Why not diesel

First published in Letters

THE ONGOING spat between Westminster and Cardiff (Argus, April 8) over who pays for the electrification of the Valleys railways would normally make good “knockabout” politics, except for the millions required to see the project through.

But is conversion to electric really necessary?

The work covering the whole system between Paddington, Swansea and the Valleys will cause several years’ disruption; and the power required 24 hours a day to keep those trains running would be enough to supply a small town, which is certain to be sourced by a conventional power station using fossil fuels.

Will it be reliable or secure? On March 25 the Daily Mail published a story about Nottingham City’s tram system failing because of severe frost affecting the overhead cables carrying the current.

If electric delivered by cable can fail that easily, then surely it would be much safer, cheaper and quicker to upgrade the existing diesel stock, and it wouldn’t interrupt the railway timetables.

Mr A. Greenhalgh Ross Street Newport

Comments (9)

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10:43am Wed 16 Apr 14

Bobevans says...

Modern diesels on short local rail lines are pretty much as efficient as electric. The sensible way forward would be for them to be hybrid so they can run on electric on the electrified section between Newport and Cardiff and on diesel on the rest

Hybrid Trolleybuses are another option for short local lines . These have the advantage that they can serve the towns better as most stations tend to be on the outskirts so require a car or bus ride to get to the station
Modern diesels on short local rail lines are pretty much as efficient as electric. The sensible way forward would be for them to be hybrid so they can run on electric on the electrified section between Newport and Cardiff and on diesel on the rest Hybrid Trolleybuses are another option for short local lines . These have the advantage that they can serve the towns better as most stations tend to be on the outskirts so require a car or bus ride to get to the station Bobevans
  • Score: -2

12:12am Sun 20 Apr 14

mocyoung says...

A few points from a genuine railwayman and not a gifted amateur:

Conversion to electric is a necessity for many reasons - not least the impending crisis in fossil fuel production in the next few decades.

Electric trains cost significantly less to run for the TOC (Arriva):
Diesel vehicle: 116.8 pence per mile (60p maintenance, 47p fuel, 9.8p track cost)
Electric vehicle: 74.5 pence per mile (40p + 26p + 8.5)
e.g. fare money will go further.

Electric trains have faster acceleration than diesel trains which means you can run more trains in a shorter amount of time (more acceleration = less time taken to run between stations).

Electric trains have fewer moving parts (one motor, basically), are quieter and smoother and don't need an engine under every carriage.

The "disruption" as you call it (i.e. weekend closures with bus replacements, oh so tragic!) will last for at most 4 years, and not all at once. The infrastructure improvements will make life easier for the next generation. Not only that, but the cascaded electric trains will have more capacity and, because of the aforementioned acceleration improvement, will be able to run more frequently.

The power may run 24 hours a day, but it is only used when it is demanded. It comes from the National Grid and is supplied at a cost, like any utility. Don't suppose you have a problem with the diesel engines using precious Welsh water for coolant do you?

There is simply no way to further upgrade the existing BR-era diesel stock in the Arriva fleet. The Class 142s and 143s are non-disability compliant and must be withdrawn by 2019. The 150s and 153s also do not have disabled toilets or air conditioning and run at a maximum of 75mph. Their slightly more speedy stablemate Class 158s have just had a massive regeneration in order to run primarily on the non-electrified ERTMS-signalled Cambrian line. Add to that the fact that everything apart from the Class 175s in the Arriva fleet dumps their toilet waste onto the trackbed and you have one of the most elderly but well maintained fleet in the business. Canton Depot work wonders and have won awards rightly for their efforts.

As for who should shoulder the cost - well, rail infrastructure has not been devolved. Westminster should shoulder the cost, simple as. Otherwise they can stop taking our tax money to fund improvements to the railway in England.
A few points from a genuine railwayman and not a gifted amateur: Conversion to electric is a necessity for many reasons - not least the impending crisis in fossil fuel production in the next few decades. Electric trains cost significantly less to run for the TOC (Arriva): Diesel vehicle: 116.8 pence per mile (60p maintenance, 47p fuel, 9.8p track cost) Electric vehicle: 74.5 pence per mile (40p + 26p + 8.5) e.g. fare money will go further. Electric trains have faster acceleration than diesel trains which means you can run more trains in a shorter amount of time (more acceleration = less time taken to run between stations). Electric trains have fewer moving parts (one motor, basically), are quieter and smoother and don't need an engine under every carriage. The "disruption" as you call it (i.e. weekend closures with bus replacements, oh so tragic!) will last for at most 4 years, and not all at once. The infrastructure improvements will make life easier for the next generation. Not only that, but the cascaded electric trains will have more capacity and, because of the aforementioned acceleration improvement, will be able to run more frequently. The power may run 24 hours a day, but it is only used when it is demanded. It comes from the National Grid and is supplied at a cost, like any utility. Don't suppose you have a problem with the diesel engines using precious Welsh water for coolant do you? There is simply no way to further upgrade the existing BR-era diesel stock in the Arriva fleet. The Class 142s and 143s are non-disability compliant and must be withdrawn by 2019. The 150s and 153s also do not have disabled toilets or air conditioning and run at a maximum of 75mph. Their slightly more speedy stablemate Class 158s have just had a massive regeneration in order to run primarily on the non-electrified ERTMS-signalled Cambrian line. Add to that the fact that everything apart from the Class 175s in the Arriva fleet dumps their toilet waste onto the trackbed and you have one of the most elderly but well maintained fleet in the business. Canton Depot work wonders and have won awards rightly for their efforts. As for who should shoulder the cost - well, rail infrastructure has not been devolved. Westminster should shoulder the cost, simple as. Otherwise they can stop taking our tax money to fund improvements to the railway in England. mocyoung
  • Score: 3

8:29am Sun 20 Apr 14

Bobevans says...

Modern diesel trains are almost as efficient as electric. The difference is about 10% and that's more than offset by the savings in not having overhead lines to construct and maintain. Electric trains use fossil fuels

contrary to what you claim infrastructure for lines wholly operating within Wales are devolved hence Westminster will fund the electrification of the London to Swansea line but not the local lines
Modern diesel trains are almost as efficient as electric. The difference is about 10% and that's more than offset by the savings in not having overhead lines to construct and maintain. Electric trains use fossil fuels contrary to what you claim infrastructure for lines wholly operating within Wales are devolved hence Westminster will fund the electrification of the London to Swansea line but not the local lines Bobevans
  • Score: 0

12:44pm Sun 20 Apr 14

pwlldu says...

Bring the fares down.
Bring the fares down. pwlldu
  • Score: -2

8:03pm Sun 20 Apr 14

mocyoung says...

Bobevans wrote:
Modern diesel trains are almost as efficient as electric. The difference is about 10% and that's more than offset by the savings in not having overhead lines to construct and maintain. Electric trains use fossil fuels

contrary to what you claim infrastructure for lines wholly operating within Wales are devolved hence Westminster will fund the electrification of the London to Swansea line but not the local lines
Yeah...you've not really read what I've said have you? Let's try again. The TOC (that leases and runs the trains, at present Arriva) *doesn't* maintain the overhead lines. What they do is buy the fuel and track access. Electric trains represent a 13% saving in up front costs for the TOC immediately.

Electric trains use electricity generated by a number of sources, which can include fossil fuels granted, but *also* renewable energy and nuclear power. Diesel trains only run on carbon-based fossil fuels, nothing else.
Justine Greening, Westminster Transport Secretary: "We all know that diesel is massively expensive so if we can move over to electric trains, not only are they greener, they're also cheaper and also they are lighter too, so what that means is that when they are on the track they don't damage it so much, so maintenance costs go down too."

As for rail infrastructure funding in Wales coming from Westminster, let me quote the Dear Leader himself, David Cameron, in an interview with BBC Wales in October 2013: "It's this government that's putting the money into the electrification of the railway line all the way up to Swansea and, of course, the Valley lines." - quite clearly he wants to take credit for it.

Furthermore, Justine Greening (Westminster transport sec.) said in a letter to Welsh transport minister Carl Sargent that the "infrastructure investment" was "by Network Rail". Network Rail isn't devolved to Wales, it is a UK-wide body.

Welsh Secretary David Jones has also been making noises about Valleys electrification being a Westminster-led initiative.

So it seems the Tories want to take the credit while desperately finding ways to squirrel the costs away to Cardiff Bay. Work that one out.
[quote][p][bold]Bobevans[/bold] wrote: Modern diesel trains are almost as efficient as electric. The difference is about 10% and that's more than offset by the savings in not having overhead lines to construct and maintain. Electric trains use fossil fuels contrary to what you claim infrastructure for lines wholly operating within Wales are devolved hence Westminster will fund the electrification of the London to Swansea line but not the local lines[/p][/quote]Yeah...you've not really read what I've said have you? Let's try again. The TOC (that leases and runs the trains, at present Arriva) *doesn't* maintain the overhead lines. What they do is buy the fuel and track access. Electric trains represent a 13% saving in up front costs for the TOC immediately. Electric trains use electricity generated by a number of sources, which can include fossil fuels granted, but *also* renewable energy and nuclear power. Diesel trains only run on carbon-based fossil fuels, nothing else. Justine Greening, Westminster Transport Secretary: "We all know that diesel is massively expensive so if we can move over to electric trains, not only are they greener, they're also cheaper and also they are lighter too, so what that means is that when they are on the track they don't damage it so much, so maintenance costs go down too." As for rail infrastructure funding in Wales coming from Westminster, let me quote the Dear Leader himself, David Cameron, in an interview with BBC Wales in October 2013: "It's this government that's putting the money into the electrification of the railway line all the way up to Swansea and, of course, the Valley lines." - quite clearly he wants to take credit for it. Furthermore, Justine Greening (Westminster transport sec.) said in a letter to Welsh transport minister Carl Sargent that the "infrastructure investment" was "by Network Rail". Network Rail isn't devolved to Wales, it is a UK-wide body. Welsh Secretary David Jones has also been making noises about Valleys electrification being a Westminster-led initiative. So it seems the Tories want to take the credit while desperately finding ways to squirrel the costs away to Cardiff Bay. Work that one out. mocyoung
  • Score: 2

8:03pm Sun 20 Apr 14

mocyoung says...

Bobevans wrote:
Modern diesel trains are almost as efficient as electric. The difference is about 10% and that's more than offset by the savings in not having overhead lines to construct and maintain. Electric trains use fossil fuels

contrary to what you claim infrastructure for lines wholly operating within Wales are devolved hence Westminster will fund the electrification of the London to Swansea line but not the local lines
Yeah...you've not really read what I've said have you? Let's try again. The TOC (that leases and runs the trains, at present Arriva) *doesn't* maintain the overhead lines. What they do is buy the fuel and track access. Electric trains represent a 13% saving in up front costs for the TOC immediately.

Electric trains use electricity generated by a number of sources, which can include fossil fuels granted, but *also* renewable energy and nuclear power. Diesel trains only run on carbon-based fossil fuels, nothing else.
Justine Greening, Westminster Transport Secretary: "We all know that diesel is massively expensive so if we can move over to electric trains, not only are they greener, they're also cheaper and also they are lighter too, so what that means is that when they are on the track they don't damage it so much, so maintenance costs go down too."

As for rail infrastructure funding in Wales coming from Westminster, let me quote the Dear Leader himself, David Cameron, in an interview with BBC Wales in October 2013: "It's this government that's putting the money into the electrification of the railway line all the way up to Swansea and, of course, the Valley lines." - quite clearly he wants to take credit for it.

Furthermore, Justine Greening (Westminster transport sec.) said in a letter to Welsh transport minister Carl Sargent that the "infrastructure investment" was "by Network Rail". Network Rail isn't devolved to Wales, it is a UK-wide body.

Welsh Secretary David Jones has also been making noises about Valleys electrification being a Westminster-led initiative.

So it seems the Tories want to take the credit while desperately finding ways to squirrel the costs away to Cardiff Bay. Work that one out.
[quote][p][bold]Bobevans[/bold] wrote: Modern diesel trains are almost as efficient as electric. The difference is about 10% and that's more than offset by the savings in not having overhead lines to construct and maintain. Electric trains use fossil fuels contrary to what you claim infrastructure for lines wholly operating within Wales are devolved hence Westminster will fund the electrification of the London to Swansea line but not the local lines[/p][/quote]Yeah...you've not really read what I've said have you? Let's try again. The TOC (that leases and runs the trains, at present Arriva) *doesn't* maintain the overhead lines. What they do is buy the fuel and track access. Electric trains represent a 13% saving in up front costs for the TOC immediately. Electric trains use electricity generated by a number of sources, which can include fossil fuels granted, but *also* renewable energy and nuclear power. Diesel trains only run on carbon-based fossil fuels, nothing else. Justine Greening, Westminster Transport Secretary: "We all know that diesel is massively expensive so if we can move over to electric trains, not only are they greener, they're also cheaper and also they are lighter too, so what that means is that when they are on the track they don't damage it so much, so maintenance costs go down too." As for rail infrastructure funding in Wales coming from Westminster, let me quote the Dear Leader himself, David Cameron, in an interview with BBC Wales in October 2013: "It's this government that's putting the money into the electrification of the railway line all the way up to Swansea and, of course, the Valley lines." - quite clearly he wants to take credit for it. Furthermore, Justine Greening (Westminster transport sec.) said in a letter to Welsh transport minister Carl Sargent that the "infrastructure investment" was "by Network Rail". Network Rail isn't devolved to Wales, it is a UK-wide body. Welsh Secretary David Jones has also been making noises about Valleys electrification being a Westminster-led initiative. So it seems the Tories want to take the credit while desperately finding ways to squirrel the costs away to Cardiff Bay. Work that one out. mocyoung
  • Score: 2

5:38pm Mon 21 Apr 14

pwlldu says...

Both Labour and Tory governments takes credit but fail to fund the project.
Both Labour and Tory governments takes credit but fail to fund the project. pwlldu
  • Score: 0

11:58am Tue 22 Apr 14

Good Job No Kids says...

Whether the trains be diesel or electric I would still drive my car anyway. It's cheaper, more comfortable, quicker, private, more flexible, leaves when I want, goes where I need to go etc.

Other than central London there is little incentive or real need to use public transport. Further investment in highways would be much more welcome considering the state of road surfaces today and that road users actually pay a road fund license.
Whether the trains be diesel or electric I would still drive my car anyway. It's cheaper, more comfortable, quicker, private, more flexible, leaves when I want, goes where I need to go etc. Other than central London there is little incentive or real need to use public transport. Further investment in highways would be much more welcome considering the state of road surfaces today and that road users actually pay a road fund license. Good Job No Kids
  • Score: -3

1:36am Fri 25 Apr 14

mocyoung says...

Good Job No Kids wrote:
Whether the trains be diesel or electric I would still drive my car anyway. It's cheaper, more comfortable, quicker, private, more flexible, leaves when I want, goes where I need to go etc.

Other than central London there is little incentive or real need to use public transport. Further investment in highways would be much more welcome considering the state of road surfaces today and that road users actually pay a road fund license.
Public transport allows you to do many things a car doesn't. It gives people aged under 17 personal freedom. It allows disabled and blind people to travel. You can use your phone, do work, use a computer. Read a book, watch a movie on your iTablet thingy. You can legally have an alcoholic drink, have a snooze and wake up at your destination. You can travel over 70mph.

If there is no need for public transport outside of London, how come 11 million passengers passed through Cardiff Central last year? 2 million went through Newport. You're talking rubbish man.

There has been no direct link between Vehicle Excise Duty and highway upkeep since 1937. Roads are cared for from general taxation as VED doesn't raise enough revenue to maintain highways.
[quote][p][bold]Good Job No Kids[/bold] wrote: Whether the trains be diesel or electric I would still drive my car anyway. It's cheaper, more comfortable, quicker, private, more flexible, leaves when I want, goes where I need to go etc. Other than central London there is little incentive or real need to use public transport. Further investment in highways would be much more welcome considering the state of road surfaces today and that road users actually pay a road fund license.[/p][/quote]Public transport allows you to do many things a car doesn't. It gives people aged under 17 personal freedom. It allows disabled and blind people to travel. You can use your phone, do work, use a computer. Read a book, watch a movie on your iTablet thingy. You can legally have an alcoholic drink, have a snooze and wake up at your destination. You can travel over 70mph. If there is no need for public transport outside of London, how come 11 million passengers passed through Cardiff Central last year? 2 million went through Newport. You're talking rubbish man. There has been no direct link between Vehicle Excise Duty and highway upkeep since 1937. Roads are cared for from general taxation as VED doesn't raise enough revenue to maintain highways. mocyoung
  • Score: 3

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