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Some thoughts about the railway

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I remember that 31 smoking the place out when it was started up in the RTC yard at Derby back in the 90s sometime. 

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DfT don't give two hoots about train emissions.  If they did they wouldn't be cancelling electrification and/or advocating partial electrification, they wouldn't be tacitly condoning XC operating vast diesel mileages on electrified routes, and they would be doing more to incentivise freight operators to use electric traction on trunk hauls.

Edited by DY444
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Electrification schemes do not reduce emissions, they move them to the power stations.  They do, of course, improve air quality in cities and near railways, especially where heavy freight trains ascend steep banks, and especially in large stations with overall roofs.  Not to mention improving working conditions for staff.  

 

FGW will also have large mileages where most traffic is diesel powered beneath the OLE, and electric trains that have diesel engines.  You can't just blame DfT, though, there is a general societal and hence political reluctance to spend money on railways in the UK that probably has it's roots in the Hudson bubble and the Overend Gurney failure, which between them were responsible for populating many a workhouse back in the day...  

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This picture was taken at York two weeks ago. The blue haze above the footbridge was coming from an HST which was there for forty minutes.

 

smoke.JPG.8df3d02440c3213ff776ccf414fe3fe5.JPG

 

Peter

 

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1 hour ago, The Johnster said:

Electrification schemes do not reduce emissions, they move them to the power stations.     

However in the last few decades the UK electricity supply industry has shifted from heavy dependence on coal to gas and on to renewables which now make up a large proportion of the mix.  Both these steps have reduced emissions of carbon dioxide, which causes global climate change wherever it is emitted, and of other pollutants such as sulphur dioxide which are more of a problem in the vicinity of wherever they are produced. 

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Agreed, but the demand for electricity continues to increase and emissions from gas and other non-renewables are still a serious problem in terms of air quality and global warming.  There is no doubt in my mind that the excessive use of diesel fuelled traction is much worse, though, and electrification is the way to go; everybody else in Europe has known this for 70 years, but the treasury repeatedly fails to fund schemes here and worse, promises money that it then retracts as has happened with GW scheme west of Cardiff and Bristol (and Filton bank), and the Midland ML.

 

It's nothing new.  In 1965, all the overbridges between Cardiff and Newport on the Gwent Levels were raised by 4 courses of bricks, in preparation for electrification that the treasury had already agreed was going to be approved in the next decade or so.  In the meantime, the ballast depth required for 90mph passenger and 75mph freight. running has negated the advantage and all the bridges have had to be replaced for the current scheme!

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33 minutes ago, The Johnster said:

Agreed, but the demand for electricity continues to increase and emissions from gas and other non-renewables are still a serious problem in terms of air quality and global warming.  There is no doubt in my mind that the excessive use of diesel fuelled traction is much worse, though, and electrification is the way to go; everybody else in Europe has known this for 70 years, but the treasury repeatedly fails to fund schemes here and worse, promises money that it then retracts as has happened with GW scheme west of Cardiff and Bristol (and Filton bank), and the Midland ML.

 

 

 

Here in West Yorkshire we are promised electrification from Leeds to Huddersfield. This will only benefit the hourly direct stopping train to Leeds. This means that ALL the Trans-Pennine trains will still have to be diesel powered because of two gaps, from Manchester to Huddersfield and from Leeds to Colton Junction. Both these gaps have the steepest gradients. Also Huddersfield to Wakefield trains will have to be diesel.

 

Peter

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4 hours ago, RRU said:

 

Here in West Yorkshire we are promised electrification from Leeds to Huddersfield. This will only benefit the hourly direct stopping train to Leeds. This means that ALL the Trans-Pennine trains will still have to be diesel powered because of two gaps, from Manchester to Huddersfield and from Leeds to Colton Junction. Both these gaps have the steepest gradients. Also Huddersfield to Wakefield trains will have to be diesel.

 

Peter

 

But perhaps that is the point.  If all new rolling stock acquired for the UK had an electric transmission at least, then there would be a chance or repower in the future. The Flirts for Anglia and those for TfW will be able to run on AC where there is copper overhead, and that is far better than running completely on diesel. Even though Cardiff to Severn Tunnel Jn is not a great mileage, it does still allow the diesels to be shut down and reduce the emissions in that large connurbation.  Similarly in Anglia those Flirts can shut their diesels down on various portions of route to reduce fuel burn and emissions. It is unlikely many of those branches will see total electrification, but some is better than none.

 

What I am really struggling to comprehend at the moment is the economics of the privatised passenger system. Since 1994 crew salaries have increasingly diversified and you tend to find that the traditional "intercity" TOCs are up towards the top of the pecking order. So your LNER HSTs and Mk4 rakes can carry well over 500 pax, similarly the Virgin pendolinos and the GWR IETs, However some of the other TOCs are operating 4 and 5 coach trains where there are sometimes less than 200 seats, but you might well see two catering staff and a guard. Contrast with a 12 car  class 700 which each could easily ship over a thousand passengers into central London during rush hour. 

 

Because some TOCs pay more than others there seems to be more migration from TOC to TOC resulting some of those at the lower end of the pay scale perpetually training staff who will leave for better salaries and conditions.  I am not saying here wasn't migration under BR but the salaries were identical apart from bonus payments. There is no doubt that Northern and West Midlands Trains are two TOCs who have been training camps for railway staff.

 

How this situation is curbed I really don't know but I think Virgin Cross Country's voyagerisation and Operation Princess started off the process of increasing train journeys linked with staffing costs, but not actually providing the increase in seats to bring the additional revenue in.  Pre 2000 the average VXC train was seven Mk2s or a 2+7 HST so the hourly service from Birmingham to Bournemouth (actually Poole back then) probably had over 300 seats per train.  This was crewed by a driver, a guard and a Caterer.  The new half hourly service was operated by 4 or 5 car voyagers, the 4 cars having 178 seats, meaning there was a modest increase in seats overall, but train provision had mushroomed by doubling drivers, doubling guards and quadrupling catering staff but nowhere near doubling seats.   Nearly 20 years later those self same inadequate trains are still on the routes, and with the XC franchise extended at least twice, there is little prospect of relief of overcrowding.

 

There was a rather vain hope by some staff that the displaced WMR 170s might bolster the XC fleet but these are now destined for EMR so it is quite clear DfT have little joined up thinking where 20 year old multiple units is concerned. EMR could have had new build DMUs whilst XC could have adopted an identical fleet of 170s which have been maintained from new at the same depot as their own.      

 

Going back to 195s - who in their right mind would order two car non gangwayed DMUs foer working some of the big connurbations in the north - very likely in multiples.  Clearly few lessons have been learnt from the history books.  All 195s should have been 3 cars from new.  

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11 hours ago, Covkid said:

 

But perhaps that is the point.  If all new rolling stock acquired for the UK had an electric transmission at least, then there would be a chance or repower in the future. The Flirts for Anglia and those for TfW will be able to run on AC where there is copper overhead, and that is far better than running completely on diesel. Even though Cardiff to Severn Tunnel Jn is not a great mileage, it does still allow the diesels to be shut down and reduce the emissions in that large connurbation.  Similarly in Anglia those Flirts can shut their diesels down on various portions of route to reduce fuel burn and emissions. It is unlikely many of those branches will see total electrification, but some is better than none.

 

What I am really struggling to comprehend at the moment is the economics of the privatised passenger system. Since 1994 crew salaries have increasingly diversified and you tend to find that the traditional "intercity" TOCs are up towards the top of the pecking order. So your LNER HSTs and Mk4 rakes can carry well over 500 pax, similarly the Virgin pendolinos and the GWR IETs, However some of the other TOCs are operating 4 and 5 coach trains where there are sometimes less than 200 seats, but you might well see two catering staff and a guard. Contrast with a 12 car  class 700 which each could easily ship over a thousand passengers into central London during rush hour. 

 

Because some TOCs pay more than others there seems to be more migration from TOC to TOC resulting some of those at the lower end of the pay scale perpetually training staff who will leave for better salaries and conditions.  I am not saying here wasn't migration under BR but the salaries were identical apart from bonus payments. There is no doubt that Northern and West Midlands Trains are two TOCs who have been training camps for railway staff.

 

How this situation is curbed I really don't know but I think Virgin Cross Country's voyagerisation and Operation Princess started off the process of increasing train journeys linked with staffing costs, but not actually providing the increase in seats to bring the additional revenue in.  Pre 2000 the average VXC train was seven Mk2s or a 2+7 HST so the hourly service from Birmingham to Bournemouth (actually Poole back then) probably had over 300 seats per train.  This was crewed by a driver, a guard and a Caterer.  The new half hourly service was operated by 4 or 5 car voyagers, the 4 cars having 178 seats, meaning there was a modest increase in seats overall, but train provision had mushroomed by doubling drivers, doubling guards and quadrupling catering staff but nowhere near doubling seats.   Nearly 20 years later those self same inadequate trains are still on the routes, and with the XC franchise extended at least twice, there is little prospect of relief of overcrowding.

 

There was a rather vain hope by some staff that the displaced WMR 170s might bolster the XC fleet but these are now destined for EMR so it is quite clear DfT have little joined up thinking where 20 year old multiple units is concerned. EMR could have had new build DMUs whilst XC could have adopted an identical fleet of 170s which have been maintained from new at the same depot as their own.      

 

Going back to 195s - who in their right mind would order two car non gangwayed DMUs foer working some of the big connurbations in the north - very likely in multiples.  Clearly few lessons have been learnt from the history books.  All 195s should have been 3 cars from new.  

BR spent a lot of time head scratching and drawing up proposals (ending in a major project in the early 1990s) to try to move away from a single salary for all Drivers but ASLE&F resistance to it remained strong until the end.  Rather perversely ASLE&F them pursued a very positive policy of accepting different deals from different franchisees and train operators leading to the situation we have today.

 

In some respects nothing has changed in respect of 'training depots'.  From the 1970s onwards quite a lot of depots, especially on the SR, were perpetually short of Drivers so Seniority Dates dropped lower and lower which resulted in many youngsters moving to such depots to get their grade.  But most put in First Preferences for their original depot or somewhere and left - often within only a few years to go elsewhere thus creating a new lot of vacancies to restart the roundabout.  There were instances of men (very few females in the Footplate Grades even into the early 1980s) hardly having time to finish their MP 12 courses and, more often, a lot of complex Road Learning before they were off again having worked very few revenue earning trains for all the expense of training them.

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2 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

BR spent a lot of time head scratching and drawing up proposals (ending in a major project in the early 1990s) to try to move away from a single salary for all Drivers but ASLE&F resistance to it remained strong until the end.  Rather perversely ASLE&F them pursued a very positive policy of accepting different deals from different franchisees and train operators leading to the situation we have today.

 

In some respects nothing has changed in respect of 'training depots'.  From the 1970s onwards quite a lot of depots, especially on the SR, were perpetually short of Drivers so Seniority Dates dropped lower and lower which resulted in many youngsters moving to such depots to get their grade.  But most put in First Preferences for their original depot or somewhere and left - often within only a few years to go elsewhere thus creating a new lot of vacancies to restart the roundabout.  There were instances of men (very few females in the Footplate Grades even into the early 1980s) hardly having time to finish their MP 12 courses and, more often, a lot of complex Road Learning before they were off again having worked very few revenue earning trains for all the expense of training them.

 

True but there was the "three years productive" thing.

 

From personal experience a proportion of the driver grade these days are people there for the good salary rather than the old fashioned train driver thing, but there are other external factors too. That good old 65 retirement is history and it is all about personal choice. I doubt there are many employees who would voluntarily advise their HR department of their intended retirement age and plans.  Just a few weeks ago a driver I had known for years - probably a similar age to me, just announced he was retiring, had his locker day and walked off into the sunset. I doubt the company has even recruited a replacement for him, but even after basic training and handling, then passing out, there will have been another driver detached for most of that one to one training.  Multiply that by dozens and it is no surprise the industry is in trouble for drivers.         

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34 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

There were instances of men (very few females in the Footplate Grades even into the early 1980s) hardly having time to finish their MP 12 courses and, more often, a lot of complex Road Learning before they were off again having worked very few revenue earning trains for all the expense of training them.

Some would put in for a move as soon as arriving at their new depot, so by the time they had finished their (dragged out) route learning they would be on the move again, commonly called professional route learners.

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It was the last run of the season for the Scarborough Spa Express yesterday. Sadly no steam. 35018 “British India Line” could not leave the NRM due to a faulty injector so the train was diesel hauled all the way. 47854 “Diamond Jubilee” and 47746 “Chris Fudge” were on the train but only 47854 was under power. 47746 just went for the ride.

 

Return journey from York was on the new class 68 hauled TPE train. I will not be rushing to catch it again. It looks and feels like they have used rigid Hornby bogies without the outer side frames. Every slight movement and sound of the wheels is transmitted through the floor and the seat bases which feel like a sheet of plywood covered with cloth. What a difference from the old Mk1`s on the SSE which just float along.

 

Do the designers of all this modern rolling stock actually ride on it to find out what it is like?

 

Peter

 

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On 05/09/2019 at 12:47, royaloak said:

Some would put in for a move as soon as arriving at their new depot, so by the time they had finished their (dragged out) route learning they would be on the move again, commonly called professional route learners.

And very difficult to 'lean on' in order to encourage them to sign off all their roads because in the end it came down to the Driver being the one who accepted the responsibility with his signature and there was no way you could odds that.  Thus it was hardly surprising that at depots with complex road knowledge needs the professional route learners could be at it for a very long time.

 

The saying at Reading back in the 1960s used to be three weeks to learn the road anywhere - that was one week to put the garden straight, one week to get up y to date on the decorating and one week actually learning.  But gradual increase in professional standards, route learning aids and route learning schools made the difference.  Still not up with SNCF though where a driver is usually allowed no more than a week - at the very most - to learn a new 500 km long route, but they do things in a very different way from us  (although years ago a Didcot Driver learnt the road (he said) from Temple Mills to Harwich in a couple of days).

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1 hour ago, The Stationmaster said:

And very difficult to 'lean on' in order to encourage them to sign off all their roads because in the end it came down to the Driver being the one who accepted the responsibility with his signature and there was no way you could odds that.  Thus it was hardly surprising that at depots with complex road knowledge needs the professional route learners could be at it for a very long time.

 

The saying at Reading back in the 1960s used to be three weeks to learn the road anywhere - that was one week to put the garden straight, one week to get up y to date on the decorating and one week actually learning.  But gradual increase in professional standards, route learning aids and route learning schools made the difference.  Still not up with SNCF though where a driver is usually allowed no more than a week - at the very most - to learn a new 500 km long route, but they do things in a very different way from us  (although years ago a Didcot Driver learnt the road (he said) from Temple Mills to Harwich in a couple of days).

 

When I was on my MP12 I remember at the start of the course we had an introductory talk from an inspector - who it was has long gone from my memory - and I remember him saying 'and when you finally pass out and start road learning, please don't take the p*** too much and please come in least two days a week' !

Gave us a laugh at the time but I think we all knew he was being serious :D

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Road learning as a guard at Canton in 1971, I made a myself a bit of a PITA by taking it seriously and insisting on at least one ride over a route in a brake van.  This was at a time when new intake guards were being described as back cab jockeys and there were certainly some men who would sign a road and then refuse to work over it in a van.  Some Canton work arguably didn't need van route knowledge, especially the oil tank trains to Llanelli via Swansea District which were all class 6 back cab jobs with vacuum or air brakes.  But I'm a b*gger for standing on principle when the mood takes me!

 

Interesting point that I'd like to hear Mike's managerial disciplinary take on; one night I worked a class 6 train of Waterston-Buildwas tanks  through to Shrewsbury despite only signing Hereford.  My driver signed Salop as did his passed secondman, they had the road through Hereford, and kept going, presenting me with a pre-emptive strike that I couldn't do anything about.  I made my way through the engine room of the 47 to tell them I was unsigned, though I had a pretty fair idea of where things were having travelled the route several times in my spotting career.  'Don't worry about it' says the driver. 'secondman can act as route pilot for you if you stay in the cab'.

 

Not sure where I'd have stood had anything gone wrong, and it was impossible to learn much as it was pitch black, lashing it with rain and next to impossible to see anything.  At Shrewsbury, we were relieved on the curve to the Wellington road, a place I had never been before!

 

Apropos the Hereford road, very shortly after signing it I was asked by a driver known to be contemptuous of new intake back cab jockeys how many wagons the loop at Pandy could take.  'As many as you like', I replied, 'but they'll all be in pile down the bank', which seemed to satisfy him well enough...

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On 04/09/2019 at 15:03, The Johnster said:

Electrification schemes do not reduce emissions, they move them to the power stations.  They do, of course, improve air quality in cities and near railways, especially where heavy freight trains ascend steep banks, and especially in large stations with overall roofs.  Not to mention improving working conditions for staff.  

 

FGW will also have large mileages where most traffic is diesel powered beneath the OLE, and electric trains that have diesel engines.  You can't just blame DfT, though, there is a general societal and hence political reluctance to spend money on railways in the UK that probably has it's roots in the Hudson bubble and the Overend Gurney failure, which between them were responsible for populating many a workhouse back in the day...  

 

Depends how you generate the power

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On 06/09/2019 at 14:51, RRU said:

It was the last run of the season for the Scarborough Spa Express yesterday. Sadly no steam. 35018 “British India Line” could not leave the NRM due to a faulty injector so the train was diesel hauled all the way. 47854 “Diamond Jubilee” and 47746 “Chris Fudge” were on the train but only 47854 was under power. 47746 just went for the ride.

 

Return journey from York was on the new class 68 hauled TPE train. I will not be rushing to catch it again. It looks and feels like they have used rigid Hornby bogies without the outer side frames. Every slight movement and sound of the wheels is transmitted through the floor and the seat bases which feel like a sheet of plywood covered with cloth. What a difference from the old Mk1`s on the SSE which just float along.

 

Do the designers of all this modern rolling stock actually ride on it to find out what it is like?

 

Peter

 

 

What is often forgotten is that BR Research was probably the world authority on bogie design and dynamics, and the relationship between vehicle body characteristics and bogie performance.  The zenith being the MkIII coach.  All of that expertise was dissipated when BR Research ceased to be and in my view every bogie produced since has been inferior.  The decline started with the Mk4 SIG bogie and has continued.

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3 hours ago, DY444 said:

 

What is often forgotten is that BR Research was probably the world authority on bogie design and dynamics, and the relationship between vehicle body characteristics and bogie performance.  The zenith being the MkIII coach.  All of that expertise was dissipated when BR Research ceased to be and in my view every bogie produced since has been inferior.  The decline started with the Mk4 SIG bogie and has continued.

 

They did it without 21st century computer modelling techniques available to the designers of today.

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4 hours ago, RRU said:

 

They did it without 21st century computer modelling techniques available to the designers of today.

More correctly, they created the computer modelling techniques now available, memorably Vampire. All part ofthe heritage of the APT programme.

 

Jim

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1 hour ago, jim.snowdon said:

More correctly, they created the computer modelling techniques now available, memorably Vampire. All part ofthe heritage of the APT programme.

 

Jim

 

Thank you for the reply Jim, I didn't know that. All the rolling stock manufacturers need to learn how to use it. The springing on the new TPE coaches is so hard, it is almost rigid.

 

Peter

 

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19 hours ago, RRU said:

 

They did it without 21st century computer modelling techniques available to the designers of today.

 

In one sense that is part of the problem.  As already mentioned BR developed a lot of the modelling techniques but they also did extensive empirical work on the Old Dalby and Mickleover test tracks where amongst other things they could deliberately introduce typical minor track faults under controlled conditions and analyse the consequences.  The modern process is a bit more of a direct line from design to production. 

 

Having said that modern techniques are quicker, far more efficient and significantly more cost effective but somehow always seem to produce bogies that are a little bit more track sensitive than BR's best work. 

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A great deal of what Research did was to improve the understanding of what went on at the wheel:rail interface, how bogies behaved at high speeds and on curves, as well as the forces that vehicles exerted on the track. A lot of what you feel as a passenger is determined by the secondary suspension, and one factor that comes into play there is vehicle gauging. Gauging practice has changed fundamentally since the Mark 3s were designed, with a change from there being a boundary zone between the vehicle gauge and the structure gauge that allowed for wriggle room to a regime of dynamic gauging, where the designer has to produce a vehicle that under worst case conditions will not exceed a declared spatial envelope. It hasn't made their life any easier.

 

Jim

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31 minutes ago, jim.snowdon said:

A great deal of what Research did was to improve the understanding of what went on at the wheel:rail interface, how bogies behaved at high speeds and on curves, as well as the forces that vehicles exerted on the track. A lot of what you feel as a passenger is determined by the secondary suspension, and one factor that comes into play there is vehicle gauging. Gauging practice has changed fundamentally since the Mark 3s were designed, with a change from there being a boundary zone between the vehicle gauge and the structure gauge that allowed for wriggle room to a regime of dynamic gauging, where the designer has to produce a vehicle that under worst case conditions will not exceed a declared spatial envelope. It hasn't made their life any easier.

 

Jim

 

That is interestimg. You do get a feel that the bogies are being restrained. But would that affect the vertical movement and the noise transmission? There is a knock every time a wheel passes through a common crossing .

 

Peter

 

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4 hours ago, RRU said:

 

That is interestimg. You do get a feel that the bogies are being restrained. But would that affect the vertical movement and the noise transmission? There is a knock every time a wheel passes through a common crossing .

 

Peter

 

These coaches are the same basic design as the new Caledonian Sleeper.  Have there been any complaints about noise and rough riding on that? 

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On 04/09/2019 at 15:03, The Johnster said:

Electrification schemes do not reduce emissions, they move them to the power stations.  They do, of course, improve air quality in cities and near railways, especially where heavy freight trains ascend steep banks, and especially in large stations with overall roofs.  Not to mention improving working conditions for staff.  

 

FGW will also have large mileages where most traffic is diesel powered beneath the OLE, and electric trains that have diesel engines.  You can't just blame DfT, though, there is a general societal and hence political reluctance to spend money on railways in the UK that probably has it's roots in the Hudson bubble and the Overend Gurney failure, which between them were responsible for populating many a workhouse back in the day...  

It is correct to point out the source of emissions is moved from many local  points, vehicle exhausts, to a small number of points,  power stations,  it is difficult to deal with those many local pollution points, ( just ask VW diesel car engine designers), but when the source of pollution is such as a power station it is effective and feasible to install pollution reduction measures such as chemical scrubbers to  treat the  pollutants in the chimney gases of the generator plant, therefore the net amount of pollution is less and not equal, electrification does therefore reduce pollution

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