The Anonymous Widower

The Battery Trains Are Coming

Every month seems to bring more information about trains where batteries are an important part of the propulsion system of the train.

So what are the various manufacturers offering?

Alstom

Alstom’s Coradia iLint train is hydrogen powered and as this video shows, batteries are an important part of the design of the train, which can probably be considered a hydrogen/battery hybrid train.

As I wrote in Germany Approves Alstom’s Hydrogen Train For Passenger Service, these trains will be entering service in late summer in Germany.

In the UK, Alstom are to convert some of the hundred-plus fleet of Class 321 trains, to running on hydrogen power.

I set out my thoughts on this in Thoughts On A Hydrogen-Powered Class 321 Train.

These were my conclusions.

  • The Class 321 train will make a good hydrogen-powered train.
  • Alstom would not have looked at converting a thirty-year-old train to hydrogen power, if they thought it would be less than good.
  • British Rail’s design of a 750 VDC bus makes a lot of the engineering easier and enables the train to be tailored for world-wide markets, with different electrification systems and voltages.
  • Having two different hydrogen-powered trains will give Alstom a better place in an emerging market.

I suspect in a few years time, if these two hydrogen projects are successful, Alstom will design and manufacture, a whole family of hydrogen-powered trains, with different gauges, capacities and operating speeds.

Bombardier

Unlike Alstom, who seem to be telling the world what they are doing with hybrid hydrogen/battery trains, Bombardier are playing their cards close to their chest.

In early 2015, I rode on Bombardier’s Class 379 Battery-Electric Multiple Unit demonstrator between Manningtree and Harwich.

It destroyed my scepticism about battery-electric trains.

Since then, the following has happened.

Class 345 Trains Have Entered Service

Class 345 trains have entered service on Crossrail routes to the East and West of London.

Until denied by Bombardier, I believe that these trains from Bombardier’s new   Aventra family use batteries for the following purposes.

  • Storing and reuseing the energy generated by regenerative braking.
  • Providing an emergency power source, should the main electricity supply fail.
  • Allowing depots and stabling sidings without electrification.

The trains should also make Crossrail and the other routes on which they run, more electrically efficient.

Five More Fleets Of Aventras

Bombardier have sold five more fleets of Aventras.

Could electrical efficiency because of clever use of batteries be a reason?

A 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries Has Been Launched

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra Could Feature Battery Power.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I analyse the train in detail.

This was my conclusion.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train, a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficient.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

My calculation might be wrong, but it’s in the right area.

Voyager Battery Upgrade

This use of batteries by Bombardier was a total surprise.

In the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

A lot of the article takes the form of reporting an interview with Des McKeon, who is Bombardier’s Commercial |Director and Global Head of Regional and Intercity.

This is a paragraph.

He also confirmed Bombardier is examining the option of fitting batteries to Voyager DEMUs for use in stations.

I discuss what Bombardier might be doing in Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?.

I feel the simplest use for batteries on these trains would be to store the energy generated by regenerative braking in batteries, from where it would be used for the train’s hotel power!

This would reduce the need for the engines to be running in stations.

Conclusion

I think Bombardier have been thinking very hard about how you design a train with batteries.

CAF

CAF have fitted several of their trams with batteries and this system will be used on the Midland Metro, to create new routes without catenary.

But they only seem to have an on-off order for trains fitted with batteries for Auckland.in New Zealand.

The order seems to be on hold.

Given that CAF, have a reputation for research and development and they have used batteries in trams, I can’t believe that they are not looking seriously at how to use batteries in their train designs.

Hitachi

On page 79 of the January 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, Nick Hughes, who is the Sales Director of Hitachi Rail Europe outlines how the manufacturer is embracing the development of battery technology.

He is remarkably open.

I wrote Hitachi’s Thoughts On Battery Trains, after reading what he said.

Hitachi certainly have working battery trains in Japan and use batteries on Class 800 trains to capture the energy generated by regenerative braking. On these trains, it appears to be used for hotel power.

Siemens

Siemens have now merged with Alstom and they are also developing a hydrogen-powered train.

I wrote about this train in Siemens Joins The Hydrogen-Powered Train Club.

As with Alstom, I suspect this train will be using batteries.

Siemens have also won the order for the New Tube For London.

I wrote about this in Thoughts On The New Tube For London.

In the Future Upgrades section of the Wikipedia entry for the Piccadilly Line, this is said.

Siemens publicised an outline design featuring air-conditioning and battery power to enable the train to run on to the next station if third and fourth rail power were lost. It would have a lower floor and 11% higher passenger capacity than the present tube stock. There would be a weight saving of 30 tonnes, and the trains would be 17% more energy-efficient with air-conditioning included, or 30% more energy-efficient without it

I would suspect, the batteries are also used to handle the energy from regenerative braking

Stadler

Stadler have developed a bi-mode Flirt, which has been ordered by Greater Anglia as the Class 755 train.

They have now sold a diesel/electric/battery tri-mode to KeolisAmey Wales, which from the visualisations look like the trains are closely related to the Class 755 trains.

Stadler are also delivering Class 777 trains to Merseyrail. Wikipedia says this.

In May 2018, it was announced the sixth Class 777 unit to be delivered will be fitted with batteries for a trial.

So it looks like two major fleets of trains for the UK from Stadler will have batteries.

There is also the Stadler Wink, which has been sold to Arriva Nederland.

Wikipedia says this about the design.

It has an aluminium carbody that can be customized in length by the customer, and can be powered by either diesel or electric powertrains with supplemental on board batteries. Arriva units will be delivered with Deutz diesel engines and batteries charged by regenerative braking; the engines are planned to be replaced by additional batteries once electrification is installed over part of their route.

Stadler seem to be putting a lot of effort into batteries.

Vivarail

Vivarail’s Class 230 train started as a diesel-electric and they have now sold a battery version to KeolisAmey Wales, which should be in service in May 2019.

Conclusion

All train manufacturers seem to be applying battery technology to their trains.

The main purpose seems to be to recycle the energy generated by regenerative braking.

Some trains like Alstom’s hydrogen trains, Bombardier’s Aventras and Stadler’s tri-mode Flirt, use the energy for traction, whilst others like Hitachi’s Class 800 trins, use the energy for hotel power.

If a researcher or company comes up with a better battery, they will certainly get a return for their efforts in the rail industry.

 

July 17, 2018 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Siemens are also producing an electro-battery hybrid, the Desiro ML Cityjet Eco https://www.railwaygazette.com/news/traction-rolling-stock/single-view/view/battery-powered-desiro-ml-cityjet-eco-unveiled.html

    In a few years time, such things will be commonplace.

    BTW, Siemens haven’t merged with Alstom yet – still awaiting approval (or not) from competition authorities

    Comment by Peter Robins | September 10, 2018 | Reply

  2. Alstom and SNCF have just announced plans for electric/battery/diesel trains for several French regions https://www.railwaygazette.com/news/single-view/view/hybrid-regional-train-to-be-tested.html

    Comment by Peter Robins | September 18, 2018 | Reply


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