The Anonymous Widower

GE To Partner BNSF On Battery Freight Locomotive Tests

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

The article includes this image.

I think that there are some mixed up captions on the image.

It talks about Massive Power Generation Capabilities up to 2400 kWhrs.

kWhrs are a unit of total energy and could refer to the battery storage capability of the locomotive.

If you look at our much smaller ubiquitous UK diesel freight locomotive, the Class 66, this has a power output of 2,460 kW.

If the GE locomotive, which is experimental had a battery of 2400 kWh, then it could supply 2400 kW for an hour.

But the concept seems sound, where the battery electric locomotive would be paired with a diesel locomotive to haul a freight train. Fuel savings of ten percent are expected.

A Diesel/Electric/Battery Hybrid Locomotive For The UK

I could see a practical diesel/electric/battery locomotive being developed for the UK.

A Class 66 Replacement

Over four hundred of the these locomotives were built and they are currently used by these operators  in the UK.

Which adds up to a surprisingly precise four hundred locomotives.

  • They have a power output of 2,460 kW – Call it 2500 kW for ease of calculation.
  • They have a top speed of 75 mph, although some can only manage 65 mph.
  • They weigh 68 tonnes.
  • They are noisy, smelly and don’t meet the latest EU pollution regulations.
  • Class 66 drivers, I’ve spoken to, are not keen on the working environment.

But they do various jobs for their operators competently and are not the most expensive of locomotives.

There are also other modern similar-sized diesel locomotives like the thirty Class 67 and thirty-seven Class 70, but these are not as unfriendly, to the environment and staff.

Many of the Class 66 locomotives pull heavy freight trains on routes that are fully or partly electrified like the East Coast Main Line, West Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line and Great Eastern Main Line. The services are diesel-hauled because at the ends of the route, they need to use diesel power.

A specification for a locomotive to replace the long-haul Class 66 locomotives for working fully or partly-electrified routes could be something like.

  • Power on electrification of upwards of 3000 kW.
  • Ability to move a heavy freight train in and out freight terminals to and from electrification.
  • Ability to do a small amount of shunting.
  • Sufficient diesel or battery power to handle the train, away from electrification.
  • Ability to switch between electric and diesel/battery power at line speed.

I’ve heard from those who work at the Port of Felixstowe, that port operators wouldn’t electrify the port, for both cost and Health and Safety reasons.

The Felixstowe Problem

The Port of Felixstowe is at the end of the twelve mile long Felixstowe Branch Line, which is not electrified.

Trains seem to be allocated up to just over an hour for the journey between the Great Eastern Main Line and the Port.

This would mean that any proposed locomotive must be capable of handling a branch line to a port or freight depot remote from the electrified network.

Similar problems exist at other ports and freight depots including Hull, Immingham, Liverpool, Southampton, Tilbury and Teesport.

The Southampton Problem

If anything, the Port of Southampton has the worst problem, in that it only has access to the third-rail electrification South of the Thames, until freight trains reach Reading, where there is 25 KVAC overhead electrification. It looks like that trains take about ninety minutes between the Port of Southampton and Reading.

Even, if a powerful dual-voltage locomotive were to be available, I doubt that the power supply to the electrification could provide enough power.

The proposed solution to the Southampton problem was the Electric Spine, which would have linked the port to Northern and Central England with a 25 KVAC overhead electrified route.

It has now been largely cancelled.

An alternative would be a locomotive, that could pull a heavy freight train between the Port of Southampton and Reading in an environmentally-friendly way.

One point to note is that a Class 92 locomotive is rated at 4000 kW on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

Thoughts On A Battery Locomotive

Suppose an operator needed a battery locomotive to go between Southampton and Cardiff, that would be a straight replacement for a Class 66 locomotive.

The proposed battery locomotive  would need to be able to supply the 2500 kW of the Class 66 locomotive for two hours to handle the route between Reading and Southampton.

So it would need a battery capacity of around 5000 kWh, which is twice the size of the American test locomotive. A battery this size would probably weigh around fifty tonnes.

The electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive would probably weigh around eighty tonnes without the diesel engine. So would it be possible to design an electric locomotive incorporating a 5000 kWh battery, with a weight of perhaps one hundred and forty tonnes.

  • It would be about eleven tonnes heavier than a Class 70 locomotive.
  • It would probably need to be a Co-Co locomotive, to reduce the axle-loading.
  • It might need to be longer than other comparable locomotives to have enough space for the battery.
  • The battery would handle the energy generated by the regenerative braking.
  • It could have the 4000 kW power of a Class 88  locomotive.
  • It should probably be designed with a 100 mph top speed and the ability to haul passenger trains
  • It would be able to use both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

If it is not possible now, as battery energy densities improve, it will be in a few years time.

Other countries other than the UK need such a locomotive and I am certain at least one manufacturer in Europe will build a locomotive to this or a similar specification.

A Battery/Electric Locomotive And Felixstowe

Handling the Felixstowe Branch Line would entail the following.

  • The locomotive must enter the branch with a battery containg enough energy for the sixty minute run to the Port.
  • As the locomotive would probably have hauled a train from London or Haughley Junction using the existing electrification, a full enough battery probably wouldn’t be difficult.
  • In the Port, there could be a charging station for the locomotive, where they would connect to a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • On leaving the Port, the locomotive would start with a full battery.
  • Trains going South to London would run on electrification as far as they could and would arrive with a full battery.
  • Trains going West to Peterborough, would hopefully be able to top up their battery between Ipswich and Haughley Junction, where they would enter the section without electrification to Peterborough, which takes between two and two-and-a half hours.

It should be noted that, freight trains often wait at Ely in a passing loop alongside the station, to keep out of the way of passenger trains. As Ely is electrified with 25 KVAC, this loop could be electrified, so that locomotives could sneak a top-up during the wait.

I am fairly certain, that a 4000 kW electric locomotive fitted with a 5000 kWh battery could handle all freight services to and from the Port of Felixstowe, at least as far as London and Peterborough.

A Battery/Electric Locomotive And Southampton

Trains hauled by a battery/electric locomotive on this route, could probably take advantage of the third-rail electrification to top-up the battery as required, which would make it very likely that a 4000 kW electric locomotive fitted with a 5000 kWh battery could handle the route with ease.

From Reading routes to Bristol, Cardiff and London are fairly easy, but the problems start, if trains need to go to Oxford, Birmingham or the Midlands and the North.

This is where the Electric Spine would have been useful

I have traced some trains from Southampton to the Midlands and the North.

  • Southampton to Birch Coppice – There is a three hour section without electrification from Didcot to Birch Coppice.
  • Southampton to Birmingham Freightliner Terminal – There is a two-and-a half hour section without electrification from Didcot to the terminal.
  • Southampton to Castle Bromwich Jagiuar – There is a two-and-a-half-hour section without electrification from Didcot to Castle Bromwich Jaguar.
  • Southampton to Liverpool – There is a two hour section without electrification from Didcot to Coventry.

All of these services are routed through Didcot, Oxford and Banbury. Extending the planned electrification between Didcot and Oxford to Banbury would probably reduce the amount of time on battery power by around thirty minutes.

The Stadler Class 88 Battery/Electric Locomotive

As Stadler seem to have a monopoly of new locomotives in the UK at present, I will look at their proven Class 88 locomotive.

  • It has a power of 4,000 kW on electricity.
  • It has a power of 700 kW using an onboard diesel.
  • It has a top speed of 100 mph.
  • The Caterpillar C27 diesel engine weighs around seven tonnes.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking.

The locomotive is certainly no weakling on electricity, although performance, when pulling a heavy freight train on diesel might be desired to be better. This article on Rail Magazine is entitled Inside Direct Rail Services. This is an extract about the pulling ability of the Class 88 locomotive.

Sample performances over the northern section of the West Coast Main Line (Preston –Carlisle–Mossend) demonstrate that Class 88 can operate the same train weight to the same schedule as Class 68 using 15% less energy. Alternatively, it offers a 45-minute time advantage over a ‘68’ and 80 minutes for Class 66. This gives a competitive edge because a significant proportion of movement costs are absorbed by fuel.

When hauling the maximum permitted load of 1,536 tonnes on the 1 in 75 banks on this route, Class 88 has a balancing speed of 34mph in electric mode or 5mph in diesel mode. Taken together, all these factors helped Class 88 win the Rail Freight Group ‘Rail Freight Project of the Year’ Award in the Innovation and Technical Development category this year.

The locomotive doesn’t appear to be a wimp.

But could the Class 88 locomotive be fitted with a battery?

Current energy storage technology seems to be able to store about 100Wh/kg. So on this basis a seven tonne battery would store about 700 kWh.

I think in a few years it would be possible to build a version of a Class 88 locomotive with no diesel engine and a battery with a 1000 kWh capacity.

But even so, the 1000 kWh battery may be too small.

Would it be able to handle these important routes with a full-length freight train?

  • Haughley Junction to Peterborough
  • Peterborough to Doncaster via Lincoln
  • Peterborough to Nuneaton.
  • Southampton to Reading
  • Immingham to Doncaster

However, Stadler and Direct Rail Services will be able to extensively model the performance of a battery/electric Class 88 locomotive pulling various weights of freight train on different routes in the UK.

The modelling would show how much battery capacity would be needed for various routes.

Suppose though the battery capacity needed was say 2400 kWh, as I suspect has been specified by the Americans for their locomotive. This might be too heavy and large for the small Class 88 locomotive

But just as the Americans are using their battery/electric locomotive in combination with a diesel locomotive, why not run the battery-electric Class 88 locomotive as a pair with a standard electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive?

Conclusion

My modelling experience says that there is a solution in there.

I suspect that Jo Johnson’s dream of removing diesel from UK railways will take a big step forward in the next decade, when a battery/electric locomotive with sufficient performance becomes available.

I also believe that short lengths of electrification like Oxford to Banbury, may increase the range of an electric/battery locomotive.

 

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Northumberland Park Station – 22nd October 2018

Northumberland Park station is coming on.

It’s going to be a complicated steel construction.

Some people will like it! Other’s won’t!

I do suspect though, that there will be some superb photographs of this station, when the light is similar to how it was today.

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The New Bridge At Tottenham Hale Station – 22nd October 2018

The new footbridge at Tottenham Hale station is being constructed.

It looks like the station should be finished by the middle of next year.

October 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Batteries In Class 378 Trains Revisited

Two and a half years ago, I wrote Will London Overground Fit On-board Energy Storage To Class 378 Trains?.

This post effectively updates that post, with what we now know.

As far as I know, batteries have not been fitted to the Class 378 trains, but there have been other developments involving Bombardier since.

Aventras

The linked post was based on statements by Marc Phillips of Bombardier in this article in Rail Technology Magazine entitled Bombardier enters key analysis phase of IPEMU. He also said about Aventras.

Bombardier is also looking at battery options on new builds, including its Aventra platform.

I have stated several times including in Rail Magazine, that the Class 345 trains for Crossrail must have batteries and no-one has told me that I’m wrong.

Battery Train Applications

The Rail Technology article also says this.

Bombardier has started assessing potential customers for battery-powered trains, looking first at branch line applications. Batteries could be a solution allowing non-continuous electrified infrastructure, and emergency rescue and last-mile opportunities.

The article was written three and a half years ago and I suspect Bombardier have been busy researching the technology and its applications.

The High-Speed Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries

This train was first reported to be in development in this article in Rail Magazine, which was entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra Could Feature Battery Power.

The article stated the following.

  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.

I very much believe that the key to the performance of this train is using batteries to handle regenerative braking in both electric and diesel modes.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I looked at how the train might operate.

Bombardier with better data and the latest mathematical modelling techniques have obviously extensively modelled the proposed trains and prospective routes.

No sane company listed on a Stock Exchange would launch such a product, if it didn’t know that the mathematics of the dynamics and the numbers for the accountants didn’t add up.

Voyagers With Batteries

In Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?, I discuss a snippet found in the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, in an article entitled Bi-Mode Aventra Details Revealed.

In a report of an interview with Bombardier’s Des McKeon, this is said.

He also confirmed Bombardier is examining the option of fitting batteries to Voyager DEMUs for use in stations.

Batteries appear to be being proposed to make the trains more environmentally-friemdly and less-noisy.

Talent 3 With Batteries

Bombardier have launched a version of their Talent 3 train with batteries. This is the launch video.

Some of Bombardier’s points from the video.

  • Emission-free
  • The current range is forty kilometres
  • The range will be extended to a hundred kilometres by 2020.
  • Charging for forty kilometres takes between seven and ten minutes from overhead electrification.

This looks to be a serious train with orders from German train operators.

It would appear that Bombardier are very serious about the application of batteries to both new and existing trains.

Class 378 Trains And Batteries

What could batteries do for the Class 378 trains?

It looks like over the next few years, the Class 378 trains will be increasingly used on the East London Line, as they have the required evacuation capability for the Thames Tunnel.

Various documents indicate that to maximise capacity on the line, the following may happen.

  • Some or all services may go to six trains per hour (tph)
  • Trains may be lengthened to six-cars from five-cars.

Extra destinations might be added, but although this could be easy in South London, it would probably require a lot of station or platform development in the North.

Trains Required For The East London Line

If you look at the timing of the East London Line, you get the following journey times for the four routes.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 52-57 minutes
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 24 minutes
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 46 minutes
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 47-48 minutes

It could almost have been choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

This means that to run four tph on the routes needs the following number of trains.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 8 trains
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 4 trains
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 8 trains
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 8 trains

Which gives a total of 28 trains.

To make all these services six tph, would require the following number of trains.

  • Highbury & Islington to West Croydon – 12 trains
  • Dalston Junction to New Cross – 6 trains
  • Highbury & Islington to Crystal Palace – 12 trains
  • Dalston Junction to Clapham Junction – 12 trains

Which gives a total of 42 trains.

At present only the Crystal Palace and Clapham Junction routes have dates for the extra trains and if only these routes were increased in frequency, there would be a need for 36 trains.

Six-Car Trains

The trains might also go to six cars to increase capacity on the East London Line.

As I indicated in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six Car Trains?, cars could be used from the five-car trains not needed for the East London Line.

You would just end up with a number of three- and four-car Class 378 trains, that could be used on other routes with less passengers.

My conclusion in Will The East London Line Ever Get Six Car Trains? was this.

It will be interesting to see how London Overground, increase capacity in the coming years.

There are fifty-seven Class 378 trains in total, which have the following formation.

DMOS-MOS(B)-PTOS-MOS-DMOS

They can be lengthened and shortened, by adding or removing MOS cars.

As an extra MOS car was added to convert all trains from four-cars to five-cars a few years ago, I suspect it is not the most difficult of processes.

It should also be noted that the original three-car trains for the North London Line had the following formation.

DMOS-PTOS-DMOS

If all East London Line routes go to six tph, the required number of trains would be forty-two.

This would leave a surplus of fifteen trains to act as donors for lengthening.

To make all trains six-cars would require a further forty-two MOS cars.

Reducing the trains not needed for the East London Line to three-cars, would yield thirty MOS cars.

This could give the following fleet.

  • Thirty six-car trains.
  • Twelve five-car trains
  • Fifteen three-car trains

To lengthen all trains needed for six-cars would require another twelve MOS cars to be obtained.

Some services could be run with five-car trains, but I don’t think that be a good idea.

I am inevitably led to the conclusion, that if the the Class 378 trains need to be extended to six-cars, then Bombardier will have to produce some more cars.

Adding Batteries To A Six-Car Class 378 Trains

Batteries would be added to Class 378 trains for all the usual reasons.

  • Handling energy from regenerative braking.
  • Health and safety in depots and sidings.
  • Short movements on lines without electrification
  • Emergency train recovery

But there might also be another important use.

The Thames Tunnel is under five hundred metres long.

As the only trains running through the tunnel are Class 378 trains, it might be possible and advantageous to run services on battery power through the tunnel.

I will estimate the kinetic energy of a six-car Class 378 train, as the batteries must be able to handle the energy of a full train, stopping from maximum speed.

  • The empty train will weigh around 192 tonnes
  • The maximum speed of the train is 75 mph.
  • The train will hold 1050 passengers, who I will assume each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a fully loaded train weight of 286.5 tonnes.

Using the Omni Kinetic Energy calculator gives an kinetic energy of 45 kWh.

If four 100 kWh batteries can be fitted under a two-car Class 230 train, then surely a reasonable amount o capacity can be fitted under a six-car Class 378 train.

These pictures show the under-floor space on a dual-voltage Class 378/2 train.

As a six-car train will have five motored cars, why not put one 50 kWh battery in each motored car, to give a capacity of 250 kWh.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

So how far would a six-car Class 378 train go with a fully-charged 250 kWh battery?

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 10 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 14 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 20 miles

This is only a crude estimate, but it shows that fitting batteries to a Class 378 train with batteries could give a useful range.

Adding Batteries To A Three-Car Class 378 Trains

The same calculation can be performed for a three-car train created by removing the two MOS cars.

  • The empty train will weigh around 96 tonnes
  • The maximum speed of the train is 75 mph.
  • The train will hold 525 passengers, who I will assume each weigh 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a fully loaded train weight of 143.3 tonnes.

Using the Omni Kinetic Energy calculator gives an kinetic energy of 22.4 kWh.

Unsurprisingly, the kinetic energy of the three-car train is around half that of a six-car train.

As a three-car train will have two motored cars, why not put one 50 kWh battery in each motored car, to give a capacity of 100 kWh.

Using the Ian Walmsley formula gives the following ranges.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 7 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 11 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 17 miles

When you consider that the length of the Greenford Branch Line is 2.5 miles, these ranges are very useful.

Routes For Three-Car Class 378 Trains With Batteries

I would suspect that these trains will have the following specification.

  • Dual-voltage with ability to use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • A maximum speed of 75 mph
  • Three cars
  • Passenger capacity of 525 passengers.
  • Range of between seven and fifteen miles

So for what routes would the train be suitable?

Brentford Branch Line

There have been various ideas for reopening the freight-only Brentford Branch Line to passenger traffic.

The simplest proposal would be to run a two tph shurttle train Southwards from Southall station.

As the branch is only four miles long, I believe that a three-car Class 378 train, which ran on battery-power and charged at Southall station could work the branch.

Greenford Branch Line

I’ve already mentioned the 2.5 mile long Greenford Branch Line.

The following work would need to be done before the trains could be used.

  • Electrification of the bay platform at West Ealing with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Electrification of the bay platform at Greenford with 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Minor lengthening of the bay platform at Greenford to allow sixty metre long trains.
  • An extra crossover at the West Ealing end of the branch.

With these modifications it might be possible to run four tph on the branch.

Romford To Upminster Line

Currently, the Romford-Upminster Line uses a single train to shuttle the three miles at a frequency of two tph.

If the passing loop were to be reinstated, I believe that two trains could run a four tph service.

Using battery-power on the line and charging on the existing electrification at either end of the line might be a more affordable option.

It should be noted that increasing the current two x four-car tph to four x three-car tph, would be a doubling of frequency and a fifty percent increase in capacity.

West London Orbital Railway

The West London Orbital Railway is outlined like this in Wikipedia.

The West London Orbital is a proposed extension to the London Overground that makes use of a combination of existing freight and passenger lines including the Dudding Hill Line, North London Line, and the Hounslow Loop. The route runs for approximately 11 miles from West Hampstead and Hendon at the northern end to Hounslow at the Western end via Brent Cross West, Neasden, Harlesden, Old Oak Common, Acton and Brentford.

This is one of those plans, which ticks a lot of boxes.

  • The tracks are already in existence.
  • There is a proven need.
  • Passenger numbers would support at least four tph.
  • The route connects to Crossrail and HS2.
  • Changing at Old Oak Common to and from Crossrail gives a quicker route to Heathrow for many in West London.
  • There is electrification at both ends of the route, with only four miles without any electrification.
  • At only eleven miles, it could be run by electric trains under battery power.
  • The cost is quoted at around £250 million.
  • Studies show it has a benefit cost ratio of 2.2:1.

As the route is now being promoted by the Mayor of London, I have a feeling this route will be created in time for the opening of HS2 in 2025.

If you want to know more about the proposals, this document on the Brent Council web site, which is entitled West London Orbital Rail, was written by consultants WSP to analyse the proposals and give a cost.

This is paragraph 5.4.38

At this stage we are assuming that the railway will be operated by diesel traction, or possibly battery or hybrid traction. While the Kew – Acton and Dudding Hill Line sections are not electrified, all the rest of the line is and battery technology may have developed sufficiently by the time of opening to be a viable option. Therefore, potential subsequent phases of the
enhancement plans could electrify the non-electrified sections.

The consultants go on to say, that stabling for diesel trains is more difficult to find in London than for electric..

The route would be suitable for Class 378 trains with batteries, but the consultants say that four-car trains will be needed.

So four-car Class 378 trains with a battery capability will be needed.

Alternatively, new four-car Class 710 trains, which I’m certain are built around a battery capability could be used instead.

A rough estimate says that for the full service of two four tph routes will need a total of eight four-car trains.

This is a much-needed route with definite possibilities.

Should A Battery MOS Car Be Designed?

If the Class 378 trains are lengthened to six cars, it looks like there will be a need for at least twelve new MOS cars.

I wonder, if it would be better to design a new BMOS car with batteries, that could either be created from an existing MOS car or newly-built.

The car would have the following specification

  • It would be able to replace any current MOS car.
  • It would contain the appropriate size of battery.

The advantages of a compatible new BMOS car are.

It would not require any modifications to the PTOS or DMOS cars, although the train software would need to be updated.

It would make it possible to easily create trains with a battery option with a length of four and five cars.

Could The PTOS Car Be Updated With Batteries?

This could be a logical way to go, if a battery of sufficient size can be fitted in the limited space available with all the other electrical gubbins under the floor of a PTOS car.

 

These pictures show a Class 378/2 PTOS car.

Modifying only the PTOS cars would give the following advantages.

  • Only the PTOS car would need to be modified.
  • PTOS cars for Class 378/1 trains would be 750 VDC only.
  • PTOS cars for Class 378/2 trains, would be dual-voltage.
  • Only PTOS cars for Class 378/2 trains would have a pantograph.

I will propose that the PTOS car is fiited a 100 kWh battery.

This would be sufficient for the six-car East London Line services, as all it would do was handle the regenerative braking energy, which has a maximum value of just 45 kWh. Battery range of the train would be between three and five miles, which would be enough to recover the train if power failed.

For three-car trains, the 100 kWh ranges would be as I calculated earlier.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 7 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 11 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 17 miles

Which is a very useful range.

If some four-car trains, were built by adding a new MOS car, the ranges on 100 kWh batteries would be.

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 5 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 6 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 8 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 12.5 miles

As the Dudding Hill Line is only four miles long with electrification at both ends, these four-car Class 378 trains would be able to work the routes of the West London Orbital Railway.

Conclusion

Fitting batteries to Class 378 trains opens up a lot of possibilities.

One scenario could be.

  • Forty-two six-car trains for the East and |South London Lines.
  • One three-car train for the Brentford Branch Line
  • Two three-car trains for the Greenford Branch Line.
  • Two three-car trains for the Romford to Upminster Line.
  • Eight four-car trains for the West London Orbital Railway.

There would be two spare three-car trains and another twenty MOS cars would be required.

 

 

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October 21, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Many Believe The Saudis About The Death Of Jamal Khashoggi?

I certainly don’t!

But Donald Trump does!

But then Trumpkopf likes dictators like Putin and Fatty The Third!

October 20, 2018 Posted by | News, World | , , , | Leave a comment

New Livery For Class 378 Trains

I took these pictures of a Class 378 train with new the new livery and seat covers on two trips into Dalston Junction station.

Who is or was Daks Hamilton?

Whilst searching for the answer to my question, I found this December 2009 article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled A Benchmark For Inner Suburban Trains. Richard Clinnock; the author finishes the article with these paragraphs.

So what is the final verdict? Simple: these trains are superb. They may seem to be fairly basic with few seats and no bins, but then they are about moving large numbers of people over relatively short distances.

Bombardier has delivered a train it can be proud of, and has really set the benchmark for future designs for inner suburban trains.

His verdict is still valid and nearly nine years on , the Capitalstars are still trundling reliably, in a circle around London.

But except for the Class 345 and Class 710 trains for Crossrail and the Overground respectively, no operator or transport authority in the UK, has followed London’s bold step of bench seats along the sides of the train.

You do see this layout in Europe, but often with hard one-piece plastic seats, that should be burned to generate electricity.

I think that Transport for London and Bombardier took, what they knew worked from the train-builder’s superb S stock for the sub-surface lines of the Underground and applied it to the new trains for an outstanding success.

If this type of seating works in London, why has it not been specified on new trains for Merseyrail and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

The Future Of The Class 378 Trains

London Overground have a problem with the new Class 710 trains, in that they can’t work the East London Line, as they have no emergency access that can be used in the Thames Tunnel.

So it looks like for the foreseeable future, Class 378 trains will be needed to work the East London Line.

Interior Update

The trains need wi-fi and USB sockets.

Vivarail have put USB sockets in Class 230 trains.

A similar setup in the armrests of a Class 378 train would be welcome.

This is the armrest in a Class 378 train.

Could it be modified to include a USB socket?

 

 

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 4 Comments

Gatwick Sets Out Ambitious Future Growth Plan, Including Routine Use Of Its Existing Standby Runway

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Gatwick Airport.

The plan is essentially very simple. The standby runway will be reconfigured so that it can be used for the take-off of smaller planes, whilst the current main runway is in full operation.

In the near term, they intend to make the most of one of the world’s most efficient runways, but by the mid-2020s, the standby runway will be able to be used simultaneously.

In the long term, Gatwick would aim to build the third runway on land that has been safeguarded for that purpose.

This Google Map shows the airport.

The current two runways stand out.

  • The main runway is the longer Southern one.
  • The standby runway is the shorter Northern one.

This second Google Map shows the Eastern ends of the two runways.

It looks to me, that with rearrangement of the taxiways, aprons and the South Terminal, that the standby runway could become a runway meeting all the regulations.

This is said in an article in The Guardian.

Gatwick’s emergency runway could be widened by 12 metres to comply with safety requirements for a 210-metre centreline gap from the main runway, and be used for an additional 10-15 short-haul flights an hour to take off.

An expanded terminal, an additional aircraft pier of landing gates and work on roads around the airport could also be required to accommodate the extra passengers. The work would take two to three years to complete.

If there is a need for for more runway capacity in the South East of England, I feel Gatwick’s plan is a good one.

These are my thoughts.

An Affordable Cost

The Guardian article quotes the cost at half a billion pounds, which in the grand scheme of transport projects is not a large sum.

It is the sort of sum, that can be easily raised by a business like Gatwick Airport.

Minimal Disruption

It is the type of project, where during construction, with the application of good project management, there should be only minimal disruption to the following groups.

  • Passengers using the Airport
  • Workers needing to go to and from the Airport
  • Rail passengers passing through Gatwick station
  • Traffic on the nearby M23 motorway.

The biggest disruption will probably come from transporting materials to the site.

A Phased Capacity Upgrade

I also feel, that planned carefully and built over the two or three years quoted in the Guardian, that capacity could be upgraded in a gradual manner, which would be easier to utilise, than say the massive increase that would be afforded by a totally new runway.

Planned Rail Links To Gatwick

In The Rise Of Gatwick Airport, I wrote this about the rail connections to Gatwick Airport.

I found this article in TravelWeekly, which is entitled Gatwick outlines plans for a train departure to London every three minutes.

It gives a very good summary of the train services that will run to Gatwick after Thameslink is completed.

The planned hourly timetable would see:

•         Four dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria
•         Six trains to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath
•         Four trains to Bedford via London Bridge – originating from Gatwick and Brighton
•         Two trains to Cambridge via London Bridge – originating from Brighton
•         Two trains to Peterborough via London Bridge – originating from Horsham
•         Two trains to London Bridge – originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.

That is a total of twenty trains to and from London and beyond and most of the South Coast from Southampton to Hastings.

How many better rail-connected airports are there anywhere in the world?

The article also quotes Guy Stephenson, the Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer as saying.

The new high frequency service that will serve Gatwick will transform rail journeys for our passengers, with capacity doubling and a train to London every three minutes.

Crucially, the new trains will be much more reliable and will be stacked with amenities suited to the needs of air travellers.  Combined with robust new track and signalling systems, Gatwick’s passengers will experience a really pleasant and dependable service.

Overall, the improvements to Gatwick’s rail service means that 15 million people will be brought within 60 minutes of Gatwick by rail – the best reach of any UK airport,

Reading the article, you might think that Thameslink should be called Gatwicklink!

According to this Press Release on the Gatwick Airport web site, Gatwick Airport are going to spend £120.5million on updating the rail station. This is an architect’s impression of the new station.

GatwickAirport

I also think that Gatwick could extend their Gatwick Express services.

I think we can also see development of Airport services to and from Gatwick Airport station based on the following existing services.

Will we be seeing a second Gatwick Express route from Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Reading via Gatwick Airport?

Consider.

  • It would inevitably get known as the M25-on-rails.
  • It gives a large number of passengers a way to get to Gatwick and Continental Rail Services without going through Central London.
  • It could serve Heathrow, if they got their act together.
  • Surprisingly, I think this route will be quicker to go between Reading and Gatwick, than using Crossrail and Thameslink with a change at Farringdon.
  • The trains for such a service could be the same as the new Class 387/2 Gatwick Expresses, but with an IPEMU capability.

But it wouldn’t be just an Airport service, as I suspect that given adequate parking at stations, it would become a valuable cross-country route linking the rail hubs of Ebbsfleet, Gatwick and Reading. After all, North of London, the East West Rail Link is being created from Reading to Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Southern also run a service from Milton Keynes to South Croydon via the West London Line. In the future this service will serve Old Oak Common station on Crossrail, HS2, the West Coast Main Line and the North London Line.

So will this service be extended from South Croydon to Gatwick and become a third Gatwick Express service?

These two additional Gatwick Express services would greatly increase or ease the airport’s links across the wider South East and to HS2 services out of Euston.

The only problem, is the overcrowding on the Brighton Main Line.

That post was written in February 2016.

The Future Of Rail Links To Gatwick

Since I wrote the article two years ago, the following has happened.

  • Thameslink has opened and is now running eight trains per hour (tph) between Gatwick Airport and London St. Pancras International.
  • In Gibb Report – Gatwick Airport Station Should Be Transferred To Gatwick Airport, I reported on what Chris Gibb said about the ownership of Gatwick Airport station.
  • Luton Airport has been pressing for a better service. It currently has ten tph to London with timings of between 34-42 minutes.
  • There are four tph between Gatwick and Luton Airports, two of which take 80 minutes and two take 100 mins.
  • The world and his wife are complaining about the cut-price Class 700 trains.
  • The Class 700 trains may be OK for short journeys, but they are a nightmare between say Brighton and Cambridge.
  • Travellers on the East London Line are complaining that getting to Gatwick is not easy as only two tph stop at Norwood Junction.
  • If the Bakerloo Line is extended to Lewisham, then it will call at New Cross Gate.

The Thameslink service needs to be improved.

  • The trains need a major upgrade.
  • Should there be a limited stop service, running at four tph between Brighton and Bedford, which stopped at Gatwick and Luton Airport and  the Central London stations?
  • Should at least four tph stop at New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction to connect to the East London Line and the proposed Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham?
  • Could a 125 mph bi-mode be developed, that would enable a service between Gatwick and Sheffield?

As there could be up to six spare paths to be allocated on Thameslink, there are a lot of possibilities for new and improved services.

If other services were extended to Gatwick Airport, it could become a major rail hub for the South East of England.

Conclusion

London and the South East needs more runway capacity.

  • Extending the standby runway at Gatwick, effectively creates a very useful half-capacity runway.
  • Developing a major rail hub at the Airport, would be useful for all sorts of reasons.
  • Adding a second full-size runway would make Gatwick one of the busiest airports in the world.

Gatwick may be the wrong side of London, but I think it offers better possibilities than a third runway at Heathrow.

 

 

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Porterbrook Makes Case For Battery/Electric Bi-Mode Conversion

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

This is the first paragraph.

Rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook is working on a prototype battery/electric bi-mode Class 350/2 to demonstrate the technology’s viability to train operators.

So why would you fit batteries to an electric train like a Class 350 train?

Range Extension

An appropriately-sized battery can be used to power the train on an extension or branch line without electrification.

The classic route in London is the Barking Riverside Extension of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Until someone says otherwise, I believe this short route will be built without electrification and the Class 710 trains will run on this route using stored battery power.

In my article in Issue 856 of Rail Magazine, I said this.

London is also designing and building another rail line, which will be used only by Aventras – The Barking Riverside Extension of the Gospel Oak and Barking Line.

I have read all of the published Transport for London documents about this extension and although electric trains are mentioned, electrification is not!

The extension is only a mile of new track and trains could leave the electrified c2c line with full batteries.

It would not be difficult to go to Barking Riverside and back on stored power.

Benefits would include.

  • Less visual and audible intrusion of the new railway.
  • Simpler track and station design.
  • It might be easier to keep the railway at a safe distance from all the high voltage electricity lines in the area, that bring power to London.
  • A possibly safer and more reliable railway in extreme weather.
  • Costs would be saved.

No-one has told me, I’ve got it wrong.

Handling Regenerative Braking Energy

Normally, the energy generated by regenerative braking is returned through the overhead wires or third-rail  to power nearby trains.

This does save energy, but it does have drawbacks.

  • What happens if there are no nearby trains?
  • The transformers and systems that power the track are more complicated and more expensive.

As trains slow and accelerate continuously, would it not be better if regenerative energy could be used to accelerate the train back up to line speed?

The train would need an intelligent control system to decide whether to use power from the electrification or the batteries.

In my view, a battery on the train is the obvious way to  efficiently handle the energy from regenerative braking.

Handling Power Failures

Electrification failures do occur for a number of reasons.

If trains have an alternative power supply from a battery, then the driver can move the train to perhaps the next station, where the train can be safely evacuated.

I believe that Crossrail uses battery power for this purpose.

Electrically Dead Depots And Sidings

Depots and sidings can be dangerous places with electricity all over the place.

If trains can be moved using stored energy, then safer depots and sidings can be designed.

Remote Wake-Up

We’ve all got up early in the morning, to drive to work on a cold day.

One train driver told me, there was no worse start to the day, than picking up the first train from sidings in the snow.

I discuss, remote wake-up fully in Do Bombardier Aventras Have Remote Wake-Up?.

I suspect to do this reliably needs a battery of a certain size.

How Big Should The Batteries Be?

It is my belief, that the batteries on an electric train, must be big enough to handle the energy generated if a full-loaded train stops from maximum speed.

If we take the Class 350/2 train, as owned by Porterbrook, Wikipedia gives this information.

  • Maximum Speed – 100 mph
  • Train Weight – 175.5 tonnes
  • Capacity – Around 380 passengers

If I assume each passenger weighs 90 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies, the train weight is 209.7 tonnes.

This could be a bit high, but if you’ve been on one of TransPennine’s Class 350 trains, you might think it a bit low.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, I get the following kinetic energies at various speeds.

  • 60 mph – 20.9 kWh
  • 70 mph – 28.5 kWh
  • 80 mph – 37.2 kWh
  • 90 mph – 47.1 kWh
  • 100 mph – 58.2 kWh
  • 110 mph – 70.4 kWh
  • 120 mph  83.6 kWh

I have added the unrealistic 120 mph figure, to show how the amount of energy rises with the square of the speed.

As it would be advantageous for trains to run at 110 mph, the batteries must always have the capacity to handle at least 70.4 kWh, so perhaps 100 kWh would be a good minimum size.

How Much Battery Capacity Could Be Fitted Under A Train?

Wikipedia doesn’t give the formation of a Class 350 train, but it does give that of the similar third-rail version of the train; the Class 450 train.

  • DMSO(A)
  • TCO
  • TSO
  • DMSO(B)

Which is two identical Driver Motor Cars with two Trailer Cars in the middle. Looking at a Class 350 train in Euston, they appear to have a similar formation.

This page on the Vivarail web site is entitled Battery Train Update.

This is a paragraph.

Battery trains are not new but battery technology is – and Vivarail is leading the way in new and innovative ways to bring them into service. 230002 has a total of 4 battery rafts each with a capacity of 106 kWh and requires an 8 minute charge at each end of the journey. With a 10 minute charge this range is extended to 50 miles and battery technology is developing all the time so these distances will increase.

So it looks like Vivarail manage to put 212 kWh under each car of their two-car train.

This article on the Railway Gazette is entitled Battery-Powered Desiro ML Cityjet Eco Unveiled.

This is an edited version of the first two paragraphs.

An electric multiple-unit equipped with a prototype electric-battery hybrid drive system designed to enable through running onto non-electrified lines was unveiled by Siemens and Austrian Federal Railways in Wien on September 10.

The Desiro ML Cityjet Eco has been produced using a series-built version of the Desiro ML EMUs which Siemens is supplying to ÖBB. The middle car has been equipped with three battery containers with lithium-titanate batteries offering a total capacity of 528 kWh.

Although this train is designed for a different loading gauge, it is another Siemens product and they manage to fit 528 kWh in, on top or under one car.

I think, it would be reasonable to assume that around 400 kWh of batteries could be fitted under a Class 350 train.

These pictures show a Class 350 train at Euston.

Note that the trailer car with the pantograph has less free space underneath. I would assume that is because the transformer and other electrical gubbins are underneath the car to increase passenger space.

I’m certain there is space under a Class 350 train to fit an appropriate amount of storage.

What Battery Range Could Be Expected?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

So how far would a four-car Class 350 train go with a fully-charged 400 kWh battery?

  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 20 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 25 miles
  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 33.3 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 50 miles

Obviously, this is a very crude estimate, but it does show that the train could have a useful range on battery power.

But the following would increase the range of the train.

  • A low energy interior.
  • An increased battery capacity.
  • Two cars in the four-car train are trailers, so should have more space underneath.
  • Routes for battery trains could be reprofiled with gentle curves and gradients.
  • Terminal platforms could be fitted with charging stations.

In Did Adrian Shooter Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?, Mr Shooter talked about a range of forty miles at sixty mph for the battery version of a Class 230 train.

That distance, would open up a surprising number of routes for battery trains.

Should A Small Diesel Generator Be Fitted?

It is worth noting that Transport for Wales has ordered two battery trains.

  • Vivarail Class 230 trains for North Wales.
  • Stadler Flirts for South Wales

Both trains have diesel engines, that can be used to back-up battery power.

In addition the Class 801 train has a diesel generator to rescue the electric train, when the power fails.

Are Hitachi, Stadler and Vivarail just being safe or do their figures show that a diesel engine is absolutely necessary? After all, the diesel generator can be easily removed, if it’s never used.

I think if it was easy, whilst the new battery-powered train was being tested and on probation, I’d fit a small diesel generator.

Remote Battery Charging

Most of the charging would be done, whilst running on electrified lines, which could be either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail.

But the trains would be ideal for the sort of charging system, that I wrote about in Is This The Solution To A Charging Station For Battery Trains?.

To use this Opbrid system, all the train needs is the ability to connect through a 25 KVAC pantograph, which the train already has.

As there is a lot of interest in battery trains throughout Europe, I suspect that a charging station will be a standard piece of equipment, that can be easily installed in a terminal platform or a turnback siding.

We could see important towns and cities like Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Chester, Dundee, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Middlesbrough, Perth and Sheffield, which are within battery range of the electrified network, being served by electric trains , without the disruption of installing electrification.

An Updated Interior

The Class 350 trains were ordered around 2000 and don’t have the features that passengers expect, as these pictures show.

An update would probably include.

  • LED lighting.
  • Low-energy air-conditioning.
  • Wi-fi
  • Power sockets
  • USB sockets.

Other features would be cosmetic like new seat covers and flooring.

But overall, a better interior will surely reduce the energy needs of a train.

What Would Be The Maximum Speed?

The current maximum speed of Porterbrook’s Class 350/2 trains is 100 mph, but all other variants of the train are capable of 110 mph.

Under Description in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 350 train, this is said.

The top speed of the fleet was originally 100 mph (160 km/h), but all 350/1s were modified to allow 110 mph (180 km/h) running from December 2012, in order to make better use of paths on the busy West Coast Main Line.

So would the conversion to battery power, also include an uprating to 110 mph?

It would definitely be a prudent move, so as to make better use of paths on busy main lines.

Where Would These Trains Run?

I feel that Porterbrook will produce a four-car train with these characteristics.

  • 110 mph operating speed.
  • Forty or perhaps a fifty mile range on batteries.
  • Quality interior.
  • The ability to use a charging station in a terminal platform.

The Global Rail News article says this about possible use of the trains.

Engineers at Porterbrook have run models on a variety of routes, including the Windermere branch line and the West Coast main line, and believe a battery/electric bi-mode, known as a 350/2 Battery/FLEX, could offer various performance benefits.

The Windermere to Manchester Airport service would seem to be an ideal route  for the Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX trains.

  • Only ten miles are not electrified.
  • The trains could easily work the return trip on the Windermere Branch Line on battery power.
  • There would be no need for any charging station at Windermere station.
  • Much of the route is on the West Coast Main Line, where a 110 mph electric train would fit in better than a 100 mph diesel train.
  • As the trains would need a refurbishment, some could be fitted with an interior, suitable for airport travellers.
  • The trains would fit the ethos and environment of the Lake District.

As the route will soon be run by Class 769 trains, I suspect there would need to be no modifications to the tracks, stations and signalling, as both trains are bi-modes, based on four-car electric trains.

I have other thoughts about, where Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX trains could be used.

Interchangability With Class 769 Trains

Both the Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX and Class 769 trains are trains owned by Porterbrook.

They are also surprisingly similar in their size, performance and capabilities.

  • Both are four-car trains around eighty metres long.
  • Both can work on 25 KVAC overhead electrification and both could be modified to work on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Both are 100 mph trains, although it may be possible to uprate the Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX to 110 mph working.
  • Both trains can be fitted with modern interiors giving operators, passengers and staff what they need or want.
  • Many routes for bi-mode trains could be worked by either train.

There will be a few differences.

  • The Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX train is a pure electric train and more environmentally-friendly.
  • The Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX train could fit in better on a busy main line.
  • The Class 769 train will probably have a longer range away from electrification.
  • The Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX train is twenty years younger.

I think that this similarity will be used to advantage by Porterbrook and the train operating companies.

  • A Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX train would be an ideal replacement for a Class 769 train, when the latter needs replacing.
  • A Class 769 train could replace a Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX train, if say the latter was being serviced or repaired or perhaps the charging station at one terminus was out of action.
  • A Class 769 train could be used for route-proving for both trains.

Porterbrook wins every way, as they own both trains.

But I can also see a time, when the Class 769 trains become a reserve fleet to be used, when a train operating company is in urgent need of more capacity.

Around Electrified Conurbations

The UK has several conurbations with a lot of electrification.

  • Birmingham-Coventry-Wolverhampton
  • Edinburgh-Glasgow-Stirling
  • Leeds-Bradford-Doncaster-York
  • Liverpool-Manchester-Preston-Blackpool
  • London

Cambridge, Cardiff, Reading and Newcastle could also become major electrified hubs.

I suspect there will be a lot of routes for which these trains would be eminently suitable.

This is a selection of the easy routes, where there is electrification at one end of the route and a charging station could be added at the other, if required.

  • Doncaster to Hull
  • Dunblane to Perth
  • Glasgow Central To East Kilbride
  • Leeds to York
  • London Bridge to Uckfield
  • Manchester to Buxton
  • Manchester to Chester
  • Manchester to Clitheroe
  • Preston to Barrow-in-Furness
  • Preston to Blackpool South
  • Preston to Colne

In total, there must be at least twenty of these routes in the UK.

Trains Across The North Of England

It should be noted that Leeds to Stalybridge is about thirty-five miles by rail and both ends of the route are electrified.

So could these trains have sufficient battery capacity to enable Northern to run fast electric services between Blackpool, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Manchester Airport and Preston in the West to Hull, Leeds and York in the East?

If the Class 350/2 Battery/FLEX train has sufficient battery capacity and the speed limits on various sections of the East West routes are increased from some of their miserable levels, I believe that a much better service could be provided.

At over seventy miles long, the Settle-Carlisle Line, is probably too long for battery operation, especially as the route is not electrified between Skipton and Carlisle, which is nearly ninety miles.

The same probably applies to the Tyne Valley Line, which has just over sixty miles without electrification.

But it is called the Tyne Valley Line for a good reason, it runs alongside the River Tyne for a long way and looks to be not very challenging.

I wouldn’t rule out, that in a few years time, the route is run by a battery hybrid train, like the Class 350 Battery/FLEX.

The secondary route between Leeds and Lancashire is the Calder Valley Line via Hebden Bridge, which is not electrified between Preston and Bradford, which is a distance of fifty-three miles.

Electrification of this route and especially between Burnley and Bradford would be extremely challenging due to mthe numerous bridges and the terrain, with the added complication of the Grade II Listed Hebden Bridge station.

It would be pushing it, but I believe the Class 350 Battery/Flex train could handle it.

There is a plan to reconnect Skipton in Yorkshire to Colne in Lancashire to create another route across the Pennines.

The trains would need to travel the forty-two miles between Preston and Skipton using battery power, but it would create a valuable route at an affordable cost, if no electrification was used.

What would improve the running of the routes via Hebden Bridge and Colne, would be to electrify the route between Preston and Blackburn, which would reduce the distance to be run on battery power by twelve miles.

The Hope Valley Line runs between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly and is forty-two miles long without electrification.

This route certainly needs a modern four-car train and I believe that the Class 350 Battery/FLEX train could handle it.

But it would need a charging station at Sheffield.

On this rough and ready analysis, it looks like the three Southern routes and a new one via Colne could be handled successfully by a Class 350 Battery/FLEX.

Summing up the gaps West of Leeds we get.

  • Bradford and Manchester Victoria via Hebden Bridge – 40 miles
  • Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly via Hope Valley Line – 42 miles
  • Stalybridge and Leeds via Hudderfield – 35 miles
  • Preston and Skipton via Colne – 42 miles

If the Class 350 Battery/FLEX train can do around fifty miles on battery power, which I suspect is a feasible distance, then these trains could give Northern an electric stopping service on all their routes across the Pennines.

In my view the system could be improved by the following projects.

  • Electrify between Preston and Blackburn and possibly Burnley Manchester Road.
  • Electrify between Manchester Victoria and Todmorden.
  • Renew the crap electrification between Manchester Piccadilly and Glossop, with an extension for a few miles along the Hope Valley Line to perhaps New Mills Central and Rose Hill Marple.
  • Tidy up the electrification between Leeds and Bradford and extend it to the Northbound East Coast Main Line.

But the most important thing to do, is to increase the line speed on the routes across the Pennines.

Greater Anglia and Network Rail are talking about ninety minutes for the 114 miles between London and Norwich, which is an average speed of 76 mph.

Liverpool Lime Street to York is about the same distance and TransPennine take around 110 minutes for the journey, which is an average speed of around 60 mph.

  • Both journeys have a few stops.
  • Both routes are or will be run by 100 mph trains.
  • The East Anglian route is electrified, but trans-Pennine is not.

The big difference between the routes, is that large sections of the East Anglian route can be run at 100 mph, whereas much of the Trans-Pennine route is restricted to far lower speeds, by the challenging route

Sort it!

Electric traction will make a difference to the acceleration, but it doesn’t matter if they get their power from overhead wires or batteries!

Putting up overhead wires on the current route will be throwing good money after bad, unless the track is fixed first.

Liverpool Lime Street to York should be ninety minutes in a Class 350 Battery/FLEX.

The Scottish Breakout

Finally, the electrification in the Scottish Central Belt is on track and the Scots are seeing the benefit of modern electric trains.

Trains like the Class 350 Battery/FLEX could be the key to extending Scotland’s growing network of electric trains.

In A Railway That Needs Electric Trains But Doesn’t Need Full Electrification, I described how the 11.5 mile service between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride station could be run by an electric train using batteries, which would be charged using the 25 KVAC overhead wires at the Glasgow end of the route.

If the Class 350 Bettery/FLEX train existed, they could work this route, as soon as drivers and other staff had been trained.

With a forty mile range on batteries, trains could reach from the electric core to many places, like Dumbarton, Perth and possibly Dundee.

It should be noted that Dundee is just under fifty miles from Dunblane, where the current electrification will end, so with a charging station in one of the bay platforms at Dundee, a Class 350 Battery/FLEX should be able to bridge the gap.

They could even probably handle the current Borders Railway, with a charging station at Tweedbank.

Scotland would not need to acquire a fleet of Class 350 Battery/FLEX, as they already have a fleet of Class 380 trains, which I am certain could be re-engineered in the same way to become battery/electric trains.

ScotRail may need a few more electric trains, but they could always keep the Class 365 trains, that have been used as cover for the much-delayed Class 385 trains.

South Western Railway

South Western Railway don’t have any obvious needs for a train like a Class 350 Battery/FLEX train.

But consider.

  • They do have 127 Class 450 trains, which are the third-rail version of the Class 350 train, so could probably be converted into a Class 450 Battery/FLEX.
  • They have ten Class 158 and thirty Class 159 diesel trains, some of which work partially-electrified routes.
  • British Rail-era third-rail systems have their deficiencies in places.
  • There are proposals and some plans to reopen branch lines to the West of Basingstoke and Southampton.
  • The Class 450 trains could be converted to dual-voltage operation, as they have a pantograph well.

So perhaps a few Class 450 Battery/FLEX trains could be a useful possibility.

  • Basingstoke to Salisbury is thirty-six miles and with a charging station at Salisbury, an electric service between Waterloo and Salisbury could be run.
  • Salisbury to Southampton Central is twenty-five miles.
  • Waterloo to Corfe Castle and Swanage, if it was decided to run this Saturday service, more frequently.

I also suspect that a Class 450 Battery/FLEX would give South Western Railway several operational and energy-efficiency advantages, which could lead to financial advantages.

I doubt though that the trains would have the capability to reach Exeter, as that is just too far.

These trains would also be ideal for the for the following services, run by other operators.

  • London Bridge to Uckfield.
  • The Marshlink Line.
  • Reading to Gatwick, where they would replace the proposed Class 769 trains.

Converting these three lines to electric traction, would remove the final diesel passenger services from Kent and Sussex.

Other Routes

Use your imagination!

Conclusion

Porterbrook have just dropped an enormous flower-smelling bomb, into the electrification and train replacement plans of UK railways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The Paddington Fiasco

Everybody is looking for a scapegoat for the problems at Paddington station, that is reported in this article on the BBC, which is entitled Paddington Station: Passengers Face Major Disruption.

Tony Miles of Modern Railways was on BBC Breakfast this morning and he explained what happened.

The Class 802 train was accumulating the 2,000 miles it needs before it can be accepted by Great Western Railway.

The trains are designed to be able to change from diesel to electric power and vice-versa at line speed.

This train was raising the pantograph to access the pverhead wires on a section of British Rail-era overhead wires at Ealing.

The pantograph is thought to have bounced and the overhead wires have broken and become entangled in the pantograph.

Modern electrification with its heavyweight gantries has each line wired separately, but according to Tony Miles, the British Rail lightweight system, means if one comes down, they all fail.

I should add, that several times in the last ten years on the East Coast Main and Great Eastern Main Lines, I have been on trains that have been stranded by failed overhead wires.

In addition, over the last few years, it has been a nightmare travelling to Ipswich, as Network Rail have been renewing the overhead wires to a modern standard.

There are still many miles of this sub-standard British Rail-era overhead wiring all over the country.

It should all be replaced with new modern systems.

There is a problem though with the new modern electrification systems. They are ugly and many believe they are totally out-of-place in the countryside.

There is also the problem caused by the disruption, when the old systems are removed.

Conclusion

This sub-standard overhead electrification should have been removed years ago.

 

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

HyperSolar Granted Critical Patent for Producing Low Cost Renewable Hydrogen

The title of this post is the same as that as this article on Global News Wire.

It looks to me that a company call HyperSolar is working on producing hydrogen direct from solar power from any water source.

This is technology to watch. Pending full development, you can always watch this video on the HyperSolar web site.

October 17, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 6 Comments