Saturday, 28 November 2015

GARL revived as light rail.

Having been cancelled due to budget cuts in 2009, the Glasgow Airport Rail Link looks set to be revived, but this time as a light railway:
I have several questions regarding the development:

  1. Will the "tram-train" be entirely grade separated, or will there be street-running?
  2. If there is street running, what will power the trains? 25kV AC is not really suitable for street running, so will it be battery-electric, dual voltage, diesel or even a Parry People Mover-style flywheel system?
  3. Will there be provision for freight (ie. Aviation fuel) to use the line? Prestwick airport gets its fuel by train. It makes sense for Glasgow to do the same.
I also hope there is an interchange at paisley Gilmour Street to serve passengers from Ayrshire. It would make no sense to have to go all the way into Glasgow Central to catch the train back out through Paisley again to get to the airport.
Edit: RailQwest are urging that GARL should be completed as heavy rail and not light rail. I fully agree with and support this stance.

P8 Poseidon fills capability gap.

Way back in the 1980s, the Ministry of Defence was trying to turn the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod into an Airborne Eartly Warning aircraft. After spending hundreds of millions of pounds trying to get the new radars to work, the project was cancelled and the government bought the Boeing E3 Sentry instead. However, the MoD apparently didn't learn the lesson. When the Nimrod MR2 became due for replacement in the 1990s, the Nimrod MRA4 programme was launched. This was to be a total rebuild of the MR2, with new engines, new wings and new avionics. However, fitting new wings to 50 year-old hand-built fuselages proved to be a problem. After spending many millions of pounds on the project, the government cancelled the MRA4 programme in 2010. However, this has left a bit gap in our Maritime Patrol capability. With Russian submarines carrying out incursions into British waters, something is needed to fill the gap. That something comes from the same source as the E3 Sentry; Boeing. The P8 Poseidon is designed to replace the ageing Lockheed P3 Orion. Poseidon is a brand new aircraft, based on the design of the popular 737 airliner. It will me much cheaper than MRA4, which begs the question, why did the government not purchase it in the first place, instead of wasting all that time on the MRA4? Probably because the P8 wasn't even in planning when MRA4 was proposed. Yes, the MRA4 was in development for so long that the P8 has gone from nothing to in service with the USA in less time than it took for BAe to rebuild the Nimrod.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Where's the dualling for the Highland main line?

A £3billion project has been started to dual the notorious A9 Perth-Inverness road, due for completion in 2025. This has been long campaigned-for by the road lobby, but is it really necessary? Yes the road is busy, but even in summer, it's not that busy. I've driven it many times and have never been stuck in traffic, except at road works. Meanwhile the parallel railway line is still single tracked in places and still features Victorian-era semaphore signalling. So where's the dualling for the Highland main line? If the railway was improved, it could take some of the traffic off the road, making it less busy and reducing the need for dualling, and it would also help the environment at the same time. The government should prioritise rail over road improvements to get people out of their cars (and freight off lorries) and onto trains.