The Anonymous Widower

Trains With Brains(R)

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10036632

Project title: Trains With Brains(R)
Lead organisation: JR DYNAMICS LIMITED
Project grant: £248,046

Public description:

Trains with Brains(r) aims to integrate data from a range of remote condition monitoring sensors
into Network Rail’s monitoring and planning systems/processes, to enable operations and
maintenance teams to address key cost efficiency and performance priorities via more informed
possession planning.

This will be delivered via a head to toe monitoring solution, enabled via bi-directional integration
between Transmission Dynamics and Network Rail.

My Thoughts And Conclusion

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Unauthorised Cable Removal And Fault Triage

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10038790

Project title: Unauthorised Cable Removal And Fault Triage
Lead organisation: FOCUS SENSORS LIMITED
Project grant: £215,310

Public description: When cable thefts occur the operation of the railway, often in nationally critical locations, can be
brought to a standstill with significant impact on passengers and freight supply-chains. Under
extreme industry and public pressure, Network Rail must delay scheduled activities and scramble
teams to effect repairs and get critical railway operational systems working again. Current
technology may not be able to locate the break to better than a few km accuracy, meaning long
periods of manual inspection are required to locate the exact position of the theft before the repair
can be started. This wastes valuable time, increasing the effect of the theft on the efficiency of the
network and creating cost for operators and delays for customers.
This proposal is for a technology solution, using existing trackside optical fibre cables, which can be
used to locate cable thefts instantly to within +/- 1m. After a theft is reported or detected by other
system, automatic analysis will pinpoint the location of the acoustic signatures of the theft activity.
The location of the theft will be instantly displayed, both on a map overlay with geographical
coordinates, and as a linear ELR, miles and yards track location. This will enable first-responder
policing and security to be deployed sooner and more accurately. Secondly, with an accurately
timed and positioned event signature, there is an opportunity for other parties with evidence
collecting abilities (e.g. Forward Facing CCTV on trains) to more proactively, and possibly
automatically, to retain evidence which may support prosecution. Thirdly the Network Rail
engineering team will be given advanced information to allow them to attend the site with the right
materials and resource to affect an earlier resolution.

As secondary activity we will enable location of optical cable by creating a companion
georeferencing co-reference for the trackside fibre cable, so that faults and fibre issues can be
located instantly to a more precise physical location. This provides a valuable tool for Network
Rail’s engineering teams, to reduce time for maintenance and fault finding.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

My software; Daisy was used by British Rail or was it Railtrack to analyse cable faults many years ago. Because of the discussions, we had at the time, I believe that this could be a very successful project.

 

November 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel, Computing | , , , , | 2 Comments

EventGo – Intelligent Rail Service Demand Forecasting for Event-Based Travel

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10037294

Project title: EventGo – Intelligent Rail Service Demand Forecasting for Event-Based Travel
Lead organisation: YOU. SMART. THING. LIMITED
Project grant: £249,946

Public description: 

Aim: EventGo will demonstrate a first-of-a-kind solution for accurately predicting how large visitor events impact demand for specific railway services, generating advance insight on rail capacity, and enhancing the ability of TOC planning teams to optimally plan and deliver railway timetables and services. Data-enabled decision-making is expected to improve overall TOC operational performance, as demand is more precisely matched with supply in order to realise new cost efficiencies, improve yield, and deliver enhanced customer experiences. The project outcomes address the competition’s plan resilience and recoverability theme.

Challenge: Large visitor events create extreme demand peaks within the railway network. Though such events are often scheduled months in advance, accurately predicting how this demand is likely to impact a specific scheduled railway service is notoriously complex due to the lack of advance data about visitors’ travel plans. In leu, TOCs often rely on best guess estimations. As recent UEFA Champions League finals in Pairs demonstrated, underestimating visitor travel can have severe consequences for an organisation’s reputation, and visitor safety.

Project: A mature EventGo prototype solution will be deployed by UK TOC planning team to predict how a series of sporting fixtures between January and March 2023 in the Yorkshire region are likely to impact time-tabled railway services. During this period, partners will investigate how advanced insight generated by EventGo can be exploited by planners to make intelligent adjustments to scheduled services, e.g., adding capacity to specific services to match high
demand, to ensure optimal asset utilisation and deliver the highest level of customer experience.

Value: Demonstration in a live railway environment allows partners to both verify the accuracy of the model’s rail travel demand prediction, and to evidence the business value such intelligence can have on TOC operations. In addition, accrued results will facilitate product approval procedures and raise the visibility of the novel solution in the target market.

Consortium: The project is led by You. Smart. Thing. (“YST”), a specialist in intelligent mobility solutions, and supported by two UK TOCs, a top-tier sporting institution and stadium management company, and regional government partners. Professional project management is provided by In The Round (“ITR”), a UK-based consultancy specialising large visitor events travel management.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

I have been caught up in bad event planning several times and feel that this project could be very useful to plan passenger movement at large events.

I doubt, it will be a solution, that only has UK applications.

November 18, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Automating Freight Access Right Management And Spot Bidding Using Novel And Modern Software To Drive Modal Shift From Road To Rail

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10039135

Project title: Automating Freight Access Right Management And Spot Bidding Using Novel And Modern Software To Drive Modal Shift From Road To Rail
Lead organisation: HACK PARTNERS LTD.
Project grant: ££322,420

Public description: Automating today’s manual processes associated with access right management and spot bidding and wrapping these digital processes in an intuitive, integrated, modern, bespoke and scalable user system. The benefits of this innovation are not only cost efficiency but also enabling a much better experience to freight customers to drive modal shift.

November 17, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Levelling Up Freight

This project was one of the winners in the First Of A Kind 2022 competition run by Innovate UK.

In this document, this is said about the project.

Project No: 10037240

Project title: Levelling Up Freight
Lead organisation: 3SQUARED LTD.
Project grant: £393,271

Public description:

Background

Rail freight is vital to Britain. It contributes almost £2.5bn to the economy and plays a big part in reducing congestion and emissions. Rail is more environmentally friendly than road, with every tonne of freight transported by rail producing 76% less emissions compared to road (RDG “Levelling Up Britain” 2021). The green benefits of rail freight are being driven heavily by the DfT with incentive schemes such as Modal Shift Revenue Support (MSRS) – a £20m grant, which
freight carriers can bid for a share of to support modal shift to rail.

Despite widescale use of MSRS, finding new freight routes for additional trains is challenging because:

  • Road haulage is seen as easier and more accessible than rail freight, especially at short
    notice, for short journeys and for single containers.
  • Highways are less regulated with no significant barriers to commercial participation, and
    therefore are free to use the latest technologies to develop and evolve solutions at a faster
    pace.
  • Railway planning systems and processes limit the availability and visibility of freight paths
    (slots in the timetable which can accept a freight train) resulting in under-utilisation of
    network capacity.

Our innovative freight planning solution (PathPlanner) will make the use of rail for freight as
accessible and easy to use as the road network. PathPlanner is specifically designed to overcome
the current operational challenges and blockers that make moving to rail prohibitive.

Proof-of-Concept Demonstration

In 2021, NR completed a £17m upgrade around Southampton to enable longer trains in/out of the docks. Completing April 2023, Solent Stevedores is investing c.£3m to strengthen their capability to receive and dispatch longer and more trains – from 9 to 16 per day.

However, NR’s business case did not include any understanding of capacity in/out of the port, so
Solent Stevedores is currently unsighted as to how, or if, they can find the additional paths.
There are significant gains to be made if they can; 7 extra trains equate to:

  • £12.6m additional revenue p.a.
  • A reduction of 55,000 HGVs.
  • A reduction of carbon by 1,165 tonnes.

Our project will demonstrate a Proof-of-Concept solution at Southampton Docks that will facilitate
Solent Stevedores, and Eddie Stobart Logistics (ESL) – 2 off our project partners – to find additional
freight paths and transfer containers from HGVs to trains.

My Thoughts And Conclusions

As I programmed scheduling and resource allocation systems for forty years, I am probably one of the most experienced programmers at writing this type of system.

That experience suggests that their objectives are possible.

November 17, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

East Kent Maternity Deaths: Babies Might Have Survived With Better Care

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

This is the first paragraph.

Up to 45 babies might have survived if they had received better care at East Kent NHS Hospitals Trust, a damning independent review has found.

As a father of three, who has experienced the death of both his wife and youngest son, I know that this is a tragedy for too many families.

But episodes like these seem to come along regularly in the NHS. We have had two cases, where nurses were murdering babies, the notorious Harold Shipman and several abuse cases in mental health.

Is the monitoring of the outcome of patient treatment up to scratch?

In the 1970s, I was asked to do some programming for Bob, who was the Chief Management Accountant of Lloyds Bank and before that he had been Chief Accountant of Vickers. Bob had very definite ideas about how to ascertain the performance of various divisions and departments in a company or organisation.

He taught me a lot as we applied his ideas to check out the performance of various branches in the Bank. A lot of his experience was incorporated into Artemis and other programs I have written.

One of the things we did with bank branches was to plot groups of branches in simple scatter diagrams, so that those with problems stood out.

Does the government do similar things with hospitals and GP surgeries?

I even went as far as to suggest that my software Daisy could be used to find rogue practitioners like Harold Shipman. I was thanked for my submission to the report, but was not told my ideas were mentioned in the report.

Conclusion

I believe that more babies might have survived in Kent, if a statistician had been comparing results between hospital trusts and actively looking for problems.

I suspect the reason, there is no serious analysis, is that there is a belief in the NHS, that no-one ever makes mistakes or is evil.

 

October 19, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Queen’s First Computer System For Her Horses

In The Queen Was Well-Briefed, I mentioned a lunch with a Hewlett-Packard engineer and that he had done some work in Buckingham Palace.

This article on NBC is entitled When Did Queen Elizabeth II Last Visit San Francisco And The Bay Area?, where this is the first paragraph.

Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the Bay Area included a serenade by Tony Bennett, a meal at Trader Vics in Emeryville and a dinner at the De Young Museum with President Ronald Reagan and the First Lady.

The visit was in 1983 and these two paragraphs describes her visit to Silicon Valley.

On March 3, 1983, the Queen visited Stanford University and the Hewlett Packard factory, the technology company based in Palo Alto.

At Stanford Queen Elizabeth dined at the Hoover House with university president Donald Kennedy.

Hewlett-Packard presented the Queen a HP 3000 computer on which to plan and organise the breeding of her race horses, to mark her visit to the company.

I should say, that the engineer, who I’ll call Bob, was well-known to me, as he’d been the engineer, who’d serviced my HP 21MX computer, when I was programming Artemis in the 1970s. He was very good at his job, but hadn’t expected his job to take this direction.

Hewlett-Packard had behaved very professionally and had obtained a licence for suitable software from the Aga Khan.

The installation of the computer in the basement of Buckingham Palace had gone well, with the user terminal being placed in the Queen’s apartment.

When everything was working, the Queen’s equerry, with whom he was dealing, announced they would be going to France to get the software from the Aga Khan’s stud at a chateau to the West of Paris.

The equerry arranged with the engineer to meet him at the VIP suite in the Queen’s Building at Heathrow in a few days time. He was also told he’d be staying one night in France.

So at the appointed time, he gingerly opened the door to the VIP suite and walked in. Almost immediately he bumped into Mrs. Thatcher, who was leaving. Luckily, he was spotted by the equerry, who beckoned him over.

He asked the equerry about the flight and was told that they would be flying in a Dominie of the Queen’s Flight to Beauvais.

I can remember him saying that that was the way to fly.

They were met by a limousine on arrival in France and taken to the chateau.

He was then shown to his room, which he described as an extravagant tart’s boudoir.

After a period of time, the equerry knocked on his door and announced the plan for the visit.

They would have dinner in half-an-hour with the Aga Khan and then in the morning his software guy would show you about the software and hand over a copy.

The engineer did admit to being a bit out of his depth, but the equerry just told him to copy him and he’d be alright.

Thirty minutes later the equerry collected the engineer and they were shown into a room, where the meeting would take place.

There was a curtain across the room, and as it drew back, all the flunkies prostrated themselves on the ground. The engineer was watching the equerry, who just stood there. So he copied him.

When the curtain finally revealed the Aga Khan, the engineer felt it best to just stand there.

However, the Aga Khan approached him and said. “Hello! You must be Bob!”

The rest of the visit went without incident and the software was duly collected.

 

September 10, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Norfolk And Suffolk Be Powered By Offshore Wind?

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

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

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

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

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

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

But.

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

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

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

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

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

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

But it would still be nuclear.

Wind In The Pipeline

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

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

The East Anglia Hub

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

This is the opening paragraph.

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

Note.

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

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

Norfolk Boreas and Norfolk Vanguard

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

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

Note.

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

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

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

Electricity And Norfolk And Suffolk

This Google Map shows Norfolk and Suffolk.

Note.

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

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

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

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

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

The Use Of Batteries

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

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

Here are a few numbers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Anglia Needs More Heavy Consumers Of Electricity

I am certainly coming to this conclusion.

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

One other obvious use could be in large data centres.

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

Conversion To Hydrogen

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

Conclusion

Who needs Sizewell C?

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

 

 

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

Isle Of Wight Rail Line Set To Reopen After 10-Month Closure

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

It may have been a long time coming, but let’s hope it’s worth it.

I shall certainly going down, when it opens.

It would appear that the reason for the delay is partly down to software problems.

This seems to me an all-to-frequent occurrence these days.

Could this be that first generation programmers like myself, who honed our skills on small machines in the 1960s and 1970s have mostly retired and are not there to pass on expertise?

September 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

Metier’s First And Second Ipswich Office

My Scottish Borders correspondent has asked me about the first office Metier had in Ipswich.

Courtesy of Google Streetview, I was able to capture this image.

Note.

  1. They were in the four story building with the yellow cladding.
  2. I see it’s still called Pearl Assurance House.
  3. Shadu Hair and Beauty used to be a rather good camera shop.

For those of you, who don’t know Ipswich, if you walk straight ahead and keep right, you end up in the centre of Ipswich.

It wasn’t very large, but it was certainly in better condition, than some of the offices we had in London.

This is the second office in Fore Street.

If I remember correctly, the office was found by Wendy, who responded to my advert in the East Anglian Daily Times, saying, that we were looking for an Office Dogsbody.

 

August 18, 2021 Posted by | Computing | , , , | Leave a comment