The Anonymous Widower

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

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).

Surprisingly, the report only mentions decarbonisation once and that is when it is talking about moving the AC/DC switchover point on the West London Line to Kensington Olympia station.

This section from the report describes how dual-voltage electrically-hauled freight trains would handle the electrification on the West London Line.

Although moving the changeover to Shepherd’s Bush would eliminate the need for passenger trains to slow down or stop at North Pole Junction, electrically hauled freight trains will still need to switch power supply modes whilst moving, wherever the AC/DC interface is located.

Due to the substantial incline facing trains running northward on the WLL, which increases in severity towards the Willesden end of the route, it would be preferable for the changeover to be made as far south as possible. This would enable freight trains to slow down to switch traction before reaching the worst of the gradient, giving them a much better chance of regaining line speed once drawing power from the OLE.

Although Kensington Olympia is less than a mile to the south of Shepherd’s Bush, the intervening route section is almost entirely level, with the incline commencing just before Shepherd’s Bush station and continuing to rise sharply along the rest of the WLL. The capacity and performance benefits of relocating the changeover are therefore likely to be greater if the overhead wires are extended to Kensington Olympia, removing the risk to traffic flow that would remain if freight trains were forced to switch whilst running uphill.

This would prepare the West London Line for the transition to electric freight that will be necessary as part of the decarbonisation of the railway over the next thirty years.

Resolving the current traction changeover issues for freight as well as passenger trains would support this transition by encouraging freight operators to invest in electric locomotives to run on the orbital routes, in the confidence that this constraint has been addressed.

Where is Network Rail’s guidance?

These are a few thoughts.

How Many Of The Freight Trains Through London Could Be Electrically-Hauled?

Most freight trains are hauled by diesel Class 66 locomotives.

But that doesn’t mean that these freight trains between say Ipswich and Cardiff are electrically-hauled on what is a fully-electrified route.

There are various reasons, why they aren’t.

  • There are large fleets of cheap, nasty and polluting Class 66 locomotives.
  • There isn’t many suitable electric locomotives.
  • The routes to major ports like Felixstowe, Immingham, London Gateway and Southampton are not electrified.
  • Many busy cross-country freight routes like Ipswich and Peterborough are not fully-electrified.

But powerful bi-mode electric-locomotives, like the Class 88 locomotives, that can do many tricky trips in the UK are available. Although there are only ten of them.

I have done a quick analysis and found the following.

  • There are a good proportion of lighter weight freight trains, that are not long and heavy.
  • There are a good proportion of freight trains running over routes that are electrified with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.
  • There are also some freight services, where a dual-voltage locomotive would be needed.
  • If a locomotive had a Last-Mile capability of perhaps forty miles, a lot of services could be electric-hauled.

Network Rail should do an analysis of all freight working in the various regions of the UK, to find out what are the needs of the electrically-hauled market in the various regions of the UK.

Could There Be A London Locomotive?

I wouldn’t want to get too regional, but looking at the figures, I think the following locomotive could be developed to handle freight trains in and through London.

I’m very much of the opinion, that the UK needs a battery-electric locomotive with the following capabilities.

  • The physical size and axle loading of a Class 68 or 88 locomotive.
  • Up to 4 MW when running on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Up to 2.5 MW when running on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Up to 2 MW for 30 minutes when running on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.

Note.

  1. The axle load of a Co-Co Class 66 locomotive is 21.6 tonnes.
  2. The axle load of a Bo-Bo Class 88 locomotive is 21.5 tonnes.

But the overall weight of the Class 66 locomotive is fifty percent higher.

I believe, that a locomotive with this specification could replace the ubiquitous, cheap, smelly, polluting and carbon-emitting Class 66 locomotive on a lot of duties. Especially, in London and the South East, where there is a lot of running on tracks with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

I believe that this locomotive would be able to haul some of the heaviest trains on these routes.

  • Ipswich and the Port of Liverpool via London.
  • Ipswich and Wentloog (Cardiff) via London.
  • Ipswich and Coatbridge via London.
  • Ipswich and Birmingham via London.
  • Ipswich and Crewe via London.

These routes cry out for the ability to be able to do the last miles into Felixstowe.

Ipswich And Felixstowe On Battery Power

If the diesel engine and all the associated gubbins are removed from a Class 88 locomotive, a battery with the same weight could be fitted into the locomotive, without unduly affecting handling or axle load.

Doing rough calculations, this battery would have a capacity of at least 1 MWh.

  • This battery would be able to supply 2.5 MW for twenty-four minutes, which would be a very valuable Last-Mile capability.
  • The battery would also enable regenerative braking to the battery, which would increase the energy efficiency of the locomotive.

These capabilities may open up the possibility of battery-electric haulage of some trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • Freight trains take around 32 minutes to travel from the Great Eastern Main Line to the port.
  • Freight trains take around 36 minutes to travel from the port to the Great Eastern Main Line.
  • The route is fairly level although there is the climb over Spring Road viaduct.

If necessary, the route could be electrified, between the Great Eastern Main Line and Derby Road station.

  • The climb over the viaduct would be electrified.
  • Only 21 minutes of the route would not be electrified.

I believe that, it would be possible for Stadler to design a dual-mode battery-electric locomotive that could haul most of the heaviest trains into and out of the Port of Felixstowe.

This would effectively decarbonise a large proportion of freight traffic on the North London and Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

Third-Rail Freight

In addition, a locomotive of this class, with a third-rail capability would be able to handle the numerous freight trains on the third-rail network.

With third-rail electrification, there are always worries that it can supply enough power.

  • A Class 66 locomotive has a diesel engine generating 2.5 MW.
  • An eight-car Class 700 train is rated at 3.3 MW. These trains are seen all over South London.
  • A Class 377 train is rated between 0.8 and 1.2 MW. Pairs of these trains are seen all over South London.

It would appear that an electric Class 66-sized locomotive would only draw the same power as typical trains on the third-rail network.

So perhaps a dual-voltage electric locomotive suitable for freight through much of South London, wouldn’t leave all of South London in the dark?

Junctions Which Need Upgrading

The London Rail Freight Strategy, identifies these junctions as needing an upgrade.

Would these junctions be easier to upgrade, if the designers of the junctions, knew that many more trains using the junction were to be hauled by powerful and spritely electric-haulage?

West London Line Issues

Two of the posts covering the London Rail Freight Strategy concern the AC/DC  switchover on the West London Line.

The proposed locomotive wouldn’t care where the switchover happened, as it would use batteries to achieve a smooth switchover.

Conclusion

The UK rail network needs a go-anywhere battery-electric locomotive.

Related Posts

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

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

Nunhead Junction Improvement

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 28, 2021 - Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes, I proposed a dual-voltage battery-electric locomotive to handle freight […]

    Pingback by Nunhead Junction Improvement « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  2. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  3. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  4. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  5. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Gospel Oak Speed Increases « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  6. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Gauge Improvements Across London « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  7. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Longhedge Junction Speed Increases « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  8. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Stratford Regulating Point Extension « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  9. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Doubling Harlesden Junction « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  10. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  11. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  12. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Kensal Green Junction Improvement « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  13. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0? « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply

  14. […] Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes […]

    Pingback by Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform? « The Anonymous Widower | June 28, 2021 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: