The Anonymous Widower

Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch

In Rounding Up The Class 170 Trains, I said this, which is based on a quote from an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

Are Battery Electrostars On The Way?

The article finishes with this paragraph about the Class 171 trains, that will come from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and be converted back to Class 170 trains.

GTR currently uses the ‘171s’ on the non-electrified Marshlink and Uckfield lines, and the release of these sets to EMR is contingent on their replacement with converted Electrostar EMUs with bi-mode battery capability, removing these diesel islands of operation from the otherwise all-electric GTR fleet.

So are these battery Electrostars finally on their way?

The article got several comments, which said that some five-car Electrostars were to be converted and they would probably be Class 376 trains, that would be used.

The comments also said that Network Rail were working on using short lengths of third-rail to charge the train batteries.

That sounds like Vivarail’s system to me, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Southern’s Current Diesel Fleet

I will start by looking at Southern’s current diesel fleet that works London Bridge and Uckfield stations and the Marshlink Line.

Currently, Southern has a diesel fleet of Class 171 trains.

  • 12 x two-car trains
  • 8 x four-car trains.

According to Modern Railways, the following trains will transfer to EMR Regional in September 2021.

  • 10 x two car
  • 6 x three-car, which will be created by moving a few cars in the four-car trains.

It looks as if after the transfer Southern will be left with eight driver-cars and ten intermediate cars.

This would give them four four-car trains and two spare intermediate cars. I’m sure that someone will have a need for the intermediate cars to lengthen a two-car Class 170 train because of capacity issues.

The Marshlink Line Service

The service on the Marshlink Line is an hourly service between Ashford International and Eastbourne stations.

  • It is run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Trains were four-cars most times I’ve used it.
  • Journey times are around one hour and twenty-minutes.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three four-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if there is a spare train, four trains would be ideal, After all the transfers, this is the remaining number of Class 171 trains, that would be left with Southern.

If they wanyted to get rid of the diesel trains, then they could replace the trains on the Marshlink Line with four four-car battery bi-mode Electrostars!

Network Rail’s Plan For The Uckfield Branch

This document on the Network Rail web site from 2016, is entitled Delivering A Better Railway
For A Better Britain – Route Specifications 2016 – South East.

In the document, this is said about the the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield.

The key issue presently is overcrowding on the shorter length services that operate on the route during and close to the peak hours. As the route is operated by Class 171 diesel units, there is only a small fleet available to the TOC to deploy on the route. As a result some peak and shoulder peak services are not able to operate at the maximum length the route is capable of (8-car).

Electrification schemes in the North West will displace rolling stock to strengthen existing peak services to 8-car and eventually of 10-car operation during CP5, so associated platform lengthening is currently being developed, this will also be compatible with 12-car 20m vehicle trains.

Electrification is still an aspiration for this route or use of battery-powered trains (currently under development) if they are deemed successful.

Signalling is controlled by Oxted Signal Box but during CP5 this will be transferred to Three Bridges ROC.

The key point is that the platforms have been lengthened for 240-metre long trains, which will also allow ten-car Class 171 trains, which have 23 metre vehicles.

The Uckfield Branch Service

The service on the Uckfield Branch is an hourly service between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

  • It is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • The platforms on the route can accept ten-car trains with 23 m vehicles or twelve-car trains with 20 metre vehicles.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three ten- or twelve-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if we add in a spare and perhaps an extra train for the rush hour, it would appear that around half-a-dozen ten- or twelve-car battery bi-mode trains will be needed for the service.

  • As a ten-car train would be two five-car trains, twelve five-car trains would be needed.
  • As a twelve-car train would be three four-car trains, eighteen four-car trains would be needed.

Interestingly, Southern have three trains that could be candidates for conversion to battery bi-modes in their fleet.

  • One hundred and fifty-two four-car Class 377 trains.
  • Thirty-four five car Class 377 trains.
  • Twenty-nine four-car Class 387 trains.

All trains were built for longer commuter journeys,

Which Electrostars Will Be Converted To Battery Operation For The Uckfield Service?

Obviously, the trains must be four- or five-cars and suitable for conversion to battery bi-mode trains, but I feel they must have other features.

  • Toilets
  • First Class seats.
  • Plenty of tables.
  • Wi-fi and plug sockets.
  • Comfortable interiors.
  • End gangways, to ensure staff and passengers can move around the train if required.

I’ll now look at the various fleets of Electrostars.

Class 357 Trains

The Class 357 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect c2c need them and they are not third rail.

Class 375 Trains

The Class 375 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

But if the new Southeastern franchise should decide on a complete fleet replacement, as the trains are dual-voltage, they might be very useful if fitted with a battery capability.

Class 376 Trains

The Class 376 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

The trains are also third-rail only and lack toilets, so would probably need a rebuilt interior.

Class 377 Trains

The Class 377 trains are a possibility as Soiuthern has a large fleet of both four- and five-car trains.

But they would be losing the Class 171 trains, so would probably need to bring in some new trains to have a large enough fleet.

Class 378 Trains

The Class 378 trains can probably be discounted, as London Overground need them.

Class 379 Trains

The Class 379 trains are surely a possibility, as Greater Anglia will be releasing them before the end of 2020.

Consider.

  • There have no new home to go to.
  • I am suspicious that that NXEA overpaid for these trains and Macquarie are sitting on a very good deal, that will cost Grester Anglia a lot to cancel!
  • They appeared to me to be a shoe-in for Corby services, so perhaps they lost out to the Class 360 trains on cost.
  • They are only 100 mph trains, whereas others are 110 mph trains.
  • They would need to be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • The trains are coming up to nine years old and probably need a refresh.
  • They have an interior aimed at airport passengers.

If I was Macquarie, I’d convert these into go-anywhere battery bi-modes for use in small fleets by operators.

But, Porterbrook’s battery-bi-mode conversion of a Class 350 train may be available at a lower price.

Class 387 Trains

The Class 387 trains are surely a serious possibility, for the following reasons.

  • Govia already has fifty-six of these trains on lease and in service.
  • c2c has six trains, that could come off lease in 2021.
  • The trains are dual voltage
  • The trains are 110 mph trains.
  • They can run as twelve-car walk-through trains.
  • Many of the trains are leased from Porterbrook.

I’ve felt for some time, that these trains would make excellent battery bi-modes.

But they are a good fit for Southern, as surely one could be scrounged from their Great Northern fleet to create a prototype for test.

I would feel that having the required number of trains for the Uckfield Branch can be achieved by September 2021, when the Class 171 trains will be sent to the Midlands.

There is also a backstop, in that there are nineteen Class 365 trains in store, which were replaced by Class 387 trains on Great Northern services. If there is a shortage of Class 387 trains during the conversion, surely some of these Class 365 trains could stand in, just as they did successfully in Scotland recently.

My Choice

I would convert Class 387 trains.

  • There are quite a few Class 387 trains, that could be converted.
  • Southern already have fifty-six Class 387 trains.
  • There are enough to convert eighteen for Uckfield and four for the Marshlink
  • It could be possible to deliver the full fleet before the Class 171 trains leave.
  • If during conversion of the trains, they are short of stock, Southern can hire in some Class 365 trains.

It looks to be a low-risk project.

It will also have collateral benefits.

  • The hourly London Bridge and Uckfield service will be raised to maximum capacity without any new infrastructure, except the trains and a number of battery chargers.
  • Diesel will be eliminated in London Bridge station making the station electric trains only.
  • Diesel will be eliminated between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.
  • Efficient regenerative braking to battery would be available on the complete route.
  • A ten-car diesel service between East Croydon and London Bridge will be replaced by a twelve-car electric service. stations.

In addition, if the diesel trains on the Marshlink Line were to be replaced by battery bi-modes, Southern would be a diesel-free franchise.

What About New Trains?

It’s all about the money and whether the new trains could be delivered in time.

I would suspect that Bombardier, CAF, Stadler and others are making competitive proposals to Southern, but would they be more affordable and timely, than a conversion of Class 387 trains?

But could they be as competitive if Bombadier and Porterbrook co-operated to convert some of Porterbrook’s Class 387 trains, that are already leased to Great Northern?

You don’t usually move house if you need a new boiler, you replace the boiler!

What About Hydrogen Trains?

The Alstom Breeze based on a Class 321 train is scheduled to first come into service in 2022. This is too late, as the Class 171 trains are scheduled to leave in September 2021.

Hydrogen trains would need a hydrogen filling station.

Kinetic Energy Of Class 387 Trains

I will calculate the kinetic energy of a four-car Class 387 train.

I will assume the following.

  • Empty train weight – 174.81 tonnes – Read from the side of the train.
  • Seats – 223
  • Standees – 60 – Estimated from the seats/standing ratio of a Class 720 train.
  • Total passengers – 283
  • Each passenger weighs 90 Kg, with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a passenger weight of 25.47 tonnes and a train weight of 200.28 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy calculator, gives the following kinetic energies.

  • 40 mph – 8.89 kWh
  • 50 mph – 13.9 kWh
  • 60 mph – 20.0 kWh
  • 70 mph – 27.2 kWh
  • 80 mph – 35.6 kWh
  • 90 mph – 45.0 kWh
  • 100 mph – 55.6 kWh
  • 110 mph – 67.3 kWh

These figures are for a full train, but even so many will think they are low, when you think that 60 kWh batteries are used in hybrid buses.

A Trip To Uckfield

I took a trip to Uckfield today and these are my observations.

  • The maximum operating speed of the train was no more than 70 mph.
  • For much of the journey the train trundled along at around 40-50 mph.
  • The route is reasonably flat with only gentle gradients.
  • I hardly noticed the diesel engine under the floor of my car.
  • Obviously in the Peak, the engines will have to work harder.

It was a very good demonstration of five Turbostars working in unison.

I can understand why East Midlands Railway are using Class 170 trains, as their standard train for EMR Regional.

Modelling the Route

I have built a mathematical model of the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield using Excel.

Input parameters are.

  • Cruise Energy Consumption in kWh per vehicle mile. I assumed 3 kWh per vehicle mile
  • Cruise Kinetic Energy in kWh. I assumed a 70 mph cruise and used 20 kWh
  • Regeneration Energy Loss as a ratio. I assumed 0.15.

These parameters showed that a battery of between 290 kWh and 350 kWh would be needed, that was full at Hurst Green and was recharged at Uckfield.

Note that Vivarail are talking about putting 424 kWh under a three-car Class 230 train.

This page on the Vivarail web site is entitled Battery Train Update.

This is a paragraph.

Battery trains are not new but battery technology is – and Vivarail is leading the way in new and innovative ways to bring them into service. 230002 has a total of 4 battery rafts each with a capacity of 106 kWh and requires an 8 minute charge at each end of the journey. With a 10 minute charge this range is extended to 50 miles and battery technology is developing all the time so these distances will increase.

So it looks like Vivarail manage to put 212 kWh under each car of their two-car train.

I don’t think putting 350 kWh of batteries under a four-car Class 387 train would be impossible.

I have also created an Excel model for the second route between Ashford and Ore stations.

This shows that a battery of about 300 kWh on the train should cover the route.

It might appear strange that the longer Marshlink route needs a smaller battery, but this is because it leaves both ends of the route with a full battery.

These two links give access to the two Excel models that I have used. Feel free to  access and criticise them.

AshfordOre

HurstGreenUckfield

It does appear, that on both these routes, if a train starts with full batteries, the energy in the battery is reduced in these ways as it travels along the route.

  • There is an energy use to power the train along the line which is proportional to the vehicle-miles.
  • Energy is needed to accelerate the train to line speed after each stop.
  • Energy is needed to operate stop-related functions like opening and closing the doors.

But there will also be energy recovered from regenerative braking from line speed, although this won’t cover the subsequent acceleration.

I suspect with better understanding and better data, Bombardier can create a simple formula for battery size needed based on the following.

  • The length of the route.
  • The number of stations.
  • The line speed
  • The gradient and speed profile of the route
  • The kinetic energy of the train at various loadings and speeds
  • The amount of energy needed for each vehicle mile
  • The efficiency of the regenerative braking

It is not the most difficult of calculations and I was doing lots of them in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Charging The Train At Uckfield

This picture shows the long platform at Uckfield station.

The platform has been built to accept a twelve-car electric train and if traditional third rail electrification were to be installed, this could be used to charge the batteries.

I would use a Vivarail-style system, which I described fully in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

As trains take a few minutes at Uckfield to turnback, I’m sure enough time can be arranged in the timetable to charge the batteries with enough power to get back to the electrification at Hurst Green.

The train would switch the charging system on and off by automatically connecting and disconnecting.

 

 

 

September 30, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , ,

15 Comments »

  1. Good evening.
    I’m rather interested in this article.
    It’s a shame that I can’t read it to the end because it’s a paid article.

    Bombardier signs €100m deal to make UK’s first battery-powered trains.
    1 OCTOBER 2019
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/10/01/bombardier-signs-100m-deal-make-uks-first-battery-powered-trains/

    Comment by Yy Hiro | October 1, 2019 | Reply

    • I read the article and it’s all about the deal with little about the technology and the trains. I stand by my analysis. At least Leclanche have the technology to do good batteries.

      All these train mnufacturers seem to be getting a bit secretive.I had to get the weight and seats of a Class 387 train by going to Paddington and reading it from the side of the train.

      Comment by AnonW | October 2, 2019 | Reply

  2. […] Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I came to the conclusion that Class 387 trains were the most likely trains to be converted for […]

    Pingback by The Batteries For Bombardier Electrostars « The Anonymous Widower | October 2, 2019 | Reply

  3. Any reason for omitting reference to the 3-car Class 377s?
    And if it is Class 387s as you suggest, what replaces them on Great Northern and/or Gatwick Express within the timescales needed? (I note you only mention Class 365 as temporary during the conversion programme.)
    I’ve also read the Telegraph article and there’s actually no guarantee it relates to battery trains for Southern in particular – as well as making a ludicrous assertion that Ministers have decided to fully electrify the network by 2040, which is an obvious misreading of the “no diesel-only trains” “challenge”!).

    Comment by Balthazar | October 2, 2019 | Reply

    • If you used three-car trains, you’d need twenty four trains for the Uckfield Branch and at least four for the Marshlink Line and there’s only twenty-nine in total. I also discounted them as putting the batteries under a three-car train might be a tight fit.

      There currently 29 387s on Great Northern and I suspect some will be soare as Cambridge services will be taken over by700s. The GatEx would continue as now. Remember there are also six trains on c2c that will be replaced by Aventras. I estimated that twenty-twotrains will be needed, so I suspect they’ll find them somewhere. They could of course use the 379s, but I think there’s a naive and greedy ROSCO.

      I’ve found the original press release from Borbardier and it mentions a group wide approach.

      I’m actually writing it all to draw it all together in another post.

      Have you ever ridden in a battery train?

      It is a totally different experience, with respect to noise and vibration.

      Try riding in one of the new Class 710s on the Goblin and you’ll realise how much smoother modern trains can be.

      To my mind a fully electric network is one without any fossil-fuel powered trains! So battery, hydrogen and clockwork must be allowed.

      Comment by AnonW | October 2, 2019 | Reply

      • Thanks for the reply.
        You are of course right that battery and hydrogen (if not clockwork) are consistent with the “no diesel-only trains” “challenge”… but so are bi-modes running on diesel. Always read the small print!

        Comment by Balthazar | October 2, 2019

      • Thank you for the response.
        However, a fully electrified network is *not* what the “no diesel-only trains” “challenge” implies.
        It may utterly confuse the Daily Telegraph’s business hacks, and it may make you think of battery and hydrogen (if not clockwork) trains, but a bi-mide running 100% of its time on diesel is fully consistent with the aspiration.

        Comment by Balthazar | October 2, 2019

      • You are forgetting two very important classes of people.

        Engineers generally don’t work to the letter of the law as lawyers do, but to the ntended spirit of the law. So most engineers see hybrid trains as a stop gap, that can have their diesel engines removed and be turned into zero-carbon trains.

        Salesnen know that if the engineers present them with a zero carbon train, then they can clean up in more ways than one.

        Just imagine you’re pitching battery trains for a route and the other bids are pitching diesel hybrids or hydrogen trains. If you lose that one and your product is the same price and reliable, you’re a crap salesman.
        Battery trains are a sales man’s dream!
        Especially, where they are extending an existing electric network.

        Comment by AnonW | October 2, 2019

      • Oops. Dual post.

        Comment by Balthazar | October 2, 2019

      • The price must be right for anything to be a sales person’s dream.
        Another important factor is the incentives driving the decision-maker (which is not necessarily all cost).

        Comment by Balthazar | October 2, 2019

  4. What about train hotel poet demands especially on hoit/cold days? The weight if the batteries would be circa 10 tonnes at c200wh/kg of Lion. Recharging power for 10m recharge would need 2-3MW substation which is within the limits if the shoegear but I wonder if there would be issues taking this level of current whilst stationary.

    Comment by Nick | October 2, 2019 | Reply

    • Read about Vivarail’s design for charging stations. They talk of special shoe gear and using containers of batteries trickle charged from the mains or local sources. They are talking of charging 400 kWh of batteries in seven minutes. It would only be done once an hour!

      Comment by AnonW | October 3, 2019 | Reply

  5. […] Bombardier appear to have moved on with their battery technology, that was successfully trialled using a similar Class 379 train in 2015. I wrote about the possibility of battery Electrostars on the Uckfield Branch last month in Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch. […]

    Pingback by What Will Happen To Great Western Railway’s Class 387 Trains? « The Anonymous Widower | October 16, 2019 | Reply

  6. It is only 2 car class 171 used on marshlink not 4 car

    Comment by marshlinktrains | October 20, 2019 | Reply

    • I haven’t been that way for several years and I was sure it was more than two when I used it.

      The more important question, is surely, does it need a four-car service? And are the platforms long enough?

      If modified Class 395 trains or possibly five-car Class 801 trains run to Hastings, then surely the capability to stop at Rye is needed, in case of a train failure. Not that it happens very often. But if you don’t plan for it, then Sod’s Law says it will happen!

      Comment by AnonW | October 21, 2019 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.