The Anonymous Widower

Mathematics Of A Stadler Flirt Akku Battery Train

In Stadler Receives First Flirt Akku Battery Train Order, I  quoted thia from as that of this article in Railway Gazette International.

Schleswig-Holstein transport authority NAH.SH has selected Stadler to supply 55 Flirt Akku battery multiple-units to operate regional services and provide 30 years of maintenance.

This is a substantial order for a large number of trains and many years of maintenance, and would appear to be structured similarly to deals in East Anglia, Glasgow and Liverpool in the UK.

Does The Train Have A Central Power-Pack Car?

Is the Flirt Akku, similar to Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains and other of the companies products, in that it has a central power-pack car?

This picture shows a Class 755 train at Norwich.

 

Note that this four-car train has four full-size cars and a shorter one, that doesn’t appear to have any doors or proper windows.

This is the power-pack car, which in these trains has the pollowing properties.

  • The power-pack car is 6.69 metres long.
  • The power-pack car is identical in both the four-car and three-car versions of the Class 755 trains.
  • The four-car trains have four diesel engines.
  • The three-car trains have two diesel engines.

The number of engines possible, leads me to believe there are four slots for engines in the power-pack car.

Transport for Wales have ordered a number of Flirts, which are similar to those in use by Greater Anglia, but they are tri-mode trains, that can run on overhead 25 KVAC electrification, diesel or battery power.

I speculate that they have one diesel engine and three batteries in the four slots.

This is a picture of the Flirt Akku.

I have enlarged the image and it would appear that the trains do not have a central power-pack car, but they do seem to have a lot of electrical gubbins on the roof.

This video shows the Class 755 train being tested at Diss.

It looks to have a much smoother roof line.

Could this indicate that the batteries on the Akku are placed on the roof of the train, as there is certainly a lot of equipment up there?

 

 

 

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 9 Comments

Eviation Alice Illustrates The Choice Of A Good Name

I have set up a Google Alert for Eviation Alice and it is finding a lot of articles.

It not only illustrates that the arrival of an electric airliner excites people, but also that the choice of name is a good one.

June 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Major Upgrade Planned For Norwood Junction Railway Station

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

Ian introduces his article like this.

A somewhat shabby, and yet quite busy station in South London could get a major makeover if plans by Network Rail are approved.

The proposals are part of the wider plan to clean up the mess of tracks around Croydon to boost the capacity of the lines through the area, but it is also a stand-alone project.

Ian also has this visualisation of the upgraded Norwood Junction station.

Note.

  1. London Bridge station is to the left with East Croydon station to the right.
  2. The Main Station Entrance is on the near side, with the Cuford Road station on the far side.
  3. Platform 1 & 2 is the highlighted island platform on the near side.
  4. Platform 3 & 4 is the highlighted island platform on the far side.

It looks expensive with two step-free bridges.

Both bridges have four sets of steps to.

  • The Main Station Entrance.
  • The Northbound Platform 1 & 2,
  • The Southbound Platform 3 & 4
  • The Culford Road Entrance.

In addition, the Southern bridge has four lifts to the two entrances and two platforms.

Currently, the station has three island platforms.

  • They are connected by a dingy, step-only subway.
  • In the new layout, the central island platform will be removed, to allow a pair of fast lines through the station.
  • One advantage of the subway is during the station upgrade, it can still be used to access the middle platforms, thus easing construction and causing less disruption for passengers.

After the upgrade, the layout will be as follows.

  • Platforms 1 & 2 would be for Northbound trains, with perhaps Platform 1 for stopping and Overground services and Platform 2 for limited-stop and Thameslink services.
  • Platforms 3 & 4 would be for Southbound trains, with perhaps Platform 3 for stopping and Overground services and Platform 4 for limited-stop and Thameslink services.

The subway will probably be closed.

Improved Train Services

For people like me, who live on the Overground, North of Norwood Junction station, hopefully it will solve the problem of getting to Gatwick Airport.

  • It’ll just be a walk across the platform at Norwood Junction station, instead of a tram between West Croydon and East Croydon stations.
  • In the future, would the cross-platform interchange help travellers between Crossrail and Gatwick and the South Coast?
  • The Zeus of the Timetables could even make it better, by increasing the frequency of Thameslink trains between Norwood Junction and  Gatwick Airport stations to match the four trains per hour (tph) between Dalston Junction and West Croydon stations.

Up here in sometimes-forgotten Dalston, I’ll certainly give this new layout at Norwood Junction station, a high score, if the trains are changed to use it to advantage.

Norwood Junction Will Become A Major Interchange?

The walk-across interchange between Northbound services on platforms 1 & 2 and Southbound services on platforms 3 & 4, will mean that the station, will become  station where travellers will change trains.

Suppose you were travelling from Luton to Epsom.

The Journey Planner on http://www.national.co.uk, suggests a double change at Farringdon and Carshalton, with a journey time of 1 hour and 51 minutes.

The upgraded Norwood Junction station, would allow the journey to be done in two legs.

  • Luton and Norwood Junction – one hour and three minutes.
  • Norwood Junction and Epsom – 29 minutes.

It would be quicker and it is a cross-platform change, where hopefully, there will be a climate-controlled waiting room and a coffee stall.

Current frequencies going North are as follows.

  • Anerley – Six tph
  • Balham – Two tph
  • Battersea Park – Two tph
  • Bedford – Two tph
  • Brockley – Six tph
  • City Thameslink – Two tph
  • Clapham Junction – Two tph
  • Crystal Palace – Two tph
  • Dalston Junction – Four tph
  • Farringdon – Two tph
  • Flitwick – Two tph
  • Forest Hill – six tph
  • Gypsy Hill – Two tph
  • Haggerston – Four tph
  • Harlington – Two tph
  • Harpenden – Two tph
  • Highbury & Islington – Four tph
  • Honor Oak Park – Six tph
  • Leagrave – Two tph
  • Hoxton – Four tph
  • London Blackfriars – Two tph
  • London Bridge (Non-stop) – Two tph
  • London Bridge (Stopping) – Three tph
  • London St. Pancras – Two tph
  • London Victoria – Two tph
  • Luton – Two tph
  • Luton Airport Parkway – Two tph
  • New Cross Gate – Six tph
  • Penge West – Six tph
  • Rotherhithe – Four tph
  • Shadwell – Four tph
  • Shoreditch High Street – Four tph
  • St. Albans City – Two tph
  • Streatham Hill – Two tph
  • Surrey Quays – Four tph
  • Sydenham – Six tph
  • Wandsworth Common – Two tph
  • Wapping – Four tph
  • West Norwood – Two tph
  • Whitechapel – Four tph

Current frequencies going South are as follows.

  • Carshalton Beeches – Two tph
  • Cheam – Two tph
  • Coulsdon Town – Two tph
  • Earlswood – Two tph
  • East Croydon – Six tph
  • Epsom – Two tph
  • Ewell East – Two tph
  • Gatwick Airport – Two tph
  • Horley – Two tph
  • Purley – Four tph
  • Purley Oaks – Two tph
  • Redhill – Two tph
  • Reedham – Two tph
  • Salfords – Two tph
  • South Croydon – Two tph
  • Sutton – Two tph
  • Waddon – Two tph
  • Wallington – Two tph
  • West Croydon – Eight tph

In addition these services pass through.

  • Bedford and Brighton – Two tph
  • Ca,bridge and Brighton – Two tph
  • London Brifge and Caterham & Tattenham Corner – Two tph
  • London Bridge and Uckfield – Two tph
  • Peterborough and Horsham – Two tph

It is a very comprehensive list of services and possible destinations.

I believe that if a few more trains stopped at Norwood Junction station, there could be at least two tph to every station connected to Norwood Junction station, with these higher frequencies to the more important stations.

  • Bedford – Four tph
  • Brighton – Four tph
  • Canada Water – Four tph
  • City Thameslink – Eight tph
  • Clapham Junction – Four tph
  • Crystal Palace – Four tph
  • Dalston Junction – Four tph
  • East Croydon – Eight tph
  • Epsom – Four tph
  • Farringdon – Eight tph
  • Finsbury Park – Four tph
  • Gatwick Airport – Four tph
  • Highbury & Islington – Four tph
  • London Blackfriars – Eight tph
  • London Bridge (Non-stop) – Four tph
  • London Bridge (Stopping) – Four tph
  • London St. Pancras – Eight tph
  • London Victoria – Four tph
  • Luton – Four tph
  • Luton Airport Parkway – Four tph
  • St. Albans City – Four tph
  • Stevenage – Four tph
  • Sutton – Four tph
  • Welwyn Garden City – Four tph
  • West Croydon – Eight tph
  • West Hampstead Thameslink – Four tph
  • Whitechapel – Four tph

These frequencies could be attained, by stopping a few extra services at Norwood Junction station.

It is certainly comprehensive and getting to most important areas of Central London is direct or a single change.

  • The step-free changes to Crossrail at Farringdon and Whitechapel will allow simple access to Canary Wharf, the City,, Heathrow, Paddington, the West End and all the towns and cities on the branches.
  • The Bakerloo Line Extension will connect at New Cross Gate.
  • The Central Line doesn’t connect
  • The Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines connect at Farringdon, Kings Cross St. Pancras, London Blackfriars and Whitechapel.
  • The Jubilee Line connects at Canada Water, London Bridge and West Hampstead Thameslink.
  • The Northern Line connects at Kentish Town, Kings Cross St. Pancras and London Bridge
  • The Piccadilly Line connects at Finsbury Park and Kings Cross St Pancras.
  • The Victoria Line connects at Finsbury Park, Highbury & Islington and Kings Cross St. Pancras.

But there are some important places that are not well-connected or have difficult interchanges to Norwood Junction station.

  • Euston station, High Speed Two and the West Coast Main Line.
  • Cannon Street, Charing Cross and Waterloo mean a complicated interchange at London Bridge.
  • The connections to Great Northern services, the North London Line and the Victoria Line at Highbury & Islington need serious improvement.
  • South \east London needs going to London Bridge and coming out again!

Radical thinking and serious improvement is needed.

Milton Keynes Central and East Croydon

This is a useful service for some..

It calls at Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central, Shepherd’s Bush, Kensington (Olympia), West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst.

But, it has problems.

  • It has a high level of cancellation.
  • It has a totally inadequate hourly frequency.
  • It has no connection to the North London Line at Willesden Junction.
  • It blocks a platform at East Croydon, when it turns round.

In his report on Southern, Chris Gibb recommended that the service be the responsibility of the London Overground. I wrote about this in Gibb Report – East Croydon – Milton Keynes Route Should Be Transferred To London Overground.

To connect High Speed Two at Old Oak Common, there needs to be a four tph service between Croydon and Old Oak Common.

Transport for London are proposing a new Hythe Road station on the West London Line..

  • It will be a seven hundred metre walk to the High Speed Two station. That is too long!
  • There will be a bay platform to turn trains from Clapham Junction.
  • Trains still won’t be able to call at Willesden Junction for the North London Line.

I think that building Hythe Road station is a bad idea.

This map shows the lines in the area.

Surely, the West London Line should have been re-routed over the Eastern end of Old Oak Common station at right angles, which would have the following benefits.

  • Quick and easy interchange with High Speed Two, the Great Western Main Line and Crossrail.
  • The ability to add bay platforms to terminal services.
  • Sharing of station services with the other stations.

Perhaps, though this practical passenger and operator-friendly idea would have ruined the architect’s vision.

Or is it, that the current track layout to connect to the West Coast Main Line only allows crap solutions.

Surely, the amount of money being spent on High Speed Two allows the best to be done everywhere.

London Overground principles say that services must be at least four tph.

The simplest way to do this would be to extend the current Stratford and Clapham Junction service via Willesden Junction to Croydon.

  • It would call at Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst, if it followed the current route.
  • I doubt that East Croydon station could handle four tph terminating at the station.

But why not use the route taken by London Victoria and West Croydon services via Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace, and Norwood Junction, to terminate at West Croydon?

  • This route calls at Norwood Junction, with all its connectivity.
  • If needed, there is space for a new platform at West Croydon.

I’ve no idea, what will happen, but the upgrade at Norwood Junction station should help.

Suppose you were going between Gatwick and High Speed Two..

  • The standard route will be Thameslink and Crossrail with a change at Farringdon.
  • Going on a surface route with a change at Norwood Junction.

The second may be more pleasurable.

Upgrading The Station

In Winner Announced In The Network Rail Footbridge Design Ideas Competition, I wrote how the competition was won by this bridge.

So could two factory-built bridges like this be installed at Norwood Junction station?

  • The design is adaptable to multiple spans over the tracks.
  • Lifts could be left out for one bridge.
  • Once the site is prepared, I believe the bridges can be quickly installed, probably from a train with a crane.
  • The bridge is probably more affordable, than a traditional design.

During the installation period, the existing subway can be used for platform access.

Conclusion

Obviously, I am speculating that the new footbridge system will be used at Norwood Junction station.

But the new platform and track layout at the station, will certainly improve services on these routes.

  • Between East Croydon and London Bridge stations.
  • Between East Croydon and the London Overground and Crossrail.
  • Between the Overground and Gatwick Airport station and the South Coast.

All of the interchanges will be step-free and some will be cross-plsatform.

 

Are

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Airport Plans World’s Biggest Car Parks For 50,000 Cars

The title of this post, is the same as that of an asricle in Wednesday’s copy of The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs.

The biggest car parks in the world will be built as part of a £14 billion expansion of Heathrow amid fresh claims that the scheme will be an “environmental disaster”.

Parking for almost 53,000 vehicles will be built as part of a 30-year masterplan, even though the airport insists that expansion can be achieved without any extra cars on the road.

This sounds to be contradictory, as why would you need to build extra car parking, if there were no more extra cars on the road?

Perhaps there is a clue later in the article, where this is is a paragraph.

Heathrow said that the overall number of parking spaces would “not change materially from today”, insisting that spaces were simply being consolidated on bigger sites. It pointed out that car parks would allow for 100 per cent electric vehicle usage in the future. In total, the number of parking spaces, including those for staff and spaces at nearby offices, will grow from 64,000 today to 67,000.

Admittedly, it only says allow, but Heathrow are future-proofing themselves for the day when everyone is driving electric cars.

Heathrow and others are also planning to do the following.

  • Charge a congestion charge of up to £15 a day will be imposed by 2026 to dissuade passengers from travelling to the airport by car.
  • A “green loop” — a 12-mile pedestrian and cycle network — will also circle the airport.
  • Finish Crossrail.
  • Improve Heathrow Express.
  • There will be a rail link to Reading.
  • There will be a second rail link to Waterloo via Clapham Junction.
  • There will be a rail link to Basingstoke, Guildford and Woking, possibly by extending Heathrow Express.

Will these measures nudge travellers in one of two positive directions?

  • Using public transport to get to the Airport.
  • Cycling or working to the airport.
  • Using an electric car to get to and from the Airport.

I am a Control Engineer, who spent a working life of nearly fifty years analysing data and doing mathematical calculations, hopefully to improve little bits of the world.

So what would I do?

It is absolutely essential that it is known, where all the vehicles to the airport are travelling to and from.

No-one is going to get out of their car, if there is no creditable alternative

The ultimate aim must be that, all transport within a certain distance of the Airport must be zero carbon.

  • All vehicles used by travellers and workers to get to and from the Airport.
  • All vehicles bringing supplies to the Airport.
  • All airside vehicles.

What will happen to those that lived in the zone?

This Google Map shows Hanwell Village to the South-West of the Airport.

Will all those residents pay the congestion charge?

But suppose Heathrow could get ninety percent of all cars travelling to  the Airport and using the car parks, to be electric vehicles.

This would be 45,000 vehicles, each with a battery of between 40-60 kWh. Let’s call it, 50 kWh.

This would mean that the total of energy storage on a typical day at the Airport would be 2.25 GWh.

Compare that to the 9.1 GWh capacity of Electric Mountain.

Electric Mountain would be bigger, but intelligent control of the batteries of these electric cars could create a massive electricity storage resource at the Airport.

  • Cars would be connected to a two-way charger, when the driver went about their business at the Airport, after telling the car when they would return.
  • On return to the car, it would have enough charge for the next journey.
  • The driver would also have an app on their phone, so they could alter their return times.
  • Whilst the driver was away, the grid would borrow electricity as required.

The grid might even pay for the use of your battery.

I suspect that all car parks for electric cars will work using something like this model.

Note the following calculation.

In December 2018, there were 31.5 million cars and four million light goods vehicles in the UK.

In a few years time, suppose half of these vehicles are electric with a 20 KWh battery.

That works out at an astronomical 355 GWh or nearly forty Electric Mountains.

  • Electric Mountain cost £425 million in 1984.
  • Applying a web inflation calculator means it would cost around £1350 million today.
  • So forty Electric Mountains would cost £54 billion.

That is a lot of money and we have no place to put them.

But we have this massive storage capability in the millions of electric vehicles, that will be on the roads in a few years.

Conclusion

All future large car parks must be built to be large storage batteries, when drivers plug in their electric cars.

If you were to be paid for the use of your car’s battery, would that ease the exense of owning an electric car?

 

 

 

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 3 Comments

Stadler Receives First Flirt Akku Battery Train Order

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in Railway Gazette International.

This is said.

Schleswig-Holstein transport authority NAH.SH has selected Stadler to supply 55 Flirt Akku battery multiple-units to operate regional services and provide 30 years of maintenance.

Announcing its selection as preferred bidder on June 19, Stadler said that it will reveal more details when the contract is signed, which is expected after the 10-day standstill period. NAH.SH called tenders for zero-emission trains to run on non-electrified lines but did not specify the technology to be used.

NAH.SH becomes the launch customer for the Flirt Akku, which was officially unveiled last year at the Stadler Pankow factory in Berlin.

Information on the order is a bit short, but that doesn’t stop me speculating.

Do The Flirt Akku Trains Have A Power-Pack Like Greater Anglia’s Class 755 Trains?

Certainly, the Stadler Flirts for the South Wales Metro, do have both a power-pack and a battery, as Stadler use the same image for both trains and the trains have batteries.

These pictures show some of Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains in the sidings at Crown Point Depot.

Note, these are four-car Class 755 trains with a power-pack in the middle.

In Importance Of Battery Range: Stadler’s FLIRT BMU For Greater Anglia, I referenced an article, that said that Greater Anglia’s network is too long for battery trains. But the article seemed to suggest, that Greater Anglia could go battery in the future.

Until, I get more details on the Flirt Akku, I will assume that they use a power-pack containing batteries instead of diesel engines.

As in South Wales, there could also be a mix of diesel engines and batteries in the power-pack of a Flirt Akku.

 

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Importance Of Battery Range: Stadler’s FLIRT BMU For Greater Anglia

The title of this post is the same as a sub-section of this article on Railway News, which is entitled Stadler Presents New FLIRT Akku For The First Time.

This is said.

By contrast, Stadler recently unveiled its bi-mode (electric-diesel) FLIRT for Greater Anglia (U.K.) at InnoTrans 2018. When asked why Greater Anglia went for a diesel-electric option rather than a battery-electric option to bridge the non-electrified gaps in the network, Railway-News was told that the non-electrified distances in the U.K. are currently too great for battery-operated trains to cope with. As battery technology improves, this will hopefully change, making diesel and the need for electrification obsolete

Does this infer the following?

  1. Greater Anglia would have preferred to use battery-electric trains.
  2. It is possible to swap the diesel engines in the power-pack for battery modules.
  3. It could be possible to swap a diesel generator for a hydrogen fuel cell.

Option three might be difficult, as you need somewhere to put the hydrogen tank within the limited UK loading gauge.

Conclusion

I think it is highly likely that as battery technology improves and Stadler are able to package it better for the Class 755 trains, that Greater Anglia will change some of their Class 755 trains to battery-electric operation.

June 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Could We See Eviation Alice Aircraft Flying Routes In The UK?

The Eviation Alice nine-seat aircraft may on the face of it, not have many applications in the UK.

But consider the following.

The Eviation Alice Could Be A Very Good Neighbour

Consider.

  • The three electric motors could be reasonably quiet.
  • The propellers are positioned in the vortexes created by the wing-tips and the fuselage.
  • The specification of the plane states that the  propellers can be adjusted for pitch and rpm to reduce noise.

Imagine a single runway airport for electric planes only.

It would be likely, that the noise footprint would be very small!

As the Eviation Alice, is replacing Cessna 401 aircraft at Cape-Air, I suspect that the Alice is designed to be able to use similar runways to the Cessna 401, which can easily land and take-off in a seven hundred metre runway.

This could mean that new runways could be built in places that would currently be rejected.

Would this open up these  possibilities?

New airports being created to serve towns with difficult road and rail links.

New runways close to major airports for electric low-noise aircraft only.

The Eviation Alice Doesn’t Have To Fly High

Typically airliners fly high and getting up and down takes a long time. But they don’t always have to fly that way!

A couple of years ago, I flew from Schipol to Southend. It was a clear day and the pilot flew directly across the North Sea at about three thousand feet and then straight in to Southend Airport.

We arrived very early.

I wonder, if as small quiet electric airliners get more common, that Air Traffic Control will develop ways of using their capabilities and quietness to create new routes.

Imagine flying from Norwich to Edinburgh, which is about 260 nautical miles in an Eviation Alice.

  • I have flown Ipswich to Edinburgh many times and it is uncluttered airspace.
  • You have to cross an airway at Hull
  • Youcan even follow the coast.

Flying lower could save time!

Electric Planes Will Get Bigger

To my mind, nine seats is not enough, but twenty would be useful on routes like the following.

  • Edinburgh And Wick
  • Glasgow and Derry
  • London and Derry
  • London and New Quay
  • Manchester and Derry
  • Norwich and Aberdeen
  • Norwich and Manchester

In some cases they could replace a more expensive full-size airliner.

I suspect that Eviation have the figures.

But suppose, you wee creating a bigger thirty-seat version of the Alice!

  • It would have another twenty-one passengers.
  • With baggage at 90 Kg a person, this would add a weight of under two tonnes.
  • The plane would need a larger volume, but the composite structure would mean only a small increase in weight.
  • The plane would probably have about a forty-percent increase in take-off weight.
  • So it would probably need a similar increase in battery capacity.

If battery energy density increases at three percent per annum, this would mean it would take about ten years.

 

The Eviation Alice Should Be Cheaper To Run Than A Thirty-Seat Aircraft

This could mean that the Eviation Alice could replace larger aircraft on thin routes.

The Eviation Alice Could Replace A Britten-Norman Islander On Some Routes

Some routes like the internal Orkney services probably aren’t suitable for an Eviation Alice, but I suspect others are.

The Eviation Alice Probably Needs A Proper Runway

I suspect that Eviation Alice aircraft need a runway with a firm surface, like concrete or asphalt, although some grass runways might be acceptable.

Feeder Services To Large International Airports

In England, there are not many of these routes, as there are usually trains or good roads.

But in Scotland, there are numerous services from the Far North and the Islands to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Conclusion

If the Eviation Alice is a success, expect to see them or similar electric aircraft in the UK.

Flying in one of these is on my bucket list!

 

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Alice Promises Passengers A Pollution-Free Wonderland

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

The Eviation Alice is a composite battery-electric aircraft, that has just been ordered by Cape-Air, who are based in Barnstaple, Massachusetts..

Currently, Cape-Air flies the following fleet of aircraft.

In addition, a hundred Tecnam P2012 Traveller are on order, which seat nine passengers.They will replace the Cessnas.

The specification of the Tecnam P2012 Traveller, was developed with input from Cape-Air,

  • Two Avco Lycoming piston engines.
  • 190 knot cruising speed.
  • Range of 950 nautical miles
  • Full certification.
  • Large passenger door.
  • Suitable for commuter, air taxi, medevac, troop transport and air cargo roles.
  • iSingle-pilot operations, a modern cockpit, an unpressurised cabin and a metal air-frame.
  • High -wing for visibility
  • Fixed landing gear for operation from rough landing strips.

It appears the Italians have designed a modern Islander.

This leads me to the impression, that the commuter airline operator are experienced, conservative and know what they want.

On the other hand, Cape-Air have just ordered ten Eviation Alice aircraft for air-taxi operations.

  • Nine passengers and two crew
  • Three 260 kW electric motors
  • 900 kWh Li-ion battery
  • 260 knot cruising speed.
  • Range of 565 nautical miles.
  • 95% composite air-frame.
  • Fly-by-wire control
  • Unpressurised cabin.
  • Retractable landing gear.
  • Automatic landing.

It is not a conventional aircraft.

If you want to learn more, this article on Aviation International News, which is entitled Eviation’s Alice To Fly This Year, gives a lot more details.

These are a few points.

Aerodynamic Design

It is to be expected,  that the composite structure has created a very aserodynamic design.

Battery Weight

The battery comprises sixty per cent of the weight of the aircraft.

Battery Charging

The Aviation International News article says this about charging.

The battery system on the Alice will be fully rechargeable in one hour and 10 minutes, using a half-megawatt charger on a mobile “bowser” truck that itself is charged up by plugging into the local electrical grid. This avoids having to build charging stations at airports, he said. Not all routes will require a full charge—the basic ratio is a half hour of charging time per hour of flight.

Given the 1:2 ratio between charging time and flight time, I suspect that Eviation are using similar tricks to those used by Vivarail with battery trains, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Landing Gear

Once the passengers and their luggage are on board, the weight of an electric plane will not change until the passengers disembark.

I suspect this gives advantages in the design of the landing gear, as it probably cycles through a narrower range of stresses, than the gear on a conventionally-powered plane.

Engine Failure

Engine failure in a twin-engined aircraft is every pilot’s nightmare and speaking from experience, there is no better moment in a flight in a piston-engined twin, than when the gear is raised and the plane is safely in the climb.

The Aviation International News article says this about controlling engine failures.

If power is lost in one wingtip-motor, the opposite motor will reduce power to prevent asymmetric thrust from causing a loss of control, while the rear motor can provide enough power to keep the Alice flying. In fact, Alice can continue a takeoff with loss of both tip thrusters at V2, according to Bar-Yohay.

This is how computer control should be used.

Take-Off And Landing Distance

The specification foe the Eiviation Alice,  does not give the take-off and landing distances, but it does give the approach speed as 100 knots.

The Eiviation Alice is replacing Cessna 401 aircraft at Cape-Air, so it must have a better performance.

The figures for the Cessna are.

Until, I’m told otherwise, I suspect that the Eviation Alice could use most seven-hundred metre runways, with a good surface.

Take Off Accidents

A lot of air accidents happen on take-off, when the plane is fully loaded with passengers and fuel and the engines are giving out maximum power. If the plane should crash, there is usually a large fire.

There have been fires in lithium=ion batteries in the past, but you don’t hear of hundreds of electric cars going up in smoke.

I would certainly like to see what Eviation are saying about the performance of Alice aircraft in an abandoned take-off, or one where an aircraft hits something large, that shouldn’t be there,  on the runway,. Thankfully, the latter doesn’t happen often, but read about the Tenerife Airport Disaster in 1977.

Fly-By-Wire

Fly-by-wire would not normally be expected on an aircraft of this size. But the Aviation Internation News article says the following.

  • The propellers can be managed using pitch and rpm to reduce noise.
  • Turbulence can be smoothed out.
  • Differential thrust can be applied to the two wing engines for crosswind landings.
  • The battery system can be fully controlled in sixteen strands to bring a high level of redundancy.
  • Autoland can be added.

This is a commuter aircraft with all the flight control features of a full size airliner, that has been designed to be flown by a dumb well-programmed computer.

Those that have designed advanced fighter aircraft would certainly approve.

Happy Landings

In the Wikpedia entry for the Eviation Alice, this is said.

It will be built with existing technology, including a composite airframe, distributed propulsion with Siemens electric engines and Honeywell flight control systems, including automatic landing.

The approach speed is also stated on the plane’s specification to be a very reasonable and pilot-friendly; 100 knots.

Once, I flew an approach in a Piper Arrow into Dublin Airport faster than 100 knots as Air Traffic Control, said there was a Jumbo on my tail and could I hurry up! They then asked if I could clear the runway fast, which I did, to be greeted by “We’ll give you ten out of ten for that!” The Irish are gloriously different!

Under Fly-By-Wire, I said this was possible.

Differential thrust can be applied to the two wing engines for crosswind landings.

This I like, as I was not good at crosswind landings.

Once, I landed my Cessna 340 in very heavy rain and strong crosswinds at Cardiff Airport. I landed safely, but it was lucky I was wearing appropriately-coloured underwear.

Cost Of Ownership And Operation

The Aviation International News article gives full details.

The Future

The one thing that can be said about the design of electric planes, is that the batteries will hold more power for a given weight in a few years.

In addition.

  • Composite structures will get lighter and stronger.
  • Aerodynamics of the air-frame and the propellers will get better and more efficient.
  • Fly-by-wire will use better algorithms and add more features.

Range and/or payload will increase.

I also think that, if they can be almost silent, then they could fly very different routes and perhaps even use runways reserved for electric aircraft.

Conclusion

This project might appear to be a total fantasy, but having flown over a thousand hours in a small twin-engined aircraft, I can see where Eviation are coming from.

  • They have also convinced Cape-Air, top class suppliers like BendixKing, Hartzell, Honeywell and Siemens to be part of the project.
  • If nothing else, Eviation have proven, that they can design and build a nine-seat commuter aircraft.

I feel, I can look forward one day to flying in an electric aircraft. Even if it is not the Eviation Alice.

Aircraft like Alice will revolutionise aviation, for distances up to perhaps two thousand miles.

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Scottish Government Is Considering Plans To Electrify The Borders Railway

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

These reasons are given for the electrification, of the Borders Railway.

  • Electric trains would shorten journey times.
  • New Class 385 trains would be more reliable than the current elderly diesel trains.
  • It would be an easy line to electrify, as the line was built so that overhead electrification could be added without any gauge enhancement.

I would add a few reasons of my own.

  • The route is already electrified as far as Newcraighall station. This would probably ease the grid connection  to the new electrification.
  • I believe that electrification of a new railway, where everything is known an well-documented has a higher change of being delivered on time and on budget.
  • Running Class 385 trains may also produce operating and maintenance savings.
  • The Class 385 trains are serviced at the convenient Millerhill Depot.
  • Electrification might help running trains across Edinburgh.

If and when the Borders Railway is extended to Carlisle, there could be very good reasons to electrify the whole route.

I will answer a few questions.

How Much Time Would a Class 385 Train Save?

Currently, trains between Edinburgh and Tweedbank currently take fifty-five minutes with seven stops.

The Class 385 trains will probably save a few minutes at each stop, so this will make the journey time a bit shorter and turnround at each end of the route will be more relaxed.

How Long Is The Section Without Electrification Of The Borders Railway?

The distance between Newcraighall and Tweedbank stations is 30.75 miles.

How Challenging Is The Borders Railway?

It is not the easiest of routes, but it is not the most difficult either. It also has a high summit.

The current diesel trains don’t seem to be working that hard, when I’ve used the railway.

Would Electrification Be Difficult?

If I look at electrification projects over the last few years in the UK, they have been delayed and suffered cost increases because of the following.

  • Difficulty of raising bridges over the route.
  • Connecting to the electricity grid.
  • Surprises like unexpected sewers and mine workings, when installing the electrification.

Hopefully, as the Borders Railway is new railway, that is already partially electrified, this will not be a difficult electrification.

Could the Current Route Be Served By A Battery-Electric Train?

This is the big question, as it were possible, then the current Borders Railway may not need to be electrified.

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I talked about Class 385 trains with batteries, that #Hitachi are proposing.

Hitachi have said this.

  • It would be straightforward to add batteries to give a range of twenty miles on batteries.
  • Sixty miles would be possible but more difficult.

I believe that a safety-first way to run a battery-electric Class 385 train on the Borders Railway would be to do the following.

  • Procure a sin-fleet of Class 385 trains, with a range of forty miles on onboard batteries.
  • The trains would handle regenerative braking to the onboard batteries.
  • A charging station would be provided at Tweedbank station.

The only new infrastructure would be the charging station, which I believe should be based on Vivarail’s design, which I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains

  • Currently, trains take just under ten minutes to turn round at Tweedbank station, which would be time enough to charge the battery.
  • Vivarail’s system is fully automatic, after the driver stops the train over a length of third-rail electrified track, which is only live, when a train is connected.

Hitachi would need to fit third-rail shoes to the trains, but then they could use the design from their Class 395 trains.

Conclusion

There is currently no need to electrify the Borders Railway, if Hitachi can do the following.

  • Fit batteries to a Class 385 train, to give a range of forty miles.
  • Design a fast charging system and install it at Tweedbank station.

I also believe that if and when the Borders Railway is extended to Carlisle, that there could be a strong case for electrification of the whole route.

Running battery-electric Class 385 trains on the Borders Railway would be a project with a lot of winners.

  • Hitachi would have a scenic demonstration route, close to a major well-connected international city.
  • The Borders would get a better and more environmentally – friendly train service to Edinburgh.
  • Scotrail would have a higher proportion of one class of electric trains.

But the biggest advantage could be the possibility of terminating Borders Railway services on the other side of Edinburgh, at perhaps Stirling or Dunblane.

 

 

 

June 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

First Stadler FLIRT Train Receives Approval To Enter UK Service

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

This is the first paragraph.

The British railway regulatory authority, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has granted Stadler approval for the 24 four-car bimodal FLIRT (BMU) for Greater Anglia. For Stadler, this is an important milestone in the project. It is the first FLIRT in the UK to receive an authorisation for placing the train into service (APIS). The test runs with the train for use in the UK only began at the beginning of 2019. Thanks to the excellent cooperation between Greater Anglia, Abellio, Rock Rail, Stadler and the authorities, the approval was obtained in record time.

It does make a change for a train to be able to enter service without too much trouble.

I do think that Stadler, Abellio and Greater Anglia have had a few advantages.

  • These are the second fleet of Stadler bi-more FLIRTs, but could be the first to enter service.
  • The electrified route between Norwich and Diss has been able to be used as a dedicated 100 mph test rtrack during the night, when no scheduled services are running.
  • The trains are based at Crown Point depot, close to the Northern end of the test route.
  • Abellio run fleets of FLIRTs in The Netherlands.

There also doesn’t appear to have been any major problems to delay the testing.

From reports in the local daily newspapers, it also appears that staff are fully behind these new trains and enthusiastic about their arrival.

 

June 18, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment