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Author Topic: Making our rail corridors more productive  (Read 1151 times)
grahame
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« on: July 12, 2018, 06:37:34 am »

From an idea at The BBC for roads - why not adapt and adopt for rail?

Why not make track panels where the "4 foot" comprises Solar panels ... electrification with self-generation of electricity?

The second idea in the BBC's report - making use of verge sides as wildlife and pollination corridors is to some extent happening; adding in crop production ... well, I wonder if all those trees being felled and greener being cut back has more that maintenance / nuisance value?
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eightf48544
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2018, 08:40:24 am »

From an idea at The BBC for roads - why not adapt and adopt for rail?

Why not make track panels where the "4 foot" comprises Solar panels ... electrification with self-generation of electricity?


Interesting idea would need all retention tank trains! Not sure how the panels would react to the shadow of a train.

"The second idea in the BBC's report - making use of verge sides as wildlife and pollination corridors is to some extent happening; adding in crop production ... well, I wonder if all those trees being felled and greener being cut back has more that maintenance / nuisance value?"

As for greener road corridors it could be good idea provided the vegetation/trees don't obscure the drivers view particularly at junctions. There are a couple around here which can be difficult until the verge is trimmed.
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stuving
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2018, 09:44:52 am »

From an idea at The BBC for roads - why not adapt and adopt for rail?

Why not make track panels where the "4 foot" comprises Solar panels ... electrification with self-generation of electricity?


Interesting idea would need all retention tank trains! Not sure how the panels would react to the shadow of a train.
Like they would a cloud - so it's not an issue.
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"The second idea in the BBC's report - making use of verge sides as wildlife and pollination corridors is to some extent happening; adding in crop production ... well, I wonder if all those trees being felled and greener being cut back has more that maintenance / nuisance value?"

As for greener road corridors it could be good idea provided the vegetation/trees don't obscure the drivers view particularly at junctions. There are a couple around here which can be difficult until the verge is trimmed.

The trouble with that sort of green corridor is it's two of them with a barrier up the middle. What about the related idea of green bridges, to provide linking routes for furry etc. things across roads and railways, though? You may have seen these elsewhere - I have noticed a few on French autoroutes, and SNCF do boast about building them on the newer LGVs. Not surprisingly their natural habitat is the Netherlands and Scandinavia.

HMG's take on them is explained here - apparently we only have a couple of them. There's an HS2 paper about them; they say they will build 14 of them. I suspect they are really road and path bridges and probably not wide enough to be properly green, though maybe that's just my scepticism as I've not seen any details.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2018, 09:52:44 am »

Sounds like a waste of solar panels to me. They work best when they're pointed at the sun (obviously!) and at a specific angle to the horizontal. Lying them flat is not so efficient. It also means they will get dirty, which is going to cut down their production far more than the occasional train or car passing over them. What we could do, far more productively, would be to install solar panels along the verges of rail or road corridors, correctly angled and all.
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2018, 10:41:31 am »

Bit of an maintenance headache as well I'd imagine.

However, they are just the thing for station roofs - see the new Blackfriars station platforms across the Thames as an example.
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broadgage
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2018, 10:47:53 am »

Very silly idea to put solar panels between the rails, they will get dirty and be vulnerable to damage during track repairs.

I am strongly in favour of solar energy, but more suitable places exist including on the roofs of stations and other railway buildings.
Many smaller stations lack waiting shelters on platforms, the income from solar panels could offset the cost of providing such shelters.

A handful of remote stations without any grid connection would benefit from a solar, or wind turbine installation to charge batteries for lighting.
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froome
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2018, 11:18:08 am »

It's good to see this discussion happening. I've long advocated putting solar panels alongside tracks on cuttings and embankments, where the angle often perfectly fits their usage. Solar can work well facing west and east as well as south, so plenty of opportunities, and it fits in well with the desire for tree removal that NR has, though their placing would need to ensure that they didn't conflict with wildlife corridors. Placed high on embankments and cuttings should reduce the need for regular cleaning. Remote stations, as stated, could benefit from a shelter which also has them installed, as well as existing railway buildings. There are plenty of other imaginative opportunities along rail lines for renewable energy features. One I would have liked to see some thought given to is including into electrification plans putting up structures for the overhead lines, which would ensure they stay in position and enable solar roofs to be placed above them.
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2018, 10:18:51 pm »

I can't wait to hear the loud agreement from the residents of Goring when the S face of the embankment is covered in solar panels.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2018, 10:35:35 pm »

Surely there are a number of fundamental problems if you try to use the "spare" land either side of the track for solar panels crops etc? This space is largely a working area for infrastructure work, and normally cannot be safely accessed during operating  hours except with safety restrictions on trains. I cannot see the permanent way departments (are they still called that?) welcoming having to dismantle solar panels every time they have to carry out lineside works, store the panels during work somewhere and then have to reinstall before the possession can be terminated.

As regards a wildlife habitat - it already is! It is also a dynamic habitat, with a changing selection of species as the lineside area is periodically cleared, regrows and is cut again. There are though problems when some of our furry friends who like burrowing undermine embankments and the slopes of cuttings.

Beyond a better use of station buildings for solar panels and other similar use, I'm not sure there is much mileage in this.

There is another option which is superficially attractive, namely fund major station reconstructions, by putting a transfer slab over the top and building offices, flats or retail above. The problem is that the capital commitment needed by any private sector partner to build such structures undermines the viability of such schemes, which is why Reading station has remained a station with a few extra shops on the overbridge, rather than the heart of a major town centre redevelopment. However planning permission has been granted for a major scheme at Guildford - so it will be interesting to see if the funds can be raised to deliver it.  
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froome
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2018, 06:05:05 am »

Surely there are a number of fundamental problems if you try to use the "spare" land either side of the track for solar panels crops etc? This space is largely a working area for infrastructure work, and normally cannot be safely accessed during operating  hours except with safety restrictions on trains. I cannot see the permanent way departments (are they still called that?) welcoming having to dismantle solar panels every time they have to carry out lineside works, store the panels during work somewhere and then have to reinstall before the possession can be terminated.

As regards a wildlife habitat - it already is! It is also a dynamic habitat, with a changing selection of species as the lineside area is periodically cleared, regrows and is cut again. There are though problems when some of our furry friends who like burrowing undermine embankments and the slopes of cuttings.

Beyond a better use of station buildings for solar panels and other similar use, I'm not sure there is much mileage in this.

There is another option which is superficially attractive, namely fund major station reconstructions, by putting a transfer slab over the top and building offices, flats or retail above. The problem is that the capital commitment needed by any private sector partner to build such structures undermines the viability of such schemes, which is why Reading station has remained a station with a few extra shops on the overbridge, rather than the heart of a major town centre redevelopment. However planning permission has been granted for a major scheme at Guildford - so it will be interesting to see if the funds can be raised to deliver it.  

Which is why I'm suggesting using the higher parts of embankments and cuttings, which should be well clear of the working area needed (and clear of being shaded by passing trains). And regarding access for maintenance, there is very little need for any maintenance of panels.

On crops, was there not a tradition of using spare railway land in the past for allotment plots? Most have now gone, but a few seemed to have managed to hold on. For example, I'm sure there is still a plot on the embankment near Redland station in Bristol.
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froome
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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2018, 06:09:04 am »

I can't wait to hear the loud agreement from the residents of Goring when the S face of the embankment is covered in solar panels.

I have no knowledge of that particular embankment, but can think of several embankments and cuttings where they would cause no objection and in some would enhance the existing sight. The new embankments being built just south of Filton Abbey Wood being one example.
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2018, 02:31:05 pm »

I can't wait to hear the loud agreement from the residents of Goring when the S face of the embankment is covered in solar panels.

I have no knowledge of that particular embankment, but can think of several embankments and cuttings where they would cause no objection and in some would enhance the existing sight. The new embankments being built just south of Filton Abbey Wood being one example.

...until our talented young street artists discover their sprayable qualities.

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4064ReadingAbbey
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« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2018, 03:28:57 pm »

SNIPPED
There is another option which is superficially attractive, namely fund major station reconstructions, by putting a transfer slab over the top and building offices, flats or retail above. The problem is that the capital commitment needed by any private sector partner to build such structures undermines the viability of such schemes, which is why Reading station has remained a station with a few extra shops on the overbridge, rather than the heart of a major town centre redevelopment. However planning permission has been granted for a major scheme at Guildford - so it will be interesting to see if the funds can be raised to deliver it.  
To respond to the second part of your post.

The issue with placing buildings over the railway is that it puts treats the passengers as second class citizens by banishing them to the basement. There have been too many awful examples of over-track development over the years - Euston, Birmingham New Street, Sunderland - dark dingy places.

One of the better results in the last few years was not placing office developments over Paddington to replace the Edwardian Span 4. The glorious roof at Paddington is one of the things that helps make train travel civilised.

Specifically in Reading - I see no need for a major town centre development. There have been a number of recent developments for retail, accommodation and office use - and a considerable quantity of the office floor space is still not let. There was a proposal, involving Sir John Madeski, of rebuilding the area between the station and Friar Street on the site of the (now demolished) 1960s building which included Western Tower (the home of the Western Region's London Division) but both it, and another subsequent proposal, both died. In any event the station at Reading is on an embankment so any development would be very high. As the Council's Local Plan requires that certain views be protected
Quote
EN5: PROTECTION OF SIGNIFICANT VIEWS WITH HERITAGE INTEREST
one of which is
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2. View northwards down Southampton St from Whitley St towards St Giles Church, St
Mary’s Church and Greyfriars Church
any over station development could well fall foul of this policy.

In any event the town is over-supplied with small flats with the result that the town centre population is short term and therefore there is a lack of civic responsibility and social integration. One of the aims of the Council is to promote the building of more 3 and 4 bedroom houses so encouraging people to put down roots - and this sort of accommodation cannot be supplied over a railway line.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2018, 05:16:30 pm »

I can't wait to hear the loud agreement from the residents of Goring when the S face of the embankment is covered in solar panels.

I have no knowledge of that particular embankment, but can think of several embankments and cuttings where they would cause no objection and in some would enhance the existing sight. The new embankments being built just south of Filton Abbey Wood being one example.

...until our talented young street artists discover their sprayable qualities.


I wonder how sprayable they are? I've never seen any graffiti on solar panels; but then pretty much the only ones in urban settings are on roofs. I think fences and the high voltage warning signs would probably put most taggers off, but doubtless some would still have a go.
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broadgage
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« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2018, 06:39:24 pm »

I think the PV modules on the track side might not be such a good idea, due to concerns about theft, vandalism and obstructing maintenance work.

Loads of room on station roofs though.
For new or refurbished station buildings, there is a lot to be said for the new semi-transparent PV modules, these have the actual solar cells sandwiched between two layers of toughened glass.
These modules are not intended to be put ON a roof, they ARE the roof covering. They block about 70% of the daylight and therefore avoid excessive glare or heat, the transmission of about 30% gives ample daylight below the roof.

Excellent for platform waiting areas.
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