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Most liked recent subjects
[89] Overchecking of tickets - on train and at arriving station.
[81] Summer Uprising – Bristol Occupation by XR Southwest
[56] Helping to keep trains on schedule when timetables tighten up ...
[50] 2020 - lines (?) without major timetable changes
[34] Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption el...
[28] Portishead Line reopening for passengers - ongoing discussion
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1  Journey by Journey / Bristol (WECA) Commuters / Re: Summer Uprising – Bristol Occupation by XR Southwest on: July 17, 2019, 11:54:43 pm
It does, however, raise some questions about the home of the future, needing about double the electricity supply of today's home with gas boiler and petrol car. Presumably, the electricity supply to new houses will be 3-phase AC, with a suitable local grid to supply them? And there must be a "magic leccy tree" for the supplies.

Did you see that last week the (independent official) Committee on Climate Change gave the government a poke in the midriff with a pointed report? Its message was not unlike XR's, but perhaps more relevant - that the government has made good progress on having policies and targets, but not so much progress on having progress:
During the last year, the Government has introduced some new policies to reduce emissions, but their impact will be only incremental. Overall, actions to date have fallen short of what is needed for the previous targets and well short of those required for the net-zero target:
Policy implementation in the last year. Last year, the Committee set out 25 headline policy actions for the year ahead. Twelve months later, only one has been delivered in full. Ten of the required actions have not shown even partial progress.
Underlying progress. The Committee also monitor indicators of underlying progress such as improvements to insulation of buildings and the market share of electric vehicles. Only seven out of 24 of these were on track in 2018. Outside the power and industry sectors, only two indicators were on track. This is a continuation of recent experience - over the course of the second carbon budget (2013-2017), only six of 21 indicators were on track.
Projected progress. The Government's own projections demonstrate that its policies and plans are insufficient to meet the fourth or fifth carbon budgets (covering 2023-2027 and 2028-2032). This policy gap has widened in the last year as

As to electricity, their view appears to be that the decarbonisation of homes and home-based vehicles is going to be hard, while uprating the distribution network to match is a relative doddle. The standard house supply has for some time been 100A, allowing 25 kW peaks, though most homes never use half of that and the wire along the road and the substations are sized for an average of less still.

Three phase has not generally been seen as necessary for domestic supplies here, though my brother's house in Edinburgh (which had once had a big electric heating system) had one when he bought it. It would not be hard to move to it, especially if new supply wires and fancier switchgear are needed in any case. In France, any supply with a contracted maximum of 12 kW or more has usually been provided as three-phase.
2  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture Overseas / Re: Fatal accident at Avenay-Val-d'Or - 15 July 2019 on: July 15, 2019, 07:52:46 pm
I'm not sure it makes sense to talk about this now looking worse, but it certainly doesn't get any better. The four victims are now described as a woman of 37, her daughter of 11, and two infants (3 and 1) from other families (she was a nursery assistant or child miner in some sense).

The crossing is an AHBC, and the entry barrier for this car (from Avenay) was folded back through more than 90 degrees, supporting the assumption that the car drove through it when it was down. SNCF and the local mayor say it no history of failing to work, but the prosecutor has referred to a witness who saw a barrier descend without warning yesterday. He did not say whether that had been reported to SNCF (there are two direct telephones at the crossing).

This, from the Independent, does at least show the right crossing (registration needed, I think).
3  Journey by Journey / Bristol (WECA) Commuters / Re: Summer Uprising – Bristol Occupation by XR Southwest on: July 15, 2019, 05:07:14 pm
A humourous point - with a bit of science hidden in it. Water there is the propellant, not the fuel, of course. There are other non-fuel fuels, such as electricity and hydrogen. Neither is truly a fuel, because both have to be created using external energy sources. They are forms of storage of energy, and the distinction is an important one in some contexts.

I think that splits the wrong hair. A vehicle's fuel is whatever you put in it to make it go, whether you dug it up, stored sunbeams, or made it from something else. The kind of liquid hydrocarbons that are most useful in IC engines on the road and in the air can be made from petrol, both as feedstock and processing energy source, but the same or similar stuff can be made from CO2 in the air using electricity. OK it's not at all efficient just now, but they are working on it (in Canada, oddly).

Quite by chance, what pops up in my inbox today but this (from the IET: Engineering & Technology):

H2O on the go: fuelling the future of sustainable vehicles

Water could be the fuel source for running the emission-free engines of the future.

It seems vehicles can run on most things these days: from batteries to hydrogen, to natural gas and even human waste. But how about water? This is what Australian-Israeli start-up Electriq~Global claims can fuel vehicles from a bicycle to an articulated lorry, adding that it can outperform other fuels by twice the range at half the cost with no emissions.

Actually, it’s not purely water. Electriq~Global’s proprietary mix comprises 60 per cent H2O. The rest is a mixture of stabilising chemicals and a borohydride (BH4) salt, which releases hydrogen on demand.

“Essentially you are getting a water-based hydrogen solution that is stable, non-flammable, non-explosive and very simple to transport and store at ambient room temperature and pressure,” says Electriq~Global’s CEO Guy Michrowski. “All of these things contribute to the cost reduction of the system.”

The technology is mature enough that the company has gone into partnership with Dutch firm Eleqtec to roll out the system in the Netherlands, where the government has set ambitious CO2 reduction targets. The plan is to introduce Electriq~Fuel as a clean solution for trucks, buses, barges and other mobility platforms. One application that Michrowski sees as a quick win is mobile generators.
It works by placing the fuel in contact with a catalyst – a proprietary system of metal mesh called Electriq~Switch (yes, everything comes with one of those funny squiggles). The resulting hydrolysis reaction produces hydrogen, 50 per cent of which comes from the decomposition of the water molecules and 50 per cent from the decomposition of the BH4. What is left is a mixture of water and borate ions (BO4), which can be recycled. The company claims there are no emissions during the entire process, the only outputs being hydrogen and heat.
4  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture Overseas / Fatal accident at Avenay-Val-d'Or - 15 July 2019 on: July 15, 2019, 12:17:09 pm
There are reports of a serious accident at a level crossing this morning, involving a car and leading to the deaths of a woman and three children. The car is reported as being stationary on the level crossing by the station at Avenay-Val-d'Or, when it was struck by a TER from Epernay to Reims (which would not stop at Evenay). The crossing was not regarded as being particularly dangerous.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Introductions and chat / Re: Notes from a journey by train - part 1, Bedford to Milton Keynes on: July 11, 2019, 02:58:03 pm
I think they were Greek because they had me talk into their translating phone and it was displaying as acrylic (or is that cyrilic) characters.
Most definitely cycrillic - acrylic being a form of plastic  Grin

Unless it was Greek, which is written in Greek.
6  Sideshoots - associated subjects / The Lighter Side / Re: Old April fool, or actual proposal? on: July 10, 2019, 04:48:26 pm

Those are if you like the "wet" and "dry" versions of the boat lift. There's another "dry" variety, on the Severn-Trent Waterway, without even a cradle, so the boats have to be happy sitting on the flat bottom of a "ber roulant". That's at Big Chute, in Canada (Ontario).

I suspect some pretty wild technical doodles of much bigger ones have been done, but nothing built - but you never know, do you?
7  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: July 10, 2019, 04:35:15 pm
On the final signalling hiccup.  Is it my imagination or are these now becoming very frequent?
Going back in time, surely failures occurred but we didn't notice? or trains ran without a problem?

I'm not sure whether exact figures on signalling failures per year, per route, are published - one for Stuving, our resident Google sleuth?  Cheesy

Given the track defects last night at Langley and yesterday and today at Slough you might think those were on the increase, but I think generally the opposite is true.  'Broken rails' were down a whopping 90% from 952 in 1998 to 109 in 2015 for example.

I don't think Network rail have ever published (i.e. externally) details of the failures that cause "incidents", though the Route Plans and similar documents have contained a lot of mentions of performance and how it's going to improve. But they are much fuller of jargon than comprehensible facts. Mostly you can get PPM and the like, telling you nothing about who did what do whom.  I've seen promises of more useful performance information, but not anything specific.

NR do quite a bit of work in asset monitoring and the like (and promote it), aimed at predicting failures before they happen (the best kind of prediction, I'm sure). Some of that gets into the railway technical press. Suppliers are also busy doing this kind of stuff; even my ex-colleagues at Thales are at it now - though we didn't have any rail projects in my time. I saw a presentation of their work based on detailed analysis of the current drawn by a point motor, looking for patterns that show it meeds servicing or is about to grind to a halt. That and similar tricks may be very clever and potentially useful, but of course it all has to work, and make a difference, when rolled out on a large scale. And that I've not heard anything about.

What I have found is that NR now have a page of links to data (search for statistics and pick "Our information and data").

There is an item for Network Performance, bit its "related link" isn't (a link). The only other thing that might be of use, if anyone has the time to make use of it, is "historical delay attribution". That's not as historical as it might be (just 2018-19 and on), but is a complete list of all delay attribution incidents. There's a short explanation of its content and the column contents, which start with:
The file attached is a standard data extract from our Performance System database (PSS). The
information within the file contains all “attributed” delays to passenger train services in line with the
guidance in the Delay Attribution Guide. The information is structured for industry systems and
understanding, the below provides a few key insights into the data contained.

The data contains both delay and cancellation events (denoted by the performance event code) and a
user should be careful when summing delay minutes (pfpi minutes) to exclude cancellation events.

Each (4-week) period's data comes in a large zipped CSV file - large as in up to 500,000 rows x 39 columns. You'll need a copy of the DAPR to hand, not just the explanation, to process that lot into anything useful! These are the column heads:

8  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture Overseas / Re: If it's an August weekend, there must be a TGV on fire ... on: July 08, 2019, 08:16:24 pm
Well, it missed the peak off-to-holiday traffic, but it still happened. A two-hour loss of power outside Bordeaux-St-Jean, stopping all trains in and out. One train was within walking distance along the track, as a lot of the passengers confirmed, though there were 15 TGVs stopped in all. However, I suspect most of those still had power, just nowhere to go. The reason was a bit odd: some issue on the pantograph of a train in the depot led to the power locally being switched off. I have no information as to why it was off for so long over all the running lines.

Meanwhile... (actually last Thursday) 30 km away at Libourne, the press thought they'd found a juicy little story: a driver had hit his limit of hours and abandoned his goods train in the station - and it was carrying armoured vehicles for the Bastille Day parade which needed to be guarded at all times! More than that, it was operated by a private company, which is a new idea in France. But later on SNCF sheepishly admitted it was theirs, but claimed the line was OK to use as a goods loop, and the train arrived by the promised time even if it took four hours to get another driver there.

I guess Frét SNCF now have to apply to SNCF Réseau for one-off paths in the same way as other operators. Incidentally, on Frét SCNF's landing page it says:
24/7 tracking
Our sales teams are ready to help you meet your challenges, both locally and internationally. We’re present throughout France, and our offices are open 24/7, so we can track your shipments in real time.
9  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: Toilets on local trains - Liverpool discussion on: July 08, 2019, 04:38:53 pm
If you had a couple of them onboard, the ones with containers, like this one wouldn’t that probably be enough, even in Lewisham style events?  After all, only a small percentage on the train were unable to wait.  Just an idea as retrofitting all trains is not an option.

The RAIB report on Lewisham did mention emergency toilets, and the ATOC/NR guidance note "Meeting the Needs of Passengers when Trains are Stranded" has a bit more on that. It has more to say about how to keep modern toilets at least usable when electricity, water, or retention tank space runs out. A further point how to make such emergency supplies or manual override available in DOO trains, and if they are set up for passenger use in emergencies how they are protected from "inappropriate use" for years before being needed.
10  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: British Steel Compulsory Liquidation - 22 May 2019 on: July 08, 2019, 03:54:13 pm
The "parts of British Steel" are described elsewhere  as: "The offer is understood to include British Steel’s rail service centre business, responsible for the welding, finishing and storing of rails for the UK’s rail network, according to a story first reported in the Sunday Telegraph."

So not the rail production business, certainly. It looks like something that only has NR as its end customer, and might have been done in house anyway (if fashions in such things were different).

I've just found out a bit more about BS's Rail Technical Services division, and should correct that. They have a rolling mill at Scunthorpe and do produce steel rail. It is in effect part of the steelworks site, and starts with billets (or whatever they are called) from within the site. They will also have other big machines for straightening and other finishing processes. There was another site at Eastleigh, owned by NR, obviously without on-site production.

They were rolling steel to 108 m lengths, for supply as is or flash butt welding pairwise into the 216 m lengths that are the longest NR can transport. In March 2018 they got a big order for 120 m rail to Germany, having painted go farther stripes on their mill. That division also does work in the the applications areas of coatings, noise reduction, repair and rejuvenation, etc.
11  Journey by Journey / Bristol (WECA) Commuters / Re: Network Rail - work on Severn Beach line, summer 2019 on: July 08, 2019, 11:16:15 am
I'm quite glad the sleepers are being replaced between AVN and SAR - Every evening on the way home I peer down and see them in a terrible state of disrepair.

I know all of you know far more about the rail infrastructure than I - but I'm curious - the curve/radius between AVN and the SAR Level crossing is quite tight (sorry - I don't know the technical term). When replacing the rail, would the curve of the rail be created on site - of would it be pre-shaped?

Sorry for such a noob question - I'm just interested.

The answer is basically that rail is a lot more bendy than it looks. Rail is made in 216 m lengths (max, on latest info I have), and several taken to their installation site on a train - and it just bends to go round the corners. OK, there's a little more to it than that, like keeping all the rails vertical, but for the curvatures involved (that curve at AVN has a radius of about 200 m) it's not even very springy. Of course it is heavy, and the forces needed to lift and bend it are correspondingly large. Note that when talking about rail expansion, and buckling in the heat, the forces involved there (which are along the rail) are are very much bigger.
12  All across the Great Western territory / Your rights and redress / Re: Not happy with Heathrow Express... on: July 06, 2019, 04:30:23 pm
Presumably Heathrow has some agreement with RSP, a bit like the one for ticket retailers (which is available on line as a template). It would be a one-off, and need to deal with ticket acceptance on trains and as a station operator. I don't think they sell through tickets, in which case that could be left out.
13  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: £260m Oxford-Witney Rail Proposal on: July 06, 2019, 04:22:24 pm
Nice work. I still find it incredible that Queen Street is fully pedestrianised looking but buses still come down it every three minutes.

Half the pedestrians are surprised by it too.
14  Journey by Journey / Bristol (WECA) Commuters / Re: Metrowest Status on: July 04, 2019, 07:23:59 pm
"Vote for me as mayor and I'll abolish the mayorship." It could be a winning slogan!

It worked in May, didn't it?
15  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: Rail Delivery Group's Fair Fare consultation - outcome on: July 04, 2019, 04:10:28 pm
In both cases (Tisbury and Templecombe) the Via Salisbury fares are for flows between clusters, while the Any Permitted fares are for that station and Melksham alone. As it happens, Tisbury is in cluster of itself only, while Templecombe plus Gillingham form cluster Q203 and Melkshm plus Chippenham form cluster Q460. So the more expensive fare does go further. No doubt the Via Salisbury is historical, but it doesn't really alter anything.

Presumably if the cheaper group of fares offered the same range of ticket types as the flow group, the latter would be "overridden" - suppressed entirely - as is the case for Melksham-Yeovil Pen Mill. But there are fares only available in the Via Salisbury set - all first class ones, for a start, but not solely. Apparently "the system" doesn't do this overriding by suppressing the fare listing on a one-b-one basis. However, surely any JP working off the data feeds, and any retailer following RSP rules, should never offer the higher price with fewer restrictions?
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