Trains, planes and down to earth designs

Jason Ford

News Editor

Two weeks ago Crossrail issued a press release that contained language best described as defiant.

The release, issued on April 7, announced that Crossrail was awarding the remaining tunnel contracts for the construction project that will run 118km from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21km tunnels under central London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

‘With all the tunnelling contracts now let and work underway at all central London station sites, Crossrail has now passed the point of no return and would be extremely difficult and expensive to stop’ said the release.

Considering there’s no going back, Charles Devereux, head of Railway Operations, Crossrail appears to be in a good position to present ‘Delivering Crossrail – the challenge for the operator’.

According to the IET event’s publicity material, Devereux will give an overview of the scheme, the parliamentary process, and the impact it will have on London and the country.

He is scheduled to cover project developments, including how Crossrail will operate, and why detailed and intensive operator involvement is crucial at this stage. He will also talk about what can be seen now. Briefing would suggest an excursion to the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Charing Cross road to see a work very much in progress.

Other topics for discussion include passenger flow modelling, relationships with other operators, the relationship between systems and the operator, and latencies which need to be considered.

This event is free to attend but registration is recommended.

Still with travel and the first anniversary this Thursday of UK airspace reopening after six days of shutdown following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano in Iceland.

The ban on flying was the first blanket closure of UK airspace since the 9/11 attacks on America. At the time the IATA estimated that airlines were losing over $200m a day in lost revenues and they were incurring added costs for re-routing aircraft, care for stranded passengers and stranded aircraft at various airports.

Easyjet was quick to adopt the AVOID (Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector) system and last week it issued an update on its progress, announcing that it is ready to test in volcanic ash.

AVOID is described as a weather radar for ash that comprises of infrared technology fitted to aircraft to supply images to pilots and an airline’s flight control centre.

According to easyjet, the images will enable pilots to see an ash cloud, up to 100km ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft, allowing them to adjust the plane’s flight path to avoid any ash cloud.

On the ground, information from aircraft with AVOID technology would be used to build an image of the volcanic ash cloud using real time data, therefore opening up large areas of airspace.

Dr Fred Prata of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research developed AVOID and he, along with his team, is now monitoring volcanic activity in the Far East and Alaska with a view to test the system in the coming months.

Back down to earth with news that Ramboll’s Computational Design group is showing their work at the Evolutionary Design exhibition at The Building Centre, Store Street, London.

According to Ramboll, the Computational Design Group use modelling, simulation and digital engineering techniques to optimise structures.

Their contributions to new research in this field are said to include in-house coded parametric scripts that mimic highly efficient processes in nature. This integrated use of digital engineering intelligence is what they describe as Evolutionary Design. Interactive displays will let visitors test Ramboll-developed software for themselves.

The exhibition is free attend and runs until May 14.