The Anonymous Widower

Bi-Mode Trains In Prospect As HS2 Northern Routes Confirmed

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

Bi-Mode Trains On High Speed Lines

There are some, who believe that all trains should run on electrified lines.

But my belief is simpler – All trains should be electric, but they might be able to run on tracks with or without  electrification.

There are currently, four proven ways to provide traction power on board an electrically-driven train.

  • Diesel
  • Hydrogen
  • Gas Turbine
  • Stored energy – Battery and/or capacitor.

Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Talgo who are on the short list to build trains for High Speed Two, already make a train called RENFE Class 730, which has the following specification.

  • 2.4 MW on 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • 3.8 MW on diesel
  • Dual-gauge; Iberian and standard.
  • Eleven coaches
  • Maximum speed of 160 mph

High Speed Two is designed for 225 mph running, so the trains would need to be faster than these.

But suppose a train was to run say between Euston and Holyhead or any important place a hundred miles or so from High Speed Two.

It would be unlikely that the last part of the route without electrification, would be a high speed line, with a maximum speed in excess of 125 mph.

If it were a high speed line, then it would probably be electrified.

So a typical specification for a bi-mode for High Speed Two would probably be something like.

  • Maximum speed of 225 mph on High Speed Two using the electrification.
  • Maximum speed of 125 mph on the alternative power source.
  • Ability to go between at least Crewe and Holyhead (84 miles) and back without refuelling.

Effectively, the train has two performance regimes; one for electrified high speed lines and one for classic lines without electrification.

A Possible Design For A Bi-Mode High Speed Train

Eurostar’s Class 374 train, which is one of the latest high speed trains is described like this in Wikipedia.

The Velaro e320, named because of plans to operate at 320 km/h (200 mph), would be 16 cars long, to meet the Channel Tunnel safety specifications but would have distributed traction with the traction equipment along the length of the train, not concentrated in power cars at each end.

Note.

  • Distributed power gives better acceleration and smoother braking.
  • The trains also appear to have at least six pantographs, so does that mean that each feeds a number of cars?
  • I suspect there will be an electrical bus running the length of the train which will feed the traction motors.
  • In my design of train, each car would have batteries and/or capacitors to handle the regenerative braking.
  • The energy storage would give the train a limited range away from electrification.

For the required range between Crewe and Holyhead, there would probably be a need for diesel or hydrogen power.

I feel though, that in this day and age, no-one would build a new train that used diesel, if they could get the performance from hydrogen power or some other clean source.

Perhaps one of the middle cars of the train could be a power car fuelled by hydrogen.

This should be something that works, as British Rail and Stadler have both used this layout successfully.

On What Routes Would The Train Be Used?

I have used the service between London and Holyhead as an example and this is probably the longest route away from High Speed Two.

Any route that is in range from High Speed Two or a connected electrified route, could be served by these trains, if it was so desired and the train could be run on the route.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of these trains have the capability to go as far North as Aberdeen and Inverness.

Conclusion

Bi-mode high speed trains could be designed, if anybody needed them.

But for short extensions from High Speed Two, energy storage would probably suffice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

The Ultimate 125 mph Bi-Mode Train

This post puts together my thoughts on 125 mph bi-mode trains from other posts in the last couple of months.

Yesterday, I had my first ride in a Class 800 train. I went from Paddington to Swindon in two-five car trains, working as a ten-car formation.

  • The route is fully-electrified between Paddington and Didcot Parkway station
  • The train was full.
  • The train was doing 125 mph for substantial parts of the electrified route.
  • On the sections without electrification, a lot of the running was over 100 mph.

I didn’t notice any noise or vibration from the diesel generators. As only, three-cars of a five-car train have them, I may have been in a car without a diesel generator.

Class 800 Trains

The Class 800 and its similar siblings are the nearest we have to an ultimate bi-mode train.

125 mph On Electricity And 100 mph-plus On Diesel

Hitachi’s trains do not yet have the ability to cruise at 125 mph on diesel, but they will get closer in the next few years.

Batteries To Handle Regenerative Braking

I cover this fully in Do Class 800/801/802 Trains Use Batteries For Regenerative Braking?

In the related post,I include this schematic of the traction system.

Note BC which is described as battery charger.

The diagram came from this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which has the following description.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

This is all very comprehensive, but it doesn’t say anything about batteries, except that the auxiliary power supply incorporates a battery charger.

It would appear the batteries might be used to provide emergency power, but the document doesn’t say, if they can be used as traction power.

I suspect that in the next version generator units (GUs), and batteries will work together to make a more efficient train, that can use braking energy for traction.

Using batteries in this way, means that regenerative braking is available in both electric and diesel modes.

Emergency Power

Note how in the above extract, it states this.

On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars).

This will be very handy for short diversions or when the electrification fails, to get the train to the next station.

Ability To Split And Join Automatically.

This is an extract from the document on the Hitachi Rail web site.

Because the coupling or uncoupling of cars in a trainset occurs during commercial service at an intermediate station, the automatic coupling device is able to perform this operation in less than 2 minutes.

It is fascinating to watch the closely related Class 395 trains do this at Ashford International station.

Plug And Play Trains

The document on the Hitachi Rail web site, explains in detail, how the train’s computer works out what coaches have been coupled together, to create the actual train.

It even automatically adjusts everything if two trains are split or joined together.

Acceptable Noise And Vibration

On my short ride, I didn’t notice the noise of the diesel engine, but on a first look, it appears to be acceptable.

Fast Changeover From Electric To Diesel And Vice-Versa

As I didn’t notice the change to diesel, somewhere past Didcot Parkway station, I must assume, this can be done at line speed.

Conclusion On Class 800 Trains

I feel that the next generation of these trains will be more advanced and efficient, and will be capable of 125 mph on both electrification and diesel.

Routes For 125 mph Bi-Mode Trains

There are several roues, where a 125 mph bi-mode train could be an ideal train to serve the route.

Kings Cross To King’s Lynn

This is a route, that I wouldn’t have thought about, as it is electric-only until I read a short article in Edition 849 of Rail Magazine, which was entitled Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, which advocated the following for the route.

  • 125 mph trains
  • Modern digital signalling, which would include ETCS.

These would increase the capacity South of Hitchin on the East Coast Main Line and make timetabling of the Fen Line much easier.

Then in the next edition of the magazine, there was an article, that advocated the reopening of the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton branch line.

At just fifteen miles this would be ideal for bi-mode trains or ones with sufficient battery capacity.

There are other routes, which feature the following.

  • 125 mph running on a high speed line, which is fully or partly electrified.
  • An extension on a branch line without full electrification.

A few example routes include.

Euston to Chester

Kings Cross to Harrogate

Kings Cross to Hull

Kings Cross to Middlesbrough

 

Midland Main Line

The new East Midlands franchise for the Midland Main Line will go the 125 mph bi-mode route.

  • The InterCity 125 trains don’t meet the disability regulation after December 2019.
  • No more electrification will be added to the route in the next few years.

The Department for Transport says this in this consultation on their web site, about the new franchise.

The new franchise operator has a key role to play in facilitating the delivery of new infrastructure and delivering the benefits the investment is funding, including the benefits delivered to passengers through a modern fleet of bi-mode trains. Bi-modes will deliver passenger benefits sooner than electrification would without the disruption from putting up wires and masts along the whole route.

But some improvements should be completed by December 2019.

  • The route will be electrified from St. Pancras to Kettering and Corby.
  • The route will be four tracks from St. Pancras to Glendon Junction, where the Corby branch leaves the Midland Main Line.
  • The overhead line equipment South of Bedford will be upgraded to allow 125 mph running.

Bi-mode trains capable of 125 mph, would appear to be a necessity of running the Midland Main Line efficiently.

 

 

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | | 6 Comments

Merseyrail’s Battery Intentions

In New Merseyrail Fleet A Platform For Future Innovations, I quoted from  this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

The article mainly is an interview with David Powell, who is programme director of rolling stock at Merseytravel.

This is a direct quote from the article.

We will be exploring, with Stadler, what the options are for having the trains becoming self-powered. This isn’t the bi-modes that lots of other people are talking about in the industry; this is on-board electrical storage.

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail links to this document, which puts a lot more flesh on Merseyrail’s intentions for battery trains.

It outlines strategies for the following routes.

Ellesmere Port And Helsby

The document says this.

There is a reasonable business case for extending the Merseyrail service through to Helsby.
However this is likely to be best served by the use of Merseyrail battery powered enabled
services. This will be tested on the new units in 2020.

According to Wikipedia, the sixth Class 777 train to be delivered will be fitted with batteries.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Central and Ellesmere Port stations is as follows.

  • A train every thirty minutes.
  • Trains take eighty-five minutes to do the round trip from Ellesmere Port round the Wirral Loop under Liverpool and back to Ellesmere Port.
  • There are thirty-one stops on the route.
  • There is a five minute turnround at Ellesmere Port station.

Two trains are needed to run the service.

The Current Class 507/508 trains and the future Class 777 trains both have the same operating speed, but there are performance differences.

  • The British Rail trains have 656 kW of power per train, whereas every new Stadler train will have 2,100 kW. The speed may be the same, but the acceleration will be much greater if needed and and the regenerative braking should be powerful and smoothly controlled.
  • Loading and unloading of passengers with their increasing levels of extras will be much faster due to the hollistic design of the trains and the platforms.

It would not be unrealistic to see around a minute saved at every stop.

The extended service between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations is not much extra distance and time.

  • Just over five miles each way.
  • About thirteen minutes each way , based on existing services on the route.

So if the terminus were to be moved to Helsby, when the new trains are in service, the time savings between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool should cover the extra distance.

It should also be noted about Helsby station.

  • It has four platforms and could probably handle four trains per hour (tph).
  • A platform with a charging station could be created.
  • It has a wide selection of services including Chester, Llandudno, Manchester and Warrington.

To my mind, Liverpool to Helsby would be an ideal route for a battery electric train.

Ormskirk-Preston Enhancements

The document says this.

This incorporates both electrification from Ormskirk through to Preston and the potential
reintroduction one or both of the Burscough Curves. In view of the deferral of electrification
proposals, and the relative low ranking of the electrification proposal in the Northern Sparks
report, it is unlikely that the electrification proposal is expected to be taken forward in the
near future. In addition to this, the business case for extending electrification to Burscough,
and the introduction of the southern Burscough Curve, is poor. The potential use of battery
powered Merseyrail units may improve the business case for both proposals. This will be
reviewed after the Merseyrail units have been tested for battery operation in 2020.

Currently, the service between Ormskirk and Preston stations is as follows.

  • A train every hour.
  • Trains take around thirty minutes to go between the two terminal stations.
  • The route is fifteen and a half miles long.
  • There are three stops on the route.
  • There is a long turnround in a bay platform at Preston station.

At the present time, the service seems rather erratic, with some services replaced by buses and long connection times at Ormskirk.

The service between Liverpool Central and Ormskirk stations takes thirty-five minutes with eleven stops and is generally every fifteen minutes, with a half-hourly service in the evening and at weekends.

If a Class 777 train could use battery power, I estimate it could run between Liverpool Central and Preston stations within an hour.

This would surely open up the possibility of a new service between Liverpool and Preston.

  • It would take only a few minutes longer than the fifty-one minutes of a direct train between Liverpool Lime Street and Preston stations.
  • It would connect a lot of stations to West Coast Main Line at Preston.
  • It would link the major sporting venues of Aintree, Anfield and Goodison or Everton’s new ground to the North.
  • At the Southern end, it could connect to Liverpool Airport.

The Class 777 trains would need to be able to do about thirty miles on battery power and if required, the technology exists to either top up the batteries at Preston or use a pantograph to access the overhead wires of the West Coast Main Line.

At the present time, the Ormskirk Branch Line between Ormskirk and Preston stations is only single track and probably needs resignalling, but I suspect that a four tph service could be run between Liverpool and Ormskirk, with two tph extended to Preston.

Extra track work, North of Ormskirk and the reinstatement of the Burscough curves would allow.

  • Four tph between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Liverpool and Southport via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Preston and Southport.

There is even the possibility of extending Liverpool and Preston services to Blackpool South station, if they used the overhead electrification through Preston to charge the batteries.

Borderlands Development

The document says this.

While the aspiration is to fully electrify the line, and incorporate it into the Merseyrail
network, this is very much a long term aspiration. In the interim period the aim is to develop
the line through the introduction of an improved diesel service. Merseytravel will work
closely with relevant cross-border organisations such as Growth Track 360 to bring this
about. There are a number of new station proposals for the line, the principal being a new
station close to the Deeside Industrial Park, which would improve the ability of the
workforce to access the site via public transport.

The Borderlands Line provides a service between Liverpool and Wrexham Central station with a change at Bidston station.

  • The twenty-seven miles between Wrexham Central and Bidston are not electrified.
  • The line is double-track throughout.
  • There are twelve stations on the line.
  • The service is hourly, but probably needs to be at least half-hourly.
  • The service takes about an hour between Wrexham and Bidston stations.

Using Class 777 trains on the route, using battery power between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations would enable.

  • A direct service, that terminated in the Wirral Loop under Liverpool.
  • An increased capacity at Bidston station.
  • A faster service.

I estimate that a time of perhaps seventy to eighty minutes between Liverpool Central and Wrexham Central stations will be possible.

There would be very little infrastructure work, except for new stations and the possible ability to top up batteries at Wrexham Central.

I suspect that political problems, rather than any railway ones will be larger.

Bootle Branch Electrification

The document says this.

A long term proposal which will need to be considered alongside the developing freight
strategy for the region and the expansion of the Port of Liverpool. The proposal envisages
the introduction of passenger services which will operate from the Bootle Branch into Lime
Street. An initial study is required to understand fully the freight requirements for the line
and what the realistic potential for operating passenger services over the line is.

The Bootle Branch is known as the Canada Dock Branch in Wikipedia.

Class 777 trains with a battery capability and the ability to use the overhead electrification into Liverpool Lime Street would be able to serve this route, without the need for electrification.

Obviously, if for freight efficiency, the route was electrified, the trains could use it as needed.

North Mersey Branch

The document says this.

A long term proposal; this envisages a new service operating from Ormskirk via Bootle into
Liverpool. It was reviewed as part of the Merseyrail Route Utilisation Strategy in 2009 which
identified a poor business case.

I can’t identify the actual route, but there are various rail alignments into and through the Docks.

Skelmersdale

The document says this.

Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to
develop the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale. This work is expected
to be completed in 2019. Further development work will be required before this project is
implemented. While 3rd rail electrification is being considered currently, alternatives will be
considered later in the development process. A new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the
Northwood area of Kirkby is an integral part of this proposal. The potential to extend the
network further through to Wigan will need to be developed separately.

I wrote about this plan in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link.

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive expansion strategy, where much of the work to create the various extensions is performed by adding equipment to the trains in factories or depots, rather than by the disruptive installation of electrification.

It looks very much like a case of Have Swiss Train Will Travel.

But then, I think the London Overground is using a similar strategy to expand in partnership with Bombardier.

Other networks like the Tyne & Wear Metro and those in cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds will be using similar philosophies.

Cardiff has already decided and Stadler are building the trains for the South Wales Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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