The Anonymous Widower

Liverpool Stripped Of Unesco World Heritage Status

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

This is the first paragraph under the picture.

Liverpool has been stripped of its World Heritage status after a UN committee found developments threatened the value of the city’s waterfront.

Liverpool politicians seem united against the action.

I wonder, if the UNESCO committee are a load of snobs, as you should judge Liverpool not as one but a vast string of waterfront sites and buildings.

This picture was taken from a Birkenhead ferry.

It is a very ordinary picture, as it doesn’t show the two cathedrals on the hills behind.

Since, I left Liverpool University in the 1960s, there have been several developments at the Pier Head.

The Albert Dock complex with the Tate Liverpool has been created.

  • The Leeds and Liverpool Canal has been extended in front of The Three Graces to reach the Albert Dock.
  • The Liverpool One Shopping Centre has been built on the behind the Three Graces as an extension to Liverpool’s main Shopping Centre.
  • Liverpool City Museum has been built between the Albert Dock complex and The Three Graces.
  • There are statues everywhere including to the Beatles and Billy Fury. I saw both in performance.
  • There is the Memorial to the Battle of the Atlantic.
  • The Pier Head and Ferry Terminal has been completely rebuilt.
  • There is a Cruise Terminal capable of taking the largest cruise ships.
  • The new Everton Stadium will be built a couple of hundred metres to the left of the distinctive Liver Building.

To me, the most unusual is the Leeds and Liverpool Canal extended in front of The Three Graces. But that allowed narrow boats to sail between Leeds and the Albert Dock.

Conclusion

It is a site, where most people can spend a couple of days.

Should Liverpool Be A World Heritage Site?

Go spend two days there and then decide.

 

 

 

July 21, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 15 Comments

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

The title of this post, is the same as an article in the July 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the introductory sub-heading.

Regional and rural railways poses a huge problem for the railway to decarbonise.

Lorna McDonald of Hitachi Rail and Jay Mehta of Hitachi ABB Power Grids tell Andy Roden why they believe they have the answer.

These are my thoughts on what is said.

Battery-Electric Trains

The article starts by giving a review of battery-electric trains and their use on routes of moderate but important length.

  • Some short routes can be handled with just a charge on an electrified main line.
  • Some will need a recharge at the termini.
  • Other routes might need a recharge at some intermediate stations, with a possible increase in dwell times.

It was in February 2015, that I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after a ride in public service on Bombardier’s test battery-electric train based on a Class 379 train.

I also wrote this in the related post.

Returning from Harwich, I travelled with the train’s on-board test engineer, who was monitoring the train performance in battery mode on a laptop. He told me that acceleration in this mode was the same as a standard train, that the range was up to sixty miles and that only minimal instruction was needed to convert a driver familiar to the Class 379 to this battery variant.

It was an impressive demonstration, of how a full-size train could be run in normal service without connection to a power supply. I also suspect that the partners in the project must be very confident about the train and its technology to allow paying passengers to travel on their only test train.

A couple of years later, I met a lady on another train, who’d used the test train virtually every day during the trial and she and her fellow travellers felt that it was as good if not better than the normal service from a Class 360 train or a Class 321 train.

So why if the engineering, customer acceptance and reliability were proven six years ago, do we not have several battery electric trains in service?

  • There is a proven need for battery-electric trains on the Marshlink Line and the Uckfield Branch in Sussex.
  • The current Class 171 trains are needed elsewhere, so why are no plans in place for replacement trains?
  • The government is pushing electric cars and buses, but why is there such little political support for battery-electric trains?

It’s almost as if, an important civil servant in the decision process has the naive belief that battery-electric trains won’t work and if they do, they will be phenomenally expensive. So the answer is an inevitable no!

Only in the South Wales Metro, are battery-electric trains considered to be part of the solution to create a more efficient and affordable electric railway.

But as I have constantly pointed out since February 2015 in this blog, battery-electric trains should be one of the innovations we use to build a better railway.

Hydrogen Powered Trains

The article says this about hydrogen powered trains.

Hybrid hydrogen fuel cells can potentially solve the range problem, but at the cost of the fuel eating up internal capacity that would ideally be used for passengers. (and as Industry and Technology Editor Roger Ford points out, at present hydrogen is a rather dirty fuel). By contrast, there is no loss of seating or capacity in a Hitachi battery train.

I suspect the article is referring to the Alstom train, which is based on the technology of the Alstom Coradia iLint.

I have ridden this train.

  • It works reliably.
  • It runs on a 100 km route.
  • The route is partially electrified, but the train doesn’t have a pantograph.
  • It has a very noisy mechanical transmission.

Having spoken to passengers at length, no-one seemed bothered by the Hindenburg possibilities.

It is certainly doing some things right, as nearly fifty trains have been ordered for train operating companies in Germany.

Alstom’s train for the UK is the Class 600 train, which will be converted from a four-car Class 321 train.

Note.

  1. Half of both driver cars is taken up by a hydrogen tank.
  2. Trains will be three-cars.
  3. Trains will be able to carry as many passengers as a two-car Class 156 train.

It is an inefficient design that can be improved upon.

Porterbrook and Birmingham University appear to have done that with their Class 799 train.

  • It can use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and other hydrogen gubbins are under the floor.

This picture from Network Rail shows how the train will appear at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Now that’s what I call a train! Let alone a hydrogen train!

Without doubt, Porterbrook and their academic friends in Birmingham will be laying down a strong marker for hydrogen at COP26!

I know my hydrogen, as my first job on leaving Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968 was for ICI at Runcorn, where I worked in a plant that electrolysed brine into hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and chlorine.

My life went full circle last week, when I rode this hydrogen powered bus in London.

The hydrogen is currently supplied from the same chemical works in Runcorn, where I worked. But plans have been made at Runcorn, to produce the hydrogen from renewable energy, which would make the hydrogen as green hydrogen of the highest standard. So sorry Roger, but totally carbon-free hydrogen is available.

The bus is a Wightbus Hydroliner FCEV and this page on the Wrightbus web site gives the specification. The specification also gives a series of cutaway drawings, which show how they fit 86 passengers, all the hydrogen gubbins and a driver into a standard size double-deck bus.

I believe that Alstom’s current proposal is not a viable design, but I wouldn’t say that about the Porterbrook/Birmingham University design.

Any Alternative To Full Electrification Must Meet Operator And Customer Expectations

This is a paragraph from the article.

It’s essential that an alternative traction solution offers the same levels of performance and frequency, while providing an increase in capacity and being economically viable.

In performance, I would include reliability. As the on-board engineer indicated on the Bombardier  test train on the Harwich branch, overhead electrification is not totally reliable, when there are winds and/or criminals about.

Easy Wins

Hitachi’s five-car Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains each have three diesel engines and run the following short routes.

  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough- 21 miles not electrified – Changeover in Northallerton station
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.6 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newark Northgate station
  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newbury station
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Didcot Parkway station

Some of these routes could surely be run with a train, where one diesel engine was replaced by a battery-pack.

As I’m someone, who was designing, building and testing plug-compatible transistorised electronics in the 1960s to replace  older valve-based equipment in a heavy engineering factory, I suspect that creating a plug-compatible battery-pack that does what a diesel engine does in terms of power and performance is not impossible.

What would be the reaction to passengers, once they had been told, they had run all the way to or from London without using any diesel?

Hopefully, they’d come again and tell their friends, which is what a train operator wants and needs.

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

This section is from the article.

Where electrification isn’t likely to be a viable proposition, this presents a real conundrum to train operators and rolling stock leasing companies.

This is why Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids are joining together to present a combined battery train and charging solution to solve this conundrum. In 2020, Hitachi and ABB’s Power Grids business, came together in a joint venture, and an early outcome of this is confidence that bringing together their expertise in rail, power and grid management, they can work together to make electrification simpler cheaper and quicker.

I agree strongly with the second paragraph, as several times, I’ve been the mathematician and simulation expert in a large multi-disciplinary engineering project, that went on to be very successful.

The Heart Of The Proposition

This is a paragraph from the article.

The proposition is conceptually simple. Rather than have extended dwell times at stations for battery-powered trains, why not have a short stretch of 25 KVAC overhead catenary (the exact length will depend on the types of train and the route) which can charge trains at linespeed on the move via a conventional pantograph?

The article also mentions ABB’s related expertise.

  • Charging buses all over Europe.
  • Creating the power grid for the Great Western Electrification to Cardiff.

I like the concept, but then it’s very similar to what I wrote in The Concept Of Electrification Islands in April 2020.

But as they are electrical power engineers and I’m not, they’d know how to create the system.

Collaboration With Hyperdrive Innovation

The article has nothing negative to say about the the collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to produce the battery-packs.

Route Modelling

Hitachi appear to have developed a sophisticated route modelling system, so that routes and charging positions can be planned.

I would be very surprised if they hadn’t developed such a system.

Modular And Scalable

This is a paragraph from the article.

In the heart of the system is a containerised modular solution containing everything needed to power a stretch of overhead catenary to charge trains. A three-car battery train might need one of these, but the great advantage is that it is scalable to capacity and speed requirements.

This all sounds very sensible and can surely cope with a variety of lines and traffic levels.

It also has the great advantage , that if a line is eventually electrified, the equipment can be moved on to another line.

Financing Trains And Chargers

The article talks about the flexibility of the system from an operator’s point of view with respect to finance.

I’ve had some good mentors in the area of finance and I know innovative finance contributed to the success of Metier Management Systems, the project management company I started with three others in 1977.

After selling Metier, I formed an innovative finance company, which would certainly have liked the proposition put forward in the article.

No Compromise, Little Risk

I would agree with this heading of the penultimate section of the article.

In February 2015, when I rode that Class 379 train between Manningtree and Harwich, no compromise had been made by Bombardier and it charged in the electrified bay platform at Manningtree.

But why was that train not put through an extensive route-proving exercise in the UK after the successful trial at Manningtree?

  • Was it the financial state of Bombardier?
  • Was it a lack of belief on the part of politicians, who were too preoccupied with Brexit?
  • Was it that an unnamed civil servant didn’t like the concept and stopped the project?

Whatever the reason, we have wasted several years in getting electric trains accepted on UK railways.

If no compromise needs to be made to create a battery-electric train, that is equivalent to the best-in-class diesel or electric multiple units, then what about the risk?

The beauty of Hitachi’s battery-electric train project is that it can be done in phases designed to minimise risk.

Phase 1 – Initial Battery Testing 

Obviously, there will be a lot of bench testing in a laboratory.

But I also believe that if the Class 803 trains are fitted with a similar battery from Hyperdrive Innovation, then this small fleet of five trains can be used to test a lot of the functionality of the batteries initially in a test environment and later in a real service environment.

The picture shows a Class 803 train under test through Oakleigh Park station.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Phase 2 – Battery Traction Testing And Route Proving

I am a devious bastard, when it comes to software development. The next set of features would always be available for me to test earlier, than anybody else knew.

I doubt that the engineers at Hyperdrive Innovation will be any different.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the batteries in the Class 803 trains can also be used for traction, if you have the right authority.

We might even see Class 803 trains turning up in some unusual places to test the traction abilities of the batteries.

As East Coast Trains, Great Western Railway and Hull Trains are all First Group companies, I can’t see any problems.

I’m also sure that Hitachi could convert some Class 800 or Class 802 trains and add these to the test fleet, if East Coast Trains need their Class 803 trains to start service.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Possibly, the worse thing, that could happen would be a battery failure, which would need the train to be rescued.

Phase 3 – Service Testing On Short Routes

As I indicated earlier, there are some easy routes between London and places like Bedwyn, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Oxford, that should be possible with a Class 800 or Class 802 train fitted with the appropriate number of batteries.

Once the trains have shown, the required level of performance and reliability, I can see converted Class 800, 801 and Class 802 trains entering services on these and other routes.

Another low risk phase, although passengers are involved, but they are probably subject to the same risks, as on an unmodified train.

Various combinations of diesel generators and batteries could be used to find out, what is the optimum combination for the typical diagrams that train operators use.

Hitachi didn’t commit to any dates, but I can see battery-electric trains running on the Great Western Railway earlier than anybody thinks.

Phase 4 – Service Testing On Medium Routes With A Terminal Charger System

It is my view that the ideal test route for battery-electric trains with a terminal charger system would be the Hull Trains service between London Kings Cross and Hull and Beverley.

The route is effectively in three sections.

  • London Kings Cross and Temple Hirst junction – 169.2 miles – Full Electrification
  • Temple Hirst junction and Hull station – 36.1 miles – No Electrification
  • Hull station and Beverley station – 8.3 miles – No Electrification

Two things would be needed to run zero-carbon electric trains on this route.

  • Sufficient battery capacity in Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains to reliably handle the 36.1 miles between Temple Hirst junction and Hull station.
  • A charging system in Hull station.

As Hull station also handles other Class 800 and Class 802 trains, there will probably be a need to put a charging system in more than one platform.

Note.

  1. Hull station has plenty of space.
  2. No other infrastructure work would be needed.
  3. There is a large bus interchange next door, so I suspect the power supply to Hull station is good.

Hull would be a very good first destination for a battery-electric InterCity train.

Others would include Bristol, Cheltenham, Chester, Scarborough, Sunderland and Swansea.

The risk would be very low, if the trains still had some diesel generator capacity.

Phase 5 – Service Testing On Long Routes With Multiple Charger Systems

Once the performance and reliability of the charger systems have been proven in single installations like perhaps Hull and Swansea stations, longer routes can be prepared for electric trains.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The press release talks about Penzance and London, so would that be a suitable route for discontinuous electrification using multiple chargers?

These are the distances between major points on the route between Penzance and London Paddington.

  • Penzance and Truro – 35.8 miles
  • Truro and Bodmin Parkway – 26.8 miles
  • Bodmin Parkway and Plymouth – 26.9 miles
  • Plymouth and Newton Abbot – 31,9 miles
  • Newton Abbot and Exeter – 20.2 miles
  • Exeter and Taunton – 30.8 miles
  • Taunton and Westbury – 47.2 miles
  • Westbury and Newbury – 42.5 miles
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles

Note.

  1. Only Newbury and Paddington is electrified.
  2. Trains generally stop at Plymouth, Newton Abbott, Exeter and Taunton.
  3. Services between Paddington and Exeter, Okehampton, Paignton, Penzance, Plymouth and Torquay wouldn’t use diesel.
  4. Okehampton would be served by a reverse at Exeter.
  5. As Paignton is just 8.1 miles from Newton Abbot, it probably wouldn’t need a charger.
  6. Bodmin is another possible destination, as Great Western Railway have helped to finance a new platform at Bodmin General station.

It would certainly be good marketing to run zero-carbon electric trains to Devon and Cornwall.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

In this brief analysis, it does look that Hitachi’s proposed system is of a lower risk.

A Few Questions

I do have a few questions.

Are The Class 803 Trains Fitted With Hyperdrive Innovation Batteries?

East Coast Trains‘s new Class 803 trains are undergoing testing between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh and they can be picked up on Real Time Trains.

Wikipedia says this about the traction system for the trains.

While sharing a bodyshell with the previous UK A-train variants, the Class 803 differs in that it has no diesel engines fitted. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies have failed.

Will these emergency batteries be made by Hyperdrive Innovation?

My experience of similar systems in other industries, points me to the conclusion, that all Class 80x trains can be fitted with similar, if not identical batteries.

This would give the big advantage of allowing battery testing to be performed on Class 803 trains under test, up and down the East Coast Main Line.

Nothing finds faults in the design and manufacture of something used in transport, than to run it up and down in real conditions.

Failure of the catenary can be simulated to check out emergency modes.

Can A Class 801 Train Be Converted Into A Class 803 Train?

If I’d designed the trains, this conversion would be possible.

Currently, the electric Class 801 trains have a single diesel generator. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train about the Class 801 train.

These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails.

So it looks like the difference between the powertrain of a Class 801 train and a Class 803 train, is that the Class 801 train has a diesel generator and the Class 803 train has batteries. But the diesel generator and batteries, would appear to serve the same purpose.

Surely removing diesel from a Class 801 train would ease the maintenance of the train!

Will The System Work With Third-Rail Electrification?

There are three routes that if they were electrified would probably be electrified with 750 DC third-rail electrification, as they have this electrification at one or both ends.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Marshlink Line
  • Uckfield branch

Note.

  1. Basingstoke and Exeter would need a couple of charging systems.
  2. The Marshlink line would need a charging system at Rye station.
  3. The Uckfield branch would need a charging system at Uckfield station.

I am fairly certain as an Electrical Engineer, that the third-rails would only need to be switched on, when a train is connected and needs a charge.

I also feel that on some scenic and other routes, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may be more acceptable , than 25 KVAC  overhead electrification. For example, would the heritage lobby accept overhead wires through a World Heritage Site or on top of a Grade I Listed viaduct?

I do feel that the ability to use third-rail 750 VDC third-rail electrification strategically could be a useful tool in the system.

Will The System Work With Lightweight Catenary?

I like the design of this 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that uses lightweight gantries, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.

Isuspect that both systems could work together.

 

Would Less Bridges Need To Be Rebuilt For Electrification?

This is always a contentious issue with electrification, as rebuilding bridges causes disruption to both rail and road.

I do wonder though by the use of careful design, that it might be possible to arrange that the sections of electrification and the contentious bridges were kept apart, with the bridges arranged to be in sections, where the trains ran on batteries.

I suspect that over the years as surveyors and engineers get more experienced, better techniques will evolve to satisfy all parties.

Get this right and it could reduce the cost of electrification on some lines, that will be difficult to electrify.

How Secure Are The Containerised Systems?

Consider.

  • I was delayed in East Anglia two years ago, because someone stole the overhead wires at two in the morning.
  • Apparently, overhead wire stealing is getting increasingly common in France and other parts of Europe.

I suspect the containerised systems will need to be more secure than those used for buses, which are not in isolated locations.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Use Energy Storage?

Consider.

  • I’ve lived in rural locations and the power grids are not as good as in urban areas.
  • Increasingly, batteries of one sort or another are being installed in rural locations to beef up local power supplies.
  • A new generation of small-footprint eco-friendly energy storage systems are being developed.

In some locations, it might be prudent for a containerised charging system to share a battery with the local area.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Accept Electricity From Local Sources Like Solar Farms?

I ask the question, as I know at least one place on the UK network, where a line without electrification runs through a succession of solar farms.

I also know of an area, where a locally-owned co-operative is planning a solar farm, which they propose would be used to power the local main line.

Will The System Work With Class 385 Trains?

Hitachi’s Class 385 trains are closely related to the Class 80x trains, as they are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

Will the Charging Systems Charge Other Manufacturers Trains?

CAF and Stadler are both proposing to introduce battery-electric trains in the UK.

I also suspect that the new breed of electric parcel trains will include a battery electric variant.

As these trains will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, I would expect, that they would be able to charge their batteries on the Hitachi ABB  charging systems.

Will The System Work With Freight Trains?

I believe that freight services will split into two.

Heavy freight will probably use powerful hydrogen-electric locomotives.

In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, which is based on a Freightliner press release, I detail Freightliner’s decarbonisation strategy, which indicates that in the future they will use hydrogen-powered locomotives.

But not all freight is long and extremely heavy and I believe that a battery-electric freight locomotive will emerge for lighter duties.

There is no reason it could not be designed to be compatible with Hitachi’s charging system.

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I talked about the plans for 100 mph parcel services based on redundant electric multiple units. Eversholt Rail Group have said they want a Last-Mile capability for their version of these trains.

Perhaps they need a battery-electric capability, so they can deliver parcels and shop supplies to the remoter parts of these islands?

Where Could Hitachi’s System Be Deployed?

This is the final paragraph from the article.

Hitachi is not committing to any routes yet, but a glance at the railway map shows clear potential for the battery/OLE-technology to be deployed on relatively lightly used rural and regional routes where it will be hard to make a case for electrification. The Cambrian Coast and Central Wales Lines would appear to be worthy candidates, and in Scotland, the West Highland Line and Far North routes are also logical areas for the system to be deployed.

In England, while shorter branch lines could simply be operated by battery trains, longer routes need an alternative. Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy interim business case recommends hydrogen trains for branch lines in Norfolk, as well as Par to Newquay and Exeter to Barnstaple. However, it is also entirely feasible to use the system on routes likely to be electrified much later in the programme, such as the Great Western main line West of Exeter, Swansea to Fishguard and parts of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine would be driven by high collateral benefits and practicality.

These are my thoughts.

Long Rural Lines

The Cambrian, Central Wales (Heart Of Wales), Far North and West Highland Lines may not be connected to each other, but they form a group of rail routes with a lot of shared characteristics.

  • All are rural routes of between 100 and 200 miles.
  • All are mainly single track.
  • They carry occasional freight trains.
  • They carry quite a few tourists, who are there to sample, view or explore the countryside.
  • All trains are diesel.
  • Scotrail have been experimenting with attaching Class 153 trains to the trains on the West Highland Line to act as lounge cars and cycle storage.

Perhaps we need a long-distance rural train with the following characteristics.

  • Four or possibly five cars
  • Battery-electric power
  • Space for a dozen cycles
  • A lounge car
  • Space for a snack trolley
  • Space to provide a parcels service to remote locations.

I should also say, that I’ve used trains on routes in countries like Germany, Poland and Slovenia, where a similar train requirement exists.

Norfolk Branch Lines

Consider.

  • North of the Cambridge and Ipswich, the passenger services on the branch lines and the important commuter routes between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich are run by Stadler Class 755 trains, which are designed to be converted to battery-electric trains.
  • Using Hitachi chargers at Beccles, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft, Thetford and Yarmouth and the existing electrification, battery-electric Class 755 trains could provide a zero-carbon train service for Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • With chargers at Dereham and March, two important new branch lines could be added and the Ipswich and Peterborough service could go hourly and zero carbon.
  • Greater Anglia have plans to use the Class 755 trains to run a London and Lowestoft service.
  • Could they be planning a London and Norwich service via Cambridge?
  • Would battery-electric trains running services over Norfolk bring in more visitors by train?

Hitachi may sell a few chargers to Greater Anglia, but I feel they have enough battery-electric trains.

Par And Newquay

The Par and Newquay Line or the Atlantic Coast Line, has been put forward as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

In that related post, I said the line needed the following.

  • An improved track layout.
  • An hourly service.
  • An improved Par station.
  • A rebuilt Newquay station with a second platform, so that more through trains can be run.

I do wonder, if after the line were to be improved, that a new three-car battery-electric train shuttling between Par and Newquay stations could be the icing on the cake.

Exeter And Barnstaple

The Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is one of several local and main lines radiating from Exeter St. David’s station.

  • The Avocet Line to Exmouth
  • The Great Western Main Line to Taunton, Bristol and London
  • The Great Western Main Line to Newton Abbott, Plymouth and Penzance
  • The Riviera Line to Paignton
  • The West of England Line to Salisbury, Basingstoke and London.

Note.

  1. The Dartmoor Line to Okehampton is under development.
  2. Several new stations are planned on the routes.
  3. I have already stated that Exeter could host a charging station between London and Penzance, but it could also be an electrified hub for battery-electric trains running hither and thither.

Exeter could be a city with a battery-electric metro.

Exeter And Penzance

Earlier, I said that I’d trial multiple chargers between Paddington and Penzance to prove the concept worked.

I said this.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

But it is also an enabling route, as it would enable the following battery-electric services.

  • London and Bodmin
  • London and Okehampton
  • London and Paignton and Torquay

It would also enable the Exeter battery-electric metro.

For these reasons, this route should be electrified using Hitachi’s discontinuous electrification.

Swansea And Fishguard

I mentioned Swansea earlier, as a station, that could be fitted with a charging system, as this would allow battery-electric trains between Paddington and Swansea via Cardiff.

Just as with Exeter, there must be scope at Swansea to add a small number of charging systems to develop a battery-electric metro based on Swansea.

Cumbrian Coast Line

This is a line that needs improvement, mainly for the tourists and employment it could and probably will bring.

These are a few distances.

  • West Coast Main Line (Carnforth) and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.1 miles
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield – 25 miles
  • Sellafield and Workington – 18 miles
  • Workington and West Coast Main Line (Carlisle) – 33 miles

Note.

  1. The West Coast Main Line is fully-electrified.
  2. I suspect that Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield and Workington have good enough electricity supplies to support charging systems  for the Cumbrian Coast Line.
  3. The more scenic parts of the line would be left without wires.

It certainly is a line, where a good case for running battery-electric trains can be made.

Crewe And Holyhead

In High-Speed Low-Carbon Transport Between Great Britain And Ireland, I looked at zero-carbon travel between the Great Britain and Ireland.

One of the fastest routes would be a Class 805 train between Euston and Holyhead and then a fast catamaran to either Dublin or a suitable rail-connected port in the North.

  • The Class 805 trains could be made battery-electric.
  • The trains could run between Euston and Crewe at speeds of up to 140 mph under digital signalling.
  • Charging systems would probably be needed at Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead.
  • The North Wales Coast Line looks to my untrained eyes, that it could support at least some 100 mph running.

I believe that a time of under three hours could be regularly achieved between London Euston and Holyhead.

Battery-electric trains on this route, would deliver the following benefits.

  • A fast low-carbon route from Birmingham, London and Manchester to the island of Ireland. if coupled with the latest fast catamarans at Holyhead.
  • Substantial reductions in journey times to and from Anglesey and the North-West corner of Wales.
  • Chester could become a hub for battery-electric trains to and from Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Shrewsbury.
  • Battery-electric trains could be used on the Conwy Valley Line.
  • It might even be possible to connect the various railways, heritage railways and tourist attractions in the area with zero-carbon shuttle buses.
  • Opening up of the disused railway across Anglesey.

The economics of this corner of Wales could be transformed.

My Priority Routes

To finish this section, I will list my preferred routes for this method of discontinuous electrification.

  • Exeter and Penzance
  • Swansea and Fishguard
  • Crewe and Holyhead

Note.

  1. Some of the trains needed for these routes have been delivered or are on order.
  2. Local battery-electric services could be developed at Chester, Exeter and Swansea by building on the initial systems.
  3. The collateral benefits could be high for Anglesey, West Wales and Devon and Cornwall.

I suspect too, that very little construction work not concerned with the installation of the charging systems will be needed.

Conclusion

Hitachi have come up with a feasible way to electrify Great Britain’s railways.

I would love to see detailed costings for the following.

  • Adding a battery pack to a Class 800 train.
  • Installing five miles of electrification supported by a containerised charging system.

They could be on the right side for the Treasury.

But whatever the costs, it does appear that the Japanese have gone native, with their version of the Great British Compromise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Design, Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 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

Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification

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

This is the key section of the article.

During a House of Commons debate on transport on September 17, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said in response to a question from Alex Norris (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North): “We are currently delivering the Midland Main Line upgrade, which includes electrification from London to Kettering, with additional electrification to Market Harborough being developed.

“Further electrification of the MML is currently at an early stage, but it is being examined by Network Rail.”

Stephenson said the DfT will continue to work closely with NR on the development of a proposal that would include approaches to advancing the delivery of electrification across the route.

The title of the article, probably sums it up well.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Having read lots of stories about electrification of Midland Main Line, I think the following must be born in mind.

  • Electrification on the line will reach as far North as Market Harborough station.
  • The route between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction will be shared with High Speed Two. It will obviously need to be electrified for High Speed Two.
  • The section of the Midland Main Line between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. The Heritage Taliban will love the electrification, with a vengeance.
  • Electrification through Leicester station could be tricky, as the station building and the A6 road are over the tracks and there is limited clearance. Electrification could involve major disruption to the trains for some time.

These are some of the distances involved of sections of the route that are not electrified.

  • Market Harborough and Derby are 54 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction are 67 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Chesterfield are 70 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Nottingham are 44 miles apart
  • Market Harborough and Leicester are 16 miles apart.
  • Derby and Clay Cross North Junction are 21 miles apart.

Since 2017, when electrification for the full route was originally abandoned, there have been big changes in rolling stock technology.

The biggest change has been the development of battery trains.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains

This infographic from Hitachi gives the specification for their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The trains have a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  2. The trains can cruise at 100 mph on battery power.
  3. Hitachi have said that all of their AT-300 trains can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.
  4. Trains are converted by removing the diesel engines and replacing them with battery packs.
  5. I suspect these battery packs look like a diesel engine in terms of control inputs and performance to the driver and the train’s computer.

It is extremely likely, that the bi-mode Class 810 trains, which are a version of the AT-300 train, that have been ordered for the Midland Main Line can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.

These trains have four diesel engines, as opposed to the Class 800 and Class 802 trains, which only have three.

These are reasons, why the trains could need four engines.

  • The trains need more power to work the Midland Main Line. I think this is unlikely.
  • Four engine positions gives ,more flexibility when converting to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Four battery packs could give a longer range of up to 120 kilometres or 75 miles.

It could just be, that Hitachi are just being conservative, as engines can easily be removed or replaced. The fifth-car might even be fitted with all the wiring and other gubbins, so that a fifth-engine or battery pack can be added.

I suspect the train’s computer works on a Plug-And-Play principle, so when the train is started, it looks round each car to see how many diesel engines and battery packs are available and it then controls the train according to what power is available.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield By Battery Electric Train

Any battery electric train going between London St. Pancras and Sheffield will need to be charged, at both ends of the route.

  • At the London end, it will use the electrification currently being erected as far as Market Harborough station.
  • At the Sheffield end, the easiest way to charge the trains, would be to bring forward the electrification and updating between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction, that is needed for High Speed Two.

This will leave a 67 mile gap in the electrification between Market Harborough station and Clay Cross North junction.

It looks to me, the Class 810 trains should be able to run between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, after the following projects are undertaken.

  • Class 810 trains are given four battery packs and a battery range of 75 miles.
  • Electrification is installed between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction.

Trains would need to leave Market Harborough station going North and Clay Cross Junction going South with full batteries.

Note.

  1. Trains currently take over an hour to go between Chesterfield to Sheffield and then back to Chesterfield, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  2. Trains currently take around an hour to go between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. Chesterfield station is only three miles further, so if power changeover, needed to be in a station, it could be performed there.
  4. Leeds and Sheffield are under fifty miles apart and as both stations would be electrified, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services could be extended to start and finish at Leeds.

London St. Pancras and Sheffield can be run by battery electric trains.

London St. Pancras And Nottingham By Battery Electric Train

Could a battery electric train go from Market Harborough to Nottingham and back, after being fully-charged on the hour-long trip from London?

  • The trip is 44 miles each way or 88 miles for a round trip.
  • Services have either three or eight stops, of which two or three respectively are at stations without electrification.
  • Trains seem to take over thirty minutes to turnback at Nottingham station.

Extra power North of Market Harborough will also be needed.

  • To provide hotel power for the train, during turnback at Nottingham station.
  • To compensate for power losses at station stops.

If 75 miles is the maximum battery range, I doubt that a round trip is possible.

I also believe, that Hitachi must be developing a practical solution to charging a train during turnback, at a station like Nottingham, where trains take nearly thirty minutes to turnback.

If the Class 810 trains have a battery range of 75 miles, they would be able to handle the London St. Pancras and Nottingham service, with charging at Nottingham.

Conclusion

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

 

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Discontinuous Electrification Through Leicester Station

Leicester station is an important station on the Midland Main Line

  • Leicester is an urban area of half a million people.
  • All of East Midlands Railway Intercity services call as they pass through the station.
  • Leicester station is only sixteen miles North of the end of the Southern electrification at Market Harborough station.
  • Birmingham New Street is 40 miles away.
  • Clay Cross North Junction is 50 miles away.
  • Derby is 29 miles away.
  • East Midlands Parkway is 19 miles away.
  • Long Eaton is 21 miles away.
  • Nottingham is 27 miles away.
  • Peterborough is 52 miles away.
  • Sheffield is 66 miles away.

A sensible decision would probably be to extend the electrification from Market Harborough to a few miles North of Leicester, so that battery-electric trains could reach all the places in the above list.

Unfortunately, the following about the bridge at the Southern end of Leicester station, must be noted.

  • The bridge doesn’t have sufficient clearance for electrification and would need to be rebuilt.
  • It carries the main A6 road to London over the railway.
  • The station building also spans the railway lines.
  • To complicate matters, there is an important sewer either in or under the bridge.

This Google Map shows the bridge and the Southern end of the station.

It looks to me, that Leicester station and the road, would have to be closed to traffic for some time, if the bridge were to be rebuilt, to allow the erection of electrification through the area.

A solution could be discontinuous electrification.

  • The electrification from the South, would finish on the South side of bridge.
  • The electrification from the North, would finish in Leicester station.
  • Electric trains would cover the gap of a few hundred metres on battery power.

Pantographs could be raised and lowered, where the wires exist.

  • On the North side of the bridge, this could be in Leicester station, whilst passengers are getting off and on the train.
  • On the South side of the bridge, this could be as far South as Market Harborough, which is sixteen miles away.

The other big problem area of electrification on the Midland Main Line is North of Derby, where the railway runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. There might be serious opbjections to electrification in this area.

  • But if electrification were to be installed between Leicester and Derby stations, the following would be possible.
  • The Midland Main Line would be electrified at East Midlands Hub station.
  • Power could be taken from High Speed Two’s supply at East Midland Hub station.
  • Battery-electric trains could do a return trip to Nottingham from an electrified East Midlands Parkway, as it’s only sixteen miles in total.
  • Battery-electric trains could reach the High Speed Two spur into Sheffield at Clay Cross from Derby, as it’s only twenty-one miles.

I am assuming, that Hitachi’s Class 810 trains will have range of over fifty miles on battery power, which fits with Hitachi’s statements.

Conclusion

Discontinuous electrification and batteries on trains can solve the problem of electrification through Leicester station.

Also. electric trains could run between London and Sheffield, if the following were done.

  • The Class 810 trains were to be given a range of twenty-five miles
  • Electrification were to be erected between Leicester and Derby stations.
  • Electrification were to be erected between Sheffield and Clay Cross Junction, as required by High Speed Two.

The electrification could be brought forward, to bring Sheffield early benefits of High Speed Two.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Short Cruise At Greenwich

I had taken the Emirate air-line to North Greenwich with friends and we decided we needed to go to the Cutty Sark.

So we took one of the Thames Clippers, from where I took these pictures.

About the pictures.

  • The first pictures show Greenwich Power Station, which generates electricity for Transport for London on a standby basis. It must be one of oldest power stations still producing electricity, although nowadays it doesn’t use coal, but six massive gas turbines.
  • The rest of the pictures show the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site.

The trip between the two piers took only a few minutes.

A Tourist Route Between Bank/London Bridge/Tower of London And Maritime Greenwich

I do this route on a sunny day, when I perhaps want to show a guest around London.

  • Take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Bank or Tower Gateway stations to Royal Victoria station.
  • Take the Emirate Air-Line across the Thames to Greenwich. Peninsular
  • North Greenwich isn’t overloaded with attractions, unless you’re seeing a show or event at the O2. But it’s getting better!
  • Take the Thames Clipper one stop to Greenwich. They run every twenty minutes.

If you want to be boring you can always catch the DLR to Cutty Sark station.

A few points.

Docklands Light Railway

The Docklands Light Railway is often thought by Londoners, commuters and visitors as a bit of a Cinderella.

However, like Cinderella she works hard all day and provides reliable and efficient transport, where the only alternatives are buses, bicycles,  taxis and Shank’s pony.

Just after the 2012 Olympics, I met a big cheese in Transport for London on a DLR train. He felt that the DLR had been the star in getting everybody to the games.

It must be one of the most successful light railways in the world!

And yet, no-one has ever thought to build another running on the same principles.

  • Mainly elevated track.
  • Mainly step-free stations
  • Universal step-free train-to-platform access.
  • High-visibility trains for passengers.
  • Trains every three or four minutes.
  • Friendly, interested, visible staff.
  • Driverless operation with a train captain looking after passengers and driving in emergency.
  • Contactless ticketing

Perhaps the lack of a full-time driver on every train, means that many other places would have massive union problems.

Emirates Air-Line

I’ve taken many people on the Emirates Air-Line and few haven’t been impressed.

The best time in my view is just as the sun sets, as these pictures show.

Note that unless you want a souvenir ticket, just use your bank card to touch-in and touch-out! My last one-way trip cost me £3.50 and appeared on my credit card statement labelled TFL TRAVEL CH Conractactless.

Thames Clippers

Since I moved back to London in 2010, the Thames Clippers have been continuously expanding and improving.

  • .Five new boats have been delivered since the Olympics.
  • Several piers have been improved, rebuilt or added in recent years.
  • Cpmtactless ticketing can be used for all services. Payments are labelled THAMES CLIPPERS.

It should be noted that if you are a holder of a London Freedom Pass, you can get a discount on tickets at a machine.

Plans exist for the following.

  • Extending the route to new housing developments at Barking and Thamesmead in the East.
  • A new pier at Silvertown in October 2019, which could have a walking or bus link to the City Airport.

I can also see the following.

  • Extensions to the West past Putney Pier to places like new housing at Brentford and Kew Gardens.
  • Further extensions to the East to support the massive housing developments.
  • Better connections to the London Underground, London Overground and National Rail stations.
  • More use being made of the Thames Barrier as a tourist attraction.
  • Thames Clippers becoming a river tube line.
  • Thames Clippers appearing on the Tube map, just as the Emirate Air-Line does!
  • A quick and easy connection between the City Airport, Canary Wharf and the Cities of London and Westminster being developed.

The last would surely appeal to City businessmen and those wanting to celebrate a special event.

If Venice can run a boat between the Airport, and St. Mark’s Square why can’t London do the equivalet?

Crossrail

Crossrail is the Elephant-in-the-Room, that will surely make its presence felt along the South Bank of the Thames, when it is extended to Ebbsfleet, as it surely will be.

  • There will be a short walking interchange at Woolwich between Crossrail and the Tghames Clippers.
  • If Crossrail build a station at Silvertown for London City Airport, this could be another interchange.
  • If Crossrail eventually terminates at Gravesend, there could even be possibilities that far East.

The possibilities of designing the Crossrail Extension in conjunction with the Thames could open up the river has as both a leisure attraction and a transport artery.

Conclusion

London will reach towards the sea, to further enhance and add space to the undoubted Capital of the World!

 

 

A

September 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liverpool Pier Head On A Sunny Morning

When I was a student at Liverpool University in the 1960s, this area was so different.

I can only remember, the Three Graces and the Memorial to those with no known grave.

Incidentally, I talked to one of the volunteers in the Tate Liverpool and he says that Friday is often quiet in Liverpool. The gallery certainly was, but they were between exhibitions.

The statue looking out to sea is of Captain Frederick John “Johnnie” Walker, who  was the most successful anti-submarine warfare commander during the Battle of the Atlantic.

 

 

March 24, 2017 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line Along The Derwent Valley

As I went to Sheffield yesterday, I took these pictures as the train ran along the Derwent Valley on the Midland Main Line between Derby and Chesterfield.

The river from Matlock in the North to Derby in the South, is the centre of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

And Network Rail want to electrify this line, so that fast electric trains can run between Sheffield and London via Derby!

This map shows the Midland Main Line from Trent Junction, South of Derby and Nottingham to Chesterfield.

Note the following about the route of the Midland Main Line.

It’s certainly all happening around the Midland Main Line between Derby and Nottingham.

This is said in Wikipedia about the future of the Erewash Valley Line.

Network Rail as part of a £250 million investment in the regions railways has proposed improvements to the junctions at each end, resignalling throughout, and a new East Midlands Control Centre.

As well as renewing the signalling, three junctions at Trowell, Ironville and Codnor Park will be redesigned and rebuilt. Since the existing Midland Main Line from Derby through the Derwent Valley has a number of tunnels and cuttings which are listed buildings and it is a World Heritage Area, it seems that the Erewash line is ripe for expansion.

It would seem fairly logical to perhaps make the Erewash Valley Line an electrified one, with a maximum speed, as high as practically possible and just run self powered trains through the Derwent Valley.

There would be two real possibilities for running the services for the London Sheffield services, including those via Nottingham,  up the electrified Erewash Valley Line.

  • Class 801 electric trains
  • Bombardier’s 125 mph Aventra which was reported as possible by Ian Walmsley in the April 2015 Edition of Modern Railways.

Obviously, other manufacturers would offer suitable trains.

For the London to Sheffield route via Derby, the following trains could handle the twenty miles between Derby and Clay Cross, that could be without electrification.

  • Class 800 electro-diesel trains
  • Bombardier’s 125 mph Aventra which can probably be modified with an IPEMU-capability.
  • Voyagers modified as electro-diesel trains, as was proposed in Project Thor, could probably handle the gap.
  • A Class 88 locomotive and a rake of coaches with a driving van trailer.

If all else couldn’t handle it, InterCity 125s certainly could.

Surely though, it would help the train operator to have one fleet, so I think we’ll either see mixes of Class 800/801s or Aventras with and without an IPEMU-capability.

The Class 800/801s could certainly do it, but in his article about the Aventra, Ian Walmsley said this about an order  for Aventras.

But the interesting one to me is East Midlands Trains electrics. As a 125 mph unit it could cope well with Corby commuters  and the ‘Master Cutler’ crowd – It’s all about the interior.

So the same train could do all express routes and also act as the local stopping train.

The maze of lines shown in the map, would be an absolute dream for such a train!

I also think it would be pushing it to run the Hitachi trains through Derby and the Voyagers and the Class 88 solutions aren’t that elegant and would be very much stop-gap solutions. Loved as the InterCity 125s are, after a lifetime of very hard service, they are probably ready for retirement.

As the gap is only about twenty miles, I suspect that Network Rail’s and Bombardier’s engineers have got the engineering envelopes on the table in a local hostelry in Belper to solve the problem of getting 125 mph Aventra IPEMUs to jump the gap, so that services between London and Sheffield, can stop at Derby.

Why are they in Belper? Look at this Google Map of the railway through the town!

Midland Main Line Through Belper

Midland Main Line Through Belper

Note the following.

  • There must be half a dozen stone bridges north of Belper station, similar to ones shown in the gallery of this post.
  • The River Derwent seems to be crossed by the railway, periodically for fun.
  • Get that line right, probably without electrification and their uncluttered design will live for centuries.
  • Get it wrong and they’ll be lynched by the local Heritage Taliban!
  • If Aventra IPEMUs can’t be made to jump the gap, there’s always the reliable Derby-built InterCity 125.

Just as Great Western Railway use iconic photos of Intercity 125s running through Dawlish in their advertising, I think that East Midlands Trains will use video of 125 mph Aventra IPEMUs speeding with little noise and disturbance, through the towns, villages and countryside of the Derwent Valley.

If this could be made to happen, at an affordable cost, everybody concerned will see positive commercial effects.

April 17, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Museum de Cruquius

The Museum de Cruquius is just up the road from The Hague near Haarlem, although our journey up wasn’t the easiest, because the motorway was closed.

It is well worth a visit as it shows a tremendous amount about how the Dutch have kept water at bay.

The enormous steam engine, which sadly doesn’t work, was actually built in Cornwall.

When I see a museum and engine like this, I do think it sad that London’s massive sewage engines at Crossness were just filled with sand and abandoned in the 1960s.

Both sites incidentally, are about the same age!

October 10, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorials On The Liverpool Pier Head

Liverpool is proud of its maritime heritage and the Pier Head on the Mersey is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.

When Celia and I met in Liverpool in the 1960s, it was a simpler place, where we would walk to take the ferry across the Mersey.

These pictures show the Pier Head today.

I’d never realised that the road across the Pier Head, had been named Canada Boulevard in honour of Canadians, who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic or the war against German U-boats.

Shown in the pictures is the memorial to Captain Johnnie Walker, one of the leading British commanders in the battle.

The scale of the battle is shown by the fact that according to Wikipedia the Allies lost over 70,000 sailors, 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships, whereas the Germans lost 30,000 sailors and 783 submarines.

One thing that wasn’t there in the 1960s is the canal that links the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the Stanley Dock, so narrow-boats can visit the city centre.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment