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Author Topic: Great Western Main Line electrification - ongoing discussion  (Read 800346 times)
TaplowGreen
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« Reply #2580 on: July 20, 2017, 07:17:52 pm »

Maybe they've just decided that it's overrunning & overspent so severely that it's time to pull the plug and admit they're not up to meeting the challenge of a project like this.
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simonw
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« Reply #2581 on: July 20, 2017, 09:11:43 pm »

The sad aspect of this decision, and the much more serious decision about Bristol is that if Network Rail had a 25 year commitment to electrify the whole network, then the costs would be manageable and affordable.

Employing teams of people/specialists on short term contracts to plan, design and build the enhanced rail systems for electrification is expensive.

 
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Rhydgaled
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« Reply #2582 on: July 20, 2017, 09:15:51 pm »

I fear that any significant new railway electrification is now dead for a generation. Minor additions and infill schemes might continue.
A generation? No, if there isn't significant action sharpish to restore order I fear that electrification in England and Wales is dead, full-stop. One of the main reasons it has all gone south appears to be the skilled workforce necessary to carry out the glut of projects just wasn't there due to having not done any significant electrification for 20 odd years. That cannot be fixed unless the contracts have some certainty that some level of ongoing electrification will continue in the medium-long term, so that the contracts can invest in training up a skilled workforce with confidence.

A positive move might be to re-instate the Midland Main Line project and ensure the ValleyLines electrification goes ahead, then when they are done move on to Bath-Bristol-Wales electrification and Didcot-Oxford, then finally get arround to doing Cardiff-Swansea (around 2030 at the rate things are going, but hopefully as a skills base is built up things would improve).

Quote
Mr Grayling also announced:
◾plans to improve journeys times and connections between Swansea and Cardiff, south Wales, Bristol and London
◾plans to improve journeys times and connections across north Wales
direct services from Pembroke Dock to London via Carmarthen on new Intercity Express trains
◾station improvements at Cardiff and Swansea

At least one forum member will be pleased with point 3.
If you mean me, then I am not at all pleased with today's announcement, because I see electrification as a vitial step in de-carbonising transport.

As for Pembroke Dock, I've picked up on comments previously that they are 'looking into it' so
a.) I that isn't news to me and
b.) I think I'd rather the Wales & Borders franchise put on a new 'Pembroke Coast Express' to/from Cardiff with mark 4 coaches or similar calling at Llanelli, Carmarthen, Whitland, Kilgetty/Saundersfoot, Tenby, Pembroke and Pembroke Dock than keeping the London services basically as-is but using portion working with the class 800/0 abominations. Intercity trains cannot have unit end gangways, therefore dividing on route with such stock should not be allowed in my opinion.
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« Reply #2583 on: July 21, 2017, 09:15:11 am »

The sad aspect of this decision, and the much more serious decision about Bristol is that if Network Rail had a 25 year commitment to electrify the whole network, then the costs would be manageable and affordable.
 

You may be right, but I think that your statement puts more faith in NR's ability than recent evidence supports. 
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ellendune
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« Reply #2584 on: July 21, 2017, 09:42:43 am »

The sad aspect of this decision, and the much more serious decision about Bristol is that if Network Rail had a 25 year commitment to electrify the whole network, then the costs would be manageable and affordable.
 

You may be right, but I think that your statement puts more faith in NR's ability than recent evidence supports. 

I think it is the politician's timescales that are a large part of the problem with electrification costs.  If the bridgeworks had been planned well in advance and consultations undertaken without the clock ticking.  If projects could be done in a more logical order then costs will come down.

I have heard it said that the cost work on the roof of Temple meads will triple if it is done after electrification.  I suspect the same fro Bristol East Junction.  So lets do less electrification each year, but keep the programme going at a steady pace, planned well in advance. 

More speed less haste!

Maybe over time the rate of electrification can then be slowly increased!
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #2585 on: July 21, 2017, 10:51:46 am »

My guess is that we'll have to wait for CP13 (2054-2059) before we (I say 'we' - hah - I'll be long gone) Bath and Bristol electrified; assuming the bi-modes last as well as the HSTs.
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grahame
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« Reply #2586 on: July 21, 2017, 11:31:01 am »

My guess is that we'll have to wait for CP13 (2054-2059) before we (I say 'we' - hah - I'll be long gone) Bath and Bristol electrified; assuming the bi-modes last as well as the HSTs.

I was at a campaign training class last week, and during interactions where we all looked at each other's spheres of work (fare trade and microfibres though to spending more council money in West Somerset). And one of the other campaigners suggested that things/systems that have been around for 100 years need to be replaced with something newer. His suggestion's to scrap all buses and trains, and replace them with things like guided systems - automated or semiautomated, such as you'll see at Heathrow and in parts of Cambridgeshire.  "Nothing that's been around over 100 years should still be in use" was his view; I disagree - a review of what technology we're using is valid, but we should not reject any technologies based on their age.   When I asked about flow capacity and journey speeds, the gentleman indicated that was something he was sure could be sorted, pointing me to other modes too such as the pneumatic capsule proposals which - err - have a history that dates back to the systems used to send cash to the registers in Edwardian shops, and prior to that to Brunel's initial traction system from Exeter to Newton Abbott.

There are lots of ideas for the future - real answer has to be "goodness only knows".

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onthecushions
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« Reply #2587 on: July 21, 2017, 03:42:44 pm »


When considering future technologies we should listen more to those with a background in Physics and (real) Engineering than to vocal, plausible opinions with little basis in fact.

The old lady who is reputed to have said that if the Almighty had wanted us to fly he wouldn't have given us the railways, had a point. The rolling resistance of a steel wheel on a steel rail is about 15% of that of a pneumatic wheel on a tarmac road. We give up some of that advantage by having heavy trains and more space per passenger (no kidding!) but rail will still win all through C21 as will electric traction, whether by storage or pick-up. Hydrogen is not a serious option as it is not a natural fuel, requires excessive storage pressures and volumes (x4), is difficult to contain with many materials and is excessively combustible. Remember the Hindenburg!

It is a tragedy that our rail electrification program has failed but it is all our (DfT's) fault, in creating a railway administration that is led by out-of-touch executives without understanding of the industry, which strips itself of technical competence and is regulated by an unaccountable risk-averse quango. The latest news on the Sheffield - Rotherham Tram-Train (it's just 6 miles!), that has risen in cost from £15M to £75M reminds me of Rangi Ram (Michael Bates) in the now politically incorrect "It ain't 'alf hot Mum!" series. He would end by quoting "old Hindu proverb", in this case perhaps, "If you have hole in pocket, stop putting money in."

OTC
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broadgage
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« Reply #2588 on: July 21, 2017, 03:56:50 pm »

Hydrogen remains a possibility in theory but is unlikely to be viable for reasons given above.
Expensive, bulky, awkward to handle, and somewhat dangerous.

Overhead electrification is of the agenda, not forever but probably for a generation, and conductor rails are of the agenda permanently due to safety concerns.

So in the near term we are stuck with diesel, and the possibility of battery trains in some special cases.

By about 2040 when the bi-modes are near end of life, the whole debate can start again and may lead to a return of electrification since oil will almost certainly be a lot more expensive by then.
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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 is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #2589 on: July 21, 2017, 06:07:35 pm »

It is a tragedy that our rail electrification program has failed but it is all our (DfT's) fault, in creating a railway administration that is led by out-of-touch executives without understanding of the industry, which strips itself of technical competence and is regulated by an unaccountable risk-averse quango.

NR have lost some skilled staff, but the major loss of skills was at privatisation when DfT's theorists decided to carve up BR's engineering into so many small pieces that many of them just walked.  They have lost more because HM Treasury have forced them to become "more efficient" and the only way the Treasury knows how to do that is get rid of people and hope those left can fill the gaps. 

IIUI the problems with electrification were that NR took too many risks when setting the original programme and budget with little data and a lack of skills!

Now they are public sector the Treasury forces them to take less risks.  So if they are too risk averse blame the Treasury not NR!

Privatisation was put forward because Government could not run Nationalised Industries.  So we let them set up the new private industries badly.  It begs the question if they cannot run an industry how do we expect them to run a country!

The latest news on the Sheffield - Rotherham Tram-Train (it's just 6 miles!), that has risen in cost from £15M to £75M reminds me of Rangi Ram (Michael Bates) in the now politically incorrect "It ain't 'alf hot Mum!" series. He would end by quoting "old Hindu proverb", in this case perhaps, "If you have hole in pocket, stop putting money in."

In its defence Sheffield - Rotherham Tram-Train is supposed to be a pilot to find out how to do it.  That's what pilot studies are for!
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onthecushions
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« Reply #2590 on: July 21, 2017, 07:55:57 pm »


It begs the question if they cannot run an industry how do we expect them to run a country!


That's what keeps me awake at night.

Going back to Rangi Ram, about 1000 British civil servants ran a country of 300M people, built 43 500 miles of railway (electrifying from 1925), irrigated 30% of agriculture, created a famine code that worked, implemented local government through municipal corporations and participatory state government for most else, founded cultural and green institutions like the Archaeological Survey of India, Imperial Forestry Service, Universities, Colleges, Schools, etc etc (using only 40 000 European policing troops because they mostly didn't annoy the locals). I've met a number of Indians who say their Grandad remembers the Raj and would vote for the British to come back.

Not our present politicians, surely but perhaps Indian Railways Central Office for Railway Electrification (CORE) in Allahabad could teach the failing burrah sahibs of NR how to string up the wires.

Jai Hind,

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stuving
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« Reply #2591 on: July 21, 2017, 08:18:07 pm »

The latest news on the Sheffield - Rotherham Tram-Train (it's just 6 miles!), that has risen in cost from £15M to £75M reminds me of Rangi Ram (Michael Bates) in the now politically incorrect "It ain't 'alf hot Mum!" series. He would end by quoting "old Hindu proverb", in this case perhaps, "If you have hole in pocket, stop putting money in."

I think that may be apposite in another way too - it's what DfT are saying about electrification. Given NR's demonstrated inability to do the work for a reasonable-looking cost, and even more staggering incompetence at estimating its work content (hence both time and cost), it is understandable if the Grayling is an electrosceptic.

Remember, all yesterday's announcements were really about the HLOS (and its SoFA). In his latest e-preview, Roger Ford predicted:
Quote
DfT has to present its High Level Output Specification (HLOS) and Statement of Funds Available (SoFA) for Control Period 6 (2019-2024) to the Office of Rail & Road by 20 July.

So brace yourselves for a heavy read after the holidays. Unless of course, given the political turmoil, DfT revisits the 1974 Railways Act and the shortest HLOS ever simply says ‘provide a public service which is comparable generally with that provided at present’.

It was definitely the latter; not much of a read at all. Apart from some recycled commuter totals, there were no numbers at all, not even for the Grayling's new SoFA (how did we let that pre-packaged basis for puns escape unmolested for so long?). That turns out to be more of a plank resting one a couple of old oil drums:
Quote
The Government wishes to further assure itself that the volumes and costs of operations and maintenance activity are reasonable and affordable in order to fulfil its statutory role to set a SoFA. Once this assurance has taken place, Government will confirm the SoFA in October 2017. The Secretary of State wants Network Rail to increase its efficiency and delivery capability across its portfolio of work during the Control Period and expects a strong and robust challenge from the ORR to reflect this.

Subject to the satisfactory conclusion of this work, the Government believes that it is likely to have funds available to meet reasonable requirements subject to reasonable efficiency savings and deliverability. A further announcement of a final SoFA will be made following the completion of this work, no later than 13 October 2017.

So provided you and the Grayling agree on what is "reasonable" that's all right, isn't it?

HLOS is only about CP6, 2020-2024, and nothing else. The electrification pencilled in for CP6, and in theory not even started in design work, has been dropped. I don't see that as a statement about CP7 and later, not either way - no-one would be impressed by a promise of maybe for after 2024, so there would be no point making one.

The deferred work wasn't mentioned, and it will be for NR to make a case for doing it in CP6. All of it (I think) has already incurred significant design costs, so its lower incremental cost might make it worth doing even with the new colour of glasses on, but maybe not that soon. Having bitten the bimode bullet, there is no need to do any electrification against a deadline, so why not take your time over both deciding and doing it?
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #2592 on: July 21, 2017, 08:34:44 pm »

My guess is that we'll have to wait for CP13 (2054-2059) before we (I say 'we' - hah - I'll be long gone) Bath and Bristol electrified; assuming the bi-modes last as well as the HSTs.

I was at a campaign training class last week, and during interactions where we all looked at each other's spheres of work (fare trade and microfibres though to spending more council money in West Somerset). And one of the other campaigners suggested that things/systems that have been around for 100 years need to be replaced with something newer. His suggestion's to scrap all buses and trains, and replace them with things like guided systems - automated or semiautomated, such as you'll see at Heathrow and in parts of Cambridgeshire.  "Nothing that's been around over 100 years should still be in use" was his view; I disagree - a review of what technology we're using is valid, but we should not reject any technologies based on their age.   When I asked about flow capacity and journey speeds, the gentleman indicated that was something he was sure could be sorted, pointing me to other modes too such as the pneumatic capsule proposals which - err - have a history that dates back to the systems used to send cash to the registers in Edwardian shops, and prior to that to Brunel's initial traction system from Exeter to Newton Abbott.

There are lots of ideas for the future - real answer has to be "goodness only knows".


There's not much in transport that hasn't been around for more than 100 years, except space travel. Even electric cars were around in the late 19th century.
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Day return to Infinity, please.
Red Squirrel
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« Reply #2593 on: July 21, 2017, 09:12:18 pm »

Hydrogen remains a possibility...

Hydrogen is a certainty, inasmuch as that it definitely exists. I don't think it has much of a future as a vehicle fuel though.
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« Reply #2594 on: September 15, 2017, 11:35:06 am »

I see that the demolition and rebuild of the bridge at Steventon has been delayed until the start of CP6 (April 2019).
NR have determined that they will not have the bridge rebuilt in time for the introduction of electric trains in 2018.

And I quote from NR "To enable electrification to proceed, a temporary solution must now be introduced at Steventon bridge (B4017) to enable us to deliver the electrified railway through Steventon. In advance of this, some preparatory work on the track underneath the bridge will begin at the end of November 2017. In the longer term, to enable the introduction of timetabled electric train services, the temporary solution will also require a speed restriction on the railway, to ensure the safe passage of trains through Steventon."

I assume the delay must be for budgeting or resource reasons.

NR Press Release can be found here http://www.steventon.info/railway.html
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