The Anonymous Widower

Electrifying Wales

I would not be surprised to learn that Wales wants to decarbonise their railways.

At present, Wales only has the following electrified railways either in operation or under construction.

  • The South Wales Main Line between the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
  • The South Wales Metro based on local railways around Cardiff and Newport is being created and will be run by electric trains.

There is no more electrification planned in the future.

Hitachi’s Specification For Battery Electric Trains

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic for their Regional Battery Train.

This gives all the information about the train and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

The Welsh Rail Network

If you look at the network of services that are run by Transport for Wales Rail Services, they connect a series of hub stations.

Major hubs include the following stations.

  • Cardiff Central – Electrified
  • Chester
  • Hereford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swansea

Smaller hubs and termini include the following stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Birmingham International – Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street – Electrified
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Carmarthen
  • Crewe – Electrified
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Hereford
  • Holyhead
  • Llandudno Junction
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified
  • Machynlleth
  • Milford Haven
  • Newport – Electrified
  • Pembroke Dock

Running Welsh Routes With Electric Trains

These routes make up the Welsh rail network.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Crewe and Chester are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Crewe stations.

Chester And Holyhead via Llandudno Junction

Consider.

  • All services between Llandudno Junction and England call at Chester.
  • All services running to and from Holyhead call at Llandudno Junction.
  • The route between Chester and Holyhead is without electrification.
  • Chester and Llandudno Junction are 54 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles can leave Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Holyhead stations.

Chester And Liverpool Lime Street

Consider.

  • The route between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Runcorn is without electrification.
  • Chester and Runcorn are 14 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Runcorn with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

Chester And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • The route between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay is without electrification.
  • Chester and Warrington Bank Quay are 18 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Warrington Bank Quay with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Manchester Airport stations.

Chester And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Chester and Shrewsbury are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Chester with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Shrewsbury stations.

Llandudno And Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The route between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog is without electrification.
  • Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations.

Machynlleth And Aberystwyth

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Aberystwyth are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth stations.

Machynlleth And Pwllheli

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Pwllheli is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Pwllheli are 58 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 58 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Pwllheli with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Pwllheli stations.

Machynlleth And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Shrewsbury with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury stations.

Shrewsbury and Birmingham International

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham International and Wolverhampton is electrified.
  • The route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton are 30 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

 Shrewsbury And Cardiff Central via Hereford

Consider.

  • All services between Cardiff Central and Shrewsbury call at Hereford.
  • The route between Cardiff Central and Newport is electrified.
  • The route between Newport and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Hereford are 51 miles apart.
  • Hereford and Newport are 44 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central stations.

Shrewsbury And Crewe

  • The route between Shrewsbury and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Crewe are 33 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Crewe stations.

Shrewsbury and Swansea

Consider.

  • The Heart of Wales Line between Shrewsbury and Swansea is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Swansea are 122 miles apart.
  • Trains cross at Llandrindod and wait for up to eleven minutes, so there could be time for a charge.
  • Shrewsbury and Llandrindod are 52 miles apart.
  • Swansea and Llandrindod are 70 miles apart.

It appears that another charging station between Swansea and Llandrindod is needed

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Swansea and the other charging station, with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Swansea stations.

Swansea And Cardiff Central

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Cardiff Central is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Cardiff Central are 46 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Cardiff Central with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Cardiff Central stations.

Swansea And Carmarthen

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Carmarthen is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Carmarthen with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Carmarthen stations.

Swansea And Fishguard Harbour

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Fishguard Harbour are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Fishguard Harbour are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Fishguard Harbour with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour stations.

Swansea And Milford Haven

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Milford Haven is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Milford Haven are 72 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Milford Haven are 41 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Milford Haven with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Milford Haven stations.

Swansea And Pembroke Dock

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Pembroke Dock is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Pembroke Dock are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Pembroke Dock with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Pembroke Dock stations.

Other Routes

I have not covered these routes.

  • Borderlands Line
  • Cardiff Valley Lines, that will be part of the South Wales Metro
  • Routes on the electrified South Wales Main Line, that are to the East of Cardiff.

The first will run between Chester and the electrified Merseyrail system and the others will be electrified, except for short stretches.

Stations Where Trains Would Be Charged

These stations will need charging facilities.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth station only has a single terminal platform.

I’ve not been to the station, but looking at pictures on the Internet, I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems.

Birmingham International

Birmingham International station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Blaenau Fflestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Cardiff

Cardiff station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Chester

Chester station has two through platforms and one bay platform, that are used by Trains for Wales.

  • The through platforms are bi-directional.
  • The bay platform is used by services from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  • The station is a terminus for Merseyrail’s electric trains, which use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Some through services stop for up to seven minutes in the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

The simplest way to charge trains at Chester would be to electrify the two through platforms 3 and 4 and the bay platform 1.

I would use 750 VDC third-rail, rather than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

I have a vague recollection, that there is an avoiding line at Chester station, so trains can go straight through. Perhaps that should be electrified too.

Carmarthen

Carmarthen station is a two platform station, with a rather unusual layout, that I wrote about in Changing Trains At Carmarthen Station.

I took these pictures when I passed through in 2016.

Note the unusual step-free crossing of the tracks.

This Google Map shows the layout at the station.

I believe it is another station, where third-rail electrification could be the solution.

  • Most trains seem to reverse at the station, which gives time for a full charge.
  • Others terminate here.

but would they still allow passengers to cross the line as they do now, whilst trains are being charged?

Crewe

Crewe station is fully-electrified.

  • Trains for Wales seem to use Platform 6 for through trains and the bay Platform 9 for terminating trains.
  • Both platforms appear to be electrified.
  • Terminating trains appear to wait at least 9-11 minutes before leaving.

It does appear that Crewe station is ready for battery-electric trains.

Fishguard Harbour

Fishguard Harbour station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Hereford

Hereford station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As with Chester, I would electrify this station with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.

But the electrification wouldn’t be just for train services in Wales.

  • West Midlands Trains, run an hourly service to Birmingham New Street and there is only a forty-one mile gap in the electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove.
  • Great Western Railway’s service to London, has a massive ninety-six mile run to the electrification at Didcot Junction, which could be bridged by installing charging facilities at Worcestershire Parkway and/or Honeybourne stations.

Both services have generous turnround times at Hereford, so would be able to leave fully-charged.

Distances from Hereford station are as follows.

  • Abergavenny – 24 miles
  • Bromsgrove – 41 miles
  • Great Malvern – 21 miles
  • Honeybourne – 48 miles
  • Ludlow – 13 miles
  • Newport – 44 miles
  • Shrewsbury – 51 miles
  • Worcester Parkway – 33 miles

Hereford station could be a serious battery-electric train hub.

Holyhead

Holyhead station has three terminals platforms.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Llandrindod

Llandrindod station has two through platforms.

I took these pictures at the station as I passed through in 2016.

The Heart of Wales Line is certainly a route, that would benefit from larger trains. Zero-carbon battery-electric trains would surely fit well in the area.

This Google Map shows the station.

It would appear that, it is another station, that could be fitted with third-rail electrification to charge the trains.

Distances from Llandrindod station are as follows.

  • Shrewsbury – 52 miles
  • Llandovery – 27 miles
  • Llanelli – 59 miles
  • Swansea – 70 miles

It would appear that a second station with charging facilities or bigger batteries are needed.

Llandudno Junction

Llandudno Junction station has four platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As at Chester, the simple solution would be to electrify the platforms used by trains, that will need charging.

Butb there may also be a wider plan.

Llandudno Junction station is at the Western end of a string of five closely-spaced stations with Prestatyn station in the East.

  • Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn are eight miles apart.
  • Trains take twenty-three minutes to pass through this section.
  • Some trains do a detour to Llandudno station before continuing.
  • For part of the route, the railway lies between the dual-carriageway A55 road and the sea.

So why not electrify this section of railway between Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn stations?

  • Either 750 VDC this-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Prestatyn and Chester are 46 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

If third-rail electrification were to be used, it might be advantageous to electrify to Llandudno station.

  • It would be less intrusive.
  • It would be quieter in an urban area.
  • It would give the trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog trains a good charge.

But above all third-rail electrification might cost a bit less and cause less disruption to install.

Machynlleth

Machynlleth station is where the Aberystwyth and Pwllheli services split and join.

This Google Map shows the station.

Consider.

  • There is a train depot by the station.
  • Will there be a good power supply at the station to charge the trains?
  • Machnylleth and Pwllhelli are 58 miles apart.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I think that Machynlleth might be pushing things too far, without extra stations with charging facilities.

One solution might be to develop the Riding Sunbeams concept and electrify the route between Newtown and Dovey Junction via Machynlleth, using third-rail technology powered-by solar or wind power.

Another solution would be batteries with a larger capacity.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Milford Haven

Milford Haven station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pembroke Dock

Pembroke Dock station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pwllheli

Pwhelli station is a only has a single terminal platform.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

The stsation is at the North West corner of the bay.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that I have to go.

So I took a closer look at the station instead.

I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems. Although, there might be a problem getting a good enough connection to the National Grid.

Shewsbury

Shrewsbury station is a five-platform station.

This Google Map shows the station’s unusual location over the River Severn.

It must be one of few stations in the world, where trains enter the station from three different directions.

  • From Crewe and Chester to the North.
  • From Hereford and Wales to the South.
  • From Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the East.

Adding electrification to all or selected platforms should allow trains to recharge and be on their way.

  • Under current timetables, dwell times in Shrewsbury are up to eight minutes.
  • I would suspect the train times could be adjusted, so that trains left the station with full batteries.

With battery-electric services to Aberystwyth, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Chester, Crewe, Hereford, Holyhead, London Euston, Manchester, Pwllheli and Swansea, it will be a very important station.

Swansea

Swansea station has four terminal platforms.

A charging facility could be added to an appropriate number of platforms.

Or perhaps, the last few miles of track into the station should be electrified, so trains could charge on the way in, charge in the station and charge on the way out.

Third Rail Electrification

I have suggested in this post, that 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used in several places.

I will repeat what I said earlier, when discussing Chester station.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

Third-rail electrification should be seriously considered.

A Standardised Terminal Solution

In this post, I mentioned that the following stations could be powered by a scandalised solution, as they are all one platform, terminal stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Holyhead
  • Milford Haven
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pwllheli

The system might also be applicable at Carmarthen and Swansea.

My view is that Vivarail’s Fast Track charging based on third-rail technology would be ideal. I discussed this technology in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Conclusion

With a bit of ingenuity, all train services run by Transport for Wales, can be run with battery-electric trains.

 

July 9, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Presumably the heritage railways like Welsh Highland would not be decarbonised…

    Comment by MilesT | July 9, 2020 | Reply

  2. I would assume so! Although some extreme environmentalists have had a go at some heritage railways.

    Would battery electric Class 230 trains count as heritage electric multiple units? They would certainly be ideal for running commuter services on some standard gauge heritage lines.

    Comment by AnonW | July 9, 2020 | Reply

    • Only in full LU D-stock condition and colours.

      Comment by John | July 9, 2020 | Reply

  3. When new these trains may have a range of 90k/56m but with frequent discharging & charging the batteries deteriorate. It would be I interesting to see how far they could travel on a full charge after 5 years and again after 8 years.

    Comment by MauriceGReed | July 9, 2020 | Reply

  4. Hitachi are quoting a battery life of 8-10 years.

    As the trains will record all the failure data in the battery packs, I suspect they’ll find an optimum driving strategy and program that into the train control software, which would reduce the strain on the battery.

    Comment by AnonW | July 9, 2020 | Reply


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