The Anonymous Widower

Riding Sunbeams Deploys Solar Array

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

These are the introductory paragraphs.

Riding Sunbeams Ltd has installed a 30 kWp solar test unit with around 100 panels near Aldershot which is directly supplying electricity to power signalling and lighting on Network Rail’s Wessex Route.

This will enable data to be gathered to assess how much larger solar arrays could be used to power trains.

Note that kWp is peak kW. On a very sunny day, 30 kW is the highest power level that will be supplied.

This page on the Energy Saving Trust is entitled Costs and Saving and this is said.about solar generation in the South of England.

A 4kWp system in the south of England can generate around 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – that’s the same amount of electricity as it takes to turn the London Eye 56 times. It will save around 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

For comparison, they say this about solar generation in Scotland.

A 4kWp system in Scotland can generate about 3,400 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – that’s the same amount of electricity as it takes to turn the Falkirk Wheel 2,200 times. It will save approximately 1.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

I’d be interested to know, the two locations, where they measured the sunlight.

It was a lovely sunny day recently, when I passed through Aldershot station, so I’ll use the Southern England figures.

  • Uprating the Energy Saving Trust figures by 30/4 gives a yearly output of 31,500 kWh,
  • The daily output is 86.3 kWh.
  • The hourly output based on a 0600-2200 sixteen hour day is 5.4 kWh

There would probably be a battery to make the most of the electricity generated.

Powering Feeder Stations For Third-Rail Electrification

As the Railway Gazette article says, the trial installation at Aldershot station will be used to power signalling and the station, which will then give figures to assess how trains can be powered.

In the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article entitled Wires Through The Weald, which discusses electrification of the Uckfield Branch in Sussex, as proposed by Chris Gibb. This is an extract.

He (Chris Gibb) says the largest single item cost is connection to the National Grid, and a third-rail system would require feeder stations every two or three miles, whereas overhead wires may require only a single feeder station for the entire Uckfield Branch.

It would appear that 750 VDC rail-based direct current electrification needs many more feeder stations, than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Could a solar system from Riding Sunbeams supply power in the following situations?

  • Places where there was space for a solar array.
  • Remote locations, where a connection to the grid is difficult.
  • Places, where the power supply needed a bit of a boost.

How large would an individual solar feeder station need to be?

Consider a feeder station on a rail line with these characteristics.

  • Third-rail electrification
  • Four-car trains
  • Each train uses three kWh per vehicle mile.
  • Two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Electrification sections are three miles long.
  • Trains run from six in the morning to ten at night.
  • Trains pass at speeds of up to 100 mph.

The hourly electricity need for each section would be 144 kWh or 2304 kWh per day and 841 MWh for the whole year.

The Energy Saving Trust says this.

A 4kWp system in the south of England can generate around 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Using these figures says that a solar array of 800 MWp will be needed to provide the power for one feeder station.

Consider.

  • The largest solar array in the UK is Shotwick Solar Farm, which has a capacity of 72 MWp.
  • Shotwick covers 730 acres.

Am I right to question if that enough electricity to create a feeder station to power trains, can be produced reliably from a solar array and a battery?

I’d love to have the electricity usage and bill for one of Network Rail’s typical third-rail feeder stations. Not that I’d want to pay it!

How Would Station Stops Be Handled?

When a modern electrical multiple unit stops in a station, there is a three-stage process.

  • The train decelerates, hopefully using regenerative braking, where the braking energy is returned through the electrification to hopefully power nearby trains.
  • The train waits in the station for a minute or so, using power for air-conditioning and other hotel functions.
  • The train accelerates away using track power.

Would a Riding Sunbeams system provide enough capacity to accelerate the train away?

In What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Class 710 Train?, I calculated the kinetic energy of a very full Class 710 train, which is just about as modern and probably efficient, as you can get.

These were my results.

  • 50 mph – 15.3 kWh
  • 60 mph – 22.1 kWh
  • 90 mph – 49.4 kWh – Operating speed of a Crossrail Class 345 train.
  • 100 mph – 61.3 kWh – Operating speed of many electric multiple units.

These kinetic energy values are low enough to make it possible that a modern electric multiple unit can run using on-board batteries.

  • Regenerative braking would be captured in the batteries.
  • Hotel power in the station can be provided by batteries.
  • Batteries can cruise the train through sections of line without electrification or with a poor electrical supply.

Suppose there is a twenty mile gap between two stations; A and B, where trains cruise at 90 mph.

  • The train arrives at station A, with a battery that has been charged on previous parts of the journey from the electrification.
  • Regenerative braking energy will be stored in the battery on braking.
  • Acceleration to 90 mph will need 49.4 kWh of electricity from the battery.
  • Using my 3 kWh per vehicle mile figure, going from A to B, will need 4 cars * 20 miles * 3 = 240 kWh of electricity.

It looks like a battery with a capacity of 300 kWh would handle this situation

Could this be fitted into a four-car train, like an Aventra?

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over eight years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

If 424 kWh can be fitted under the floor of a two-car Class 230 train, I’m sure in a train designed for energy storage at least 500 kWh or maybe as high as 1000 kWh could be fitted to a four-car Aventra.

A 500 kWh battery would give a battery range of just under forty miles, whilst a 1000 kWh battery would give a ninety-five mile range.

Obviously, the battery would need to be charged, but in many cases the range would take the train between two existing electrified lines. Think Ipswich -Cambridge, Newcastle-Carlisle, the Fife Circle Line, the Uckfield Branch and Ashford-Hastings!

Conclusion

Riding Sunbeams may be suitable for providing local power for signalling and stations, but batteries on trains looks like it could be a better way of powering trains.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is There Nothing A Class 319 Train Can’t Do?

If a train every goes into orbit round the world, it will be highly-likely that it will be a Class 319 train!

Electric Trains In North-West England

The fleet of eighty-six trains entered service in 1987 on Thameslink  and now twenty-seven are plying their trade on the electrified routes around the North-West of England.

  • You don’t hear many complaints about them being called London’s cast-offs.
  • Passengers fill them up in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston.
  • They still do 100 mph where possible.
  • They seem to be reliable.
  • They are not the most attractive of trains.

But handsome is as handsome does!

Drivers have told me, that although the suspension may be a bit soft for the bumpy route across Chat Moss, the trains do have superb brakes.

Bi-Mode Class 769 Trains

Nearly thirty of the trains are being converted into bi-mode Class 769 trains for working partially-electrifired routes and although these are running late, they should be in service this year.

Rail Operations Group

Two Class 769 trains have been ordered to be fast logistics trains by Rail Operations Group.

Wikipedia says the trains will be used to transport mail.

But if you read the history of the Rail Operations Group, they make the assets sweat and I’ve read the trains will still have seats, so they might do some other rail operations.

The Hydrogen-Powered Class 799 Train 

And now comes the Class 799 train!

This is a demonstrator to prove the concept of conversion to hydrogen power.

The fact that the train now has it’s own number must be of some significance.

Alstom are converting Class 321 trains into Class 321 Breeze trains.

  • The conversion will reduce passenger capacity, due to the large hydrogen tank
  • It will have a 1,000 km range.
  • It will have regenerative breaking.
  • It will have a new AC traction package
  • It will probably have the interior of a Class 321 Renatus train.

The conversion will obviously build on Alstom’s experience with the Alstom Coradia iLint train and Eversholt’s experience with the Renatus.

When it comes to the Class 799 train, the following will apply.

  • Porterbrook have all the experience of creating the bi-mode and dual-voltage Class 769 train.
  • Birmingham University’s Birmingham Centre For Railway Research And Education (BCRRE) are providing the expertise to design and convert the Class 319 train to hydrogen power.
  • I also wouldn’t be surprised to find out, that the BCRRE has applied some very extensive mathematical modelling to find out the performance of a hydrogen-powered Class 319 train.
  • The conversion could be based closely on Class 769 experience and sub-systems,

Could the main purpose be to demonstrate the technology and ascertain the views of train operators and passengers on hydrogen power?

The most important question, is whether the Class 799 train, will have the same passenger capacity as the original Class 319 train?

If it does, then BCRRE must have found a way to store the hydrogen in the roof or under the floor.

It should be noted, that it was only in September 2018, that the contract to develop the Class 799 train was signed and yet less than a year later BCRRE and Porterbrook will be demonstrating the train at a trade show.

This short development time, must mean that there is not enough time to modify the structure of the train to fit a large hydrphen tank inside, as Alstom are proposing.

A smaller hydrogen tank could be placed in one of three places.

  • Underneath the train.
  • On the roof.
  • Inside the train, if it is small enough to fit through the train’s doors.

Note.

  1. I doubt that anybody would put the tank inside the train for perceived safety reasons from passengers.
  2. On the roof, would require substantial structural modifications. Is there enough time?

So how do you reduce the size of the hydrogen tank and still store enough hydrogen in it to give the train a useful range?

In Better Storage Might Give Hydrogen The Edge As Renewable Car Fuel, I indicated technology from Lancaster University, that could store four times as much hydrogen in a given size of tank.

This reduced tank size would make the following possible.

  • The hydrogen tank, the fuel cell and the batteries could be located underneath the four-cars of the Class 319 train.
  • The seating capacity of the Class 799 train could be the same as that of a Class 319 train.

Clever electronics would link everything together.

If BCRRE succeed in their development and produce a working hydrogen-powered Class 799 train, how would the technology be used?

Personally, I don’t think we’ll see too many hydrogen-powered Class 799 trains, running passengers on the UK network.

  • The trains are based on a thirty-year-old train.
  • The interiors are rather utilitarian and would need a lot of improvement, to satisfy what passengers expect.
  • Their market can probably be filled in the short-term by more Class 769 trains.

But I do believe that the technology could be applied to more modern trains.

A Hydrogen-Powered Electrostar

Porterbrook own at least twenty four-car Electrostar trains, which have been built in recent years.

Six Class 387 trains, currently used by c2c, may come off lease in the next few years.

Could these trains be converted into a train with the following specification?

  • Modern train interior, with lots of tables and everything passengers want.
  • No reduction in passenger capacity.
  • 110 mph operating speed using electrification.
  • Useful speed and range on hydrogen power.
  • ERTMS capability, which Porterbrook are fitting to the Class 387 trains to be used by Heathrow Express.

It should be born in mind, that a closely-related Class 379 train proved the concept of a UK battery train.

  • The train was converted by Bombardier.
  • It ran successfully for three months between Manningtree and Harwich.
  • The interior of the train was untouched.

But what was impressive was that the train was converted to battery operation and back to normal operation in a very short time.

This leads me to think, that adding new power sources to an Electrostar, is not a complicated rebuild of the train’s electrical system.

If the smaller hydrogen tank, fuel cell and batteries can be fitted under a Class 319 train, I suspect that fitting them under an Electrostar will be no more difficult.

I believe that once the technology is proven with the Class 799 train, then there is no reason, why later Electrostars couldn’t be converted to hydrogen power.

  • Class 387 trains from c2c, Great Northern and Great Western Railway.
  • Class 379 trains, that will be released from Greater Anglia by new Class 745 trains.
  • Class 377 trains from Southeastern could be released by the new franchise holder.

In addition, some Class 378 trains on the London Overground could be converted for service on the proposed West London Orbital Railway.

A Hydrogen-Powered Aventra

If the Electrostar can be converted, I don’t see why an Aventra couldn’t be fitted with a similar system.

Conclusion

A smaller hydrogen tank, holding hydrogen at a high-density would enable trains to be converted without major structural modifications or reducing the passenger capacity.

The development of a more efficient method of hydrogen storage, would open up the possibilities for the conversion of trains to electric-hydrogen hybrid trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chester To Liverpool Via Runcorn

This new service between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations via Runcorn station and the Halton Curve, started a couple of weeks ago.

I took these pictures of the journey.

Note.

  1. The service was busy, as everybody seemed to be going to Liverpool to prepare for the evening’s match.
  2. The Class 150 train kept up a good speed, which indicates that Network Rail didn’t cut quality on the link.
  3. Runcorn is about the halfway point of the journey.
  4. The route is electrified between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  5. The Class 150 train was a bit tired.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a hybrid train working this route.

Operation would be as follows.

  • All these trains work be capable of 100 mph using 25 KVAC overhead electrification between Liverpool Lime Street and Runcorn stations.
  • Power changeover would be at Runcorn station.
  • Between Runcorn to Chester stations is only about fourteen miles.. This will be well within battery range in a few years.

Transport for Wales will be obtaining trains from a crowded market.

More Halton Curve Services

Under Planned Improvements in the Wikipedia entry for Transport for Wales, this is said.

Introduction of a new hourly Liverpool to Llandudno and Shrewsbury service, and a new two-hourly Liverpool to Cardiff Central service from December 2022.

Adding these to the current hourly service, this would mean that two trains per hour (tph) would normally run between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations, with three trains in every alternate hour.

I think that, there would be a marketing advantage in running hybrid trains on these routes. Hydrogen would be ideal, as these would not need recharging like battery trains after a long trip.

To go through the single-track Halton Curve appears to take trains about five minutes, so up to eight tph could probably be feasible, which would mean four tph between Liverpool and Chester via Runcorn in both directions.

If Trains for Wales are going to compete with the Merseyrail electric services, they need a four tph frequency in both directions.

Flexible Ticketing

Currently, if you want to buy a ticket between the Chester and Liverpool Lime Street, you have to buy an appropriate ticket for your chosen route.

Surely, tourists and others might like to do the out and back journeys by a different route.

If London Underground and some train companies can share ticketing, then surely Merseyrail and other train companies can do the same.

Conclusion

This new service will be surprisingly well-used and needs an iconic hybrid train.

  • Diesel is not appropriate for the long term, although in Northern Connect Between Chester And Leeds To Start In May, I did report a rumour that Class 769 trains might be running between Chester and Leeds.
  • Hydrogen is non-polluting and has a longer range, that could make services between Liverpool and Holyhead possible.
  • Battery will probably need a charging infrastructure.

My money is on hydrogen power.

 

 

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Is The Kinetic Energy Of A Class 710 Train?

I finally got a good look at a Class 710 train at Gospel Oak station this morning.

The picture shows the plate on the end of a DMS car.

  • The weight of the train is 157.8 tonnes. Note that the four-car Class 378 trains weigh 172.1 tonnes.
  • 700 passengers at 90 Kg each with baggage, bikes and buggies would be 63 tonnes.
  • That would be a total weight of 220.8 tonnes.
  • The operating speed is shown as 75 mph., which is the same as the Class 315 train, that many Class 710 trains will replace.

Using the Omni Kinetic Energy Calculator gives a kinetic energy of 34.5 kWh.

For completeness these are the figures for different speeds.

  • 50 mph – 15.3 kWh
  • 60 mph – 22.1 kWh
  • 90 mph – 49.4 kWh – Operating speed of a Crossrail Class 345 train.
  • 100 mph – 61.3 kWh – Operating speed of many electric multiple units.

Note that the amount of energy is proportional to the square of the speed.

What Do The  Kinetic Energy Figures Show?

These are a few of my thoughts.

What Is Regenerative Braking?

A full Class 710 is travelling along at 75 mph, ihas 34.5 kWh of kinetic energy. Whenit needs to stop at a station, this energy has to be dissipated.

With normal friction brakes, the energy will be converted into heat and wasted.

But with regenerative braking, the traction motors are used in reverse to generate electricity.

This electricity is generally handled in one of three ways.

  • It is passed through resistors on the roof of the train and turned into heat and wasted.
  • It is fed back into the electrification and used by nearby trains. This needs special transformers feeding the electrification.
  • It is stored in a battery or other energy storage device on the train.

The last method is the most efficient, as the stored energy can be used to help restart the train and regain line speed.

Can The Lea Valley Lines Electrification Handle Regenerative Braking?

This question must be asked, as if the lines can’t then running trains with batteries could be the best way to handle regenerative braking and improve efficiency and reduce the electricity bill.

It should be noted, that the Chingford and Enfield Town routes are not shared with any other trains, so running Class 710 trains on these routes may have advatages in the maintenance of the electrification, if the trains handle the regenerative braking.

On the Cheshunt route, there are also some Greater Anglia services, but these will generally be run by Class 720 trains, which are also Aventras.

On the other hand, the electrification on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line has probably been installed to handle the reverse currents.

Do Class 710 Trains Have Regenerative Braking?

Search the Internet for “Class 710 train regenerative braking” and you find little in addition to my ramblings.

But other Aventras, like Crossrail’s Class 345 trains have been stated to have regenerative braking.

I also repeated my views in an article in Rail Magazine, which I described in I’ve Been Published In Rail Magazine.

No-one has told me that they disagree with my views and I was talking rubbish!

So I will assume that Class 710 trains do have regenerative braking!

The Aventra’s Electrical Systems

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

This was published eight years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

But even in 2011, Bombardier were thinking about energy storage on the train.

How Much Storage Would A Class 710 Train Need?

As I said earlier, I train would need sufficient energy storage to store the kinetic energy of a train.

As my calculations show that a full train travelling at the maximum speed of 75 mph, then the energy storage for this version of a Class 710 train must be able to store at least 34.5 kWh, at all times.

The size of the on board energy storage could be around 40-50 kWh, which is readily available in a lithium ion battery, that has been designed for transport use.

Where Would The Energy Storage Be Placed?

The extract above says that two cars hold the electrical systems.

These pictures show the pantograph car and driver car next to it.

 

Note that underneath the pantograph car is a transformer.

So are these, the pair of cars, the extract describes? They certainly could be!

This is a selection of pictures of the underneath of the driver car.

 

Note.

  1. There are two large boxes with latches under both driver cars.
  2. Next to these boxes is a smaller box. At the pantograph end of the train, it is open and looks like a cooling system for the two boxes
  3. At the other end of the train, the smaller box appears to have a blanking plate, so perhaps the boxes are empty.

The only sensible use I can think of for the boxesis to store the batteries or capacitors.

I

I would estimate that each of the four large boxes.

  • Is about a metre wide.
  • Is about 0.3 metres high.
  • Is sized to fit within the 2.7 metre width of the train. Perhaps 2.5 metres.

These give a column of 0.75 cubic metres.

Bombardier used to manufacture a Primove 50 kWh battery, which was built to power trams and trains, that had the following characteristics.

  • A weight of under a tonne.
  • Dimensions of under two x one x half metres.

Were these boxes under the floor of the driver cabs of the Class 710 train designed to hold a Primove 50 kWh or similar battery?

Four batteries could give the train as much as 200 kWh of energy storage.

But surely for trundling along the Gospel Oak to Barking Line. a smaller battery capacity would be sufficient. I suspect that you fill the boxes with how many batteries you need and the computer does the rest.

Perhaps, just one 50 kWh battery would be enough! This could explain, why the cooling system appears to be blanked off at one end of the train.

Could The Batteries Be Used To Power The Class 710 Train?

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 a 50 kWh bsttery would give the following ranges with these consumption rates for a four-car Class 710 trains.

  • 3 kWh – 4.2 miles
  • 4 kWh – 3.1 miles
  • 5 kWh – 2.5 miles

It looks to me, that battery power would be possible over the extension to Barking Riverside station, which is about a mile long.

Battery power would also other uses.

  • Moving the train to a safe place for passenger evacuation, when the overhead electrification fails.
  • Moving the train in a depot or sidings, without overhead power.
  • Running innovative on-board services for maintenance and train preparation, when the train is parked overnight.

Reliable battery power has a lot of uses on a train.

West London Orbital Railway

The West London Orbital Railway would have less than ten miles of lines without electrification, with several electrified miles on either side.

I believe that Class 710 trains with the right amount of batteries could bridge the gap and make a massive difference to rail transport in North and West London.

I think that jumping a gap of a few miles on battery power, may well be easier than doing an Out-and-Back service..

A Flexible System

As it appears, each Class 710 train has got four battery boxes, I suspect that batteries can be installed as to the needs of the route.

  • Standard operation on Gospel Oak to Barking, Watford DC Lines and Lea Valley Lines could be one or two batteries to handle regenerative braking.
  • Out-and-Back to Barking Riverside station ,might need two batteries.
  • West London Orbital services might need three or four batteries.

These battery boxes also could be designed to allow an easy and quick change of battery, as batteries on buses have given Transport for London trouble in the past.

Conclusion

Bombardier’s design of the Aventra has been designed with battery operation in mind, which opens up lots of possibilities!

May 25, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 5 Comments

Why Do Some Train Operators Still Buy Half-Trains?

This picture shows the unloved-by-SWR Class 707 trains.

South Western Railway‘s predecessor; South West Trains bought thirty of these trains and SWR is replacing them with Class 701 trains.

Sixty of these new trains will be ten-cars in length and thirty will be five-car.

Why?

Consider.

  • Most Class 707 trains, always seem to run as ten-car units, formed of two trains.
  • There are four cabs, rather than two.
  • A ten-car Class 701 train has twenty more seats than two five-car trains.
  • Including standing passengers, a ten-car Class 701 train has eight percent more capacity, than two five-car units.
  • Staff have to get out of the train and back in, to go between the front and back of the train.
  • I’ve even seen trains delayed because the conductor was helping a disabled passenger in the other train.

Running two half-trains as a full-size train must surely be more stressful for the staff and more uneconomic for train operators.

The only place for five-car trains, is surely on routes with short platforms.

The Cut-And-Paste Aventra

It should also be noted that Bombardier’s new Aventras and other recently-designed trains, can be cut and pasted to adjust the trains that an operator needs.

At the present time, services on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, which can only accept four-car trains are being run by four-car Class 378 trains, which have been shortened from their normal five-car length by removing a car.

So for instance if on a route, South Western Railway needed to run eight-car trains due to a temporary length restriction, they could shuffle a ten-car and a five-car train to get an eight-car and a seven-car,

In a list of Aventra variants, the following are detailed.

Tfl Rail

Class 345 trains will be nine-car, but currently they are running as seven-cars.

London Overground

Class 710 trains will be used in three ways.

It has puzzled me, why the Lea Valley sets are not to be built as eight-car trains and I discuss this in Latest On The New London Overground Class 710 Trains.

Greater Anglia

Class 720 trains will be `22 ten-car and 89 five-car trains.

I think that Greater Anglia have some routes, that cannot accept ten-car trains.

As I showed for Hertford East station in Could London Overground Extend To Hertford East Station?

So will we be seeing some creative shuffling to get a tailored fleet, with perhaps some eight-car trains for routes like those to Hertford East?

I think that six ten-car trains and four five-car trains can be converted into ten eight-car trains.

South Western Railway

Class 701 trains will be 60 ten-car trains and 30 five-car trains.

Do South Western Railway need a sub-fleet of eight-car trains?

They can easily create one, by shuffling the trains.

West Midlands Trains

Class 730 trains will be 36 three-car trains and 45 five-car trains.

These are like-for-like replacements of the current fleet.

c2c

Class 711 trains will be six ten-car trains.

They will be replacing Class 387 trains on a short-term lease.

Conclusion

It appears to me, that for the train operator to have maximum flexibility, that you need to start with a long train and a short train and be able to shuffle cars around to get the train fleet you need.

Certainly a fleet of both ten-car and five-car Aventras gives you the possibility of creating a sub-fleet of eight-car trains.

Interestingly, the Hitachi Class 800 trains appear to have a similar ability.

 

 

 

May 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

737 MAX, Airbus And Aventra

I think that there are parallels between these plains and trains.

The 737 MAX is a conventional fifty-year-old design of aircraft, that has been updated with modern technology through the years.

When Airbus designed their fly-by-wire systems about thirty years ago, they were duplicated with two independent systems, programmed by separate teams. I think that the plane could fly on one system, if the other failed. Ittook time to develop, but no-one questions its reliability today.

The design and some of the things it gets up to, like moving fuel around to balance the aircraft help to increase the efficiency of the aircraft.

Efficiency and low pilot workloads help to sell aircraft.

Boeing is now trying desperately to catch up, but doing this in an ageing design appears to be difficult.

One thing I wonder is that is misloading of cargo a problem in the two 737 MAX crashes.

Supposing there was an imbalance of cargo on an Airbus! Would the plane’s computer realise this and move fuel to conpensate? Boeing must rely on a conventional approach using the flying controls.

Boeing are obviously worried as they have installed a special anti-stall conputer system called MCAS.

So what has this got to do with Bombardier’s Aventra train, that is suffering from software problems causing delays.

The Aventra is a radical design, that rewrites the rules, just like Airbus did. It relies heavily on a sophisticated computer system to control everything and bring a higher level of efficiency.

It will take time to get right, but just as Airbus did all those years ago, I believe they will.

The Aventra will change train design by as much as Airbus have changed airliner design.

March 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Latest On The Class 710 Trains For The Gospel Oak To Barking Line

This message has been tweeted by Richard Clinnick; the Assistant Editor of Rail Magazine.

Confirmed by TfL that London Overground 710s won’t be ready when last 172s go to WMT. A half-hourly service on Goblin starts on March 18. Driver training on the Bombardier Aventras is underway, but no date confirmed for introduction.

At least driver training is underway, which probably means the trains are at least working with a Bombardier technician on board.

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

The GOBlin Users Think Things Are Looking Up

This was one of their tweets tonight.

Two Class 710s out on the WCML tonight and they’ve allowed onto the fast lines as well with no shadowing ROG diesel! Things are looking up!

So are they right?

TfL and Bombardier are being increasingly brave with where they are taking the trains.

Pictures have been taken of Class 710 trains in these places.

  • During the day at Gospel Oak, Walthamstow Queens Road and Upney.
  • At night on the West Coast Main Line

As a software man of at least forty years experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that the important train control software is now working as it should in most situations.

  • And in those situations where it doesn’t work, Bombardier have probably got a work-round. Even if it is stop and reboot! We’re all familiar with that on our desk- or lap-tops.
  • It would mean a trained technician on each train, but as there are twenty trains al;ready built, testing and driver training can continue on as many trains, as can be accommodated on the various test tracks and routes.

As I have said many times, there has been a major failure on the part of all European train manufacturers and governments, to make sure there is enough testing facilities for all the trains ordered from European manufacturers in the last few years for both Europe and export.

Software needs a lot of testing and with desktop software, you need to have tens of testers, each with their own installation.

Why should trains, which these days are just computers on wheels be any different?

I suspect that the cabs and control systems in the various classes of Aventra, with the exception of the Class 345 train, are identical.

  • Bombardier have said the the 345s have an older computer architecture based on the Electrostar.
  • Having the same software on every Aventra must make testing and acceptance into service so much easier.
  • The software would be configured for the each train size and application.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if Bombardier retrofitted the 345s with the computer system of all other Aventras.

Identical computer systems across all Aventras would have benefits for Bombardier.

  • A mixed fleet of Aventras of different sizes and performance could be driven by all drivers, with the appropriate route knowledge.
  • New versions of the software could be distributed automatically over the Internet.
  • It would be easier to add new hardware and software features to the trains.

Aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have been using similar philosophies for years.

If I’m right about this, I would expect to see the following after the 710s are working reliably on the GOBlin and the Watford DC Line.

  • A rapid introduction of the 710s on the Lea Valley Lines limited only by train testing and mileage accumulation, and driver training.
  • The next fleet of Aventras start to be tested for another operator.

Bombardier are gearing up for high production rates of Aventras, so there will not necessarily be serial production of fleets.

  • London Overground might take the initial twenty and run them for a year to ascertain any small design changes they need, which will be incorporated into the rest of the trains.
  • Greater Anglia may get some of their fleet, so they can train drivers and see what changes are needed on their platforms etc.

I actually think, that train companies would like to call off trains from Bombardier at a rate that they can bring into service. As Bombardier are producing a large number of very similar trains, they can then build them in the order that suits their customers and Bombardier’s cash flow.

But to do this successfully, you need orders for a large number of similar trains!

 

 

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bombardier Aventra And Brexit

You might think what is the connection between a radical design of train and the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

Great Leap Forward Projects

Both are projects that their promoters would say will create a Great-Leap-Forward for Bombardier and the UK respectively.

The Devil Is In The Detail

Both are in trouble.

  • Bombardier’s engineers and software developers can’t get software for the Aventra and particularly the Class 710 train for the London Overground, working in the way the train and its operator need.
  • UK and EU politicians, aided by some of the most able and expensive lawyers and consultants, can’t stitch together a workable Brexit agreement that is acceptable to all.

Does this mean that both projects are doomed?

Were The Original Plans Creditable?

I’ll take the Aventra first.

Bombardier had missed out on the Thameslink contract and needed to win the Crossrail contract to survive.

So virtually starting with a clean sheet of paper and knowing very well what technology was the best and could be used to advantage, set about designing a train that could adapt for every possible use.

Bombardier also spoke to all those, who would be using or dealing with the trains in some way, to ascertain what they needed.

The result was that Bombardier won the Crossrail order and have since sold fleets of Aventras to London Overground, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway, West Midlands Trains and c2c.

It should also be said that they probably sold some of these fleets before a large number of Aventras were actually running.

So at least Bombardier’s plans appeared sufficiently detailed and creditable to six train operating companies.

Brexit was sold to the British public, in much the same way that evangelists sell you the latest religion, political philosophy, magic cancer cure or con. Is there any difference between the four?

Was any thought given to the serious problem like the Irish border? If anything was, I don’t remember hearing or reading it!

The major policies I remember was that all the money we give to Europe will go to the NHS and that immigration will be cut to almost zero.

Everything that said you should vote Remain was dismissed as Project Fear!

But the philosophy was enough to win the referendum.

What Were The Risks?

The Leavers would have lost, if they had got the estimates of any of these wrong.

  • The power and delivery of their philosophy.
  • The dislike of immigrants.
  • iThe hatred of all things European, except holidays in the sun.
  • The weakness of the Remainers message.

It was an easy sell and a majority of the British public bought it.

Forty years ago, when we created Artemis, we followed a route similar to Bombardier with the Aventra, but on a much smaller scale.

  • We did an extensive survey of users of Project Management Systems.
  • We laid out our objectives, which I have somewhere on a single A4 sheet of paper.
  • We researched and defined what hardware we would need.
  • I was then able to program the first system.

And guess what! The software was late, by several months.

But at least, when I got it right, systems were able to be delivered. And the orders started to flow!

Based on my experience, the software that runs the Bombardier Aventra will be the biggest risk in the design of the train.

If I’d put this risk to the engineer in charge of Aventra development, I would have been very surprised, if they didn’t agree.

Getting Back On Track

Bombardier will probably do what I did forty years ago.

Keep at it, until the software is perfect and the Class 710 trains run as it says in the brochure.

As happened with Artemis, once you have one system going, on the signing off of the software, you can create other systems or in Bombardier’s case; trains.

Bombardier can add the software to the scores of trains they have already built and stored and start testing, certification and delivery of individual trains.

Software, is like a magic elixir, that brings inanimate objects to life.

Will a magic elixir be found to solve the Brexit logjam?

Bombardier have to create software, that does the following.

  • Controls all parts of the train, so they do as promised.
  • Connect all train systems together.
  • The software must also work flawlessly.

It only needs to work in one language.

The philosophy and structure for a Brexit deal are more complicated.

  • There are a lot more issues to be solved.
  • Twenty-eight countries, their governments, parliaments and people must be satisfied.
  • How many languages will be involved?

Anybody, who reckons they could get a deal is probably a fantasist.

Why Was Artemis Developed?

We knew that there was a need for a small Project Management System.

But look at the date we started development; 1976. James Callaghan had just taken over from Harold Wilson as Prime Minister.

  • The country was not doing well.
  • The government didn’t have a large majority.
  • Everything was doom and gloom.
  • Tax rates were as high as eighty percent.
  • There was a housing crisis.
  • Many were worried about their jobs.
  • There was a lot of industrial unrest.

Surely, it wasn’t the time to risk all on a new venture?

But we were not of the herd and we didn’t hold back and went for it. And the rest as they say is history.

It is now 2019 and many of the issues I listed about the mid-1970s still apply.

  • The country is not doing well.
  • The government doesn’t have a large majority.
  • Everything is doom and gloom.
  • There is a housing crisis.
  • Many are worried about their jobs.

But there is one big difference. If you have an idea that is worth developing, raising money to develop it, is a lot easier to find.

To me, Brexit is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many to develop an idea and/or create a business to overcome the myriad number of problems leaving the EU will bring.

  • As leaving the EU without a deal will create more problems, it might be preferable for job creation.
  • Brexit may also create opportunities in Europe for new and innovative businesses.

It will be large industries, that will find times harder.

 

 

 

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Roger Ford On Bombardier’s Aventra Problems

It has been well-publicised that Bombardier are having problems getting their new Class 710 trains working reliably for service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

In the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article written by the well-respected Roger Ford, which is entitled Train Makers Face ‘Year Of Truth’.

Roger makes a succession of important points about Bombardier and Aventras in particular.

Class 345 Trains

Roger says this.

While reliability continues to be poor, software issues have been largely down to signalling interfaces at the western end of Crossrail.

Production appears to have been paused at 57, with perhaps 37 accepted.

Class 345 Trains And Class 710 Trains Use Different Software

Roger says this.

For the Class 345s, Transport for London specified an evolution of the Class 378 ‘last generation’ software. However the units for London Overground and Greater Anglia, and the other Aventra contracts for delivery beyond 2019, are true next generation trains with a new ‘family tree’ of software.

So it would appear that Class 345 and Class 710 software problems could be unrelated!

My experience of putting together large complicated software systems over forty years, leads me to add these two statements.

  • If the base hardware has been thoroughly tested and put together in a professional manner, it will be very rare for the software to not work on one set of hardware and work perfectly on several dozen other sets.
  • You can’t do too much testing; both of the hardware and the software, both on test systems and in real-life scenarios.

I don’t know anything of the computer hardware structure and its connectivity on Aventras, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot has been lifted straight out of the aerospace industry, in which Bombardier has a substantial presence. Borrowing proven techniques and hardware will hopefully reduce the risk.

The major risk will be the software that is totally new and unique to the Aventra.

So to me, it is not surprising that the complicated signalling on Crossrail, has been the major trouble on the Class 345 trains.

In this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, this is a paragraph.

London Overground was due to put new Bombardier Class 710 electric multiple units into traffic on the route from March 2018, with a full rollout by May. However, problems with the Train Control Management System (TCMS) has so far prevented this.

I suspect that the TCMS is totally new and unique and has a level of complexity much higher than what is used in the Class 345 train.

  • It will have the ability to test all the trains sub-systems on a continuous basis.
  • The TCMS  will be an important part of the train testing process, which is why I have listed it first.
  • The TCMS will control 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail power collection.
  • It will control the energy storage, that is reputedly fitted to the train.
  • It will handle regenerative braking using the energy storage.
  • Electricity usage will be optimised.
  • It will control all the displays and systems throughout the train.
  • It will interface to the signalling system.
  • It will communicate train status and faults back to the depot.

I also suspect that every Aventra will have the same TCMS, which will probably be compatible with the proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

This is not a new concept, as in the 1980s, Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft had identical cockpits, flight control systems and a common rating for pilots.

The Aventra has been described as a computer-on-wheels. Could it also be described as an aircraft-on-rails?

When I was growing up, all new trains, aircraft and vehicles were generally fully described with detailed cutaway drawing in a comic called Eagle.

Bombardier have seemed to be very reluctant to give details about what lies under the skin of an Aventra. Could it be very different to all other trains?

There is one big disadvantage about having a common TCMS, in that, it requires a very high quality of software design, programming and testing and that any lateness in the software delays the whole project.

Class 710 Trains For The Gospel Oak To Barking

Roger says this about the delayed Class 710 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

According to,Bombardier, delivery of the Class 710 fleet is now due to be completed by the end of 2019. Given that the original date was September 2018, this is 15 months late. But with large numbers of Class 710 vehicles in storage, it also seems unduly pessimistic.

Roger does not have a reputation for looking on the bright side of life, so when he says that the schedule is unduly pessimistic, I give that a high chance of being right.

Surely, when the final approved version of the TCMS software is delivered, all of those trains in storage can be woken up, tested by the TCMS software then go through a pre-delivery check with the appropriate level of trouble-free running.

It’s a bit like having a new PC on your desk. You can’t really use it, until the software you need to do your job is installed. But as the software will be designed for your PC and has already been fully tested, it is unlikely to be a traumatic operation.

It appears to me, that the more comprehensive the TCMS software, the quicker it will be to take a train from manufacture to ready for service.

Class 720 Trains For Greater Anglia

Bombardier are already building the Class 720 trains for Greater Anglia.

Are these just being checked and tested before being put into store?

As with the Class 710 trains, will they be woken up using the same final fully tested version of the TCMS software?

I would be very surprised if the software on the two trains used different versions of the software.

When I was writing Artemis, we had two versions; one for single users and another for multiple users.

The software for both was identical and it worked on two different operating systems.

That is one of the advantages you get with well-written software.

Hence my belief that all Aventras have a common TCMS software.

Building Aventras

The article says that Bombardier are gearing up to have six Aventra production lines in Derby, which would mean they can turn out 24 vehicles a week.

That is a high production rate, which would mean that the 222 vehicles for the London Overground could be built in under ten weeks.

Bombardier must be expecting a lot of orders!

 

 

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment