The Anonymous Widower

Tram 18, Where Are You?

This article in Rail echnology Magazine is entitled Midland Metro tram shipped to Spain for battery fit-out ahead of OLE-free operation.

It describe how Tram 18 is on its way to Zaragoza to be fitted with lithium-ion batteries, so that the UK’s first battery tram can start running in 2019, after the track is laid to Victoria Square in Birmingham and the railway station in Wolverhampton.

February 15, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Cost Of Tram Batteries

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Midland Metro tram shipped to Spain for battery fit-out ahead of OLE-free operation.

One Midland Metro tram has been sent back to the factory in Zaragoza to be fitted with two roof-mounted lithium-ion cells and after testing it will be returned to the West Midlands in the Autumn, where more testing will be performed, prior to starting running on the catenary-free streets of Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

After a successful completion of testing on the first tram, the other twenty trams will be converted.

This is said in the article about costs.

The total cost to the WMCA of fitting out the fleet will be £15.5m, but the authority says that it will save £9.24m on infrastructure costs on the first four extensions to the Metro network alone, with further infrastructure savings planned as future extensions take place.

So the savings can go a long way to help pay for the trams to run on the four extensions.

The cost of the modifications to each tram is £738,000, but if the infrastructure savings are factored in, the modifications cost just £298,000 per tram.

I also wonder if the layout of the Midland Metro, with a fairly long wired central section and a catenary-free section at either end is ideal for battery operation, as the trams will have a long section to fully charge the batteries.

But it looks like trams will reach Victoria Square and Wolverhampton station in 2019, Edgbaston in 2021 and the Eastside extension to Curzon Street will be completed in 2023.

Perhaps, the most interesting section in the article is this paragraph.

The WMCA is also evaluating a proposed Wednesbury to Brierley Hill extension to identify the viability of catenary-free sections.

Could this mean that the South Staffordshire Line, which will be used for the extension will be without catenary? As the tram does small detours into Dudley and at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre, then these sections could be wired to charge the batteries, leaving the South Staffordshire Line without any wires. I estimate that the distance the tram would travel would be about seven miles each way.

As Network Rail want to run both trams and freight trains on the South Staffordshire Line, this might allow both to share an unelectrified line, if they have the right wheel and track profiles.

There certainly seems to be some very innovative ideas around, when it comes to using trains and trams in City Centres.

 

 

January 23, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is The West Midlands Going To See A Boom In Rail Station Building?

Yesterday, when I wrote West Midlands To Get A New Freight Interchange, I wondered, if the original Four Ashes station would be rebuilt.

On looking at the list of proposed stations on Wikipedia, I noticed the first was Brinsford Parkway station, which I’d never heard of before.

But it turned out it was just a couple of miles South of Four Ashes. Wikipedia says this about Brinsford Parkway station.

It would be located on the Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford Line loop of the West Coast Main Line, and would give the north of Wolverhampton local commuter trains easing congestion on the A449, M6 and M54 motorways. Penkridge is the only station that still remains open on the line between Wolverhampton and Stafford.

The proposed station would serve a new development on the MoD depot at Brinsford (whose builder would fund the station), other local communities and passengers drawn from the motorway network. It would provide Park and Ride facilities, with a large car park.

It sounds like Wulfrunians are thinking holistically!

It looks like a good idea to me, as it ticks a lot of boxes.

So, I then went through Wikipedia’s lists of current and proposed station projects, to see what other interesting ones were in the pipeline. I found these in the West Midlands.

The West Midlands has certainly expanded its suburban services with electrification, new trains and the Midland Metro in the last couple of decades and it looks like they will be building more train and tram lines in the future.

Birmingham To Peterborough Line

In my view the most interesting proposal is the two new stations on the Birmingham to Peterborough Line. Except for Water Orton, this line is station free between Coleshill Parkway and Birmingham New Street.

If Fort Parkway and Castle Bromwich stations were to open, surely two trains per hour on this line will not be enough, so I do wonder if there are plans to add extra services to and from somewhere like Nuneaton with its connections up and down the West Coast Main Line and possibly extend them the other way to perhaps the new Bromsgrove station to the West of Birmingham.

It strikes me that there will be some reorganisation. I suspect though, that one of the problems is that it would appear that the line from Nuneaton to Birmingham is not electrified, although Nuneaton and Birmingham New Street stations are. There is also incomplete electrification between Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove stations.

It looks to me like a cash of call in some Aventra IPEMUs. The only problem might be hauling a full load of passengers up the Lickey Incline on the on-board energy storage.

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

West Midlands To Get A New Freight Interchange

This article in Rail News is entitled New railfreight hub proposed for West Midlands. This is the first paragraph.

Plans have been published for a major rail interchange in the West Midlands, which its promoters say will boost the regional economy and could create between 6,500 and 8,500 jobs.

It sounds good to me. Especially, when you look at this map of the location.

Four Ashes Railfreight Hub

Four Ashes Railfreight Hub

The area is known as Four Ashes and it used to have have a station of the same name.

  • On the map the railfreight hub will be in the large triangular area of white and grey buildings towards the bottom of the map and slightly left of the middle.
  • The site is 250 hectares.
  • The M6 runs South East to North in a gentle curve and has a major junction (12!) with the A5.
  • the Rugby-Birmingham-Stafford Line runs North-South to the right of the line of yellow fields (rape?) and the left of the site of the railfreight hub.
  • It’s also not the only proposed new rail infrastructure in the area, as a station has been proposed at Brinsford Parkway, a few miles to the South.

It could certainly be described as a big well-positioned railfreight hub.

But will the locals object, despite the thousands of jobs?

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Wolverhampton Says Go

Wolverhampton station has a few problems in the past.

  • It was short of capacity and a new through platform 4 has been built.
  • It needed to be linked to the buses, and a new bus station has been built nearby.
  • The Midland Metro terminated in the City Centre, not at the station.

This Google Map shows from the station to the current tram stop.

Wolverhampton City Centre

Wolverhampton City Centre

Note the bus station, which is the three pronged building to the South West of the station on the other side of the dual carriageway.

The current tram stop at St. George’s is the blue dot in the bottom left corner of the map.

Today, this article has been published in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, which is entitled Wolverhampton train station’s new look revealed. This is said.

The artist’s impressions were revealed at an international property conference being held in Cannes as part of the council’s presentation showcasing the city’s regeneration successes and future developments.

Work is due to start on the new railway station next year following the extension and refurbishment of the railway station multi-storey car park, which is expected to be completed by Christmas.

The revamp is part of the £120 million Interchange project that will also see a Metro line extension, including a new stop at the station.

So positive things seem to be happening. This is a visualisation.

The Planned Wolverhampton Station

The Planned Wolverhampton Station

Note the tram and the lines in front of the station.

This section in Wikipedia details how the trams will link to the station. This is an extract.

In March 2014, it was announced that the Wolverhampton Extension would go ahead as part of a £2bn connectivity package. The new line would see two new stops built at Piper’s Row and Wolverhampton Railway Station, which will see trams terminate alternately at the Rail station and at the existing St George’s stop.

It’s a pity, that the tram isn’t being extended to Molineux.

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Match Forty-Four – Wolverhampton 1 – Ipswich 1

It was an early start to catch the 08:43 Virgin to get me to Wolverhampton for this match’s 12:15 kick-off I travelled in First and got water, a banana and tea to sustain me on the journey. At least the trains now seem to carry a lot of fruit, which is surely acceptable to all.

Molineux stadium is not that far to walk from Wolverhampton station, as the Google Earth image shows.

Molineux And Wolverhampton Station

Molineux And Wolverhampton Station

I’m sure there must be a quicker way that is known to regular visitors, especially for Away supporters, who are in the top-right or north-east corner of the stadium.

When I went to the ground today, I felt it would be prudent to have an early lunchtime snack, so I walked up into the city centre to the Marks and Spencer, to see if they had any sandwiches. Just as at Middlesbrough, there were none available. I then walked down from the city centre to the ground.

Coming back, I asked the stewards and they said the best way was to walk through the buildings of the University and then climb up to the Inner Ring Road, which leads to the station.

It wasn’t that difficult a walk, but I do wonder if a better direct route could be signposted that possibly ran along the canal in the area. Wolverhampton does have signposts and liths, but like this one in the city centre, the football ground isn’t always indicated.

Where's The Football Ground?

Where’s The Football Ground?

Hopefully next time, I go, the Midland Metro will be connected to Birmingham New Street station, so it may be easier to go to Molineux by Birmingham and the Metro, as this will mean only a downhill walk in Wolverhampton and I could et in the larger city first. Coming back, it would probably be easier to use today’s route, until they extend the Metro with a loop in Wolverhampton. The Wikipedia section contains this statement.

In July 2010, Centro Director General Geoff Inskip hinted that the scheme would be reworked by taking it to “places people need to go, such as the University”, and not taking passengers to the railway station and back “if they don’t actually need to go there”

Surely as the football ground is next to the University, Wolverhampton probably needs a full city centre loop, that serves the shops, railway and bus stations, the University and the football ground. This Google Earth image shows the Inner Ring Road, the northern part of the city centre, the football ground and the train station.

Wolverhampton Inner Ring Road

Wolverhampton Inner Ring Road

Note that the Inner Ring Road has a very wide central reservation, which must offer possibilities for running the Metro along the middle, serving the various stops by subway or footbridge. At the football ground there is already a subway and there is a bridge at the railway station, that could be upgraded to tram stops. This Google Earh image shows the bridges that connect the bus and railway stations.

Wolverhampton And Midland Metro

Wolverhampton And Midland Metro

The big roundabout south of the bridges and the three limbs of the bus station is where the Metro enters Wolverhampton City Centre to terminate at Wolverhampton tram stop. Could not a branch turn north to serve the bus and train stations, Wolverhampton University and Molineux? In an ideal world, it would continue past the football ground to perhaps a Park and Ride site on the other side of the city. Or it could even go further round the Inner Ring Road and loop back into the City Centre to the existing terminus.

There is also talk as in this article in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, of using tram-trains to extend the Midland Metro from Wolverhampton to Walsall on an old rail line. But then the West Midlands has used and disused rail lines everywhere and if tram-trains work well connecting Sheffield and Rotherham, I would think it is likely that proposals could be put forward to extend the Metro.

The possibilities are endless and by 2020, engineers and civic planners will have come up with a scheme that is much better than any so far proposed.

The football today was a hard-fought draw and a that was probably a fair result.

The pictures show the ground, the match and the half-time entertainment.According to the report on the BBC web site, Mick McCarthy was forthright after the match.

We are always hard to beat and hard to play against. The first thing I said to the players in the dressing room after the game was what a belligerent, stubborn, hard working, tough, horrible bunch you have turned out to be and I love you and I am proud of you because you need all those qualities to be a good team. It is lovely to have.

I wouldn’t disagree with Mick’s superb motivational speech. You can imagine various military commanders saying something very similar.

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

Match Sixteen – Ipswich 2 – Wolves 1

This was a cracking game, where Ipswich got another well deserved win.

The star of the Ipswich side was Daryl Murphy, who at the age of thirty-one is playing better than ever before in an Ipswich shirt.

It is often said that strikers can’t tackle! But Murphy can tackle and he can defend too.

In fact, his tackling got him the first goal, as he dispossessed one of the Wolves defenders in the penalty area and then blasted the ball into the top corner.

For the second goal he ran from deep onto a superb pass from David McGoldrick and then when the goalkeeper came out and spread himself, he chipped the ball neatly into the net.

He wouldn’t have done that last season!

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Cancer Isn’t Funny!

But!

They were just talking about drugs for cancer on BBC Breakfast.

They were interviewing a guy from Wolverhampton with stomach cancer, whose specialist at the local hospital said that he should get a second opinion. So his wife searched the Internet and found that his specialist, was one of the world’s leading experts in keeping people alive with stomach cancer. According to the interviewee, she then said “What’s he doing in Wolverhampton?”

There was a lot more in a similar vein.

It was a classic interview about a serious subject, conducted with a real Midlands sense of humour.

April 4, 2013 Posted by | Health, News | , , | Leave a comment

Faggots Anyone

I’ve never eaten faggots and was surprised to see them advertised outside a Wetherspoon‘s pub in Wolverhampton.

Faggots Anyone

Faggots Anyone

I wonder if you can buy faggots outside of the UK.  Where lets face it, they are not always common. I don’t think they’re gluten-free either, as they are rolled in breadcrumbs.

Incidentally, the pub was reserved for home fans only.

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment

The Friendly Wilfrunians

I went to see Ipswich play Wolverhampton Wanderers yesterday.

After a sort of brunch in Carluccio’s in Islington, where I had a gluten-free eggs florentine with a portion of pancetta added to mop up the egg yolk and sauce, I took the 12:23 train from Euston.

The ticket was good value in that after my Senior Railcard discount, I paid just £15.50 each way for the direct train. That would have been good value in Standard Class, but I was travelling First both ways. And like most First Class in trains timed for three o’clock football, there was plenty of space both ways. Compare this with the nearly 80 Euros I would have been charged for one way between Brussels and Den Haag.

It was a ticket, that I’d bought a few days ago on-line, but then if you’re going away to watch a football match, you have your schedule days or even weeks before. It would certainly cost you more than £31 to go by road, and you wouldn’t be sitting there doing nothing, except read the paper and drink free coffee.

We arrived on time in Wolverhampton and it isn’t the longest walk to the ground from the station. Especially after directions from a friendly local policeman, who was pleased to give me excellent directions.  Not a feature of all places in the UK.

But I’d forgotten my ticket, so I had to buy another one. The supervisor said that if I returned the unused ticket to Ipswich, I might get my money back.

Molineux is a good stadium, with wide comfortable seats.  Not that I need the wide bit! The view was good too!

Inside Molineux

Inside Molineux

Wolves too, followed the tone set by the city and were very friendly. So Ipswich left with a two-nil victory.

The only unfriendly thing, was the loud booing of the home side by their own fans.

I don’t think I’ll return the unused ticket, but at £24 to the £14 I paid on the day, it wasn’t as good a value.

So perhaps on large grounds well away from Ipswich, it might be better to buy the ticket on the day.

I finished the day by getting a 30 bus to the Angel and having a curry in the Angel Curry Centre.  This is ideal after a trip that ends in one of the stations on Euston Road, as the bus stops just a few metres from the door.

December 30, 2012 Posted by | Food, Sport, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments