The Anonymous Widower

Dereliction On Teesside – 28th October 2020

The Tees Valley Line between Middlesbrough and Redcar is lined with derelict steel works.

I don’t think there’s an area of such industrial dereliction, in the UK.

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Business, World | , , | Leave a comment

Saltburn Station – 28th October 2020

I paid a quick visit to Saltburn station.

I would have had a bigger look round, but time was tight.

The reason the time was tight, was a classic example of what you get with a rail route, with only one train per hour (tph). The next train would have meant, I’d missed my train to London and would have had to buy another ticket.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. There are two platforms.
  2. The station appears to be close to the Town Centre.
  3. There is a branch leading South to the Boulby Mine. This branch is used to handle the output of the mine, which is polyhalite and rock salt.

These are my thoughts.

Four tph Between Darlington And Saltburn

Four tph is planned between Darlington and Saltburn.

  • Two platforms at Saltburn will surely help.
  • All intermediate stations have two platforms.
  • The route is double track all the way, except for the approach to Darlington station.

I discussed the approach from the East to Darlington station in Darlington Station – 28th October 2020 and suggested that a dive-under is needed to allow the following.

  • High speed trains can make a fast approach and departure from the new high speed platforms at Darlington.
  • Saltburn to Bishop Auckland services to avoid crossing the East Coast Main Line on the flat to access Platform 4 at Darlington.
  • Darlington and Saltburn services to sneak under the East Coast Main Line and access Platform 2 at Darlington.

There may also need to be some track modifications to the North of Darlington station, but as there are two tph between Bishop Auckland and Darlington to accommodate, the modifications would probably be less extensive.

Charging Battery Electric Trains At Saltburn

I doubt that this would be essential, as Middlesbrough is only thirteen miles away, but there is surely space to fit in one of Vivarail’s Fast Charge systems in the station.

Passenger Services On The Boulby Mine Branch

If housing is developed around Saltburn, this could be a possibility at some time in the future.

This was the route of the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway, which was closed in 1958 and then reopened to Boulby Mine in the 1970s.

There were originally two stations between Saltburn and Boulby; Loftus and Grinkle.

In a section of the Wikipedia entry for the railway called The Railway Today, this is said.

In January 2019, Campaign for Better Transport released a report identifying the line between Saltburn and Loftus which was listed as Priority 2 for reopening. Priority 2 is for those lines which require further development or a change in circumstances (such as housing developments)

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a passenger service on this route.

This Google Map shows the Boulby Mine and the Coast.

Note.

  1. The Boulby Mine  is at the Western side of the map.
  2. The village of Staithes has strong connections to Captain Cook.
  3. The original railway. that ran South of the site of the mine through Staithes and on to Whitby is now a walking route.

I wonder if there should be a station close to the mine.

Conclusion

There is a lot of potential to improve the railway between Middlesbrough and Saltburn.

 

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teeside’s Refurbished Trains

On my trip around Teeside, I took four trains.

There was none of the usual rubbish, that I have endured in the North like this scrapyard special at Carlisle.

All trains were refurbished Class 158 trains.

They were a lot better, with tables and clean, working toilets.

But will they get replaced with hydrogen or updated to zero-carbon trains?

Hydrogen Trains

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I talked about the local services on Teesside being run by a fleet of hydrogen trains, based on an article in RAIL Magazine.

But the order has not been placed and it must be getting tight if trains are going to run in a few years.

There was this report in the November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Tees Valley Hydrogen Hub.

This is the first paragraph.

Mott MacDonald is to create a masterplan for the development of a hydrogen transport hub  in the Tees Valley. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made the announcement as he travelled on the HydroFLEX on the 29th of September.

It appears the masterplan could be published in January and would cover several modes of transport.

Battery Electric Trains

There have been developments in the battery electric train field over the past few months.

Hitachi at Newton Aycliffe and Hyperdrive Innovation at Sunderland have partnered up to produce Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train. Three-car trains based on Hitachi’s Class 385 trains would be ideal for trundling around the North East.

The trains would need charging and what better charging system is there than Vivarail’s Fast Charge system? And they could be produced at Vivarail’s factory at Seaham just up the coast towards Sunderland.

As I indicated in £100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services, where I said this about the location of chargers to power battery electric trains in the Tees and the Tyne.

There will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

    • Hexham
    • Nunthorpe
    • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
    • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

Vivarail might just have another card or should it be train to play.

In the video, Mr. Shooter discusses using Vivarail’s technology to convert British Rail era diesel multiple units to battery electric trains.

Northern have already refurbished the Class 158 trains, so it would surely be an economical route to convert them to battery electric operation.

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

£100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services

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

This is the opening paragraph.

Officials behind plans for a £100m-plus transformation of Darlington’s Bank Top Station have confirmed it will remain the only one on the East Coast Mainline without a platform specifically for the London to Scotland service.

Darlington station has made various appearances in my life, all of which have been pleasurable ones.

I went several times to ICI’s Wilton site on Teesside in the 1970s, when the route to London was worked by the iconic Class 55 locomotives or Deltics.

I wrote about one memorable trip home from Darlington in The Thunder of Three-Thousand Three-Hundred Horses.

Over the years, I also seem to have had several clients for my computing skills in the area, including the use of my data analysis software; Daisy at Cummins Engines in the town.

And lately, it’s been for football at Middlesbrough to see Ipswich play, where I’ve changed trains. Sometimes, Town even won.

The improvements planned for the station are two-fold.

Improvement Of Local Services

This paragraph from Wikipedia, sums up the local train services on the Tees Valley Line between Saltburn and Bishop Auckland via Darlington, Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Northern run their Tees Valley line trains twice hourly to Middlesbrough, Redcar and Saltburn (hourly on Sundays), whilst the Bishop Auckland branch has a service every hour (including Sundays). The company also operates two Sundays-only direct trains to/from Stockton and Hartlepool.

If ever a route needed improvement it is this one.

This paragraph from the Northern Echo article, outlines the plans for Darlington station.

The meeting was also told the overhaul, which will see new platforms, a new station building, parking and an interchange for passengers, alongside other improvements, would also double capacity on Tees Valley and Bishop Auckland lines, meaning four trains an hour on the former and two trains an hour on the latter.

I also believe that the route is a shoe-in for zero-carbon services; hydrogen or battery electric.

Hydrogen Trains On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I discuss using hydrogen powered trains for the lines in the area and they could certainly provide services on more than just the Tees Valley Line.

The hydrogen powered trains would probably be this Alstom Breeze.

They would appear to be in pole position to change the image of Teesside’s trains.

Battery Electric Trains On Teesside

But I suspect. that an Anglo-Japanese partnership, based in the North-East could have other ideas.

  • Hitachi have a train factory at Newton Aycliffe on the Tees Valley Line.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation design and produce battery packs for transport and mobile applications in Sunderland.

The two companies have launched the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note than 90 kilometres is 56 miles, so the train has a very useful range.

Hitachi have talked about fitting batteries to their express trains to serve places like Middlesbrough, Redcar and Sunderland with zero-carbon electric services.

But their technology can also be fitted to their Class 385 trains and I’m sure that Scotland will order some battery-equipped Class 385 trains to expand their vigorous electric train network.

Both Scotland and Teesside will need to charge their battery trains.

Example distances on Teesside include.

  • Darlington and Saltburn – 28 miles
  • Darlington and Whitby – 47 miles
  • Darlington and Bishop Auckland – 12 miles

The last route would be possible on a full battery, but the first two would need a quick battery top-up before return.

So there will need to be strategically-placed battery chargers around the North-East of England. These could include.

  • Hexham
  • Nunthorpe
  • Redcar or Saltburn – This would also be used by TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains, if they were to be fitted with batteries.
  • Whitby

If Grand Central did the right thing and ran battery electric between London and Sunderland, there would probably be a need for a battery charger at Sunderland.

It appears that Adrian Shooter of Vivarail has just announced a One-Size-Fits-All Fast Charge system, that has been given interim approval by Network Rail.

I discuss this charger in Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains, which is based on a video on the Modern Railways web site.

There is more about Vivarail’s plans in the November 2020 Print Edition of the magazine, where this is said on page 69.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation, with a little bit of help from friends in Seaham, can build a battery-electric train network in the North-East.

The Choice Between Hydrogen And Battery Electric

Consider.

  • The hydrogen trains would need a refuelling system.
  • The battery electric trains would need a charging structure, which could also be used by other battery electric services to and from the North-East.
  • No new electrification or other infrastructure would be needed.
  • If a depot is needed for the battery electric trains, they could probably use the site at Lackenby, that has been identified as a base for the hydrogen trains.

Which train would I choose?

I think the decision will come down to politics, money and to a certain extent design, capacity and fuel.

  • The Japanese have just signed a post-Brexit trade deal and France or rather the EU hasn’t.
  • The best leasing deal might count for a lot.
  • Vivarail have stated that batteries for a battery electric train, could be leased on a per mile basis.
  • The Hitachi train will be a new one and the Alstom train will be a conversion of a thirty year old British Rail train.
  • The Hitachi train may well have a higher passenger capacity, as there is no need for the large hydrogen tank.
  • Some people will worry about sharing the train with a large hydrogen tank.
  • The green credentials of both trains is not a deal-breaker, but will provoke discussion.

I feel that as this is a passenger train, that I’m leaning towards a battery electric train built on the route.

An Avoiding Line Through Darlington

The Northern Echo also says this about track changes at the station.

A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s communities and local services scrutiny committee was told a bus lane-style route off the mainline at the station would enable operators to run more high-speed services.

Councillors heard that the proposed track changes would enable very fast approaches to Darlington and allow other trains to pass as East Coast Mainline passengers boarded.

Some councillors seem to be unhappy about some trains passing through the station without stopping.

Are their fears justified?

This Google Map shows Darlington station.

Note.

  1. The station has two long platforms and two South-facing bay platforms.
  2. There is plenty of space.
  3. There already appear to be a pair of electrified avoiding lines on the Eastern side of the station.

Wikipedia also says this about how Darlington station will be changed by High Speed Two.

The new high speed rail project in the UK, High Speed 2, is planned to run through Darlington once Phase 2b is complete and will run on the existing East Coast Main Line from York and Newcastle. Darlington Station will have two new platforms built for the HS2 trains on the Main Line, as the station is built just off the ECML to allow for freight services to pass through.

This would appear to suggest that the two current avoiding lines will be turned into high speed platforms.

Current High Speed Services At Darlington

The current high speed services at Darlington are as follows.

  • LNER – two trains per hour (tph) – London Kings Cross and Edinburgh
  • Cross Country – one tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Cross Country – one tph – Southampton and Newcastle
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Liverpool and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – one tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle

Northbound, this gives eight tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh

East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains‘s services are not planned to stop at Darlington.

High Speed Two Trains

Darlington is planned to be served by these High Speed Two trains.

  • 1 tph – Birmingham Curzon Street and Newcastle via East Midlands Hub, York and Durham
  • 1 tph – London Euston and Newcastle via Old Oak Common and York.

Both will be 200 metre High Speed Two Classic-Compatible trains

Northbound, this gives ten tph to Newcastle and four tph to Edinburgh.

As the Eastern Leg of High Speed Two has some spare capacity, I suspect there could be other services through Darlington.

Improvements To The East Coast Main Line

If you look at the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Newcastle, the route is a mixture of two and four-track railway.

  • Between Doncaster and York, there are two tracks
  • Between York and Northallerton, there are four tracks
  • Between Northallerton and Darlington, there are two tracks
  • North of Darlington, the route is mainly two tracks.

I have flown my virtual helicopter along much of the route and I can say this about it.

  • Much of the route is through agricultural land, and where absolutely necessary extra tracks could possibly be added.
  • The track is more-or-less straight for large sections of the route.
  • Routes through some towns and cities, are tightly hemmed in by houses.

I also believe that the following developments will happen to the whole of the East Coast Main Line before High Speed Two opens.

  • Full ERTMS in-cab digital signalling will be used on all trains on the route.
  • The trains will be driven automatically, with the driver watching everything. Just like a pilot in an airliner!
  • All the Hitachi Class 80x trains used by operators on the route, will be able to operate at up to 140 mph, once this signalling and some other improvements have been completed.
  • All level crossings will have been removed.
  • High Speed Two is being built using slab track, as I stated in HS2 Slab Track Contract Awarded. I suspect some sections of the East Coast Main Line, that are used by High Speed Two services, will be upgraded with slab track to increase performance and reduce lifetime costs.

Much of the East Coast Main Line could become a 140 mph high speed line, as against High Speed Two, which will be a 225 mph high speed line.

This will mean that all high speed trains will approach Darlington and most other stations on the route, at 140 mph.

Trains will take around a minute to decelerate from or accelerate to 140 mph and if the station stop took a minute, the trains will be up to speed again in just three minutes. In this time, the train would have travelled two-and-a-half miles.

Conclusion

I think that this will happen.

  • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
  • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
  • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
  • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

October 25, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Hydrogen, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments