The Anonymous Widower

Zero Carbon? Not Here! Carbon-Fibre Bogie Frame

When I was at University in the 1960s, the big UK engineering project was the Rolls-Royce RB-211 turbofan engine.

One of the features of the engine was a carbon-fibre fan blade, which saved weight and thus made the engine lighter and more efficient.

However the blades were found to shatter with bird strikes and titanium had to be used instead.

At Liverpool University, we knew something was wrong, as a fellow student on our course was the son of the Manager of Tesco in Derby. What used to happen to Tesco’s out-of-date chickens? They ended up at Rolls-Royce, where they were used to test jet engines for bird-strikes. He told us the story of the failed testing one liquid lunch-time.

That was over fifty years ago and the RB-211 has morphed into the successful Rolls-Royce Trent engine, which first ran in 1990 and is still going strong.

Carbon-fibre has gone its own way and is used in many applications from cars to tennis rackets and golf clubs.

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Engineer.

The article describes work at Birmingham University to create a carbon-fibre bogie frame.

This paragraph from the article describes the outcome.

A major achievement is that the mass of the frame as built is 350kg, compared to the steel equivalent of 936kg. By the time the metal fittings were installed and paint applied, the mass had increased to 940kg compared with the steel equivalent of 1468kg, a reduction of over half a tonne per bogie.

Lighter bogies mean lower track-access charges.

I will be interesting to see how this project ends, when a prototype has been running in a real train.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

The Definitive Hydrogen Train

There is only one hydrogen-powered train in service and that is the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is running in Germany.

I feel it is very much an interim design, as Alstom has taken a diesel-mechanical Lint train and swapped the diesel for a hydrogen-powered electricity generator and an electric motor.

Alstom are converting electric Class 321 trains into a hydrogen-powered version called Breeze.

A typical train would be three cars. The visualisation shows one of the two driver cars, that contain a large hydrogen tank behind the cab.

Between the two driver cars would be a trailer car.

Using Electrification

Nothing has been disclosed yet, but it would surely be easy to allow this hydrogen train to keep its pantograph on the trailer car and be able to use electrification if it is installed.

This would increase the range of the train and might allow a version with a smaller hydrogen tank and a greater passenger capacity.

Charging Batteries

In a definitive hydrogen-powered train, which had been designed from scratch to use hydrogen, I could envisage, that the batteries could also be charged, when the train is connected to either electrification or a charging station.

A Smart Computer

The train would have a very smart computer, which would do the following.

  • Manage the various power sources.
  • Choose the appropriate source for the route, weather, passenger load, fuel and battery levels.
  • Raise and lower the pantograph automatically.
  • Control the trains systems to minimise electricity use.

This is little different to many trains, built in the last few years.


The definitive hydrogen-powered train will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment