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Journey by Journey => London to South Wales => Topic started by: grahame on February 13, 2021, 04:16:36 am



Title: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: grahame on February 13, 2021, 04:16:36 am
From Business Live (https://www.business-live.co.uk/economic-development/gwr-boss-calls-electrification-swansea-19824107)

Quote
GWR boss calls for electrification to Swansea and faster train speeds in Wales

Mark Hopwood said his trains travel at 125mph but cannot do so in Wales

The boss of train company Great Western Railway (GWR), Mark Hopwood, has called for electrification of the South Wales mainline to reach Swansea alongside investment allowing his trains to travel at much higher speeds once through the Severn Tunnel.

Electrification of around 60 miles of track from Cardiff to Swansea was shelved by then UK Government Transport Secretary Chris Grayling back in 2017 on cost grounds. With the whole electrification of the Great Western Mainline starting from London over budget and running overtime, there were even, at one stage, concerns that it would only go as far as Bristol.

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


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: GWR 158 on February 13, 2021, 09:44:52 am
It would be a good idea to electrify the Cardiff to Swansea line, then the trains will have improved journey times and it will be more environmentally friendly. So why not?


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: infoman on February 13, 2021, 10:09:56 am
Would anyone have a rough idea of the cost of the electrification of the 68 miles?


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: GWR 158 on February 13, 2021, 11:31:47 am
I have heard the cost will be on average £150m.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: broadgage on February 13, 2021, 11:37:21 am
The future is 25KV overhead electric, however recent experiences on other GWR routes have not been a great advert for the technology.
HMG would prefer to call for more research into battery power, hydrogen, and others rather than doing anything.

There is also a fear in political circles that rail electrification has turned/will turn from a good thing into a vote losing debacle.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: grahame on February 13, 2021, 11:42:22 am
I have heard the cost will be on average £150m.

£150 million was a suggestion 3 years ago - see https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/electrification-cardiff-swansea-rail-line-14851065 suggested against earlier 'official' estimates of around three times that.  It's a question of what you include, how much associated work you do, and what speed / robustness / life do you build it for.  Also at what point (inflation wise) you look at the price, including whether new covid work practises are going to put costs up.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: stuving on February 13, 2021, 02:01:08 pm
Would anyone have a rough idea of the cost of the electrification of the 68 miles?

I think that's exactly the key question, though maybe not in the sense intended by it.

At the time, it seemed to me that what DfT (with the Treasury watching them) were demanding from NR was cost estimates they could believe. When the money ran out in CP5, they told NR to stop anything that had a completion date into CP6, and use any unspent cash to cover their other overruns.

They then said: "You have a few smaller electrification schemes we need to do for political reasons. Demonstrate to us you can do cost estimates for those that match the actual costs, and until then don't come back and ask about anything big or the rest of GWR. These must be real estimates (i.e predictions) - no hindsight allowed, which probably rules out retrospective costings using new procedures."

Now, how have NR done against that yardstick? Or is it still to soon to know? I've not tried to follow the costs of MML and the smaller projects. And I wonder whether DfT would allow the Scottish projects as evidence.

Given that almost all the work is contracted out anyway, there may not be a lot of mileage in this government's usual panacea of "bring in private contractors". All it would add is the possibility of getting guaranteed fixed prices, and we all know what that means in real life - much higher prices, and/or contractors going bust. 


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: Jamsdad on February 13, 2021, 02:46:43 pm
Pardon me for asking, as I do not know the S Wales Mainline very well, but is the limiting factor on line speed  there coming up to 125 mph the provision of electrification or the track allignment?


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: GWR 158 on February 13, 2021, 04:56:44 pm
The provision of the electric wires


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: Electric train on February 13, 2021, 05:08:48 pm
Would anyone have a rough idea of the cost of the electrification of the 68 miles?

I think that's exactly the key question, though maybe not in the sense intended by it.

At the time, it seemed to me that what DfT (with the Treasury watching them) were demanding from NR was cost estimates they could believe. When the money ran out in CP5, they told NR to stop anything that had a completion date into CP6, and use any unspent cash to cover their other overruns.

Part of the problem is HMG never like the true cost at the planning stage.  Cost are shaved down to something politicians like the sound of and then wonder why costs go up as the project  progresses.

GWEP was also full of OTT performance, reliability and compliance requirements that DfT, ORR wanted and NR were fully complicit with.  The new NR Electrification and Plant policy has made a number of these performance, reliability and compliance requirements less onerous


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: grahame on February 13, 2021, 07:25:14 pm
The provision of the electric wires

Just wires (and assuming you also buy the substations to make them live) will probably not gain all that much in speed / end to end time ... at present, you have
60 minutes for the first 80 miles from Paddington
86 minutes for the last 80 miles into Swansea (it was 93 prior to December 2019)
and I would guess (experts please tell me) that electric starts from five intermediate stations (versus IET diesel starts) could gain perhaps 5 minutes (would anyone go as far as 10??).  Much immediately greener, yes. Top speeds would need to be lifted - engineering interventions - for further gains, as indeed the original article suggested.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: IndustryInsider on February 13, 2021, 11:10:32 pm
I would guess (experts please tell me) that electric starts from five intermediate stations (versus IET diesel starts) could gain perhaps 5 minutes (would anyone go as far as 10??).

I would say slightly less than 5 minutes at a guess - certainly not more.  IET diesel acceleration up to 30mph isn’t that far off of electric performance.  Losses from there are indeed quite marked, but I doubt a switch to OHLE would result in savings of more than one minute per station given the ruling linespeeds.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: Kernow Otter on February 15, 2021, 10:16:02 am
From Business Live (https://www.business-live.co.uk/economic-development/gwr-boss-calls-electrification-swansea-19824107)

Quote
GWR boss calls for electrification to Swansea and faster train speeds in Wales

Mark Hopwood said his trains travel at 125mph but cannot do so in Wales

The boss of train company Great Western Railway (GWR), Mark Hopwood, has called for electrification of the South Wales mainline to reach Swansea alongside investment allowing his trains to travel at much higher speeds once through the Severn Tunnel.

Electrification of around 60 miles of track from Cardiff to Swansea was shelved by then UK Government Transport Secretary Chris Grayling back in 2017 on cost grounds. With the whole electrification of the Great Western Mainline starting from London over budget and running overtime, there were even, at one stage, concerns that it would only go as far as Bristol.

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

Would love to see the equivalent line speed diagram for Paddington to Penzance.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: Lee on February 15, 2021, 10:48:06 am
Would love to see the equivalent line speed diagram for Paddington to Penzance.

The new logo for the Paddington-Penzance campaign has just been unveiled:

(http://www.cepec-tortues.fr/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/tortoise-636547.jpg)


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: grahame on February 15, 2021, 11:27:56 am
Would love to see the equivalent line speed diagram for Paddington to Penzance.

On researching that, I came across http://www.railperf.org.uk/index/fastest-times-listing from which there's a downloadable spread sheet that could be used to draw station to station timings.

As an aside ... speeding up the services significantly might also reduce the number of trains needed.  And at the cost of a train, every single one counts!



Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: TonyK on February 15, 2021, 04:17:37 pm
The future is 25KV overhead electric, however recent experiences on other GWR routes have not been a great advert for the technology.
HMG would prefer to call for more research into battery power, hydrogen, and others rather than doing anything.

There is also a fear in political circles that rail electrification has turned/will turn from a good thing into a vote losing debacle.

25 KV is very much the way forward. Batteries might have a part to play in keeping trains going between stretches of electrified track and on lightly used branches, but that's all. I have considerable doubts about hydrogen as helping keep things moving, and think mention of it in the context of railways is driven more by politics than economics. The recent experiences in teh GWR project have not been a great advert, as broadgage says, but HMG could have done more to fix or at least explain the problems.

I am not sure that electrification would be a vote loser, because it hasn't ever been a party political issue. So far as I can work out, all parties are now in favour of doing away with diesel asap. Criticism of the GWR electrification has not been about the principle, but about the cost and implementation. As seems to be happening with nuclear energy, there is an acceptance that it has a part to play and that the status quo is not acceptable. If both parties quieten down and get on with it, I am sure no-one would mind. Neither Labour nor Conservative party would want to end up in a position such as happened in Scotland over the Edinburgh tram system. The Labour administration were pushing the project ahead with the SNP opposition sniping from the wings, and stirring up opposition to it. Then they won the election, and had to go from outright opposition to getting the job done, without drawing attention to the fact that some of the cost overruns were down to their opposition tactics. The end result was proving very popular up until the pandemic.

Cardiff to Swansea is an awkward case, though. There is a lot more than power supply keeping the trains from running at 125 mph, and it would be sensible to do a root and branch job of upgrading the line at the same time, rather than doing one or the other first. Bristol to Birmingham has a better case for completion of the wiring and upgraded line, but Wales has punches politically above its economic weight. The yardstick for measuring the case for such spending should in any case be what will be added to the economy by the work, rather than what is in place now.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: broadgage on February 15, 2021, 05:58:26 pm
I don't think that electrification would be a vote loser nationally or in general, most people if they think about the subject at all would almost certainly prefer electric power to diesel fuel.

I do however perceive some risk of it becoming a political issue in certain constituencies, perhaps marginal ones.
Thinking of the Goring gap, and Sydney gardens in Bath for example. And in other places yet to be electrified, or proposed to be.
A lot of people may support electrification in general terms, but expect a "bit of flexibility" in their area to use batteries, hydrogen, pixie dust or something else not yet discovered, rather than erecting "those awful mast things"  The nutty fringe also believe that the mast things give off "rays that harm children"  No wonder that POOR Tamsin is SO ill.

I also perceive some risk of actual rail users blaming the government if electrification works  result in excessive delay and disruption to existing services. Or if an electrified route becomes less punctual, less reliable, and has worse trains than before the works.
I do believe that all new electric trains should have limited diesel or battery power, to proceed at much reduced performance to a suitable place when the wires come down, or to maintain on board services during the multi hour strandings that seem to be an increasing feature of todays railway. Provision of this diesel or battery power should reduce the complaints and reputational damage when the inevitable happens.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: TonyK on February 15, 2021, 08:12:59 pm
I don't think that electrification would be a vote loser nationally or in general, most people if they think about the subject at all would almost certainly prefer electric power to diesel fuel.

I do however perceive some risk of it becoming a political issue in certain constituencies, perhaps marginal ones.
Thinking of the Goring gap, and Sydney gardens in Bath for example. And in other places yet to be electrified, or proposed to be.
A lot of people may support electrification in general terms, but expect a "bit of flexibility" in their area to use batteries, hydrogen, pixie dust or something else not yet discovered, rather than erecting "those awful mast things"  The nutty fringe also believe that the mast things give off "rays that harm children"  No wonder that POOR Tamsin is SO ill.

I also perceive some risk of actual rail users blaming the government if electrification works  result in excessive delay and disruption to existing services. Or if an electrified route becomes less punctual, less reliable, and has worse trains than before the works.
I do believe that all new electric trains should have limited diesel or battery power, to proceed at much reduced performance to a suitable place when the wires come down, or to maintain on board services during the multi hour strandings that seem to be an increasing feature of todays railway. Provision of this diesel or battery power should reduce the complaints and reputational damage when the inevitable happens.


I heard the tale of a village in France, where a meeting was called to protest at plans to fit a mobile phone mast to the water tower. The man from the telephone company assured everyone that there would be no problem, which convinced no-one. The mayor explained that it was the law. Shortly afterwards, the aerial appeared.

A couple of weeks later, another meeting was held, while the people in turn detailed the symptoms of headache, fatigue, weight gain, weight loss etc that they had experienced since the mast went up. When they had all had a go, the engineer explained that it hadn't been turned on yet. Three months later, yet another meeting was held to demand a second aerial to improve reception. It will a similar thing when the OHLE goes through Sydney Gardens. Some will complain about the wires and stanchions, however sympathetically they are designed. Others will rejoice in the absence of diesel fumes. Few will actually notice, but the ones that do will make a lot of noise. The next generation won't know any different. It would be best to time it like the abolition of the free TV licence or first big increase in pension age - do it years in advance. That, or straight after an election. Bath is sort of marginal, but the current Lib Dem MP has a 12,000 majority, and the city is competing with Bristol in wokeness.

Having a reserve of some type on electric trains is entirely sensible. Heading for the next station at 10 mph is better than standing still, and the use of a fossil fuel on the odd occasions it becomes necessary will surely be forgiven.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: broadgage on February 15, 2021, 08:45:39 pm
I would favour a diesel engine for emergency use rather than batteries.
A little used diesel engine should last the lifetime of the train, a battery might need replacing several times due to expiry of shelf life/standby life.
A battery to last 6 hours will have about three times the cost, weight and bulk of one to last 2 hours.
A diesel engine would be exactly the same, only needing a larger fuel tank.

The diesel engine should be run UNDER FULL LOAD for say two hours a month, and might perhaps run for six hours a year in anger. Thirty hours a year is only 1,000 hours over a trains lifetime of say 33 years.
The fuel used for this 30 hours a year operation is not of great significance from either the cost in money or the carbon emissions.

The engines fitted to any future electric trains could reasonably be the same as IET engines, for commonality of spares. Only 1 or 2 engines per train.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: Sixty3Closure on February 22, 2021, 05:50:50 pm
As someone who travels from West of Swansea I'd like to see more emphasis on capacity and an improved service than just electrifying the Cardiff to Swansea section. I'd also worry about what doing that might mean for services onward to Narbeth, Carmarthen etc. Would a reliance on DMUs mean it becomes the poor relation - or rather the even poorer relation?

Fast and frequent to Cardiff and then on an old packed train? Which is not dissimilar from now if you ignore the late evening GWR service which is often empty.


Title: Re: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea
Post by: eightf48544 on February 23, 2021, 02:54:00 pm
TonyK story about France  is similar to the saga of wirng Maidenhead  Bridge desecrating Brunel's masterpiece. Coming home one day on the bus I noticed that there appeared to wires over the bridge. Waited for the eruption in the Advertiser not a word. There's a similar story about showing  heritage groups around York prior to electrification. No-one noticed the wire over one of the bays.



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