targeting export orders in Russia and India.

They are very much an international company.

Why Choose Longannet?

If Talgo should get the order for the classic-compatible trains for High Speed Two, they have said the trains will be manufactured in the UK.

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Joint Venture To Bid For HS2 Rolling Stock Contract.

This is an extract.

In November 2017 project promoter HS2 Ltd shortlisted Alstom, Bombardier Transportation UK, Hitachi Rail Europe, Patentes Talgo and Siemens for the rolling stock design, manufacturing and maintenance contract worth an estimated £2·75bn.

This would cover the supply of at least 54 trainsets with a maximum speed of 360 km/h for Phase 1 of HS2 between London and the West Midlands. The ‘classic compatible’ units would be able to run through from the new line onto existing infrastructure to serve destinations including York, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The formal tendering process is due to start later this year, with the contract expected to be awarded in late 2019 and entry into service planned for 2026.

54 trains for a total of £2.75billion is not a small order.

And that is only this first order, as dedicated trains will be needed as well.

Talgo’s AVE Class 102 train already runs at 330 kph and trains can automatically join and split to make four hundred metre long trains, so they can probably demonstrate a train that would be suitable for High Speed Two.

Having a factory in Scotland would surely be a plus point in the bidding process.

Longannet also will have good access to the ports at Rosyth and Grangemouth, which could be a great help in importing anything from components or complete trains and perhaps exporting carriages and trains to places like Russia, which are easier by sea from Scotland, than from Spain.

Will Talgo Bid For Other Train Contracts?

Talgo have built 125 mph bi-mode trains in the past and there are other franchises that might need such a train.

  • Southeastern to add extra capacity to domestic services on High Speed One and serve Hastings.
  • Cross Country to replace their HSTs.
  • West Coast Main Line to replace Voyagers.
  • Midland Main Line to replace HSTs and Voyagers.

There could be other franchises and routes that could use their trains.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more to this announcement than meets the eye!

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This The Most Unusual Idea For A New Railway Service in The UK?

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine there is an article about the Class 230 train demonstration in Scotland, that I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

This is a paragraph.

HITRANS Partnership Manager Frank Roach told RAIL that he was keen to interest Transport Scotland in using battery Class 230s to run shuttle services between Wick and Thurso.

I don’t live in the Far North of Scotland and I’ve never been further North on the mainland that Inverness, so I have no right to criticise the need for a new rail shuttle service between Thurso and Wick.

Consider.

  • Wick and Thurso are both towns with populations in the region of 7-8,000 people.
  • I suspect that if you live in Wick and want a new widget for your boiler, that it will be in Thurso. And of course, vice-versa!
  • Wick and Thurso get four trains per day to and from Inverness and the same number of trains each way between the two towns.
  • So it’s not very convenient if an elderly person, who can’t drive wants to go and visit their sibling or friend in the other town for the afternoon.

The two towns would appear to be twenty-nine minutes or twenty-one miles apart by rail.

The article also states that a battery-powered Class 230 train can run at up to sixty mph with acceleration similar to that of an EMU up to forty mph.

Each round trip would probably take an hour, so one train could provide an hourly service.

I would think, that using the fast charging system described in Charging A Battery-Powered Class 230 Train at Thurso and Wick stations, that a single train could shuttle all day between the two stations with an intermediate stop at Georgemas Junction station.

I suspect the Inverness and the shuttle services could interface seamlessly in something like the following way.

  • The shuttle train would arrive in Wick and connect to the charging system.
  • The Class 158 train from Inverness would arrive behind the shuttle.
  • The Class 158 train would go to Thurso and back.
  • The Class 158 train would leave for Inverness.
  • The shuttle train would resume its shuttling between Wick and Thurso.

The Class 158 would have taken over one cycle of the shuttle.

The only works needed other than the installation of the charging system, could be to lengthen the platform to accommodate the two trains.

To try to predict the number of passengers that would use this shuttle will be very difficult.

  • The train would have a high novelty value for the locals.
  • The train could run seven days a week.
  • The train could become a quirky tourist attraction.
  • Train operators might like to see it for ideas for their problem lines.
  • It might encourage a whole number of new ideas.

If say it happened at times, that the train was full, then it could probably be lengthened to by adding a trailer car.

A big beneficiary could be Vivarail.

They would have a service that was providing an hourly shuttle in a remote area, which could show off the features and benefits of the train.

  • Remote servicing.
  • No diesel fuel required.
  • Hourly running
  • Fast charging.
  • Operation in cold and inclement weather.
  • An unusual demonstration location.

There’s even the local Wick Airport to bring in interested parties.

This idea reminds me of a story I heard many years ago. GEC were attempting to sell an Air Traffic Control Radar to a Middle Eastern country.

  • The most convenient installation of this radar in the UK was at Prestwick Airport, so the GEC salesman arranged for GEC’s corporate HS 125 business jet to take the prospective purchasers.
  • It turned out to be a glorious autumn day.
  • As the Salesman returned with his guests to the plane, he was pulled aside by the pilot.
  • The pilot told him, that there was no greater sight in the world, than the Scottish Highlands on a day like this, so would he like the Arabs to be shown the views.
  • They then flew around the Highlands for thirty minutes or so before returning to London.

Was that the most unusual favour, that secured an order?

 

 

October 24, 2018 Posted by | Business, Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

London To Thurso Direct

According to Edition 863 of Rail Magazine, LNER are thinking of doing a demonstration run on this route to show off their new trains.

But is it such a daft idea?

In Rail Sleeper Plan Between Caithness And Edinburgh, I talked about a plan to operate a sleeper service on the route between Edinburgh and Thurso, which currently takes nine hours.

This journey time is definitely territory for those rail enthusiasts, who ride across America, Australia, Europe and Russia, but it is not for me.

But doing the route in day-long segments with a stop in a good hotel, in say Edinburgh and Inverness could open up an iconic tourism route to the Orkney Islands for an increasing number of intrepid travellers, many of whom, like me are past retirement age.

Travel on the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness and you meet lots of foreign tourists from all over the globe.

On all days except Saturday, there are two services between Inverness and London; a day train to and from Kings Cross and a sleeper to and from Euston.

To go North on Day 1, you take eight hours on a direct train to Inverness, with after an overnight rest, you take four hours to Thurso.

Route Proving For The New Class 800 Trains

So if nothing else it is route proving for Class 800 trains on the service between Kings Cross and Inverness, which because it serves so many places on the Highland Main Line, is an important route to the area.

From the current schedule, it looks like the train will take twelve hours, so there will surely be a lot of driver training possibilities.

It surely, will be a good marketing exercise.

Highland Main Line Improvements

This archived document was produced by Transport Scotland.

This is the first paragraph.

Upgrading the Highland Main Line is one of the Scottish Government’s key priorities. The long-term goal of the project seeks to achieve a fastest journey time of 2 hours 45 minutes between Inverness and the Central Belt with an average journey time of 3 hours and an hourly service by 2025.

A time of three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness could be possible with electrification to Perth.

Far North Line Improvements

The Far North Line between Inverness and Thurso doesn’t appear to be built for speed, as it takes a train about four hours to do the journey.

  • It is 167 miles from Inverness to Thurso.
  • It is mainly single-track with passing places.
  • There are twelve services on the line most days, with fewer on Sundays.

It should also be said, that Caledonian Sleeper are thinking of running a service between Thurso and Edinburgh and/or Glasgow, as I reported in

In the Wikipedia entry for the Far North Line, there is a section called Future Expansion, where this is said.

For many years there have been proposals to bypass the Lairg loop[note  with a line across the Dornoch Firth, linking Tain (via Dornoch, more directly with Golspie. British Rail attempted to get funding for this when the road bridge was built, but the government declined.

Now this project would involve building a new bridge over the Firth, or making dual-purpose the bridge which now carries just the A9. Discussions have been held concerning the shortening of the Far North Line involving a bridge over the Dornoch Firth and the possible use of the trackbed of the former light railway. Nothing has yet come of these ideas.

If an hour could be knocked off the journey time, I suspect it would be very beneficial, to both the local population and visitors.

What Time Could Be Achieved?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the time between London and Inverness reduced by the Class 800 trains in a couple of years, as the new trains will be able to use electricity South of Stirling and possibly Perth.

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and better signalling on the East Coast Main Line, I could see a time between London and Inverness of under seven hours.

This would enable a civilised departure from London at say eight in the morning and still be in your castle, hotel or holiday cottage in time for dinner and a wee dram or several.

If improvements were made to the Far North Line, it might be possible to go from London to Thurso in ten hours.

Could The Class 800 Train Continue To Thurso?

A Class 800 train could continue to Thurso and LNER’s test run will probably prove whether it can or not!

It could arrive in Thurso, in time for the evening ferry to the Orkneys.

I think though, that the London service would not be extended to Thurso.

  • The train would have to be fully-replenished at Thurso for the trip South.
  • A nine-car train needed between London and Inverness would be too much capacity for the Inverness to Thurso section.
  • The current Inverness to London service starts at eight in the morning and passengers wouldn’t be happy to leave Thurso at three to go straight through to London.

But I can see the reduced journey time between London and Inverness attracting more passengers to the route.

Enter The Shortened High Speed Train

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled ScotRail HSTs Enter Traffic On October 15.

This is the second paragraph.

Branded Inter7City as they will serve Scotland’s seven cities, the refurbished HST will run initially between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. More routes will follow as more sets arrive from refurbishment.

It also says that the refurbished HSTs will offer.

  • More seats,
  • Increased luggage space.
  • At seat power sockets.
  • Hospitality.

I would also expect wi-fi, comfortable seats, tables and big windows.

With their four or five Mark 3 coaches and two Class 43 power cars each with a diesel engine of around 2,200 bhp, these trains must have superb acceleration.

I estimate that a fully loaded four-car train carrying 250 passengers, will weigh about three hundred tonnes. This gives a power to weight ratio of 11.2 kW/tonne

By comparison, the the original 2+8 sets of the InterCity 125s have a power to weight ratio of 7.3 kW/tonne.

I will also add some other power to weight ratios.

  • New Routemaster bus weighing twenty tonnes with 137 kW – 6.85 kW/tonne.
  • Hummer H2 weighing 2.9 tonnes with 293 kW – 101 kW/tonne.
  • Mini One weighing 1.2 tonnes with 75 kW – 62.5 kW/tonne

Incidentally, my Lotus Elan weighed about 1050 Kg when I was driving and had power of 121 kW. This gives a power to weight ration of 115 kW/tonne.

In Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST, I described a memorable ride.

One thing I  noticed, was that the driver controlled the two engines with considerable precision, to make sure, the train was on time on what must be a challenging route, as it climbed, descended and twisted through the Highlands.

With the same amount of power in a train only half the length and weight, I suspect these trains could save time effortlessly, as a good driver in a sports car can on a twisting road.

Also, don’t underestimate the contribution, the replacement of the 1970s-style slam-doors with modern powered units, will contribute at every stop.

I looked at the actual times yesterday of the 12:00 between Kings Cross and Inverness and compared to my journey in the cab, there are less stops. So services are being speeded up and I suspect ScotRail’s trains stop more often.

Transport Scotland talked about a fastest time of two hour forty-five minutes between the Central Belt and Inverness.

When the route between Inverness and Perth has been fully modernised with passing loops, I have a feeling that times will be faster.

They will not only be an iconic forty-year-old train, but a tourist attraction in their own right, like Scottish mountains, tartan food and whisky.

Get Up In London And Go To Bed In The Orkneys

If LNER have an objective in testing London to Thurso with a Class 800 train,, it must be finding a civilised way, to be able to get between London and the Orkneys, by train and ship in both directions within a single day.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh leaves just after 06:00.
  • There has been an aim to run services between the two capitals in under four hours for as long as I can remember.
  • Modern in-cab signalling is being rolled out on the East Coast Main Line to enable 140 mph running.
  • The last ferry to the Orkneys leaves from Scrabster near Thurso at 19:00

With the improvements to the Highland Main Line and electrification to Perth, three hours between Edinburgh and Inverness should be possible in a Class 800 train or a well-driven shortened HST.

This would give LNER options to get to Inverness at a reasonable hour of the day.

Run An Early Train From London To Inverness

This could be timed to leave London at 06:00 and it could be in Inverness at 13:00.

This would give a fast train on the Far North Line six hours, including transfer to move passengers between Inverness and Scrabster.

It looks that ScotRail have the train for the job, in the shape of the shortened HST.

They could also serve an early Scottish dinner, to prepare tourists, for what could be a breezy crossing.

Run A Pair Of Class 800 trains To Both Aberdeen And Inverness

LNER’s Class 800 trains come in two sizes; five-cars and nine-cars.

Two five-cars can run as a ten-car train, that can split and join as required, in under two minutes in a suitable station.

So could we see a pair of five-car Class 800 trains leave Kings Cross and run together to Edinburgh, where one train went to Dundee, Montrose, Stonehaven and Aberdeen and the other went to Stirling, Perth and Inverness.

Consider.

  • The first train from Kings Cross to Aberdeen leaves at 07:00 in the morning.
  • The journey takes six hours.
  • There are three trains per day between London and Aberdeen.
  • The last direct train that is not a sleeper service leaves just before 15:00.
  • As with the route to Inverness, the route to Aberdeen is not electrified.

I think this option has advantages

There would be an early morning service to Edinburgh and many of the large towns and cities in Eastern Scotland.

The service only uses one path on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh.

If traffic patterns and passenger numbers are favourable, other Aberdeen services could split and join.

Running a five-car train to Inverness earlier in the day, before the main train of the day, may be a way to provide an economic service to Thurso.

  • A five-car train would probably be more affordable to run.
  • The train would be stabled at Thurso overnight.
  • It would leave for Inverness, Edinburgh and london about 10:00.
  • At Edinburgh, it could join up with an Aberdeen train at around 16:00.

Time-tabled properly, it could result in Inverness and Aberdeen getting an extra train to and from London every day.

Change At Edinburgh

Plans by various rail companies for services include.

  • LNER will continue to run two trains per hour (tph) between Edinburgh and England.
  • LNER would like to run services between London and Edinburgh in under four hours.
  • TransPennine Express will run more services to Edinburgh.
  • ScotRail will run hourly services between the seven major cities in Scotland.
  • Edinburgh to Inverness and Inverness to Thurso should both to become three hour journeys.

Edinburgh will become a very well-connected city.

If Edinburgh to Thurso could be achieved  in six hours, then any service leaving Edinburgh after about 14:00 would catch the last ferry at Scrabster for the Orkneys.

When trains between London and Edinburgh, are regularly achieving the four-hour journey, there will be several trains, that will give a change in Edinburgh suitable for passengers individual preferences.

A single change at Edinburgh could be the preferable route for many.

Conclusion

Because LNER, ScotRail and other train companies now have a large fleet of very capable trains on order, there are several possibilities to create a world-class train service to connect Scotland fully both internally on the mainland and to important destinations in the islands and England.

The renaissance of the HST as a train to provide high-quality services has been astounding.

  • ScotRail are creating twenty-six shortened HSTs for use within Scotland.
  • GWR are creating eleven similar trains for use between Penzance and Cardiff.

I would be very surprised, if more HSTs are not refurbished to modern standards.

Germany may have the Volkwagen Beetle, but we have the High Speed Train.

Could we see them on the following routes?

  • Oxford and Cambridge
  • Waterloo and Exeter
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Some Cross-Country services

There’s probably enough power-cars and coaches to make another fifty shortened HSTs, so if ScotRail’s trains are a success, I suspect we’ll see some imitation.

I suspect too, that just as engineers have found solutions to the problems in the coaches like the doors and the toilets, they will find a solution, that replaces the diesel engine in each power with some form of more eco-friendly hybrid power pack.

Consider.

  • MTU, which is a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, are developing hybrid power packs for diesel multiple units.
  • There is a lot of space in the engine compartment of the power car.
  • On most routes, 90-100 mph running will be sufficient.

Hitachi converted a power-car to work in this way ten years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 11, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Battery Train To Make Debut In Scotland

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

Vivarail are taking their demonstration battery-powered Class 230 train to the Bo’Ness and Kinneil Railway, from the 10th to the 12th of October, when members of the public have been invited to view the train.

It is an interesting marketing concept for a train.

The train will also be tested on gradients and under leaf fall conditions.

October 4, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Moving Football From Hampden To Murrayfield Is Vandalism

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

I’m not bothered, as I doubt, I’ll ever go to Scotland to watch an important Scottish football match, that would be played at their National Stadium.

But, I have been to Hampden Park before.

I was there fifty years ago, when Spurs and Celtic drew 3-3 in the Glasgow Cup. I also suspect that the 91,000 plus crowd was the largest, I’ve ever been part of.

And I was at Hampden to see the athletics in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

I have no view on the historic aspects of the possible move, except that there might be an economic case.

And I also note, France, the Republic of Ireland and Wales all have a stadium, that is shared between football and rugby.

But then Germany and Italy don’t have a national stadium for football.

I can see another big argument between Edinburgh and Glasgow on this decision.

Other the last decade though, transport links between and to and from Scotland’s two major cities have changed.

  • There have been extensions to the road network across Scotland.
  • The rail lines are being electrified and new higher-capacity Class 385 trains are being delivered.
  • Passenger numbers at both Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports have grown.

So at least getting to either stadium is becoming easier.

It will be a difficult decision to call.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Stone Arch Railway Bridges Of Scotland

There are a lot of stone arch railway bridges in the UK, but they do seem to more numerous in Scotland, than in England.

These pictures show a selection of bridges on the Borders Railway.

I counted to about fifteen between Edinburgh Waverley and Galashiels stations.

There were probably about an equal number of bridges where a stone arch bridge had been replaced by a modern concrete structure, like this one.

They’ll probably last a thousand years, but they lack the charm of the stone arch bridges.

These pictures show a selection of bridges on the Busby Railway between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride stations.

These pictures show a selection of the many bridges between Aberdeen and Montrose stations on the Edinburgh – Aberdeen Line.

I took pictures of at least twenty.

Freight Trains

Freight trains, especially those with the larger containers need a loading gauge, that is big enough to accept them.

The loading gauge in the UK, is summed up by these two sentences from Wikipedia.

Great Britain has (in general) the most restrictive loading gauge (relative to track gauge) in the world. This is a legacy of the British railway network being the world’s oldest, and having been built by a plethora of different private companies, each with different standards for the width and height of trains.

These are the commonest gauges.

  • W6a: Available over the majority of the British rail network.
    W8: Allows standard 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) high shipping containers to be carried on standard wagons.
    W10: Allows 2.9 m (9 ft 6 in) high Hi-Cube shipping containers to be carried on standard wagons and also allows 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide Euro shipping containers.
    W12: Slightly wider than W10 at 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) to accommodate refrigerated containers.

W12 is recommended clearance for new structures, such as bridges and tunnels

The Borders Railway appears to have been built to at least W8, so it could handle standard freight containers.

But the line doesn’t carry freight!

On the other hand, I suspect the following were considered, when designing the Borders Railway.

  • Network Rail and rail maintenance companies, may need to bring some large rail-mounted equipment along the line for regular or emergency maintenance.
  • If the line is extended to Carlisle, the route could be used as a diversion for freight trains, if the West Coast Main Line is closed, due to weather or engineering works.
  • There may be a need to use the Borders Railway to extract timber from the forests of the Borders.

The need for freight on the Borders Railway, explains why there are so many new overbridges.

Electrification

Electrification with overhead wires needs extra clearance.

It looks to me, that the Borders Railway has been given enough clearance for future electrification.

Problems With EGIP

Electrification under the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Program (EGIP), proved to be difficult.

It wasn’t helped by the standards changing half-way through the project and the numerous bridges and tunnels that had to be rebuilt.

An important route like Edinburgh to Glasgow probably needs to be fully-electrified, but the difficulties encountered and those in Lancashire have encouraged Network Rail and the engineering consultants to look at other methods of electrifying lines in the UK.

Electrification Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

I doubt this will ever happen in a conventional manner.

  • Would electrification of the Forth Bridge and Tay Rail Bridge be allowed?
  • The disruption of rebuilding the stone bridges would be enormous.
  • The line only has a maximum speed of 100 mph.

Diesel and alternative power sources like hydrogen will be able to maintain the fastest speeds, that are possible on the line.

Money would probably give better value, if it were to be used to increase line speed.

Opposition To Rebuilding Bridges

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Electrification Plans Stalled After Council Rejects Bridge Removal Bid.

This is first paragraph.

Campaigners are celebrating after plans from Network Rail to demolish a bridge as part of its electrification scheme were rejected by a local council.

The bridge in question is a Grade II listed overbridge at Steventon in Oxfordshire.

It is not unlike those in Scotland, that are shown in my pictures.

In the 1960s, British Rail would have just blown it up and replaced it with a concrete monstrosity.

I am not advocating a return to this policy, but Network Rail has a problem at Steventon, that they need to fully electrify the line, if electric trains are to use the route on electric power, rather than using environmentally-unfriendly diesel power.

Since the new Class 800 trains for the route were designed and ordered, the technology has moved on.

In South Wales, discontinuous electrification and trains with a battery capability will be used.

Conclusion

Scotland and other parts of the UK, like the Pennines and in the valleys of South Wales, have a serious problem with the way the Victorians built our railways.

\development of the UK rail network with electrification and an enhanced freight capability needs to be thought out carefully and with great ingenuity.

 

 

 

 

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Has The Queen Ever Ridden In a Battery-Powered Train?

Countryfile this evening had a special program about the Queen’s Scottish house and estate at Balmoral.

One archive film, showed her arriving at Ballater station in a train hauled by a locomotive with a number that looked slightly familiar. Looking it up, it was a B1 Class locomotive, which I must have seen regularly, when I went train-spotting on the West Anglia Main Line in the 1950s.

So I looked up Ballater station in Wikipedia.

The station, which was on the 43 mile long Deeside Railway from Aberdeen, is now closed but there was this paragraph on Wikipedia under Services.

When the battery multiple unit was introduced, services were doubled to six trains a day from 21 April 1958, and Sunday service reinstated. The line was chosen for testing the unit because the stations were well spaced and the 1 in 70 ruling gradients would require substantial discharge rates.

As someone very interested in railways at the time, I’d never heard of British Rail’s use of battery trains.

Remarkably, the battery electric multiple train, is still in existence and is being preserved at the Royal Deeside Railway, not far from Balmoral.

It looks to me. that a lot of engineers at Derby, made sure that this train survived.

So what was it like?

  • It was based on the Derby Lightweight diesel  multiple unit.
  • The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board initiated the design and was a joint sponsor.
  • The train had an operating speed of 60 mph.
  • The train was powered by two 100 kW traction motors.
  • Power was provided by 416 lead-acid cells, giving a total of 440 V and 1070 A hour capacity.
  • The batteries weighed nine tonnes.
  • There were seats for twelve First Class passengers and a hundred and five in Second Class.

It couldn’t been that bad a train, as it ran between Aberdeen and Ballater station from 1958 to 1962.

There’s more about the train here.

Conclusion

But I  can’t help wondering, if the Queen ever used the train!

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Catenary Masts Erected On Alloa Branch

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 851 of Rail Magazine.

Alloa is one of the many Scottish towns and cities, that I only know through the results of Alloa Athletic FC, at around 17:00 on a Saturday afternoon.

Alloa station has a chequered history with growth through the Victorian era and total closure in October 1968.

The station was demolished to make way for a leisure centre.

But then in 2008, the line to Stirling station was reopened and a new station was built.

Wikipedia says this about the reopening.

Passenger use of the new railway station has greatly exceeded forecasts and since re-opening the service has been improved by increasing evening and Sunday frequencies from two-hourly to hourly and by adding the peak hour service to Edinburgh in 2009. In its first year the station was used by 400,000 passengers, against a forecast of 155,000.

Now the branch to Alloa is getting the ultimate upgrade – It is being electrified.

This could provide a lot of useful data on the financial returns of electrification.

Use Of Battery Trains

When I first saw a map of this line which clings to the North shore of the Forth of Firth, I was surprised that Strling to Alloa should be electrified.

It is only eight miles and if it is a level coastal railway, it could surely be handled by battery-powered trains.

So why electrify now, rather than wait for Hitachi to bring their technology to the UK and save costs?

But digging deeper, there are two large industrial sites further to the East.

The railway from Alloa extends to Dunfermline Town station on the Fife Circle Line and could play a part in the development of both sites.

An electrified line to Alloa, leaves all options open.

The Wikipedia entry for the Stirling–Alloa–Kincardine Rail Link says more.

This is the first paragraph.

The Stirling–Alloa–Kincardine rail link was a project to re-open 21 kilometres (13 mi) of railway line between Stirling, Alloa and Kincardine in Scotland. The route opened to rail traffic in March 2008.

The rail link effectively had two purposes.

  • To allow passenger trains to run as far as Alloa station.
  • To allow coal trains to run to Longannet power station, without using the Forth Bridge.

The Wikipedia entry says this under Future Expansion.

The retention of the coastal route offers the possibility of providing passenger services to Dunfermline via Clackmannan, Kincardine, Culross, Valleyfield and Cairneyhill. The former direct main line from Alloa to Dunfermline (which was not proposed for closure by Dr. Beeching) is now partly obstructed by developments on the site of the old Dunfermline Upper station. There would appear to be no prospect of access to the existing Dunfermline Town (formerly Dunfermline Lower) station by this route, unless a new stretch of line were built west of Dunfermline. However, the coastal Kincardine line does give direct access to Dunfermline Town.

There has been some discussion of the possibility of providing a service to Rosyth Ferry Terminal.

The Scottish Government have a lot of options to provide the best rail system for the current rail travellers and future developments in the area.

 

 

May 8, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Scotland’s New Alcohol Pricing Laws

Scotland now has new alcohol pricing laws, as is detailed in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Scotland Ends Cheap Booze As Minimum Price Starts.

A minimum price on alcohol of fifty pence will certainly have effects, although my preferred drink of Suffolk-brewed low-alcohol gluten-free real ale from Marks and Spencer, which is just 0.25 units for a half-litre bottle at £2.60, would not be affected. I don’t think it’s even sold in Scotland, as it’s a very soft Sassenach drink.

I feel that the minimum pricing will either work very well or be a disastrous failure.

I think it depends on how law-abiding, the average Scot is!

The article in the Guardian is entitled Smoking Rate In UK Falls To Second-Lowest In Europe .

This is said.

In 2016, 15.8% of adults in the UK smoked, down from 17.2% in 2015, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Some 15.5% of adults currently smoke in England, rising to 18.1% in Northern Ireland, 17.7% in Scotland and 16.9% in Wales.

I suspect the Scottish government hope to see similar falls in the sales of alcohol, that the various smoking bans have brought.

If I walk into all the local shops round here, cheap booze is prominent, but I rarely see anybody drunk on the street and never on the buses.

On the other hand, I can’t help feeling that the higher booze prices will be just another tax on those, who can’t afford it.

 

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Food | , | 2 Comments

Caledonian Sleeper’s New Mark 5 Carriages Tested In UK For First Time

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

It appears from the article, that the project is on track, as the new Mark 5A carriages for the Caledonian Sleeper being tested on the West Highland Line, have spent time doing mandatory testing in the Czech Republic.

Two pictures in the article, show the carriages being hauled on test, by a Class 73 locomotive.

We must be only country in the world, where a flagship service, that runs virtually the whole length of the country , is hauled part of the way by a locomotive over fifty years old.

On the other hand, the Class 73 locomotives were built for the narrow tunnels and limited clearances of the Hastings Line, so they could work any of the third-rail electrified lines in the South of England.

The Highlands of Scotland may not have any electrification, but there are routes with limited clearances, where the Caledonian Sleeper will go.

So the Class 73 locomotive is an ideal choice for motive power.

 

April 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment