The Anonymous Widower

Hydrogen On The Line

This article on The Engineer is entitled On Track: Advances In UK Hydrogen Rail.

This sub-heading introduces the article.

An expert panel from Vivarail, Birmingham University and Alstom discuss UK developments in hydrogen powered rail transport.

The article is a very readable article, that explains, the whys, wherefores and hows of hydrogen powered rail transport in the UK.

October 15, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hydrogen-Powered Train Makes UK Maiden Journey

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

This is said in the article.

A hydrogen-powered train has travelled on Britain’s rail network for the first time.

The prototype, called the Hydroflex, made a 25-mile round trip through Warwickshire and Worcestershire, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph.

Its next phase is to move the hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and battery out of a carriage and stash them underneath the train.

The aim is for the train to start carrying paying passengers by the end of 2021.

Note that the article contains a broadcast-quality video.

There are now two hydrogen-powered trains in development in the UK.

Both the trains being converted are British Rail trains based on the Mark 3 coach design.

  • They were built originally in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • They were built for commuting over medium distances.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They will keep their pantographs, so running using 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Both trains could be fitted with quality interiors.

But from what has been disclosed the designs will be quite different.

  • The Class 799 train will be four cars, as opposed to three cars of the Class 600 train.
  • The Class 600 trains will have large hydrogen tanks inside the train, whereas the Class 799 train will have smaller ones underneath the train.
  • I would expect the Class 600 train to have a longer range between refuelling.
  • The Class 799 train will also be a tri-mode train, with the ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

As there are nearly over a hundred Class 321 trains and nearly ninety Class 319 trains, if the hydrogen conversion is successful, we could be seeing a lot of hydrogen trains on the UK rail network.

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trains Are The New Age Planes

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

It is an article well worth a read about the future development of railways in the United States.

August 19, 2020 Posted by | Business, Finance, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains

Mark Hopwood is the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway and in Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I quote him as saying the following about the trains for the Fawley Branch Line.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Mark Hopwood is so right about using old diesels.

  • Where possible new and refurbished trains should be zero-carbon.
  • Fiesel is to be banned by 2035 in Scotland and 2040 in England and Wales.
  • Diesel trains and hydrogen trains for that matter need to refuelled.
  • Get the diagrams right and battery electric trains can be charged on existing electrification or automatic Fast Charging systems, when they turn back at terminal stations.
  • Electric trains attract passengers.
  • Battery electric trains are mouse-quiet!

Who would use anything else other than electric trains with a battery option for sections without electrification?

The Class 456 Train

These pictures show some of the twenty-four Class 456 trains, that are in South Western Railway’s fleet.

This is the specification of a Class 456 train.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph.
  • Capacity – 152 seats – Although the plate on the train says 113!
  • Built 1990-1991
  • Ability to work in pairs.

Most trains seem to be used to lengthen trains from eight to ten cars, as some of the pictures shows. As these 4+4+2 formations will be replaced with new 10-car Class 701 trains or pairs of five-car Class 701 trains, the trains will be looking for a new role.

Does this explain Mark Hopwood’s statement?

It should be noted that the Class 456 trains are members of the Mark 3 family, and bare a strong resemblance to the Class 321 train, which are shown in these pictures.

Note that I have included the side view, as it shows the amount of space under these trains.

Some Class 321 trains are being converted to Class 600 hydrogen trains, by Alstom at Widnes. Others have been given a life-extending Renatus upgrade.

Are The Driver Cars Of Class 456 and Class 321 Trains Identical?

The trains may look similar, but does the similarity go deeper?

Could Alstom Use Class 600 Hydrogen Train Technology To Create A Class 456 Train With a Battery Capability?

Consider.

  • Alstom are positioning themselves as Train Upgrade Specialists in the UK. They have already signed a near billion pound deal to upgrade and maintain Avanti West Coast’s fleet of Class 390 trains.
  • Alstom are creating the Class 600 hydrogen train from withdrawn Class 321 trains.
  • A hydrogen-powered  train is basically a battery electric train with a hydrogen tank and fuel cell to charge the batteries.
  • The Class 600 train doesn’t appear to be making fast progress and is still without an order.
  • One possible hydrogen route must surely be London Waterloo and Exeter, so I suspect Alstom are talking to South Western Railway.
  • The Class 456 trains are owned by Porterbrook, who would probably like to extend the useful life of the trains.

Could it be that the battery core and AC traction package of Alstom’s hydrogen system for the Class 600 train can turn old British Rail-era electric multiple units into battery electric multiple units with a useful range?

It is certainly a possibility and one that is also within the capability of other companies in the UK.

Could The Class 456 Trains Receive a Class 321 Renatus Interior And Traction Package?

As Class 321 and Class 456 trains were built around the same time, the two trains must share components.

These pictures show the current interior of a Class 456 train.

This is excellent for a two-car electric multiple unit, built thirty years ago! Although, the refurbishment is more recent from 2014-15.

  • Note the wheel-chair space and the copious rubbish bins.
  • I also spotted a stowed wheel-chair ramp on the train. It can be seen if you look hard in the picture than shows the wheel-chair space.
  • Some might feel that toilets should be provided.

These pictures show the interior of a Class 321 train, that has been given the Renatus upgrade.

What is not shown is the more efficient AC traction package.

I have been told or read, that the Renatus interior will be used in the conversion of a Class 321 train to an Alstom Class 600 or Breeze hydrogen train.

On the other hand, the current Class 456 interior would probably be ideal for a branch line, where one of initial aims would be to attract passengers.

Could A Class 456 Train Have a Lightweight Traction Package?

Consider.

  • The Class 456 train will access electrification that is only 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Batteries work in DC.
  • The new traction motors will work in AC, if they follow the practice in the Class 321 Renatus and the Class 600 train.
  • Regenerative braking will charge the batteries in both trains.
  • Air-conditioning and other hotel services can work in DC.

Some components needed to run from 25 KVAC like a transformer could be left out to save weight and improve acceleration.

I would suspect that a Class 456 train with batteries could use a slimmed-down traction system from the Class 600 train.

On both Class 456 and 600 trains a core system, that would power the train, might contain.

  • The traction battery or batteries.
  • The traction motors that both drive and brake the train,
  • Third-rail electrification shoes, so that the batteries could be charged in a station, as required.
  • A clever computer system, that controls the acceleration, braking and charging as required.

On the Class 600 train, there would also be the following.

  • Hydrogen tanks and fuel cells to provide an independent power source to charge the batteries.
  • A pantograph to access 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Extra electrical gear to access the electrification.

I think it would be possible to design the Class 456 train with batteries as the basic train and just add the extra  hydrogen and electrical gubbins to make it a Class 600 train.

Could A Class 456 Train Be Modified To Use 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification?

As I said, there are a lot of similarities between Class 456 trains and Class 321 trains.

As the Class 321 trains are equipped to use 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification, I suspect train modification specialists could create a Class 456 train, that could use overhead electrification.

What Battery Range And Size Would Be Needed In A Class 456 Train?

These are typical branch line lengths for South Western Railway.

  • Fawley Branch – 8 miles
  • Wareham and Swanage – 11 miles
  • Lymington Branch – 5.6 miles
  • Reading and Basingstoke – 15.5 miles

I would suspect that a range of thirty miles on battery power would be sufficient for a Class 456 train with batteries.

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 applying that formula gives battery capacity of between 180 kWh and 300 kWh.

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article entitled Scotland High Among Vivarail’s Targets for Class 230 D-Trains, where this is said.

Vivarail’s two-car battery units contains four 100 kWh lithium-ion battery rafts, each weighing 1.2 tonnes.

If 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of a rebuilt London Underground D78 Stock, then I think it is reasonable that up to 200 kWh can be placed under the floor of each car of the proposed train.

This picture of the Driver Car of a Class 321 train, shows that there is quite a bit of space under those trains.

Are the Class 456 trains similar? This is the best picture I have got so far.

It does appear that space is similar to that under a Class 321 train.

If we assume that the Class 456 train can have the following specification.

  • Battery capacity of 200 kWh in both cars.
  • Regenerative braking to battery.
  • Power consumption of 4 kWh per vehicle mile.

I think we could be approaching a range of fifty miles on a route without too many energy-consuming stops.

Charging The Batteries

I like the Vivarail’s Fast Charge concept of using third-rail equipment to charge battery trains.

This press release from the company describes how they charge their battery electric Class 230 trains.

  • The system is patented.
  • The system uses a trickle-charged battery pack, by the side of the track to supply the power.
  • The first system worked with the London Underground 3rd and 4th rail electrification standard.

As the length of rails needed to be added at charging points is about a metre, installing a charging facility in a station, will not be the largest of projects.

Under How Does It Work?, the press release says this.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

As an electrical engineer, I’m certain the concept could be adapted to charge the batteries of a conventional third-rail train.

Vivarail’s press release says this about modification to the trains.

The train’s shoe-gear is made of ceramic carbon so it is able to withstand the heat generated during the fast charge process.

That wouldn’t be a major problem to solve.

Class 456 Train With Batteries And Class 600 Train Compared

The following sub-sections will compare the trains in various areas.

Lightweight Design

As I suspect that the basic structure of the Class 456 and Class 600 trains are similar, systems like toilets, air-conditioning, traction motors and seats will be chosen with saving weight in mind.

Every kilogram saved will mean faster acceleration.

Operating Speed

The current Class 321 train is a 100 mph train, whilst the current Class 456 train is only a 75 mph train.

I wonder if applying the modern traction package of the Class 321 Renatus to the Class 456 train could speed the shorter train up a bit?

Range Away From Electrification

Alstom have quoted ranges of hundreds of miles for the Class 600 train on one filling of hydrogen, but I can’t see the Class 456 train with batteries doing much more than fifty miles on a full charge.

But using a Fast Charge system, I can see the Class 456 train with batteries fully-charging in under ten minutes.

Fast Charge systems at Romsey and Salisbury stations would surely enable the Class 456 trains with batteries to run the hourly service over the thirty-eight mile route between the two stations.

Passenger Capacity

The current Class 456 trains have a capacity of 152 seats.

In Orders For Alstom Breeze Trains Still Expected, I said this.

The three-car Alstom Breeze is expected to have a similar capacity to a two-car diesel multiple unit.

But until I see one in the flesh, I won’t have a better figure.

If South Western Railway were wanting to replace a two-car diesel Class 158 train, they’d probably accept something like 180 seats.

Increasing Passenger Capacity

There are compatible trailer cars around from shortening Class 321 trains from four to three cars and their may be more from the creation of the Class 600 trains.

I suspect that these could be added to both Class 456 and Class 600 trains to increase capacity by fifty percent.

As a two-car train, the Class 456 train might be a bit small, but putting in a third car, which had perhaps slightly more dense seating and possibly a toilet and even more batteries could make the train anything the operator needed.

Suitability For London Waterloo and Exeter via Salisbury

This is South Western Railway’s big need for a zero emission train.

  1. It is around 170 miles
  2. Only 48 miles are electrified.
  3. It is currently worked by three-car Class 159 trains working in pairs.
  4. Class 159 trains are 90 mph trains.

I have believed for some time, that with fast charging, a battery electric train could handle this route.

But, I would feel that.

  • Class 456 trains would be too slow and too small for this route.
  • Class 600 trains would be too small for this route.

On the other hand, I believe that Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic from the company, could be ideal for the route.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range could even be sufficient take a train between Salisbury and Exeter with a single intermediate charge at Yeovil Junction station, where the trains wait up to ten minutes anyway.

There are other reasons for using Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train rather than Class 600 trains.

  • First Group have a lot of experience of running Hitachi Class 80x trains, through their various subsidiaries.
  • They could share depot facilities at Exeter.
  • No specialist facilities would be needed.
  • A five-car Class 801 with batteries would have a convenient 300 seats.
  • I suspect they could be delivered before Alstom’s Class 600 train.

As the only new infrastructure required would be Fast Charge facilities at Salisbury and Yeovil Junction stations, I feel that Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, should be a shoe-in for this route.

First Delivery

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 600 train, says introduction into traffic could be in 2024. Given, the speed with which Greater Anglia’s Class 321 trains were updated to the Renatus specification, we could see Class 456 trains with a battery capability and new interiors running well before 2024.

A Few Questions

These questions have occurred to me.

Could The Technology Be Used To Create A Class 321 Battery Electric Train?

I don’t see why not!

I believe a Class 321 battery electric train could be created with this specification.

  • Three or four cars. Remember the Class 320 train is a three-car Class 321 train.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries.
  • Renatus or operator-specified interior.
  • Toilet as required.
  • Electrification as required.
  • Battery range of around sixty miles.
  • Ability to use a Fast Charge system, that can easily be installed in a terminal platform.

Trains could be tailored to suit a particular route and/or operator.

Any Other Questions?

If you have any other questions, send them in and I’ll add them to this section.

Conclusion

It does appear that if the Class 456 trains, were to be fitted with a battery capability, that they would make a very useful two-car battery electric train, with the following specification.

  • Two cars
  • Operating speed – 75 mph. This might be a bit higher.
  • Capacity – 152 seats
  • Ability to work in pairs.
  • Modern interior
  • Range of 45-50 miles on batteries.
  • Ability to charge batteries in ten minutes in a station.
  • Ability to charge batteries on any track with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.

This is the sort of train, that could attract other operators, who don’t have any electrification, but want to electrify short branch lines.

 

 

 

August 12, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Eversholt Rail And Alstom Invest A Further £1 Million In Breeze Hydrogen Train Programme

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

The major point  made is that the train will be called a Class 600 train.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Alstom Hydrogen Trains Complete Trials

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

The introductory paragraph says this.

After 530 days and more than 18,000 driven kilometres, the trials of two Alstom Coradia iLint models, the world’s first two hydrogen trains, are complete.

It is now over a year since I took this picture of the Alstom Coradia iLint at Buxtehude in Germany.

It is time to move on to full series production. Another fourteen Coradia iLint trains will be manufactured and start service in 2022.

According to Wikipedia, a second order for 27 trains for the Rhine-Main region will be delivered by December 2022.

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

I Design A Hydrogen Aventra

This article on Rail News is entitled Alstom Moves Ahead With Bombardier Takeover.

This is a paragraph in the report, which is dated the eighteenth of last month.

n a statement issued last night, Alstom said it had ‘signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bombardier Inc. and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in view of the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. Post-transaction, Alstom will have a backlog of around €75bn and revenues around €15.5bn. The price for the acquisition of 100 per cent of Bombardier Transportation shares will be €5.8bn to €6.2bn, which will be paid via a mix of cash and new Alstom shares.’

That sounds pretty definite to me.

In the UK, Alstom will take over a company with the following projects.

  • A large order book for building Aventras in the Litchurch Lane factory at Derby.
  • Several support projects for existing train fleets.
  • A joint design project with Hitachi to bid for the trains for High Speed Two. Alstom are also bidding for High Speed Two, as are CAF, Siemens and Talgo.
  • Design and build the cars for the Cairo monorail.
  • Bombardier have been offering train operating companies a bi-mode Aventra.

There are also rumours, that Bombardier are in the running for a large order for Southeastern.

What are Bombardier’s strengths in the UK?

  • The Aventra is without doubt an excellent train, but with some software teething troubles.
  • The company has the ability to turn out finished trains at a formidable rate.
  • The company can make the carriage bodies in a high-tech plant.
  • Could the bodies be built in a larger size?
  • Or even a smaller size for a country like Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria or South Africa that uses a narrow gauge?
  • The company has the ability to design complete trains to the UK’s smaller standards.
  • The company can make trains in both European-sizes in Europe and UK-sizes in Derby.
  • The company builds bogies for other train manufacturing companies.

On the other hand, Bombardier has the following weaknesses.

  • It doesn’t make any diesel-powered trains, although it has successfully trialled battery-powered trains.
  • It has dismissed hydrogen-powered trains.
  • But above all the finances of the parent company are a basket case.

It appears to me that Alstom might bring much needed technology and finance to Bombardier UK. In return, they will acquire a modern design, that can be used in the UK and other countries, that use a smaller loading gauge.

Obviously, if the takeover goes through, more information should be forthcoming in the near to mid future.

The Future For Hydrogen Trains In The UK

I would suspect, that Alstom have designed a train in the Class 321 Breeze, that fits their view of what will work well in the UK train market.

  • It is a sixty metre long train, for a couple, where most platforms are at least eighty metres long.
  • It has a capacity similar to that of a modern two-car diesel multiple unit.
  • The Renatus version of the Class 321 train has a modern and reliable AC-based traction package. Or that’s what a Greater Anglia driver told me!
  • Eversholt Rail Group have already devised a good interior.
  • I said I was impressed with the interior of the train in A Class 321 Renatus.
  • The train can operate at 100 mph on a suitably electrified line, when running using the electrification.
  • Adding an extra trailer car or two could be a simple way of increasing capacity.

I should say, that I think it will be a quieter train, than the Coradia iLint, which has a rather noisy mechanical transmission.

I feel that a Class 321 Breeze train could be a good seller to routes that will not be electrified, either because of difficulty, expence or politics.

With a 100 mph operating speed on electrification and perhaps 90 mph on hydrogen power, it may have enough performance to work a lot of routes fast, profitably and reliably.

I think, that the Alston Class 321 Breeze will prove whether there is a market for hydrogen-powered trains in the UK.

I would think, that use of these trains could be a big application.

Replacement Of Two-And Three-Car Diesel Multiple Units

There are a lot of these still in service in the UK, which include.

All of these are currently running services all over Great Britain and I have ignored those trains run by Chiltern Railways as they will logically be replaced by a dedicated batch of new trains, with possible full- or part-electrification of the route. Or they could be custom-designed hydrogen trains.

As there are only 105 Class 321 trains that can be converted, some other trains will be needed.

I suppose classes of trains like Class 365 trains and others can be converted, but there must come a point, when it will be better to build new hydrogen trains from scratch.

Components For Hydrogen Trains

This article on Rail Business is entitled Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon.

It says this about the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

The converted HMUs would have three roof-mounted banks of fuel cells on each of the two driving vehicles, producing around 50% more power than the iLint. Two passenger seating bays and one door vestibule behind each cab would be replaced by storage tanks. The fuel cells would feed underfloor battery packs which would also store regenerated braking energy. The current DC traction package on the centre car would be replaced by new AC drives and a sophisticated energy management system. Despite the loss of some seating space, each set of three 20 m vehicles would provide slightly more capacity than a two-car DMU with 23 m cars which it would typically replace.

The following components will be needed for hydrogen trains.

One Or More Hydrogen Tanks

This picture shows the proposed design of the  Alstom Class 321 Breeze.

Note how half the side of the front car of the train is blocked in because it is full of the hydrogen tank. As this Driver Car is twenty metres long, each hydrogen tank must be almost seven metres long. If it was one larger tank, then it could be longer and perhaps up to fourteen metres long.

Batteries

As the Rail Business article said, that the batteries are underfloor, I wouldn’t be surprised to see all cars having a battery pack.

I favour this layout, as if cars all are motored, it must cut the length of cabling and reduce electrical losses.

Effectively, it creates a train with the following.

  • Faster acceleration
  • Smooth, fast deceleration.
  • Efficient braking
  • Low energy losses.

It should also add up to a train with good weight distribution and high efficiency.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

In the Class 321 Breeze, Alstom are quoted as having three banks of fuel cell on the roof of each driver car.

This would distribute the power derived from hydrogen to both ends of the train

Hydrogen For Hydrogen Trains

Alstom’s Coradia iLint trains do not have a custom-design of hydrogen system, but over the last few years green hydrogen systems have started to be supplied by companies including ITM Power from Rotherham. Recently, they have supplied the hydrogen system for the hydrogen-powered Van Hool  Exqui-City tram-buses in Pau in France. A similar system could be used to refuel a fleet of Breeze trains.

It looks like we have a limited number of hydrogen-powered trains and their fuel could be made available, but not enough to replace all of the UK’s small diesel trains, if we rely on Class 321 Breeze trains.

So there will be a need to build some more.

My Design Of Hydrogen Train

I would start with the Aventra design.

  • It is very much Plug-and-Play, where different types of cars can be connected together.
  • Cars can be any convenient length.
  • Some Aventras, like the Class 345 trains for Crossrail are even two half-trains.
  • There are various styles of interior.
  • The Aventra appears to be a very efficient train, with good aerodynamics and a very modern traction system with regenerative braking.
  • Driver, pantograph, trailer and motor cars and third-rail equipment are available.
  • Battery cars have probably been designed.
  • For good performance, Aventras tend to have a high proportion of motored cars.
  • Aventras have been designed, so that power components can be distributed around the train, so that as much space as possible is available for passengers.

This picture shows a four-car Class 710 train, which is an Aventra.

In the next sub-sections I will fill out the design.

Train Layout

Perhaps, a hydrogen-powered train could be five cars and consist of these cars.

  • Driver Motor Car
  • Trailer or Motor Car
  • Hydrogen Tank Car
  • Trailer or Motor Car
  • Driver Motor Car

Equipment would be arranged as followed.

  • I would put the hydrogen tank in the middle car. Stadler have been very successful in putting a power car in the middle and it could be the ideal car for some of the important equipment.
  • As I said earlier, I would put batteries under all cars.
  • Regenerative braking and electrification would be used to charge the batteries.
  • I think, I would put the hydrogen fuel cells in Alstom’s position on the rear part of the roof of the driver cars.
  • There would also be a need to add a pantograph, so that could go on any convenient car!
  • I do wonder, if the middle-car could be developed into a mini-locomotive with a walkway through, like the PowerCar in a Stadler Class 755 train.

There’s certainly a lot of possibilities on how to layout the various components.

Passenger Capacity

The five-car hydrogen-powered Aventra, I have detailed is effectively a four-car Aventra like a Class 710 train, with a fifth hydrogen tank car in the middle.

So the passenger capacity will be the same as a four-car Aventra.

The Class 710 trains have longitudinal seating, as these pictures of the interior show.

They have a capacity of 189 sitting and 489 standing passengers or a total capacity of 678.

Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains have transverse seating and a five-car train holds 540 sitting and 145 standing passengers.

Multiplying by 0.8 to adjust for the hydrogen car and the capacity would be 432 sitting and116 standing passengers or a total capacity of 548.

Seats in various UK four-car electric multiple units are as follows.

  • Class 319 – 319
  • Class 321 – 309
  • Class 375 – 236
  • Class 379 – 209
  • Class 380 – 265
  • Class 385 – 273
  • Class 450 – 264

It would appear that a five-car hydrogen-powered Aventra, with one car taken up by a hydrogen tank and other electrical equipment can carry a more than adequate number of passengers.

Extra Passenger Capacity

Suppose to eliminate diesel on a route, a five-car Class 802 train were to be replaced with a six-car hydrogen-powered Aventra, which contained five passenger cars

  • The capacity of the Class 802 train is 326 seats, which still compares well with the five-car hydrogen-powered Aventra.
  • The extra car would increase the passenger capacity.

As Aventras are of a Plug-and-Play design, extra cars would be added as needed.

Maximum Length

Aventras tend to have lots of powered axles, as this improves accelerations and braking, so I suspect that trains with four or five cars on either side of the hydrogen car would be possible.

Nine-car trains could be ideal for replacing trains like Class 800 bi-mode trains to reduce the number of diesel trains. The Class 800 trains would then be converted to Class 801 electric trains or a new battery/electric version.

A Walkway Through The Hydrogen Car

These pictures show the walkway through the PowerCar in a Stadler Class 755 train.

I’m sure that an elegant design of walkway can be created.

In-Cab Digital Signalling

It goes without saying, that the train would be capable of being fitted with in-cab digital signalling.

Performance On Electrification

Bombardier have stated that they have a design for a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra. They might even have designed the trains to achieve 140 mph running on routes with full in-cab digital signalling.

These electrified lines are likely to be able to support 140 mph running with full in-cab digital signalling.

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

As these hydrogen-powered Aventras may need to run on these high speed electrified lines, I would design the trains so that they could achieve the design speed of these lines, when using the electrification.

This would enable the trains to keep out of the way of the numerous 140 mph electric expresses.

Performance On Batteries And Hydrogen

Hydrogen-powered trains are essentially battery-electric trains, which have the ability to top up the batteries using hydrogen power.

I would suspect that a well-designed hydrogen/battery/electric train should have the same maximum speed on all modes of power, subject to the capabilities of the track and having sufficient power in the batteries to accelerate as required.

The Complete Package

As Hydrogen filling stations from companies like ITM Power and others, that can refuel hydrogen-powered trains are a reality, I’m certain, that it would be possible to create a package solution for a railway company that needed the complete solution.

Different Gauges

If you take a country like Malawi, Malawi Railways looks to need improvement.

They have a three-foot six-inch gauge railway, so could a package of narrower hydrogen-powered Aventras and a solar-powered hydrogen-generator be put together to improve Malawi’s railways?

In When Do Mark 2 Coaches Accept The Inevitable?, I discuss how British Rail Mark 2 coaches were converted from UK loading gauge to one that would work with New Zealand’s 1067 mm. gauge.

So I suspect that a design related to trains built for the UK could be modified for running on the narrow gauge lines of Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Conclusion

I think it would be possible to design a hydrogen/battery/electric train based on an Aventra with the following characteristics.

  • Up to eleven cars
  • A hydrogen car with a hydrogen tank in the middle of the train.
  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • In-cab digital signalling
  • 140 mph running where the route allows.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Sufficient range on hydrogen power.
  • Sophisticated computer control, that swaps mode automatically.

The train would be possible to run the following routes, if configured appropriately.

  • Kings Cross and Aberdeen
  • Kings Cross and Inverness
  • Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln and Grimsby
  • Kings Cross and Redcar via Middlesbrough
  • Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge
  • Paddington and Penzance
  • Paddington and Swansea
  • Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke

Some routes might need a section of fill-in electrification, but most routes should be possible with a hydrogen fill-up at both ends.

 

 

 

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Business, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Alstom Coradia iLint Passes Tests

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

This is the first paragraph.

Alstom has performed 10 days of tests of the Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel cell train—the world’s first passenger train powered by hydrogen fuel cells—on the 65-kilometer line between Groningen and Leeuwarden to the north of the Netherlands.

These details of the tests were given.

  • No passengers were carried.
  • The tests were done at night.
  • A mobile filling station was used.
  • The train ran up to a speed of 140 kph.

As green hydrogen was used, the tests were zero carbon.

The Test Route

This map clipped from Wikipedia, shows the Groningen and Leeuwarden route, used for the tests.

Note.

  1. It appears to be only single-track.
  2. It is roughly 65 kilometres long.
  3. There are eight intermediate stops.

Checking the timetable, the service seems to be two or three trains per hour (tph)

Hydrogen Trains Could Go All The Way To Germany

In From Groningen To Leer By Train, I took a train and a bus from Groningen in The Netherlands to Leer in Germany and eventually on to Bremen Hbf. The route is not complete at the moment, as a freighter demolished the rail bridge.

Once the bridge is rebuilt, a hydrogen-powered train, which could also use the catenary in the area could travel from West of Leeuwarden to possibly as far as Bremen and Hamburg.

It is interesting to note, that Alstom’s hydrogen-powered trains for the UK, which are called Breeze and are currently being converted from British Rail-era Class 321 electric trains, will not lose their ability to use the overhead electrification.

A train with that dual capability would be ideal for the Dutch and German rail network in this area, which is partially electrified.l

March 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

First Hydrogen Train Arrives In The Netherlands

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

On 26 February the first hydrogen train arrived in the Netherlands. The Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail led the train into the country from Germany via Oldenzaal and then ran it on track to its provisional parking facility in Leeuwarden.

The article also says this.

The public will also have the chance to view the hydrogen train on 7 March, when it will be at Groningen Station between noon and 4pm.

I won’t be going, as I’ve ridden the train in Germany as I reported in My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint.

These trains are technology demonstrators at best and greenwash at worst.

Hydrogen power needs a radical new design of  train and not a quick rehash of an existing design.

The problem is that the Coradia iLint is based on a diesel mechanical train and it has a lot of transmission noise.

You get less noise and vibration in the average British-Rail era diesel multiple unit like a Class 156 train. But then these are diesel hydraulic, have steel-bodies and built thirty years ago.

When I first saw the iLint, I looked for the pantograph, as these trains run on partially-electrified lines and hydrogen-powered trains are effectively electric trains with a different source of electricity.

To be fair to Alstom, their development of the hydrogen-powered Class 321 Breeze, will also be able to use a pantograph, but as this visualisation shows, the hydrogen tanks take up a lot of space.

Hydrogen might find itself a place on the railways, but I suspect that battery-electric will always be better for passenger trains.

  • Battery technology will improve faster than hydrogen technology.
  • Innovators will find better ways of fast-charging trains.
  • A battery-electric train will match the daily range of a hydrogen-powered train, using innovative dynamic charging.
  • Many modern electric trains can be converted into battery-electric ones.

I suspect though, the mathematics will be different for freight locomotives.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Akiem Acquires Macquarie European Rail Fleet

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Leasing company Akiem Group has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Macquarie European Rail’s rolling stock leasing business, subject to regulatory approval.

Included in the deal are thirty Class 379 trains, currently used on the Stansted Express and soon to be replaced by new Class 745 trains.

Because of the lack of any published plans about where the Class 379 trains will be cascaded, I have been wondering if there is something wrong with the trains or perhaps their owner.

As the latter looks now to be changing from Macquarie to Akiem, perhaps we’ll hear some news on what is happening to the Class 379 trains.

I still feel the Class 379 trains would make excellent battery-electric trains, possibly for an airport service.

But which train operating company would need a fleet of thirty four-car electric trains?

Most have now sorted their fleet requirements and when Bombardier get their production working smoothly, perhaps with Alstom’s backing, there will be more trains being delivered to train operating companies.

But there is one fleet replacement, where battery-electric Class 379 trains may be ideal; the replacement of South Western Railway (SWR)‘s fleet of Class 158 and Class 159 trains.

Consider.

  • 10 x two-car Class 158 trains and 30 x three-car Class 159 trains could be replaced by 30 x four-car Class 379 trains, which would be a near ten percent increase in carriages.
  • 90 mph diesel trains, that were built in the 1990s, will be replaced by 100 mph battery-electric trains, that are not yet ten years old.
  • The Class 379 trains are Electrostars and fitting third-rail shoes, will be straight out of Bombardier’s parts bins.
  • Waterloo station will become another diesel-free London terminus.
  • Fellow French company; Alstom could step in to the picture with their battery knowledge from other products like the iLint hydrogen train and convert the trains at Widnes or one of their other maintenance depots.
  • South Western Railway and Akiem would need to procure a charging system and could probably do worse than see what Vivarail or Furrer and Frei can supply!

How would the Class 379 battery-electric trains handle various services?

London Waterloo To Salisbury And Exeter St. Davids

The most difficult service to run, would be the London Waterloo and Exeter St. Davids service via Salisbury.

Note that when SWR bid for the franchise, they promised to knock ten minutes off the time to Exeter and they will need 100 mph trains for that!

With climate change in the news, only a hardline climate-change denier would buy 100 mph diesel trains.

In Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?, I suggested how Waterloo and Exeter could be run with a battery-electric train, with a range of around sixty miles on battery power.

  • Use existing electrification, as far as Basingstoke – 48 miles
  • Use battery power to Salisbury – 83 miles
  • Trains can take several minutes at Salisbury as they often split and join and change train crew, so the train could be fast-charged, at the same time.
  • Use battery power to the Tisbury/Gillingham/Yeovil/Crewkerne area, where trains would be charged – 130 miles
  • Use battery power to Exeter- 172 miles

Note.

  1. The miles are the distance from London.
  2. The charging at Salisbury could be based on Vivarail’s Fast-Charging or traditional third-rail technology.
  3. The charging around Yeovil could be based on perhaps twenty miles of third-rail electrification, that would only be switched on, when a train is present.
  4. Charging would also be needed at Exeter for the return journey.

I estimate that there could be time savings of up to fifteen minutes on the route.

London Waterloo To Salisbury And Bristol Temple Meads

This service in run in conjunction with the Exeter St. Davids service, with the two trains joining and splitting at Salisbury.

As Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads is 53 miles, it looks like this service is possible, providing the following conditions are met.

  • The Class 379 train has a sixty mile range on battery power.
  • The train can charge at Bristol Temple Meads, perhaps by using the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 379 trains can join and split with the with amount of alacrity.

Note that there may be other places, where a tri-mode capability might be useful.

Exeter And Axminster

This shorter trip is thirty miles and if the battery range is sufficient, it could probably be run by a Class 379 train, charged at Exeter.

If necessary, a method of charging could be provided at Axminster.

Romsey And Salisbury Via Southampton Central

This route is partially electrified and it looks like a battery-electric train with a sixty mile range could run the service without any extra infrastructure.

If Salisbury, gets a charging system, then this service might be used to ensure a reliable or extended service.

Portsmouth Harbour And Basingstoke And Portsmouth Harbour and Southampton Central

These two services could be run by Class 379 trains running using the electrification.

London Or Wareham and Corfe Castle

This Summer Saturday-only service is an ideal one for a battery-electric train.

New Services

There are also other branches that could be reopened, like those to Ringwood and Hythe, that could be worked by battery-electric trains.

Conclusion

It will be very interesting to see where the Class 379 trains end up.

But my money’s on them replacing South Western Railways, diesel trains, after conversion to battery-electric trains.

  • Only limited infrastructure works will need to be done.
  • South Western Railway will have more capacity.
  • Passengers will get a faster service in a modern train.
  • Waterloo will become a diesel-free station.

But most importantly, South Western Railway will have an all-electric fleet.

 

 

 

February 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment