The Anonymous Widower

Hebden Bridge Station

Hebden Bridge Station is Grade II Listed and is a busy station in West Yorkshire on the Calder Valley Line.

The service through the station is being improved.

The Wikipedia entry for the station has a section called Future Improvements. This is said.

The station will see a variety of improvements to facilities and train services from March 2017 onwards, as part of an investment package for the Calder Valley line as a whole. New lifts are finally to be installed to make both platforms fully accessible, whilst track and signalling upgrades will help reduce journey times in both directions and allow more trains to run to/from Bradford. This will result in the closure of the listed signal box here by October 2018, with control passing over to the Rail Operating Centre at York. New rolling stock and timetable improvements will then follow, with regular through trains to Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Airport and Chester by late 2019.

Note the parcel lifts in the pictures, which will be converted for passenger use.

Turnback Facility

The pictures also show the turnback facility at the station, which allows trains to arrive from the West in the Westbound platform and then changeover to the Eastbound platform to go back to Manchester or Preston or perhaps other destinations in the future.

Electrification

When I first saw this Victorian station, I came to the conclusion, that it would be difficult to electrify in a sympathetic manner with 25 KVAC overhead wires, without upsetting English Heritage.

Now the Government has decided that there will only be selective electrification, I suspect Network Rail will file Hebden Bridge station in the tray marked Too Difficult.

But I also think that the station could be electrified using innovative methods to improve the passenger service in terms of frequency and times.

Consider.

  • Modern bi-mode trains can switch between power sources automatically.
  • Modern electric trains can raise and lower the pantograph quickly and automatically.
  • Most modern electric trains made for the UK, can be fitted with third-rail contact shoes.
  • To the West of the station, there are a succession of tunnels, that might be possible to electrify using overhead rails.
  • Zero-carbon power sources for short lengths of electrification exist, as I wrote about in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand.
  • Although solar power might not be appropriate here, short lengths of third-rail electrification may be suitable.
  • The turnback facility could also be electrified with third-rail to charge trains fitted with batteries.

Somewhere in my ramblings, I’m sure a solution exists to make Hebden Bridge an environmentally-friendly power station in the heart of the Pennines.

The Ordsall Effects

There is now a large brown steel elephant in the North, in the shape of the Ordsall Chord in Manchester, that connects most of Central Manchester’s stations together and to the Airport.

  • Hebden Bridge is between thirty and forty-five minutes from Manchester Victoria station, depending on if you get a  semi-fast or stopping train.
  • Northern have plans to extend these Manchester Victoria to Leeds services all the way to the Airport.
  • In fact from Monday, some of these services now terminate at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  • When I mentioned to the lady in the cafe, that services would go to Manchester Airport within months, she was surprised and very pleased.

I suspect that Hebden Bridge will be one of the tourism centres of the North that will substantially benefit from a direct link to Manchester Airport created by the Ordsall Chord.

But this could only be the start.

To maximise the benefits of the Ordsall Chord, Northern and Network Rail will want to connect services that go North and South of Manchester, back-to-back across the City.

Northern have already said, that they’ll be trains going from Hebden Bridge to Chester and Liverpool by late 2019.

But I suspect these two cities won’t be the only ones getting a quality service from Hebden Bridge.

If the service ran directly over the Ordsall Chord, then historic Buxton and well-connected Crewe must be possibilities.

That turnback facility is starting to look important, as not all services will be needed to cross the Pennines.

Westwards To Preston, Blackpool and Liverpool

Currently, the only Westbound service is an hourly train to Preston and Blackpool North.

It is not enough.

The proposed Liverpool service from Hebden Bridge, that starts in late 2019, can either go via Manchester or Preston.

If it were to be the latter, a second fast train every hour, connecting Burnley, Blackburn and Preston would certainly be welcomed on what can be a very overcrowded line.

As all Calder Valley Line services stop at Hebden Bridge, the Ordsall Chord and Northern’s plans seem to be giving the town, a more than worthwhile economic boost.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand

The title of this post is the same ass this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first three paragraphs.

Solar panels could be used to power a sizeable chunk of Britain’s DC electric rail network, a new report has suggested.

Climate change charity 10:10 and Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab looked at the feasibility of using solar panels alongside the track to directly power the railway.

The report claims that 15 per cent of the commuter network in Kent, Sussex and Wessex could be powered directly by 200 small solar farms. It suggested that solar panels could also supply 6 per cent of the London Underground’s energy requirements and 20 per cent of the Merseyrail network.

In another article in today’s Times about the study, this is said.

Installing solar farms and batteries alongside lines also could provide the extra energy needed to power more carriages on busy routes that otherwise would require prohibitively expensive upgrades to electricity networks.

Note the use of batteries mentioned in the extract from The Times. This would be sensible design as power can be stored, when the sun is shining and used when it isn’t!

If you want to read the full report, click here!

I will lay out my thoughts in the next few sections.

Is This Technique More Applicable To Rail-Based Direct Current Electrification?

All of the routes mentioned for application of these solar farms,; Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail are electrified using one of two rail-based direct current systems.

Consider the following.

Powering The Track

In the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Wires Through The Weald, which discusses electrification of the Uckfield Branch in Sussex, as proposed by Chris Gibb. This is an extract.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

It would appear that as rail-based direct current electrification needs a lot of feeder stations along the line, this might be better suited for solar power and battery electrification systems.

Consider.

  • Most of the feeder stations would not need a connection to the National Grid.
  • Solar panels generate low direct current voltages, which are probably cheaper to convert to 750 VDC than 25 KVAC.
  • In installing electrification on a line like the Uckfield Branch, you would install the extra rails needed and a solar farm and battery system every two or three miles.
  • With the situation mentioned in the extract from The Times, you might add a solar farm and battery system, to a section of track, where more power is needed.
  • For efficiency and safety, power would only be sent to the rail when a train was present.

I trained as an Electrical Engineer and I very much feel, that solar power and battery systems are better suited to powering rail-based electrification. Although, they could be used for the overhead DC systems we use in the UK for trams.

Modular Design

Each of the solar farm and battery systems could be assembled from a series of factory-built modules.

This would surely make for a cost-effective installation, where capacity and capabilities could be trailored to the location.

Regenerative Braking

Modern trains use regenerative braking, which means that braking energy is converted into electricity. The electricity is handled in one of the following ways.

  1. It is turned into heat using resistors on the train roof.
  2. It is returned through the electrification system and used to power nearby trains.
  3. It is stored in a battery on the train.

Note.

  1. Option 1 is not efficient.
  2. Option 2 is commonly used on the London Underground and other rail-based electrification systems.
  3. Option 2 needs special transformers  to handle 25 KVAC systems.
  4. Option 3 is efficient and is starting to be developed for new trains and trams.

If batteries are available at trackside, then these can also be used to store braking energy.

I believe that using solar farm and battery systems would also enable efficient regenerative braking on the lines they powered.

But again, because of the transformer issue, this would be much easier on rail-bassed direct current electrification systems.

Could Wind Turbines Be Used?

Both solar farms and wind turbines are not guaranteed to provide continuous power, but putting a wind turbine or two by the solar farm would surely increase the efficiency of the system, by generating energy in two complimentary ways and then storing it until a train came past.

Wind energy could also be available for more hours in the day and could even top up the battery in the dark.

In fact, why stop with wind turbines?

Any power source could be used. On a coastal railway, it might be wave or tidal power.

Could Hydrogen Power Be Used?

I think that hydrogen power could be another way to create the energy needed to back up the intermittent power of solar farms and wind turbines.

I put a few notes in Hydrogen-Powered Railway Electrification.

 

Would The Technique Work With Battery Trains?

Most certainly!

I haven’t got the time or the software to do a full simulation, but I suspect that a route could have an appropriate number of solar farm and battery systems and each would give the battery train a boost, as it went on its way.

Would The Technique Work With 25 KVAC Electrification?

It would be more expensive due to the inverter involved to create the 25 KVAC needed.

But I feel it would be another useful tool in perhaps electrifying a tunnel or a short length of track through a station.

It could also be used to charge a train working a branch line on batteries.

Would The Technique Work With Dual Voltage Trains?

Many trains in the UK can work with both third-rail 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Classes of trains include.

  • The Class 319 trains built for Thameslink in the 1980s.
  • The Class 345 trains being built for Crossrail.
  • The Class 387 trains built for various operators.
  • The Class 700 trains recently built for Thamelink.

There are also other classes that could be modified to run on both systems.

Provided they are fitted with third-rail shoes, there is no reason to stop dual-voltage trains running on a line electrified using solar farms and batteries.

The technique could surely be used to electrify a branch line from a main line electrified using 25 KVAC.

Consider Henley Branch Line.

  • It is four-and-a half miles long.
  • It is not electrified.
  • It connects to the electrified Great Western Main Line at Twyford station.
  • The line can handle trains up to six-cars.
  • All services on the line are worked by diesel trains.

Services consist of a shuttle between Henley-on-Thames and Twyford, with extra services to and from Paddington in the Peak and during the Regatta.

Network Rail were planning to electrify the line using 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but this has been cancelled, leaving the following options for Paddington services.

  • Using battery trains, possibly based on the Class 387 trains, which would be charged between Paddington and Twyford.
  • Using Class 800 bi-mode trains.
  • Using Class 769 bi-mode trains.

All options would mean that the diesel shuttle continued or it could be replaced with a Class 769 bi-mode train.

An alternative would be to electrify the branch using third-rail fitted with solar farm and battery systems.

  • All services on the line could be run by Class 387 trains.
  • Voltage changeover would take place in Twyford station.

There are several lines that could be served in this way.

Installation Costs

I’ll repeat my earlier quote from the Modern Railways article.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

If you were going to electrify, the twenty-four non-electrified miles of the Marshlink Line, with traditional Southern  Electric third-rail, you would need around 8-12 National Grid connections to power the line. As the Romney Marsh is probably not blessed with a dense electricity network, although it does have a nuclear power station, so although putting in the extra rails may be a relatively easy and affordable project, providing the National Grid connection may not be as easy.

But use solar farm and battery systems on the remoter areas of the line and the number of National Grid connections will be dramatically reduced.

Good National Grid connections are obviously available at the two ends of the line at Hastings and Ashford International stations. I also suspect that the electricity network at Rye station could support a connection for the electrification.

This could mean that six to eight solar farm and battery systems would be needed to electrify this important line.

I obviously, don’t have the actual costs, but this could be a very affordable way of electrifying a remote third-rail line.

Which Lines Could Be Electrified Using Solar Farm And Battery Systems?

For a line to be electrified and powered by solar farm and battery systems, I think the line must have some of the following characteristics.

  • It is a line that is suitable for rail-based direct current electrification.
  • It is not a particularly stiff line with lots of gradients.
  • It is in a rural area, where National Grid connections will be difficult and expensive.
  • It has a connection to other lines electrified by rail-based systems.

Lines to electrify are probably limited to  Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail.

I also suspect there are several branch lines that could be reopened or electrified using rail-based electrification.

Conclusion

It’s a brilliantly simple concept that should be developed.

It is well suited to be used with rail-based direct current electrification.

It would be ideal for the electrification of the Uckfield Branch.

 

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

OVO Offers Solar Panels And A Battery

There are a couple of reports on the Internet, that the smaller energy supplier; Ovo Energy, is now offering deals on solar panels and a battery.

I have been thinking of adding a battery for some time, but I don’t think the time is quite right yet, as the price of batteries is becoming more affordable.

However, I do think that Ovo’s move is the first of many we will see in the next few months and years.

This march towards solar and batteries could have various consequences for the UK.

  • Many house builders will add solar panels and a battery to new houses.
  • Domestic electricity needs will reduce.
  • Solar panels and batteries may have some interesting effects on the property market.

Battery owners could also charge up overnight on low-price electricity, so the daily operation could be something like.

  • Overnight the battery is charged on low-price electricity.
  • Morning ablutions and breakfast, thus uses low-price electricity.
  • Hopefully, the sun charges the battery during the day.
  • Evening electricity would in part be what has been stored during the day.

One overall effect of the battery is to smooth the energy needs of a property.

So as the proportion of houses with batteries increases, the National Grid will see a reduction in the spikes of electricity demand, as evetybody makes a cup of tea in the advert breaks.

But the biggest effect will be on how the UK would generate its electricity.

I am not against nuclear power for any technical or environmental reasons, but I do think that the cost of new nuclear power stations like Hinckley Point C are not good value for money compared with other methods of generation. On the other hand, if we are going to have much smoother electricity needs, then we do need the nuclear power station’s ability to produce a steady baseload of power.

I am against inappropriate on-shore wind in many locations, but I am not against off-shore wind or perhaps a few large turbines in an industrial estate.

I feel that solar, batteries and off-shore wind could give the UK very affordable electricity, but they need to be backed by some form of baseload power stations, which at the moment can only be nuclear.

Conclusion

Following my logic, I believe, that as more batteries are installed in the UK, the following will happen.

  • Those who install a battery will save money whether they have solar panels or not!
  • Batteries will be allowed to be charged on low-cost overnight electricity.
  • As more batteries are installed in the UK, the UK power needs will be smoother.
  • Overnight off-shore wind could be used to charge all these batteries.

This leads me to the conclusion, that the Government should create incentives for homes to install batteries, which would be charged with low-cost overnight electricity or solar panels.

October 7, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Giant Batteries To Store Green Energy

In today’s Sunday Times, there is a small article with this title.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Britain could soon be relying on battery power under plans to create a network of electrical storage facilities around the national grid.

Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, is expected to announce plans this week for giant rechargeable battery facilities to be installed near wind and solar farms to store the energy generated when demand is low. It can then be released when demand rises.

The article also says that householders will be encouraged to use batteries alongside solar panels.

I think this is only the start.

Imagine an estate of new houses, an office development, a factory estate or a business park.

  • Solar panels would be everywhere.
  • Wind turbines could be strategically placed.
  • A central CHP system would provide heating and some electricity.

Everything would be backed up by a suitably-sized battery.

 

July 23, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

An Appropriate Story For Today

On Page 58, The Times has an article entitled Frictionless Flywheels Hold Balance Of Power.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Flywheels will be used to balance supply and demand on Britain’s electricity grid in a £3.5million project that could help the country to cope with more wind and solar power.

Sophisticated flywheels that can store electricity for long periods of time are to be installed next to the University of Sheffield’s battery storage facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton, in the first project of its kind in the UK.

By using batteries and flywheels together, this makes a responsive battery that can fill in demand and overcome the degradation problems of lithium-ion batteries.

It looks a promising way of creating an affordable and reliable energy storage system.

Who needs coal? Trumkopf obviously does to buy votes!

In the United States, with its massive mountain ranges, it would be better to create construction jobs by creating hydro-based energy storage systems, as we did in the 1970s at Dinorwig and the Americans, themselves did at Bath County Pumped Storage Station a few years later.

To gauge the size of these plants, Bath County has about the same generating capacity as the UK’s largest power station at Drax, with Dinorwig being about 55% of the size.

Bath County and Dinorwig are big bastards, but their main feature, is the ability to pump water to store the energy.

Energy is like money, the best thing to do with excess is to put it in a secure storage facility.

 

June 2, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Beginning Of A New Era

These words come from a the Head of Control Room Operations at National Grid in this article on the BBC, which is entitled UK achieves solar power record as temperatures soar.

This is the first two paragraphs of the article.

A record amount of solar power was generated on Friday as Britain basked in sunshine and temperatures of up to 28C, the National Grid has said.

It said 8.7 gigawatts (GW) had been generated at lunchtime, representing 24.3% of total generation across the UK.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, solar power was seen in pictures of space satellites and probes, but I can’t ever remember anyone saying that fifty years later, the UK would be generating around a quarter of its power from the sun.

I think it could be a case of you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Consider.

  • The big development will be batteries, which will mean that micro-generators will be able to store their power for later use.
  • I also suspect that the proportion of UK solar power generation will rise due to the fall in the price of solar panels and the rise in their generating efficiency.
  • There will be new forms of solar panels, like these solar slates for use on traditional buildings or in conservation areas.
  • In a few years time, all large industrial buildings like farm barns, factory units and retail sheds will be built or retro-fitted with solar roofs.

Never underestimate the ingenuity of engineers and scientists, especially if there is money to be made in an ethical way.

We will still need to generate some electricity in conventional ways to fill in the gaps, when the wind isn’t blowing, the sun isn’t shining and it’s between the tides.

There will be some nuclear and probably some gas-powered stations. The former are generally good for constant load and the latter have the advantage, that they can be brought on stream quickly. Try doing that with a large coal or bio-mass powered power station.

We also have a need for more energy storage like Dinorwig in Wales. This massive system was built in the 1970s and has a lot of advantages including.

  • It will be operational for centuries.
  • It has a very high efficiency.
  • Once built it is zero carbon.
  • It has become a tourist attraction.
  • It is an ideal partner to wind and solar power.

We need more electric mountains.

Sir Frederick Snow’s plan for barraging the River Severn with a high and low lake separated by a central spine, was designed to incorporate energy storage.

It is a tragedy, that we do not make use of the massive amounts of free power in the Severn Estuary.

 

May 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Wattway

I was pointed to this French innovation by the Sunday Times.

Effectively, Wattway, is a system of solar panels that you can put in a road and drive on.

Click here for the Wattway web site.

I have a feeling that it will lead to all sorts of applications, especially where power is needed at a remote location.

I suspect too, that it doesn’t need planning permission as such, whereas even a small wind-turbine might!

 

November 27, 2016 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Is The Sun The Future Of Energy?

I get up early and usually watch the BBC Breakfast programme.

On Sunday, this usually includes the short version of the BBC News on-line program Click.

Sometimes, it is rather wacky, but today they reported on something that will effect us all; solar power.

If you’d like to watch the short version of Click, it’s here on the BBC web site.

They have two segments that show the improvements coming in solar energy.

  • In the first, the program shows how Oxford University are using better materials to improve the efficiency of panels.
  • In the second, the program talked to a Swiss company called Insolight, who have developed a replacement panel that moves to focus the sun’s energy on highly-efficient tiny solar cells, which gives an efficiency of 36%.

Never underestimate the ingenuity of scientists and engineers to create a more efficient world.

October 2, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Choose Your Energy Company With Care

This tale from the Observer is entitled Co-operative Energy didn’t bill us, but claims we owe it nearly £1,500.

It probably shows how various get-rich-quick and incompetent groups are entering the energy market.

I wouldn’t have chosen the Co-op, as on their record over the past few years, they seem incapable of organising a piss-up in a brewery.

This is said in reply to the request for help.

Frankly, Co-operative Energy hasn’t had the systems in place to issue ­coherent bills for nearly a year after botching the launch of a new computer system last summer.

 By November it had become the most complained about energy ­company in the country after many of its 500,000 customers received inaccurate bills or no bills at all, and were prevented from fleeing to more switched-on providers.

Surely, there is a case for withdrawing the licence of Co-operative Energy.

I wouldn’t touch them with Nigel Farage’s barge-pole, let alone mine!

Especially, as I’m very happy with Ovo Energy and have no possible reason to change.

They now even pay me for the energy I generate with my solar panels.

August 10, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

My Solar Panels Are On The Roof

My solar panels are now on my large flat roof.

The installation was surprisingly painless, with the only work inside the house, the fitting of the control box near to my main consumer unit.

I have been monitoring all weekend on my laptop.

April 25, 2016 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment