The Anonymous Widower

Could A Modular Family Of Freight Locomotives Be Created?

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I looked at the possibility of creating a battery/electric locomotive with the performance of a Class 66 locomotive.

  • I felt that the locomotive would need to be able to provide 2,500 kW for two hours on battery, to bridge the gaps in the UK electrification.
  • This would need a 5,000 kWh battery which would weigh about fifty tonnes.
  • It would be able to use both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • It would have a power of 4,000 kW, when working on electrification.
  • Ideally, the locomotive would have a 110 mph operating speed.

It would be a tough ask to design a battery/electric locomotive with this specification.

The Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

Suppose I start with a Stadler Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle loading of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
  • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
  • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this about replacing the diesel-engine with a battery.

Supposing the seven tonne diesel engine of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced by a battery of a similar total weight.

Traction batteries seem to have an energy/weight ratio of about 0.1kWh/Kg, which is increasing with time, as battery technology improves.

A crude estimate based on this energy/weight ratio would mean that at least a 700 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 train and not make the locomotive any heavier. Given that lots of equipment like the alternator and the fuel tank would not be needed, I suspect that a 1,000 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 locomotive, provided it just wasn’t too big.

This would be a 4,000 kWh electric locomotive with perhaps a twenty minute running time at a Class 66 rating on battery power.

The Stadler Class 68 Locomotive

The Stadler Class 68 locomotive shares a lot of components with the Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 85 tonnes and an axle loading of 21.2 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking to a rheostat.
  • It has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

They are a locomotive with a growing reputation.

A Double Bo-Bo Locomotive

My devious engineering mind, thinks about what sort of locomotive would be created if a Class 68 and a Class-88-based battery/electric locomotive were integrated together.

  • It would be a double Bo-Bo locomotive with an axle loading of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • Battery power can be used to boost the power on diesel as in the Stadler Class 93 locomotive.
  • It would be nice to see regenerative braking to the batteries.

Effectively, it would be a diesel and a battery/electric locomotive working together.

This picture shows a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive pulling a heavy freight train at Shenfield.

If this can be done with a diesel and an electric locomotive, surely a company like Stadler have the expertise to create a double locomotive, where one half is a diesel locomotive and the other is a battery/electric locomotive.

A Control Engineer’s Dream

I am a life-expired Control Engineer, but I can still see the possibilities of creating an sdvanced control system to use the optimal power strategy, that blends electric, battery and diesel power, depending on what is available.

I feel that at most times, the locomotive could have a power of up to 4,000 kW.

The Ultimate Family Of Locomotives

I have used a diesel Class 68 and a Class 88-based battery/electric locomotive,, to create this example locomotive.

In the ultimate family, each half would be able to work independently.

In time, other members of the family would be created.

A hydrogen-powered locomotive is surely a possibility.

The Control System on the master locomotive, would determine what locomotives were coupled together and allocate power accordingly.

Conclusion

I have used Stadler’s locomotives to create this example locomotive.

I suspect they are working on concepts to create more powerful environmentally-friendly locomotives.

As are probably, all the other locomotive manufacturers.

Someone will revolutionise haulage of heavy freight trains and we’ll all benefit.

 

 

June 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

M4 Relief Road: Five Things The Planning Inspector Said

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

This is two of the introductory paragraphs.

Until First Minister Mark Drakeford cancelled it, despite the conclusions of a planning inspector.

After months of studying the evidence in a public inquiry, Bill Wadrup said there was a “compelling case” to build the relief road.

I have read a lot about this relief road and something definitely needs to be done to ease the problems of going between England and South Wales.

On the one hand my environmental and non-driving thoughts, lead me to conclude that the road shouldn’t be built and more transport should be transferred to rail.

But on the other hand, my economic thoughts say that it should be built.

What Happens Now?

In this second article on the BBC, this is said about the stance of the various politicians.

The plans have proved politically divisive too – there has been significant opposition in Labour and some ministers are thought to oppose the scheme.

Plaid Cymru is firmly against, while the newly-formed Brexit Party is backing the road.

Some Labour Newport politicians – particularly those from the Newport West constituency – have lobbied for the road to be built.

Labour AM Jayne Bryant said: “Air pollution is a serious public heath issue because of the congestion on the M4.

“The vast amount of traffic on the M4 around Newport is not local to Newport – that’s why public transport alone will not solve it.”

Plans for the scheme were revived in 2013 after the UK government offered borrowing powers that would allow for the upgrade.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron called the Brynglas tunnels “a foot on the windpipe of the Welsh economy” – and the UK government remains a supporter of the scheme.

Economics could mean that a new Welsh Government, will change their mind. Especially, if the M4 relief road becomes an election issue.

As I write this, news is expected of the closure of Ford’s Bridgend factory.

I doubt this is down to the state of the M4, but getting trucks to and from South Wales will become an increasing logistics nightmare. It may mean, that businesses thinking of setting up a Welsh factory will look elsewhere.

The Railway Must Be Key

The only alternative to the M4 is to make more use of the railway.

The Welsh Government is planning the following.

  • An extensive South Wales Metro, with new routes, trains and some new stations.
  • More Park-and-Ride stations on the South Wales Main Line.
  • Extension of Cardiff station.

But is it enough?

Probably not!

  • Does the double-track Severn Tunnel have enough capacity for all the trains to and from a hopefully-expanding Welsh economy?
  • Can freight trains get easily to and from the Channel Tunnel, Felixstowe, Liverpool, London and Southampton?
  • Is the rail route for travellers between South Wales and Heathrow an incentive to drive?
  • Are services between South Wales and Birmingham and Manchester a joke?

A lot of money needs to be spent!

And much of it in England not Wales!

Frederick Snow Was Right

In The Severn Barrage, I wrote about Frederick Snow’s plan for a tidal power station and airport in the Severn Estuary, based on a barrage.

I believe that if the Severn Barrage had been build correctly in the 1970s, that a new Southern M4 and rail route could have been built on top of the barrage.

Conclusion

It’s a mess!

In my view the most likely solution will be that traffic on the M4 gets so bad, that travellers and freight will move or get moved to rail.

 

I

 

June 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Step-Free Access At Brough Station

On my last trip North, I changed trains at Brough station.

The station appears to have been recently rebuilt and has full step-free access using ramps, as these pictures show.

This Google Map shows the station.

It may work, but those ramps could take some time, if you’re pushing a heavy buggy or wheelchair.

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

So would a factory-built bridge like this be installed be installed today, if Brough or a similar simple station was being rebuilt or built from scratch?

  • Concrete bases to support the bridge, would be built in the appropriate position on both platforms.
  • An electrical supply would be provided.
  • A special train would then arrive with the bridge and an crane to lift the bridge into place.
  • A couple of hours later, the bridge would have been erected.

If the system is designed designed, it should be no more difficult than installing a new ticket machine.

Conclusion

How much would be saved in the design and building of new stations, if they were designed around a step-free bridge like this?

But the biggest saving is surely in the time needed to build the station?

June 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments