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Author Topic: Call from GWR to invest and electrify from Cardiff to Swansea  (Read 2515 times)
TonyK
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« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2021, 04:17:37 pm »

The future is 25KV overhead electric, however recent experiences on other GWR (Great Western Railway) 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.
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broadgage
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« Reply #16 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.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2021, 06:44:01 pm by broadgage » Logged

A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
TonyK
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« Reply #17 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 (Member of Parliament) 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.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2021, 07:59:44 pm by TonyK » Logged

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broadgage
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« Reply #18 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 (Intercity Express Train) engines, for commonality of spares. Only 1 or 2 engines per train.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #19 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 (Diesel Multiple Unit) 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 (Great Western Railway) service which is often empty.
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eightf48544
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« Reply #20 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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