The Anonymous Widower

Hybrid Regional Train To Be Tested

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Plans to convert a TER regional multiple-unit into a prototype overhead electric, battery and diesel hybrid unit were announced by SNCF and Alstom on September 17.

The Grand Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie regions and Alstom are to spend €16.6m converting and testing the Régiolis unit, which will be taken from the Occitanie region’s fleet. Two of the four diesel engines will be replaced with high-capacity lithium-ion batteries able to store regenerated braking energy.

It looks to me, that each Régiolis train has four slots in which to put a diesel engine. So are they doing what Stadler are doing with the tri-mode Flirts for the South Wales Metro and allowing operators to fill each slot with a diesel engine and generator or a lithium-ion battery.

Hopefully, the modules are designed, so they are just Plug-and Play.

The train’s computer would decide what power is best and swap between electric/diesel and battery power automatically or under the control of the driver.

The concept is simple and it could have some interesting outcomes.

  • The ability to use regenerative braking on an electrified line, that can’t handle the reverse currents.
  • Extending routes efficiently on non-electrified lines, where noise and pollution could be a problem.
  • As battery technology gets better and can hold more energy, all diesel engines might be replaced with batteries.

It does seem that Alstom are taking battery trains seriously.

It also appears that the number of existing trains, that are being improved by the addition of batteries is growing.

 

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 1 Comment

Hydrogen Trains Have Arrived

According to this page on the Internet, Alstom launched the Coradia iLint today.

These are some of the pictures.

I shall go for a ride.

The web page says this about the test route.

On behalf of LNVG, the Coradia iLint trains will be operated on nearly 100km of line running between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, replacing EVB’s existing diesel fleet.

As Buxtehude is close to Hamburg, the easiest way to experience the trains would be to fly to Hamburg.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 5 Comments

The Hydrogen Train Of The Future Is A Lot Like The Train Of Today

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

It is an article worth reading ass it gives details of the philosophy of the guy behind the concept; Dr. Jörg Nikutta.

May 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Trains Herald New Steam Age

The title of this post is the same as that of an article on nearly half of Page 4 of today’s Sunday Times.

When I saw the article with its large graphic showing the working of a hydrogen train, the train seemed rather familiar.

The leaning back front of the train with its two windows and the corrugated roof looked like a Class 321 train.

The large orange area on the roof is the hydrogen tank and the smaller one is the hydrogen fuel cell.

This is a paragraph from the article.

Alstom revealed this weekend that it planned to convert the Class 321 diesel trains, which date to 1988 and are used on the Greater Anglia network between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich. The units will be switched to other lines once converted to hydrogen power.

I suspect Mark Hookham, who wrote the article, has already been told by ninety percent of the train enthusiasts in this country, that Class 321 trains are electric multiple units.

This picture shows the first car of a Class 321 train in the sidings at Ipswich.

Note all the space, under the train, which would be an ideal place for the batteries and traction control, that are shown in that position, in pink, in the Sunday Times graphic.

But there are other reasons, why Class 321 trains may be ideal to convert to hydrogen power.

  • Although they are thirty years old, they are a modern train, which meet all the latest regulations.
  • They have a 100 mph operating speed on electricity.
  • They operate on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • There are a hundred and seventeen four-car trains.
  • Greater Anglia will be replacing over a hundred Class 321 trains, with new Class 720 trains in the next two years.
  • A number of Greater Anglia’s trains have been upgraded to Class 321 Renatus. These trains are a substantial upgrade over the standard train..
  • Greater Anglia’s trains appear to be in good condition.
  • Designs have been tested to upgrade the traction motors and drive systems of the trains.

But most importantly, the trains are based on the Mark 3 coach, which gives the following advantages.

  • An excellent ride and superb brakes.
  • Bodies with a legendary strength and toughness.
  • There is a vast amount of knowledge in the UK rail industry, that enables the trains to be kept at peak performance.

I doubt, that you could find a better fleet of a hundred trains to convert to hydrogen power anywhere in the world.

The article says or indicates the following.

  • Hydrogen tanks will be mounted on the roof.
  • An Alstom spokesman is quoted as saying. “We have now started work on the development of a specific hydrogen train to launch the technology here in the UK.”
  • He also said that the trains would be super quiet, super smooth and much more accelerative. I assume that is compared to diesel.
  • Conversion will take place in fleets of up to 15 trains a time at Alstom’s factory in Widnes.
  • The first train could be ready by 2021.
  • Eventually, all Class 321 trains could be converted.
  • Initial routes could be on the Tees Valley Line and between Liverpool and Widnes.
  • Range on a tank of hydrogen will be 620 miles.
  • Top speed would be about 87 mph.

The article finishes with a quote from Alstom’s spokesman. “The initial capital costs of hydrogen trains were higher than diesel ones, but the “total life cost” of running them for 40 years was lower.”

I have my thoughts on various things said and not said in the article.

Alstom’s Widnes Factory

Alstom’s Widnes factory has just upgraded, Virgin Trains, fleet of Class 390 trains, so it does seem capable of handling heavy work on a number of trains at one time.

Train Certification

All trains have to be certified, as to being safe and compatible to run on the UK rail network.

Converting an existing train, must make this process a lot easier, especially as many of the hydrogen components and batteries have been used on trains in the EU.

The Proposed Routes

The routes named in the article are in the North East and North West of England, where hydrogen could be readily available from the petrochemical works, so fuelling the trains may not be a problem.

Power Supply

Class 321 trains were only built to work on lines with 25 KVAC overhead wires, but I suspect the parts exist to enable them to run on 750 VDC third-rail lines, if needed.

INEOS

INEOS is a very large multi-national petrochemical company, with a multi-billion pound turnover, which is sixty percent owned by Jim Ratcliffe, who has just been named the UK’s richest man.

So why would a company like that be involved in hydrogen-powered trains?

This news item from Reuters, is entitled AFC In Hydrogen Power Generation Deal With INEOS.

This is the first two paragraphs.

British budget fuel cell maker AFC Energy has signed a deal with British petrochemicals company INEOS to produce electricity using the hydrogen given off in chlorine manufacturing.

AFC said the project with INEOS ChlorVinyls would use surplus hydrogen from the chemical firm’s Runcorn facility in north-west England to supplement the plant’s energy needs.

I used to know the Runcorn plant well, when I worked there for ICI in the 1960s.

The hydrogen was produced when brine was electrolysed to produce chlorine.

So does Jim Ratcliffe, who is a qualified Chemical Engineer, see an opportunity to sell the by-product as train fuel to his neighbour; Alstom, on the other side of the Mersey?

Obviously, I don’t know what Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are thinking.

But consider.

  • The Sunday Times article says that the North West and the North East of England are two promising areas for hydrogen-powered trains.
  • INEOS has large petrochemical plants on the Mersey and Teeside.
  • I wonder how many plants owned by INEOS around the world have a surplus of hydrogen.
  • Alstom would probably like to sell hydrogen-powered trains everywhere.
  • A well-respected chemical engineer, once told me, that the only things that should go out of an integrated petrochemical plant is product that someone pays for, air and water.

As the other place in the UK, where INEOS have a large petrochemical plant is Grangemouth in Central Scotland, I wonder, if we’ll see hydrogen-powered trains North of the Border.

Availability of Hydrogen

This article on Process Engineering, which is entitled INEOS project reduces energy bill by £3m, starts with these three paragraphs.

INEOS Chlor is one of the major chlor-alkali and chlorine derivative producers in Europe. Its Runcorn site in north west England has two large chlorine plants: the original J Unit that uses a mercury cell electrolysis process route, and the more recently opened Genesis Membrane Chlorine Plant (MCP).

Continuous improvement of the manufacturing processes has taken the Runcorn site to a ’best in class’ cost base and environmental performance, and as part of this improvement programme the company wanted to minimise vented hydrogen and maximise the value of this resource at both plants.

Without a significant change in market demand for hydrogen, it was not possible to increase sales to existing customers. The only alternative was to increase the amount used as fuel to power on-site boilers, thereby reducing costs for purchased natural gas.

Burning the hydrogen in on-site boilers.obviously helps to reduce the energy bill, but surely, if the hydrogen could be sold to a local customer, that could be more profitable.

You certainly want to minimise the vented hydrogen!

A few days ago I wrote The Liverpool Manchester Hydrogen Clusters Project, which is a project to create a hydrogen network in the Liverpool Manchester area.

Surplus hydrogen from Runcorn and other placed would be piped around the area to augment the natural gas supply.

This network could supply Alstom’s new hydrogen-powered trains and INEOS have a new market for their surplus hydrogen.

I don’t know the petrochemical industry in the North East, but there are a lot of petrochemical plants and some are owned by INEOS.

Is there a surplus of hydrogen, that could profitably sold as fuel for Alstom’s hydrogen-powered trains. I don’t know!

And then there’s Grangemouth in Scotland! My Scottish agent in the Borderlands, used to work at the INEOS plant in Grangemouth and that had a hydrogen surplus.

Even, if we can’t pipe hydrogen to the various depots for the trains around the country, surely it can be transported by rail!

I think that we may be short of some things in this country, but hydrogen might not be one of them.

Given that Alstom have moved so quickly to start planning conversion of the Class 321 trains, they have probably identified sources of enough hydrogen to power the fleet, even if all are converted, as they hinted at in the Sunday Times article.

Eversholt Rail Group’s Involvement

All the trains are leased from the Eversholt Rail Group, who would probably like to see their assets continue to earn the best return possible.

A few days ago, I wrote Eversholt Joins Very Light Rail Consortium.

These two projects may be at both ends of the rail industry, but I believe, they show the willingness of Eversholt to invest in innovation, rather than allow an asset to drift towards the scrapyard.

The Class 321 Renatus

This page on their web site describes the Class 321 Renatus, which was an upgrade developed by Eversholt in conjunction with Greater Anglia, to improve the trains, whilst waiting for Greater Anglia’s new fleet to be delivered.

These are the listed improvements.

  • New air-conditioning and heating systems.
  • New, safer seating throughout
  • Larger vestibules for improved boarding and alighting
  • Wi-Fi enabled for passengers and operator
  • Improved space allocation for buggies, bicycles and luggage
  • Passenger power sockets throughout
  • New, energy efficient lighting
  • One PRM compliant toilet and a second controlled emission toilet on each unit
  • Complete renewal and remodelling of all interior surfaces.

It would be a better interior than most British Rail-era trains.

Comparison With The Class 769 Train

The proposed hydrogen-powered Class 321 train, will inevitably be compared with Porterbrook‘s Class 769 train, which is a bi-mode upgrade of the Class 319 train.

Looking at operating speed on electricity and alternative fuel we find.

  • Both trains can operate at 100 mph on lines with 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The Class 769 train can also operate at 100 mph on lines with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • According to the Sunday Times article, the Class 321 Hydrogen train can operate at about 87 mph on hydrogen.
  • According to this article in Rail Magazine, the Class 769 train can operate at 91-92 mph on diesel.

So in terms of operating speed, the trains are more of less comparable, but emissions will be better with the hydrogen-powered train.

When it comes to interiors, as both trains are Mark 3-based, designed around the same time, train operating companies will have what their budget allows.

In the end the choice will come down to cost, which will surely be higher for the Class 321 Hydrogen, as this will require more expensive modifications and additional infrastructure for refuelling the train.

Could Any Other Trains Be Converted?

There are various other classes of electric multiple unit based on the Mark 3 coach.

I think there could be good reasons to only convert trains with the following characteristics.

  • Four-cars or more.
  • 100 mph capability
  • Perhaps fifty or more trains to convert.

These rules would leave us with only the seventy-two Class 317 trains, many of which have been refurbished and are in very good condition.

Conclusion

I’m drawn to the conclusion, that Alstom and Eversholt are serious about producing hydrogen-powered trains for the UK.

I also think, they’ve identified enough hydrogen to power the whole fleet, if it’s converted.

 

 

May 13, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Istanbul Tram Line To Be Catenary-Free

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Contractor Dogus Construction has selected Alstom to supply a full APS ground-level power supply solution for the Eminönü-Alibeyköy tram line in Istanbul.

Choosing Alstom’s street-level power rail solution means that the 10km-long line will be entirely catenary-free.

I suspect, catenary-free will become the norm, either using systems like in Istanbul or batteries like the Midland Metro.

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Hydrogen The Answer?

This excellent article on Rail Engineer, is a very good analysis of using hydrogen to power trains.

It is also crammed full of facts!

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Alstom Seem To Be Stepping Up The Pressure To Get Hydrogen-Powered Trains Into The UK

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Alstom: Industry must start work bringing hydrogen trains to UK immediately.

This is said.

In an exclusive interview with RTM, Mike Muldoon, who leads on hydrogen for Alstom in the UK, also warned that if the British rail industry did not start trying to bring in hydrogen trains as quickly as possible, the country’s market could become less attractive.

Could it be that Alstom see the opportunity for hydrogen-powered trains closing and want to make sure that the UK Government comes on-side?

Would The Coradia iLint Be Able To Run In The UK?

This document on the Alstom web site is a data sheet for the Coradia iLint.

Unfortunately, the data sheet doesn’t give the height and width of the iLint, but I suspect that these and other dimensions are not much different to typical UK values.

Even if the current iLint is wider and taller, I suspect that on a lot of routes a Coradia iLint would be able to run.

Development Of A UK Hydrogen-Powered Train

The Alstom Coradia iLint was developed from an existing train in a few months, in much the same way that Bombardier’s Class 379 BEMU prototype was created.

There would be the following differences between a UK and a German version.

  1. Adjusted height, with and platform height.
  2. Would a different pantograph reach be required?
  3. 25 KVAC instead of 15 KVAC.
  4. Would a third-rail 750 VDC version be needed?

Notes.

  • Point 1 is probably covered by the way modern trains are built.
  • Point 2 is down to the pantograph manufacturer.
  • Point 3 is covered by developing an electrical system that handles both voltages. After all 25 KVAC will be needed for France.
  • Point 4 just needs the appropriate third-rail shoe and electrical system.

I think that all this could mean that a UK version of the iLint could be developed within a reasonable time and budget.

Have Alstom Said Anything Else About For The UK?

This article on the Engineer web site is entitled Alstom Eyes Liverpool Hydrogen Train Trials.

It would appear to be a good choice for the following reasons.

Location

Alstom’s UK base is at Widnes, which is in the South-East of the Liverpool City Region.

Test Partner

Merseyrail have shown in recent years, that they can think out of the box, about using trains and would be a very able partner.

Test Route

The article suggests that Liverpool to Chester via the Halton Curve could be the test route.

  • The route is partly electrified from Runcorn to Liverpool.
  • The route passes close to Alstom’s base.
  • The section without electrification from Runcorn to Chester is probably about twenty miles long, which is a good test, but not a very difficult one.
  • I don’t think that there are too many low over-bridges that would need to be raised.

There would also be good opportunities for publicity and photographs.

Availability Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is available locally from the various petro-chemical industries along the Mersey.

Incidentally, I used to work in a chlorine plant at Runcorn, where brine was split into hydrogen and chlorine by electrolysis. There were hydrogen tankers going everywhere! Does the industry still exist?

Further Routes

If you look at a map of the railways in the area, there are several other possibilities of other services.

  • Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester
  • Serving new stations like Middlewich

The trains might be a possibility for the Borderlands Line.

Conclusion

Hydrogen trains would seem to be a possibility for running services in the Liverpool area and especially over the Halton Curve.

  • Liverpool to Crewe via Runcorn is electrified.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains could easily handle the routes without electrification.
  • There is a plentiful local supply of hydrogen.
  • There will be no great difficulty in updating the track and signalling.

Services could be run by existing diesel trains, until the new trains are available.

I also feel that Stadler’s new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail, when fitted with the ability to run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification and batteries could be able to handle Halton Curve routes.

Although, it is obviously very feasble to run hydrogen-powered trains, I have a feeling that the finances might not be as simple. Especially if Stadler make sure that their new Merseyrail trains can extend the Merseyrail network to town along routess without electrification.

Are Alstom stepping up the pressure, as they can see other trains arriving?

 

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alstom To Join Stagecoach’s Southeastern Franchise Bid

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Stagecoach has announced that Alstom is to become part of its bid for the new Southeastern franchise.

The move, which is subject to approval by the Department for Transport (DfT), will make Alstom a 20 per cent shareholder in the new train operating company.

I think the pairing of a train manufacturer with a train operator could be something that we’ll see more often. Remember that two of Abellio’s UK franchises; Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains, have placed substantial orders for Bombardier Aventras.

UK rail franchises are not very similar, with often a mixture of different types of route.

In the case of the Southeastern franchise, there are the following.

  • High speed commuter routes.
  • Intense metro services.
  • Long-distance commuter routes.
  • Branch lines with low frequencies.
  • Extensions over lines without electrification.

Having a train manufacturer involved in the process, must help in formulating a high-class bid.

So how will Alstom’s expertise help in the formulation of the bid?

Highspeed Commuter Trains

The current fleet of Class 395 trains will need to be expanded, as the new franchise will be offering extra services to Hastings and Eastbourne, with the possible addition of a second London terminal.

The easy route would be to go to Hitachi and order some extra Class 395 trains. But these would have to be built with some method of using the Marshlink Line, which is not electrified. In Hitachi’s Thoughts On Battery Trains, I discussed Hitachi’s published thoughts on using battery trains on this line.

I don’t doubt that Hitachi could provide the trains.

Alstom have a lot of expertise in high speed trains and would have no problem producing a train with the following performance.

  • 140 mph on high speed lines.
  • 100 mph on third rail DC lines.

Could they have done the calculations and found that their hydrogen power technology could drive a train from Ashford to Ore at the 60 mph operating speed of the Marshlink Line?

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.

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

If I assume that the extra trains will be five cars and will be efficient enough to need only 3 kWh per vehicle mile for the 25 miles without electrification of the Marshlink Line, this gives an energy requirement of 375 kWh.

  • Electrification between London and Ashford would charge the batteries at the Ashford end.
  • Electrification between Hastings and Eastbourne would charge the batteries at the Hastings end.
  • Hydrogen-power would continuously top up the batteries en-route between Ore and Ashford.
  • Electrification at Ashford and Hastings would probably be able to do a lot of the acceleration to the 60 mph operating speed.
  • Rye station could be electrified to make the stop easier.

Only Alstom know what size of battery and hydrogen power-pack would be needed.

If they could produce a high speed train, that could extend its range by the use of hydrogen power, it would be a very public demonstration of the capabilities of the technology.

Commuter Fleet Replacement

A lot of the current fleet is coming to the end of its life and I would expect the new franchise will replace the trains. A proportion of the trains also have an operating speed of 75 mph and are lacking in some of the features passengers like.

So perhaps, Alstom would be looking forward to building trains for the new franchise.

They’ve even got a suitable design in Siemens Class 707 train, that was built for South West Trains, which was run by Stagecoach.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Alstom have two trains; one in reality and one on the drawing board, that could enable Stagecoach to put forward a creditable bid for the Southeastern franchise.

But these trains will not be one-off specials for the Southeastern franchise.

The high speed train with a range extended by hydrogen would be a unique bi-mode train for 125 mph routes like the East Coast Main Line, Great Western Main Line, Midland Main Line and West Coast Main Line.

Think.

  • London Euston to Chester
  • London Euston to Barrow-in-Furness
  • London Kings Cross to Hull
  • London Kings Cross to Sunderland
  • London Paddington to Oxford

And that’s just the UK!

London St. Pancras to Hastings and Eastbourne would be the ideal route for a demonstrator. Especially, for the French!

The commuter unit may not be as unique, but the Siemens design is proven and it would be a competitor to Bombardier’s Aventra.

 

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Alstom Wins The Europe 1 Mobility Trophy For Its Hydrogen Train

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

This is the first paragraph.

Alstom has been awarded the Mobility Trophy for Coradia iLint, its hydrogen train, in the context of the French leading radio Europe 1 Trophies of the Future.

Winning an award can be a mixed blessing.

For some it is a precursor to outstanding success.

But for others, the reverse is true!

I’ve never ridden on or even seen a Coradia iLint, but the theory behind the train is sound.

As soon as these trains are taking passengers in Germany, I’ll go and have a ride.

 

 

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment