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All across the Great Western territory => Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 => Topic started by: grahame on February 08, 2020, 06:12:13 pm



Title: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: grahame on February 08, 2020, 06:12:13 pm
Electric trains to Newquay ... and to Whitehaven, Whitby and Wick??   Pie in the sky?   But then - why not, made with economic light weight structures that don't cost an arm and a leg.    Perhaps if / as the UK has a new ability so simplify things and can amend standards to be appropriate for us, we might see something like this between Arrochar and Ardlui in years to come:

(http://www.wellho.net/pix/partenfullen.jpg)

I fell asleep midmorning with youtube videos playing in the background ... awoke to a cabride which included the above.    Full video ((here)) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb_LkLxmQyM).   Perhaps it might even be possible within the current rules, mind ... for this is a line to Garmisch Partenkirchen.   So what have we been waiting for??


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: Umberleigh on February 08, 2020, 07:16:01 pm
It would appear to be relatively easy to install such a system on the Tarka Line for example (no tunnels or salt water to worry about.

Install a new passing loop at Umberleigh and you could have half-hourly peak time services


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: TonyK on February 08, 2020, 08:15:03 pm
It would appear to be relatively easy to install such a system on the Tarka Line for example (no tunnels or salt water to worry about.

Install a new passing loop at Umberleigh and you could have half-hourly peak time services

Do I discern a vested interest?  ;D


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: Robin Summerhill on February 08, 2020, 08:59:17 pm
Perhaps if / as the UK has a new ability so simplify things and can amend standards to be appropriate for us, we might see something like this between Arrochar and Ardlui in years to come:


Do I detect the whiff of Brexit in this post?

If so, we still have the Health & Safety Regulations (the real ones, not the imagined ones), and we still have the Compensation Culture where someone else is always to blame when we've been an absolute idiot, and we still have insurance companies covering their backsides like backside-covering was going out of fashion and making people do things that aren't really necessary just so they're sure they don't get landed with a claim they have to pay out.

If I didn't detect the whiff of Brexit, and it may have been the rotting seaweed on Clovelly (South Africa) beach that my conk picked up, we still have the Health & Safety Regulations (the real ones, not the imagined ones), and we still have the Compensation Culture where someone else is always to blame when we've been an absolute idiot, and we still have insurance companies covering their backsides like backside-covering was going out of fashion and making people do things that aren't really necessary just so they're sure they don't get landed with a claim they have to pay out.

To summarise, don't expect any "Colonel Stehens" style electrification schemes just yet... ;)



Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: stuving on February 08, 2020, 11:53:29 pm
I think this may all be barking up the wrong stanchion - rules (of whatever kind) don't really come into it.

The GW electrification uses F+F's Series 1, which looks like it does because that's what the customer asked for. Partly that's the intended usage - high-speed, high-intensity main lines. Partly it's the idea of reducing erection labour, by having a big kid's toy of bits that interlock. Now, it may well be true that that was taken to far, and in any case didn't cut the installation cost. It could also be argued that it was over-engineered as well, and of course the customer didn't think aesthetics came into it at all.

But even Series 1 isn't that excessive, despite being for twice the line speed, if you only have single tracks (plus a few double bits)to cope with - see picture.

There is an obvious place to look for hints - or rather more than hints - of what DfT believes might be done: this report (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/3872/low-cost-electrification-report.pdf) done for DfT in 2010:
Quote
Low Cost Electrification for Branch Lines

This report has been prepared as a result of work undertaken for the Department for Transport (DfT) Research Project: LowCost Electrification.
The objective of the research is to establish if it can be economically feasible to electrify lowusage branch lines on the National Rail Network. Such lines are currently operated using diesel multiple unit (DMU) type rolling stock and it is considered that replacing these with modern tramtype electric vehicles can offer the following benefits:
•  Reduced operating costs, particularly with regard to rolling stock
•  Immunity from shortterm fluctuations of fuel costs
•  A reduction in overall carbon emissions
•  Reduced impact on the local environment (air quality and noise levels)
•  Improved passenger experience
...

That's currently listed as "This publication was withdrawn on 9 April 2018. This is no longer current." I don't know why, and it doesn't say superseded. Also, note the rather narrow scope - it was only ever looking at light rail/trams, and the costings seem very informal, even anecdotal.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: grahame on February 09, 2020, 07:54:35 am
Perhaps if / as the UK has a new ability so simplify things and can amend standards to be appropriate for us, we might see something like this between Arrochar and Ardlui in years to come:


Do I detect the whiff of Brexit in this post?


Yes, to the extent of saying "it should have been possible anyway" if you look at my example of an electrified line in Germany.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: eightonedee on February 09, 2020, 10:53:01 am
Hmmm...

Looks like a subject for a campaign. I've noticed over the years a number of continental electrified branch lines with what look to be simpler cheaper OHL systems, although from what Stuving implies it was not the prime cost of gantries etc that was the issue with the GWMLR electrification excessive cost.

Are there any consulting engineers or cost consultants in our number who might be able to put some reasonably robust (ie, not politically motivated think tank costs!) on something like this, properly planned and rolled out as a continuous programme of upgrading works so as to avoid over costs of project set up each time a line is tackled?


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: Adrian on February 09, 2020, 01:57:48 pm
So, what were the main causes of cost overruns on the GWML electrification?  For any new electrification projects to get the go-ahead, there must surely need to be confidence that NR can cost them reasonably accurately - whether it's series 1 or something more lightweight for branch lines.

I think the Government is going to be under a lot of pressure to commit very soon to a credible plan to de-carbonise the railways in a similar timescale to cars going electric.  There's a lot of talk about carbon neutrality by 2050 but no real detail about what really needs to happen and when, and railway electrification seems like the only proven technology available at the moment.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: eightf48544 on February 09, 2020, 02:59:34 pm
The Scots seem to manage cheap electrification. Paisley Canal.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: IndustryInsider on February 09, 2020, 03:06:56 pm
The Scots seem to manage cheap electrification. Paisley Canal.

Hmmm...

https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/revealed-inquiry-launched-as-cost-of-upgrading-edinburgh-to-glasgow-rail-line-soars-by-116m/


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: stuving on February 09, 2020, 03:08:23 pm
I think I left out a sentence from my previous post:
If a customer for OLE (not necessarily Network Rail, of course) has a lower spec. in terms of speed and duty, and perhaps also a different approach to installation costs and the value of chunkiness, then they can and presumably will buy something lighter.

Here's another example: the tram-train line from Nantes to Chateaubriant. There's a quoted costing of the whole upgrade (62 km) at €200M, but that included rebuilding the track (closed since 1980) and stations so it's hard to say how much was electrification. The two-strut support is, I should think, lighter than the single-insulator cantilever of Series 1, so the steel upright may be lighter too. Note that this looks very similar to what was fitted to the LGV to Rennes, at least in simple plain line stretches.

While that Delta Rail report said 750 V would be a lot cheaper, here the out-of-town section was done with 25 kV. Note that the tram-trains had to be dual voltage anyway, as that's the only option at Nantes station, while the next urban bit had to be 750V DC as runs beside and crosses over the trams' wires. That ruled out feeding the main part of the branch off the main line's 25 kV supply, so there's one (small) feed station at Nort-sur-Erdre.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: TonyK on February 09, 2020, 07:12:07 pm
So, what were the main causes of cost overruns on the GWML electrification? 

Very much the question on a lot of lips! The answer may have been at least in part the Unknown. The cost of an actual OHLE support kit should be relatively straightforward to calculate, simply by adding the sum of its parts. The labour cost should be estimable - but only if it is known with reasonable certainty what has to be done. The GWR had the much-vaunted HOOP train, capable of electrifying 1600m of line in a single overnight possession, but it became apparent that not every variable had been measured. It went from a mechanised process to having to dig exploratory holes to see what cabling had been buried over the years. Suddenly, they are running at half speed, and that was not the only shock to the job. Every small job not on the original list takes time to do, and causes a backlog in everything. On a project like GWR, that soon escalates.

Maybe smaller lines won't be so problematic. There may be more certainty about what is buried in the lineside, and the HOOP could do its work properly there. Shorter lines will by definition take a lot less time, so a transformation can be achieved in weeks rather than years if the stock of tunnels and bridges is small. As to whether or not lighter kit would work, that's an engineering decision primarily. However, if the cost of the Full Monty stanchion etc isn't so much more than a lighter rig as a percentage of the whole price of electrifying the line, there seems little reason to use the lighter kit.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: Andy on February 10, 2020, 05:22:49 pm
With Atlantic gales and storms of the Ciara ilk, light-weight electrification on the Newquay branch might prove a bit flimsy. Although the line skirts the Cornish Alps, I'm not sure they provide quite the same shelter as the Swiss & Austrian ones.

 
   


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: Adrian on February 10, 2020, 10:49:48 pm
Maybe Windsor and Henley branches would be good for some lower spec trials?


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: TonyK on February 13, 2020, 01:14:57 pm
With Atlantic gales and storms of the Ciara ilk, light-weight electrification on the Newquay branch might prove a bit flimsy. Although the line skirts the Cornish Alps, I'm not sure they provide quite the same shelter as the Swiss & Austrian ones.

Speak to Blackpool if you want advice on how to make it strong enough for gales on a coastline.



Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: stuving on February 13, 2020, 05:32:38 pm
With Atlantic gales and storms of the Ciara ilk, light-weight electrification on the Newquay branch might prove a bit flimsy. Although the line skirts the Cornish Alps, I'm not sure they provide quite the same shelter as the Swiss & Austrian ones.

Speak to Blackpool if you want advice on how to make it strong enough for gales on a coastline.

I suspect that's an imaginary problem. Direct wind damage to overhead wires and supports of any design, whether for railways or power distribution, should not happen if they are in good nick. It needs something extra, such as trees and other wind-blown stuff, or else rot and rust. For OLE, the main impact of wind isn't damage, it's the wires being pulled off too far sideways or bouncing about and preventing continuous contact. Series 1 is of course specified to cope, but so should earlier designs as this isn't anything new.

The big danger is icing, which can add huge extra loads, both weight and windage. However, icing is rare in Britain, and even rarer in Cornwall. Oh course it does occasionally happen - there was one famous big (very tall) example of icing damage, and the Queensferry Crossing was closed this week due to a form of icing (though for some reason it wasn't called that). In that latest case the bridge wasn't damaged, it was just dropping chunks of ice on cars.

While you'd expect better resilience where icing is common, such as the Alps, enyone can be caught out. A few months ago, around Lyon, a lot of small electricity poles were felled by very heavy icing on the wires - 7 kg/m where the design loading was 2 kg/m was mentioned. And the Chinese have had problems with their new electrified lines through mountains, though in their case icing of the pantographs and roof-mounted busbars is also a big issue.

Power lines also suffer from galloping, induced by the wrong kind of wind and growing to large amplitudes because of the large droop in the cables. Railway OLE has enough tension to keep that to very low levels, but again there can be adverse conditions. Asymmetry in the wire shape is one of those, and icing features again as it can add an aerofoil shaped tail to a wire. Again, it's the Chinese who have found out this can cause significant damage (because it can happen to a long stretch of line in one event). Series 1 does (of course) have a design requirement for icing, which is 9.5 mm thickness except on the GWML where it is 3.5 mm.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: CyclingSid on February 14, 2020, 06:54:38 am
In the 1987 storm one of the main cause of the National Grid lines dropping out were plastic bags. Acting like a sail when they blew onto the lines.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: TonyK on February 14, 2020, 10:36:29 pm
In the 1987 storm one of the main cause of the National Grid lines dropping out were plastic bags. Acting like a sail when they blew onto the lines.

Since then, the privately owned trampoline has become more common, usually bounced on a few times, then forgotten about until it's not there the morning after the storm.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: stuving on February 14, 2020, 11:04:56 pm
In the 1987 storm one of the main cause of the National Grid lines dropping out were plastic bags. Acting like a sail when they blew onto the lines.

Do you mean National Grid? Or even national grid (still run by the CEGB in 1987)? I think that would relate to local distribution, via 33 kV lines on wooden poles. I've known one of those to be broken by a lad throwing a stick for his dog.

But in a big storm, there's much bigger stuff than carrier bags goes flying: not only industrial communal trampolines and bouncy castles (which were rare in 1987), but haystack tarpaulins, trees, and roofs. I vaguely recall metal roofing sheets landing inside grid substations makes quite a mess of the switchgear, and loudly.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: Noggin on February 19, 2020, 10:12:10 pm
Would have thought that stringing up wires was the easy bit, don't forget:

1) Signalling immunisation
2) Structure clearances (quite a lot being done to improve matters, but Chippenham shows what a headache listed footbridges can be)
3) Traction feeds
4) Traction depots
5) Control centres and staff training

On that basis, simple infill like Blackpool South and perhaps even some longer schemes of 'simple' double or single track 'could' be quite cheap if it built on existing infrastructure (though don't forget the Nimby factor).



Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: TonyK on February 21, 2020, 01:30:11 pm
On that basis, simple infill like Blackpool South and perhaps even some longer schemes of 'simple' double or single track 'could' be quite cheap if it built on existing infrastructure (though don't forget the Nimby factor).

Blackpool South wouldn't be too tricky, but unless the track was improved, either by doubling or a couple of passing loops, it would still be a little used (1 tph) 20 mile route to Preston taking almost an hour. There is debate there currently on options, which include conversion to join the tram network at Kirkham and Wesham, conversion to tram to Lytham St Annes with heavy rail from there, or building a tram line next to the  existing line to Lytham, and running both. Currently, though, the emphasis is on Poulton le Fylde to Fleetwood, and of course finishing the tram extension to Blackpool North. Work on the latter is set to continue from April with the closure of the Wilko store blocking the way, with trams to a temporary terminus next year and the full station opening in 2022.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: Electric train on February 21, 2020, 08:08:50 pm
Would have thought that stringing up wires was the easy bit, don't forget:

1) Signalling immunisation
2) Structure clearances (quite a lot being done to improve matters, but Chippenham shows what a headache listed footbridges can be)
3) Traction feeds
4) Traction depots
5) Control centres and staff training

On that basis, simple infill like Blackpool South and perhaps even some longer schemes of 'simple' double or single track 'could' be quite cheap if it built on existing infrastructure (though don't forget the Nimby factor).


These have been the traditional additional items that add to the cost, however some are less of an issue.

1) All re-signalling schemes traction immunisation is built in to the equipment, track circuits / train detection even on lines where there are no immediate electrification planned; the only thing may be left out is the screening conductor.

2) Structure clearances are perhaps the biggest issue, although new bridges and replacement bridges, signal structures etc are built for 25kV clearance, even in the depths of the third rail area.

3) Traction feeds are long lead items, typically National Grid need a 5 years to plan their outages; they are expensive but given the whole life cost based on 50 to 60+ years for a transformer and 30+ years for the switchgear.  Whole life costs is something we are not good are utilising in the UK in part due to the short political life of a Government.

4) Traction depots are more electrification is rolled out this become less of an issue, also as most of the train maintenance is built into the supply contract again based over the whole lie cost of a train 30+ years this is less significant.

5) Control centres (Electrical) NR are rationalising these, also a common control system software is currently being rolled out.  I doubt there will be the need for any new additional electrical control rooms.
Training of staff is an ongoing issue anyway.  The thing that may cause some issues is the UK leaving the EU, the construction companies involved in electrification work in the UK move there teams around the EU and bolstering up the teams at short notice or short durations utilising the freedom of movement this process has kept the costs down and enabled program recovery in the past.


Title: Re: Electrification - even of thin long lines
Post by: onthecushions on February 21, 2020, 10:13:19 pm
Another hidden cost that one could argue about, arises from the superior performance of electric trains. They go faster, have low marginal costs, attract more custom, merit increased frequencies and so need costly improved track maintenance both for speed and capacity. The early SR electrifications also did not show savings in running costs (vide G T Moody's book), rather a vast increase in patronage, train miles and farebox income.

How one compares analytically and validly, a mediocre diesel service with a good quality electric timetable, I'm not really sure, even with BCR's. We just know which one's better.

OTC



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