The Anonymous Widower

GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line

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

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has invited expressions of interest in trialling a battery powered train on the 4 km non-electrified branch line from West Ealing to Greenford in west London.

The article says that Vivarail have made a previous proposal, but other companies are also likely to declare their interest.

I feel some unexpected proposals could turn up.

The reason would be commercial,.

This is the last paragraph of the article, which says this.

The challenge on Great Western is we’ve got branches like Greenford, Windsor, Marlow and Henley along the Thames valley, and then in the West Country we’ve got St Ives, Falmouth, Newquay, Looe, Gunnislake and so on’, said Hopwood. ‘If we don’t electrify those could we fit the trains with a battery?’ The ideal solution may be a train that fast charges either at one end of the route or possibly at both ends, or on a route like Marlow, Gunnislake or Looe, where the trains reverse during their journey, could the charge point even be on that part of the branch?’

Note.

  1. Mark Hopwood is now the Managing Director of GWR.
  2. Nine branches are mentioned, so with spare trains and maintenance, it could be a good-sized order.

But this project could be even bigger.

South Western Railway are a sister company of Great Western Railway and in August 2020, I wrote Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line about the plans to open the Fawley Line.

This was a section, I wrote about trains that might work the line.

South Western Railway’s Innovative Train Plan

This is another quote from the article.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

This is the same Mark Hopwood, who is now Managing Director of GWR.

These pictures show the current status of one of the twenty-four Class 456 train.

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains I discuss this conversion in detail.

Conclusion

Twenty-four battery-electric Class 456 trains would probably go a long way to satisfy GWR’s needs.

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Nunhead Junction Improvement

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the secondary recommendations of the report is to improve Nunhead junction.

The report explains it like this.

Rail freight stakeholders have consistently highlighted Nunhead as a priority location for improving the flow of freight around the London orbital routes. The junction to the immediate east of the station is a flat crossing where two lines of route and multiple passenger and freight services groups converge into the South London Line, creating a pinch point for capacity.

Freight train drivers, when consulted for input into this strategy, flagged the route eastbound from Peckham Rye through Nunhead and towards Lewisham as a challenging section on which to keep heavier trains moving. This is primarily a consequence of the relatively slow permissible speed of 25mph over Nunhead Junction when routed towards Lewisham,
which follows a steadily rising gradient from Peckham Rye.

The option proposed by this strategy is for changes to the track alignment in order to increase the speed of the turnout towards Lewisham, as far as can be achieved without affecting the speed of the main route towards Catford. This option would primarily benefit the performance of eastbound freight flowing from the South London Line towards the North Kent lines, one of the key rail freight corridors in the South East, enabling freight trains to run at faster and more consistent speeds towards Lewisham.

This would most likely increase right time presentation at the critical flat junction at Lewisham, as well as assisting the flow of passenger and freight trains to the Catford Loop by ensuring preceding Lewisham-bound traffic can clear Nunhead Junction as quickly as possible.

Addressing the existing constraints to freight traffic through Nunhead, which by their nature most affect the heavier bulk traffic that characterises the North Kent corridor, would also support industry aspirations to maximise the payloads that trains can haul.

This map from cartometro.com shows the route between Nunhead and Lewisham stations.

 

And this Google Map shows Nunhead station and the junction.

Note.

  1. Nunhead junction is towards the right of the map.
  2. The lines going to the East go to Lewisham.
  3. The lines going to the South East go to Crofton Park and Catford.
  4. I have counted the freight trains through Nunhead junction on real time trains  and there can be as main as six trains per hour (tph), through the junction at times, using both Lewisham and Crofton Park routes.

But there would also appear to be plenty of space around the junction to realign the tracks.

As many trains need to go East from Lewisham and there are two flat junctions on the route; Nunhead and Lewisham, anything that improves keeping to schedule is to be welcomed.

The Use Of Electric Haulage

All routes through Nunhead junction have 750 VDC third-rail electrification, but I suspect all freight trains through the junction are diesel hauled.

Real time trains also shows that many of the trains through Nunhead junction also use the West London Line through Shepherd’s Bush.

In Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes, I proposed a dual-voltage battery-electric locomotive to handle freight trains.

Perhaps more capable battery-electric freight locomotives with their better acceleration, are part of the solution at Nunhead junction.

Conclusion

This appears to be a well-thought out solution to one of the problems for freight trains in London.

I also believe that dual-voltage battery-electric locomotives could be part of the solution at Nunhead junction and would also help in many other places on the UK rail network.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments