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Train blogging is back!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 06:52:53 PM EST
hooray

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 09:24:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Always love your train blogging DoDo. Your political analysis is also insightful.

Paul

Paul Gipe

by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 09:28:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Herrmann backs Brenner Base Tunnel link - Railway Gazette

To date around 22% of the 230 km of tunnel bores has been completed. Finance for the base tunnel is also secure, with Austria and Italy each contributing 30% of the cost and the European Union the remaining 40%. The rate of progress is now focusing attention on southern Germany and Italy under pressure, as failure to improve the approach routes would jeopardise the success of the project.

Herrmann's commitment will be tested over the coming months as the planned addition of two tracks from München to Kufstein on the Austrian border, either parallel to the existing main line or on a nearby alignment, has already stirred up fierce opposition. Planners hope to reach a consensus on a viable and acceptable route within three years, although planning and construction are expected to take at least another 20 years.

Germany's inability to do major infrastructure projects properly strikes again.

On that subject, on the occasion of the opening of the  Gotthard Base Tunnel, Süddeutsche posted an article titled (translated) What Germans can learn from the Swiss. The long article is more blank amazement at how different things go in Switzerland than in-depth analysis, but it does mention three significant factors: wide consultation at the planning phase, willingness to give something (mitigation measures, parallel projects) to those who don't benefit from the project, and separate funds for project finance instead of dependence on annual central budgets.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jun 16th, 2016 at 03:22:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Southern Railway is failing customers again and again. That's why I spoke out | David Boyle | Opinion | The Guardian

...what can you do if nobody is paying any attention because this isn't happening in the metropolis? What do you do when the investigative journalists have mostly disappeared, along with the trains?

It isn't as if I have any great expertise in the railway world. I was just equipped with a strong sense that the phrase "temporary staff shortages" which accompany every cancellation wasn't the full story.

A conversation with rail staff confirmed this, so I posted a blog about it, and within three days it had been read by 40,000 people (it is now more 85,000 across two posts). When it reached 2,000, nearly 10 times the number who usually read what I write, I felt chuffed. As the figures rose, I began to feel unnerved.

Then the messages began to pour in, on email and Twitter, some anonymous, some logical, some incoherent with rage; there were leaked memos, quotes, facts, messages from company directors motionless at Clapham Junction, from guards, drivers and administrators. One platform staff member said they had just resigned after another horrendous shift being shouted at by furious passengers. I had a poignant message from a disabled passenger unable to travel because he could no longer phone ahead to ask for a ramp when the trains never arrived.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 21st, 2016 at 09:12:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the story with the postponement of the London-Frankfurt/Cologne service? I thought that was more or less a done deal

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 09:25:48 AM EST
There were multiple foreseeable issues which German Rail (DB) failed to foresee and which together made it uneconomic:
  • The service would have crossed the Schengen border, requiring DB to arrange for border controls and customs at significant cost (including infrastructure at stations).
  • The trains earmarked for the service (Siemens Velaro D) should have been equipped with extra safety equipment at significant cost (also in extra weight).
  • Commissioning of the Velaros for Belgium and France (for existing services currently operated with older ICE3 trains) was problematic enough, also at significant cost.
  • DB doesn't have all that many high-speed trains and realised it needs more for domestic service.

As for the new Eurostar trains, they aren't suited for the electrification system in Germany.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 11:34:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, in Sweden, we just last year could celebrate the inauguration of the tunnel below Hallandsås.

Reaching just 8.7 kilometers, it was finished 23 years after the construction started, and 18 years after the initial finishing date. The cost was eleven times the initial budget and the construction was plagued by environmental problems, leading to prsecution of executives and civil servants. Three executives were found guilty of environmental crimes and fined. Also corporate fines were issued.

But at least we have a tunnel now.

by fjallstrom on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 03:27:17 PM EST
Yeah, a top contender for the tunnelling Hall of Shame. Meanwhile, Stockholm's Citybanan tunnel was built without significant environmental damage, cost increases or major delays, but was plagued by serious work accidents.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 04:13:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Up there with the cancelling of the urgently needed second rail tunnel under the Hudson, that was cancelled by Christie, presumably to increase his Republican credentials for the Presidency. Such a waste; all he got out of it was a job picking up McDonald's orders for Trump.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 04:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about Seattle?
Most charming is the financial setup [...] The 2009 tunnel law passed by the City Council specifically says Seattle taxpayers will only pay the $937 million that they have already offered up. But [new] state law says Seattle taxpayers are on the hook for overruns [...] the project gets underway in 2011, scheduled to be done in late 2015.

In July 2013, they bring in Bertha, the largest tunnel-boring machine in the world, built specifically for the project by the Hitachi Zosen Corporation.

[...]  a thousand feet in -- one-tenth of the way through its journey -- it grinds to a halt.

No one knows why. For months. It eventually emerges that the machine itself is broken and no one is quite sure how to fix it, or how long it will take. What broke it? Turns out Bertha ran into a large steel pipe that was left there by a WSDOT [contractor] in
2002
[...]

Funny story: Bertha has no reverse gear. There's no way to back it out [...] as water is pumped out, the surrounding land has started settling, unevenly, cracking streets and threatening nearby buildings and the viaduct itself.

Bertha was pretty broken. It is drilling again from last November, now delicately under the viaduct highway it is replacing.
by das monde on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 12:21:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There has never been a serious proposal to tunnel the Irish sea, and now the prospect of Brexit makes that even more unlikely!

The Dublin Holyhead route (100km) is the one that makes the most sense, but even that would require major rail infrastructure upgrades on both the Welsh and Irish sides - gauge standardisation, electrification, and capacity increases.

In addition, the Irish transport infrastructure is very road and air based, with a very underdeveloped rail sector.

The sea is relatively shallow, so I don't know if there would be major geological risk factors or cost factors that might come into play.

The government is now very capital investment averse and the public/private partnerships used to build some motorways have gone out of fashion - so private capital is unlikely to be forthcoming.

All in all, probably 0% chance of this progressing much over the next 10 years - unless oil prices go up so much as to make other modes of transport much more expensive.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 03:34:45 PM EST
That would be a perfect stop on the London to NY Hyperloop.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 09:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would make sense as a destination for HS2.

I wonder if the old Tethys sea salt beds extend to Ireland. That'd be a relatively benign stratum to tunnel through. Although, you'd have to design the tunnel walls to resist salt degradation.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 02:54:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not an engineer, but from the geologist perspective I'd not be keen to tunnel through salt strata - salt deposits deform quickly...
by Bjinse on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 06:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found the following article on Irish Sea seabed geology:

Geology of the seabed and shallow subsurface: the Irish Sea - NERC Open Research Archive

...Seabed sediments are subdivided into regions of soft mud- (clay and silt) rich sediment in the eastern and western Irish Sea and a central gravel belt comprising coarse sand and gravel. Small areas of bedrock outcrop at seabed are also recognised.

...Very stiff diamicts (glacial `boulder clays' or tills) are present across most of the report area of variable thickness.

...The predominant bedrock lithologies in the report area are Triassic and Carboniferous sandstone and mudstone. Geotechnical properties of Triassic rocks are comparable and potentially predictable. Carboniferous rock show high lateral and vertical variability. There are a number of igneous intrusions in the report area and rock properties near to the location of these igneous bodies may differ due to alteration of the host rock during intrusion.

What does this mean for a tunnel? For example, are any of these water-impermeable?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 02:02:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As a rule of thumb, most metamorphic and igneous rocks  as well as densely packed mud- and sandstones are poorly permeable - for as long they aren't fractured.

I didn't know before, but I see that the Chunnel was drilled largely through chalks from the Cretaceous, and the heavily fractured chalks on the French side caused a challenge to contain the influx of high pressurized water. That certainly does not sound ideal, though I guess the technology then was already available to sort that out.

As for the geology of the bedrock in the Irish sea, it indeed looks like it's older - mostly Triassic, Permian and Carboniferous sand- and mudstones, with some younger igneous intrusions. I'll repeat that I'm not an engineer, but from a first perspective, that sounds nearly ideal compared to drilling through chalks. Chances are high that the rocks will only be lowly permeable.

Furthermore, if you follow the link and look at Figure 2, it looks like the lithologies are continuous underneath the sea. That also sounds a lot more ideal to me than tunneling through a heavily fractured and compacted mess, like the Gotthard Base, which sounds like it was practically packed with geologic challenges.

So at the back of an envelope, chances and cost risks actually look pretty decent for a tunnel underneath the Irish sea.

by Bjinse on Wed Jun 15th, 2016 at 06:22:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the overview!

Regarding the Chunnel, IIRC the problem was that from prior research, the chalk was expected to be continuous and non-fractured on the French side and fractured at the English end, but in practice, the opposite was found to be true.

Regarding the GBT, this was exciting to follow when they built it. From the engineering viepoint, the two biggest challenges expected in advance both proved easier to master:

  • A water-bearing, weak (crushed rock), but very deep ( > high pressure) zone in the south. Before the rest of the tunnel, a test drill was advanced into this area. Amazingly, just a hundred or two metres above the base tunnel's level, the zone became transformed rock which was water-impermeable and easier to drill.
  • In the north, there was a zone of compressive rock ( the tunnel closes up), also very deep in the mountain. At the time the GBT was planned, there was no tried method for dealing with compressive rock with such high pressures, so the solution (steel segments which lock as the rock around them contracts) was a bit of a gamble (some experts thought it won't work). It worked without a hitch.

Instead of these expected challenging zones, the most problematic zone was unexpected asbestos-bearing and/or longitudinally sheared rocks right at the site of the most complex structure, the southern emergency station; as well as right behind the launch cavern of the tunnel boring machines near the southern portal. This caused more than a year of delay.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jun 15th, 2016 at 08:19:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sounds good, all we need is a compelling reason to do it.

I'd wager it'd be far better value for money than a trident replacement

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jun 15th, 2016 at 02:24:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there are two related factors which could make this feasible:

  1. If Brexit doesn't happen and the EU takes a strategic view that anything like a UK Ireland tunnel which will increase economic integration would be a good thing.

  2. If low cost finance is made available via the EIB or whatever.  A project like this is probably only feasible if the interest rate on finance is close to the rate of inflation - i.e. near zero real interest costs.

Presumably there are long term energy and climate change savings associated with a tunnel compared to air and sea transport which could be used to justify the preferential interest rate regime.

My only other concern would be the risk of bottlenecks in the London area if you are trying to route passengers and freight from Ireland to continental Europe.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jun 15th, 2016 at 07:06:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, freight doesn't belong on high speed lines anyway, so it'd be routed around south of london on the existing freight routes from Ashford across to Reading.

Passengers would change at St Pancras for a new line through to Ireland. A big problem is that the best route is heavily opposed by nimbys in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

The big problem in the UK is that the current plan for HS2 is just stupid and diverts attention from the more logical E Midlands route along the old Gt Central. This affords many options for branching off to the west.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 20th, 2016 at 09:21:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are there freight lines permitting UIC loading gauge wagons around London? If not, do you think there is a line where clearance can be increased at little cost? (UIC loading gauge freight currently gets to London via HS1.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 21st, 2016 at 09:11:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think so, although most of the old Great Western (ex-broad gauge) would probably be upgraded quite easily.

But the advantage of using the Great Central is that, even tho it was shut by Beeching, large amounts of the basic infrastructure is still in place and it was built close to UIC standard.

however, the section south of London is mostly under-used and so renovation work wouldn't be too much of an inconvenience.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jun 21st, 2016 at 12:33:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Brenner tunnel has different slopes on the Austrian and Italian sides. I gather that the reason was Italian fear of damage to the water table if the peak was anywhere other than at the border, but I've no idea if the danger was a real one.

You can get a guided tour of the work in progress. I hope to take it someday Meanwhile, here is a picture of an access tunnel taken from the train

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 03:58:53 PM EST
The Brenner tunnel has different slopes on the Austrian and Italian sides.

I don't know myself if it has anything to do with the water table, but AFAIK? different slopes on the two sides is pretty standard. Both the old Gotthard Tunnel and the GBT have different slopes from the north and south.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jun 13th, 2016 at 04:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The opening ceremony glaringly tried to fit a satanistic ritual, apparently an increasingly frequent narrative in big spectacles.

by das monde on Tue Jun 14th, 2016 at 12:43:30 AM EST
From your second link:

The Opening Ceremony of the World's Largest Tunnel Was a Bizarre Occult Ritual - The Vigilant Citizen - Symbols Rule the World

As I discussed in my article on the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, the occult elite enjoys putting on full display its agenda and philosophy symbolic, dramatic displays which are reminiscent of dramas re-enacted in secret society rituals. Furthermore, there is no better way to showcase sheer power than putting the "Illuminati stamp of approval" on massive mega-projects such as the Olympics or major constructions.

LOL!

Different madman, different paranoia: a leader of the right-populist SVP identified one element of the performance as Muslim dervishes and expressed outrage. The federal government wrote a three-line reply, stating that all the fantastic figures were modelled on local legends and the "dervishes" were dancing haystacks.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jun 15th, 2016 at 08:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any chance of a tunnel from Ireland to France bypassing the UK?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 04:50:25 PM EST
From Brest, France, to Cork, Republic of Ireland: 482 km (300 miles); probably more because you'll have to skirt the Isles of Scilly and British territorial waters; so, not very likely...
by Bernard (bernard) on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 06:50:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Isles of Scilly voted Remain, so maybe you can get them to stay in the EU.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Jun 24th, 2016 at 07:13:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
probably better to go to Scotland form NI and then cut and cover trench across the soft muds of the N Sea.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 27th, 2016 at 07:00:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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