The Anonymous Widower

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work LNER’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains

For this post, I will assume that the train is five  or nine-cars long. This is the length of LNER‘s Class 800 and 801 trains.

LNER’s Services

These are LNER services that run from London to the North of England and Scotland.

I shall go through all the services and see how they would be affected by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train.

London Kings Cross And Edinburgh

  • The service runs at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Some services extend to Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness and are discussed in the following sections.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Aberdeen

  • The service runs at a frequency of four trains per day (tpd)
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Inverkeithing, Kirkaldy, Leuchars, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose and Stonehaven.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 394 miles to Haymarket.

The service is 524 miles long and takes seven hours and four minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Inverkeithing – 12 miles – Not Electrified
  • Inverkeithing and Kirkcaldy – 13 miles – Not Electrified
  • Kirkaldy and Leuchars – 25 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leuchars and Dundee – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dundee and Arbroath – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Arbroath and Montrose – 14 miles – Not Electrified
  • Montrose and Stonehaven – 24 miles – Not Electrified
  • Stonehaven and Aberdeen – 16 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles
  2. Dundee and Stonehaven is a distance of 55 miles

So could the service be run with Fast Charge systems at Dundee, Stonehaven and Aberdeen?

I think it could, but the problem would be charging time at Dundee and Stonehaven, as it could add twenty minutes to the journey time and make timetabling difficult on the route.

Perhaps, an alternative would be to electrify a section in the middle of the route to create an electrification island, that could be reached from both Haymarket and Aberdeen.

The obvious section to electrify would be between Dundee and Montrose.

  • It is a distance of 31 miles to electrify.
  • I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and it could be already gauge-cleared for electrification,
  • Dundee station has been recently rebuilt.
  • Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles.
  • Montrose and Aberdeen is a distance of 40 miles.
  • Pantographs could be raised and lowered at Dundee and Montrose stations.

With this electrification and a Fast Charge system at Aberdeen, I believe that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train could run between London Kings Cross and Aberdeen.

As an alternative to the Fast Charge system at Aberdeen, the route of Aberdeen Crossrail between Aberdeen and Inverurie could be electrified.

  • This would enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to run between Inverurie and Montrose.
  • The route through Aberdeen is newly-built, so should be gauge-cleared and reasonably easy to electrify.

It should also be noted that if battery-electric trains can run between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, then these services are also possible, using the same trains.

  • Glasgow and Aberdeen
  • Stirling and Aberdeen

All passenger services  between Scotland’s Cenreal Belt and Aberdeen appear to be possible using battery-electric trains

London Kings Cross And Stirling

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Inverness

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown, Stirling, Gleneagles, Perth, Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 429 miles to Stirling, but I have read that the Scottish government would like to see it extended to Perth, which is 462 miles from London.

The service is 581 miles long and takes eight hours and six minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Falkirk Grahamsrown – 23 miles – Electrified
  • Falkirk Grahamsrown and Stirling – 11 miles – Electrified.
  • Stirling and Gleneagles – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Gleneagles and Perth –  16 miles – Not Electrified
  • Perth and Pitlochry – 28 miles – – Not Electrified
  • Pitlochry and Kingussie – 44 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Kingussie and Aviemore – 12 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Aviemore and Inverness – 34 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The distance between Dunblane, where the electrification actually finishes and Perth is only 28 miles, which shouldn’t be too challenging.
  2. All the sections North of Perth are well within range of a fully charged train.
  3. Some sections of the route are challenging. Look at the video I published in Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST.
  4. Hitachi run diesel Class 800 trains to Inverness, so they must know the power required and the battery size to run between Perth and Inverness.

I also believe that the Scottish Government, ScotRail, the Highland tourist industry and Hitachi, would all put their endeavours behind a project to get battery-electric trains between Perth and Inverness.

It would send a powerful message, that if battery-electric trains can run on one of the most scenic rail lines in the world without electrification, then nowhere is out of reach of battery trains.

Looking at the figures, I am convinced that a series of Fast Charge systems at stations like Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore could supply enough power to allow a nine-car version of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train to work the route.

This battery-electrification, would also enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to work the route.

If all this sounds a bit fanciful and over ambitious, read the history of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, which brought electricity to the area in the 1940s and 1950s.

This battery-electrification is a small project compared to what the Hydro-Electric Board achieved.

I can see a time, when similar techniques allow battery-electric trains to run these lines from Inverness.

  • Far North Line – 174 miles
  • Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh – 82 miles
  • Inverness and Aberdeen – 108 miles

The Far North Line would probably need two or three Fast Charge systems at intermediate stations, but the other lines would probably only need one system, somewhere in the middle.

I think that this analysis for London and Inverness shows that all parts of England, Scotland and Wales can be served by modern battery-electric trains.

It would also appear that the cost of the necessary Fast Charging systems, would be much more affordable than full electrification, North of Perth.

I estimate that less than a dozen Fast Charging systems would be needed, North of Perth.

  • Some electrification might be needed in Inverness station.
  • Electrification between Inverurie and Aberdeen could help.
  • There’s no shortage of zero-carbon electricity from wind and hydro-electric power.

A couple of years ago, I speculated in a post called London To Thurso Direct.

Could it happen on a regular basis in the summer months?

London Kings Cross And Leeds

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Harrogate

  • The service runs at a frequency of six tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Harrogate is a distance of nineteen miles and is not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Leeds to Harrogate and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification at and around Leeds.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Bradford Foster Square

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Bradford Forster Square is a distance of fourteen miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Skipton

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Skipton is a distance of twenty-six miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Lincoln

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per two hours (1tp2h)
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • Newark North Gate and Lincoln is a distance of sixteen miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Newark North Gate to Lincoln and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification between Newark North Gate and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And York

  • The service runs at a frequency of 1tp2h
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Hull

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster
  • Temple Hirst Junction and Hull is a distance of thirty-six miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Temple Hirst Junction and Hull and back, using battery power and a Fast Charge system at Hull.
  • Batteries will also be charged using the electrification between Temple Hirst Junction and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

Consider.

  • The train runs seventy-two miles to get to Hull and back on lines without electrification..
  • Hitachi state that the trains maximum range on battery power is sixty-five miles.
  • Hull Trains and TransPennine Express also run similar trains on this route, that will need charging at Hull.

So rather than installing a Fast Charge system at Hull, would it be better to do one of the following.

  • Create a battery-electric AT-300 train with a bigger battery and a longer range. A One-Size-Fits-All could be better.
  • However, the larger battery would be an ideal solution for Hull Trains, who also have to reverse and go on to Beverley.
  • Electrify the last few miles of track into Hull. I don’t like this as electrifying stations can be tricky and getting power might be difficult!
  • Electrify between Temple Hirst Junction and Selby station and whilst this is done, build a solution to the problem of the swing bridge. Power for the electrification can be taken from the East Coast Main Line.

I’m sure a compromise between train battery size and electrification can be found, that creates a solution, that is acceptable to the accountants.

Conclusion

I think it could be possible, that LNER could use a fleet of all-electric and battery-electric AT-300 trains.

 

 

 

February 27, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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