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

Middlesbrough Station – 20th October 2020

I took These pictures at Middlesbrough station on my trip to Teesside.

These are my thoughts on the station.

Station Track Layout

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

Note.

  1. The pair of freight lines passing around the North side of the station.
  2. Platform 1 is the Westbound platform on the South side of the tracks.
  3. Platform 2 is the Eastbound platform on the North side of the tracks.

Both platforms would appear to be about 150 metres long, which is long enough for a five-car Class 80x train, but not for a 234 metre long nine-car train.

Period Features

The station has a lot of period features, like cast-iron columns and brackets, and good Victorian stonework.

Much seems to have received good TLC.

Northern Entrance

I have seen comments about improving the Northern entrance on various web sites.

It certainly, isn’t in bad condition.

Improving The Station

In £35m Station Transformation Launched By Tees Valley Mayor, I wrote about the current plans to transform the station. I started with these paragraphs.

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has announced (June 9th) a £35m transformation of Middlesbrough Station to transport more train services to the town, including the first direct rail link to London in decades.

The Rail Technology Magazine article indicates that Platform 2 at Middlesbrough station will be extended to handle Azuma trains. As the current platform looks to be around 150 metres long and this would be long enough for a five-car train, does this mean that in the future nine-car and ten-car Azumas will be able to run services to Middlesbrough?

Having seen since I wrote the related post, that Hull station has handled some nine-car Azumas, I feel that although five-car Azumas could probably use Middlesbrough station, it would seem prudent to make it possible for the longer trains to call.

Let’s suppose Middlesbrough, were playing a big London club in an important post-pandemic FA Cup match. LNER might want to run a nine-car Azuma to Middlesbrough to accommodate extra passengers.

Charging Battery Trains

LNER and TransPennine Express could be running battery electric Class 800 and Class 802 trains to Middlesbrough and/or Redcar Central stations.

This Hitachi infographic describes their Regional Battery Train, which can be created by adding batteries to the current trains.

With a range of 90 km. or 56 miles, these trains could be able to reach Middlesbrough from the electrification on the East Coast Main Line at Northallerton.

With most journeys, they should have sufficient energy in the battery to return without trouble.

But it would probably be prudent to have charging at Middlesbrough and/or Redcar Central to ensure a safe return.

These pictures were taken from the Eastern end of Platform 2, which is down to be lengthened.

Note.

  1. The freight lines behind Platform 2.
  2. There is plenty of space beyond the end of Platform 2.
  3. There appears to be space for a reversing siding with a charger.

I am sure that a suitable form of charging can be provided on Platform 2 at Middlesbrough station.

Conclusion

Middlesbrough station could be turned into a big asset for the town.

October 30, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Transmission Technology Is Helping UK Offshore Wind Farms Go Bigger, Farther

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

It is rather technical, but it describes how the electricity is brought onshore from the 1.4 GW Sofia wind-farm, which is being built 220 kilometres out in the North Sea on the Dogger Bank. where upwards of 5 GW of capacity is proposed.

New lighter equipment is being used to convert the electricity to and from DC to bring it ashore at Lazenby, on Teesside. Note that sub-sea electricity links usually use high-voltage direct current or HVDC, The equipment has been designed and built by GE in Stafford.

It looks like the North East of England will have enough power.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub

The North Sea Wind Power Hub, will lie to the East of the UK capacity on the Dogger Bank  in European territorial waters. This is the introductory paragraph from Wikipedia.

North Sea Wind Power Hub is a proposed energy island complex to be built in the middle of the North Sea as part of a European system for sustainable electricity. One or more “Power Link” artificial islands will be created at the northeast end of the Dogger Bank, a relatively shallow area in the North Sea, just outside the continental shelf of the United Kingdom and near the point where the borders between the territorial waters of Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark come together. Dutch, German, and Danish electrical grid operators are cooperating in this project to help develop a cluster of offshore wind parks with a capacity of several gigawatts, with interconnections to the North Sea countries. Undersea cables will make international trade in electricity possible.

So will the connection to Lazenby, also be used to bring electricity from the North Sea Wind Power Hub to the UK, when we need it? And will electricity from our part of the Dogger Bank be exported to Europe, when they need it?

The North Sea Intranet of electricity is emerging and it could be one of the biggest factors in the decarbonisation of Western Europe.

The technology developed at Stafford, will be needed to support all this zero-carbon electricity.

September 29, 2020 Posted by | Energy | , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Upper Wensleydale Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This map from the Upper Wensleydale Railway web site, shows the location of the proposed reinstated railway.

This is the vision of how the railway will be used, taken from the web site.

It is hoped that a reinstated junction with the existing  Leeds – Settle – Carlisle railway line at Garsdale will allow ‘through’ trains to run from Hawes via Garsdale Junction, past the Yorkshire Three Peaks to Settle, then onwards through Hellifield and Clitheroe into Lancashire for Preston and Greater Manchester.

We are also hoping that some Manchester – Blackburn – Clitheroe trains can be extended to Garsdale and Hawes thereby linking Lancashire to an enhanced service through Settle to the Yorkshire Peaks and Dales.

Connections with other trains could be made at Hellifield (for West Yorkshire & Lancaster) and at Garsdale (for Carlisle, Scotland & the North East of England).

This Google map shows the current state of the railways at Garsdale.

Note.

  1. Garsdale station in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. The Settle and Carlisle Line curving away to the North over the Dandry Mire Viaduct.
  3. The trackbed of the former branch to Hawes stands out as a green scar.

I have followed the route of the railway to Hawes in my helicopter and it doesn’t appear to be a very challenging project to reinstate.

  • Although the comprehensive Routes and Structures page on the Upper Wensleydale Railway, indicates there is a lot to do.
  • It is about six miles long.
  • It is single track with a passing loop at Hawes.

This Google Map shows the town of Hawes,

It certainly looks the sort of place, where Wallace and Gromit might rent a cottage for a week and use as a base to explore the countryside.

  • There’s a Wensleydale Creamery.
  • There’s a traditional ropemaker called Outhwaite, dating from 1905, who have the web site; www.ropemakers.com.
  • The headquarters of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are located in the North of the town and shown by a green arrow.

Next to the Park Authority is a blue arrow marking the Dales Countryside Museum, which incorporates the original Hawes railway station.

Services To Hawes

Looking at the data from Real Time Trains, it looks like trains on the Settle and Carlisle average about fifty mph on that line, which is generally double-track with an operating speed of sixty mph.

  • I would estimate that a modern diesel or hydrogen-powered train could do the return trip between Garsdale and Hawes station in around thirty minutes.
  • This time would probably mean that the Hawes Branch could be worked with only one train operational on the branch.
  • It would also fit in well with the service plans for the Upper Wensleydale Railway.

I am fairly certain that an hourly service could be run between Hawes and Hellifield stations, which could be extended as far South as the operator wanted.

Military Traffic To Redmire

In the Wikipedia entry for Redmire village, this is said.

Redmire is the terminus of the Wensleydale Railway. The Ministry of Defence uses trains to transport armoured vehicles from bases in the south to the Catterick military area using Redmire railway station as its terminus.

It looks like there must be a quality railway between Redmire station and the East Coast Main Line at Northallerton.

This Google Map shows the site of Redmire station.

Note.

  1. At the left hand side of the map, there look to be loading ramps for the military vehicles, at the end of two sidings.
  2. The building on the North side of the tracks appears to be the old Redmire station buildings.
  3. The blue dot to the right, is a Google Maps pointer for the station

If you type Redmire into Google Maps, it’s easy to find..

This Google Map shows the rail lines at Northallerton.

Note.

Northallerton station in the South-East corner of the map.

The East Coast Main Line runs about West-by-North from the station towards Darlington and Scotland.

The line to Middlesbrough branches off in a North-Easterly direction.

The Wensleydale Railway comes in from the West and joins the East Coast Main Line going North.

It also appears there used to be a tight chord that allowed trains to go between the Wensleydale Railway and the South.

It looks like the Army would like that chord for their vehicle trains.

This enlarged Google Map, shows the site of the chord.

It looks to me, that it was once a chord, but now it’s a substantial wood.

A Bigger Plan

In the Wikipedia entry for the Wensleydale Railway, there is a section, which is entitled Upper Wensleydale Railway, where this is said.

In late 2019/early 2020, a separate company was formed to campaign to reinstate the line between Hawes and Garsdale. The groups’ objective is to have a timetabled year-round service run by a train operating company, rather than a heritage service. This scheme was shortlisted for funding in the second round of the government’s Reverse Beeching Fund, in June 2020.

These are my thoughts on various topics.

The Eastern Terminal

There are three possible Eastern terminals.

  • Northallerton
  • Middlesbrough – There is no connection to the Wensleydale Railway.
  • Darlington – Would probably mean slow trains on the East Coast Main Line.

I think we’re left with Northallerton and the tight connection, which requires the chord to be reinstated.

But, it does say in the Wikipedia entry for Northallerton station, that the station is the terminus for the proposed extended Wensleydale Railway.

This Google Map shows the Northern end of Northallerton station.

Would it be possible to sneak a line down the Western side of the East Coast Main Line and into a new bay platform at the station?

It would certainly allow trains from the Wensleydale Railway to terminate at Northallerton station.

The Western Terminal

As I said earlier, it’s the operator’s choice.

Personally, I would choose Blackburn station.

  • It’s about fifty miles from Gardale station.
  • There is a train depot at Blackburn.
  • Blackburn station is in the Town Centre.
  • Blackburn station has good rail connections to Blackpool, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Preston.

Prior to COVID-19, I regularly stayed in the convenient Premier Inn next to the station.

Rolling Stock

The trains will have to be self-powered, as I don’t think the budget will run to electrification and much of the track-bed is owned by a heritage railway.

So that must mean the trains must be self-powered, which will mean either diesel, electric or hydrogen.

  • I think diesel can be ruled out, except as a stop-gap, we are going carbon-neutral on the railways by 2040.
  • Blackburn and Northallerton stations are too far for battery power.

So that means it must be hydrogen power.

But as, it appears that Teesside is going for hydrogen, as I wrote about in Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, that should be a convenient fuel.

The route might be a candidate for Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro concept, with fast charging at one or two, of any number of the stations.

Conclusion

I like this scheme, as it sorts a lot of problems.

I also think that there’s a fair chance, it will get the nod.

The local MP is the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Rishi Sunak and this could be a case of he who pays the piper, calls the tune!

July 4, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tees Valley Wins £1.3million Project To Bring Hydrogen Vehicles To The Region

The title of this post, is the same as that as this article on the Tees Valley Combined Authority web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Hydrogen vehicles and refuelling stations will soon be coming to Tees Valley after it was today (February 5) announced that a £1.3million bid to Government had been successful.

The next two paragraphs give more detail.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen welcomed the result of a Government competition that will see two refuelling stations built in Middlesbrough and Redcar, plus a fleet of cars which use hydrogen technology for long-range travel (300+ miles) and fast refuelling capability.

The new refuelling stations could allow cars, buses, bin lorries and even trains to be powered by the super fuel.

This later paragraph details the expected economic benefits.

Figures from a draft report commissioned by the Combined Authority and produced by KPMG suggest that exploiting the opportunities of the hydrogen economy could add up to £7billion to the region’s economy by 2050, with the creation of as many as 1,000 jobs.

These figures seem to say hydrogen is good for the economy and jobs.

March 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Red Diesel Cuts To Make Way For For Electric And Hydrogen

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

It is an article worth reading, as Conservative MPs spread the message of the phase out of red diesel to their constituents.

  • It will be painful.
  • Farmers must be protected.
  • Only one person in the audience had an electric car.
  • The government is expected to enhance electric car incentives and provisions.

It was also disclosed that Teeside will be getting hydrogen-powered trains.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment