I’m all for freight traffic to be on the railways, even if it sometimes means that noisy and smelly freight trains pass through residential areas. But on the plus side, I’ve seen how rail improvements connecting the Port of Ferlixstowe to the wider rail network, has taken so much traffic off the busy A14. It is my belief, that one of the best ways to increase motorway capacity, is to remove as much long distance freight as possible.
‘Ports play a crucial part in DB Schenker Rail’s growth strategy and we are delighted to bring rail back to Port of Sunderland.
It will be interesting to see how busy this rail link becomes in the next few years.
Increasingly, these last mile rail links are being created or renewed. The only losers are probably the drivers of heavy good vehicles.
This small rail link has been renewed in an area that could see a lot of development in the next few years. This Google Earth map shows the rough route of the rail link along the coast.
Sunderland Port is marked by the two curved breakwaters at the top and the link joins the Durham Coast Line that runs from Newcastle via Sunderland and Hartlepool to Middlesbrough, at Ryhope Grange junction, which is near to the marked McDonalds.
The Durham Coast Line has an hourly service between Newcastle and Middlesbrough and also connects various ports and sites to the rail freight network. It is also used by Grand Central services between Sunderland and London and as a diversionary route for the East Coast Main Line. Local groups are also keen that the line be upgraded with a better passenger service between the Tyne, Wear and Tees areas.
In a sane world, this line would be a prime candidate for electrification linked to the East Coast Main Line at Newcastle and Darlington. A few points.
1. It would be an important electrified diversion for the increasingly crowded East Coast Main Line.
2. I suspect Grand Central and other East Coast Main Line operators are pushing for this electrification, as it would enable direct high speed services between Newcastle and London via Sunderland, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.
3. After the completed electrification of the Trans-Pennine routes, it would also improve services from towns and cities not on the East Coast Main Line to the western side of the Pennines.
However full electrification is probably not possible as the northern part of the line has been electrified for the Newcastle Metro to a different standard. But the new passenger trains like the Class 800 and new freight locomotives like the Class 88, would just switch to their on-board diesel power,
As an aside here, Tees Valley Metro, is being developed around Middlesbrough, in rather a stop-go fashion. Surely if the Durham Coast Line is electrified and that electrification is extended to Darlington and then perhaps on the Tees Valley Line to Bishops Auckland to serve both the National Railway Museum at Shildon and the Hitachi train factory at Newton Aycliffe. It would seem a bit mad to build a large factory to make electric trains and then have to haul them in-and-out with a diesel locomotive.
If nothing else, all of these options prove to me, that the North East should have a similar sort of autonomy as Greater Manchester is getting. That would enable the area to bring together all of the ideas about extending the transport system.
Looking at Wikipedia’s list of proposed rail infrastructure projects, these are in the North East.
It’s not a long list. Other areas south of Hadrian’s Wall, like Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Merseyside and Manchester have much better developed plans on the drawing board, even if they know some will be a long time coming.
I wonder if Department of Transport officials when talking to representatives from the North East, say to them, you’ve got an electrified railway to London, the Tyne and Wear Metro, rebuilding of Newcastle station and a brand new train factory, so what more do you want?
Surely, local elected representatives should decide what is best value to the communities they serve. No-one based outside an area, can ever know all of the subtle local reasons, why things should or should not be done. As an example, Greater Anglia’s stations in East London are managed from Norwich. I don’t think they manage them very well and not for good reason are most being put under the care of Transport for London.
Most transport in the North East should be under the control of a single body, so that the limited finances available will be better allocated.
I went with a friend to see the tall ships moored in London for the Tall Ships Race 2014.
We started at Canary Wharf, then moved on to Woolwich, before going to Greenwich.
To avoid the crush, we escaped under the river, using the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, before finally taking a look at the ships from the North Bank.
You can’t avoid the shipyard in Gdansk, as the cranes are a massive presence over the city, which I had seen as I took the train in from Sodot. After walking the city centre, I took a tram to see the memorial at the shipyard to 42 or more workers killed in 1970.
Everybody should visit the birthplace of Solidarity and one of those iconic places that mark the start of the downfall of the First Soviet Empire. It might make us more wary about what is happening on Russia’s borders today.
This article on the BBC’s web site talks about robot cargo ships.
A a control engineer, I can’t see any reason, why this will not be the norm in a few years time.
One of the reasons, I went to Stockholm was to see the Vasa.
I first heard about the ship in my teens, when it was raised from the floor of Stockholm Harbour. The techniques of raising the ship were also detailed in the Meccano Magazine.
It will be interesting to see how the Vasa compares with the Mary Rose.
I must have spent about three hours wandering around the museum and afterwards I felt a lot better, as the humidity in the museum was about 60% to keep the ship [preserved.
Now that the Mary Rose museum has opened in Portsmouth, it has given me a suggestion about where to go next week.
As I’m also going to see the Vasa in Stockholm later next month, it will be an interesting comparison.
I took these pictures of the cruise ship; The World at Greenwich.
It would be good to see it go downriver from somewhere like Barrier Park.
I had actually gone over the cable-car to see if I could get a good picture of the cruise liner; The World. This was the best I got.
It has been reported that Greenwich is going to get a new berth for cruise ships, which will be nearer to the cable-car.
This story from the BBC web site is more significant than you think. Here’s the introduction.
The Norwegian government has backed an ambitious plan to create the world’s first ship tunnel. But why has nobody tackled this engineering feat before?
At 45m high (148ft) and 36m (111ft) wide, the Stad Ship Tunnel will be the only one of its kind – a passage through solid rock able to accommodate 16,000 tonne freight and passenger ships.
Ship canals have long been used to make journeys more direct and safer but the Stad peninsula is a mountainous divide, peaking at 645m, between the Norwegian Sea to the north and the North Sea to the south.
it may or may not go ahead, but it does show how confident engineers and tunnellers are in their hole digging.
And that is the significance of the story!
Crossrail in London is being dug in soft ground, but it shows how by-passes can be created under London with relative ease.
We shall be seeing a lot more tunnels in the next few decades, as the technology is just getting better every year.