The Anonymous Widower

Brand New Vivarail Train Arrives At Bletchley

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Advent.

The first Class 230 train has now been delivered to its new home at Bletchley depot for service on the Marston Vale Line.

This unlikely project finally seems to be closing in on a successful conclusion.

But then never underestimate the power of engineering!

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 12 Comments

The Future Of Great Western Railway’s Class 165 Trains

My excursion to Greenford was to get a detailed look at the Class 165 train that works the Greenford Branch.

I took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The trains are internally in reasonable condition.
  2. They have a Universal Access Toilet.
  3. This particular train had a large number of well-placed point points and USB sockets.

The interior would not need much work to bring it up to a very good standard.

Moving To Bristol

The majority of the trains are moving to the Bristol area to provide local services including some longer distance ones to Cardiff, Exeter and Gloucester.

Conversion To Class 165 HyDrive Trains

If the initial conversion of a Chiltern Class 165 train to a hybrid train, that I wrote about in Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid,  is a successful conversion, I think there could be several reasons to look at converting Great Western Railways trains.

  • Improved performance.
  • Less noise and pollution.
  • Lower operating costs.
  • The marketing value of a hybrid train

The financial details will decide whether the conversion is worthwhile.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

An Illustration Of Why The Greenford Branch Needs Four Trains Per Hour

I wanted to ride the Greenford Branch to photograph a Class 165 train in the livery of Great Western Railway.

So I took one of TfL Rail’s Class 345 trains to West Ealing station.

By the time, that I’d climbed over the bridge and walked to Platform 5 to catch the Class 165 train to Greenford, the train had just left.

So I then spent a miserably cold thirty minutes in a fierce wind on a station without a shelter, whilst I waited for the next train.

In that time, when I took these pictures, two passenger trains in each direction stopped in the station.

Crossrail

When Crossrail finally opens, West Ealing station is going to get ten trains per hour (tph) in both directions, which will terminate in the West at Heathrow Terminal 4, Heathrow Terminal 5, Maidenhead and Reading.

Passengers interchanging with the Greenford Branch will enjoy the thirty minute wait.

Airport Workers

I have been told several times by train staff and airport workers that getting to Heathrow Airport somtimes needs a car, as the buses are hard to find.

Nothing has been said about Crossrail running through the night, but as Thameslink runs to Gatwick, I wouls suspect this will happen.

And if Crossrail runs through the night, surely the humble Greenford Branch should do the same.

Conclusion

Plans should be developed to get the Greenford Branch running at four tph, throughout the day and perhaps two tph, when Crossrail is running through the night.

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?

I ask this question, as I think the Greenford Branch should be developed and run at a frequency of four trains per hour (tph).

I give my reasons in An Illustration Of Why The Greenford Branch Needs Four Trains Per Hour.

The Class 165 HyDrive Train

I described the proposed Class 165 HyDrive trains in Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid.

These are given as the advantages of these and other hybrid trains.

  • Improved acceleration.
  • Smooth and powerful regenerative braking.
  • Less gaseous and noise emissions.

A two-car Class 165 train can already run on the branch, so I’m pretty sure, that to run on the route,, a Class 165 HyDrive train would require no new major infrastructure, like lengthened platforms or electrification.

The Track Layout Of The Greenford Branch

The Greenford Branch is double-track.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at Greenford station.

Note that both tracks of the branch, are connected to the following.

  • The bay platform in Greenford station, where the service on the branch terninates.
  • Both tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line going West using Greenford West Junction.
  • Both tracks of the Acton-Northolt Line going East using Greenford East Junction.

It is a well-designed junction, where all required movements seem possible.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the track layout at West Ealing station.

Unlike at Greenford station, it appears that, there is no connection from the bay platform at West Ealing station to the left track towards Greenford station.

This might make it difficult to run the more frequent service of four tph, that this line needs.

So there might be a need for an extra crossover or minor track updates.

The Current Passenger Service On The Greenford Branch

The current service is two tph, which is based on a single train, shuttling backwards and forwards.

  • West Ealing to Greenford – 12 minutes
  • Turnround at Greenford – 3 minutes
  • Greenford to West Ealing – 11 minutes
  • Turnround at West Ealing – 4 minutes

Obviously, the train can only do two round trips in an hour.

Service Improvements With The Class 165 HyDrive Train

The proposed Class 165 HyDrive train will not offer and dramatic improvements, but its superior acceleration and braking, could speed up the three intermediate stops by a minute or two.

But I doubt that this would be enough time savings to enable one train to achieve the much-needed four tph.

Four Tph On The Greenford Branch

This could be achieved by two trains.

Train 1 would run as follows.

WE Dep – XX:00

GF Arr – XX:12

GF Dep – XX:15

WE Arr – XX:26

WE Dep – XX:30

GF Arr – XX:42

GF Dep – XX:45

WE Arr – XX:56

Train 2 would run as follows.

WE Dep – XX:15

GF Arr – XX:27

GF Dep – XX:30

WE Arr – XX:41

WE Dep – XX:45

GF Arr – XX:57

GF Dep – XX:00

WE Arr – XX:11

Note how Train 2 is fifteen minutes behind Train 1.

With the track improvements at West Ealing station, two Class 165 trains could run this timetable, if they were well driven and nothing went wrong.

But I believe that if the more agile Class 165 HyDrive trains were to be used, they could use their performance to regain the timetable.

Their extra performance might also allow the  creation of  some extra paths for freight trains and empty stock movements.

Conclusion

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

 

 

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid

There must be something in the DNA of British Rail’s rolling stock.

Mark 3-based trains like the InterCity 125, Class 319 and Class 321 trains seem to have had collectively more lives than a city full of feral cats.

It is also understandable, that MTU are looking at upgrading modern rolling stock built with their engines to be more efficient and environmentally-friendly. They have launched the MTU Hybrid PowerPack, which adds up to four 30 kWh batteries, electric drive and regenerative braking to a typical diesel multiple unit built in the last twenty years.

So now, upgrading the traction systems of the Class 165 trains is being undertaken.

The Wikipedia entry for Class 165 trains, says this under Future Development.

It was reported in September 2018 that Angel Trains were to convert class 165 units for Chiltern Railways to hybrid diesel and battery-powered trains, and that the first Class 165 HyDrive train should be ready by late 2019.

There is more in this article on Rotherham Business, which is entitled Magtec Changes Track To Convert Diesel Trains.

This is said.

Magtec, the UK’s largest supplier of electric vehicle drive systems, is working to deliver the rail industry’s first conversion of a diesel-powered train to hybrid drive.

Founded in 1992, MAGTEC designs and manufactures electric drive systems and components for a wide range of applications including trucks, buses and military vehicles.

This is also said about the modified trains performance.

In future, passengers using the Class 165 HyDrive could benefit from potentially reduced journey times, thanks to the improved acceleration offered by the hybrid technology compared to its diesel-only counterparts. Additionally, when the hybrid system detects proximity to stations or depots, it will turn the engines off and run on its battery, removing gaseous and noise emissions from populated areas.

That sounds very good to me.

There is also a serious article in the Financial Times, which is entitled Hybrid Battery Trains Set To Shorten Commuter Journey Times.

The headline sounds like hype, but then it is the FT, who usually tell it as it is. Read the article and there is a lot of philosophy and reasons behind this avalanche of retrofitting old trains with new innovative traction systems, in Germany, France and the UK.

It should be remembered that Chiltern have a record of doing the right things.

Further Development

MAGTEC look to be a very innovative company.

The Class 465 train is a third-rail electric train, that is closely-related to the Class 165 train.

It should be noted that sixteen miles of the London to Aylesbury Line is electrified using London Underground’s fourth-rail system.

So could we see the creator’s of the Class 165 HyDrive train, raid the Class 465 train’s parts bin, so the trains can use London Underground’s electrification?

Conclusion

If the project produces a successful outcome, there are seventy-five Class 165 trains running on Chiltern and Great Western Railway, which all seem to be in good condition.

 

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

UK Hydrogen Train Demonstrator To Be Tested In 2019

The title of this post, is the same as that on this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A memorandum of understanding for the development of a hydrogen fuel cell demonstrator train was signed by leasing company Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research & Education at InnoTrans on September 19.

Porterbrook is to provide an ex-Thameslink Class 319 25 kV 50 Hz/750 V DC third rail electric multiple-unit for the Hydro Flex project. The partners expect it to be equipped with a fuel cell system and ready for demonstration runs in mid-2019. It would retain the ability to use electrical power.

Action is certainly happening in the development of low-emission trains and it appears, that the train leasing companies are taking an active lead.

 

 

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Class 171 Trains And MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

The Class 170 trains and the Class 171 trains are identical, except that they use different coupling systems.

So as MTU Hybrid PowerPacks are being fitted to Class 170 trains, it would seem to be almost certain, that they could be fitted to the other closely-related class.

Southern runs the Class 171 trains on two routes, that are partially-electrified.

  • Ashford to Brighton via Hastings and Eastbourne – 25 miles without electrification
  • London Bridge to Uckfield via Oxted – 23 miles without electrification.

It seems to be environmentally-unfriendly to not run a hybrid train on these routes.

Could A Class 171 Train With An MTU Hybrid PowerPack Run On Third-Rail Lines?

It would appear that the Class 170 and 171 trains, use the same or similar bogies as the Class 377 trains.

These pictures show the bogies on a Class 377 train.

And these are pictures of the bogies on a Class 171 train.

Note.

  1. The pictures were taken at London Bridge station.
  2. The two bogies appear to be of a similar design, although they are for trains with different traction systems.
  3. The bogies in the Class 171 train seem to fit close to the third-rail.
  4. On the Class 377 train, the two end bogies have shoes.

As the Class 377 trains can be and nearly always are fitted with third-rail shoes, would it be possible to fit third-rail shoes to Class 171 trains, at the same time as the transmission is changed from hydraulic to electric, when the MTU Hybrid PowerPacks are installed?

If it is possible to install third-rail shoes, then this power could be used to charge the battery or power the train.

Searching the Internet, I have found this blurb for the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

This is said

Naturally, rail vehicles with hybrid drive can also be powered exclusively by the diesel engine. This also means great flexibility for the operator: The trains can be deployed on both electrified
and non-electrified rail routes. 

In addition, upgrading to a trimodal power system – with an additional pantograph – is easy because the system is already equipped with an electric motor. This gives the operator considerable freedom with regard to deployment of the vehicles – it‘s a big plus when they can respond flexibly in the future to every route requirement or tender invitation.

A pantograph wouldn’t be much use in Southern territory, but the ability to connect to third-rail power certainly would be.

When clever electronics and a well-programmed control system are added, it should be possible to create an environmentally-friendly train, that could use third-rail, diesel or battery power as required.

Range On Battery Power

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

So how far would my proposed electric/diesel/battery hybrid train travel.

It would have a battery capacity of 61.2 kWh, if it had two one-battery MTU Hybrid PowerPack

Assume that the batteries are fully charged at Oxted, Asford and Ore, where they leave the existing electrification.

This would give the following ranges.

  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 10 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 7.5 miles
  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 6 miles

Note.

  1. ,If the MTU Hybrid PowerPacks had two batteries range would be doubled.
  2. Both the unelectrified routes have sections in open countryside, where diesel power could be used without too much disturbance.
  3. The diesel engines could be used to top up the batteries at Uckfield.

Looking at the two routes, there would be a big cut in the running of trains on diesel.

Diesel Savings Between London Bridge And Uckfield

The distance between London Bridge and Uckfield stations is 46.1 miles, of which 23 miles are not electrified.

Going South, I would suspect because of the regenerative braking and the full batteries at Oxted, that perhaps ten miles of diesel running would be needed.

Going North, because the batteries wouldn’t be full, I suspect about fifteen miles of diesel-running would be needed.

Currently in a round trip, the trains run for 92.2 miles on diesel, but with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks and a third-rail capability, this could be reduced to around twenty-five miles, with no running in stations.

This would be a seventy-three percent reduction in diesel running.

Diesel Savings Between Ashford And Eastbourne

The distance between Ashford and Eastbourne stations is 43 miles, of which 25 miles are not electrified.

On the section without electrification, I suspect that perhaps ten miles of diesel running would be needed.

Currently in a round trip, the trains run for 86 miles on diesel, but with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks and a third-rail capability, this could be reduced to around thirty miles, with no running in stations.

This would be a sixty-five percent reduction in diesel running.

Conclusion

The rail industry has only just started to look at the application of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

I’m pretty certain, that they’ll be used in some surprising applications.

 

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments