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Archive for the ‘Transport’ Category

Pitch and cell

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In an article by Perry Boeker and published on fuel cell company Ballard’s website, Jochen Steinbauer, Director of Platform and Business Development for alternative drive systems for regional trains at Siemens, shared his views on hydrogen train technology for rail applications.

[Ballard blog]

[JS:] First of all, from a global perspective, the U.K. is the most advanced with respect to hydrogen technology deployment. They have proclaimed that no diesel cars can enter certain cities. Plus they already announced that diesel powered vehicles will be completely prohibited by 2040, including trains.

'Interview with Siemens’ Jochen Steinbauer on Innovations in Fuel Cell Train Technology',,  2018-06-21


Written by beleben

June 25, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Transport

How diesel is my valley

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Following a ‘rigorous procurement process’, Welsh government first minister Carwyn Jones today announced that Keolis Amey had been contracted to operate and develop the Wales and Borders rail service, including the future ‘South Wales Metro’, working in partnership with Transport for Wales.

Twitter, @wgcs_economy, 'Detail of how our £5 billion investment will transform rail services for passengers across Wales'

In February 2018, UK government rail minister Jo Johnson claimed that ‘all diesel trains should be scrapped by 2040’, or somesuch.

'Minister reveals plan to shunt every diesel train from the tracks by 2040'

However, the Welsh government intends to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on new-build diesel trains, with many being ‘built’ at the new CAF factory in South Wales.

'Transport for Wales, rail fleet modernisation, 2018 - 2025'

Exactly how much of the South Wales and Valley lines electrification has been binned, remains unclear. It seems more than likely that remanufacturing off-lease electric trains from the UK rolling stock glut would be cheaper than acquiring large numbers of new diesels, allow more track to be electrified, and create more Welsh and UK jobs.

Metro De Cymru (rheilffordd) erbyn 2023

Written by beleben

June 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport, Wales

The walrus of hyperbole

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By “taking the brakes off incremental rail infrastructure growth”, Northern Powerhouse Rail “will unleash massive potential for growth and commercial interaction across the region”, linking the North’s six major economic centres and its largest international airport “with the sort of fast and frequent services that will mean ‘turn up and go’ travel becomes a reality” (wrote Barry White, chief executive of Transport for the North).

[Barry White, CEO of Transport for the North explains what the country’s first sub-national transport body has planned for the North, Rail Professional, 23 March 2018]

What effect might it have? Consider this. At the moment, studies show there are only 10,000 people who can reach four or more northern cities by rail in under an hour. With Northern Powerhouse Rail in place, that number will rise to 1.3 million.

TfGM information response letter, page 1 (personal information removed)

TfGM information response letter, page 2

TfGM information response letter, page 3

TfGM information response, Annex A_NPR Accessibility, 1

TfGM information response, Annex A_NPR Accessibility, 2

So TfN do not know who these “10,000 people” are, or what cities they could reach within an hour, or why it is important for them to be able to make journeys to these unknown cities within an hour.

Written by beleben

May 4, 2018 at 9:57 am

Posted in Politics, Transport

More photo-opps than answers

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twitter, @andy4wm at Brierley Hill

On a whistle stop photo-opp tour of the Black Country with mayor Andy Street yesterday, transport secretary Chris Grayling visited “the future site of Willenhall Railway Station”, the Midland Metro depot at Wednesbury (to see an ‘upgraded’ battery bi-mode tramcar), and the planned terminus of the Metro extension at Brierley Hill.

twitter @BBCPeterPlisner, 'Transport sec Chris Grayling was in town to see the first upgraded [Metro] vehicle'

Another photo-opp at Moseley village, in nearby Birmingham, was in support of ‘reworked plans’ to reopen some stations on the Camp Hill line.

twitter, @TransportforWM, Transport secretary Chris Grayling MP meets @Andy4WM in a visit to the Midlands and confirms @transportgovuk will consider plans to reinstate passenger services on Birmingham's Camp Hill line

Previous local authority plans to restore stopping services on the Camp Hill line had envisaged the construction of a new viaduct at Bordesley, to enable trains to run into Moor Street station.

This “Bordesley chord” was promoted as an essential part of the Camp Hill ‘reactivation’, helping to de-congest New Street station.

The Bordesley chord, mentioned in a BBC Midlands Today report in March 2017, now appears to have been abandoned

But in February, West Midlands mayor Andy Street said that the difficult-to-construct Bordesley chord would not be needed if existing trains from Hereford ran via the Camp Hill line, stopping at the rebuilt stations, and then ran into, er, Birmingham New Street.

[Birmingham Mail, 28 Feb, updated 1 Mar 2018]

[Andy Street:] “But instead of turning round [at New Street] and taking up platform space for valuable extra minutes, the service would then go forward to somewhere like Shrewsbury”.

twitter, @andy4wm, reopening Walsall to Wolverhampton railway is a key priority

Beyond the photo-opps, how much of all this stands up, in terms of value for money?

twitter, @andy4wm, talking with Neil Elkes

Written by beleben

March 9, 2018 at 9:33 am

Posted in HS2, Politics, Transport

This year’s (broken) model

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In yesterday’s “update” to Parliament on the East Coast, West Coast and East Midlands rail franchises, transport secretary Chris Grayling claimed that “other countries are now adopting Britain’s model for running the railways”.

But what is the “model”?

Do his recent statements not signal that “the model” is being changed (again)?

Chris Grayling, update on the East Coast, West Coast, and East Midlands rail franchises, 5 Feb 2018

In 2012 the ‘Brown review‘ noted that “confidence in franchising and the rail sector have been severely damaged by the problems that came to light on the ICWC competition” but claimed, “There is no credible case for major structural change”.

A year earlier, the Commons Public Accounts Committee concluded that the Department for Transport “did not undertake sufficient due diligence on the bid by National Express for the East Coast franchise. Crucially, the Department did not test any of the bids against the impact of an economic downturn.”

[PAC, 2011]

In future the Department must make clear to [train] companies that failure to deliver on their obligations will have serious lasting consequences.

Propellerheads ft Shirley Bassey, 'History Repeating'

Written by beleben

February 6, 2018 at 11:18 am

Après-pose advice

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If Virgin Trains East Coast is having ‘revenue difficulties’ just three years into its franchise, what does that say about the ability to forecast rail passenger volumes and revenues much further into the future, for HS2?

According to journalist Tom Bower, when Richard Branson was planning to secure the renewal of the West Coast franchise, he advised then-transport minister Theresa Villiers to ignore the impossibility of accurately predicting future revenues over the length of a thirteen-year contract.

[Branson: Behind The Mask, Tom Bower, Faber & Faber, 2014, ISBN 978-0-571-29709-2]

The guaranteed profits and the opportunity to pose on engines for photographers roused Branson to plan his tactics for the renewal of the West Coast franchise in 2013, following the extension from 2012. To tilt the odds in Virgin’s favour, he visited Theresa Villiers, the new Tory transport minister. In the passengers’ interest, he told Villiers, the government should grant a long franchise in order to benefit from Virgin’s investment and experience. She should, he advised, ignore the impossibility of accurately predicting future revenues over the length of a thirteen-year contract, and also the certainty of disruption if construction started at Euston station for HS2, the high-speed train.

TV meets RB (Simpsonised)

RB advises

Written by beleben

January 23, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Politics, Transport

Drawing erroneous conclusions

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At the Commons Transport Committee on 22 January, secretary of state Chris Grayling stated that the reason that the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise had run into difficulties “is purely and simply about the revenue it has received to date”.

There was, in essence, a danger it would run out of money before 2020, and new arrangements might be needed sooner rather than later.

Chris Grayling, Parliamentlive tv, 22 Jan 2018

'Instead of reading nonsense written by MSM journalists who know nothing about rail, try reading real rail journalists, franchise ended early because of failings of DfT and Network Rail'

twitter, @holdmch, 'no matter what rail franchise bidders may perceive in nods / winks, the bid criteria and risks are absolutely explicit in invitations to tender'

VTEC, Someone is 'drawing erroneous conclusions'

twitter, @holdmch, 'the making of the mess'

The contract still intact

The grabbing hands
Grab all they can
All for themselves after all

[Songwriter: Martin Gore
Everything Counts © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]

Written by beleben

January 22, 2018 at 10:11 pm