The Anonymous Widower

Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Edition 895 of RAIL Magazine.

The article is based on an interview with Ben Houchen, who is the Tees Valley Mayor.

Various topics are covered.

Hydrogen-Powered Local Trains

According to the article, the Tees Valley produces fifty percent of UK hydrogen and the area is already secured investment for fuelling road vehicles with hydrogen.

So the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) is planning to convert some routes to hydrogen.

The Trains

Ten hydrogen-powered trains will be purchased or more likely leased, as the trains will probably be converted from redundant electrical multiple units, owned by leasing companies like Eversholt Rail and Porterbrook.

The RAIL article says that the first train could be under test in 2021 and service could be started in 2022.

That would certainly fit the development timetables for the trains.

Lackenby Depot

A depot Will Be Created At Lackenby.

  • The site is between Middlesbrough and Redcar.
  • It already has rail and hydrogen connections.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note the disused Redcar British Steel station, which is still shown on the map.

I remember the area from the around 1970, when I used to catch the train at the now-closed Grangetown station, after visits to ICI’s Wilton site. It was all fire, smoke, smells and pollution.

Darlington Station

Darlington station will also be remodelled to allow more services to operate without conflicting with the East Coast Main Line.

Wikipedia says this under Future for Darlington station.

As part of the Tees Valley Metro, two new platforms were to be built on the eastern edge of the main station. There were to be a total of four trains per hour, to Middlesbrough and Saltburn via the Tees Valley Line, and trains would not have to cross the East Coast Main Line when the new platforms would have been built. The Tees Valley Metro project was, however, cancelled.

It does sound from reading the RAIL article, that this plan is being reinstated.

Would services between Bishop Auckland and Saltburn, use these new platforms?

Saltburn And Bishops Auckland Via Middlesbrough and Darlington

Currently, the service is two trains per hour (tph) between Saltburn and Darlington, with one tph extending to Bishop Auckland.

  • I estimate that the current service needs five trains.
  • If a two tph service were to be run on the whole route, an extra train would be needed.
  • I suspect, the limitations at Darlington station, stop more trains being run all the way to Bishops Auckland.

I could also see extra stations being added to this route.

The Mayor is talking of running a service as frequent as six or eight tph.

These numbers of trains, will be needed for services of different frequencies between Saltburn and Darlington.

  • 2 tph – 6 trains
  • 4 tph – 12 trains
  • 6 tph – 18 trains
  • 8 tph – 24 trains

As the London Overground, Merseyrail and Birmingham’s Cross-City Line, find four tph a more than adequate service, I suspect that should be provided.

After updating, Darlington station, should be able to handle the following.

  • Up to six tph terminating in one of the new Eastern platforms, without having to cross the East Coast Main Line.
  • Two tph between Saltburn and Bishops Auckland could use the other platform in both directions.

I would suspect that the design would see the two platforms sharing an island platform.

Alternatively, trains could continue as now.

  • Terminating trains could continue to use Platform 2!
  • Two tph between Saltburn and Bishops Auckland stopping in Platforms 1 (Eastbound) and 4 (Westbound)

This would avoid any infrastructure changes at Darlington station, but terminating trains at Darlington would still have to cross the Southbound East Coast Main Line.

If the frequencies were as follows.

  • 4 tph – Saltburn and Darlington
  • 2 tph – Saltburn and Bishop Auckland

This would require fourteen trains and give a six tph service between Saltburn and Darlington.

Ten trains would allow a two tph service on both routes.

There would be other services using parts of the same route, which would increase the frequency.

Hartlepool And The Esk Valley Line Via Middlesbrough

This is the other route through the area and was part of the cancelled Tees Valley Metro.

  • Service is basically one tph, with six trains per day (tpd) extending to Whitby.
  • A second platform is needed at Hartlepool station.
  • There is a proposal to add a Park-and-Ride station between Nunthorpe and Great Ayton stations.
  • One proposal from Modern Railways commentator; Alan Williams, was to simplify the track at Battersby station to avoid the reverse.
  • Currently, trains between Whitby and Middlesbrough are timetabled for around 80-100 minutes.
  • Hartlepool and Middlesbrough takes around twenty minutes.

Substantial track improvements are probably needed to increase the number of trains and reduce the journey times between Middlesbrough and Whitby.

But I believe that an hourly service between Hartlepool and Whitby, that would take under two hours or four hours for a round trip, could be possible.

This would mean that the hourly Hartlepool and Whitby service would need four trains.

Providing the track between Nunthorpe and |Whitby could be improved to handle the traffic, this would appear to be a very feasible proposition.

Nunthorpe And Hexham Via Newcastle

There is also an hourly service between Nunthorpe and Hexham, via Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Sunderland and Newcastle, there would be two tph.

  • It takes around two hours and twenty minutes.
  • I estimate that five trains would be needed for the service.
  • I travelled once between Newcastle and James Cook Hospital in the Peak and the service was busy.
  • A new station is being built at Horden, which is eight minutes North of Hartlepool.
  • The service could easily access the proposed fuelling station at Lackenby.
  • It would reduce carbon emissions in Newcastle and Sunderland stations..

Surely, if hydrogen power is good enough for the other routes, then it is good enough for this route.

Hartlepool Station

Hartlepool Station could become a problem, as although it is on a double track railway, it only has one through platform, as these pictures from 2011 show.

Consider.

  • There is no footbridge, although Grand Central could pay for one
  • There is a rarely-used bay platform to turn trains from Middlesbrough, Nunthorpe and Whitby.

This Google Map shows the cramped site.

The final solution could mean a new station.

Nunthorpe Park-And-Ride

This Google Map shows Nunthorpe with thje bEsk Valley Line running through it.

Note.

  1. Gypsy Lane and Nunthorpe stations.
  2. The dual-carriageway A171 Guisborough by-pass running East-West, that connects in the East to Whitby and Scarborough.
  3. The A1043 Nunthorpe by-pass that connects to roads to the South.

Would where the A1043 crosses the Esk Valley Line be the place for the Park-and-Ride station?

The new station could have a passing loop, that could also be used to turn back trains.

Battersby Station

Alan Williams, who is Chairman of the Esk Valley Railway Development Company, is quoted in the RAIL article as saying.

If you’re going to spend that sort of money we’d much rather you spent it on building a curve at Battersby to cut out the reversal there.

Williams gives further reasons.

  • Battersby is the least used station on the line.
  • It’s in the middle of nowhere.
  • The curve would save five minutes on the overall journey.

This Google Map shows Battersby station and the current track layout.

Note.

  1. The line to Middlesbrough goes through the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The line to Whitby goes through the North-East corner of the map.

There would appear to be plenty of space for a curve that would cut out the station.

LNER To Teesside

LNER, the Government and the TVCA are aiming to meet a target date of the Second Quarter of 2021 for a direct London and Middlesbrough service.

Middlesbrough Station

Middlesbrough Station will need to be updated and according to the RAIL article, the following work will be done.

  • A new Northern entrance with a glass frontage.
  • A third platform.
  • Lengthening of existing platforms to take LNER’s Class 800 trains.

This Google Map shows the current layout of the station.

From this map it doesn’t look to be the most difficult of stations, on which to fit in the extra platform and the extensions.

It should also be noted that the station is Grade II Listed, was in good condition on my last visit and has a step-free subway between the two sides of the station.

Journey Times

I estimate that a Kings Cross and Middlesbrough time via Northallerton would take aroud two hours and fifty minutes.

This compares with other journey times in the area to London.

  • LNER – Kings Cross and Darlington – two hours and twenty-two minutes
  • Grand Central – Kings Cross and Eaglescliffe – two hours and thirty-seven minutes.

I also estimate that timings to Redcar and Saltburn would be another 14 and 28 minutes respectively.

Frequencies

Currently, LNER run between three and four tph between Kings Cross and Darlington, with the competing Grand Central service between Kings Cross and Eaglescliffe having a frequency of five trains per day (tpd).

LNER have also started serving secondary destinations in the last month or so.

  • Harrogate, which has a population of 75.000, is served with a frequency of six tpd.
  • Lincoln, which has a population of 130,000 is now served with a frequency of six tpd.

Note that the RAIL article, states that the Tees Valley has a population of 750,000.

I feel that Middlesbrough will be served by a frequency of at least five tpd and probably six to match LNER’s new Harrogate and Lincoln services.

Will LNER’s Kings Cross and York Service Be Extended To Middlesbrough?

Cirrently , trains that leave Kings Cross at six minutes past the hour end up in Lincoln or York

  • 0806 – Lincoln
  • 0906 – York
  • 1006 – Lincoln
  • 1106 – York
  • 1206 -Lincoln
  • 1306 – York
  • 1406 – Lincoln
  • 1506 – York
  • 1606 – Lincoln
  • 1906 -Lincoln

It looks to me that a pattern is being developed.

  • Could it be that the York services will be extended to Middlesbrough in 2021?
  • Could six Middlesbrough trains leave Kings Cross at 0706, 0906, 1106, 1306, 1506 and 1706 or 1806?
  • York would still have the same number of trains as it does now!

LNER certainly seem to be putting together a comprehensive timetable.

Could Middlesbrough Trains Split At Doncaster Or York?

I was in Kings Cross station, this afternoon and saw the 1506 service to York, go on its way.

The train was formed of two five-car trains, running as a ten-car train.

If LNER employ spitting and joining,, as some of their staff believe, there are surely, places, where this can be done to serve more destinations, without requiring more paths on the East Coast Main Line.

  • Splitting at Doncaster could serve Hull, Middlesborough and York.
  • Splitting at York could serve Scarborough, Middlesborough and Sunderland.

Scarborough might be a viable destination, as the town has a population of over 100,000.

Onward To Redcar And Saltburn

One of the changes in the December 2019 timetable change, was the extension of TransPennine Express’s Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough service to Redcar Central station.

The RAIL article quotes the Mayor as being pleased with this, although he would have preferred the service to have gone as far as Saltburn, which is a regional growth point for housing and employment.

But the extra six miles would have meant the purchase of another train.

Redcar Central Station

This Google Map shows Redcar Central station and its position in the town.

It is close to the sea front and the High Street and there appears to be space for the stabling of long-distance trains to Manchester Airport and perhaps, London.

TransPennine seem to be using their rakes of Mark 5A coaches on Redcar services, rather than their Class 802 trains, which are similar to LNER’s Azumas.

Surely, there will be operational advantages, if both train operating companies ran similar trains to Teesside.

Saltburn Station

Saltburn station is the end of the line.

This Google Map shows its position in the town.

Unlike Redcar Central station, there appears to be very little space along the railway and turning back trains might be difficult.

There may be good economic reasons to use Saltburn as a terminal, but operationally, it could be difficult.

Will Redcar And Saltburn See Services To and From London?

Given that both towns will likely see much improved services to Middlesbrough, with at least a service of four tph, I think it will be unlikely.

But we might see the following.

  • LNER using Redcar as a terminus, as TransPennine Express do, as it might ease operations.
  • An early morning train to London and an evening train back from the capital, which is stabled overnight at Redcar.
  • TransPennine Express using Class 802 trains on their Redcar service for operational efficiency, as these trains are similar to LNER’s Azumas.

It would all depend on the passenger numbers.

A High-Frequency Service Between York And Teesside

After all the changes the service between York and Teesside will be as follows.

  • LNER will be offering a train virtually every two hours between York and Middlesbrough.
  • Grand Central will be offering a train virtually every two hours between York and Eaglescliffe, which is six miles from Middlesbrough.
  • TransPennine Express will have an hourly service between York and Redcar via Middlesbrough.
  • There will be between three and four tph between York and Darlington.

All services would connect to the hydrogen-powdered local services to take you all over Teesside.

Could this open up tourism without cars in the area?

Expansion Of The Hydrogen-Powered Train Network

Could some form of Hydrogen Hub be developed at Lackenby.

Alstom are talking of the hydrogen-powered Breeze trains having a range of over six hundred miles and possibly an operating speed of 100 mph, when using overhead electrification, where it is available.

In Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon, I put together information from various articles and said this.

I am fairly certain, that Alstom can create a five-car Class 321 Breeze with the following characteristics.

  • A capacity of about three hundred seats.
  • A smaller three-car train would have 140 seats.
  • A near-100 mph top speed on hydrogen-power.
  • A 100 mph top speed on electrification.
  • A 1000 km range on hydrogen.
  • Regenerative braking to an on-board battery.
  • The ability to use 25 KVAC overhead and/or 750 VDC third rail electrification.

The trains could have the ability to run as pairs to increase capacity.

The distance without electrification to a selection of main stations in the North East from Lackenby is as follows.

  • Newcastle via Middlesbrough and Darlington – 21 miles
  • Newcastle via Middlesbrough and Durham Coast Line – 53 miles.
  • York via Northallerton – 27 miles
  • Doncaster via Northallerton and York – 27 miles
  • Leeds via Northallerton and York – 52 miles
  • Sheffield via Northallerton, York and Doncaster – 45 miles

I am assuming that the trains can use the electrification on the East Coast Main Line.

From these figures it would appear that hydrogen-powered trains stabled and refuelled at Lackenby could travel to Doncaster, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield or York before putting in a days work and still have enough hydrogen in the tank to return to Lackenby.

Several things would help.

  • As hydrogen-powered trains have a battery, with a battery range of thirty miles all these main stations could be reached on battery power, charging on the East Coast Main Line and at Lackenby.
  • Electrification between Darlington and Lackenby.
  • Electrification between Northallerton and Eaglescliffe.

I am fairly certain that a large proportion of the intensive network of diesel services in the North East of |England from Doncaster and Sheffield in the South to Newcastle in the North, can be replaced with hydrogen-powered trains.

  • Trains could go as far West as Blackpool North, Carlisle, Manchester Victoria, Preston and Southport.
  • Refueling could be all at Lackenby, although other refuelling points could increase the coverage and efficieny of the trains.
  • Green hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis from the massive offshore wind farms off the Lincolnshire Coast.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains would be ideal for re-opened routes like the proposed services from Newcastle to Blyth and Ashington.

The hydrogen-powered trains on Teesside could be the start of a large zero-carbon railway network.

The Alstom Breeze And The HydroFlex Would Only Be The Start

As I said earlier, the initial trains would be conversions of redundant British Rail-era electrical multiple units.

Thirty-year-old British Rail designs like the Class 319 and Class 321 trains based on the legendary Mark 3 carriages with its structural integrity and superb ride, may have been state-of-the-art in their day, but engineers can do better now.

  • Traction and regenerative braking systems are much more energy efficient.
  • Train aerodynamics and rolling resistance have improved, which means less energy is needed to maintain a speed.
  • Interior design and walk-through trains have increased capacity.
  • Crashworthiness has been improved.

Current Bombardier Aventras, Stadler Flirts or Siemens Desiros and CAF Civities are far removed from 1980s designs.

I can see a design for a hydrogen-powered train based on a modern design, tailored to the needs of operators being developed.

A place to start could be an electric CAF Class 331 train. or any one of a number of Aventras.

  • From the visualisation that Alstom have released of their Breeze conversion of a Class 321 train, I feel that to store enough hydrogen, a large tank will be needed and perhaps the easiest thing to do at the present time would be to add an extra car containing the hydrogen tank, the fuel cells and the batteries.
  • Alstom have stated they’re putting the fuel cells on the roof and the batteries underneath the train.

Although, it is not a hydrogen train, Stadler have developed the Class 755 train, with a power car in the middle of the train.

Stadler’s approach of a power car, must be working as they have received an order for a hydrogen-powered version of their popular Flirts, which I wrote about in MSU Research Leads To North America’s First Commercial Hydrogen-Powered Train.

I think we can be certain, that because of the UK loading gauge, that a hydrogen-powered train will be longer by about a car, than the equivalent electric train.

I can see a certain amount of platform lengthening being required. But this is probably easier and less costly than electrification to achieve zero-carbon on a route.

Batteries can be distributed under all cars of the train, anywhere there is space., But I would suspect that fuel cells must be in the same car as the hydrogen tank, as I doubt having hydrogen pipes between cars would be a good idea.

Alstom have resorted to putting hydrogen tanks and fuel cells in both driving cars and they must have sound reasons for this.

Perhaps, it is the only way, they can get the required power and range.

As I understand it, the Alstom Breeze draws power from three sources.

  • The electrification if the route is electrified.
  • The electricity generated by regenerative braking.
  • The hydrogen system produces electricity on demand, at the required level.

Energy is stored in the batteries, which power the train’s traction motors and internal systems.

The electrical components needed for the train are getting smaller and lighter and I feel that it should be possible to put all the power generation and collection into a power car, that is somewhere near the middle of the train. Stadler’s power car is short at under seven metres, but there is probably no reason, why it couldn’t be the twenty metres, that are typical of UK trains.

Suppose you took a four-car version of CAF’s Class 331 train, which has two driver cars either side of a pantograph car and a trailer car.

This has 284 seats and by comparison with the three-car version the trailer car has eighty. As the pantograph car is also a trailer, I’ll assume that has eighty seats too! Until I know better!

Replacing the pantograph car with a hydrogen car, which would be unlikely to have seats, would cut the seats to 204 seats, but a second trailer would bring it back up to 284 seats.

I actually, think the concept of a hydrogen car in the middle of a four-car electric train could work.

  • The five-car hydrogen train would have the same capacity as the four-car electric version.
  • The train would need an updated software system and some rewiring. Bombardier achieved this quickly and easily with the train for the Class 379 BEMU trial.
  • There are several types of four-car electrical multiple units, that could possibly be converted to five-car hydrogen-powered multiple units.
  • Some five-car electrical multiple units might also be possible to be converted.

Obviously, if an existing train can be adapted for hydrogen, this will be a more cost effective approach.

Conclusion

Overall, the plans for rail improvements on Teesside seem to be good ones.

I’m looking forward to riding LNER to Teesside and then using the network of hydrogen-powered trains to explore the area in 2022.

My only worry, is that, if the network is successful, the many tourists visiting York will surely increase the numbers of day visitors to Whitby.

This is a paragraph from the RAIL article.

Alan Williams says that the EVRDC’s long-term objective is to see the Esk Valley served at intervals of roughly every two hours, equating to eight return trains per day, but with Northern and NYMR services sharing the single line between Grosmont and Whitby, introducing further Middlesbrough trains during the middle of the day, brings the conversation back to infrastructure.

He goes on to detail what is needed.

January 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Death Of Traditional Steel Making

If we’re being serious about making steel using the traditional methods of blast furnaces, converters and lots of energy, it’s not a very green process and it contributes to pollution and global warning.

We have a serious oversupply of steel in the world and this page lists production by countries.

In 2014, the world produced 1670 million tonnes of steel, of which we produced just twelve.

Looking at the production levels, there are quite a few countries that produce produce small numbers of million tonnes of steel like we do.

As China produced 822 million tonnes of steel in 2014, how many of these countries will be forced out of steel making in the next few years?

What will save steel making in a lot of countries is improvements in technology.

The parts of the steel industry, that seem to be the most profitable are the downstream uses of the metal, like making rails for railways. In this country, we have a reputation for using steel in innovative ways, but few of these uses need steel made in Britain, although they may need a quality steel to start with.

But that quality steel can come from anywhere with the knowledge to produce it.

China will acquire that knowledge, just as the Japanese did in the 1950s and 1960s.

It is interesting to look at iron ore by country in 2014. Out of a world product total of 3.22 million tonnes, we see.

  • China – 1.5 million
  • Australia – 0.66 million
  • Brazil – 0.32 million
  • India – 0.15 million
  • Russia – 0.1 million

So does this partly explain China’s massive production of steel?

I think Australia and Brazil are the two most important countries on this list. Both have large amounts of energy and because they are ambitious intelligent countries, as the steel-making technology develops, will we see them increasingly becoming makers of quality steel?

I don’t know, but it says to me, that even producing quality steel in a niche market won’t be profitable for long.

The money and employment is in using quality steel, not in making it.

It may be a hard unpopular view, but we should let the rest of the world fight over supplying us with quality steel. If we want security of supply, I’m sure the Aussies would provide it.

As to the steel-making areas like Teesside and South Wales, we have to move on.

The Future On Teesside

In fact Teesside seems to be doing that, if a BBC report this week wasn’t truly negative.

What puzzles me about Teesside, is that there is little mention in the media about York Potash. This is from Wikipedia.

The project intends to mine the world’s largest deposit of polyhalite – a naturally occurring mineral – located on the Yorkshire coast.

The mine site is located outside the village of Sneatonthorpe, between Whitby and Scarborough in North Yorkshire. The project plans to construct two 1,500 m (4,900 ft) shafts to reach the mineral seam which includes a mineable area of around 25,200 hectares (62,000 acres).

To minimise the amount of visible infrastructure within the North York Moors National Park, a protected area, the polyhalite will then be transported 37 kilometres (23.0 miles) in an underground tunnel to the company’s processing plant at Teesside. After granulation and drying, the finished product – marketed by Sirius Minerals as POLY4 – will be exported from the nearby harbour facilities.

Could it be that, this project appears to not be very green and in the minds of many is creating a giant hole in the North York Moors National Park?

My view is that the UK needs more big projects like York Potash, that earn billions of pounds from exports, create thousands of jobs and don’t despoil the environment.

The Future In South Wales

So what have we got for South Wales and Port Talbot in particular?

Nothing as big as York Potash, but there are plans for the world’s first tidal lagoon power station in Swansea Bay Wikipedia says this about the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay.

It is planned to be the first of six tidal lagoon power plants to be constructed in the United Kingdom, and one of four planned to be built in Wales. The tidal lagoon would have a capacity of 320 MW.

The project was named as part of the UK government’s 2014 National Infrastructure Plan and was granted planning permission by theDepartment for Energy and Climate Change in June 2015. Power production is expected to begin in 2019. The operational life time of the artificial lagoon is 120 years, effects of global warming have been included in the planning. It is also to be constructed to withstand 500-year-storms and to function as a coastline protection against storms and floods.

So what are we waiting for?

The economics depend very much on the strike price for electricity generated and the Government seems reluctant to set one. I do wonder if they have got themselves tied in knots with trying to build a white elephant at Hinckley Point, that they can’t think of anything else.

Consider.

  • I’m not against nuclear power, but Hinckley Point C is so expensive and its strike price is so high, that it will be a millstone around the necks of energy users for decades.
  • If we want to go nuclear, there are smaller and proven reactor systems available.
  • Electricity generation is going more distributed with the growth of solar panels, local heat and power systems and other technology.
  • Large energy users are changing technology to cut use.
  • The tidal lagoon technology gives protection against storms and floods.
  • Tidal lagoons could be the twenty-first century equivalent of the nineteenth-century seaside pier.
  • If the technology and economics of the tidal lagoon work, it will produce carbon-free electricity for at least 120 years.
  • There are other places, where tidal lagoons could be built.

You could bet your life on the Dutch building a tidal lagoon, but they don’t have the tides.

Rather than back a doomed steelworks, the Government should back the unique energy project of the Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay.

If the energy economics don’t work out, you still get the coastal protection and leisure facilities.

A Metro For Teesside

The Tees Valley Metro has been in planning mode for some years and I can’t understand why it hasn’t happened yet.

All that seems to have happened is the opening in 2014 of James Cook University Hospital station, which I wrote about in James Cook Station – The Reinvention Of The Halt. The station certainly seems to be attracting a level of use, typical of a station of its type.

I also wrote about the metro in The Creation Of The Tees Valley Metro.

A Metro For South Wales

The Welsh are also keen to create a South Wales Metro for some time. I wrote about my observations on the trains in the area in The Welsh Could Be Having A Lot Of Fun Playing Trains In The Cardiff Valleys.

This project should be beaten into action as soon as possible.

It is interesting to take a look at a Google Map of the coast between Swansea and Port Talbot.

Swansea To Port Talbot

Swansea To Port Talbot

I don’t know the area well, but I know many people, who have enjoyed leisure time spent all along the South Wales Coast.

Perhaps, if the steelworks were to be closed, it could be treated to a Barcelona solution, where their steelworks was closed and the area turned into beaches and parks, which formed part of the Olympics in 1992.

The Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay would be generally sitting in the western part of the bay.

I believe that a comprehensive South Wales Metro, could go a long way to creating more jobs, than will be inevitably lost at Port Talbot.

Conclusions

Steel production is virtually dead in the UK and we must move on.

If we can find an innovative project to replace steel making, we should back it and as with York Potash, it doesn’t necessarily mean billions of public money.

But decent infrastructure and local rail, tram and bus systems can go a long way to creating the jobs needed everywhere.

In both the examples of Teesside and South Wales, surely if nothin else, a decent metro would give a boost to tourism.

April 1, 2016 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Is There No Mention Of York Potash In The Discussion Of Redcar Steelworks?

This detailed article on the BBC entitled What is the outlook for Britain’s steel industry? starts like this.

It is being billed as a top level crisis summit. Government ministers, unions and steel company bosses are heading to South Yorkshire to discuss what can be done to help an industry hit by tough global market conditions.

UK steelmakers say it’s getting harder to compete because of high energy costs, green taxes, the strong pound and cheap Chinese imports flooding the market. Compared to foreign competitors, steel unions warn the cost of making steel in the UK is too high.

The recent closure of SSI’s steelworks at Redcar in Teeside, with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs, has brought into sharp focus the difficulties facing the industry. The Thai firm said a slump in demand for steel was behind its decision.

At other steelworks across the country, from South Wales to Scunthorpe to Rotherham, union leaders says thousands of jobs are hanging in the balance. So what’s next for the UK’s steelworkers?

But with regard to Sirius Metals and the creation of one of the world’s largest potash mines and processing facility; York Potash, there is not a word.

I’m afraid that in a few years there will be little steel-making in Europe, let alone the UK, as other countries with lower costs will undercut Europe on price.

On this page of the York Potash web site, there is an impressive video about the mine and its processing facility.

This must be one of the hopes for the future for Teeside.

I can remember the development of the earlier potash mine at Boulby, when I worked at ICI around 1970. This section is the history of the Boulby mine, and it would appear to have a future. The potash is removed to Teesport, using a reopened section of the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway, which used to connect Middlesbrough to Whitby, in addition to the still operating Esk Valley Line

In contrast the York Potash ,mine will use an underground conveyor to move potash from South of Whitby to its processing facility at Teesport.

There is still another railway in the area, which is the heritage North Yorkshire Railway, which connects Whitby and Pickering. According to this section in Wikipedia, it has ambitious plans to connect to the York to Scarborough Line, thus giving the possibility of steam services between Scarborough and Whitby.

I believe that the Tees Valley Metro can be developed.

Like many places in the UK, I believe that services on all the lines from Morpeth and Newcastle in the North to Middlesbrough, Darlington and Whitby in the South could be run using Aventra IPEMUs with a small amount of selected electrification.

Which brings me to the conclusion that Redcar steel works will be closed and Potash mining and a developed Tees Valley Metro will be better for the area, than pouring millions down the black hole of the steelworks.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

An Open Letter To George Osborne About Teeside

I should say, I have no connection to Teeside, except that I quite like the area.

There is little that can be done about SSI Redcar, other than hope for a miracle, as there is so much steel being produced in the world, that the price will only get lower and the plant will get less and less economic.

I also live in Dalston, which since the arrival of the London Overground five years ago, has very much gone up in the world! And in some ways, like employment, gone up for those at all levels in society.

So I very much feel, that improving a railway and other forms of public transport, can only make an area more attractive for investment, employment, living and leisure.

Teeside has been lobbying for a Metro for years, to link the knit the area together.

There is only one way that this can be provided in the absolutely necesary short time-scale.

The railway line between Newton Aycliffe and Middlebrough should be electrified, as soon as possible. Immediately, this would enable.

  • The new trains being produced at Newton Aycliffe by Hitachi, to get to the East Coast Main Line under their own power.
  • Direct electric train services between Middlesbrough, Darlington and all points North and South from Edinburgh to London on the East Coast Main Line.

Northern Rail or their successor have been mandated in the new Invitation to Tender for the franchise to provide 120 new carriages to replace the disgusting Pacer trains.

Some of these new carriages should be the IPEMU variant of the new Aventra trains, being produced by Bombardier at Derby, which could by the use of the electrification at Middlesbrough and on the East Coast Main Line and the trains on-board batteries be able to run on the following routes.

  • Saltburn to Bishop Auckland via Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley Line
  • Hexham to Nunthorpe via the Tyne Valley Line, Newcastle, Sunderland, the Durham Coast Line, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.
  • Middlesbrough to Whitby could be done later.

The faster electric trains would increase capacity, decrease journey times and improve frequencies.

The only construction needed for the new trains, would be a small amount of platform lengthening and adjustments to the track and signalling.

 

 

September 29, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Creation Of The Tees Valley Metro

James Cook station is the first project that could be thought of as part of the proposal to create a Tees Valley Metro, which is described in Wikipedia like this.

The Tees Valley Metro is a project to upgrade the Tees Valley Line and sections of the Esk Valley Line and Durham Coast Line to provide a faster and more frequent service. In the initial phases the services will be heavy rail mostly along existing alignments. The later phase may introduce tram-trains to allow street running.

Tram-trains could be ideal for the line and perhaps if they ran past the Riverside stadium could be used to provide a stop there.

The proposed layout of the metro is powerful in that it links the East Coast Main Line at Darlington and the possibly soon-to-be-electrified Middlesbrough station to a number of both local heavy rail lines and a couple of heritage ones, opening up the area for all sorts of business, leisure and employment opportunities.

If Newton Aycliffe becomes a major train building centre as Hitachi hope, then surely that area could become an important destination on the Tees Valley Metro.

This Google Earth image shows the Tees Valley Line through Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough

Note Middlesbrough station at the west (left) and South Bank station at the east, at the top of the image.

The current Tees Valley Line threads its way between the two stations, on the north side of the main A66 road, passing close to the Riverside stadium.

The Esk Valley Line to James Cook, Nunthorpe and Whitby  branches off from this line between Middlesbrough station and the stadium and goes off in a generally south-easterly direction alongside the A172 road.

 

 

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 4 Comments