The Anonymous Widower

Will We See A Phase Out Of Diesel-Mechanical And Diesel-Hydraulic Multiple Units?

After writing My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, I started to think about the future of diesel multiple units.

The Class 195 trains are powered by one MTU diesel engine, with a rating of 390 kW in each car, that drives the wheels through a ZF Ecolife transmission.

It is all very Twentieth Century!

  • Power comes from one diesel engine per car.
  • There is pollution and carbon-dioxide generated outside the train.
  • Noise is generated outside and inside the train.
  • Braking energy is not captured and used to power the train, or stored for reuse.

We can do so much better than this.

The MTU Hybrid PowerPack

MTU have now developed the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

This page on the MTU web site, is a document, which describes the PowerPack.

It describes the PowerPack as the next generation of railcar drive.

It lists these benefits.

  • Saving fuel through braking energy recovery
  • Significantly reduced emissions through load point optimization
  • Optimizing travel times with the Boost Mode
  • Significant noise reduction
  • Flexible vehicle deployment and simple retrofitting

In some ways the last point is the most significant.

This is said in the document about deployment and retrofitting.

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.

It sounds like MTU have really done their thinking.

If you want to read more, there is this document on the Rolls-Royce web-site, which is entitled Hybrid Train Trials.

Note that Rolls-Royce are MTU’s parent company.

A Simple Trimodal Example

I will give one simple example of where the trimodal technology pf the MTU Hybrid PowerPack, could be used, to great advantage.

Southern have two routes, where they have to use diesel Class 171 trains

  • Eastbourne and Ashford International (42% electrified)
  • London Bridge and Uckfield (45% electrified)

Porterbrook are planning to fit MTU Hybrid PowerPacks to Class 170 trains, as I wrote about in Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project In The UK With MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

As the Class 171 train is very similar to the Class 170 train, I would suspect that Class 171 trains can be converted to diesel hybrids using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

It would be very useful, if they could be converted into tri-mode trains, by the addition of third-rail shoe gear.

This would mean, that the two routes run by the Class 171 trains, could be run on electricity for st least 40-45 percent of the route.

I would also think, that adding third-rail shoe gear to a diesel multiple unit, like a Class 171 train, could be easier than adding a pantograph.

When you consider that Southern have twenty Class 171 trains, with a total of fifty-six cars and conversion would therefore need fifty-six MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, this would not be a trivial order for MTU, that could bring substantial benefit to Southern.

I suspect new bi-mode or battery/electric trains would be less good value, than converting trains with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, in many applications.

Other Technologies

Already other companies and research organisations are getting involved in developing affordable solutions to convert redundant diesel multiple units into more environmentally-friendly and energy efficient trains.

We have also seen train operating companies in a wider sense, buying trains that can easily be updated to zero-carbon trains.

Benefits Of Conversion To Diesel-Hybrid

I believe that conversion to diesel hybrid trains, using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks or similar technologies,  could be advantageous in other ways, in addition to the obvious ones of less noise and pollution.

  • Train operating companies would not need to greatly change their support infrastructure.
  • Driver retraining would probably be a short conversion course.
  • More partially-electrified routes would be possible with efficient modern trains.

I also feel, that if we can convert diesel-mechanical and diesel-hydraulic trains into trains with the ability to use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification, this will open up possibilities to create new partially-electrified routes in places, where electrification is either too difficult, too expensive or is opposed by protests.

Trains That Could Be Converted

These trains are ones that can possibly be converted to diesel hybrid trains.

Turbostars

As I said earlier Porterbrook are already planning to convert some of their numerous Class 170 trains to diesel hybrid operation using MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

Turbostars are a class of diesel trains.

The picture shows a Class 170 train in ScotRail livery, at Brough station, working a service for Northern.

  • They have a 100 mph top speed.
  • They come in two, three or four car sets.
  • They were built between 1996 and 2011.
  • They have a comfortable interior and passengers only complain, when say a Class 170 train is replaced by a Class 156 or even older train.
  • There are a total of 196 Turbostars in various classes.

This description from Wikip[edia, details their drive system.

Much of the design is derived from the Networker Turbo Class 165 and Class 166 trains built by British Rail Engineering Limited’s Holgate Road carriage works. Notable features shared are the aluminium alloy frame and two-speed Voith T211r hydrodynamic transmission system. The diesel engine has changed to an MTU 6R 183TD. A cardan shaft links the output of the gearbox to ZF final drives on the inner bogie of each vehicle. The engine and transmission are situated under the body; one bogie per car is powered, the other bogie unpowered.

It is simple system and well suited to replacement with the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

As I said earlier, some Turbostars run over partially-electrified routes.

I also said that two of Southern’s routes are partially-electrified with the 750 VDC third-rail system, so could we see some examples making use of this to create a trimodal version.

On the other hand fitting a pantograph for 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be difficult. Although, all  British Rail designs and their derivatives were usually designed, so they could work with every type of K electrification.

Class 165 And Class 166 Trains

The Class 165 and Class 166 trains are the predecessors of the Turbostars, and the later trains share a lot of their features.

As with all British Rail train designs, they have Japanese Knotweed in their DNA and engineers continuously find profitable ways of not sending them to the scrapyard. So they’ll be around for a few years yet!

The owner of these trains; Angel Trains has started a development project to create the Class 165 Hydrive train, which I wrote about in Class 165 Trains To Go Hybrid.

Will we see another hundred or so diesel hydraulic trains in good condition converted to more environmentally-friendly diesel hybrid trains?

Class 195 And Class 196 Trains

The Class 195 and Class 196 trains are still in the process of being built and judging by my first experience of Northern’s Class 195 train, that I wrote about in My First Ride In A Class 195 Train, they would benefit from the fitting of a quieter hybrid drive, like an MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

I suspect that any follow on orders for CAF’s diesel trains could well be built as diesel hybrids.

  • The MTU Hybrid PowerPack could be used to replace the MTU engine and ZF Ecolife transmission.
  • A battery-electric transmission, perhaps even using bogies and traction motors from the Class 331 train, could be developed.

Consider.

  • Building the train around a hybrid transmission, will be probably no more difficult, than building one with a mechanical transmission.
  • The train would create less noise and pollution.
  • Hybrid trains would probably be more marketable to prospective purchasers. See Hybrid Selling.

As CAF are the only manufacturer of new diesel trains in the UK, I don’t think, they will be bothered.

Class 175 Trains

Transport for Wales have a fleet of eleven two-car and sixteen three-car Class 175 trains and they are scheduled to be replaced by a series of new trains starting in 2021.

I suspect the conversion to diesel hybrid will be possible, but even with a full interior refurbishment, will anybody have need for them, as there are already a lot of new 100 mph diesel trains on order, many of which could be delivered as diesel hybrids.

Class 180 Trains

There are fourteen five-car Class 180 trains.

They are 125 mph trains.

The fact that Hull Trains are replacing their Class 180 trains with new Class 802 trains, probably says a lot about the limitations of Class 180 trains.

Conclusion

We will be seeing a lot of hybrid trains, made by updating diesel-mechanichal and diesel-hydraulic trains.

July 17, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. specifically on the Southern routes, I see no advantage of using any form of diesel on these. They seem to me perfect examples of routes which can be run using EMUs equipped with batteries. Hurst Green-Uckfield is 25 miles, and Ashford-Ore 28, both of which are easily within battery range, particularly if a recharging point is installed at Uckfield.

    There’s a long-standing campaign to reopen Uckfield-Lewes, sections of which are still intact, in which case electrification of the whole line would make sense. There’s also been talk of electrifying Ashford-Ore, so HS1 trains can run to Hastings and Eastbourne. This too would be part of a sensible ‘fill in the gaps’ electrification programme. In the meantime, batteries will do the job.

    Comment by Peter Robins | July 17, 2019 | Reply

    • I have been told by someone who works for a ROSCO, that battery power is being looked at fir those routes. They would be ideal for Porterbrook’s Class 450 with batteries or will we see Hitachi create a Class 800 or 385 with batteries. They’ve said they’ll do this for ScotRail and HS1 needed more local trains. Hitachi wouldn’t want anybody else with their wheels on the track.

      Comment by AnonW | July 17, 2019 | Reply

    • From my calculations with HSTs and Class 800 trains. it appears that three kWh per vehicle mile is possible. A five-car train would need 450 kWh or 90 kWh per vehicle to travel 30 miles. Two bus batteries per vehicle and it would work. Charging might be needed at Uckfield

      Comment by AnonW | July 17, 2019 | Reply

  2. Is 165 HyDrive train still a live project? There seems to be little indication of progress.

    Comment by Steve Doole | September 5, 2019 | Reply

    • Not sure! All projects seem to be running late! Could it be a shortage of good engineers?

      Comment by AnonW | September 5, 2019 | Reply


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