The Anonymous Widower

Beeching Reversal – Shepton Mallet (Mendip Vale)

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

This article on Rail Technology News is entitled Shepton Mallet Railway Station And Services Could Be Restored Under New Vision.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

National rail services could be restored to a Somerset town after the local authority unveiled a new vision for the rail route.

Shepton Mallet’s current nearest mainline station is Castle Cary which is over seven miles away, but new stations and a bypass have been proposed in a business case from Mendip District Council for major new transport projects.

In the Wikipedia entry for the East Somerset Railway, this is said.

On 25 March 2007, the East Somerset Railway announced that it had received a £7,500 grant from Shepton 21 Group, a local organisation, set up to regenerate the area around Shepton Mallet. The money was to be spent on conducting a feasibility study into extending the line towards Shepton Mallet, with a possible new terminus at Cannards Grave, on the outskirts of Shepton Mallet

This Google Map shows the South-Eastern edge of Shepton Mallet.

Note.

  1. The scar of the disused railway passing East-West through the town.
  2. Mendip Vale station on the East Somerset Railway on the Eastern side of the map.
  3. The Cannard’s Grave area of the town, with what appears to be a new road system.

Would it be possible to extend the East Somerset Railway to a new Parkway station in the Cannard’s Grave area?

It certainly looks the most likely plan.

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the route of the railway.

The railway may be only 2.5 miles long, but it does provide a connection for the important Merehead Quarry to the UK rail network.

The tracks to the Quarry and Shepton Mallet join up to the South West of the quarry before joining the Heart of Wessex Line, that connects Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth stations via Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Frome. Castle Cary and Yeovil.

Passenger Train Services

This Google Map shows East Somerset Junction, where the branch line joins the Heart of Wessex Line.

Note.

  1. Frome, Westbury, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads are to the North East.
  2. The double-track railway going South-West is the Heart of Wessex Line to Castle Cary, Yeovil and Weymouth.
  3. The East Somerset Railway is the single-track joining from the West.

There is no direct access to and from the branch from the South-West. But then all of the quarry traffic needs to go to and from via the junction at Westbury.

In Westbury Station – 30th July 2020, I discussed the development of Westbury station.

This was my conclusion.

Could Westbury station develop into a zero-carbon rail transport hub for Wiltshire?

    1. It has an hourly train service between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids.
    2. It has an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
    3. There are hourly services to stations like Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham, Dorchester, Frome, Swindon, Taunton, Trowbridge and Yeovil

It could be electrified to charge battery electric trains as they pass through.

Perhaps, an hourly service between Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations could be added to the services?

  • I estimate that Westbury and Shepton Mallet Parkway stations are about 13.5 miles apart
  • With an intermediate stop at Frome, I estimate that it would be a twenty minute journey.
  • A shuttle would need just one train and could run a passenger-friendly clock-face timetable.
  • A two-car diesel multiple unit would probably be good enough to open the service.
  • The service could be fully-integrated with all the other services passing through Westbury.

It would also be a shuttle service, that could be run using a battery electric train charging at Westbury station.

Conclusion

I like this proposal.

  • The only infrastructure required is the Park-and-Ride station at Shepton Mallet Parkway.
  • Much of the route is currently used by heavy freight trains.
  • I doubt that the East Somerset Railway will object.
  • I’m sure, that a diesel multiple unit could be found for the shuttle.
  • The passenger services will have good connections at Westbury station.

In a future zero-carbon world, it could be run by battery electric trains, charging at Westbury station.

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Westbury Station – 30th July 2020

I went to Westbury station today and took these pictures.

I found Westbury station to be a station in extremely good condition.

It also had a buffet, where I was able to purchase a delicious ice cream.

Passenger Services Through Westbury Station

I was at the station for about an hour and several trains passed through.

Great Western Railway services through the station include.

  • One train per two hour (tp2h) – London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids – Stops
  • One tp2h – London Paddington and Penzance – Passes through
  • One tp2h – London Paddington and Plymouth – Passes through
  • One train per hour (tph) – Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Stops
  • One tp2h – Great Malvern and Westbury
  • One tp2h – Gloucester and Weymouth – Stops
  • One tp2h – Swindon and Westbury

Train classes included Class 800 trains and Class 166 trains.

South Western Railway services through the station include.

  • Five trains per day – Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads – Stops

Train classes include Class 159 trains.

Battery Trains Through Westbury

Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range could even be sufficient take a train between Westbury and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip.

Many of the trains through Westbury go to the same stations.

Distances are as follows.

  • Bristol Temple Meads – 28 miles
  • Newbury – 42 miles
  • Salisbury – 24 miles
  • Swindon – 32.5 miles
  • Taunton – 47 miles

It looks like all of these places should be in range of an electric train with a battery capability, providing there is a charging facility at the other end.

An Electrification Island At Westbury Station

I have been advocating an island of electrification around Westbury station for some time and feel about a dozen miles of electrification through the station would be sufficient for Class 800 trains with a battery capability to bridge the gap.

  • At Newbury, trains would access the current electrification into London Paddington.
  • Between Exeter and Taunton, the rail route runs alongside the M5, so why not electrify this stretch, as the wires will not be so noticeable?

Looking at Westbury, to my untrained eye, it would appear that a short section of electrification around the station, would not be the most challenging of projects.

I believe that discontinuous electrification between Newbury and Exeter would be possible and could gradually be extended across Devon and Cornwall.

It should also be noted that one of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains has a range of 56 miles, so that these places from Westbury could be an return trip on batteries, with a well-driven train with excellent energy management.

  • Bath Spa – 17 miles
  • Bradford-on-Avon – 7 miles
  • Bristol Temple Meads – 28 miles
  • Chippenham – 16 miles
  • Frome – 6 miles
  • Salisbury – 24 miles
  • Trowbridge – 4 miles
  • Warminster – 9 miles

Obviously, the number of stops and the terrain will play a part.

Freight Might Drive Full Electrification Through Westbury Station

As the pictures show, there are heavy freight trains going through the area, which bring long and weighty loads of stone from the Mendips to London.

  • There are regularly two or three stone trains in an average hour of the day.
  • Like in the picture, I suspect they are usually hauled by a noisy, smelly, polluting and carbon-dioxide emitting Class 66 Locomotive. Not all of these, are as clean and well-maintained, as the one in the picture.
  • Some trains start at Merehead Quarry, which is about fifteen miles from Westbury station.

I believe that we must decarbonise freight trains.

But freight and electric haulage is not a simple subject.

  • I once had extensive talks with a Senior Crane Driver at the Port of Felixstowe during an Ipswich Town Away match. Ports don’t like overhead wires, as containers do get dropped and fall off rail wagons.
  • Suppose a historic line without electrification, like the Settle and Carlisle has a serious land-slip, which it did a couple of years ago. How do you haul in the materials for repair?
  • Because freight can be of a random and unpredictable nature, to electrify freight, you probably need to electrify the whole rail network.

For these and other reasons, we need independently-powered freight locomotives and I feel that a new freight locomotive will develop, that will be needed by the rail industry all over the world.

There are several solutions.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is the simplest solution and would mean that the current diesel locomotives could be used.

In Grant Shapps Announcement On Friday, I talked about Government support for an industrial process, that has been developed by Oxford University and their spin-off company; Velocys, from the the Fischer-Tropsch Process, which can produce, the following fuels from household and industrial waste.

  • Aviation biofuel.
  • Biodiesel.

A plant to process 500,000 tonnes per year of Lincolnshire finest waste is now being built at Immingham to create 50,000,000 litres of fuel, by Altalto, which is a partnership between Velocys, British Airways and Shell.

If nothing else, waste-to-fuel is the interim solution to the decarbonisation of tricky sectors like heavy rail freight, rail construction, large diesel-powered machines, ships or long-distance aviation.

This fuel could be ideal to haul the heavy stone trains from the Mendips.

Hydrogen

I did think, it would be hydrogen powered, but I’m not so sure now, as hydrogen trains and locomotives seem to have a slow development cycle.

Although, there is one factor, that might influence the use of hydrogen as a fuel, which I wrote about in Thirsty High-Rollers … Mining’s Heavy Haulers Prime Candidates For Hydrogen Conversion.

Mining and quarrying don’t have a good green image, but converting mines and quarries to hydrogen power, would surely have operational and good public relational advantages.

It would also ensure a plentiful and convenient supply of hydrogen, for any hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Hydrogen-powered locomotives, with their electric transmissions, would probably be able to use electrification for traction power, so they would put pressure on the Government to electrify between Westbury and Newbury stations, so that there was a fully-electrified route between the Mendips and London.

Rolls-Royce’s Staggering Development

Staggering is not my word, but that of Paul Stein, who is Rolls-Royce’s Chief Technology Officer.

He used the word in a press release, which I discuss in Our Sustainability Journey.

To electrify aviation, Rolls-Royce has developed a 2.5 MW generator, based on a small gas-turbine engine, which Paul Stein describes like this.

Amongst the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5 MW. That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.

This generator is designed for flight and the data sheet for the gas-turbine engine is available on the Internet.

  • It has a weight of under a couple of tonnes compared to the thirteen tonnes of the diesel engine and generator in a Class 68 locomotive.
  • It is also more powerful than the diesel.
  • It looks to be as frugal, if not more so!
  • Rolls-Royce haven’t said if this gas-turbine can run on aviation biofuel, but as many of Rolls-Royce’s large engines can, I would be very surprised if it couldn’t!

Rolls-Royce’s German subsidiary is a large producer of rail and maritime diesel engines, so the company has the expertise to customise the generator for rail applications.

I can see this generator ending up in a high-powered heavy independently-powered electric locomotive for hauling stone and inter-modal container trains.

As with hydrogen-powered locomotives, this new breed of gas-turbine locomotive with its electric transmission, will be able to use electrification, where it exists.

So would locomotive developments drive the electrification through Westbury and especially between Westbury and Newbury?

I would rate is likely, that in the future, increasingly rail locomotives will have sophisticated electric transmissions, between their prime motive power of diesel, hydrogen, gas-turbine or whatever and their traction system. All of these locomotives will have pantographs and/or third-rail shoes to access electrification, where it exists.

These locomotives will surely add to pressure to electrify between Westbury and Newbury.

Biodiesel is surely the interim freight solution, if one is needed.

Future Zero-Carbon Passenger Services

Passenger services through Westbury can be divided into three groups.

Great Western Railway’s Services Between London Paddington And Devon And Cornwall

From Beeching Reversal projects put forward over the last few months, it looks like these services will increase and stop at several new and refurbished stations.

I can see discontinuous electrification being used to create a series of electrification islands to allow Class 800 trains, with a battery capability reach the Far South West of Cornwall.

Electrification islands could be at places like

  • Around Westbury station.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter St. Davids stations alongside the M5.
  • Between Plymouth station and the Royal Albert bridge.
  • Around Bodmin Parkway station
  • Around Truro station
  • At Newquay station
  • At Penzance station

Obviously, the number and type of the various installations will depend on the methods used and the engineering required.

I do believe that with Hitachi trains, that meet their specification, that trains will be able to travel between Paddington and Penzance without touching a drop of diesel.

Great Western Railway’s Cardiff Central And Portsmouth Harbour Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Cardiff Central and Filton Junction – 33 miles – Electrified
  • Filton Junction and Bristol Temple Meads – 5 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrified
  • Westbury and Salisbury – 24 miles – Not Electrified
  • Salisbury and Southampton Central – 15 miles – Not Electrified
  • Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour – 26 miles – Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave the Great Western Main Line at Filton Junction with a full battery.
  • It can leave the electrification at Westbury station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Southampton Central station with a full battery.
  • Third-rail shoes are fitted for working between Southampton Central and Portsmouth Harbour stations.

Recharging batteries at Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury stations, although probably welcome, are not necessary.

I can envisage Hitachi Class 800 and Class 385 trains being able to fulfil this role, along with Bombardier Electrostars and Aventras and Siemens Desiros.

As Great Western Railway have forty-five Class 387 trains, conversion of some of these to battery electric operation must be a possibility.

Great Western Railway’s Gloucester and Weymouth Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Gloucester and Bristol Temple Meads – 39 miles – Not Electrified
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrifield
  • Westbury and Dorchester Junction – 52 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dorchester Junction and Weymouth – 4 miles – Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Gloucester station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Bristol Temple Meads with a full battery.
  • It can leave Westbury with a full battery.
  • It can leave the South Western Main Line at Dorchester Junction with a full battery.

It would be a tight trip for a battery electric train and I suspect, that there would be some extra electrification between Westbury and Dorchester Junction or perhaps charging facilities at Frome or Yeovil Pen Mill stations.

The alternative would be to fit larger batteries on the train.

As to the train to be used, a Class 387 train with a battery capability would surely be ideal.

Great Western Railway’s Swindon and Westbury Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Swindon and Chippenham – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Chippenham and Westbury- 16 miles – Not Electrified

It would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Chippenham station with a full battery.

This would have sufficient charge to do the thirty-two mile round trip from Chippenham to Westbury and back.

As to the train to be used, a Class 387 train with a battery capability would surely be ideal.

South Western Railway’s Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury Service

The service can be split into the following legs.

  • Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury – 28 miles – Not Electrified
  • Westbury and Salisbury- 24 miles – Not Electrified

t would appear that a train with the performance and range on batteries of Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train should be able to handle the route, provided the following conditions are met.

  • It can leave Bristol Temple Meads station with a full battery.
  • It can leave Westbury with a full battery.
  • It can leave Salisbury with a full battery.

But, I do wonder, if with a slightly larger battery, a well-driven train could work the route with only charging the battery at Westbury station?

Conclusion

Could Westbury station develop into a zero-carbon rail transport hub for Wiltshire?

  1. It has an hourly train service between London Paddington and Exeter St. Davids.
  2. It has an hourly service between Bristol Temple Meads and Weymouth.
  3. There are hourly services to stations like Bath Spa, Bradford-on-Avon, Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham, Dorchester, Frome, Swindon, Taunton, Trowbridge and Yeovil

It could be electrified to charge battery electric trains as they pass through.

 

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bath Spa Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures as I twice passed through Bath Spa station.

These are my thoughts.

Electrification Gantries On The Platforms

As somebody, whose eyesight is on the wane, I am not a lover of electrification, where the gantries are bolted to the platforms. These pictures show some installations of this type at Crouch Hill station.

Would electrification gantries like these, be appropriate in Bath Spa station?

Could Lightweight Electrification Gantries Be Placed Between The Tracks?

These pictures show the wide gap between the two tracks in Bath Spa station.

Could double-track lightweight structures, based on a design like this be placed between the tracks?

These structures are made out of laminated wood and are surely a possibility.

A Makeover For Bath Spa Station

If you look at much of the woodwork and paint in the fabric of the station, it appears tired and in need of refurbishment.

Whether the station is electrified or not, the station will need a high-class makeover.

Services Through Bath Spa Station

Three train companies run services through Bath Spa station.

There are also some freight services hauled by diesel locomotives.

Trains leave Bath Spa station using one of three routes via either.

Most trains seem to go via Bristol Temple Meads station.

  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Chippenham stations are 24.5 miles.
  • The distance between Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury stations are 28.5 miles.

Neither distance is that long.

An Alternative To Full Electrification

When I look at the distances between Bristol Temple Meads, Chippenham and Westbury stations, they tell me that they are within the range of Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip.

Notes for each station follow.

Bristol Temple Meads

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles

Note.

  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Bristol Temple Meads station could become a major hub for battery trains.

All local services and all passing longer distance services could be trains with a battery capability.

I write more about Britol Temnple Meads station as a battery train hub in Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020.

Chippenham

A train would leave Chippenham station with a full battery after charging on the fully-electrified route from London.

Chippenham and Weston-super-Mare would be in battery range with a charging facility at Weston-super-Mare station.

It should be noted that every extra mile of electrification past Chippenham, can be added to the distance electric trains with a battery capability can reach.

Westbury

Charging facilities would be needed.

Destinations in battery range would include.

  • Salisbury – 24 miles.
  • Southampton – 49 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line, at Southampton Central station.
  • Weymouth – 53 miles to the electrified South Western Main Line at Dorchester Junction.

Note.

  1. A return trip to Salisbury would be possible.
  2. Trains would need to have the capability to access 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  3. A few extra miles of electrification may make operation South from Westbury station easier, more reliable and allow more destinations to be included.

Westbury station could be a major hub for battery trains.

This Google Map shows Westbury station and the lines around it.

I would probably electrify a few miles either side of Westbury, so that passing trains could be in contact with the overhead wires for perhaps five to ten minutes and take a good long drink.

  • Electrification could be either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC overhead.
  • Newbury, where the electrification to London starts is 42 miles away and trains can pick it up at speed.
  • Taunton is 47 miles away and could be electrified to Exeter St. Davids.

Great Western Railway could run all their services between London Paddington and the South-West using Class 800 trains with a battery capability.

Conclusion

The prolitical, heritage and engineering problems of electrifying through Bath Spa station can be voided, by electrification and charging facilities at stations like Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Westbury and Weston-super-Mare.

July 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Newly-Decorated White Horse Room In Westbury Is Open For Bookings

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Wiltshire Gazette And Herald.

This is the introductory paragraphs.

A disused room at Westbury Railway Station has been transformed into a office area and community space.

The community rail partnership, TransWilts, has announced the completion of work to refurbish and redecorate the Westbury White Horse room.

It is an interesting concept and I’ll be interested to see how it all works out.

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Reinstatement Of Rail Access To Devizes Via A New Station At Lydeway

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

Devizes is a growing town without a railway station.

The Wikipedia entry for the former Devizes station, says this about providing a new station.

Although Devizes was denied a railway station due to its stagnant population, as of 2017 the population had grown to 31,000, which could warrant its re-establishment. However, much of the vital land agreements and rights of way were sold off reducing the chances of reinstatement. An alternative plan has been proposed: to build Devizes Parkway Station at Clock Inn Park, three miles east of Devizes on the Reading–Taunton line, near to the site of the original junction for the branch at Etchilhampton.

It appears to have been taken from Baldrick’s book of cunning plans, where you create a virtual branch line using the A342, travellers’ personal transport and a shuttle bus service.

This Google Map shows the position of the station site at Clock Inn Park, with relation to Devizes.

Note.

  1. Devizes in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. Clock Inn Park in the South-East corner of the map.
  3. The A342 road connecting the town with the station site.

This more detailed Google Map shows the station site.

Note.

  1. The A342 going diagonally across the map.
  2. The Reading-Taunton Line going across the map.
  3. There’s even bus stops by the station site.

As the site could be fairly generous, I think a station with adequate parking could be created.

The Train Service

The train service is currently two hourly on this route between Paddington and Exeter St. David’s stations.

Perhaps, with an extra stop and more passengers, the service could be increased to hourly.

Another alternative would be to run battery-electric trains on the route between Paddington and Westbury, that called at all stations West of Newbury.

  • Trains would use the electrification between Paddington and Newbury and would leave Newbury with a full battery.
  • This service would be an extension of the current hourly service to Bedwyn station.
  • Between Newbury and Westbury stations is forty-two miles of unelectrified lines, which should be possible with a battery electric version of the Class 802 train.
  • Charging facilities would be needed at Westbury station.
  • Between Paddington and Westbury stations takes one hour and thirteen minutes.
  • Hitachi are quoting a ten minute charge time for one of their battery-electric trains.
  • The trains would turn at Westbury station, which has refreshments and toilets for the crew.
  • No extra electrification would be needed to run electric services to Westbury.

I think it could be feasible.

The Concept Of An Electrification Island

Westbury could be what I would call an electrification island.

Consider

  • The Reading-Taunton Line passes through the station.
  • The Wessex Main Line both passes through the station.
  • The town of Westbury has a population of around 17,000 and some substantial heavy industries, so I suspect that it has a robust electricity supply.
  • Taunton is 47 miles away.
  • Newbury is 42 miles away.
  • Weymouth is 59 miles away.
  • Bristol Temple Meads is 40 miles away.
  • Swindon is 32 miles away.
  • Hitachi are claiming a range of between 55 and 65 miles for a battery-electric train.

Suppose the two routes through the station  and perhaps for up to ten miles away from the town, were to be electrified.

  • A battery-electric train turning back at Westbury would pan-up in the station and charge the battery. Leaving the station, the driver would leave the pantograph up for acceleration and then make sure pan-down was performed before the end of the electrification.
  • A through battery-electric express between Paddington and Exeter would pan-up when under the electrification and pan down before it left the electrification.
  • It might be prudent that all passing expresses stopped in Westbury station, to make sure, trains didn’t stop with a flat battery in the middle of nowhere, until procedures were seen to be totally reliable.
  • A battery-electric train to and from Weymouth would probably need to run for about 45 miles between the electrification island at Westbury and the third-rail electrification at Dorchester Junction.

I believe that a well-designed electrification island at Westbury coupled with perhaps electrification between Exeter and Taunton, would enable battery-electric trains to work the following routes.

  • Paddington and Exeter
  • Westbury and Bristol
  • Westbury and Weymouth
  • Westbury and Swubdon

I suspect that Transwilts services could also be run by battery-electric trains, as they could charge at Westbury, Swindon and other electrified stations.

Conclusion

Devizes Parkway station would appear to be a simple way to provide a new station, at a town that has grown substantially since the days of Dr. Beeching.

Did Dr. Beeching and the Government of the day, have a view on population growth in the UK? They certainly didn’t take it into the account in their rail closure program. Or if they did, they got it spectacularly wrong!

 

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments