The Anonymous Widower

Will Future Hitachi AT-300 Trains Have MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

I have mentioned this possibility in a couple of posts and I feel there are several reasons, why this might be more than a possibility!

What Do We Know About The Second Iteration Of An AT-300?

The first order for East Midlands Railway is for thirty-three five-car trains.

  • Four engines instead of three.
  • 125 mph on diesel power.
  • A modified nose profile.

I find the nose profile significant, as I don’t believe that the current trains are aerodynamically much more efficient than British Rail’s legendary InterCity 125 trains.

On the other hand, Bombardier’s Aventras look as if the company’s aerospace division has been involved in the design. They certainly are very quiet, when they pass close by.

The second order for West Coast Rail is thin on detail, but they do mention that services from Euston could reach as far as Godowen.

I would also feel that 125 mph on diesel could be very helpful on the North Wales Coast Line to Holyhead.

Will 140 mph Running Be Commonplace?

Very much so!

For 140 mph running by the current trains, the following is needed.

  • Tracks able to accommodate that speed.
  • ERTMS signalling
  • In-cab signalling

Wikipedia speaks of unspecified minor modifications to the trains.

To answer my question, I believe there will be running over 125 mph, if not 140 mph on substantial stretches of the following lines.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

I also believe other routes could see large increases in operating speed on certain sections.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Breckland Line
  • Bristol and Exeter
  • East and West Coastways
  • Golden Valley Line
  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • Hitchin and Kings Lynn via Cambridge
  • North Wales Coast Line
  • Reading and Exeter via Newbury

If trains are capable of 125 mph and faster running without electrification, I can see Network Rail, doing what they have shown they can do well on the Midland Main Line, which is increasing line speed.

Note that on my list, I have included the second route to Norwich via the East Coast Main Line, Cambridge and Thetford and Kings Lynn services.

I can envisage hourly 125 mph services to and from Norwich and Kings Lynn joining and splitting at Cambridge and then running at high speed between Kings Cross and Cambridge.

It would be a massive boost for West Norfolk and Norwich, but it would not require extra high speed paths on the East Coast Main Line.

There must be other routes that by proven conventional track engineering can be turned from 80-100 mph lines into 125-140 mph high speed lines. No problem electrification to promote, design and erect. It just needs appropriate trains.

I can see the following routes without electrification being run at 125-140 by the new AT-300 trains.

  • Euston and Holyhead
  • Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln
  • Kings Cross and Hull
  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn/Norwich
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh via Leeds
  • Paddington and Exeter via Basingstoke and Yeovil
  • Paddington and Gloucester/Cheltenham
  • Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke and Yeovil

There are probably other routes.

Without doubt, the new AT-300 trains must be able to run at 140 mph on lines without electrification, once Network Rail have raised the operating speed.

Thoughts On AT-300 TrainsWith MTU PowerPacks

These are my thoughts on various topics.

Weight

The data sheet for the MTU PowerPack gives the mass at around five tonnes for a diesel engine of 700 kW.

Depending on the way you read the figures this appears to be less than that of a similar power diesel..

Fuel Economy

This is obviously better and MTU are quoting a forty percent saving.

Regenerative Braking

This comes as standard.

One PowerPack Per Car

I always like this concept, especially as many trains these days seem to have a lot of powered axles.

It also reduces the energy losses in the cables between cars.

The East Midlands Railway trains seem to have five cars and four engines, so is that four motor cars and one trailer.

Would trains be lengthened by adding extra trailer and/or motor cars as appropriate in the middle of the train?

Simpler Control System

MTU will have responsibility for the software of the PowerPack and all Hitachi’s control system for the train, will need to do with the PowerPacks is tell them how much power is required.

Hopefully, this will help in the debugging of the train, for which Bombardier had so much trouble with the Aventra.

Batteries

It appears that the design of the PowerPacks is very flexible with respect to size and number of battery packs.

Would it be an advantage for a train builder or an operator to tailor the battery capacity to the speed and length of a route.

Compatible AT-200 Local Trains

The AT-200 is Hitachi’s smaller and slower train of which the Class 385 train is an example.

If a version were to be produced with say three or four cars and one or more MTU PowerPacks, Hitachi would have a very nice bi-mode with a lot in common with the new AT-300, which would ease servicing for train operators, who were running both trains

Hitachi’s Relationship With MTU

MTU engines are used in the current Hitachi trains, so unless I am told otherwise,I am led to believe they have a good working relationship.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next generation of AT-300 use MTU PowerPacks.

November 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Tri-Mode AT-300 Between Waterloo And Exeter

Note that in this post, I’m using the Class 802 train as an example of Hitachi’s AT-300 train.

In writing my post called What Would Be The Range Of A Tri-Mode Class 802 Train?, I realised that an efficient tri-mode train with electric, battery and diesel power could have an extreme range.

Suppose a Class 802 train was built with the following characteristics, were designed for service on the West Of England Line.

  • Five cars, which would seat around 350 passengers.
  • Two diesel engines replaced with batteries of the same seven tonne weight.
  • At least 840 kWh or perhaps as much as 1,500 kWh of battery power could easily be installed.
  • One 700 kW diesel engine would be retained for electrification failure and to boost battery power.
  • All electrical equipment on the train will use the minimum amount of electricity.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Aerodynamics would be improved, as I believe Hitachi are doing.
  • I believe that the train could have an energy consumption to maintain 100 mph on the West Of England Line around two kWh per vehicle-mile.

So what would be the range of a five-car train on just 840 kWh of batteries?

  • The train would consume 10 kWh per mile.

So this would give a range of 84 miles.

The diesel engine could be key.

  • At 100 mph, the train does a mile in thirty-six seconds.
  • In this time, the diesel engine can generate up to 7 kWh.
  • The train would need just 3 kWh per mile to maintain 100 mph.

This would give a range of 280 miles,

This is more than enough for the 125 miles between Basingstoke and Exeter St. Davids stations.

Other people read books in the evening, I do puzzles and mathematical exercises.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a forty-year-old InterCity 125 needs 2.83 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 125 mph. Surely, modern trains can halve that figure.

Suppose Hitachi, improve the aerodynamics and the energy consumption of the train, such that it is 1.5 kWh per vehicle mile, which is a figure I don’t consider impossible.

This would give a range with  840 kWh batteries of 112 miles.

With selective use of the diesel engine and a charging station at Exeter, this train could easily run between Waterloo and Exeter.

Passenger Capacity

The passenger capacity of the current Class 159 trains is 392 in toi three-car trains working as a pair.

A five-car Class 802 train would probably seat 350 passengers in comfort.

Train Length

These are the train lengths.

  • A pair of three-car Class 159 trains are 156 metres long.
  • A five-car Class 802 train is 130 metres long.

So it would appear, there would be no platform length problems.

Conclusion

A tri-mode Class 802 train or AT-300 would appear to be ideal for Waterloo and Exeter.

Details of the AT-300 trains, that have been ordered by East Midlands Railway and the West Coast Partnership, but I believe they will make extensive use of battery traction to reduce the use of diesel.

 

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Do Sat-Navs Exploit Rat Runs

This afternoon my son brought me home in his car through North-East London.

  • He was using a sat-nav and it was a mazy drive down a succession of narrow residential roads usually with cars parked on both sides.
  • I’m sure we did two totally unnecessary loops.
  • He also approached my house the wrong way, so he did two unnecessary right turns.

I’ve never used a sat-nav and doubt I ever will, as I don’t drive any more and when I’m walking, I prefer to use a proper map, like there are on most London bus stops or train stations.

I wonder how many acxcidents and traffic jams are caused by sat-navs.

 

 

November 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 4 Comments

What Would Be The Range Of A Tri-Mode Class 802 Train?

In Could Cirencester Be Reconnected To The Rail Network?, I speculated about the routes of a battery-electric version of a Class 800 train.

I said this.

As Hitachi have stated they will be using battery power to extend ranges of their trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the current trains modified to have batteries instead of some of their current diesel engines.

Such a train would would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles

The distance is the length that is not electrified.

I don’t think it improbable, that London Paddington and Swansea will be achieved by a battery-electric train based on the current Hitachi train designs.

So was it a serious idea or mad speculation?

Under Powertrain in the Wikipedia entry for theClass 800 train, this is said.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a 5-9 car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The class 800/802 electro-diesel or Bi-Mode has 3 GU per five car set and 5 GU per nine car set. A 5 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 respectively and a 9 car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8 respectively.

This means that a five-car Class 800 or Class 802 train has three engines and an all -electric Class 801 train has a single engine.

If you were building a tri-mode Class 802 train, could two of the diesel engines be replaced by batteries.

  • Hitachi have stated that trains can be changed from one class to another by adding or removing engines.
  • Trains would always have at least one diesel engine for emergencies, just as the Class 801 trains do.
  • Each MTU 1600 R80L diesel engine weighs just under seven tonnes.

Fourteen tonnes of batteries would probably store about 840 kWh of energy, if the most efficient batteries are used. That would not be a problem if Hitachi came calling.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to cruise on electricity at 125 mph.

Dividing 840 by 5 cars and 3.42 kWh per vehicle file gives a range of forty-nine miles.

  • The trains would need regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Battery energy density is increasing.
  • Train aerodynamics could be improved, to reduce the power needed.
  • Secondary routes like the Golden Valley Line are unlikely to have an operating speed higher than 110 mph, which would reduce the power needed.

I am coming round to the opinion, that Hitachi could design a battery-electric train based on the current Class 80X trains, that could reach Swansea from Paddington, without touching a drop of diesel.

  • The batteries would need to be recharged before returning to London.
  • I am assuming that the electrification is up and working between Paddington and Cardiff.
  • Could the wires in the Severn Tunnel be removed or replaced with engineering plastic,  as they corrode so much?
  • Two five-car trains with batteries could work together as they do now.

Hitachi would need to get the software absolutely right.

Could The Diesel Engine Be Used To Increase Battery Range?

Lets assume that a tri-mode Class 802 train is running on a 125 mph main line.

It enters a section without electrification.

  • It is cruising at 125 mph
  • The batteries have a capacity of 840 kWh and have been charged on previous electrification.
  • The train needs 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain speed.
  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 17.1 kWh per mile.
  • The train will take approximately thirty seconds to cover a mile and in that time the diesel engine will produce 5.83 kWh.
  • So the net energy use of the train will be 11.27 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 74.5 miles at 125 mph.

Obviously, a good driver, aided by a powerful Driver Assistance System could optimise the use of power to make sure the train arrived on time and possibly minimised carbon emissions.

What Would Be The Ultimate Range?

I think it would be possible to reduce the electricity consumption by means of the following.

  • Slower operating speed.
  • Better aerodynamics.
  • More efficient train systems.
  • Improved Driver Assistance Systems.

I think an energy consumption of 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile could be possible, at perhaps a cruise of 100 mph

I can do the calculation without diesel assistance.

  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 12.5 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 67.2 miles at 100 mph on batteries alone.

I can also do the calculation again with diesel assistance.

  • It’s a five-car train  so it will need 12.5 kWh per mile.
  • The train will take thirty-six seconds to cover a mile and in that time the diesel engine will produce 7 kWh.
  • So the net energy use of the train will be 5.5 kWh per mile.

This would give the train a range of 153 miles at 100 mph on batteries with diesel assistance.

How Many Places Could Be Reached With A Fifty-Mile Range?

Setting a limit of fitly miles would allow running these routes on partial battery power, split down by companies who run the Hitachi trains.

Great Western Railway

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Swansea – 46 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles
  • Swindon and Bristol via Bath – 39 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. Certain routes like Bedwyn, Oxford and Weston-super-Mare probably wouldn’t need a charging station at the final destination.
  3. GWR could probably run a few other routes, without adding substantial new infrastructure.
  4. Tri-mode Class 802 trains, might be able to avoid electrification through Bath.

But surely the the biggest gain is that they would reduce GWR’s carbon footprint.

Hull Trains

I very much feel that with a charging station at Hull station, a tri-mode Class 802 train could bridge the forty-four mile gap between Beverley and the electrified East Coast Main Line at Temple Hirst Junction.

  • The train could top up the battery every time it stops in Hull station.
  • The 700 kW diesel engine could add 700 kWh in the hour long trip with no wires.

If a tri-mode Class 802 train could bridge this gap, then Hull Trains could go zero carbon.

LNER

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Kings Cross and Bradford – 14 miles
  • Kings Cross and Harrogate – 18 miles
  • Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Kings Cross and Hull – 36 miles
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16 miles
  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 21 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. Certain routes like Bradford, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Lincoln and Middlesbrough probably wouldn’t need a charging station at the final destination.
  3. LNER could probably run a few other routes, without adding substantial new infrastructure.
  4. Using both battery and diesel power, the train would be able to make Cleethorpes and Grimsby after Lincoln.

But surely the the biggest gain is that they would reduce LNER’s carbon footprint.

TransPennine Express

These routes could certainly be run using a tri-mode Class 802 train.

  • Leeds and Huddersfield – 17 miles
  • Liverpool and Edinburgh – 34 miles
  • Liverpool and Hull – 34 miles
  • Liverpool and Scarborough – 34 miles
  • Manchester Airport and Middlesbrough – 34 miles
  • Manchester Airport and Newcastle- 34 miles

Note.

  1. The distance gives the length of the longest section of the route without electrification.
  2. TransPennine Express services all suffer because of the long gap across the Pennines.
  3. Network Rail are planning to partly electrify Dewsbury and Huddersfield, which would reduce the major gap to just eighteen miles.

As with GWR, Hull Trains and LNER, the carbon footprint would be reduced.

Conclusion

A tri-mode Class 802 train would be a good idea.

It should be noted that GWR, Hull Trains and TransPennine Express are all First Group companies.

 

 

 

November 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

TransPennine Express’s New Liverpool Lime Street And Glasgow Central Service

Transpennine Express are introducing a new service between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central stations at the December 2019 timetable change.

So I examined the service for the the 21st January, 2020.

  • There are three Northbound trains at 08:12, 12:12 and 16:12.
  • There are three Southbound trains at 07:45, 11:44 and 16:29
  • Journey times vary between three hours and 17 minutes and three hours and 47 minutes.
  • Trains appear to always stop at Wigan North Western, Preston, Penrith North Lakes and Carlisle.
  • Selective services call at other stations including Lancaster and St. Helens Central.

As passengers can always travel the route with a change at Preston, it is a useful start. It should also be born in mind that there are currently, two trains per hour (tph) between Glasgow Central and Preston stations, so the route with a change at Preston can be quicker than waiting for a direct train.

If you look at the Transpennine service between Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central stations, it appears that there are gaps in the hourly service at 08:00, 12:00 and 16:00.

These gaps have now been filled with Liverpool services.

Current and Future Trains Between Liverpool or Manchester and Glssgow or Edinburgh

The current service is run by nine Class 350 trains, which includes the following.

  • One tph between Between Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central, with three services missing.
  • One train every two hours between Manchester Airport and Edinburgh.

The service from the December 2019 change will at some point be run by twelve Class 397 trains.

It will add three trains per day between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central, which will give an hourly TranPennine service between Glasgow Central and Preston.

I estimate that the new service will require two more trains, which is incorporated in the larger fleet size.

Timings Between Preston And Glasgow

If you look at the limitings between Preston and Glasgow, you find the following.

  • Virgin’s Class 390 trains take between two hours 21 minutes and two hours 34 minutes.
  • The new Liverpool service is timetabled to take two hours 53 minutes.

As the current Class 350 trains are only 110 mph trains, this is the explanation.

But the new Class 397 trains are 125 mph trains and can probably match the times set by Virgin.

So expect to see some timing reductions on TransPennine’s routes on the West Coast Main Line.

Will Services Between Liverpool And Manchester and Glasgow Split And Join At Preston?

TransPennine Express are meeting their franchise obligations, by providing three trains per day between Liverpool ad Glasgow, but could they do better by splitting and joining services at Preston.

  • Going North, a service from Manchester Airport and one from Liverpool would join at Preston, before proceeding to Glasgow as a ten-car train.
  • Coming South, a pair of trains from Glasgow, would split at Preston, with one train going to Liverpool and the other to Manchester Airport.

Obviously, the trains would need to be able to split and join in a minute or so, but it would open up the possibility of an hourly service from both Liverpool and Manchester to Glasgow.

Liverpool And Manchester To Edinburgh

After the December 2019 timetable change, TransPennine’s Liverpool and Newcastle service will be extend to Edinburgh, giving Liverpool a direct service to \Edinburgh and Manchester, a second service to Edinburgh.

Timings by the various routes will be.

  • Liverpool and Edinburgh via Manchester, Leeds and York – Four hours 28 minutes – Hourly
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh via Preston and Carstairs – Three hours 10 minutes – Two hourly
  • Manchester Victoria  and Edinburgh via Leeds and York – Three hours 52 minutes – Hourly

These times compare well with the four hours drive predicted on the Internet.

Conclusion

Connections between Northern England and the Central Belt of Scotland will improve greatly after the December 2019 timetable change.

New trains on these routes will also mean faster services, where they run on the East and |West Coast Main Lines.

More trains will also increase frequency.

 

November 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Magnix Revs Up Electric Motors For Harbour Air Seaplane Flight Tests In December

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Geek Wi8re.

The article explains a lot about the state of play in the electric aeroplane market, with two examples possibly starting commercial service in the next few years.

MagniX are the company, who build the electric motors and surely, efficient, lightweight motors are key to flying electric.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Could Cirencester Be Reconnected To The Rail Network?

In Boris Johnson Vows New Life For High Streets And Axed Rail Lines, I laid out a list of rail lines that could be reopened by a future Conservative government.

Today, I’m going to Cirencester to have lunch with an old friend.

But, Cirencester does not have a rail connection, although there used to be a Cirencester branch line from Kemble station.

The Wikipedia entry says this under Future.

As of 2016, discussions have taken place regarding the potential of relaying 5km of track from Kemble station to the edge of Cirencester at Chesterton Halt.

In January 2019, the Campaign for Better Transport released a report identifying the line as Priority 2 for reopening. Priority 2 is for those lines which require further development or a change in circumstances (such as housing developments)

It looks to me, the sort of rail reopening that fits with Boris’s list.

These are a few of my thoughts on the rebuilding.

The Connection At Kemble Station

This Google Map shows the connection at Kemble station.

It appears that connecting a new single-track branch line could be possible.

Crossing The A 429

This Google Map shows, where the A 429 and the Cirecenter Branch cross.

A bridge would be needed, as Network Rail doesn’t do level crossings on major roads.

Crossing Of Spratsgate Lane

This Google Map shows, where the Cirecester Branch crosses Spratsgate Lane as Cirencester is approached.

Would a bridge be needed?

Other Crossings

There are three other minor crossings on the route, between the two major ones I’ve mapped.

Approach To Cirencester

This Google Map shows the approach to Cirencester.

Could a rail track be squeezed in for a station?

Service Frequency

I would feel that, if the Cirencester Branch was reinstated as a single-track line, that a two tph service could be run between Swindon and Cirencester station with a stop at Kemble.

Extra Stations

The Golden Valley Line used to have two extra stations between Swindon and Kemble stations.

Minety & Ashton Keynes

Purton

If housing developments were to be proposed near these two locations or perhaps in other locations in Swindon, it would improve the financial case for a shuttle between Swindon and Cirencester stations.

Could Battery Trains Be Used?

The nearest electrification is fourteen miles away at Swindon station. An out-and-back trip on battery power should be possible.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used?

I don’t see why not! They would also have advantages.

  • Bridges would be lighter and less intrusive.
  • The minor crossings could work under tramway rules.
  • They might be able to reach Cirencester Town Centre
  • The branch could be fitted with lightweight tramway electrification.
  • Extra stations at Minety & Ashton Keynes and Purton could be simpler designs.
  • Battery power could be used on sections of the route.

I very much feel that a tram-train solution would be possible, from my observations in Karlsruhe and Sheffield.

A Visit To Cirencester

I had an excellent lunch with my friend in Cirencester and I have some some observations.

Cirencester

I have seen towns like Cirencester so often and used to live near Bury St. Edmunds which is going in a similar direction.

  • A town that is worth a visit, but is overrun with cars and people driving around looking for somewhere to park.
  • It is a typical country town, that is unfit for the Twenty-First Century.
  • It will strangle itself with traffic.
  • At least through traffic can use a by-pass.
  • Is it the sort of place, where teenagers, that are too young to drive, or don’t have a car, get exceedingly bored?

Residents will move away and the shopping centre will see lower footfall.

The Bay Platform At Swindon Station

This picture shows the Western end of the bay plstform 2 at Swindon station.

Shuttle trains from Cheltenham and Kemble, usually call in this platform, with through trains stopping in either Platforms 1 and 3.

All platforms are fully electrified, with the electrification continuing about a hundred metres up the Golden Valley Line.

Kemble Station

These pictures show Kemble station.

Note.

  1. There is a lot of car-parking for a small station.
  2. How many of the cars parked at the station are commuters Between Cirencester and London?
  3. It is not a step-free station.
  4. The station, water tank and limestone bridge are all Grade two Listed.

It also looks like the Cirencester branch had its own platform.

Traffic On The Golden Valley Line

It appears that except for the occasional freight train, it is not a busy line.

Although one of the reasons for making it a full double track, was so it can be used as a diversion route, when the Severn Tunnel is closed.

Electrification Of The Golden Valley Line

The distance between Swindon and Cheltenham stations is a short distance over forty-three miles, with four intermediate stations, Listed structures and two tunnels.

Electrification has been considered and under Electrification Proposal in the Wikipedia entry for the line, this is said.

As of 2016 there are no plans to electrify the line.

At present trains from London are Class 802 trains, which are electric trains with onboard diesel engines for routes like this.

As Hitachi have stated they will be using battery power to extend ranges of their trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the current trains modified to have batteries instead of some of their current diesel engines.

Such a train would would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13 miles
  • Paddington and Cheltenham – 43 miles
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles
  • Paddington and Weston-Super-Mare – 19 miles

The distance is the length that is not electrified.

I don’t think it improbable, that London Paddington and Swansea will be achieved by a battery-electric train based on the current Hitachi train designs.

Train Frequency Between Paddington And Kemble

Trains on the Paddington and Cheltenham route, run every two hours and I just missed the 09:36, so I had to change at Swindon.

  • Cheltenham and Gloucester probably need at least an hourly service to and from London.
  • The current timetable effectively gives an hourly service, with the second service provided by a change at Swindon.
  • But it was a busy down-and-up interchange, and I wonder how many travellers miss the connection.

An hourly direct service from London would be so much more convenient.

Conclusion

With some clever and sympathetic engineering on the branch to handle the crossings, it could be a feasible reopening.

My Preference Would Be For A Tram-Train With Batteries

It would have the following characteristics.

  • Single-track branch from Kemble.
  • Kemble and Cirencester electrified with 750 VDC overhead.
  • Tram rules on the branch.
  • Trams as close to the centre of Cirencester as possible.
  • Two trams per hour between Swindon and Cirencester.
  • Trams would use batteries between Kemble and Swindon.
  • Batteries would be charged at Swindon station using the existing 25 KVAC overhead electrification and on the branch.
  • Extra stops where needed.

The route might even loop into Cirencester to provide a Park-and-Ride on the by-pass, that would serve the town and Kemble station.

The tram-trains ordered for the South Wales Metro would be able to run the service.

It would be an unobtrusive rural tram-train.

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Boris Johnson Vows New Life For High Streets And Axed Rail Lines

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Boris Johnson is promising to revitalise “left behind” high streets through tax cuts for pubs and shops and reversing some of the Beeching rail cuts to branch lines.

The article gives a map of the lines and here is a list of them.

  • Newcastle and Ashington/Blyth.
  • Bristol and Portishead
  • Camp Hill Line
  • Willenhall and Darlaston
  • Thornton-Cleveleys and Fleetwood
  • Okehampton and Exeter
  • March and Wisbech
  • Uckfield and Lewes
  • A new station he building of a station at Skelmersdale.

I will suggest other possibilities and add them here.

There could be several!

The Technology Is With Us!

Anyone who follows railway technology, as I do, knows that technology coming on stream will ease the creation of these routes.

  • Modern digital in-cab signalling, as already used on Thameslink.
  • Battery-electric trains.
  • Innovative charging for battery-electric trains.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains.
  • Tram-trains
  • Automatic train control
  • Remote services in simple depots.
  • Better bridge-raising and other construction techniques.

Many of these new routes will be able to use a standard train.

 

 

 

 

November 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US Hydrogen Train Contract Awarded

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Southern California’s San Bernardino County Transportation Authority has awarded Stadler a contract to supply a Flirt H2 hydrogen fuel cell powered multiple-unit to enter passenger service in 2024, with an option for a further four units.

The train follows the layout of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 train, with a power-pack in the middle.

The project was originally called the Redlands Passenger Rail Project, but it has now been renamed Arrow.

Stadler’s press release gives the following details.

  • Two cars and a central power-pack.
  • 108 seats and standing spaces.
  • Operating speed of 79 mph.
  • Entry into passenger service in 2024.

It looks to me, that Stadler are not being over-ambitious with their offering to the Californians.

But imagine replacing the diesel power-pack of a Class 755 train on the Felixstowe and Sudbury branches with a hydrogen power-pack!

Conclusion

Stadler could have designed the ideal train for branch lines!

Consider London Bridge and Uckfield.

  • The train could use third-rail electrification on the 21 miles between London Bridge and Hurst Green.
  • The train would use hydrogen on the 25 miles between Hurst Green and Uckfield

The train would need an appropriate sized hydrogen tank.

Could the required hydrogen tank, fuel cells, batteries and gubbins be fitted in a power-pack in the middle, which would not need any diesel engines.

This picture shows a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze train based on a Class 321 train.

The hydrogen tank, fuel cells, batteries and gubbins are in the blocked off area at the right end of the train.

  • As cars on a Class 321 train are twenty metres long, I estimate that the hydrogen section is about eight metres long.
  • Stadler’s power-packs are 6.69 metres long.

Efficient design should mean that a hydrogen engine with a range of several hundred miles could be installed in a Stadler Firt H2.

Stadler’s unusual design with the power-pack or engine in the middle is looking good.

 

 

 

 

 

November 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Soaring Demand For SUVs Exacerbates Climate Crisis

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in today’s copy of The Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The increasing demand for sports utility vehicles is eliminating the emissions savings made by those who have switched to electric cars, the global energy watchdog has warned.

According to the International Energy Agency, SUVs now account for forty percent of new car sales worldwide.

In some ways, I regard having my stroke as being one of the best things that ever happened to me.

  • It was serious, but modern clot-busting drugs, left most of my brain intact.
  • My eyesight was damaged, so that I am unable to drive, but I do occasionally ride a bicycle away from roads.
  • Cars are now no part of my life and in the ten years, that I haven’t driven, I’ve only needed one on perhaps two or three times.
  • My bank account is healthier.
  • I can afford to take a black cab, as many times as I need.

You have to remember though, that my excess of survival genes; Devonian, Huguenot and Jewish, honed by living in Liverpool and Suffolk, always mean that I am up to the toughest challenge.

We all need to adjust our lifestyle to the modern world.

A Few Related Thoughts

In National Trust Looks At Car Ban In Lake District, I looked at the car problems of the Lake District.

SUVs and their owners are surely drawn to the wilder areas of the UK.

So perhaps, we should create SUV-free areas, except for residents who need one?

Extinction Rebellion want everybody to use electric cars. What would happen if kids refused to go in any car that wasn’t zero carbon?

If I put myself at say sixteen, with my father in his fifties in the present day, I would try to convince him to have an electric car. Knowing my father, he would have probably bought one on my pestering.

But can I convince my son to buy one?

No!

November 14, 2019 Posted by | Health, Transport | , | Leave a comment