The Anonymous Widower

MOB To Launch Gauge-Changing Montreux – Interlaken GoldenPass Express

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

This is the explanatory paragraph.

December 11 will mark the start of a long-awaited through service by luxury train between Interlaken and Montreux. Operated by Montreux-Oberland Bahn and BLS Lötschbergbahn, the gauge-changing GoldenPass Express service is expected to become a major attraction between the two lakeside resorts that will help revive tourist travel in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These are some details of the service.

  • Journey time for the 115∙3 km trip through three cantons, including 11 intermediate stops and the change between 1 000 mm and 1 435 mm gauge at Zweisimmen, will be 3 h 15 min.
  • The trains have been built by Stadler.
  • There are three classes of accommodation; Prestige, First and Second.
  • Catering will be appropriate to the class.
  • Initially, there will be one train per day in each direction, but after June 2023, there will be four trains per day.
  • Fares range between £64 and £129 one-way depending on the class.
  • Tickets can be bought here.

It sounds like a trip worth doing.

I suspect that if this service is a success, then other countries will imitate it.

In the UK, we haven’t anything as grand as Montreux – Interlaken, but we do have the Settle and Carlisle Line.

  • Trains run between Leeds and Carlisle.
  • There are charter services, some hauled by steam locomotives.
  • The distance is a kilometre longer than Montreux – Interlaken.

In Through Settle And Carlisle Service Under Consideration, I look at a Department for Transport study for a Glasgow and Leeds service via the Settle and Carlisle Line.

If the Borders Railway is ever extended to Carlisle, an Edinburgh and Leeds service would be a possibility.

December 8, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Countdown To Swiss Record Attempt: Assembling A 1.91-kilometre Train

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

The article explains all the things that they do to achieve this ultra-long train, but they do leave out the why!

I can only assume, that they want to test the train software in the most extreme of circumstances and they feel that this is the best they can do!

October 28, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

Cargo Sous Terrain

This is a Swiss idea to move small parcels around the country.

This is the project’s web site.

There will be a network of tunnels under Switzerland serving all the major centres.

This article on LeNews is entitled Switzerland’s Underground Tunnel Project Gets Green Light From Upper House, describes the project.

This is the first paragraph.

On 1 June 2021, a project to build an underground freight tunnel network stretching from Geneva to St Gallen, gained almost unanimous support in the Council of States, Switzerland upper house.

These are a few points from the article.

  • It appears to be privately funded.
  • There will be a three-lane tunnel network across the country.
  • It will use driverless electric vehicles.
  • Speed will be 30 kph.
  • It will run twenty-four hours per day.
  • There will be a track in the roof of the tunnel for smaller parcels.
  • There will be a total of 500 km of tunnels.
  • Completion date is set for 2045.
  • It will cost around £24 billion.

It’s as though all of Switzerland were to be turned into a giant Amazon or Ocado warehouse.

Will It Work?

I don’t see why not, although it would be an immense project!

This paragraph indicates they will start small.

The first 70 km section of the tunnel network, which will connect a hub in Härkingen-Niederbipp with Zurich, is scheduled for completion in 2031.

But even that will cost around £2.5 billion!

It certainly, is a bold idea, that has possibilities.

June 15, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hyundai Delivers World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Trucks

The title of this post, is the same as this article on Car Advice.

The trucks llok impressive and they are going to Switzerland.

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen For Hydrogen-Powered Trains And Other Vehicles

I have received e-mails worrying about how hydrogen-powered trains and other vehicles, like buses and trucks, will get the fuel they need.

Production Of Hydrogen

There are two major methods of producing large quantities of hydrogen.

Steam Reforming Of Natural Gas

Steam reforming is used to convert natural gas into hydrogen by using high temperature and pressure steam in the presence of a nickel catalyst.

This section in Wikipedia is entitled Industrial Reforming, says this.

Steam reforming of natural gas is the most common method of producing commercial bulk hydrogen at about 95% of the world production of 500 billion m3 in 1998. Hydrogen is used in the industrial synthesis of ammonia and other chemicals. At high temperatures (700 – 1100 °C) and in the presence of a metal-based catalyst (nickel), steam reacts with methane to yield carbon monoxide and hydrogen.

It gives this chemical equation for the reaction.

CH4 + H2O ⇌ CO + 3 H2

I have two questions about steam reforming.

  • How much fossil fuel energy is needed to create the high temperatures and pressures to make the process work?
  • What happens to the carbon monoxide (CO)? Is it burnt to provide heat, thus producing more carbon dioxide (CO2)?

I therefor question the use of steam reforming to produce hydrogen for vehicles, especially, as a system might be required  to be installed in a train, bus or freight depot.

The only time, where steam reforming could be used, is where an existing refinery producing large quantities of hydrogen by the process is close TO the point of use.

Electrolysis Of Water Or Brine

It is fifty years, since I worked in the chlorine-cell rooms of ICI’s Castner-Kellner chemical complex at Runcorn.

The process used was the Castner-Kellner Process and this is the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry.

The Castner–Kellner process is a method of electrolysis on an aqueous alkali chloride solution (usually sodium chloride solution) to produce the corresponding alkali hydroxide, invented by American Hamilton Castner and Austrian Karl Kellner in the 1890s.

Brine from Cheshire’s extensive salt deposits is electrolysed using a graphite anode and a mercury cathode to produce chlorine, hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and sodium metal.

Large amounts of electricity are needed, but the biggest problem is the poisonous mercury used in the process.

My work incidentally concerned measuring the mercury in the air of the plant.

Since the 1960s, the technology has moved on, and ICI’s successor INEOS, still produces large quantities of chlorine at Runcorn using electrolysis.

More environmentally-friendly processes such as membrane cell electrolysis are now available, which produce chlorine, hydrogen and sodium hydroxide.

In the 1960s, the production of chlorine and hydrogen was a 24/7 process and I would suspect that INEOS have a good deal to use electricity from wind and other sources in the middle of the night.

The Future Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a clean fuel, that when it burns to produce heat or is used in a fuel cell to produce electricity, only produces steam or water.

There is also a lot of research going into hydrogen fuel-cells, hydrogen storage and batteries, and some of this will lead to innovative use of hydrogen as a fuel.

As an example, there is a growing market for fuel-cell forklifts. The first one was built in 1960, so fifty years from idea to fulfilment seems about right.

How many other applications of hydrogen will be commonplace in ten years?

  • City buses
  • Local delivery vans for companies like Royal Mail and UPS.
  • Taxis
  • Refuse trucks

I also think, some surprising applications will emerge driven by the need to clean up the air in polluted cities.

Ideally, these applications will need a hydrogen filling station at the depot.

Modern electrolysis technologies should lead to the development of  simple cells, for the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen and oxygen.

Powered by renewable energy sources or nuclear, this technology could be used to create zero-carbon hydrogen at the point of use.

Diesel Or Hydrogen?

The diesel engine in a New Routemaster bus is a Cummins diesel with these characteristics.

  • 4.5 litre
  • 138 kW
  • 400 Kg

So how much would a 150 kW fuel-cell weigh?

A Ballard FCveloCity-HD, which is capable of producing 100 kW, weighs around 300 Kg.

I feel that as hydrogen and battery technology improves, that more and more city vehicles will be hydrogen-powered.

Hyundai Launch A Hydrogen-Powered Truck

This page on the Hyundai web site is entitled Hyundai Motor Presents First Look At Truck With Fuel Cell Powertrain.

It will be launched this year and looks impressive. Other articles say they have tied up with a Swiss fuel-cell manufacturer called H2 Power and aim to sell a thousand hydrogen-powered trucks in Switzerland.

 

 

 

January 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Swiss Pass And Swiss Pocket Timetables

I used a Swiss Pass on my three day trip to Switzerland.

Wikipedia describes it like this.

The Swiss Travel Pass allows unlimited travel on the Swiss public transport network (trains, buses, ships and tramways) for a certain number of days (3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive days), as well as free or discounted entry to most Swiss museums. Discounts apply to mountain transport (lifts, funiculars, cogwheel trains). Some mountain transport is free of charge.

The Swiss Travel Pass Flex works exactly like the Swiss Travel Pass, but can be used to travel on 3, 4, 8 or 15 consecutive or non-consecutive days within one .

Research the pass you need before you go.

I bought mine from athe SBB ticket office in Zurich Airport.

It also came with a map, where it could be used.

 

In the picture, there are four of the mini-timetables that seem to be available at most major stations.

These timetables give the times of trains from the station to other major cities. They also give the return trains, so are ideal for planning a day out.

The train companies in the UK, should copy this.

One thing that I found out about a Swiss Pass after I bought it, is that you can buy extension tickets for a journey from the Swiss border to say somewhere like Innsbruck, which is a few kilometres further on. It’s a bit like the ticket, I’ll buy in a few minutes to extend my Freedom Pass to Rayleigh.

The Swiss Pass may be pricey, but it’s worth it and is probably a lot cheaper than hiring a car.

 

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 3 Comments

They’re Supposed To Be No Frills Airlines

I am going to Switzerland next week and needed a ticket from Geneva to London to get back.

The process to buy a ticket has grown from a simple choose a flight, put in passenger details and pay, to a complete conversation with the Devil.

I don’t want a hotel, car hire, to pay extra for anything, so please can we have a secret door to by-pass all that junk?

And whilst I’m at it, why not abolish duty-free, as this slows down boarding and costs everybody on their ticket.

I would have taken the train back, but Eurostar is almost sold out and I might not have the flexibility I need in Switzerland.

At least Eurostar has a fairly streamlined booking.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

TiLo

Treni Regionali Ticino Lombardia or TiLo is a train company. which is described like this in Wikipedia.

TILO (Regional Trains Ticino Lombardia) is a limited company established in 2004 as a joint venture between Italian railway company Trenord and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB CFF FFS), both companies participate in the equity of TILO SA with participation of 50%.

The company’s goal is to develop the regional cross-border traffic between the Canton of Ticino and the Region of Lombardy.

I came across one of their thirty Stadler FLIRT trains at Milan Centrale station.

Note how Stadler have solved the step problem, as compared to the train I took to Navara.

Stadler are producing three fleets of trains for the UK.

The trains are reported to have gap fillers, like the FLIRT in the pictures.

May 29, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SBB To Sell Bitcoin

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

If you don’t know; SBB stands for Swiss Federal Railways.

It’s an interesting development to say the least!

Especially, when you read the last paragraph.

And you can’t buy SBB train tickets using your shiny new currency, it isn’t an accepted payment method by SBB.

I wonder how long it will be before, I can buy and use bitcoin on a UK rail station?

November 1, 2016 Posted by | Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Subway Orders New Trains From Stadler

This article in Global Rail News is entitled New trains for Glasgow Subway. This is said.

Stadler Bussnang AG and Ansaldo STS have won the contract to supply Glasgow Subway with its first new trains for almost 40 years.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has today (March 4) released images of the new driverless trains, having awarded the £200 million contract.

Stadler is a Swiss manufacturer of rail vehicles, that is not very well known in the UK. Although, some of their products have been sold to run here.

The trams are very much a standard product, but the locomotives are unusual in that they have been specially built for the UK’s restrictive loading gauge. Wikipedia says this about the company.

Stadler Rail is also focused on niche products and is one of the last European manufacturers of rack railway rolling stock.

Look at the products they make and quite a few are not mainstream.

So as the Glasgow subway is small and to an unusual gauge and size, it is not very surprising that Stadler are involved in producing the new trains.

I don’t think that this will be the last order we’ll see for Stadler products in the UK.

This article from the Railway Gazette is entitled Stadler Rail switches its focus from east to west. This is said.

Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler Rail has announced plans to shift the focus of its growth plans away from the CIS and Middle East markets and towards the UK and the USA.

On June 19 Stadler said the Swiss national bank’s decision to uncouple the franc from the euro in January had brought a sudden 20% increase in the price of its products, which was ‘negatively impacting’ the company. Meanwhile, planned expansion into the CIS market has been ‘halted’ by the weak rouble and sanctions on Russia. Stadler has also ‘fallen well behind expectations’ in the Arab market.

With all the new rail franchises starting in the next few years, I think we’ll see some orders. Certainly with all its expansion plans Tramlink will need a few more trams and if the Class 68/88 locomotives are successful, then other companies might purchase some more.

One very large niche order are new cars for the Docklands Light Railway.

But I also think we’ll see a few Stadler Flirts in the UK, as they seem to be selling well.

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | 4 Comments