The Anonymous Widower

Will It Be Third-Time Lucky For Grand Union Trains In Wales?

It is three years since I wrote Grand Union Seeks ’91s’ To Cardiff and their proposal has not been accepted and the third iteration has been announced.

This article on Wales Online is entitled Independent Rail Firm Bids To Launch As Rival To Great Western On The Mainline From South Wales To London.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

An independent rail firm is hoping to launch a rival train service in Wales which they say will slash journey times between Carmarthen and London. Grand Union Trains is making a fresh bid to introduce an initial service in both directions between Cardiff and London on the existing Great Western line.

The company believes the move will “create passenger choice” and increase the number of trains available, with the hope that the service can be extended west in South Wales towards Carmarthen.

Other points in the article include.

  • Swansea will be by-passed, which will speed up services to and from Llanelli and Carmarthen.
  • A new Park-and-Ride station will be built by Grand Union at Felindre, which is to the North of Swansea.
  • Services will stop at Llanelli, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway.
  • When Cardiff Parkway opens, this will be an extra stop.

An article in the June 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Grand Union Bids For London To Carmarthen, gives extra details.

  • Three classes.
  • 2203 start for the service.
  • Five return trains per day.
  • Cycle provision.
  • Vanload freight will be carried.
  • Electric trains could start between London and Cardiff by 2023.
  • In 2025, trains could be nine-car bi-modes.
  • South Wales-based operation and maintenance.
  • 125 full-time jobs created.

It certainly seems to be a comprehensive and well-thought out plan.

These are my thoughts and observations.

Felindre Station

Felindre station is named in Wikipedia as the West Wales Parkway station, where it is introduced like this.

West Wales Parkway is a proposed railway station north of Swansea, near to the boundaries of the neighbouring principal area of Carmarthenshire, and the villages of Felindre and Llangyfelach. The station is proposed to be situated at the former Felindre steelworks, near Junction 46 of the M4 and A48, and near Felindre Business Park and Penllergaer Business Park. The project is in the planning stages, as part of a wider Department for Transport proposal to re-open the Swansea District line to passenger traffic.

This Google Map shows where, it appears the Felindre station will be built.

Note.

  1. The Felindre Business Park in the North-West corner of the map, with a Park-and-Ride.
  2. The M4 running across the bottom of the map.
  3. The Swansea District Line runs East-West between the motorway and the Business Park.

It looks that the new station could be located on the South side of the Business Park.

According to Wikipedia, the station would cost £20 million to build.

  • It would need a comprehensive rethinking of transport improvements in the Swansea area.
  • But it could result in time savings on services between Carmarthen and Cardiff.

The Modern Railways article says this.

GU proposes to build the Felindre station near Swansea and invest in Severn Tunnel Junction station, where it says it will increase parking, provide direct access from the M4 motorway and improve passenger and staff facilities, backing up plans being evaluated by the Welsh Government for the station.

Grand Union is not a charity and does this indicate that a bank or infrastructure company is prepared to fund parking and the extra passengers pay the charges.

Rolling Stock

Wikipedia says that the rolling stock could be nine-car InterCity 225s hauled by Class 91 or Class 93 locomotives.

As the Class 93 locomotives are bi-modes, these would handle the Carmarthen and Cardiff leg.

The Modern Railways article says this.

Trains could start between Cardiff and London Paddington as early as May 2023 if electric only, with services extended west around two years later with new bi-mode trains in up to nine-car formations.

Would a new Class 93 locomotive count as a new bi-mode train?

I suspect the new locomotive would be more affordable, than a new bi-mode train.

Vanload Freight

This is an interesting idea and it follows similar thinking to Royal Mail’s latest ideas, that I wrote about in Royal Mail Rolling Back The Years To Put More Post On Trains.

One coach could be a nice little earner, if it were modified to carry roller cages, that were loaded and unloaded at the end of the route.

One advantage of the InterCity 225s is that they are 125 mph trains, so that this will be high speed freight.

Timings

Consider.

  • A GWR Carmarthen and London service takes three hours and 47 minutes.
  • This includes a nine-minute reverse at Swansea.
  • GWR makes seven more stops than Grand Union will.
  • GWR does seven diesel stops, whereas Grand Union will only do two.

I would estimate that Grand Union will be under three hours and thirty minutes.

Carmarthen Station

This Google Map shows Carmarthen station.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. There are certainly pictures of the station with an InterCity 125 in the station.

These pictures show the station.

I suspect that the station will be upgraded to accommodate Grand Union.

Rrenewable Energy Developments In South West Wales

In Enter The Dragon, I talked about renewable energy developments in South West Wales.

I used information from this article on the Engineer, which is entitled Unlocking The Renewables Potential Of The Celtic Sea.

The article on the Engineer finishes with this conclusion.

For now, Wales may be lagging slightly behind its Celtic cousin to the north, but if the true potential of the Celtic Sea can be unleashed – FLOW, tidal stream, lagoon and wave – it looks set to play an even more prominent role in the net zero pursuit.

The Red Dragon is entering the battle to replace Vlad the Mad’s tainted energy.

South West Wales could see a massive renewable energy boom.

The Railways To The West Of Carmarthen

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the rail lines to the West of Carmarthen.

There are three main branches to Fishguard, Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock.

I can see the railways becoming increasingly important in supporting the growing renewable energy in the area.

  • There would be more frequent services.
  • Services would tie in with London and Cardiff trains at Carmarthen.
  • Closed stations could be reopened and new ones built.

It may also be possible to bring in large components needed by the renewable energy industry.

Conclusion

I feel that Grand Union have seen the opportunities presented to a frequent Carmarthen and London service and have grabbed them with both hands.

 

 

May 29, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sustainable Marine Delivers Floating Tidal Power To Nova Scotia Grid

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Renewable Energy Magazine.

This is the first paragraph.

Ocean energy pioneer Sustainable Marine has successfully harnessed the enormous tidal currents in Canada’s Bay of Fundy, delivering the first floating in-stream tidal power to Nova Scotia’s grid.

This Google Map shows the Bay Of Fundy.

Note.

  1. The hydrology of the Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world of sixteen metres, against a worldwide average of about a metre.
  2. According to the Renewable Energy Magazine article, Nova Scotia has allocated circa 30MW of capacity via demonstration permits.
  3. The article also indicates that up to 2.5 GW of clean and predictable energy for Canada could be generated.
  4. By comparison Hinckley Point C nuclear power station will generate 3.26 GW.

The Bay of Fundy would be the largest tidal power station in the world.

But this list in Wikipedia gives these proposed tidal power stations.

There are another two Russian proposals and a South Korean one.

Note.

  1. There are some large numbers.
  2. There are also some huge ambitions and massive budgets.

But will we ever see large scale tidal power stations?

 

May 12, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , | Leave a comment

Enter The Dragon

Look at this map of UK offshore wind farms. clipped from Wikipedia.

It is only a crude map, but it does show the lack of offshore wind farms around the coasts of Wales and South-West England.

This article on the Engineer is entitled Unlocking The Renewables Potential Of The Celtic Sea.

The article starts with these two paragraphs.

Over the last decade, the UK has become a global leader in renewable marine energy, tapping into the vast resources its coastal geography offers. Offshore wind, in particular, has flourished, with gigawatt-scale projects being deployed off the east coast of England and Scotland, at Hornsea, Dogger Bank and Moray.

However, looking at a map of existing and proposed wind farms, what’s perhaps most striking is the complete absence of projects in the southwest of Britain, off the rugged shores of Wales, Devon and Cornwall, shaped by the fierce North Atlantic. The Celtic Sea – which extends south off Wales and Ireland down past Cornwall and Brittany to the edge of the continental shelf – is estimated to have around 50GW of wind generating capacity alone. What’s more, it also delivers some of the highest tidal ranges in the world, alongside some of the best waters in Europe for generating wave energy. In a country blessed with renewable resources, the Celtic Sea may well be its biggest prize.

The article then discusses how the challenge of developing renewable energy around Wales is being met.

  • It describes the relevance of Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW).
  • It quotes someone who says. “Eighty per cent of the world’s wind resources are in waters deeper than you would traditionally go with fixed offshore wind.”
  • It talks about Blue Gem Wind and their Erebus and Valorous wind farm projects, that I wrote about in Blue Gem Wind.
  • It talks of how expertise from offshore oil and gas is being used to develop floating offshore wind.

The article then goes on to talk about tidal power.

The Welsh Government Tidal Lagoon Challenge is mentioned.

  • The article notes “The IP for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon has been purchased by a consortium led by Bridgend’s DST Innovations and has been reborn as Blue Eden.”
  • Blue Eden is described on this page of the DST Innovations web site. The project is not in the least bit timid or small.
  • The article also introduces to the Morlais Tidal Energy Scheme, which has its own web site.

The article then finishes with a few paragraphs about how wind, wave and tidal power can be combined in a single scheme.

Conclusion

The article finishes with this paragraph.

For now, Wales may be lagging slightly behind its Celtic cousin to the north, but if the true potential of the Celtic Sea can be unleashed – FLOW, tidal stream, lagoon and wave – it looks set to play an even more prominent role in the net zero pursuit.

The Red Dragon is entering the battle to replace Vlad the Mad’s tainted energy.

 

April 6, 2022 Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Could The Morocco-UK Power Project Be Developed Into A Western Europe And Africa Interconnector?

This page on the Xlinks web site, describes the Morocco-UK Power Project, which is proposed to generate solar and wind power in Morocco and deliver it to the UK.

  • The plan envisages 10.5 GW of electricity being generated.
  • There will be a 5GW/20GWh battery in Morocco.
  • They will export 3.6 GW of electricity to the UK for at least twenty hours per day.
  • The electricity will be exported to the UK by an Interconnector that skirts to the West of Spain, Portugal and France.
  • The interconnector will be 3,800 kilometres long.

I described the project in detail in Moroccan Solar-Plus-Wind To Be Linked To GB In ‘Ground-Breaking’ Xlinks Project.

This Google Map shows Western Europe And North Africa.

Note.

  1. The light blue of the Continental Shelf
  2. The darker blue of deeper water.
  3. The Southern end of the Morocco and the UK interconnector will at Guelmim Oued Noun in the South of Morocco, which is indicated by the red arrow.
  4. The UK end of the cable will be at Alverdiscott between Barnstaple and Bideford in North Devon.
  5. Southern Morocco and Algeria look to be mainly in the Sahara Desert.

If we look at the route of the cable, it connects a lot of possible renewable energy sources.

  • Morocco – Solar and wind
  • Spain – Solar and wind
  • Portugal – Solar and wind
  • France – Nuclear, tidal and wind
  • UK – Nuclear and wind.

Could the UK and Morocco interconnector be developed into a bigger power project?

  • Solar and wind power from Algeria could be added.
  • Tidal power from a Severn Barrage could be added.
  • Connections could be added to Gibraltar, the Irish Republic and Wales.

I believe that there could be a large amount of electricity developed on the Western costs of Europe and Africa.

An interconnector would move it to where it is needed.

 

September 29, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Shape Of Solar Farms To Come

This article on Renew Energy is entitled Gannawarra Battery-Integrated Solar Farm – Australia’s Largest – Officially Opened.

These are the first two paragraphs.

The Gannawarra solar and energy storage project near Kerang in western Victoria has had its official launch on Friday, to mark the largest pairing of a solar farm and a grid-scale battery system in Australia.

State energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio officially anointed the landmark project, which has combined 60MW of PV panels and a 25MW/50MWh battery system – Tesla’s second-biggest battery in the country so far.

Form the video in the areticle, it appears that there are 120 hectares of solar panels and the farm provides enough electricity for 25,000 homes.

It is an interesting concept and I’m sure it will be repeated around the world.

Ausralia has lots of sun, but there is no reason, why a similar system can’t be developed with tidal, wave or wind power.

June 18, 2019 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | Leave a comment