The Anonymous Widower

Whitby: Hundreds Of Jobs Created At Woodsmith Mine

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Two hundred jobs are being created by a company developing a huge potash mine in North Yorkshire.

I have been watching this project for some time and I’m rather glad, that Woodsmith Mine seems to be past its troubles. This is an extract from the first paragraph in the Wikipedia entry.

The mine is expected to have a life of 100 years and has been labelled the biggest mining project in Britain for decades; its twin shafts will be the deepest commercial mineshafts in Britain. The project is expected to generate over £100 billion for the UK economy over a period of 50 years.

When the project is up and running, it will be the deepest mine in Europe and have the longest tunnel in Great Britain.

I also feel that Woodsmith Mine, shows that mining don’t have to ruin the landscape.


October 7, 2020 Posted by | Business | , | 2 Comments

STRABAG Commences Expanded € 1 bn Contract for UK Mine

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Tunnel Business Magazine.

The article gives a good description of the scope of Sirius Minerals’s York Potash project and their massive mine under the Yorkshire Moors.

  • The tiunnel to bring the polyhalite to Wilton is nearly forty kilometres long.
  • Three tunnel boring machines will be used.
  • It is the largest polyhalite deposit in the world.
  • The conveyor in the tunnel will handle twenty million tonnes of product a year.

The Wikipedia entry for Sirius Minerals, says this about the project.

This will deliver a £2.3 billion annual contribution to the UK’s GDP, £2.5 billion of annual exports which represents a 7% decrease in the UK’s trade deficit and 2,500 direct and indirect production jobs as well as over 2,000 jobs during construction.

I doubt, there will be few projects in the UK in the next twenty years, which wil contribute so much!


July 26, 2019 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Woodsmith Potash Mine: Showcasing The Future Of Underground Technology

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

These are some points from the article.

  • Yorkshire is the world’s only source of mined polyhalite.
  • £3.2billion has been invested.
  • A 32 km. tunnel is being dug to bring the plyhalite to Wilton on Teesside.
  • At 1.5 km deep, it will be the deepest mine in Europe.
  • Sirius are saying it will reduce the UK’s trade deficit by 7%

It is a fascinating read, which lays out the financing and engineering of one the biggest projects in the UK.


February 25, 2019 Posted by | Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment

I Am Totally Against Brexit, But Read This!

York Potash are developing a potash mine in you’ve guessed it! – Yorkshire.

This article from the Gazette Live is entitled Work on York Potash mine which could employ 1,000 due to start in September.

This can’t be bad news, as every new job on Teesside is needed. This is also said.

Costs for the project “have moved in our favour”, Mr Fraser told the newspaper. “We are a dollar asset but a big part of the costs will be [paid in] sterling [for] labour… With lower sterling, we will be in a stronger position.”

In the end, I suspect that whether or not we leave Europe, the result will not be a disaster for the country.

The dollar will continue to call the shots, as it moves towards being the universal world currency.

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Business, World | , , | 2 Comments

North Yorkshire Proposes Rail Expansion

It surprised me when I read that North Yorkshire was the largest county in England. But thinking about it, there can’t be many others of a similar size.

This document on the coumty’s web site is entitled North Yorkshire County Council Local Transport Plan 2016 – 2045 and it lays out, what it says on the fitrst page.

It has these two sections about rail.

Rail Line Re-openings

The County Council supports, in principle, proposals for rail reopening in the County, on identified routes such as Skipton to Colne and Harrogate to Ripon / Northallerton.

In the past many of the line re-openings were considered to be “local schemes” and therefore required local funding. The Council will only actively support opportunities for line re-openings where these are demonstrated as of National or pan North of England importance. National or pan North strategic importance will be assessed on the basis of the contribution to network resilience, improved strategic connectivity, the delivery of greater capacity or improved rail freight opportunities.

In all cases North Yorkshire County Council will only work with railway industry and local stakeholders where there is common agreement to develop a proposal.

Future of Rail

On the East Coast Main Line, over £240m is being spent by Network Rail on infrastructure, increasing capacity, reducing journey times and improving reliability. With investment in new InterCity Express trains and the franchise holder’s commitment to further investment, including a new timetable with 6 direct services between Harrogate and London, the route is set to be transformed by 2020.

The re-franchising for both the Northern and TransPennine services has produced invitations to tender that are transformational. In North Yorkshire this will result in many routes having increased frequencies, additional Sunday services, new or modernised trains and better customer focus. With greater local input into the management and development of the franchises through Rail North it is felt that we can achieve the rail services that are needed for the North.

High Speed connectivity with proposals for HS2 network linking London –Midlands– Sheffield-Leeds–York and the North East in the early 2030s and the work of Transport for the North on HS3, providing fast frequent and reliable links between Northern Cities provides opportunities now for the Council to develop its plans for good connectivity for North Yorkshire to and within these networks.

Private investment such as the Potash Mine near Whitby (improvements planned for the rail service on the Esk Valley) along with other planned housing and economic growth in North Yorkshire all combine to facilitate growth in rail.

The County Council remains committed to ensuring North Yorkshire benefits from the growth and investment in our railways and will continue to influence decisions to achieve the best outcome for the County

The Council is recommending re-opening these two lines.

Skipton to Colne

Skipton station is a station at the western end of the electrified lines to and through Leeds. There are several plans for the future, involving direct trains to London and more frequent services to and from Leeds. There is also an aspiration of the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway to extend into Skipton.

Colne station is at the eastern end of the partly single-track East Lancashire Line, with services all the way to Blackpool South station via Burnley, Blackburn and Preston.

The two stations used to be connected until 1970, when it was closed, despite not being recommended for such by Beeching.

An organisation called Skipton-East Lancashire Rail Action Partnership is pressing for the line to be reopened. This map shows the rail lines in the area.

Skipton To Colne

Skipton To Colne

Reopening this just under twelve miles length of track could bring a lot of benefits.

Most of the trackbed hasn’t been built on, but look at this Google Map of Colne station.

Colne Station

Colne Station

Note how the  dual-carriageway, A6068  and a football pitch have been built, where any link from Colne would probably go.

So there would be a need for an expensive bridge. But as the line to Colne is only single-track, I suspect that the bridge could get away with one track, providing there was a passing loop at Colne station.

Having seen tram-trains in Germany, I know what the Germans would do and that is run tram-trains from the Blackpool tramway across Lancashire as trains and then over a tramway to Skipton. The advantage would be simpler infrastructure and lower costs.

But we have our own solution in the shape of the IPEMU, which could charge its batteries at Skipton and Preston and use bateries on any unelectrified line in between. The advantage would be no wires and possibly only a single track across the Pennines.

But if it is decided to create a link between Skipton and Colne, the railway technology developments of the last few years, could make the link more affordable.

Harrogate to Northallerton

Harrogate station has local services on the Harrogate Line to Leeds and York and some long-distance services to London and the South. The lines through the station are not electrified.

Northallerton station is on the East Coast Main Line

The plans would reopen the section north of Harrogate of the Leeds and Northallerton Railway. This would reconnect the cathedral city of Ripon to the rail network.

Under the Wikipedia entry for the former Ripon station, this is said.

Today much of the route of the line through the city is now a relief road and although the former station still stands, it is now surrounded by a new housing development. The issue remains a significant one in local politics and there are movements wanting to restore the line. Reports suggest the reopening of a line between Ripon and Harrogate railway station would be economically viable, costing £40 million and could initially attract 1,200 passengers a day, rising to 2,700. Campaigners call on MPs to restore Ripon railway link.

On the face of it, it might appear a good plan, but there are still questions to be answered.

  • Ripon would need a new route and probably a parkway station.
  • Leeds to Northallerton is under sixty miles and is electrified at both ends, so a passenger service could be run by IPEMUs.
  • Would the line be double-track and electrified?
  • Would the line be capable of being used as a diversion route for the East Coast Main Line?
  • Would freight trains be encouraged to use the line to relieve pressure on the busy East Coast Main Line?

I’ll repeat what the report says about the East Coast Main Line..

On the East Coast Main Line, over £240m is being spent by Network Rail on infrastructure, increasing capacity, reducing journey times and improving reliability. With investment in new InterCity Express trains and the franchise holder’s commitment to further investment, including a new timetable with 6 direct services between Harrogate and London, the route is set to be transformed by 2020.

It is probably true to say, that what happens on the East Coast Main Line is going to determine, whether the Harrogate to Northallerton Line gets reopened.

This article in the Northern Echo is entitled £230m plan to reinstate key North railway line receives major boost details a lot more about the project and the Council’s enthusiasm.

Improved Connectivity

This is always an aim of Councils and reports like that commissioned by North Yorkshire County Council. These come to mind.

Esk Valley Line

The only specific mentioned is that York Potash might be funding improvements to the Esk Valley Line.

In An Alternative Approach To Provide A Local Metro Network, I put forward the concept of using IPEMU trains with minimal electrification to dvelop a Tees Valley Metro.

I believe with some small amount of electrification at Middlesbrough, the Tees Valley would get its Metro and Whitby an improved service of new electric trains.

Leeds to Sunderland

Reopening an electrified Harrogate to Northallerton line, with additional electrification from Leeds to York on the Harrogate Line and Northallerton to Middlesborough on the Northallerton to Eaglescliffe Line, would open up the possibility of extending services between London and Leeds to Harrogate, Ripon, Northallerton, Middlesbrough and Sunderland without using the East Coast Main Line north of Doncaster.

Again with minimal electrification, the service could be run by 110 mph IPEMUs.

Sorting Northallerton

Northallerton station is in a nest of level crossings. Removing these is probably high up Network Rail’s list of must-do projects, but it strokes me that in the future, if all plans for the East Coast Main Line, the Northallerton to Harrogate Line and the various electrification schemes in the area come to pass, then Northallerton station and the tracks leading away from it, need a very strong sorting out.


To me, the most important thing about this report from North Yorkshire is that the council is looking seriously at transport options for the future.

November 11, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Good News For Redcar

I have a Google Alert set for “York Potash”, as contrary to the media who are ignoring the story, I believe that the new potash mine at Whitby being developed by York Potash could be economically valuable to the area around Middlesbrough.

The Alert found this article on a web site called Engineering and Mining Journal entitled Sirius Minerals Receives Approval For York Potash.

The article gives a positive report on the mine. I liked this bit.

The project lies between Whitby and Scarborough, extending about 16 km inland from the coast and up to 14 km offshore. According to the company, York potash will be a deep-shaft mine of unprecedented design. Within this area lies the thickest and highest grade polyhalite ore reserve in the world. Development of the 20-million-metric-ton-per-year (mt/y) operation would take place in two phases. The first phase is designed provide 10 million mt/y before scaling up to full capacity over a number of years.

That is serious engineering and a hell of a lot of potash.

Hopefully, it’ll give an upturn to the workers and residents of Teeside.

A quick estimate gives that the full capacity of the mine, is equivalent to about the weight of nine hundred HMS Invincibles, give or take a Harrier or two.

October 30, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

York Potash Haven’t Wasted Much Time

This article in the Teeside Gazette is entitled York Potash jobs: How to apply at massive project expected to employ more than 1,000. The first paragraph is.

York Potash project boss pledge: ‘If we can employ every single one of our team from the local area – then we will’

In my book a thousand jobs is good news, so why is only the local paper reporting it?

October 22, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Will The Fight Continue Over Potash On The York Moors?

This article on Grough is entitled Campaigners fight on as North York Moors potash mine formally approved.

As the mine could employ upwards of a couple of thousand people, have the campaigners sent personal letters to all the redundant steelworkers explaining how it is more important that they are unemployed?

How can people be so selfish?

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Why Is There No Mention Of York Potash In The Discussion Of Redcar Steelworks?

This detailed article on the BBC entitled What is the outlook for Britain’s steel industry? starts like this.

It is being billed as a top level crisis summit. Government ministers, unions and steel company bosses are heading to South Yorkshire to discuss what can be done to help an industry hit by tough global market conditions.

UK steelmakers say it’s getting harder to compete because of high energy costs, green taxes, the strong pound and cheap Chinese imports flooding the market. Compared to foreign competitors, steel unions warn the cost of making steel in the UK is too high.

The recent closure of SSI’s steelworks at Redcar in Teeside, with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs, has brought into sharp focus the difficulties facing the industry. The Thai firm said a slump in demand for steel was behind its decision.

At other steelworks across the country, from South Wales to Scunthorpe to Rotherham, union leaders says thousands of jobs are hanging in the balance. So what’s next for the UK’s steelworkers?

But with regard to Sirius Metals and the creation of one of the world’s largest potash mines and processing facility; York Potash, there is not a word.

I’m afraid that in a few years there will be little steel-making in Europe, let alone the UK, as other countries with lower costs will undercut Europe on price.

On this page of the York Potash web site, there is an impressive video about the mine and its processing facility.

This must be one of the hopes for the future for Teeside.

I can remember the development of the earlier potash mine at Boulby, when I worked at ICI around 1970. This section is the history of the Boulby mine, and it would appear to have a future. The potash is removed to Teesport, using a reopened section of the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway, which used to connect Middlesbrough to Whitby, in addition to the still operating Esk Valley Line

In contrast the York Potash ,mine will use an underground conveyor to move potash from South of Whitby to its processing facility at Teesport.

There is still another railway in the area, which is the heritage North Yorkshire Railway, which connects Whitby and Pickering. According to this section in Wikipedia, it has ambitious plans to connect to the York to Scarborough Line, thus giving the possibility of steam services between Scarborough and Whitby.

I believe that the Tees Valley Metro can be developed.

Like many places in the UK, I believe that services on all the lines from Morpeth and Newcastle in the North to Middlesbrough, Darlington and Whitby in the South could be run using Aventra IPEMUs with a small amount of selected electrification.

Which brings me to the conclusion that Redcar steel works will be closed and Potash mining and a developed Tees Valley Metro will be better for the area, than pouring millions down the black hole of the steelworks.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment