The Anonymous Widower

Aberdeen Standard Backs Controversial £1bn Bid For Crossrail Fleet

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

This has been mooted for some time and I believe that Transport for London are taking a sensible action to help get round their funding crisis, caused by three factors.

  • The loss of Government subsidy.
  • The lateness of Crossrail.
  • Sadiq Khan’s bribe to the electorate of a fare freeze.

I also think, that this will be advantageous to London in the long term.

This is a paragraph in the article.

TfL would be able to terminate the 35-year lease in 2020, 2025 and 2030, through a break clause, with an ability to acquire the fleet for just £1 in 2044. TfL will announce the winner at the beginning of next year.

Depending on how TfL’s finance progress in the next few years, the break clause may allow them to cancel and acquire new trains, if they felt it best.

But all these trains need a rebuilding at someyime around twenty years old and this will surely be the responsibility of the leasing company.

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Finance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Testing Of New Greater Anglia Trains Underway

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

This is the first paragraph.

The first Stadler bi-mode unit for Greater Anglia made its main line debut in the early hours of December 15, when it ran between Diss and Trowse Junction (near Norwich).

I looked on Real Time Trains and found that the train did five trips between Diss and Trowse Junction. After the last trip, the train went back to Crown Point Depot.

It does seem that Greater Anglia have a plan to do the testing.

 

December 17, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

A Video Of The Alstom Coradia iLint

This video of the Alstom Coradia iLint has been uploaded to YouTube.

I must go and get a ride!

December 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Ballard Receives Order From Porterbrook for Fuel Cell Module to Power UK HydroFLEX Train

The title of this post is the same as this article on Cision.

The article says that the copy has been provided by Ballard.

This is the first paragraph.

VANCOUVER and DERBY, U.K., Dec. 13, 2018 /CNW/ – Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ: BLDP; TSX: BLDP) today announced that it has received a purchase order from Porterbrook Leasing Company Limited (“Porterbrook”; http://www.porterbrook.co.uk), a leading participant in the rail leasing market, for an FCveloCity®-HD fuel cell module and related support to power a HydroFLEX train in the U.K.

The article says this about the HydroFLEX train.

The HydroFLEX will be the U.K.’s first fully sized hydrogen demonstrator train. It will showcase how hydrogen can be used to power a train that retains the ability to operate across existing electric routes, on either 3rd rail or 25kV overhead power. Testing and demonstration runs are planned for the summer of 2019 at RailLive, which will take place at Long Marston in Warwickshire.

That sounds like it could be a date for my diary.

Strictly A Demonstrator

In this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Hydroflex – The Next Iteration Of The Flex Concept,there is a section entitled Strictly A Demonstrator, from which this was taken.

In response to Rail Engineer’s questions, BCRRE said that the demonstrator version focuses on delivering an electric/hydrogen bi-mode to UK gauge.

So the HydroFLEX is more about research., which I believe is a good route.

  • My feelings on seeing the Alstom Coradia iLint in Germany, was that they had launched too early!
  • Getting a University to run a demonstrator might show up the smaller problems associated with a complex project.
  • Birmingham University may also have access to better mathematics and computing.
  • The interior of the train can be used for test equipment and hydrogen tanks.

I also suspect that a well-designed demonstrator could help with the repurposing of Porterbrook’s extensive fleet, by doing appropriate research.

The Fuel Cell

The Ballard fuel cell is a HD variant of their  FCveloCity family.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the train.

It would appear that mounting the fuel cell under the train floor would be a feasible proposition. I would assume that the cell would be placed under one of the driver cars.

If you search the Internet, you’ll find there is a lot of fuel cell companies out there innovating like crazy and fighting for market share.

I don’t think there will be any problem with the fuel cell in the HydroFLEX train.

The Electrical System

The electrical system of the Class 319 train is simple.

  • There is a 750 VDC busbar, which connects to all four cars.
  • The busbar is fed by the 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • One of the middle cars has the pantograph and the other has four 247.5 kW traction motors, which power the whole train.
  • There is no regenerative braking capability.
  • The two driver cars are only differentiated, by the seats installe by the operator.

It looks to me that this was a sensible piece of 1980s engineering by British Rail to create a low-cost dual-voltage train.

I do wonder, if the originator of this system is still hale and hearty. I suspect they are, as they certainly know how to design for a long life.

When Porterbrook commissioned the Class 769 train, the two diesel generators under the driver cars were connected into this busbar.

They didn’t add any energy storage to the train, although as I said in Brush Traction Signs Contract With Skeleton Technologies For Modules For Class 769 Trains, they have added SkelStart capacitors to start the diesel generators.

Effectively, the Class 769 train is an electric or diesel train, just like the Class 319 train is an overhead or third-rail electrificsation train.

Will the fuel cell of the HydroFLEX train be connected to the electrical system of the train in the same way?

Or will energy storage, we added to the drive train?

In a more advanced design, batteries or capacitors could be in the motored car.

  • They would be charged from the busbar.
  • They would power the traction motors.

If the traction motors, were to be changed to modern ones, that could perform regenerative braking, then this energy could be used to recharge the battery.

The Fuel Tank

I suspect as the train is for research, that a standard off-the-shelf hydrogen tank will be used.

This page on the Fuel Cells And Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, is entitled Improved Hydrogen Tanks For Fuel Cell Cars Of The Future.

This is the first paragraph.

The EU funded COPERNIC project, supported by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), succeeded in improving the quality of materials and design of hydrogen storage tanks for cars. It also made the manufacturing of these tanks more cost efficient, helping to make hydrogen cars a more viable and competitive option.

I think it is highly likely, that s well-designed hydrogen tank, could probably share the space under the driver car with the fuel cell.

If it can’t then as it’s a research project a few seats can be taken out.

 

 

 

December 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Harry Redknapp And Stacey Dooley

With Harry Redknapp winning I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here and Stacey Dooley winning Strictly Come Dancing are we seeing a reaction to the gloom that pervades everyday life and especially politics.

I’ve never met either, but both seem likeable characters, to whom not many would object.

 

December 16, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

The Problem With Britain’s And Probably Other Older Railways

This post on IanVisits is entitled West Hampstead Overground Station’s New Footbridge.

Ian had intended to report on the finish of a station rebuilding project at West Hampstead station.

But like many other projects it is running several months late.

Ian says this.

It’s reported that the delay stems from an unexpected massive slab of concrete that was added to the bridge that runs over the railway tracks, and supports the old station entrance.

Plans to pull the old building back and release more space on the pavement may now need to be revised as that would require the pavement to be reinforced to the same level as the road, in case a heavy lorry were to swerve onto the pavement by accident.

The old Edwardian era station building was due to be turned into a “retail opportunity”, although that may now be in doubt if the pavement issue proves intractable.

How many of us have renovated old buildings to find that what is actually there, has little relation to what the surveyors/architects believed was there?

Years ago, I was rebuilding a Listed house and the Listed Building Inspector from English Heritage was very practical. When she asked the Council Planner, if he thought that the house should be like it was built in the 1840s, he said yes!

To which she replied, “So you think there should be outside toilets?”

Everybody except one laughed!

A couple of months later, she came back to see the work and told me of a very rich man, who was rebuilding a Grade II Listed Building, that was several times over budget. Her advice at the time had been knock it down or move, as she felt preservation was impossible. But the neighbours and the wider area, felt that the building should be saved.

I suspect that, if Transport for London had known what they know now, they would have demolished the inadequate station. I don’t think the station is Listed!

Conclusion

We have a preserve all buildings regardless of the cost attitude in this country and it exists in other countries as well.

Look at my post Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, which outlines the problems there.

Imagine Crossrail with lots of tunnel construction problems and angry protestors!

December 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Palm Oil Giant Wilmar International To Combat Deforestation Using Satellite Monitoring Of Suppliers

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on The Independent.

This is the first three paragraphs.

The world’s largest trader in palm oil has unveiled plans to use satellite monitoring to prevent further destruction of rainforests.

Wilmar International is backing a project by sustainability consultancy Aidenvironment to draw up a comprehensive mapping database of suppliers in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia.

It has pledged to immediately suspend groups involved in deforestation or development on peatland, while also working with them to improve their operations.

Both the Independent and The Times, quote Kiki Taufik of Greenpeace, as the announcement being a potential breakthrough.

The Times also says, that Mondelez, who own Cadbury, have backed Wilmar’s palm oil plan.

 

 

 

December 15, 2018 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Vivarail And Hoppecke Announce Long-term Supply Of Batteries For Class 230s

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

Some extracts.

A 3-car Class 230 can run for 65 miles between charges which means they are more than able to operate numerous routes throughout the UK, and active conversations are taking place with interested operators. Battery trains enable emission-free rail travel in areas where electrification is either non- or only partially existent. The trains are particularly suited to urban routes where authorities wish to eliminate pollution caused by traditional DMUs as well as scenic lines where the natural environment needs protecting.

A Sixty-five mile range is very respectable and a good start.

Currently Vivarail is building a fleet of diesel/battery hybrids to operate the Wrexham-Bidston line for Transport for Wales, where the diesel gensets will be used to charge the batteries not to power the train. This power variant gives the range of a diesel train, the performance of an EMU (with acceleration of 1m p/s/s up to 40 miles per hour) and combines it with emission-free travel. As well as using the genset to charge the batteries the train also has regenerative braking – as do all the battery trains.

The acceleration is up there with a Class 345 train.

Hoppecke’s Lithium Ion batteries are ideally suited for the Class 230s by providing the rapid charging needed for battery trains. Simulations and performance data show that many non-electrified routes can be operated by the Class 230 battery trains and to make this possible in the short-term Vivarail has designed and patented an automatic charging system and battery bank. This means that costs of both infrastructure upgrades and daily operation are hugely minimised – in some cases by millions of pounds.

The batteries will probably be fairly traditional, but reading about Hoppecke on the web, they seem to be a company that believes in service. They also seem to supply back-up power supplies for critical infrastructure like telecommunications and computing.

Note too, that Vivarail have patented their charging system.

Designs for other types of hybrid trains exist including the use of existing OHL with a pantograph and transformer and 3rd rail with shoegear. Additionally, a new hydrogen variant is being developed which, similarly to the diesel hybrid, will exceed the pure battery train’s range of 65 miles.

Other power sources could be added, when they are invented.

A Serial Hybrid Train

The Class 230 trains for Wales are actually serial hybrids, just like one of London’s Routemaster buses. As the Press Release says, the generator set charges the batteries and these drive the train.

In the Press Release the following methods are mentioned for charging the batteries.

  • Diesel generators on the train.
  • Static charging systems at stations.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • 25 KVAC overhead line electrification.
  • 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Vivarail have split the control systems into two-more or-less independent systems; one keeps the batteries charged up in an optimal manner and the other links the batteries to the train’s systems and traction motors.

I also suspect that Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph Aventra With Batteries is a serial hybrid.

Conclusion

Is there anything recycled London Underground trains can’t do?

I have read somewhere, that Vivarail have talked about on-board self-service coffee machines!

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Oyster Card Scheme Extension Agreed

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

This paragraph describes the extensions.

Its extension, due in early 2019, will include Hertford North, Welwyn Garden City, Luton Airport Parkway and Epsom.

As the Oyster Card extension will also include intermediate stations, the following stations will be included on the four routes.

  • Hertford North – Crews Hill, Cuffley and Bayford.
  • Luton Airport Parkway – Radlett, St. Albans City and Harpenden
  • Welwyn Garden City – Potters Bar, Brookmans Park,Welham Green and Hatfield

All intermediate stations to Epsom are already in the Oyster Card Scheme.

Fourteen new stations will be added.

These are a few random thoughts.

Contactless And Oyster

Oyster card and most contactless payment methods with a card or mobile device can be used on Oyster Card reader, so in this post, I will use contactless to cover all methods.

I believe that in a few years, Oyster could be phased out, as cards and mobile devices will take over the ticketing.

Luton Airport Parkway

Adding Luton Airport Parkway station to the network, brings Luton Airport in line with Gatwick and Heathrow Airports.

This is very much a logical extension.

Airport Services

This is a list of the current times for airport services from London.

  • Gatwick – Express – 29 minutes – Thameslink – 39-60 minutes
  • Heathrow – Express – 15 minutes – Crossrail – 28 minutes
  • Luton – East Midlands Trains – 21 minutes – Thameslink 30-47 minutes
  • Southend – 52-53 minutes
  • Stansted – 49-52 minutes

If you look at the passenger statistics for Gatwick Airport station, they have been rising at around a million passengers a year for the past few years. How much of the recent rises have been due to the station going contactless in January 2016?

Certainly, if you’re late for a plane, contactless ticketing might save a couple of minutes.

I always remember an incident at Southend Airport station.

My plane was late and arrived very close to the departure time of the last train to London. There had recently been a lot of arrivals and the queues for tickets were long.

So a Greater Anglia employee took the decision to tell everybody to get on the train and we all went to London without tickets.

If ticketing had been contactless, Greater Anglia might have collected some fares.

But contactless at an airport is not solely about making money, but getting the passengers away from the airport quickly.

Hertford East And Hertford North Stations

Hertford East station accepts contactless cards.

Adding the facility to Hertford North station may open up some journey possibilities and ease ticketing.

The National Rail web site recommends that to go between Ware and Bayford stations on either side of Hertford, that you walk between the East and North stations.

An anytime ticket will cost you £19.50.

But buy two separate tickets between Ware and Hertford East stations and Hertford North and Bayford stations and it’ll cost £6!

Using contactless ticketing and touching in at all stations will save £13.50! Will this cost difference encourage more journeys with a walk in the middle?

When I visited the Hertford East Branch recently in mid-morning, I thought that it was surprisingly busy. Does lower-hassle contactless ticketing encourage more passengers?

Analysis of contactless touches will provide the answers to my two questions.

St. Albans City And St. Albans Abbey Stations

The Abbey Line between Watford Junction and St. Albans Abbey stations is not contactless, although Watford Junction station is so enabled and St. Albans City station will be.

There is surely a case for adding contactless ticketing to this short line of five intermediate stations.

Welwyn Garden City Station

Enabling Oyster on the route to Welwyn Garden City station, will mean that all stations on the Great Northern Route from Moorgate station will be enabled except for Watton-at-Stone  and Stevenage.

This would surely be less confusing for passengers, than the current arrangement, where Oyster tickeing is stopped at Hadley Wood and Gordon Hill stations.

Hopefully a suitable announcement would wake-up accidental fare avoiders at Hertford North station.

Epsom Station

The two routes to London from Epsom station are both fully Oyster-enabled, so surely adding one station to the routes shouldn’t be a difficult problem technically.

Further Routes For Oyster

Distances of the new Oyster-enabled stations, with a few existing ones, by rail from Central London are as follows.

  • Epsom – 16 miles from Victoria.
  • Gatwick Airport – 26 miles from Victoria
  • Hertford North – 20 miles from Moorgate
  • Luton Airport Parkway – 29 miles from St. Pancras
  • Shenfield – 20 miles from Liverpool Street
  • Welwyn Garden City – 20 miles from Kings Cross

So what other stations could be added?

Southend And Stansted Airports

Airports seem to like Oyster and as I said earlier, it can help to sort out ticketing problems at certain times.

  • Southend Airport station is 39 miles from Liverpool Street and there are five other stations between Southend Airport and Shenfield stations.
  • Stansted Airport station is 36 miles from Liverpool Street and there are six other stations between Southend Airport and Broxbourne stations.

This story on ITV is entitled Rail Minister Urged To Roll Out Oyster Card Payments To Stansted, Luton And Southend Airports.

Luton Airport will soon be Oyster-enabled, so hopefully Stansted and Southend Airports will be enabled soon.

Thirty Miles From London

There are a lot of places within thirty miles of London on commuter routes, that I’m sure eventually will be Oyster-enabled.

  • High Wycombe and Aylesbury – Chiltern have ambitions for this.
  • Rochester – 30 miles from London and on Thameslink.
  • Windsor

There will be other suggestions.

Extending Freedom Pass

I’d like to be able to just touch-in and touch-out to go to any station in the Oyster card area.

My Freedom Pass would be connected to a bank or credit card and I would be charged beyond the Freedom Pass area.

If Oyster cards can be linked to a bank or credit card, surely London’s control computer can be programmed to do something very powerful for Freedom Passes.

It could be a nice little earner for cash-strapped Transport for London.

Conclusion

Oyster is extending its reach and after this flurry of extensions in the next few months, lot of places will be wanting to be Oyster-enabled.

I suspect the only objector to this roll-out, will be the RMT, who have made the Luddites look like pussycats!

 

 

 

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Have Just Been Microsofted!

I run Office 365 and today it updated itself.

Now nothing in the suite works.

I don’t like automatic updates, as they have this power to drop you deep in it.

I usually only upate software, when there is a problem!

 

December 14, 2018 Posted by | Computing | | 3 Comments