The Anonymous Widower

Is Northern Electrification Going To Use Battery Trains?

This report on the BBC is entitled Network Rail to restart electrification of train lines. This is said.

The electrification of two railway lines is to be restarted after the projects were halted so a review could be carried out, the government says.

Work on the TransPennine Express Railway – between Manchester and York – and Midland Mainline – from London to Sheffield – was paused in June.

Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, said the “temporary pause” had “given us the space to develop a better plan”

The Aventra IPEMU

Looking at the electrification of the two lines in posts over the previous few days, I have come to the conclusion that properly engineered battery trains built by Bombardier in Derby called Aventra IPEMUs (Independently Powered Electrical Multiple Units) could charge their batteries on existing sections of electrification and jump the gaps at speeds of up to at least 110 mph and possibly 125 mph, by running on batteries.

If that sounds like something that is too good to be true, I don’t believe it is! I was impressed when as a paying passenger, I rode the prototype train between Manningtree and Harwich.

For those who think that a battery train is just so-much Mickey Mouse-technology, note that the battery supplier; Valence is linked to Tessla; the electric vehicle manufacturer. A review of their latest car is on Autocar. The biggest problem with the car is not the power, range and performance, but the time it takes to charge the car from a typical supply. In addition to the overhead wire or third rail of the railway, an Aventra IPEMU has to charge the battery, the train will also charge the batteries using the regenerative braking system.

The TransPennine Line

On the TransPennine Line from Liverpool to Newcastle, the only gap in the electrification is the forty-three miles between Leeds and Manchester.

Aventra IPEMUs have a range of sixty miles, so Liverpool to Newcastle would be electric all the way and could be faster by up to thirty minutes on the current three hour journey.

Read Jumping The Electrification Gap Between Leeds And Manchester for full details on what it would entail.

The Midland Main Line

On the Midland Main Line, the electrification reaches from St. Pancras to Bedford.

As Corby, Kettering and Leicester are all within an Aventra IPEMU’s range from Bedford, these places could be served by these trains, once a certain amount of track and station work had been completed.

Read Thoughts On Midland Main Line Electrification for full details.

Delivering The Projects

The BBC article says this about the schedule.

The TransPennine upgrade is expected to provide capacity for six “fast or semi-fast trains” per hour between Manchester, Leeds and York , reducing journey times by up to 15 minutes.

The Manchester to York section of the work is now planned to be completed by 2022.

Once completed, the whole line from Liverpool to Newcastle will be fully electrified, the Department for Transport added.

The electrification of Midland Mainline north of Bedford to Kettering and Corby will now be completed by 2019, and the line north of Kettering to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and to Sheffield will finish by 2023.

My project management knowledge and observations of Network Rail, say that to get electric trains to Kettering and Corby by 2019, would be a very tight schedule to perform on a working railway using conventional electrification!

But if it were needed to replace the current Class 222 trains with Aventra IPEMUs, it would just be a matter of certifying the line for the new Aventra IPEMUs and training the drivers and other staff.

There would be little or no work outside in the elements and all of the electrification would effectively be done in a comfortable warm factory at Derby!

I also feel that if say Network Rail said that the projects would be delivered on a particular date, that the risk of non-delivery would be very small.

Aventra IPEMUs can’t be delivered earlier, as the Derby factory will be jammed solid with production of Aventras for Crossrail.

On the other hand to prove the concept, would Bombardier modify a Class 387 train to create an IPEMU variant to run in passenger service between St.Pancras and Corby. Note that there have already been rumours of Class 387 IPEMU variants for Great Western Railway.

I wouldn’t be surprised if such a train is created, as it would be a superb way to identify any problems, train staff, prove the credibility of battery trains to a sceptical public and even deliver  electric trains earlier.

A Cunning Plan

There are twenty seven Class 387 trains running on the Thameslink route at the moment, that will be replaced by Class 700 trains between 2016 and 2018.

As the Great Western Main Line won’t be electrified to Newbury, Swindon and Oxford until 2019 or whatever, there does seem to be the possibility of some very new Class 387 trains going into storage.

But as they are very similar to the Class 379 that was used for the IPEMU demonstrator, I do wonder if those clever engineers at Bombardier could convert some of these 110 mph trains into an IPEMU variant that could be used on services on TransPennine and the Midland Main Line.

If there were any spare Class 379 trains, I’m sure that other train companies would find a use for them! Especially, if Bombardier developed a plug-in battery system for the trains, so they could be used to prove if IPEMUs improved the lot of passengers on secondary lines.

You have to make your assets sweat.

Conclusion

I may be wrong, but I can’t see any other way to meet the schedule that has been published, unless some form of IPEMU is used to bridge the gaps in electrification..

It could be said that the North needs fast electric trains now and George Osborne needs them by 2020, as he has an election to win!

It might not matter much to most people if the trains didn’t run until say August 2020, but George Osborne would be unlikely to win an election in May 2020, if the trains were not delivered and running smoothly.

 

September 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Developments At And Around Lea Bridge Station

These are the latest pictures I took of the station on September the 21st.

The pictures also show that around the area of the station are a large amount of industrial units, some of which couldn’t be described as high class, by any means. This Google Map shows the area.

Around Lea Bridge Station

Around Lea Bridge Station

The station is being built in the curve of Argall Way, where the railway goes under Lea Bridge Road. The dreadful bridge over the railway can be spitted where Argall Way branches away from the railway at the top of the image.

97, Lea Bridge Road is picked out as that is a site owned by Bywater. According to this report from the Guardian series of local papers, the site and several others in the area are slated for the development of a thousand houses. This is the first two paragraphs.

Two huge housing developments will be discussed next week as developers look to build hundreds of homes in Waltham Forest.

Separate sites in Leyton could be transformed into new neighbourhoods after ambitious plans are put to Waltham Forest council.

Is the station the chicken or the egg?

September 30, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment