The Anonymous Widower

Vivarail And Arcola Announce Partnership To Bring Emission-Free Trains To The UK

The title of this post is the same as this press release from Vivarail.

These are the first two paragraphs

Vivarail, designers and manufacturers of the Class 230 trains, and hydrogen fuel cell specialists Arcola Energy today announced a long-term collaboration.

The companies share a determination to help de-carbonise the UK’s transport system. Vivarail has already designed and run an emission-free battery train whilst Arcola lead the market in supplying power systems for efficient fuel cell electric vehicles, primarily buses, to the UK. Working together the companies will develop a hydrogen/battery hybrid train.

It strikes me that this could be a good fit.

Powering A Bus

In New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I described Arcola Energy’s involvement in a project to create and fuel hydrogen-powered buses in conjunction with Alexander Dennis.

  • A typical hybrid double-decker bus like a New Routemaster has a battery capacity of 55 kWh.
  • If these Liverpool hydrogen-powered double-decker buses have serial hybrid transmission like the New Routemaster, I could envisage them having a battery of up to 100 kWh, as let’s face it, the New Routemaster design is now eight years old and battery technology has moved on.

So the Arcola Energy-sourced fuel cell must be able to continuously top-up, the battery, in the same manner as the diesel engine on a hybrid bus.

Sit in the back of a New Routemaster and you can hear the engine cutting in and out. It doesn’t seem to work very hard, even on routes like the 73, which operate at high loadings.

Powering A Class 230 Train

Vivarail’s battery-powered Class 230 train, has a battery capacity of  106 kWh.

This size of battery could certainly be changed by a hydrogen fuel cell.

But could a hydrogen fuel cell provide enough power to keep the train running?

  • Vivarail are clamming a range of fifty miles, which means that their two-car battery trains are consuming around 2 kWh for every mile.
  • I will assume the train is travelling at its operating speed of sixty mph, which is a mile every minute.
  • To keep the battery topped up would need 2 kWh to be produced every minute.

A hydrogen fuel cell with a rating of 120 kW would be needed to power the train continuously. But as the fuel cell would only be topping up the battery, I suspect that a smaller fuel cell would be sufficient.

The Ballard fuel cell is a HD variant of their  FCveloCity family.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of an HD fuel cell of their  FCveloCity family.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the train.

This Ballard fuel cell would appear to be capable of mounting under the floor of a train.

There are probably several other fuel cells that will fit the Class 230 train.

Arcola should know the best hydrogen fuel cell for the application, in terms of size, power and cost.

The Concept Train

Vivarail’s press release describes a concept train.

The concept train will be used to demonstrate the system capability and test performance. Vivarail’s production hydrogen trains will consist of 4-cars, with 2 battery driving motor cars and 2 intermediate cars housing the fuel cell and tanks.

Vivarail seem very certain of the formation of production trains.

I am not surprised at this certaincy.

  • The mathematics of battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trains is well known.
  • Vivarail have experience  of running their battery-powered prototype.
  • Arcola have experience of the capabilities of hydrogen-power.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some  commonality between the Alexander Dennis and Vivarail installations.

Range Of A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

Nothing is said in Vivarail’s press release about the range on hydrogen.

In Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead, I examined Alstom’s Class 321 Breeze hydrogen train, based on an article in The Times.

I said this about range.

The Times gives the range of the train as in excess of 625 miles

The Class 321 Breeze looks to be designed for longer routes than the Class 230 train.

I would suspect that a hydrogen-powered Class 230 train would have the range to do a typical day’s work without refuelling.

Refuelling A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

I don’t think this will be a problem as Arcola appear to have the expertise to provide a complete solution.


This is a co-operation, where both parties are bringing strengths to the venture.


May 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stoneleigh Station To Go Step-Free

This document on the Government web site is entitled Access for All: 73 Stations Set To Benefit From Additional Funding.

Stoneleigh station is on the list.

These pictures show the station and the current bridge,

By coincidence, I met the son of an old friend at the station, who lived nearby. He was able to give me a few extra details. Thanks Billy!

Abysmal Step-Free Access

I only exited the station on the Stoneleigh Broadway side and from the platform it was a two staircases up of about fifteen steps and then three similar staircases down.

  • In this day and age that is totally unacceptable.
  • As the station was only built in 1932, it shows the attitude of Southern Railway to passengers of reduced mobility! They are certainly not welcome!
  • Billy told me, that the railway divides Stoneleigh in two and using the bridge to get across is difficult for a lot of people.

There must be very few worse step-free stations than Stoneleigh.

The Station Is Bad For Health, Environment And The Community

How many people, who live on one side of the railway and need to go to the other to see the doctor, visit the library, go to church, have a coffee with a friend or just go to a shop, are now forced to get into a car to make the trip.

Demolition Is The Only Answer

It may be a wonderful example of 1930s creative concrete construction, but for the modern age, it is complete crap!

Te station needs to be demolished and either confined to the landfill of history or turned into building blocks or other useful product.

Replacement With A Modern Bridge

The objective would be to provide a bridge, that gave step-free access to

  • Station Approach on the Western side.
  • The island platform.
  • Stoneleigh Broadway on the Eastern side.

This Google Map shows an aerial view of the station.

Note the number of useful places on either side of the railway.

There is also a lot of space on either side of the railway.

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could a factory-built bridge like this be installed be installed at Stoneleigh station?


  • The bridge has been designed so it can built as a double span, so ir could serve both sides of the railway and the platform.
  • The steps at the end can even be turned through ninety degrees, so that they lead into the Broadway and Approach.
  • To create space, the life expired wooden buildings on the platform, that seem to be only held up, by courtesy of the woodworm holding hands, would need to be demolished.

This would allow, the new bridge to be built before closing the current monstrosity.

The station would be completed by providing a modern building on the platform, with staff and passenger facilities, that were appropriate to the million-plus passengers, who use the station every year.

Once the station is fully working, the 1930s station would be demolished.


Using Network Rail’s new footbridge design, a modern station could be created without closing the station to passengers and/or trains.

Stoneleigh could get a step-free modernstation i a matter of months, after planning permission was obtained.

In Syon Lane Station To Go Step-Free, I describe how Syon Lane station is getting a step-free bridge in five months.




May 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments