The Anonymous Widower

Hopes Rekindled Of Full Midland Main Line Electrification

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

This is the key section of the article.

During a House of Commons debate on transport on September 17, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said in response to a question from Alex Norris (Labour/Co-op, Nottingham North): “We are currently delivering the Midland Main Line upgrade, which includes electrification from London to Kettering, with additional electrification to Market Harborough being developed.

“Further electrification of the MML is currently at an early stage, but it is being examined by Network Rail.”

Stephenson said the DfT will continue to work closely with NR on the development of a proposal that would include approaches to advancing the delivery of electrification across the route.

The title of the article, probably sums it up well.

Electrification Of The Midland Main Line

Having read lots of stories about electrification of Midland Main Line, I think the following must be born in mind.

  • Electrification on the line will reach as far North as Market Harborough station.
  • The route between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction will be shared with High Speed Two. It will obviously need to be electrified for High Speed Two.
  • The section of the Midland Main Line between Derby and Clay Cross North Junction, runs through the World Heritage Site of the Derwent Valley Mills. The Heritage Taliban will love the electrification, with a vengeance.
  • Electrification through Leicester station could be tricky, as the station building and the A6 road are over the tracks and there is limited clearance. Electrification could involve major disruption to the trains for some time.

These are some of the distances involved of sections of the route that are not electrified.

  • Market Harborough and Derby are 54 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Clay Cross North Junction are 67 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Chesterfield are 70 miles apart.
  • Market Harborough and Nottingham are 44 miles apart
  • Market Harborough and Leicester are 16 miles apart.
  • Derby and Clay Cross North Junction are 21 miles apart.

Since 2017, when electrification for the full route was originally abandoned, there have been big changes in rolling stock technology.

The biggest change has been the development of battery trains.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Trains

This infographic from Hitachi gives the specification for their Regional Battery Train.

Note.

  1. The trains have a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  2. The trains can cruise at 100 mph on battery power.
  3. Hitachi have said that all of their AT-300 trains can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.
  4. Trains are converted by removing the diesel engines and replacing them with battery packs.
  5. I suspect these battery packs look like a diesel engine in terms of control inputs and performance to the driver and the train’s computer.

It is extremely likely, that the bi-mode Class 810 trains, which are a version of the AT-300 train, that have been ordered for the Midland Main Line can be converted into Regional Battery Trains.

These trains have four diesel engines, as opposed to the Class 800 and Class 802 trains, which only have three.

These are reasons, why the trains could need four engines.

  • The trains need more power to work the Midland Main Line. I think this is unlikely.
  • Four engine positions gives ,more flexibility when converting to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Four battery packs could give a longer range of up to 120 kilometres or 75 miles.

It could just be, that Hitachi are just being conservative, as engines can easily be removed or replaced. The fifth-car might even be fitted with all the wiring and other gubbins, so that a fifth-engine or battery pack can be added.

I suspect the train’s computer works on a Plug-And-Play principle, so when the train is started, it looks round each car to see how many diesel engines and battery packs are available and it then controls the train according to what power is available.

London St. Pancras And Sheffield By Battery Electric Train

Any battery electric train going between London St. Pancras and Sheffield will need to be charged, at both ends of the route.

  • At the London end, it will use the electrification currently being erected as far as Market Harborough station.
  • At the Sheffield end, the easiest way to charge the trains, would be to bring forward the electrification and updating between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction, that is needed for High Speed Two.

This will leave a 67 mile gap in the electrification between Market Harborough station and Clay Cross North junction.

It looks to me, the Class 810 trains should be able to run between London St. Pancras and Sheffield, after the following projects are undertaken.

  • Class 810 trains are given four battery packs and a battery range of 75 miles.
  • Electrification is installed between Sheffield station and Clay Cross North Junction.

Trains would need to leave Market Harborough station going North and Clay Cross Junction going South with full batteries.

Note.

  1. Trains currently take over an hour to go between Chesterfield to Sheffield and then back to Chesterfield, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  2. Trains currently take around an hour to go between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough, which would be more than enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. Chesterfield station is only three miles further, so if power changeover, needed to be in a station, it could be performed there.
  4. Leeds and Sheffield are under fifty miles apart and as both stations would be electrified, London St. Pancras and Sheffield services could be extended to start and finish at Leeds.

London St. Pancras and Sheffield can be run by battery electric trains.

London St. Pancras And Nottingham By Battery Electric Train

Could a battery electric train go from Market Harborough to Nottingham and back, after being fully-charged on the hour-long trip from London?

  • The trip is 44 miles each way or 88 miles for a round trip.
  • Services have either three or eight stops, of which two or three respectively are at stations without electrification.
  • Trains seem to take over thirty minutes to turnback at Nottingham station.

Extra power North of Market Harborough will also be needed.

  • To provide hotel power for the train, during turnback at Nottingham station.
  • To compensate for power losses at station stops.

If 75 miles is the maximum battery range, I doubt that a round trip is possible.

I also believe, that Hitachi must be developing a practical solution to charging a train during turnback, at a station like Nottingham, where trains take nearly thirty minutes to turnback.

If the Class 810 trains have a battery range of 75 miles, they would be able to handle the London St. Pancras and Nottingham service, with charging at Nottingham.

Conclusion

It appears that both the Nottingham and Sheffield services can be run using battery electric Class 810 trains.

  • All four diesel engines in the Class 810 trains would need to be replaced with batteries.
  • The route between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, which will be shared with High Speed Two, will need to be electrified.
  • Charging facilities for the battery electric trains will need to be provided at Nottingham.

On the other hand using battery electric trains mean the two tricky sections of the Derwent Valley Mills and Leicester station and possibly others, won’t need to be electrified to enable electric trains to run on the East Midlands Railway network.

Will it be the first main line service in the world, run by battery electric trains?

 

September 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment