The Anonymous Widower

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Great Western Branch Lines Between Paddington And Oxford

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

One reader suggested these lines in a comment, as they are all run by diesel Class 165 trains.

These are the lines, that could be converted to Hydrogen operation.

Greenford Branch

The branch runs between West Ealing and Greenford via Drayton Green, Castle Bar Park and South Greenford.

  • It has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).
  • The branch is 2.5 miles long.
  • Services take eleven minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. In GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line, I wrote about Great Western Railway’s plans to test battery-eclectic trains on this line.
  2. The platform at Greenford station may need lengthening to accommodate the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  3. It is my view that the branch needs four tph.
  4. It might also be possible to run Peak hour services to and from Paddington.

I do think that if the train length issue is solved that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

A two-car Class 230 train would certainly fit.

Windsor Branch

The branch runs between Slough and Windsor & Eton Central.

  • It has a frequency of three tph
  • The branch is 2.8 miles long.
  • Services take six minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. The extra capacity of the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be welcome.
  2. Prince Charles would like it.

I do think that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

Marlow Branch

The branch runs between Maidenhead and Marlow via Furze Platt, Cookham and Bourne End.

  • It has a frequency of one tph
  • The branch is 7.1 miles long.
  • Services take twenty-three minutes.
  • The service reverses at Bourne End.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note that the three-car Alstom Hydrogen Aventra may be too long to execute the reverse at Bourne End.

I do think that if the Bourne End problem can be solved that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

The two-car Class 165 train, that currently works the branch is 46 metres long, so a two-car battery-electric train may be needed for this branch. A two-car Class 230 train would certainly fit.

Regatta Line

The branch runs between Twyford and Henley-on-Thames via Wargrave and Shiplake.

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The branch is 4.6 miles long.
  • Services take twelve minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. If this line needed more capacity trains could be doubled up, as there are no length issues.
  2. It might also be possible to run Peak hour services to and from Paddington.

I do think that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

North Downs Line

The line runs between Reading and Gatwick Airport via Wokingham, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Blackwater, Farnborough North, North Camp, Ash, Guildford, Shalford, Chilworth, Gomshall, Dorking West, Dorking Deepdene, Betchworth, Reigate and Redhill

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The route is 53.1 miles long.
  • The route is partially-electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The route has been planned for 100 mph trains.
  • Services take eighty-two minutes.
  • It needs six trains to run the service.

Note.

  1. The route is proposed to be run by four-car Class 769 bi-mode trains.
  2. Would a three-car train be sufficient for this route?
  3. The Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are only 90 mph trains and would they be fast enough?

I do think that Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this route, but given the number of trains and possible capacity and speed issues, a four-car battery-electric train could be better suited to the route.

Reading And Basingstoke Line

This line runs between Reading and Basingstoke via Reading West, Mortimer and Bramley

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The route is 15.4 miles long.
  • There is 25 KVAC overhead electrification at Reading.
  • There is 750 VDC third-rail electrification at Basingstoke, but the platform used by the service is unelectrified.
  • The route has been planned for 100 mph trains.
  • Services take twenty-eight minutes.
  • It needs two trains to run the service.

Note.

  1. For a battery-electric train to work this route, it might need a charging system at Basingstoke.
  2. The Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are only 90 mph trains and would they be fast enough?

I do think that a pair of Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this service.

Oxford Canal Line

This route runs between Didcot Psrkway and Banbury via Appleford, Culham, Radley, Oxford, Tackley, Heyford and Kings Sutton.

  • It is effectively two routes with a combined frequency of two tph between Didcot Junction and Oxford and half that between Oxford and Banbury.
  • The full route is 33 miles long.
  • There is 25 KVAC overhead electrification at Didcot Parkway.
  • Services take forty-one minutes.
  • It probably needs four trains to run the service.

I do think that a small fleet of Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this service.

Some General Thoughts

These are a few general points.

Stabling And Hydrogen Fuelling

Reading Train Care Facility is a large depot to the west of Reading.

  • It is ideally placed for all the lines, that I’ve mentioned.
  • It is connected to all the lines by electrified lines.

I am sure that it would be possible to build a hydrogen fuelling facility at the depot.

Two-Car Battery-Electric Trains

It looks like the Greenford and Marlow Branches might need to be served by two-car battery-electric trains.

Four-Car Trains

Some of the services might be run by four-car trains, as these would be more suitable for the number of passengers.

Total Number Of Trains

My rough estimates of numbers of trains are as follows.

  • Greenford Branch – 1 train
  • Windsor Branch – 1 train
  • Marlow Line – 1 train
  • Regatta Line – 1 train
  • North Downs Line – 6 trains
  • Reading And Basingstoke Line – 2 trains
  • Oxford Canal Line – 4 trains

This would be a total of sixteen trains or ten, if the Class 769 trains were used on the North Downs Line.

Additional Routes

There may be other routes, where the trains could be used, that are handy for Reading Train Care Facility.

Hydrogen or battery power may give advantages in opening new routes.

Would Hydrogen Trains Attract Passengers And Tourists?

I think they could, as if nothing there is a curiosity value.

Conclusion

This collection of routes surround Reading Train Care Facility and would be a nice package to run with hydrogen or battery-electric trains.

 

 

November 13, 2021 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. […] Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Great Western Branch Lines Between Paddington And Oxford […]

    Pingback by Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet « The Anonymous Widower | November 13, 2021 | Reply

  2. Are class 769s 100mph capable? I thought they were restricted to 75mph on the Southport-Manchester route due to heavy axle loads.

    Comment by Fenline Scouser | November 13, 2021 | Reply

    • I think they are on electric! Or they were in the original spec, that Porterbrook sent me.

      Comment by AnonW | November 13, 2021 | Reply

      • I realise that this was the original specification but, if memory serves, Network Rail imposed the restriction concerned re track wear. The axle weight increase is directly attributed to new engine fitment. Mind I can’t imaglne much 100mph running is required on the Regatta Line.

        Comment by Fenline Scouser | November 13, 2021

  3. For all these services, the class 165s and 166s formerly used on all these services were based at Reading. Hence a good choice of location and 1 class of unit, some 2 car, some 3 car, maybe even 4 car and possibly and option of some with southern 3rd capability.

    Comment by chilterntrev | November 13, 2021 | Reply

  4. I also think that somewhere in the Reading depot area, they can put in their own small electrolyser to generate their own hydrogen.

    After all with loads of 25 KVAC hanging about, they’ve got plenty of power.

    ITM Power of Sheffield, have provided an electrolyser for refuelling the tram buses in Pau in France.

    Comment by AnonW | November 13, 2021 | Reply

    • From what I recall of visiting Reading depot things are pretty tight, however were they to run Hydrogen Aventras this would be the only option. BTW I was reading a Network Rail study concerning the increase in Wessex Line capacity and it made a passing reference to the eventual replacement of the 158/159 fleet by trains powered by hydrogen. In it the perceived problem of retaining Salisbury as the depot was raised due to the question over installing facilities for a hydrogen refuelling point.
      I don’t think the maximum speed potential of any of these trains should be confused with the Network Rail permitted line speeds of a number of these routes. North Downs Line is limited to 70mph despite running the odd 125mph Voyager and 100mph Networkers Turbos. As I recall Reading to Basingstoke is limited to 75mph.

      Comment by fammorris | November 14, 2021 | Reply

      • A friend who runs buses told me that as hydrogen buses have a long range, that is ideal for stabling them more centrally and doing a positioning run at the beginning and end of the working day. As these hydrogen trains have a long range on hydrogen and can use electrification, I wouldn’t be surprised to see specialist hydrogen stabling with their own electrolyser or piped supply. That would minimise opposition to Hindenburgs in the community.

        Comment by AnonW | November 14, 2021


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