Coronavirus

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the green mile
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Coronavirus

Post by the green mile » Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:00 am

Nobody has mentioned the dreaded C-word yet on this forum. I'm sure none of us will forget 2020 in a hurry but I thought it needs to be recorded for archive purposes here.

Interesting times in the railway industry. The powers that be must be carrying out a juggling act at the moment. Trying to cope with staff shortages due to sickness and self isolations balanced against reduced demand for travel including loss of revenue. The plus side, if there is one, must be a slight reduction in pollution from our predominantly diesel powered trains in this part of the world as they clock up less track miles.

I heard the other day that a mid-morning weekday service from Paddington to Bristol left London with just seven customers on board.

I know that my former colleagues at Temple Meads will be particularly at risk of infection due to the face to face nature of their job on the platforms. I sincerely hope that their task is not being made more onerous by receiving abuse from a frustrated travelling public.

Stay safe out there everyone!

Roy

Robin Summerhill
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:36 am

Re: Coronavirus

Post by Robin Summerhill » Sat Mar 21, 2020 11:45 am

the green mile wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:00 am
I heard the other day that a mid-morning weekday service from Paddington to Bristol left London with just seven customers on board.
I can well believe that based on my own recent experience, and that was before the thing got to the proportions it is apparently at now.

Last Tuesday week, 10th March, I landed back in the UK from Johannesburg at 0700. Making my way to Paddington on an advance HEX ticket (long story in itself) I examined my options for onward travel. Although I could have saved a few bob by waiting until off peak tickets were valid after 0930, I came down on the 0902 splittimg the ticket at Didcot from where off peak was available on that train.

As we pulled out of Paddington I noticed that I had a coach to myself, and initially thought that this was because this was the last mornig peak service. Now I'm not so sure. Nobody joined my coach at Reading (still a peak train from there) and two or three got on at Didcot and got off again at Swindon, to be replaced by another two or three in my coach.

And as I said, this was before everything steated to ratchet up at the end of last week.

the green mile
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: Coronavirus

Post by the green mile » Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:14 am

Glad to hear you arrived home safely Robin. I couldn't even contemplate being stuck inside an aircraft at the best of times let alone at present.

Thinking about my comment regarding diesel consumption, obviously the Train Operating Companies buy in their fuel from the big suppliers. In my time at the Marsh it came up from Esso at Fawley by rail tanker. But in the case of electric trains they tap into the juice from the national grid via the overhead lines. I'm wondering how the amount of power used is accounted for and paid for. I assume each traction unit does not have a meter on board which has to be read or downloaded. In these days of smart meters of course I could be wrong.

Thinking along similar lines, does anyone have an electric car yet? How do you pay for your charge and how does the cost per mile compare with fossil fuels? I'm intrigued by the concept of the fast charge but typically how long does it take compared with less than 5 minutes at a conventional forecourt fuel pump? I'm just thinking that without a large scale investment in charging points there could be potentially large queues as more of these cars replace internal combustion technology. I'm also wondering if rapid charging could reduce the overall life of the battery cell maybe due to generation of heat. If you do not have off road parking at home, how do you get around having to traipse an extension lead across the public footpath? I can see someone ending up in court because some unfortunate soul has tripped over it and injured themselves.

I'm not thinking of buying one yet. I usually wait a decade or so before launching myself into new technology. I love my big BMW diesel (with all the latest clean air technology) plus my small petrol car which might come in handy if I have to drive into Bristol once diesel vehicles are banned in a year or two. Ironically, I reckon the petrol car is more polluting than the diesel one but then it's probably a different form of pollution.

Roy

76026
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Re: Coronavirus

Post by 76026 » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:21 pm

Concerning cars, as I understand it diesel engine emissions are a greater threat to our respiratory health, while petrol engine emissions are a greater threat in terms of climate change.

Good question about how the electricity consumption of locomotives is calculated- I guess for regular trains it could be predictive based on train weights and schedules. Alternatively, might the Electrical control centres be able to collect voltage and current data from the power supply as a rain progresses along each section of the supply system?

the green mile
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: Coronavirus

Post by the green mile » Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:35 am

I suppose a predictive model could work but in practice there are a number of variables such as loading, driver technique, temporary speed restrictions, signal stops during disruption, air conditioning and heating demand.

Roy

76026
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:02 pm

Re: Coronavirus

Post by 76026 » Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:12 pm

Regarding electric traction costs, according to https://www.networkrail.co.uk/industry- ... operators/
‘In April 2010 some operators moved to metered electricity billing, also known as on-train metering (OTM), which means their charges are no longer based on modelled consumption rates, but instead are based on actual metered usage’. Ten years on, I wonder whether most or even all operators are now using OTM?

Going back to your original question, Roy…

Over recent months some employment sectors have seen a great move to online working at home, and to online meetings / conferences in place of face to face. These changes are saving commuters and employers a lot of money. If they endure after the virus has subsided, there will be fewer commuter journeys and fewer longer distance meeting / conference journeys by rail.

Might these reduction be sufficient to free up significant track capacity on the network? Could that be enough to undermine the case for HS2 (albeit perhaps too late as the government in February gave the go-ahead to more HS2 construction work)?

A significant economic slow-down is being predicted, as a consequence of the virus. If this does occur, I wonder what the implications will be for rail infrastructure improvements and extensions. Will the government invest in rail infrastructure to sustain employment and stimulate the economy? What chance Portishead, Henbury…

(The Loan Guarantees and Grants Act of 1929 was a response to the 1929 Depression – there’s a list of projects mentioned in Parliament in Hansard at https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hans ... act-1929-1 but it’s a bit vague. The entry for Bristol mentions road projects, and the GWR entry specifies money but not projects. The Didcot Railway Centre Wiki entry says that their shed had been funded by the Act. I’m sure I also recall being told that the Act had also funded improvements to the Berks & Hants, but can’t find any evidence of that online).

Coming back to the present, I wonder whether

- the reduced frequency of passenger services is making it easier to do non-urgent repairs / improvements to infrastructure and rolling stock?
- operators be semi-mothballing some stock or ensuring that all of it is used regularly, albeit less intensely than usual?
- all train crews will continue to be rostered albeit for shorter or less busy turns, to maintain their route and traction knowledge?
- the National Measurement Trains are running less frequently because track usage is reduced?

the green mile
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:00 am

Re: Coronavirus

Post by the green mile » Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:44 am

Some interesting thought there. Unfortunately I am not close enough to current operations to comment on what is actually happening.

You would like to think that the various hierarchies would be making best use of the opportunities that reduced services present.

Regarding staff and crews, I would not want significant numbers to be sitting around in mess rooms together for obvious reasons. There could be opportunities to progress route training for small numbers in the classroom and to absolutely get on top of periodic rules assessments. I wonder if the situation might self regulate if there are staff off self isolating.

Not sure about your thoughts regarding the NMT. It seems to run around the network to a schedule and I don't know if the requirement to test track is dependent on its usage.

With HS2, depending on what 'normal' is going to look like in future, it could seriously undermine the business case. In the meantime hopefully it will keep lots of people in the construction and materials sectors employed.

Robin Summerhill
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:36 am

Re: Coronavirus

Post by Robin Summerhill » Sat Apr 18, 2020 11:51 am

the green mile wrote:
Sat Apr 18, 2020 8:44 am
With HS2, depending on what 'normal' is going to look like in future, it could seriously undermine the business case. In the meantime hopefully it will keep lots of people in the construction and materials sectors employed.
As I have said on another forum recently, we are seeing a lot of commentators involved in what I call "bandwagen jumping" - taking whatver it is they don't like and using the pandemic as ammunition to support their views on various projects. For example, on BBC Points West a few weeks ago we had someone spouting that in view of covid 19, work shoulld stop on safety grounds on Hinckley C. Now this chappie just happened to be one of the "Stop Hinckley C" campaigners. Well well well, who'd a thunk it? :roll:

Likewise with HS2. There are many people running aroud at the moment saying that we should stop work on the project on safety grounds, or that the country can't afford it any more, or it won't now be needed in the future anyway. Perm any one reason from half a dozen and then look at who's saying it and what their motivation might be...

Whatever happens with covid 19, the economy of this country and indeed the rest of the world will be in an absolute shambles at the end of it. Forget the financial crash of 2008 - this will be more like the depression of the 1920s and 30s. Back then governments around the world stimulated their economies by building their way out of it, employing Keynesian economic theory. I cab see the sme thing happening this time as governments can borrow at historically low interest rates, and major construction projects, especially those that are likely to pay for thenselves in the long term, are going to be highly favoured by whatever government is in power.

We might even get the Dawlish cut off built, which we would have done in the 30s or 40s had it not been for a jumped up WW1 corporal who started throwing his weight about. I suppose we ought to hope that we don't find that part of history repeating itself, although there is supposed to be an election in America in November...

Andy Kirkham
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2019 12:44 pm

Re: Coronavirus

Post by Andy Kirkham » Sat Apr 18, 2020 1:55 pm

In case you haven't heard about it, I'd like to spread the word about this app created by King's College London which allows people to report their own Covid-19 symptoms or the lack of them. https://covid.joinzoe.com/

Analysis of data obtained so far has produced a very striking result in the form of an estimate of the number of people (in Britain) with symptomatic Covid-19 on each day. According to their estimates, the peak was reached on April 2nd with a figure of about 2 million - way, way above official figures derived from testing - and this has fallen by about 70% to date.

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