Saturday, 21 August 2010

Channel Tunnel trains for Liverpool

Please find bellow a submission regarding the proposed intercity Express Programme or it's successors. I believe that it important the in order to take advantage of any HS2 and the current channel tunnel and additional requirements for this program is that it should be capable of running on High Speed lines at a significant fraction of the lines top speed as well as being compatible with Channel Tunnel Regulations. Such a train would be useful for providing services from London to European cities not connected via High Speed lines and also from European cities to UK regional cities. Such a train will be essential to exploit HS2 should it be built.

The current date for the first running of HS2 is 2025 for the London to Birmingham section. It is proposed that this new line be built to the same GC loading gauge as HS1. There is no assurance that HS1 and HS2 will be connected.

Given the notorious delays in this kind of project this projection optimistic at best and will still not provide a High Speed Connection to Liverpool. There is some talk of extending beyond Birmingham with a line that branched with one branch going to Leeds and the another to Manchester. There is also a slight hint of a Branch to Liverpool. However no date has been given for either of these branches.

If the connection to Birmingham is made then a connection to the WCML at Rugeley is proposed.
For through trains this means using the smaller W10 gauge, that the WCML uses beyond Rugeley. This allows 2.9 m (9 ft 6 in) high Hi-Cube shipping containers to be carried on standard wagons and also allows 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide Euro shipping containers. It is larger than UIC A which itself is slightly larger than PPI(Berne) gauge, and has a maximum dimensions of 3.15 m by 4.32 m. This means that the WCML is better suited to European trains than most of the rest of the UK network.

The development of a W6a or W10 train that can run on the GC gauge is far easier and cheaper than building HS2, in fact the EuroStars may already have done that as they operated before HS1 was complete. Whilst it is true that they do not tilt they could run of the WCML if they are or were fitted for the signalling. Whilst this would not be optimal it would provide a Paris-Liverpool service and would be good PR even if only done occasionally.

In fact regional services where planned using shortened trains know as North of London, while these have never operated as planned they have operated been operated by GNER on the east coast mainline and are at the time of writing available for use. Regional services where planned to use the ECML to Glasgow via Edinburgh and as far as Manchester on the WCML.

At least this can be seen as forward looking and proactive.

What Liverpool and Merseyside councils plus other organisations need to be doing is:

Campaign for a High Speed W6a or W10 train that is Channel Tunnel Compatible, perhaps as part of the on going Intercity Express Programme.

Urge Network Rail to upgrade Lime Street to take trains of a length that can currently use the tunnel and have the required facilities for international travellers.

Lobby for HS1 and HS2 to be directly connected.

Lobby for new franchises to offered for Liverpool-Paris and any other EU capital, so that Network rail is compelled to allow anyone who meets technical requirements to run a service.

That steps should be taken to allow charter services between Liverpool and points on continental Europe with only limited notice time, again subject to meeting technical requirements.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

ETCS etc

ERTMS European Rail Transport Management System Regional [online]. (2010) [Accessed 15 August 2010]. Available from:

Yet more ERTMS challenges ahead [online]. (2010) [Accessed 15 August 2010]. Available from: .

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Swords into Launch Vehicles

In order to get the best value from the Trident missiles, we no longer have a use needs to be found for them. Unsurprisingly this problem has occurred before but only actually solved by the Russians where they convert their out of date R-29 Vysota  into  Shtil' and Volna launch vehicles, which are capable of putting a small satellite into Orbit.  The Trident missiles have a greater range than the R-29 and this would translate into a larger payload. There is also Dnepr see Converted Russian ICBM Takes German Satellite Into Orbit

The Russian launches have been from still operational submarines but can be from land bases as the development launched of the Trident II missiles was conducted from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 46. If this option is used then some of the equipment on the rocket can be removed so increasing payload.

However a launch pad would need to be built. This is not as much a problem as it might appear, as you can see from the image the launch complex is not complicated. All that is needed is a convenient location.

Britain's previous launches have been from Woomera in Australia, which while an excellent launch site has the disadvantage of being at a high latitude. However one of the advantages of using a rocket designed for long term storage and quick use is that it is largely self contained, this would allow a relatively underdeveloped site to be used, preferably one near the equator. The UK possession of Ascension Island is ideally located at 8 degrees south and the facilities at RAF Ascension Island provide easy access and the needed communications facilities.

See Gunter's Space page

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Belfast V A400M

I've just been reading about the fiasco of the new European Airlift plane the A400M and was struck by the similarity to the Shorts Belfast. The Belfast was built in the 1970's but seem to be similar in all matters except for range and top end. Both of which would most likely be addressed by modern engines. So while it is impossible to guess at the cost of restarting manufacture surely it would make better sense for the UK to resurrect a capable 1970's aircraft that to line Boeing's pockets and buy more C-17's.
The delays in the A400M are put down to political interference by the people competing to own one. There is surely a need to change European arms purchases so that there is only one political master not several. Various European countries have no problem buying from the US and specifying detail changes. A way needs to be found to have a European ordering body that can speak with one authoritative voice if not an EU or NATO organisation than a single Defence Department. If the UK's MOD has been in charge of its own perhaps the aircraft would not have suited the Germans as well as the A400M was supposed to but it would have been better than no A400M. If the Germans had been in charge then the MOD would probably have grumbled. However the C-17 and the C-130 were designed without input from either and yet they happily fly them. So it should be possible for them to modify an aircraft designed to another specification even if that other is also European.