The Anonymous Widower

The Intelligent Bi-Mode Train

In the June 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Stadler Bi-Modes Taking Shape.

It gives a deep insight into the philosophy of how the trains was designed and how they operates.

Abbreviations Used

Low-Floor Design

This is said.

Both the BMUs and EMUs will have a low-floor design enabling level boarding at every passenger door, with retractable steps bridging the gap between the train and the platform edge.

How simple is that?

This picture show’s a Flirt in Italy.

Surely, every train should have level boarding!

Passive Provision For Digital Signalling

The cabling is already installed and rack space has been left.

Sensible!

But I suspect there will be a new train fleet delivered, in the next couple of years, where the trains are not future-proofed.

Drivers Helped Design The Cabs

Consultation was about both hardware and software.

Lots Of Cameras

This is said.

Extensive video surveillance and bodyside cameras will allow drivers to control the opening and closing of doors.

Surely, more cameras means better safety and security, so why are the RMT against these new trains?

Perhaps, RMT members didn’t get free trips to Switzerland?

Twelve-Car Trains Are Possible

This is said.

Up to three BMU sets can operate in multiple, allowing a 12-car formation to run should this ever be required.

Why would Greater Anglia need a twelve-car BMU?

Problems do occur and suppose one of the London-Norwich EMUs had a serious problem, that meant it would be in the workshop for several weeks.

During this time, three four-car BMUs could be run as a twelve-car formation to cover for the missing EMU.

  • Performance would be the same.
  • Both trains carry around 700 passengers.
  • The BMUs would be on electric power all the way.

The only disadvantage would be that the BMUs have no buffet and First Class seats.

In my regular travelling on the Great Eastern Main Line in the last thirty years, I have been involved in two incidents where all trains stopped because of weather or a derailment. If the track, electrification and trains are the best, then there will still be the occasional closure.

But a twelve-car BMU would still be able to use the alternative route via Cambridge!

Do Greater Anglia see the BMUs as a means of getting passengers to their destimation, in circumstances, which interrupt normal service?

They’ve obviously done their sums and is it cheaper to have a couple of BMUs spare to cover for problems, than have passengers wait until everything is fixed?

I think, t is more likely that eight-car trains will be used.

Could for instance two four-car trains start from Lowestoft and Bury St. Edmunds in the morning and then join at Ipswich for a fast run to London for commuters?

Or would eight-car trains be used on Cambridge-Ipswich and Cambridge-Norwich, when there are important football matches?

The BMU train lengths of three and four cars, would also allow train capacity to be geared to the route.

Will we see other train companies buying this type of flexible capacity?

Flexible Power Source

This is said.

Stadler says the bi-mode Flirts are EMUs with a power pack in between just to generate power, adding that the power pack can be removed later to create an EMU or the equipment in the power module exchanged for batteries or other power sources.

Stadler says this flexibility will be important in the train’s lifespan of between 30 to 35 years.

All End Cars Are The Same

Both the BMUs and EMUs have the same end cars.

Except for a switch box to change power source in the BMU.

The four-car BMUs have two extra cars, both of which have a pantograph, whereas the three-car BMUs have just a single extra car.

It has been said, that three-car trains can be converted to four-cars, by just adding another car.

This picture, clipped from Wikipedia, shows the layouts of both trains.

What does a design like this save in manufacture, operation, driver training and maintenance?

Environmentally-Friendly

It goes without saying that the trains comply with the latest emission and noise regulations.

Changing Power Source

This is said.

Drivers of BMUs will be able to switch between electric and diesel modes whilst on the move if agreement is reached with Network Rail.

As a Control Engineer by training, I would feel that if a BMU can’t switch between modes on the move, then it is a very poor design of BMU.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking is fitted and it works in diesel mode as well as electric, but it is not stored on the train in a battery and is just burned off in a brake-resistor, if it can’t be returned through the overhead line.

I would expect, that at some point in the future batteries will be added to the power module to capture and resuse this energy, which is now wasted.

Intelligent Engine Management

This is said.

When the output of all the engines is not required one or more can be shut down to save fuel, with the engine management system ensuring this is shared across all engines over a period of time to balance maintenance schedules.

Sensible.

But, I worked for ICI in the 1970s and some of the early computerised chemical plants used optimisations like this to improve efficiency!

Bicycle Spaces

East Anglian trains, especially those starting or finishing in Cambridge, carry a lot of bicycles.

All the BMUs have provision for six bicycles! Is that enough?

Conclusion

The Class 745 and Class 755 trains are an interesting dual-solution to the problem of East Anglia’s railways, which have a dual electric spine from London to Norwich and Cambridge and a plethora of connecting routes without wires.

Other franchises must be looking seriously at a similar solution.

It should also be noted that Stadler have delivered Flirt EMUs with a 125 mph operating speed to Norway and Sweden.

So could we see 125 mph BMUs operating on lines, like the Midland Main and West Coast Main Line?

It could be that the weight of the power module means that the 100 mph of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains is the maximum possible speed on diesel.

In which case could we see a Flirt with 125 mph on electric power and 100 mph on diesel?

 

May 28, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

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