Friday, January 18, 2013


• Department for Transport expected to confirm latest route within weeks
• Journey times between major cities in the North will be slashed by half
• DfT hopes service will transform the North, but critics believe many passengers may be priced out

By James Rush

PUBLISHED: 04:20 EST, 18 January 2013 | UPDATED: 05:10 EST, 18 January 2013 The full impact across the country of the £33bn high-speed rail project is to be unveiled by the Government within weeks, it has been reported. Passengers between major cities will see journey times slashed, by half in many cases, by the second phase of the project.

The Department for Transport will detail its calculations of the effect on provincial Britain when it confirms the route for the latest stage, which takes the line to Leeds and Manchester.

Passengers between major cities will see journey times slashed, by half in many cases, by the second phase of the high-speed rail project.

The new 225mph trains will see journey times slashed dramatically between the UK's provincial cities, according to The Telegraph.

The Government believes the North's economy will be transformed, but critics believe many passengers could be priced out of using the trains, if a high-speed premium is charged.

Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, said the HS2 second phase announcement was a 'watershed moment' for Britain.

He said: 'What HS2 will do is bring the North and the Midlands closer together, creating a new economic hub that, for the first time in our history, will provide some proper competition to London.

'That can only be good news – not just for the cities themselves but for the country as a whole.'

The first stage of HS2 from Euston to Birmingham is due to open in 2026, with the second stage expected to be completed in another six years. Passengers travelling from Birmingham to Manchester will see their journey time cut from 88 minutes to 49, while those going further north to Newcastle will spend 127 minutes on the trip, compared with the current 194.

Meanwhile, a journey between Leeds and Nottingham will fall from 115 minutes to 29, and those travelling to Sheffield will fall to 17 minutes from 41.

Critics have warned many passengers could be priced out of using the trains, if a premium is charged for using the high-speed service


Trains from London to:

Birmingham - reduced from 1 hour 24 minutes to 49 minutes
Manchester - reduced from 2 hours 8 minutes to 1 hour 8 minutes
Leeds - reduced from 2 hour 12 minutes to 1 hour 22 minutes
Glasgow - reduced from 4 hours 8 minutes to 3 hours 38 minutes

Trains from Birmingham to:

Leeds - reduced from 2 hours 3 minutes to 57 minutes
Sheffield - reduced from 1 hour 11 minutes to 38 minutes
Manchester - reduced from 1 hour 28 minutes to 49 minutes
Glasgow - reduced from 3 hour 57 minutes to 3 hour 22 minutes

Trains from Leeds to:

Sheffield - reduced from 41 minutes to 17 minutes
Nottingham - reduced from 1 hour 55 minutes to 29 minutes


California works with Amtrak to make high-speed rail

The sleek animation shows what high-speed rail travel in California could look like in 20 years or so. Trains moving at up to 220 miles an hour would passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just two hours and 40 minutes. / CBS News/CA High-Speed Rail Authority

WASHINGTON The two biggest players in the nation's pursuit of high-speed rail said Thursday they'll work together to search for trains that will operate at up to 220 miles per hour along both coasts of the United States.

Officials with Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority said they envision that the two systems will purchase about 60 trains over the next decade. The first order could take place next year.

The aim is for manufacturers to design trains that will work for both systems. In the process, their combined buying power should generate better pricing from manufacturers. "By combining our buying power, potentially, we can drive the market in a way that we can't if we purchase separately," said Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

• World's longest high-speed rail line opens in China

• Judge backs Calif. high-speed rail over farmers

• High-speed Chicago to St. Louis train hits 111 mph

California is expected to begin construction on its high-speed rail in the summer. The first 65-mile segment will run from Merced to Fresno.

The high-speed rail efforts in California have come under increased scrutiny by members of Congress who say it has become too expensive to build and operate. The more ties it has with Amtrak, the better its future prospects might be, but officials said the announcement was not designed to bolster high-speed rail in California.

"It doesn't make any sense whatsoever to go out and have a different set of standards for California or any other high-speed train," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "So, no, it's about doing the right thing for the United States."

Morales said the high-speed line that would serve California has much in common with Amtrak's Northeast Corridor in terms of population, traffic congestion and economic output.

"If the case is there for investing in the Northeast, that same case can be made for the West Coast and California. We think there's very good reason to look at them as a pair," Morales said. "That's something we're talking to Amtrak about, to align our interests where it makes senses to align them."

© 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



The arguments can be quibbled with… and are (from various sources with other vested interests)… but these guys do indeed make a point that could easily apply to a MagLev HSR system if it is run as an on-demand active track system. The motivations may be a bit from left field, but direct conversion back to direct use makes sense in terms of round-trip system efficiency.

At 24% to 36% efficiency, internal combustion systems are not very competitive with direct electric propulsion. But that’s just the consumption side of the problem. The other side of the issue is the conversion from solar to fuel. Again, they have a point that bio fuel based systems are not going to be competitive there either. Comparing biofuel systems and their associated conversion losses In/Out, the current PV numbers win.

The newer model low-reflectance panels (carbon nano rod and nano lattice gold) will add to the PV efficiency and the multi-layer methods will add even more. And thus far, nobody has put the two approaches together to see just how far the collection efficiency for PV can be pushed. That needs to be done to see where the kilowatt capture numbers will land.

Even 30 minute dispatch times for the HSR would not tax a good PV system with a battery storage energy holding arrangement. The track is going to be off most of the time anyway. Only the activated sections need to be switched on and left running in anticipation of a transit event. At 300 mph the MagLev would be moving at 5 miles per minute. A one minute buffer would translate to 5 miles of activated track. A two minute buffer would equal 10 miles… etc.. Transit buffer lengths could be predicated on safety response times for the engineer-operator and the safe stopping distance needed under full load conditions during Summer operations.

Either way, the PV approach for segment activated track needs to be looked at for systemic efficiency since they would be off most of the time and would have plenty of recharge time between transit events.

Personally, I don’t buy into the greenhouse gas emissions arguments that are used these days. The only argument that counts is bottom line cost-per-transit. The cheapest way to achieve the lowest operating cost is the lodestar that should guide the design approach. Diesel electric has been around for a long time now and has proven to be very efficient for normal hard rail operations. There is a reason why they use it. It’s cheaper. Now automobiles are moving in that same direction. But if an all electric operation method can ace the hybrid approach, then for on-going operations that should be considered. Again, repetitive bottom line use/cost per transit would be the ultimate issue. Having the Sun as an operating partner (cost reduction) does make a certain amount of sense.

Any news?


Gill E.

Spatially explicit life cycle assessment of 5 sun-to-wheels pathways finds photovoltaic electricity and BEVs offer land-efficient and low-carbon transportation 4 January 2013Mp

A new spatially-explicit life cycle assessment of five different “sun-to-wheels” conversion pathways—ethanol from corn or switchgrass for internal combustion vehicles (ICVs); electricity from corn or switchgrass for battery-electric vehicles (BEVs); and photovoltaic electricity for BEVs—found a strong case for PV BEVs.

According to the findings by the team from the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, even the most land-use efficient biomass-based pathway (i.e., switchgrass bioelectricity in US counties with hypothetical crop yields of more than 24 tonnes/ha) requires 29 times more land than the PV-based alternative in the same locations.

Direct land use, life cycle GHG emissions (excluding indirect land use change), and life cycle fossil fuel requirements to generate the transportation services provided by 17.8 × 1012 MJ NCV of gasoline, the amount used in transportation in the US in 2009. Credit: ACS, Geyer et al.

Furthermore, PV BEV systems also have the lowest life cycle GHG emissions throughout the US and the lowest fossil fuel inputs, except for locations with hypothetical switchgrass yields of 16 or more tonnes/ha. Including indirect land use effects further strengthens the case for PV BEVs, the researchers suggested.

Biofuels for ICVs and bioelectricity for BEVs use photosynthesis to convert solar radiation into transportation services, that is, they are sun-to-wheels transportation pathways. While photosynthesis has a theoretical maximum energy conversion efficiency of 33%, the overall conversion efficiency of sunlight into terrestrial biomass is typically below 1%, regardless of crop type and growing conditions. Therefore any biomass-based energy pathway is very land-use-intensive. As a result, biomass-based transportation pathways are increasingly seen as a threat to food supply and natural habitats.

A third type of sun-to-wheels pathway is the use of photovoltaics (PV) to convert sunlight directly into electricity for BEVs...Existing environmental assessments of biofuels and photovoltaic energy pathways use average biomass and PV yields, even though these yields vary widely between geographical locations. Spatially-explicit assessments are more informative, since pathway performance depends on location, and land use decisions are always local by nature. This article presents life cycle assessments of five different sun-to-wheels conversion pathways for every county in the contiguous U.S: Ethanol from corn or switchgrass for ICVs, bioelectricity from corn or switchgrass for BEVs, and PV electricity for BEVs using cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells. The assessments include the production and use of the transportation energy (the fuel cycle) and the life cycle of the vehicle.

—Geyer et al.

The functional unit of the assessment was 100 km driven in a compact passenger vehicle during one year. The team calculated three environmental indicators for each county of the contiguous US:

1. Land area required for the corn and switchgrass fields or the PV installation—i.e., direct land use measured in m2/100 km driven.

2. Total global warming potential from the vehicle and fuel life cycles, measured in kg CO2 equiv/100 km driven.

3. Total fossil fuel consumption from the vehicle and fuel life cycles, measured in MJ of net calorific value (NCV) per 100 km driven.

The system boundary includes vehicle production, use, and end-of-life management, as well as fuel production and use. In the case of PV electricity, the fuel cycle consists of production, use, and end-of-life management of the PV system.

GHG and fossil fuel data for the production of corn and switchgrass and their conversion to ethanol are based on the EBAMM Model, which was combined with crop yield maps and updated with data from version 1.8c.0 of the GREET model and other recent literature. Among the assumptions were:

· NCV of corn and switchgrass is 18 MJ per kg, and that 2.53 kg of corn and 2.62 kg of switchgrass are required to produce 1 L of ethanol with 21.2 MJ NCV.

· Energy consumption and GHG emission values of the biorefineries include coproduction credits and in- and out-bound logistics. The crop-to-electricity conversion model assumes that half of the biomass is converted in biomass boilers and the other half is co-combusted with coal to generate electricity.

· Inventory models for both product systems are based on Ecoinvent data and reports. A biomass-to- electricity conversion efficiency of 32% was used, and an electricity transmission and distribution efficiency of 92%.

· The PV system life cycle is based on 2005 technology and production data.

Economic input−output life cycle assessment (EIOLCA) was used to derive energy and GHG values for the production of a compact ICV; data on 2005 Li-ion battery technology was added to model PHEVs of equivalent size. The resulting energy and GHG values are 102,000 MJ and 8,500 kg CO2eq per compact ICV, and 1700 MJ and 120 kg CO2 equiv/kWh of Li-ion battery.

A 150 km (93-mile) -range BEV model was derived by increasing the battery size in the PHEV model. This may overestimate GHG emissions and fossil fuel consumption of BEV production, the researchers noted, since they merely added the battery to an ICV and did not deduct the internal combustion engine or related components.

Together with the maximum range of 150 km and a maximum depth of discharge (DOD) of 0.8, the BEV energy demand translates into a required battery size of 33.75 kWh. The life cycle mileage of both vehicles is assumed to be 240,000 km (149,000 miles).

Among their findings were that relative to the gasoline baseline, the PV and switchgrass scenarios would also reduce associated GHG emissions and fossil fuel consumption from production and use of vehicles and fuels by 75−80% relative to gasoline ICVs. The PV-based pathway would reduce life cycle GHG emissions, including vehicle production, by almost 80%, from 1.92 to 0.41 billion tons of CO2 equiv.

Vehicles powered with switchgrass electricity or ethanol come second and third with 0.46 and 0.48 billion tons of CO2 equiv, yet these numbers do not include any GHG emissions from indirect land use change, the researchers noted.

The three sun-to-wheels pathways with the lowest fossil fuel requirements are switchgrass ethanol for ICVs; switchgrass electricity for BEVs; and PV electricity for BEVs; with 4.7, 5.4, and 5.2 trillion MJ.

For both BEV-based pathways, more than 85% of fossil fuels are consumed during vehicle production. Of all the 5 sun-to-wheels systems, corn ethanol for ICVs had by far the highest land requirements, GHG emissions, and fossil fuel requirements.

Assuming that the economics of PV and BEV technology will further improve and issues of material availability, and electricity transmission and storage can be resolved, PV offers land-efficient and low-carbon sun-to-wheels transportation. Unlike fuel crops, PV electricity does not have to compete with food production and biodiversity for fertile land and could potentially replace all gasoline used in US transportation.

—Geyer et al.


· Roland Geyer, David Stoms, and James Kallaos (2012) Spatially-Explicit Life Cycle Assessment of Sun-to-Wheels Transportation Pathways in the US. Environmental Science & Technology doi: 10.1021/es302959h