The Anonymous Widower

More On Batteries On Class 802 Trains

In the December 2021 Edition there’s an article called Battery Trial For TPE ‘802’.

Class 802 trains are now involved in two battery trials.

This article puts some flesh of the bones of the two trials.

It is hoped that replacing one diesel engine (generator unit) with a battery pack will enable the following.

  • Reduction of carbon emissions by at least 20 %.
  • Reduction of fuel consumption.
  • The ability to rely on battery power when entering and leaving stations to reduce noise pollution and emissions.

This paragraph explains a possible way the trains will be operated.

Another option is to use the battery to provide ‘classic’ hybridisation efficiency, allowing most diesel running to be done fuel-efficiently under two engines rather than three. In this case, the battery module would provide top-up power for peak demand and give regenerative braking capability when operating in diesel mode, which the trains currently do not have.

This is one of the aims of the GWR trial and I suspect anybody, who has owned and/or driven a hybrid car will understand Hitachi’s thinking.

The next paragraph is very revealing.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

It looks to me that Hyperdrive Innovation will earn their fees for the battery design and manufacture.

This picture shows the underneath of a Class 802 train.

Note.

  • The car is 26 metres long
  • The car is 2.75 metres wide.
  • The MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 802 train, each weigh around two tonnes.
  • The engines have a power output of 700 kW

I would think that the 6 x 2.2 m battery would fit under the car easily.

As an engineer, who has evaluated all sorts of weight and balance problems, I would make the battery similar in weight to the diesel engine. This would mean that the existing mountings for the diesel engine  should be able to support the battery pack. It would also probably mean that the handling of a car with a diesel engine and one with a battery pack should be nearer to being identical.

Tesla claim an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg for their batteries, which would mean a battery with the weight of one of the diesel engines could have a capacity of around 500 kWh.

As a Control Engineer, I believe that Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation have a tricky problem to get the algorithm right, so that the trains perform equally well under all conditions. But with a good simulation and lots of physical testing, getting the algorithm right is very much a solvable problem.

The article says this about the reliability of the diesel engines or generator units (GU) as Hitachi call them.

Whilst reliability of the generator units (GU) has improved, operators of the bi-mode sets still report frequent issues  which see sets ending their daily diagram with one out of use.

I wonder, if battery packs will improve reliability.

From statements in the article, it looks like Hitachi, MTU and the train operating companies are being cautious.

The article also says this about the design of the battery packs.

The battery pack has been designed so it is a like-for-like replacement for a GU, which can maintain or improve performance, without compromising on seats or capacity.

I have always said it would be plug-and-play and this would appear to confirm it.

How Will The Batteries Be Charged?

I showed this paragraph earlier.

To fully test the 6m-long, 2.2m-wide battery module, the intention is for it to be flexibly programmable in order for different approaches to charging, including from the overhead line power supply, diesel engines and during braking , to be evaluated.

GWR and TPE run their Class 802 trains to several stations without electrification. and they will probably need some method of charging the battery before leaving the station.

This is Hitachi’s infographic for the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Note.

  1. This infographic was published with the Hitachi press release announcing the development of the tri-mode train for GWR.
  2. One diesel engine has been replaced by a battery pack.
  3. Charging the battery can be under wires or 10-15 minutes whilst static.
  4. At some stations like Exeter St. Davids, Penzance, Plymouth or Swansea, heavily-laden services might need the assistance of batteries to get up to operating speed.

The infographic released with the Hitachi press release announcing the trials for TPE.

It is similar, but it says nothing about charging.

So how will these trains be charged in stations like Hull, Middlesbrough. Penzance, Scarborough and Swansea, so they leave on their return journey with a full battery?

Consider.

  • The formation of a five-car Class 802 train is DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF.
  • Pantographs appear to be on both driver cars.
  • The middle three cars have diesel engines.
  • Only the middle three cars have traction motors.
  • There is probably a high-capacity electrical bus running the length of the train, to enable electricity to power all the cars from either or both paragraphs, when running on an electrified line.

The simplest way to charge the batteries would probably be to install a short lengthy of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the station and then to charge the batteries the driver would just raise the pantograph and energise the electrical bus, which would then feed electricity to the batteries.

I wrote about Furrer + Frey’s Voltap charging system in Battery Train Fast Charging Station Tested. This charging system would surely work with Hitachi’s designs as batteries can be charged from overhead electrification.

Conclusion

I suspect that Hitachi will achieve their objectives of saving fuel and cutting emissions.

But there is more than this project to just replacing one diesel engine with a battery pack  and seeing what the savings are.

It appears that the battery packs could have an effect on train reliability.

If the battery packs are truly like-for-like with the diesel engines, then what will be effect of replacing two and three diesel engines in a five-car Class 802 train with battery packs.

Will it be possible to develop an ability to setup the train according to the route? It’s only similar to the way Mercedes probably set up Lewis Hamilton’s car for each circuit.

But then the speed Formula One cars lap Silverstone is not that different to the maximum speed of a Hitachi Class 802 train.

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release from Hitachi.

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • Batteries replacing an engine to cut fuel usage and reduce carbon emissions
  • First time a modern UK intercity train, in passenger service, will use alternative fuel
  • Tri-mode train can improve air quality and reduce noise across South West route’s non-electrified stations

They follow these with this introductory paragraph.

In a UK-first, Hitachi Rail and Eversholt Rail have signed an exclusive agreement aimed at bringing battery power – and fuel savings of more than 20% – to the modern Great Western Railway Intercity Express Trains that carry passengers between Penzance and London.

After a couple more paragraphs, the press return returns to the Penzance theme.

GWR’s Intercity Express Train fleet currently calls at 15 non-electrified stations on its journey between Penzance and London, all of which could benefit from trains running on battery-only power.

The press release then sets out their aims.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Penzance gets another mention, but the late 2040s for a fully electric-battery intercity train between Penzance and London, is not an ambitious target.

Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Hitachi have called the train the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train and the specification is shown in this infographic.

Note that fuel & carbon savings of at least 20 % are claimed.

Penzance To London In A Class 802 Train

It would appear that Penzance and London has been chosen as the trial route.

These figures were obtained from Real Time Trains figures for the 1015 from Penzance on the 14th December 2020.

  • Penzance to St. Erth – 5.65 miles – 8 mins – 42.4 mph – 1 mins stop
  • St. Erth to Camborne – 7.2 miles – 10 mins – 43.2 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Camborne to Redruth – 3.65 miles – 5 mins – 43.8 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Redruth to Truro – 9 miles – 10 mins – 54 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Truro to St. Austell  – 14.7 miles – 15 mins – 58.8 mph – 1 mins stop
  • St. Austell to Par – 4.5 miles – 6 mins – 45 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Par to Bodmin Parkway – 8 miles – 11 mins – 43.6 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Bodmin Parkway to Liskeard – 9.2 miles – 12 mins – 46 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Liskeard to Plymouth – 17.8 miles – 25 mins – 42.7 mph – 9 mins stop
  • Plymouth to Totnes – 23.1 miles – 25 mins – 55.4 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Totnes to Newton Abbot – 8.8 miles – 9 mins – 59.3 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Newton Abbot to Exeter St. Davids – 20.2 miles – 18 mins – 71.3 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Exeter St. Davids to Tiverton Parkway – 16.5 miles – 14 mins – 70.7 mph – 1 mins stop
  • Tiverton Parkway to Taunton – 14.2 miles – 11 mins – 77.4 mph – 2 mins stop
  • Taunton to Reading – 106.7 miles – 76 mins – 84.2 mph – 5 mins stop
  • Reading to Paddington – 36 miles – 25 mins – 86.4 mph

The route can be broken neatly into four very different sections.

  • Penzance and Plymouth – 79.5 miles – 112 mins – 42.5 mph – 75 mph operating speed
  • Plymouth and Exeter St. Davids – 52 miles – 57 mins – 54.7 mph – 100 mph operating speed
  • Exeter St. Davids and Newbury – 120.4 miles – 95 mins – 76 mph – 100 mph operating speed
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles – 36 mins – 88.3 mph – 100-125 mph operating speed

Note.

  1. The speed builds up gradually as the journey progresses.
  2. Only between Newbury and Paddington is electrified.

How does Penzance and Paddington stand up as a trial route?

  • Penzance and Plymouth has eight intermediate stops about every nine-ten miles.
  • The nine minute stop at Plymouth, is long enough to charge the batteries, should that be incorporated in the trial.
  • The Cornish Main Line is generally double track, with an operating speed of 75 mph.
  • Plymouth and Exeter includes the running by the sea, through Dawlish.
  • Exeter could be given an extended stop to charge the batteries.
  • Exeter and Newbury is a faster run and the batteries may help with performance.
  • The Reading and Taunton Line has an operating speed of 110 mph.
  • Remember the trains are designed for 140 mph and they achieve nothing like that on diesel.
  • At each of the fifteen stops, the performance, noise and customer reaction can be evaluated. Strange, but my experience of battery trains, says that they are very much quieter than similar electric trains.

The route has a good selection of the types of routes, that Great Western Railway has in its network.

It would appear to be a good route to sort out the good and bad points of the train.

I have a few thoughts.

Possible Destinations For A Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Currently, the following routes are run or are planned to be run by Hitachi’s Class 800, 802, 805 and 810 trains, where most of the route is electrified and sections do not have any electrification.

  • GWR – Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads- 24.5 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Cheltenham – 43.3 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Great Malvern – 76 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Oxford – 10.4 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Penzance – 252 miles
  • GWR – Paddington and Swansea – 45.7 miles
  • Hull Trains – Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Harrogate – 18.5 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • LNER – Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 21 miles

Note.

  1. The distance is the length of line on the route without electrification.
  2. Five of these routes are under twenty miles
  3. Many of these routes have very few stops on the section without electrification.

I suspect that GWR and LNER have plans for other destinations.

What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 802 Train At Various Speeds?

I will do my standard calculation.

  • Empty train weight – 243 tonnes (Wikipedia for Class 800 train!)
  • Passenger weight – 302 x 90 Kg (Includes baggage, bikes and buggies!)
  • Train weight – 270.18 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the kinetic energy at various speeds are.

  • 60 mph – 27 kWh
  • 75 mph – 42 kWh
  • 80 mph – 48 kWh
  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh
  • 110 mph – 91 kWh
  • 125 mph – 117 kWh – Normal cruise on electrified lines.
  • 140 mph – 147 kWh – Maximum cruise on electrified lines.

A battery must be large enough to capture this kinetic energy, which will be generated, when the train stops.

Acceleration And Deceleration Of A Five-Car Class 802 Train

The first Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains will be conversions of Class 802 trains.

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train.

The data sheet shows the following for a five-car Class 802 train.

  • It can accelerate to 120 kph/75 mph in 100 seconds in electric mode.
  • It can accelerate to 160 kph/100 mph in 160 seconds in electric mode.
  • It can accelerate to 120 kph/75 mph in 140 seconds in diesel mode.
  • It can decelerate from 120 kph/75 mph in 50 seconds in electric mode.
  • It can decelerate from 160 kph/100 mph in 90 seconds in electric mode.

Note.

  1. 75 mph is the operating speed of the Cornish Main Line and possibly the Highland Main Line.
  2. 100 mph is the operating speed for a lot of routes in the UK.
  3. It would appear that trains accelerate to 75 mph forty second faster in electric mode, compared to diesel mode.
  4. In diesel mode acceleration slows markedly once 100 kph is attained.

Can we assume that performance in battery mode, will be the same as in electric mode? I will assume that this is valid.

Battery Use In A Station Stop

Suppose the train is travelling at 75 mph with a full load of passengers and makes a station stop, without the use of the diesel engines.

  • If the train is decelerating from 75 mph, there must be space for 42 kWh in the battery.
  • Because regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient, only perhaps 80 % would be stored in the battery. This is 33.6 kWh.
  • To accelerate the train to 75 mph, the battery must supply 42 kWh, as diesel power will not be used for this purpose.
  • The train will take 50 seconds to decelerate, 100 seconds to accelerate and perhaps 60 seconds in the station or 210 seconds in total.
  • Let’s say the battery will need to supply 2 kWh per minute per car for hotel power, that will be 35 kWh for the 210 seconds.

Adding and subtracting inputs and outputs to the battery gives this equation 33.6 – 35 – 42 = -43.4 kWh

The energy in the battery has been reduced by 43.4 kWh, at each 75 mph stop.

Repeating the calculation for a 100 mph stop, which takes 310 seconds, gives an equation of 60 -51.7 – 75 = -66.7 kWh.

Note that in this calculation, I have assumed that the efficiency of regenerative braking is 80 %. These are a selection of figures.

  • For 60 % efficiency, the stops would cost 51.8 kWh from 75 mph and 81.7 kWh from 100 mph.
  • For 80 % efficiency, the stops would cost 43.4 kWh from 75 mph and 66.7 kWh from 100 mph.
  • For 90 % efficiency, the stops would cost 39.2 kWh from 75 mph and 59.2 kWh from 100 mph.

So it is important to raise the efficiency of regenerative braking to as near to 100 % as possible.

It should also be noted that with an 80 % efficiency of regenerative braking, hotel power has an effect.

  • With 1 kWh per minute per car, the stops would cost 25.9 kWh from 75 mph and 40.8 kWh from 100 mph.
  • With 2 kWh per minute per car, the stops would cost 43.4 kWh from 75 mph and 66.7 kWh from 100 mph.
  • With 3 kWh per minute per car, the stops would cost 60.9 kWh from 75 mph and 92.6 kWh from 100 mph.

It is important to reduce the hotel power of the train, as low as possible.

With a 90 % regeneration efficiency and hotel power of 1 kWh per car per minute, the figures are 21.7 kWh from 75 mph and 33.3 kWh from 100 mph.

London Paddington And Penzance By Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train

Listing the stops between London Paddington and Penzance and their speeds gives the following.

  • St. Erth – 75 mph
  • Camborne – 75 mph
  • Redruth – 75 mph
  • Truro – 75 mph
  • St. Austell – 75 mph
  • Par – 75 mph
  • Bodmin Parkway – 75 mph
  • Liskeard – 75 mph
  • Plymouth – 75 mph
  • Totnes – 100 mph
  • Newton Abbot – 100 mph
  • Exeter St. Davids – 100 mph
  • Tiverton Parkway – 100 mph
  • Taunton – 100 mph
  • Reading – Electrified

This is nine stops from 75 mph, five from 100 mph and one where the electrification is used.

  • Each 75 mph stop needs 43.4 kWh from the battery.
  • Each 100 mph stop needs 66.7 kWh from the battery.

To achieve Hitachi’s aim of low noise and pollution-free station stops between London Paddington and Penzance will need 724.1 kWh of power from the battery.

With 80 % regeneration efficiency and hotel power of 2 kWh per minute per car gives a figure of 724.1 kWh.

With 90 % regeneration efficiency and hotel power of 1 kWh per minute per car gives a figure of 361.8 kWh.

The battery must also have sufficient capacity to handle the regenerative braking. I would suspect that provision will be made for a stop from 125 mph, which is 117 kWh.

So will the battery for the route be somewhere between 500 and 1000 kWh?

Note that each of the three MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 800 train, weigh around two tonnes and Tesla claim an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg for their batteries.

This would mean a battery the weight of one of the diesel engines would have a capacity of 500 kWh.

A train with a full 500 kWh battery at Newbury could arrive in Penzance with some juice in the battery, if regenerative braking could be efficient and the demands of the train to run internal systems were at a low level.

Hitachi’s Increasing Efficiency Of Class 80x Trains

The next variant of the Class 80x trains to come into service, should be the Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains.

  • These trains will be all-electric like LNER’s Class 801 trains.
  • They are designed for a four-hour limited-stop service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • They will be one-class and average single fares will be £25,

This sentence from Wikipedia, describes a big difference between Class 803 and Class 801 trains.

Unlike the Class 801, another non-bi-mode AT300 variant which despite being designed only for electrified routes carries a diesel engine per unit for emergency use, the new units will not be fitted with any, and so would not be able to propel themselves in the event of a power failure. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies would face a failure.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the Class 803 trains have been put on a diet to increase their acceleration to meet the demanding schedule, which has been promised by East Coast Trains.

Hitachi has also given out clues to other efficiency improvements.

  • Class 807 trains for Avanti West Coast, will have no diesel engines or batteries.
  • Class 810 trains for East Midlands Railway will have a revised nose and different headlights. Is this for better aerodynamics?
  • Class 810 trains, also have slots for four diesel engines. I can’t see why they would need all this power on the relatively-flat Midland Main Line. Will two of the slots be used by batteries to reduce fuel consumption and/or increase efficiency?

Hitachi are only doing, what all good engineers would do.

Low-Carbon Between Plymouth and Penzance

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimated that an all-electric Class 801 train needs around 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph.

It will need less power to maintain the 75 mph of the Cornish Main Line. I would suspect that as air resistance is based on the square of the speed, that the energy consumption of the Class 802 train could be something under 2 kWh per vehicle. Or even less!

The Cornish Main Line is 79.5 miles between Plymouth and Penzance, but the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, will not be on diesel all the way.

  • At each station stop deceleration and acceleration, the train will not be using diesel. This could take a mile away for each station.
  • All braking will be regenerative to the battery.

I suspect that by using the gradients on the route to advantage and by using diesel in selected areas, that a good driver or a well-written driver assistance system giving advice could safely navigate an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train all the way to Penzance on a minimum amount of diesel.

It’s not as if the train will be stranded, as they would have two onboard diesel engines.

I have a suspicion, that with a top-up at Plymouth, if Hitachi can raise efficiencies to a maximum and power consumption to a minimum, that on one battery, the train might be able to run between Plymouth and Penzance for much of the way, without using diesel.

The question also has to be asked, as to what would be the performance of the train with two diesel engines replaced by batteries?

I suspect this is something else to be determined in the trial.

Will Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train And Regional Battery Train Have The Same Battery Packs?

The specification of Hitachi’s closely-related Regional Battery Train is described in this Hitachi infographic.

The Regional Battery Train is stated to have a battery range of 90 km/56 miles at 162 kph/100 mph.

Operating speed and battery range have not been disclosed yet for the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train. I await them with great interest.

I would expect that it is likely, that Hitachi’s two battery trains and others that follow, will use identical battery packs for ease of manufacture, services and operation.

In their press release, which announced the Battery Regional Train, Hitachi said this.

Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients of the batteries for use in the UK, as well as installing them on new metro and intercity trains that will be needed in the coming years to replace ageing diesel fleets.

Battery trains produce no greenhouse gases, air pollution and are a far quieter, offering passengers cleaner air in stations, less noise disruption and a carbon-free way to travel. Installing batteries on to existing fleets can also extend their range and allow passengers to reach stations on non-electrified branch lines without having to change train.

They didn’t exactly say all battery packs will be the same, but they were close to it, by saying that they can already be fitted to 275 trains. I would read those paragraphs to say, that a series of trains would use the same technology for different purposes.

What Will Be The Battery Range Of A Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train?

This page on the Eversholt Rail web site, has a data sheet for a Class 802 train, which says that a five-car Class 802 train has  an operating speed of 110 mph on diesel power.

According to Wikipedia and other sources, a Class 802 train has three diesel engines.

If the Regional Battery Train has replaced three diesel engines with battery packs in a five-car train like a Class 802 train to get the 90 km/56 mile range, would this mean?

  • Replacing one diesel engine with a battery pack, give a range of thirty kilometres or about nineteen miles.
  • Replacing two diesel engines with battery packs double the range to sixty kilometres or thirty-eight miles.

It looks like a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train with one of the same battery-packs should easily reach several of the destinations in my list.

But they would need charging before return or some assistance from the two remaining diesel engines.

I talk about charging the Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train in Charging The Batteries On An Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

Conclusion

It sounds like a worthwhile train to me and I await the results of the trial with interest.

 

 

 

 

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Arcola Showcases Scottish Hydrogen Conversion

The title of this post is the same as an article in the December 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

The article has this sib-title.

Class 614 Demonstration Runs at Bo’ness Next Year

This is a key paragraph early in the article.

The aim is to build capability within the Scottish supply chain with a view to future conversion of hydrogen fleets within Scotland. The choice of a ‘314’ to provide the donor vehicles was based solely on availability, following the withdrawal of the EMU fleet by ScotRail at the end of 2019.

I don’t think they would have been my choice of donor train, as the Class 314 trains were built over forty years ago.

But, as Merseyrail have shown, British Rail trains of that era scrub up well.

The article is worth a full read and worth the cover price of the magazine, as it has details on the conversion and tips on how you might design a hydrogen train.

  • All the hydrogen tanks , fuel cells and batteries are designed to be fitted in the vehicle underframes and don’t take up space in the passenger compartment.
  • There is a fuel cell raft under both driving motor vehicles.
  • Each raft contains a 70 kW fuel cell from Ballard and hydrogen cylinders.
  • 40 kg. of hydrogen at a pressure of 350 bar can be carried in each raft.
  • Waste heat from the fuel cell is used to heat the train.
  • The DC traction motors have been replaced by modern three-phase AC motors.
  • The hydrogen fillers come from the automotive industry, which is surely an obvious move.
  • The interior looks good in the picture and has uses seats reclaimed from Pendolino refurbishment.

The article also reveals that Arcola are working with Arup on a study to convert a Class 158 DMU to hydrogen power.

Conclusion

I wish all the engineers and suppliers well, but I feel that these two projects are both driven by Scottish politics, rather than sound engineering principles.

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More On Alston’s Hydrogen Aventra and Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX

The December 2021 Edition has a small article, which is entitled Alstom To Build Hydrogen Aventras.

This is an extract.

Fuel cells will be roof-mounted, and the trains will be powered by hydrogen in conjunction with batteries, without any additional power sources such as overhead electric or diesel. They could be in service in 2025.

I am surprised that the trains can’t use electrification, as surely this would be a great advantage.

Especially, as according to another article, which is entitled New HydroFlex Debuts At Cop, which describes Porterbrook’s converted ‘319’ says this.

The original HydroFlex unit, which like the latest version has been converted from a Class 319 EMU, made its main line debut in September 2020. Porterbrook has invested £8 million in HydroFlex with the new version built over the last 10 months.

Porterbrook says its ability to operate under hydrogen, electric and battery power makes it the world’s first ‘tri-mode’ train. One carriage within the train is given over to the ‘HydroChamber’.

The contents of the ‘HydroChamber’ are given as.

  • Storage for 277 Kg. of hydrogen in thirty-six high pressure tanks.
  • A 400 kW  fuel cell system.
  • A 400 kW lithium-ion battery, which can be charged by the fuel cells in 15 minutes.

Does this mean that the battery is a 100 kWh battery that can supply energy at a rate of 400 kW?

This sentence from the article describes the train’s performance.

Porterbrook says the train carries sufficient hydrogen to offer a range of 300 miles and a top speed of up to 100 mph.

A few years ago, I had a chat with a Northern driver about the Class 319 train, which he described as a fast train with good acceleration and superb brakes.

Have Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham just added the ‘HydroChamber’ as an on-board electricity source or have they gone for a full integrated system with new traction motors and regenerative braking to the battery?

The original Class 319 trains worked well without regenerative braking, so I suspect that the simple approach has been used.

But this would make the train ideal for branch lines and extensions without electrification from electrified lines. The following routes come to mind.

  • Blackpool South and Colne via Preston
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe.
  • The Borders Railway in Scotland.

The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra might be better on lines without any electrification at all.

Conclusion

My feeling is that both these trains have their good points and limitations and I suspect both will find their niche markets.

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tube Strikes: Passengers Warned Of Widespread Disruption

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

I can see a scenario, where the Tories put something in their next General Election manifesto to bring a little bit of sense to the RMT and there is a total National rail strike during the election.

It would be Starmer’s worst nightmare!

As it is this morning, I’ll probably have difficulty getting to Moorgate for my gluten-free full English breakfast and do my food shopping for the weekend in Marks and Spencer.

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Few Hours In Okehampton

Today, I took a trip by train to Okehampton and spent a couple of hours in the town.

I took the 10:04 from Paddington and after changing at Exeter St. Davids, I arrived in Okehampton at 13:11

Coming back, I took the 15:24 from Okehampton and arrived in Paddington at 18:24.

So the journeys took about three hours.

These pictures show Okehampton station.

Note.

  1. The train was two Class 150 trains coupled together.
  2. I suspect the platform is long enough to take a GWR Castle train
  3. The bus in the pictures is the 118, of which more later.
  4. It looked like a buffet was under construction.
  5. The new train information displays.

I took the bus down to Okehampton, where I took these pictures, as I walked around.

Note, that the first three pictures show the museum and the cycle works cafe, where I had a coffee and a delicious gluten-free flapjack.

I have a few thoughts on my journey, both now and in the future.

The 118 Bus

The 118 bus runs between Tavistock and Okehampton station.

  • It serves the villages in between.
  • It meets the trains from Exeter and takes them to Okehampton Town Centre.
  • It picks people up from Okehampton Town Centre and takes them to the station just before the trains leave for Exeter.
  • It accepts contactless payment.

It is a well-designed bus route that links passengers with the trains to and from Exeter.

Many other towns could follow Okehampton’s lead.

Walking Between Station And The Town Centre

I could certainly walk down the hill, but one of the locals said that it rather a stiff walk up the hill that takes about fifteen minutes, if you’re up to it. He also felt a taxi would be about a fiver.

Could A Battery Train Work The Service between Exeter And Okehampton Station?

Consider.

  • It is 24.8 miles between Exeter St. David and Okehampton stations.
  • It is a rise of under 200 metres.
  • The Class 150 trains climbed the hill at around 30 mph, but in places it was lower.
  • Hitachi, Stadler and Vivarail are talking about battery-electric trains with a range of fifty miles.
  • I was talking to one of the Great Western Railway staff and he said in the days of steam, the trains used to roll down the hill into Exeter.
  • There is the 18 MW Den Brook Wind Farm close to Okehampton.
  • With regenerative braking rolling down would recharge the batteries.

I suspect, that designing a battery-electric train to climb the hill is possible.

My rough estimate says that a battery of around 500 KWh could be enough.

Are The People Of Devon Going To Use The Train?

I took these pictures as I joined the train back to Exeter.

The people were a mixture of those arriving from Exeter and those returning to Exeter, but most seats were taken on the way back.

I can see Great Western Railway running Castles, like the one in the picture, for services on this route in the Summer, both to attract passengers and to cope with their numbers.

Local Reaction

I talked to several local people and they were all pleased that the service has been reinstated.

The only complaint was that it should have happened sooner.

Is A Day Trip Possible?

Suppose you live in London and your mother or other close relative lives in Okehampton.

Would it be possible to be able to visit them on their birthday for a good lunch?

Consider.

  • At the present time, trains from London, connect to the Okehampton service about every two hours.
  • The first connecting service leaves Paddington at 08:04.
  • Trains take around three hours between Paddington and Okehampton.
  • From probably May 2022, there will be hourly connections to Okehampton.
  • The last London train leaves Exeter at 20:46.

If you wanted to be a real hero, you could always take the Night Riviera back to London, which leaves Exeter at 0100.

I would say that if they planned it properly, a day trip from London to Okehampton by train, is feasible for a special occasion.

Will Great Western Railway Ever Run Direct Trains Between London Paddington And Okehampton?

I doubt this would be a regular service but I do believe that it is technically feasible.

  • Trains would need to reverse at Exeter St. Davids.
  • Trains would probably be limited to five car Class 802 trains.
  • Okehampton station could probably accommodate a five-car Class 802 train.
  • I estimate that the journey time would be a few minutes under three hours.

It should be noted that Paignton gets around three trains per day (tpd) from Paddington.

It might be that if the demand was there, a few trains per day could be run to and from London, by splitting and joining with the Paignton service at Exeter St. Davids.

  • If both services were run by five-car trains, there would be a ten-car service to and from London.
  • It certainly looks that GWR wouldn’t have to spend a great deal to implement the service.
  • The extra capacity of the five-car train might help commuters into Exeter.

It  is likely that this service wouldn’t run until Okehampton Parkway station is opened, which would attract travellers from the West, who would arrive at the station along the A 30 dual-carriageway

I can certainly see a service leaving Okehampton at around seven in the morning and getting into London about ten, paired with a late afternoon/evening train home.

It should be noted, that First Group with their Lumo service between London and Edinburgh, seem to negotiate for paths that create revenue.

But I do wonder, if one of the reasons , that Great Western Railway, Network Rail, Devon County Council, the Department of Transport and the Government were all very much in favour of reopening this route, is that it creates a valid alternative route between London and Plymouth and all places to the West, should the main route via Dawlish be breached again by the sea.

Okehampton station and the future Okehampton Parkway station are both close to the A30 which would allow express coaches to Plymouth and all over West Devon and Cornwall to bypass the trouble.

Hopefully, because the alterative route has been enabled the worst won’t happen.

Conclusion

Exeter and Okehampton is a well-thought out reopening, that will be welcomed in the South West of England.

 

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments