The Anonymous Widower

Increase In Hate Crime Against Disabled Rail Users

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

New figures published by the Department for Transport have shown that hate crimes toward disabled people traveling on the rail network have risen by 24% in the last three years.

I don’t think the abuse has just been on trains either.

I rarely see any friction over the use of the wheelchair bay on buses in London, but my feeling is that I see it more often than I used too!

  • Perhaps six months ago,  a mother was not very pleased at having to get off the bus so that a disabled guy in a wheelchair could use the space.
  • Some people think possession of the space is all important.
  • I’ve also heard arguments over who takes precedent.

I wonder, if it is worse in other parts of the UK, where wheelchair access to buses is not as easy,as in London and there are fewer buses.

Are Some Passengers Annoyed At Being Delayed?

I’ve certainly seen moderate annoyance on buses and trains, when there is a delay caused by a disabled passenger getting on or off a bus or train, with sometimes some very offensive words being said.

So What Should Be Done About It?

Obviously, we need to do all the usual personal things to make sure that things run smoothly and serious abusers should be prosecuted.

But I also think, that we should aim for the following.

Every train must have a level platform and train interface.

The picture was taken from literature about the South Wales Metro and shows a visualisation of one of the Flirts, that will run on the routes in South Wales.

We should ban the ordering of trains, that don’t meet this criteria.

All routes between street and platform should be step-free.

It would be an expensive program, but there would be a lot who’d benefit.

  • People in wheelchairs
  • Babies and toddlers in buggies and their pushers.
  • People dragging large cases.
  • Cyclists with bicycles
  • Older people with mobility issues.

There will be collateral benefits.

  • Trains would be speeded up, as they would not have to wait so long in stations.
  • More people will use the trains and not just the disabled.
  • If the program were properly managed, it could create work for local construction firms all over the UK.

It might even encourage inward and stay-at-home  tourism from those with mobility issues.

 

April 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , | 11 Comments

Battersea Power Station’s Glass Elevator To Open Next Year

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

It sounds like it will give a reason for some tourists to visit the area and it will be a balance to the cable-car in the London Docks.

Ian gives more details about what could be a new experience for Londoners and tourists.

April 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | 2 Comments

Is The UK Ready For A Tourist Boom This Summer?

Imagine one scenario, where we continue to vaccinate against Covid-19 and and large parts of the EU doesn’t, or at least goes slower and slower because of reluctance to use the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A simple mathematical model could mean that our number of cases drops like a stone and the anti-AZ countries suffer successive waves of the covids.

Where will vaccinated well-off North American, Antipodean and Far Eastern tourists want to go for their dose of European culture?

March 16, 2021 Posted by | Health, World | , , | 5 Comments

The Proposal For Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station

This article on the Salisbury Journal is entitled Wilton Railway Project On Track As Bid Submitted.

It starts with this paragraph.

An application to reopen the railway station in Wilton has reached the third round of the Restoring Your Railway Ideas Fund.

There are also more details in the February 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

The following sections give more information and some of my thoughts.

Station Name

The station appears to be called Stonehenge and Wilton Junction in all the articles and reports.

Station Location

This page on the TransWilts web site, says this about the station.

Wilton is at the junction between the Salisbury to Bristol line and the Salisbury to Exeter line.
It is 7 miles to Stonehenge Visitor Centre. A consultants report by Atkins shows an economic case and a developer for housing at the site has been identified. Station cost is in the order of £15m.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The Wilton Park-and-Ride site at the top of the Map.
  2. The railway going South-East and North-West across the map is the Wessex Main Line, that links Salisbury and Bristol.
  3. The railway going South-East and West across the map is the West of England Main Line, that links Salisbury and Exeter.
  4. Both routes are double track.

It would appear that the new station would have platforms on both rail lines through the station.

Station Design

If Atkins reckon the station can be built for £15 million as I quoted earlier, it can’t be a very grand station.

The Modern Railways article says this about the station.

A park-and-ride facility at the station would reduce congestion in the centre of Salisbury. Improving London services in the proposal improves the cost-benefit ratio, so what is now envisaged is a four-platform station, with platforms on both the TransWilts and the Yeovil to London lines. The thinking is that the new station could work in tandem with the lengthening of the Tisbury loop and other proposals for possible expansion on the South Western route to Exeter that was floated in the latest Network Rail Continuous Modular Strategy.

My feelings are that a radical approach could yield an efficient station with a smaller number of platforms.

Train services through the station could include.

  • GWR – Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Hourly – Transwilts Lines – Also calls at Salisbury
  • GWR – Great Malvern and Brighton or Southampton – Hourly – Transwilts Lines – Also calls at Salisbury
  • SWR – London Wareloo and Exeter – Hourly – Yeovil and London Lines – Also calls at Salisbury

There is also talk of extending the Transwilts hourly service between Swindon and Westbury to Salisbury and then on to Southampton via Romsey.

This would do the following.

  • Create a link to Southampton Airport.
  • Give the new station a Turn-Up-And-Go service to Salisbury.
  • The fourth service would mean that three services called on the Transwilts platforms and one service called on the Yeovil and London platforms.

So why not have one large platform between the two pairs of lines?

  • It would have a tunnel connecting it to the buses and the car parking.
  • One large lift would take passengers with limited mobility to the platform.
  • The Southern face of the platform, would handle all trains running on the Yeovil and London line. A single platform can easily handle an hourly fast service in both directions.
  • The Northern face of the platform, would handle all trains running on the Transwilts.
  • Three trains per hour (tph) in both directions, could probably be handled with some innovation and a long platform.

Why complicate everything with four platforms?

Link To Stonehenge

I haven’t been to Stonehenge since the 1950s, although I have observed it from traffic jams on nearby roads many times.

Surely, there is a chance here to connect the new station and the World Heritage Site with a zero-carbon battery or hydrogen bus.

As the distance between the station and Stonehenge is only about seven miles, it would probably be the easiest way to get large number of visitors to the unique site.

We probably need more well-planned zero-carbon bus links to historic, tourist and other important sites.

 

 

 

March 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Could We Set Up Covid-19 Vaccine Tourism?

Consider.

  • We are a country, which lots of people want to visit for business and/or tourism.
  • We have got lots of Covid-19 vaccine.
  • It appears that the one-shot Janssen vaccine will come on stream soon from the factory on Teesside.
  • We have accurate methods of detecting, if people have the virus.

I also think that in a few weeks time, it might be possible to check, that an incoming tourist from many countries, is totally free of the virus.

So could we operate a system, where incoming passengers from safe countries, go through a procedure similar to this?

  • They are tested for Covid-19 before departure and aren’t allowed to fly after a positive test. This is the current procedure.
  • On arrival in the UK, they go to a hotel for a night.
  • On arrival at the hotel, they are tested for Covid-19.
  • If the test is positive, they go straight back in the morning.
  • They are then vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine.

After appropriate checks, they are allowed to leave in the morning.

  • Those just coming for the vaccination could go straight back from where they came from.
  • Those coming for business or tourism, would follow the normal procedure.

I’m certain, that a procedure could be developed, that would be approved by the UK Government.

It would be ideal for a low-cost airline, who could set it up with a local hotel.

Travelling From Countries On The Banned List

Those entering from countries On The banned list would out of courtesy be offered a free vaccine.

 

February 15, 2021 Posted by | Business, Health | , , , | 2 Comments

Railfuture North East – New Station At Gilsland

When I wrote Beeching Reversal – Ferryhill Station Reopening, I used this document from Railfuture, for information.

The document lists a series of campaigns and a New Station At Gilsland was one.

This is their summary of this campaign.

New Station at Gilsland aimed at both improving links to local towns for the residents of the area
and opening up the area to a new and greener form of tourism.

These are my thoughts.

The Location Of Gilsland

Gilsland station was on what is now called the Tyne Valley Line.

The station closed in 1967.

The station towards Carlisle was Low Row, which closed in 1965.

The station towards Newcastle was Greenhead, which closed in 1967.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The A69 road goes across the map.
  2. Low Row is close to the A69, in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Greenhead is on the Northern side of the A69 at the Eastern edge of the map.
  4. The blue dot at the top of the map indicates a Hadrian’s Wall site.
  5. Gilsland is to the East of the blue dot.
  6. The railway curves between Low Row, Gilsland and Greenhead.

This second Google Map enlarges the area around the village of Gilsland.

Note.

  1. The blue dots are sites, that are all related to the World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall.
  2. The red dots are places to spend a night!
  3. The orange dots are places to eat.

This third map shows an enlargement of the village of Gilsland.

Note.

  1. The railway running across the map from the North-East corner.
  2. Two Hadrian’s Wall sites within walking distance of the railway.
  3. Gilsland station must have had some of the best access to one of the UK’s foremost historical sites.

This must rank as one of the most philistine of the station closures of the Beeching era.

But the Prime Minister of the time; Harold Wilson once said that we won’t need railways in the future, as everybody will have their own car.

A New And Greener Form Of Tourism

The heading for this section is taken directly from Railfuture’s reasons for reopening the station.

They are so right!

Perhaps, I’m being selfish, as I’ve never visited Hadrian’s Wall and as I no longer drive a car, it’s unlikely, I’ll ever do it under my own steam.

But a new station at Gilsland, would make it easy, if I was in the area.

Battery Electric Trains On The Tyne Valley Line

The current train service between Carlisle and Newcastle is two passenger trains per hour (tph) and several freight trains per day (tpd).

It is not a large number of trains, but they will need to be decarbonised, as all are diesel-powered at present.

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I laid out my view, that as decarbonisation proceeds, we’ll see large numbers of diesel locomotives either replaced with or converted to hydrogen power.

So in this post, I will only deal with the passenger trains.

Consider.

  • All the battery electric trains, that I’ve ridden, have been as quiet as church-mice.
  • They are very electrically efficient and zero-carbon.
  • Hitachi and other manufacturers are claiming ranges for battery electric trains of up to sixty miles and charging of batteries in less than ten minutes.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle stations are 61.5 miles apart.
  • There is electrification at both ends of the Tyne Valley Line.
  • Hexham, which is forty miles from Carlisle and twenty from Newcastle could be used to charge the trains en route.

Diesel trains are so last Century!

This would be one of the easier lines to run with battery-electric trains.

December 13, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Start-up Bags $7m To Bring Tourists To Edge Of Space On A Balloon

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

This paragraph describes it.

The start-up aims to use a series of space balloons – attached with a pressurised capsule – to fly equipment and tourists to the edge of space on a six hour flight. The company’s first test flight of its Neptune 1 craft is expected towards the end of Q1 2021 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility. While the first test will consist of an uncrewed, unpressurised capsule, Space Perspective hopes to begin crewed operations by 2024.

What a concept!

  • It’s affordable edge of space travel for all!
  • Learn more from their web site.
  • From the pictures, it looks like each trip would carry about ten passengers, in normal clothes,
  • I can see lots of these installed over the world.
  • When can I book, a trip on one of these from Central London? Or from somewhere in say the mountains of Switzerland?

On this page of their web site, they describe a typical flight.

Flown by a pilot, Neptune takes up to eight passengers called “Explorers” on a six-hour journey to the edge of space and safely back, where only 20 people have been before. It will carry people and research payloads on a two-hour gentle ascent above 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere to 100,000 feet, where it cruises above the Earth for up to two hours allowing passengers to share their experience via social media and with their fellow Explorers. Neptune then makes a two-hour descent under the balloon and splashes down, where a ship retrieves the passengers, the capsule, and the balloon. Neptune’s commercial human spaceflight launches are regulated by the FAA Office of Commercial Spaceflight.

Note.

I’ve already flown at 60,000 feet in an aircraft. In Concorde!

Even a humble Airbus A320 can fly at 41,000 feet.

Splashdown in the Thames Estuary or Lake Geneva? Why not?

No-one ever had a worthwhile idea or made a useful fortune by thinking with the herd.

December 6, 2020 Posted by | Finance, Transport, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal Fund Bids

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the May 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Bids have been submitted to Government for a share of the £500 million ‘Restoring your railway’ fund launched by the Department for Transport in January. The fund is to be used to support proposals to reinstate axed local services, to accelerate schemes already being considered for restoration and also to promote new and restored stations.

Some of the bids are detailed.

Okehampton And Tavistock

If you were deciding what lines shouldn’t have been closed by British Rail in the 1960s, by hindsight, the Exeter to Plymouth railway of the LSWR, would be a railway that you wouldn’t close.

  • The Northern route  would be a valuable diversion, when the sea and the weather decide to attack Dawlish again. as they did in 2014.
  • When COVID-19 is over, there will be more people going to Devon and Cornwall. A second rail route would be invaluable to get traffic off the roads.
  • Attitudes are changing about zero-carbon travel and this will also nudge passengers towards rail.
  • Four tracks between Exeter and Plymouth would allow more freight services to take trucks off the road.
  • There may be new developments along the Northern route.
  • It may be even be possible to electrify the Northern route.

At least, British Rail left the viaducts and bridges intact.

The Modern Railways article says this.

In the West Country, a new Northern Route Working Group has submitted a bid to the fund to develop a Strategic Outline Business Case for reopeing the former London and South Western Railway Main Line between Exeter and Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock. The proposal is backed by four local MPs and the working group of industry personnel.

These points are also made.

  • The reopening is crucial to the resilience of the network.
  • Reopening is complimentary to the ongoing work at Dawlish.
  • Devon County Council is leading plans to reopen the 5.5 miles between Bere Alston and Tavistock.
  • Devon County Council is pushing for a daily service between Exeter and Okehampton.
  • The previous two developments, would leave the 16 miles between Tavistock and Okehampton to be restored.
  • Much of the route is intact and structures survive, but some track has been sold off.
  • The route will be useful during closure of the coastal route through Dawlish.
  • Journey times might be only six minutes longer.
  • It might be an easier route for freight trains.

As I said earlier, the proposers of the scheme think electrification could be possible.

Stratford And Honeybourne

The Modern Railways article says this.

A bid has been submitted for £75,000 to carry out an Economic Impact Assessment regarding reopening of the Stratford-upon-Avon to Honeybourne route.

These points are also made.

Nothing is said about whether the route will be single or double track or what services will be run on the line.

There’s more on the Shakespeare Line web site.

This is said about train services.

  • A reopened railway could provide the ability to operate orbital train services in both directions between Birmingham-Stratford-Evesham-Worcester-Birmingham providing connections for South Wales and South West at the new Worcestershire Parkway station.
  • The reopened line would provide the ability to operate direct train services with a 12 mile shorter route between Stratford upon Avon, the Cotswolds, Oxford, Reading, Heathrow Airport and London Paddington.

I also think, I’ve read that the line could be used by freight services and heritage services on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, which could link Birmingham and Cheltenham.

It does appear to be a rail link with potential.

Rawtenstall Line

The Modern Railways article says this.

Meanwhile, Rossendale Council has submitted an application to the fund seeking to propose reinstatement of passenger services on the Rawstenstall Line, now part of the East Lancashire Railway.

A study published in 2018 determined that reinstating services along the ELR and then joining the Manchester to Rochdale Line would be feasible.

These points are also made.

  • Rossendale is the only council in Lancashire without a rail link.
  • 60 % of residents leave the borough each day for work.

Tram-trains have also been proposed for this route, as I wrote about in Could A Class 399 Tram-Train With Batteries Go Between Manchester Victoria And Rochdale/Bury Bolton Street/Rawtenstall Stations?

Conclusion

This is the closing paragraph of the article.

In addition to those mentioned, it is likely that other bids will have been submitted to the fund.

It certainly looks like the money in the fund, will be bid for, by worthwhile projects.

 

April 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Eden Project Morecambe Now ‘Certain’

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

I’ve always liked the Eden Project Morecambe and can’t see why it will not be as big a success, as its Cornish sister.

  • It has good transport links.
  • It could be served by battery electric trams or trains from the West Coast Main Line.
  • It is within an two hours ,of the large population centres of Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and North Lancashire.
  • It is a complimentary attraction to the Lake District.

But above all, it catches the mood of today’s world.

November 10, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments