The Anonymous Widower

Discontinuous Electrification For Valley Lines?

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the May 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

The Valley Lines in question are the Cardiff Valley Lines, that fan out from Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street stations in various directions.

  • Some of the lines into the valleys are quite steep.
  • The lines in the Cardiff area seem to be typical coastal lines and fairly flat.
  • The lines are a mixture of single and double track.
  • There are various plans to extend some of the branches.

According to the article, it would appear that the current diesel system would be replaced with a system, with these characteristics.

  • Light rail vehicles
  • Discontinuous electrification
  • Use of stored energy.
  • Street running is expected to be in the specification for the vehicles to be used, to allow extension in the Cardiff Bay area and perhaps other places.

The proposal would save costs against full electrification and heavy rail.

My observations follow.

Batteries

Batteries will be an integral part of the design of the new rail vehicles.

Powering The Trains

The article states that battery power will be used to power the trains on sections that are difficult to electrify, like the mile-long Caerphilly Tunnel.

Battery power could also be used on level and downhill sections of track up to a few miles, but I suspect on steep uphill sections, electrification will be needed.

Handling Regenerative Braking

I believe that regenerative braking will be employed on the rail vehicles and the energy generated will be stored in the batteries.

 

The main advantage of this is that it simplifies the power supply to the electrification, as it only has to handle power going to the train.

This less complex electrical system, saves construction costs.

Recovering The Train’s Potential Entry

A train travelling from Cardiff to one of the terminal stations at the heads of the valleys, will need to acquire an amount of potential energy, based on the train’s mass and the height involved. This will be provided by the train’s traction system powered by the electrification and the energy in the batteries.

Coming down the hill, the regenerative braking will control the speed of the train and store any energy generated in the batteries.

This will save on the cost of energy to operate the system.

Charging The Batteries

The batteries will be charged from both the overhead electrification and the regenerative braking.

Extensive simulations of the route on computers would be able to calculate the following, for a wide range of scenarios.

  • The size of the batteries.
  • The power of the traction motors.
  • Where the electrification needs to be installed.
  • The maximum power output of the electrification system.

These calculations could also lead to an energy-saving operating philosophy, that could be programmed into the train’s computer system.

I suspect the worst case scenario, would be a train full of the heaviest Welshmen after an important rugby match at the Millennium Stadium.

 

Electrification

My thoughts on how various sections of track would be electrified follow.

Tracks With A Significant Uphill Gradient

These would need to be electrified, as I doubt battery power on the steepest gradients, would be enough to take a fully-loaded train to the top of the hill.

Electrification would be lighter-weight 750 VDC overhead wires.

The picture shows some of the overhead wires in Birmingham, that are used by the Midland Metro’s Urbos 3 trams.

Tracks With A Downhill Gradient

These would not need to be electrified, as Newton’s friend gravity would do most of the work.

However, as batteries will be fitted, these can have three important functions on downhill stretches of track.

  • Give the tram a nudge if needed.
  • Restart the train after a stop at a station.
  • Store any energy created by regenerative braking.

Note that we could have the unusual situation on a double-track section of line, where the uphill track was electrified and the downhill track was left without electrification.

Tracks With 25 KVAC Electrification

Some of the tracks used by the trains on the Cardiff Valley Lines should be electrified with 25 KVAC, by the end of December 2018.

Class 399 tram-trains, that are used in Sheffield can use either 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

it would probably be a good idea, if the new vehicles on the Cardiff Valley  Lines could also use both voltages.

Level Tracks

These would not need to be electrified, as battery power would be used to propel the train.

Selected Stations

Some stations could need to be electrified to ensure that the service was reliable. These might include terminal stations or those with tricky gradients on either side.

The pantographs on the vehicles would be raised and lowered automatically to access the electrification.

Tram-Trains?

I very much feel, that tram-trains could be used to advantage.

  • Some of the Valley Lines are also used by freight trains, so couldn’t be converted to trams-only.
  • Tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train, under test in Sheffield can work on both  750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Tram-trains can use conventional railway signalling.
  • Tram-trains could work on the South Wales Main Line to Newport.
  • Modern tram-trains like the Class 399 tram-train have performance, that is about the same as a Class 142 train, which is a Pacer, that works the Cardiff Valley Lines, in large numbers.
  • Tram-trains could run on the streets.

Several manufacturers make tram-trains, which I believe could be suitablefor the Cardiff Valley Lines.

Stadler’s Class 399 Tram-Trains

Nothing is said about the vehicles, that would be used, but I think they need the following characteristics.

  • Ability to climb the steepest section of the routes using 750 VDC overhead electrification.
  • Ability to store energy.
  • Regenerative braking to charge the batteries coming down the hills into Cardiff.
  • A similar capacity to a Class 150 train, which is around 150 seats.
  • It would be a bonus if they could use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, which will be available on part of some of the routes.
  • Ability to raise and lower the pantograph quickly and automatically.
  • Ability to run on the National Rail network.
  • Ability to run on the street.

This specification is virtually the same as a Class 399 tram-train with the following additions.

  • More seats and possibly an extra car.
  • Batteries.

Class 399 tram-trains are a UK version of the Stadler Citylink tram-train. The German version is used in Karlsruhe to climb into the hills surrounding the city, on routes that are fairly challenging.

So I have no worries about a version of the Class 399 train handling the Cardiff Valley Lines.

I certainly believe after my experience in Karlsruhe, and looking at other Citylink variants, that Stadler can come up with a tram-train for Cardiff based on the Class 399 tram-train.

And Then There’s CAF!

CAF have provided the Urbos 3 trams for Edinburgh Trams and the Midland Metro.

These are modern trams, that will be doing  the following in a few years in the Midlands.

This sounds like a tram-train with stored energy.

Wikipedia also lists a version of the Urbos family, called an Urbos TT, which is described like this.

The Urbos TT series is built with tram-train technology, connecting existing heavy rail infrastructure directly to urban tramway systems.

This document on the CAF web site, gives more details of Urbos variants, including the Urbos TT.

Looking at the modular nature of the design, you could have a custom-built tram-train tailored to the rail network.

But surely, the major factor with CAF, is that they have recently opened a factory at Newport.

If CAF get the order for the Cardiff Valley Lines, they could do a substantial part of the train building in a factory connected directly to the lines.

Converting The Valley Lines

I think that there are advantages and cost savings to be had, by good design in this area.

Could The Rail Vehicles Be Designed To Fit The Existing Platforms?

The first thing to do would be to design, build and fully test the rail vehicles.

Could the tram-trains be built, so that they fitted all the existing platforms?

  • Class 150 trains are 2.82 metres wide.
  • Urbos 3 trams on the Midland Metro are 2.65 wide.

If the tram-trains could run without platform modifications, this would be a big cost saving and still allow diesel units to use the lines, at the same time.

Testing The Trains

If the tram-trains were being given a 25 KVAC  capability, they could even be tested on the quadruple-track the South Wales Main Line after the line is electrified through Newport.

Electrifying The Lines

It could be that the only sections of the valley lines that will need electrification, are the steep lines  into the hills, as all other sections could use stored power or the 25 KVAC, where it exists.

  • It would probably be possible to put up the simpler 750 VDC overhead lines during weekend and perhaps longer possessions.
  • The electrification could be designed so that it doesn’t interfere with existing services.
  • The lines would be converted one at a time.
  • ,Note that  tram-trains  could share track and platform with the current diesel trains working the lines.

If CAF were to get the order surely the Ebbw Valley Line, which could be connected easily to the factory would be the first to be converted.

Conclusion

Obviously, the devil will be in the detail, but it does look like a viable plan will emerge.

I think that if CAF get the order, that they could be big winners.

The Cardiff Valley Lines could demonstrate the following.

  • Running on main lines with 25 KVAC electrification.
  • Running on 750 VDC electrification.
  • Running on batteries.
  • Running on lines with steep hills.
  • Street running.
  • Sharing tracks with freight trains and other passenger services.
  • The tram-trains could also connect to Cardiff Airport.

It is a world-class demonstration and test track for innovative tram-trains, designed to cope with challenging rail networks.

With a factory close by at Newport, the selling of the tram-trains to other operators would be a salesman’s dream.

I think there’s more to CAF coming to Newport, than was apparent, when the deal for the factory was signed.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Could There Be A Bi-Mode Aventra for Commuter Routes?

The London Overground has ordered a fleet of four-car Class 710 trains.

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is being extended to a new Barking Riverside station.

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 probably has a terrain not much different to the lines in London.

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

The proposed Barking Riverside Extension is about a mile, so this could need up to 20 kWh each way.

This could easily be done with a battery, but supposing a small diesel engine was also fitted under the floor.

Would anybody notice the same 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine that is used in a New Routemaster hybrid bus? I doubt it!

It is revealing to calculate the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded Class 710 train. I estimate that it is around forty kWh, if it is travelling at 90 mph.

That speed would rarely be achieved on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

If a Class 710 train, had only one 75 kWh battery from a New Routemaster bus, the charge levels would be as follows, as it went to Barking Riverside and back.

  • Joining the new line to go to Barking Riverside and leaving the electrification – 75 kWh
  • Starting braking for Barking Riverside station – 55 kWh
  • Stopped at Barking Riverside station, after regenerative braking, which generates perhaps 30 kWh.- 75 kWh
  • At line speed after accelerating away from Barking Riverside station – 35 kWh
  • Joining the electrified main line – 15 kWh

Note,.

  1. I have assumed that the train needs 20 kWh for the journey, but this figure will probably be lower, as the Aventra is a very efficient train.
  2. Regenerative braking is not hundred percent efficient, so that explains generating only 30 kWh. But it could be more.

It would appear that the diesel engine would not need to be used.

I come to the conclusion, that there is no need to electrify, the Barking Riverside Extension!

Here are a few other thoughts.

The Size And Number Of Batteries

The total capacity of the battery or batteries must be such, that they can handle, the maximum amount of energy that will be generated in braking.

This has the following benefits.

  • The train may not have any need to be fitted with resistors on the roof or other means to use the generated eectricity.
  • Any electrification will not need to be given the ability to handle return currents from the train.
  • The train will use less energy on a given trip.

As an engineer, I like the concept of putting a battery in all cars with traction motors.

  • Each battery will have shorter cables to where energy is used and created, which will cut losses.
  • More batteries probably improves reliability.
  • Distributing the weight might be a good thing.

I would suspect that only unmotored trailer cars might not have batteries.

Supposing a Class 710 train had three 75 kWh batteries.

This would give a capacity of 225 kWh and the following ranges on battery against energy usage in k|Wh/per mile/per car.

  • 5 kWh – 11 miles
  • 4 kWh – 14 miles
  • 3 kWh – 19 miles
  • 2 kWh – 28 miles
  • 1 kWh – 56 miles

These figures show that an efficient train is key to a longer range.

The ultimate Class 710 train might have the following.

  1. Two 75 kWh batteries per car.
  2. Energy usage of 3 kWh/per mile/per car.

This would give a range of fifty miles.

With a small and almost silent Cummins diesel engine from a New Routemaster, it could go as long as you wanted.

Should A New Routemaster Bus Diesel Generator And Battery Be Used?

Consider.

  • There are a thousand New Routemaster buses on the streets of London, so the reliability of the power train must be known very accurately.
  • The Cummins diesel engine and generator are very quiet and are only noticed on an empty bus, when they start and stop.
  • The engine and generator are under the back stairs.
  • The battery is fitted under the front stairs.

The power train doesn’t appear to be large.

Using these components would certainly be a good place to start and they could probably be easily fitted under the train.

In the rest of this post, imagine a Class 710 train with a single 75 kWh battery and a Cummins diesel and generator,

Would Be The Maximum Speed On Diesel Power Be The Same As On Electricity?

Because the battery and the diesel generator will work together, I believe this will be possible, if there is a well-programmed computer system on the train.

  • Accelerating to line speed of 90 mph will take around forty kWh, as that will be the energy of the train.
  • This will perhaps take thirty seconds in which time, the 138 kW Cummins generator, will produce just over a kWh of electricity, so the battery will provide 39 kWh.
  • The battery will be charged by electrification where it exists and regenerative braking.
  • In addition, the diesel generator could also top up the battery.
  • In the cruise, energy would need to be supplied to overcome aerodynamic losses, to climb gradients and provide train and passenger services.
  • Under braking, the regenerative braking would charge the battery.

You wouldn’t be able to run on a challenging line, but running on a fairly level line, which was perhaps twenty miles long with a dozen stations, would be a possibility.

Range on a real route, would be increased by adding extra batteries.

I suspect, Bombardier have created a sophisticated computer simulation of various train configurations and routes.

In this article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power, a company spokesman is quoted as saying.

The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.

So I’m pretty certain, a bi-mode version of a Class 710 train would have a 90 mph operating speed .

And for some easy routes on the similar-sized battery and diesel generator to that of a New Routemaster bus.

The Get-You-Home Train

Imagine a Class 710 train with a single 75 kWh battery and a Cummins generator.

Suppose power is cut to the electrification for some reason.

A normal electric train would just sit there, but the generator would cut in and using the residual energy in the battery, the train would go slowly to the next station.

With just 75 kWh and an energy usage of 3 kWh/per mile/per car, the train would go six miles.

Fast Station Stops

The keys to a fast stop at a station or a short dwell time are down to the following.

  1. Smooth, fast deceleration under regenerative braking.
  2. Efficient loading and unloading of passengers and their baggage.
  3. Fast acceleration away from the stop to regain operating speed.

Point two has nothing to do with the traction system of the train and it can be improved by good design of doors, lobbies on the train and platforms, and by better staff deployment and training.

Will the traction system be designed in a similar way to that of a New Routemaster bus?

The train’s traction, passenger, driving and other systems will be powered directly from the battery.

The battery will be charged in one of four ways.

  • From 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • From 750 third-rail electrification.
  • From the onboard generator.
  • From regenerative braking.

Note.

  1. A well-programmed computer system would control the whole traction system.
  2. Fast acceleration to operating speed will probably need the onboard generator or the electrification to provide a backup to the battery.
  3. The battery can probably supply more power for a short period, than an onboard generator or the electrification
  4. When the train stops in a station, the computer will ensure that the battery contain as much power as possible, so that a quick acceleration away is possible.
  5. A lot of power will have come from regenerative braking, but at times, the onboard generator  or the electrification would be used to charge the battery.
  6. At each stop, because of the limitations of regenerative braking, a certain proportion of the electrical energy will not be recovered and stored in the battery. The onboard generator or the electrification would make up the difference.

Note that the train works in the same way with an onboard generator or electrification.

The West London Orbital Railway

The proposed West London Orbital Railway will connect Hounslow and Kew Bridge stations in West London to West Hampstead and Hendon stations in North London using the Dudding Hill Line.

  • It is around twelve miles long.
  • It is electrified at the Western End using third-rail electrification.
  • There is overhead electrification in the North.
  • The middle section is not electrified.

Class 710 trains, with a diesel generator and a battery stolen from a New Routemaster bus could be able to handle the routes proposed.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion. that if you fitted the battery and diesel generator of a New Routemaster bus under one of the cars of a Class 710 train, you would have the following.

  • A train capable of 90 mph on diesel and electrification.
  • A useful range without electrification.

The train would need a well-programmed computer system.

The London Overground could use these trains on the Barking Riverside Extension and the West London Orbital Railway.

 

April 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Routes For Bombardier’s 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra

This article in Rail Magazine, is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

These are my thoughts on these franchises.

Bi-Mode And Pure Electric

I’m pretty certain that if you want to create a 125 mph bi-mode train, you start with a 125 mph electric train, if you want a high degree of commonality between the two trains.

Hitachi have a whole family of Class 800 trains, each of which has a different specification for the diesel power. Even the pure-electric Class 801 trains, has one diesel engine for emergencies.

An electric train with batteries could be very efficient, if the batteries were used to handle regenerative braking and boost the trains, where more power is required.

East Midlands

It is no surprise that Bombardier are talking to the groups, that are bidding to become the new franchise holder for the East Nidlands, when it is awarded in April 2019.

They wouldn’t want to see another company’s product roaring past the factory.

The proposed bi-mode Aventra will probably have been designed very much with the Midland Main Line in mind.

  • The Midland Main Line will be electrified from St. Pancras to Kettering and Corby.
  • Will the fast lines be electrified to Glendon Junction, where the Corby Branch joins the Midland Main Line?
  • The route between St. Pancras and Glendon Junction is being upgraded to four tracks, with as much 125 mph running as possible.
  • The non-stop nature of Midland Main Line services South of Kettering could be significant.
  • North of Kettering, there is currently no electrification.
  • The development of Toton station for HS2 is being accelerated and there could be an island of electrification here, by the mid-2020s.
  • If HS2 shares the Midland Main Line corridor between Toton and Sheffield, this section could be electrified by the late-2020s.

Over the next decade, there will be more electrification and a greater proportion of the route, where 125 mph running will be possible.

There has been a bit of controversy, that the number of stops the franchise will make at Bedford and Luton is being reduced after May this year.

The reason given is that it will enable faster services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

North To Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield

Consider a bi-mode train with batteries going North.

  • Between St. Pancras and Kettering, it will be at 125 mph for as long as possible.
  • The train will also ensure that at Kettering, it has the batteries brim full, sfter charging from the electrification.
  • After a stop at Kettering station, if the electrification reached to Glendon Junction, the acceleration would all be electrically-powered.
  • Whether it stopped at Kettering or not, the train would pass Glendon Junction at line speed with full batteries.

It’s almost as if the electrification is being used as a catapult to speed the train North.

South From Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield

Being as electrically efficient coming South would be a lot more difficult.

  • I suspect that train batteries will be charged at Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, so they start their journey South with full batteries.
  • Using a full battery and assistance from the onboard generator, trains would be accelerated away from the terminii.
  • The trains computer would select automatically, whether to use battery or onboard generator power and would harvest all the power from regenerative braking.
  • At each stop on the journey, energy would be lost, as regenerative braking systems do not are only between seventy and ninety percent efficient.
  • Once at Glendon Junction, the train would raise the pantograph and switch to getting power from the overhead wires.

It’s all about a well-programmed computer on the train, which knows the route, the timetable and battery state so it can switch power sources appropriately.

Electrification

On the other hand, electrification around Toton could make everything easier and more efficient.

With electrification, every little helps.

  • Modern trains can raise and lower pantographs, quickly and automatically.
  • Faster journeys.
  • Lower carbon emissions.
  • Less noise and vibration from diesel generators.

Everyone’s a winner.

Oakham To Kettering

The Oakham-Kettering Line to Corby station is being electrified, double-tracked and I suspect speed limits will be raised.

Speed limits are also being raised and track improvements are being done, South of Glendon Junction.

Currently, services take seventy minutes. With the 125 mph Aventras on the route, they will not need to use the onboard generator, but surely the journey time could be reduced to under an hour, which would attract passengers and need less trains to run a two trains per hour (tph) service.

The Oakham Problem

Oakham station is in the middle of the town, as this Google Map shows.

The Department for transport would like to see more services to the town and the next station of Melton Mowbray.

But the line through the station is busy with freight trains and there is a level crossing in the middle of the town.

125 mph bi-mode trains, won’t help with the problem of Oakham.

Joining And Splitting Of Trains

There is also the possibility of joining and splitting trains.

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can do this and I’m sure bi-mode Aventras will be able to do this automatically.

There is only four platforms available for trains on the Midland Main Line at St. Pancras and regularly two trains occupy one platform.

The ability to run a pair of bi-mode trains, that joined and split could be a great asset.

Liverpool To Norwich

This long route is an important one for those, who live near its stations. It is usually served by one or two Class 158 trains, which are often very crowded.

The route is partially electrified.

  • Liverpool to Hunts Cross
  • Manchester Oxford Road to Stockport
  • Grantham to Peterborough
  • Around Ely
  • Around Norwich

So there should be plenty of places to raise the pantograph and charge the batteries.

It is a typical long-distance route for the UK and I’m sure it would benefit from 125 mph bi-mode Aventras.

West Coast Partnership

Bids for the West Coast Partnership, which will run services on the West Coast Main Line and HS2, will be submitted by July 2018. The winning bidder will be announced in May 2019 and take over services two months later.

A modern 125 mph bi-mode would be an ideal replacement for the current twenty Class 221 trains, that work on the West Coast Main Line.

These Class 221 trains are.

  • Diesel powered.
  • Five-cars long.
  • Built in 2001-2002 by Bombardier.
  • 125 mph capable.
  • Some services are run by splitting and joining trains.

But most importantly, most services are run substantially under wires.

New 125 mph bi-mode trains would certainly improve services.

  • Several of the current services operated by Class 221 trains,  would become electric ones.
  • How much faster would they be able to run a service between London Euston and Holyhead?
  • They would also be able to run new services to places like Barrow. Blackburn and Huddersfield.
  • Five cars could be a convenient train size for the operator.

But above all, they would offer a better passenger experience, with less noise and vibration from the diesel engines.

The longest section of running using onboard power of a bi-mode Aventra will be along the North Wales Coast Line to Holyhead.

  • The line has an 90 mph operating speed.
  • The line is 85 miles long.
  • The gradients won’t be too challenging, as the line runs along the coast.
  • Services stop up to half-a-dozen times on the route.
  • From London to Crewe is electrified.
  • The section between Crewe and Chester may be electrified.

It looks to be an ideal route for a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

As the route appears to not be as challenging as the Midland Main Line, could this route, be the ideal test route for a hydrogen fuel-cell powered Aventra.

West Coast Partnership may well have plans to use 125 mph bi-mode trains as feeder services for HS2’s hubs at Birmingham and Crewe.

I could certainly see West Coast Partnership ordering a mixed fleet of 125 mph Aventras, some of which would be bi-modes and some pure electric.

CrossCountry

CrossCountry has a diverse portfolio of routes, which have every characteristic possible.

  • Some are lines with a 125 mph operating speed.
  • Some are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Some are electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Some are not electrified.

A bi-mode train with these characteristics would fit well.

  • 125 mph capability on both electric and diesel power.
  • Battery power for short branch lines.
  • Modern passenger facilities.
  • Five-cars.
  • Ability to work in pairs.

They could actually go for a homogeneous fleet, if they felt so inclined.

That would be a substantial fleet of upwards of fifty five-car trains.

The new CrossCountry franchise will be awarded in August 2019 and start in December 2019.

Other Routes

If the 125 bi-mode Aventra with batteries is built, there could be other routes.

Borders Railway

Why would you run a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra on the 90 mph Borders Railway?

  • The Borders Railway will be extended to Carlisle, which will mean, that both ends will be electrified for a few miles.
  • This will mean that bi-mode trains with batteries could charge their batteries at both ends of the line.
  • If traffic increases, extra cars can be added.
  • The trains would be able to use the West Coast Main Line to link the Lake District to Edinburgh.
  • They could be given a tourism-friendly interior, to go with the large windows common to all Aventras.

The trains would help to develop tourism in the South of Scotland and the North of England.

East West Rail

The East West Rail between Oxford and Cambridge is going to built without electrification.

  • But that doesn’t mean that it should be built with an operating speed in the region of 90 mph!
  • The legendary InterCity 125s have been running on lines without electrification at 125 mph since the late 1970s, so it isn’t an unknown practice.

So if the line were to be built for high speed across some of the flattest parts of England, why not unleash the 125 mph bi-mode Aventras?

They could serve Ipswich, Norwich and Yarmouth in the East using their onboard generators.

They could serve Bournemouth, Bristol, Reading and Southampton, if the trains had a dual-voltage capability.

They could use electrification at Bedford, Bletchley, Cambridge and Reading to charge the batteries.

 

Settle-Carlisle Line

Surely, if the 125 mph bi-mode Aventras are suitable for the Borders Railway, then it should be able to work the Settle-Carlisle Line.

  • Both ends of the line are electrified, so batteries could be charged.
  • The line needs more and better services.

But the main reason, is that there will be a high-class scenic route between Edinburgh and Leeds.

I estimate that a London to Edinburgh service via Leeds, Settle, Carlisle and the Borders Railway would take six and a half hours, using a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

Some tourists love that sort of trip.

Waterloo To Exeter

The West of England Line has the following characteristics.

  • It runs between Basingstoke and Exeter.
  • It is a hundred and twenty miles long.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • It is connected to the electrified South Western Main Line to Waterloo.
  • The route is electrified between Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • Direct trains take three hours twenty-three minutes between Waterloo and Exeter, with fourteen stops between Basingstoke and Exeter.
  • The trains used on the route are twenty-five year-old Class 159 trains.

Would a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra improve the passenger service between Waterloo and Exeter?

  • The Aventras are built for fast dwell times at stations, so there could be time saving with all those stops.
  • The Aventras could use the third-rail electrification between Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • There may be places, where the operating speed can be increased and the faster Aventras would take advantage.
  • The trains could have a passenger-friendly interior and features designed for the route.

The real benefits for South Western Railway and their passengers would come, if the trains could do Waterloo to Exeter in three hours.

Routes For A Pure-Electric Version

There are several routes in the UK, where the following apply.

  • Some long-distance trains are run by 125 mph trains.
  • The route is fully- or substantially-electrified.
  • A proportion of the route allows 125 mph running.
  • Sections of the route is only double-track.

Routes satisfying the criteria include.

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

On these routes, I believe it would be advantageous, if all passenger trains were capable of operating at 125 mph.

This is cause if all trains were running at 125 mph, they could be more closely spaced, thus increasing capacity.

Digital signalling would probably be needed.

There are several train services,, that use the electrified  125 mph sections of these routes.

Birmingham/Liverpool/Manchester To Edinburgh/Glasgow

TransPennine Express, are replacing their current Siemens 110 mph Class 350 trains on this service, with new CAF  125 mph Class 397 trains.

 

Euston To The West Midlands, Liverpool And Preston

West Midland Trains are replacing some of their current Siemens 110 mph Class 350 trains with new Aventras.

Information is scarce at the moment, but could some of these new Aventras be 125 mph units for working on the West Coast Main Line?

Leeds/York To Edinbugh

TransPennine Express run trains on this route.

St. Panvras To Corby

The Corby Branch is being upgraded.

  • Double-track
  • 125 mph running
  • Electrification

The section of the Midland Main Line between St. Pancras and Glendon Junction is also being upgraded to allow as much 125 mph running as possible.

If 125 mph bi-mode trains are to be used from St. Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, then surely, it would be logical to use a pure-electric version of the train between St. Pancras and Corby?

Various documents and web pages say, that the St. Pancras to Corby services are going to be worked by 110 mph Class 387 trains. Surely, faster 125 mph trains, which had been designed for the route would be better for passengers and the train operating company.

From my experience of scheduling, the section of the Midland Main Line between St. Pancras and Bedford, must be a nightmare to timetable successfully.

  • There are two train operating companies using the route, who go a hundred miles in different directions.
  • The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink are only 100 mph trains, so probably can’t use the fast lines too often, as if they do, they’ll delay the expresses..
  • Regular passengers object to any change in stopping patterns or journey times.
  • Passengers liked to get on express services at Bedford, but they now don’t stop.
  • Passengers don’t like the Class 700 trains.
  • Luton Airport wants more services.

My experience, says that something radical must be done.

Consider.

  • Plans are for two tph between St. Pancras and Corby.
  • How many passengers would complain if they ended up in the St. Pancras Thameslink platforms, rather than the high-level ones? They’re both equally badly connected to the Underground, buses and taxis.
  • There will be four tph between Bedford and London all day on Thameslink, with an extra four tph in the Peak.
  • Some or all of these services will call at both Luton and Gatwick Airports.
  • Looking at the two semi-fast services. which both run at tw trph, they seem to stop virtually everywhere.

I think it would be possible for the two tph St. Pancras to Corby services to become express services between Corby, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

  • The services would only stop at Kettering, Bedford, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, St. Albans, West Hampstead Thameslink, St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge and East Croydon.
  • The services would use the 125 mph fast lines North of St. Pancras, as much as possible.
  • Corby services would always call at St. Pancras Thameslink.
  • The trains would be designed for both Airport services and long-distance commuting.
  • The trains would be maximum length.

Obviously, this is my rough idea, but something like it might satisfy the stakeholders, more than what is proposed.

I think there are also other services, which are fully electrified, which could be upgraded, so that they would be suitable for or need 125 mph electric trains.

Kings Cross To King’s Lynn

I wrote about this route in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

Portsmouth Direct Line

Under Topography Of The Line in the Wikipedia enter for the Portsmouth Direct Line, this is said.

The central part of the route, from Guildford to Havant, runs through relatively thinly populated country. The line was designed on the “undulating principle”; that is, successive relatively steep gradients were accepted to reduce construction cost. In the days of steam operation this made the route difficult for enginemen.

But with.

  • A second man in the cab, in the shape of the train’s computer, juggling the power.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries saving energy for reuse when needed.
  • Bags of grunt from the traction motors.

The pure electric version of the 125 mph Aventra might just have the beating of the topography.

South Western Railway plan to introduce an older train from Litchurch Lane in Derby on this route, in the shape of the last of the Mark 3s, the Class 442 train or the Wessex Electrics, which were built in the 1980s.

It will be interesting to see how a 125 mph pure electric Aventra compares to something made in the same works, thirty years earlier.

Waterloo To Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth

The South Western Main Line goes to Southampton Central, Bournemouth and Weymouth.

  • It is a 100 mph line
  • It is fully-electrified.

Would a 125 mph pure-electric Aventra be able to put the hammer down?

I’m sure Network Rail can improve the line to a maximum safe line-speed.

Conclusion

If Bombardier build a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, there is a large market. Especially, if there is a sibling, which is pure electric.

April 1, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries

This article in Rail Magazine, is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

It’s an interesting specification.

Diesel Or Hydrogen Power?

Could the better ambience be, because the train doesn’t use noisy and polluting diesel power, but clean hydrogen?

It’s a possibility, especially as Bombardier are Canadian, as are Ballard, who produce hydrogen fuel-cells with output between 100-200 kW.

Ballard’s fuel cells power some of London’s hydrogen buses.

The New Routemaster hybrid bus is powered by a 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine and uses a 75 kWh lithium-ion battery, with the bus being driven by an electric motor.

If you sit in the back of one of these buses, you can sometimes hear the engine stop and start.

In the following calculations, I’m going to assume that the bi-mode |Aventra with batteries has a power source, that can provide up to 200 kW, in a fully-controlled manner

Ballard can do this power output with hydrogen and I’m sure that to do it with a diesel engine and alternator is not the most difficult problem in the world.

The Mathematics

Let’s look at the mathematics!

I’ll assume the following.

  • The train is five-cars
  • The empty train weighs close to 180 tonnes.
  • There are 430 passengers, with an average weight of 80 Kg each.
  • This gives a total train weight of 214.4 tonnes.
  • The train is travelling at 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • A diesel or hydrogen power pack is available that can provide a controllable 200 kW electricity supply.

These figures mean that the kinetic energy of the train is 91.9 kWh. This was calculated using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator.

My preferred battery arrangement would be to put a battery in each motored car of the train, to reduce electrical loses and distribute the weight. Let’s assume four of the five cars have a New Routemaster-sized battery.

So the total onboard storage of the train could easily be around 300 kWh, which should be more than enough to accommodate the energy generated , when braking from full speed..

I wonder if the operation of a bi-mode with batteries would be something like this.

  • The batteries would power everything on the train, including traction, the driver’s systems and the passenger facilities, just as the single battery does on New Routemaster and other hybrid buses.
  • The optimum energy level in the batteries would be calculated by the train’s computer, according to route, passenger load and the expected amount of energy that would be recovered by regenerative braking.
  • The batteries would be charged when required by the power pack.
  • A 200 kW power pack would take twenty-seven minutes to put 91.9 kWh in the batteries.
  • In the cruise the power pack would run as required to keep the batteries charged to the optimum level and the train at line speed.
  • If  the train had to slow down, regenerative braking would be used and the electricity would be stored in the batteries.
  • When the train stops at a station, the energy created by regenerative braking is stored in the batteries on the train.
  • I suspect that the train’s computer will have managed energy, so that when the train stops, the batteries are as full as possible.
  • When moving away from a stop, the train would use the stored battery power and any energy used would be topped up by the power pack.

The crucial operation would be stopping at a station.

  • I’ll assume the example train is cruising at 125 mph with an energy of 91.9 kWh.
  • The train’s batteries have been charged by the onboard generator, on the run from the previous station.
  • But the batteries won’t be completely full, as the train’s computer will have deliberately left spare capacity to accept the expected energy from regenerated braking at the next station.
  • At an appropriate distance from the station, the train will start to brake.
  • The energy of the train will be transferred to the train’s batteries, by the regenerative braking system.
  • If the computer has been well-programmed, the train will now be sitting in the station with fully-charged batteries.
  • When the train moves off and accelerates to line speed, the train will use power from the batteries.
  • As the battery power level drops, the onboard generator will start up and replace the energy used.

This sequence of operations or something like it will be repeated at each station.

One complication, is that regenerative braking is not one hundred percent efficient, so up to thirty percent  can be lost in the braking process. In our example 125mph train, this could be 27.6 kWh.

With an onboard source capable of supplying 200 kW, this would mean the generator would have to run for about eight and a half minutes to replenish the lost power. As most legs on the proposed routes of these trains, are longer than that, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

If it sounds complicated, it’s my bad explanation.

This promotional video shows how Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint works.

It looks to me, that Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra will work in a similar way, with respect to the batteries and the computer.

But, Bombardier Only Said Diesel!

The Rail Magazine article didn’t mention hydrogen and said that the train would be able to run at 125 mph on both diesel and electric power.

I have done the calculations assuming that there is a fully-controllable 200 kW power source, which could be diesel or hydrogen based.

British Rail’s Class 150 train from 1984, has two 215 kW Cummns diesel engines, so could a five-car bi-mode train, really be powered by a single modern engine of this size?

The mathematics say yes!

A typical engine would probably weigh about 500 Kg and surely because of its size and power output, it would be much easier to insulate passengers and staff from the noise and vibration.

Conclusion

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train, a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficient.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power

The title of this post is the same as this article in Rail Magazine.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

In some ways, I am not surprised about what is said in this article.

Another article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics.

This is said.

Bombardier is not resting on its laurels. Interestingly, the company has been watching the problems over electrification and the fact that more of Hitachi’s new trains will now be bi-mode because the wires have not been put up in time. McKeon has a team looking at whether Bombardier will go into the bi-mode market: ‘The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel. Based on Aventra designs, we could build one that went 125 mph. This would help Network Rail as it would not have to electrify everywhere.’ He cites East Midlands, CrossCountry and Wales as potential users of this technology.

The article was published in February 2017 and mentions, 125 mph on diesel and two of the companies in the recent article.

The Design Of The Trains

My thoughts are as follows.

The Starting Point

I’m pretty certain that if you wanmt to create a 125 mph bi-mode train, you start with a 125 mph electric train, if you want a high degree of commonality between the two trains.

Bombardier haven’t yet built any of their Aventras for West Midland Trains, but as they will use the West Coast Main Line extensively, will they be 125 mph trains and not 110 mph trains, as is said in Wikipedia?

Aventras And Battery Power

I will believe until Bombardier say I’m wrong, that Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which are Aventras, use batteries for the following purposes.

  • To handle regenerative braking.
  • To limp the train out of the tunnel or to the next station or safe exit point, if there should be a catastrophic power failure.
  • To lessen the amount of electricity fed to the trains in the tunnels.
  • To allow features like remote wake-up, which need a train to have some form of power at all times.
  • To move trains in sidings and depots without having live electrification.
  • To run passenger features, when the power fails.

Effectively, the Class 345 trains have electricity as a main power source and batteries for energy storage and a secondary or emergency power source.

I talked to one of their staff, who was training drivers on Crossrail’s Aventras. The conversation went something like this.

  • Me: “What happens, when the Russians hack the power supply?”
  • Driver-Trainer: “We switch the train to emergency power!”
  • Me: “You mean batteries?”
  • Driver-Trainer: (Pause, then something like) “Might be!”

Can anybody think of another way to have emergency power on the train?

Electric Traction, Regenerative Braking and Batteries

Bi-mode trains and Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint are electrically powered at all times.

This means that under electric, diesel or hydrogen power, the traction motors can generate electricity to brake the train.

On an electric train, this electricity is returned through the overhead wire or third rail to power other nearby trains. This electricity could also be stored in an onboard battery, just as it is in a hybrid or battery-electric vehicle.

Driving A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The bi-mode Aventra could have electricity from one of four power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • An onboard electricity generator powered by diesel fuel or hydrogen.
  • Batteries

So will the driver need to keep switching power sources?

I am a Control Engineer by training and optimising the best power to use is a typical problem for someone with my training and experience.

The train’s computer would take all the information about the route, timetable, signal settings, battery charge level, train loading, weather and other factors and drive the train automatically, with the driver monitoring everything thoroughly.

Aircraft have been flown in a similar fashion for decades.

I look in detail, at the mathematics of a bi-mode Aventra with batteries in Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries.

I came to the following conclusions.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficent.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

Note, that everything I proposed, is well within the scope of modern engineering, so other companies like CAF and Stadler, who are actively involved in rail application of battery technology, could join the party.

This picture is a visualisation of a Stadler Class 755 train, which they are building for Greater Anglia.

Note the smaller third car, which contains the diesel engine of this hybrid train. Is there room for batteries as well?

I can’t find any information on the web about the power train of the Class 755 train, but this article in the Railway Gazette, describes another Stadler bi-mode Flirt, that Stadler are building for Italy.

This is said.

The units will be rated at 2 600 kW with a maximum speed of 160 km/h when operating from 3 kV DC electrification, and 700 kW with a maximum speed of 140 km/h when powered by the two Stage IIIB compliant Deutz TCD 16.0 V8 diesel engines.

There is provision to add up to two more cars if required to meet an increase in ridership. Two more engines could be added, or the diesel module removed if only electric operation is needed.

Note.

  • The Deutz diesel engines are rated at 520 kW.
  • As 700 kW is the power of the train, I suspect each engine generator creates 350 kW of power.
  • 160 km/h would be ideal for the Great Eastern Main Line
  • 140 km/h would be more than adequate for roaming around East Anglia

I suspect that if batteries were used on this train, that the engines would be smaller.

We will see in May 2019, when the trains enter service.

Diesel Or Hydrogen Generator

Electricity generation using a diesel generator and electricity generator from a hydrogen fuel cell, each have their own advantages.

  • Diesel fuel has a higher energy density than hydrogen
  • Diesel engines create a lot of noise and vibration and emit carbon dioxide, noxious gases and particulates.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells can be silent and only emit water and steam.
  • Ballard who are a Canadian company and a leading manufacturer of hydrogen fuel-cells,  manufacture one for use in rail applications which has an output of 100 kW, that weighs 385 Kg.
  • MTU make the diesel engine for a Class 800 train, which has an output of over 600 kW, that weighs 5000 Kg.
  • Hydrogen storage is probably heavier and more complicated than diesel storage.
  • Both generators can be fitted into convenient rectangular power packs.

I would envisage that in the future,  hydrogen electricity generators will get more efficient, lighter in weight and smaller in size for a given power output.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe, that within a reasonable number of years, hydrogen generators and their hydrogen storage tank, will be comparable in weight and size to current diesel generators and fuel tanks.

Accelerating A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The major use of electricity on a 125 mph train, will be in accelerating the train up to line speed. The energy needed will be.

  • Proportional to the mass of the train. This is why your car accelerates better, when it’s just you in the car  and you don’t have your overweight mother-in-law in the back.
  • Proportional to the square of the velocity.

I have calculated that a five-car bi-mode Aventra, carrying 430 passengers and travelling at 125 mph, will have a kinetic energy of 91.9 kWh.

Obviously, using electricity from electrification is the best way to accelerate a train.

  • Electricity from electrification is probably cheaper and more convenient, than that from an onboard electricity generator.
  • If diesel is not used to power the train, there is no noise and vibration from an onboard diesel generator.
  • A route with a lot of running on onboard fuel, means more fuel has to be carried.

Using electricity stored in batteries on the train, is also a good way to accelerate a train, but the batteries must have enough charge.

The onboard electricity generator will be used, when there is no electrification and the power stored in the batteries is approaching a low level.

|When Bombardier’s spokesman says, that the ambience will be good, control of the train’s power sources has a lot to do with it.

Could he have been hinting at hydrogen, as hydrogen fuel cells do not have high noise and vibration levels?

Cruising A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

Newton’s First Law states.

Every body continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless impressed forces act on it.

If you have a train on a railway track moving at a constant speed, the following forces are acting to slow the train.

  • Aerodynamic forces, particularly on the front of the train.
  • Rolling friction of the steel wheel on a steel rail.
  • Bends and gradients in the track.
  • Speed limits and signals.

So the driver and his control system will have to feed in power to maintain the vrequired spreed.

I have sat on the platform at Stratford, whilst an Aventra has gone past at speed. I wrote about it in Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This was my conclusion.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

In addition steel wheel on steel rails is a very efficient way of moving heavy weights. Bombardier have a reputation for good running gear.

Once a train has reached its cruising speed, appropriate amounts of power will be fed to the train to maintain speed.

But compared to the power needed to accelerate the train, they could be quite small.

For small amounts of power away from electrification, the control system will use battery power if it is available and can be used.

The onboard electricity generator would only be switched in, when larger amounts of power are needed or the battery power is low.

Slowing A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The regenerative braking will always be used, with the energy being stored in the batteries, if there is free capacity.

Imagine the following.

  • A bi-mode making a stop at Leicester station on the Midland Main Line.
  • It is doing 100 mph before the stop on the main line.
  • It will be doing 100 mph after the stop on the main line.

The energy of the train after Leicester will be roughly the same as before, unless the mass of the train has changed, by perhaps a large number of passengers leaving or joining the train.

Let’s assume that the energy at 100 mph in the train is X kWh

  • When the train brakes for Leicester this energy will be transferred to the train’s batteries, if there is capacity.
  • On accelerating the train, it will need to acquire X kWh. It couldn’t get all of this from the batteries, as for various reasons the overall efficiency of this sort of system is about seventy to ninety percent.
  • The onboard electricity generator will have to supply a proportion of the energy to get the train back up to 100 mph.

But in a diesel train it will have to supply all the energy to get back to 100 mph.

Where Would I Put The Batteries?

Aventras seem to have a lot of powered-bogies, so to keep cable runs short to minimise losses and maximise the efficiency of the regenerative braking, I would put a battery in each car of the train.

This would also distribute the weight evenly.

Where Would I Put The Electricity Generators?

Diesel engines always seem to be noisy, when they are installed under the floor of a train. I’ve travelled a lot in Bombardier’s Turbostars and although they are better than the previous generation, they are still not perfect.

I’ve also travelled in the cab of a Class 43 locomotive, with a 2,250 hp diesel engine close behind me. It was very well insulated and not very noisy.

As I said earlier, the most intensive use of the onboard generators will come in accelerating a train to operating speed, where no electrification or battery power is available. There is only so much you can do with insulation!

Stadler, who are building the Class 755 train for Greater Anglia, have opted to put a short diesel generator car in the middle of the train.

This was an earlier train, where Stadler used the technique.

There are reports in Wikipedia, that the ride wasn’t good, but I’m sure Stadler has cracked it for their new 100 mph bi-mode trains.

Creating a bi-mode by adding an extra motor car into the middle of an electric train could be a serious way to go.

  • The dynamics are probably better understood now
  • A powerful diesel engine could be fitted.
  • Batteries could be added.
  • Insulating passengers and staff from the noise and vibration would surely be easier.
  • There could be a passage through the car, to allow passengers and staff to circulate.

In an ideal world, a four-car electric train could be changed into a five-car bi-mode train, by adding the motor car and updating the train software.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I came to the conclusion, that if the batteries are used in conjunction with the power-pack, that a single power-pack of about 200 kW could be sufficient to power the train. This would be smaller and lighter in weight, which would probably mean it could be tucked away under the floor and well-insulated to keep noise and vibration from passengers and staff.

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 six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

So could it be that Bombardier have designed a secondary power car, that can be fitted with a battery and a diesel engine of appropriate size?

  • Using a diesel engine with batteries means that a smaller engine can be used.
  • The diesel engine could also be replaced with a 200 kW hydrogen fuel cell.

I won’t speculate, but Bombardier have a very serious idea. And it’s all down to the mathematics.

What Would Be The Length Of A 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra?

Long distance Aventras, like those for Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains, seem to be five and ten car trains.

This would fit well with the offerngs from other companies, so I suspect five- and ten-cars will be the standard lengths.

Could There Be A Bi-Mode Aventra for Commuter Routes?

The London Overground has ordered a fleet of four-car Class 710 trains.

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is being extended to a new Barking Riverside station.

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 probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to London.

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

The new extension is about a mile, so this would need 20 kWh each way.

This could easily be done with a battery, but supposing a small diesel engine was also fitted under the floor. Would anybody notice the same 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine that is used in a New Routemaster hybrid bus?

I doubt it.

It is a revealing to calculate the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded Class 710 train. I estimate that it under 50 kWh, if it was travelling at 90 mph, which would rarely be achieved on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Could Bombardier Be Serious About Exporting Bi-Mode Aventras?

In my opinion, the Aventra is a good train an it seems to sell well in its electric form to train operating companies in the UK.

But would it sell well in overseas markets like the United States and Canada, India and Australia?

They obviously know better than I do, so we should take their statements at face value.

The Prospective Customers

The Rail Magazine article mentions three prospective customers.

I deal with them and other possiblilities in Routes For Bombardier’s 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra.

This was my conclusion.

If Bombardier build a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, there is a large market.

It looks like the company has done a lot of research.

Conclusion

Bombardier are designing a serious train.

 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

D-Train Order For Marston Vale Confirmed

The title of this post, is the same as the title of an article in the April 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

It gives a few more details on the order from West Midlands Trains for three Class 230 trains to provide the service on the Marston Vale Line.

  • The trains will be in operation in December 2018
  • Two trains will operate the daily service.
  • The trains will be diesel-powered.

When the trains come into operation, extra early morning and late-night services will be added from Monday to Saturday.

Battery Prototype

The article also gives more details of the battery prototype.

  • The train has four battery rafts, each with a capacity of 106 kWh
  • Range is up to fifty miles with a ten minute charge at each end of the journey.
  • Range will increase as battery technology improves.
  • The train is charged using a patented automatic charging point.
  • The batteries will have a seven-year lifespan, backed by a full warranty.
  • Battery rafts would appear to be interchangeable with the diesel generators.
  • Hydrogen power will be used within the next few years.

The specification seems comprehensive and it would appear there is a high degree of innovative automation and well-thought-out electrical engineering.

Train Energy Consumption

The train has the following characteristics.

  • Two cars
  • 424 kWh of battery capacity.
  • 50 mile range

This gives a consumption 4.24 kWh/per car/per mile.

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 probably not much more taxing than the Marston Vale Line.

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

I am surprised that the Class 230 train lies in the 3-5 kWh range, but then I’m not sure of the weights of the two trains.

I estimate two-car units to weigh as follows.

  • Class 230 train plus batteries – Around 50 tonnes.
  • Electrostar – Around 90 tonnes
  • Aventra – Around 80 tonnes

I shall get some better figures, when I actually see the trains, as the weight is on the side.

The Pop-Up Train

The article talks of the concept of a low-cost pop-up train as a solution for a regional or commuter train.

Export To America?

This pop-up train could be designed to be used to demonstrate rail services in America.

Henry Posner, who is promoting the train in America is quoted as saying cities could use the train to test possible services with passengers on board ‘for less than the cost of a consultant’s study into a possible service’.

These demonstrations will be on freight lines, where for reasons of safety, the passengers trains would run during the day and freight trains at night.

Is America ready for an invasion of remanufactured forty-year-old London Underground D78 Stock trains?

 

 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will London Overground Procure Some Class 230 Trains?

Transport for London has a cash flow problem caused by various factors.

  • The reduction in grant from Central Government.
  • A fall in bus revenue caused by traffic congestion.
  • The freeze of fares by the Mayor.
  • The need to add services to stimulate much-needed housing.

This article in Rail Magazine is entitled Vivarail’s D-Trains Confirmed For Bedford-Bletchley.

As West Midlands Trains have now confirmed the order for the Class 230 trains, does this mean that buying Vivarail’s innovative refurbished London Underground D78 Stock, is now a less-risky train purchase?

Battery Or Diesel Class 230 Trains?

Would Transport for London buy a diesel or battery version of the Class 230 train?

Transport for London will have an exclusively electric fleet in a few months, when they have passed the Class 172 trains to West Midlands Trains.

I can’t believe they’d want to buy a small number of diesel trains, so I suspect they’ll go for battery versions.

Advantages Of Class 230 Trains For Transport for London

The trains must have advantages for Transport for London.

  • They are simple trains, built for remote servicing.
  • In some applications, their short length of just two cars must help, in that expensive platform extensions will not be needed.
  • I would suspect that one two-car train is designed to rescue another.
  • Capacity can be increased by adding a third-car.
  • Transport for London must also have a lot of expertise on how to get the most out of these trains.

Possible Routes

There are a handful of possible routes.

Greenford Branch Line

The Greenford Branch Line must be a prime candidate for running with two-car battery version of a Class 230 train.

Consider.

  • Using a four-car train, like a Class 710 train would require the platform at Greenford to be lengthened.
  • A Class 230 train would only need some form of simple electrification at Greenford and/or West Ealing stations.
  • Class 230 trains, would probably fit all platforms easily and give level access for wheelchairs and buggies.
  • Could London Overground’s third-rail engineers add suitable electrification to charge the batteries at Greenford station?
  • The branch is only four kilometres long.
  • The branch only has the two tph passenger service and the occasional freight train.
  • All trains use the new bay platform at West Ealing station.

One train could obviously work the current two trains per hour (tph) timetable, but could two trains and a possible spare run a four tph service on the branch?

The advantages of using Class 230 trains over a more conventional approach using perhaps Class 710 trains would include.

  • No electrification of the branch.
  • No platform lengthening and possibly little platform modification.
  • Only a short length of third-rail electrification would be needed to charge the batteries.
  • A four tph service might be possible.

The big advantage would be that it would be a low-cost project.

Romford To Upminster Line

The Romford To Upminster Line is currently run by a single four-car Class 315 train, which was to be replaced by a new Class 710 train.

In the March 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, whilst discussing nine more Class 71 trains for the London Overground, it is said, that a Class 315 train will be retained for the Romford To Upminster Line.

Why not procure another Class 230 train and use that to shuttle along the branch?

Consider.

  • The electrification can be removed from the line, to save maintenance costs.
  • A short length of third-rail electrification can be used to charge the batteries at Upminster station.
  • The trains could be stabled at Upminster Depot.

The line used to have a short passing loop between Romford and Emerson Park station, that could be long enough for a two-car Class 230 train. If this loop were to be reinstated without electrification, if might allow a four tph service.

It would be another low-cost project.

Bromley North Line

The Bromley North Line is currently served by Southeastern.

Reading Wikipedia for the line, I get the impression, that the line isn’t a major problem, but there are little annoyances.

  • Services are not frequent enough at some times of the day and week.
  • Connection to services to and from London aren’t always convenient.
  • It is not the easiest branch to provide with trains and drivers.

In addition, Southeastern would appear to be amenable to pass the line to Transport for London.

The track layout for the line has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track throughout.
  • There is a single platform at Grove Park station.
  • There are two platforms at Bromley North station.
  • The intermediate station; Sundridge Park has two platforms.

It looks like the line was designed so that two trains can operate simultaneously.

  • Two Class 230 trains could run a four tph service.
  • Stabling and servicing could be in Bromley North station.
  • Trains could be third-rail or battery.
  • A spare train could be held ready if it was felt needed.

It would be a self-contained low-cost solution.

Epping To Ongar

The Epping to Ongar service on the Central Line is no more, but would it be viable now with a Class 230 train?

Brentford Branch Line

The Brentford Branch Line has been proposed for reopening.

Class 230 trains powered by batteries would be ideal rolling stock.

The trains would be charged in Southall station.

West London Orbital

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Commitment To West London Orbital rail line.

This is said.

A press release distributed by the office of London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This new line, delivered through TfL, the West London Alliance, boroughs and Network Rail, could potentially support the delivery of an additional 20,000 homes, as well as employment growth in west London.”

In this article on Ian Visits, this is said about the service on the proposed West London Orbital line.

Phase 1: 4 trains per hour from West Hampstead to Hounslow, calling at West Hampstead, Cricklewood, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth, Hounslow.

Phase 2: additional 4 trains per hour from Hendon to Kew Bridge, calling at Hendon, Brent Cross/Staples Corner, Neasden, Harlesden, OOC, Acton Central, South Acton, Kew Bridge.

The track is all in place and with a new bay platform at Hounslow, Class 230 trains could work Phase 1 on batteries with ease.

The key to the intermediate stations is property development. At Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, there is a lot of spare land around the Dudding Hill Line, where the trains will run. Developers will be told to build an appropriate amount of housing with a new station underneath.

The West London Orbital could be built to the following specification.

  • No full electrification.
  • Battery trains.
  • Platforms long enough for four-car Class 710 trains.
  • Bay platforms with possible charging at West Hampstead, Hendon, Hounslow and Key Bridge stations.
  • Four tph on both routes.

It lends itself to a very efficient way of building the railway.

  1. Build a platform on the freight line through West Hampstead Thameslink station.
  2. Build a bay platform that will accept a four-car train at Hounslow station.
  3. Establish a four tph shuttle service between West Hampstead  Thameslink and Hounslow stations calling at Acton Central, South Acton, Brentford, Syon Lane and Isleworth.
  4. Stations could be built at Neasden, Harlesden and Old Oak Common, where there is a generous amount of brownfield land, with lots of space for housing above the tracks and platforms.

Note.

  1. Batteries would be charged between Acton Central and Hounslow using the existing third-rail electrification.
  2. About five miles of the route would not be electrified.
  3. Housing developments on top of a station are a property developers dream.

The service could be started using Class 230 trains, with the option to switch to four-car Class 710 trains, powered by batteries, when more capacity is needed and Bombardier have fully developed the battery Aventra.

Phase two of the project would need development of platforms at Hendon and Kew Bridge stations.

The beauty of the West London Orbital, is that the only costs for Transport for London are four new platforms, some track-work and a fleet of new trains.

Hopefully, the development of the intermediate stations would be down to property developers, as they will make a fortune out of the housing!

Conclusion

I think the answer to my original question posed in the title of this post is Yes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How Do Hydrogen-Powered Trains Work?

This promotional video shows how Alstom’s Coradia iLint works.

Note that it’s really a battery train, where the batteries are charged from the electrification or the hydrogen power-pack.

 

February 7, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Exploring The Tyne And Wear Metro

The Tyne and Wear Metro is unique in the UK, in that it is a regional electric railway system, that is powered by 1500 VDC overhead electrification.

But what is not unique about the system is the affection shown by regular users. You get similar feelings on other local systems like these.

As they mature, other systems including the Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro and the London Overground will be felt of by their passengers in a similar way.

My four examples and the Tyne and Wear Metro, have a lot more in common than just affection from their users.

  • All were created in their own unique ways in an era not noted for railway innovation.
  • Merseyrail has an unrivalled tunnel layout for a railway under a city.
  • The Docklands Light Railway is automated with a Train Captain on each train.
  • Glasgow’s Blue Trains were very-un-British at the time.
  • Local interests were very much involved in creating the systems.
  • The Tyne and Wear Metro was created for  Driver Only Operation.

All of these lines are seeking to add more branches and replace, update and augment the rolling stock, much of which is forty years old.

Does the age of te trains show Central Government contempt for important local railway systems, which are the lifeblood of communities?

Manchester’s Missing Tunnel

The tunnels under Liverpool and Newcastle, were part of a three pronged plan by to improve local transport in the North.

  • I remember from the 1960s, when I was at the University, the electric railway under the Mersey to Birkenhead and the Wirral. Modern it was not, but the innovative Loop and Link Project made it a lot better. Although, that project was never completed.
  • Newcastle had had Tyneside Electrics from the 1900s. In the 1970s the old system became the core of the Metro, with the addition of a central tunnel.

The third plan was to bore the Picc-Vic tunnel under Manchester to link Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.

According to Wikipedia, it would have had the following characteristics.

  • Full-size twin-bore tunnels.
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Low-level stations at Piccadilly and Victoria.
  • Three intermediate stations at Market Street, Albert Square and Princess Street
  • Trains would have been similar to the Class 315 trains, which are still common in London.

It would have joined the suburban rail services together across the city.

How would Manchester have developed if this important tunnel had been built?

We will probably be able to partially answer this question, when the Ordsall Chord is fully operational, which will handle cross-Manchester long-distance and local trains.

It is my view that cancelling this tunnel was one of the great infrastructure mistakes of the period along with the cancellation of the Channel Tunnel and London’s Third Airport at Maplin. But then Harold Wilson believed everybody would have their own car and that railways were of the past and preferred to spend what little money the Government had on political projects, many of which were total failures.

We must protect ourselves from politicians, who have a political view that owes too much to the extreme left or right and be left to get on with our personal lives.

To my mind, it is no surprise that the cities in the UK with the best urban rail systems; London, Cardiff, Liverpool and Newcastle, have more local control. Now that Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester have greater local control, will we see improvement?

Exploring The Metro

There are several main assets and factors that make up a railway system.

  • Tracks
  • Tunnels and Bridges
  • Electrification
  • Stations
  • Accessibility
  • Trains
  • Signalling
  • Operating Method
  • Ticketing

I shall now give my thoughts on these in detail.

Tracks

The branches of the Metro were all built for heavy rail trains and the Sunderland Branch even shares the tracks with Class 142, Class 180 and heavy freight trains.

This principle of building tracks for full-size trains, has been used on Merseyrail’s Northern and WirralLines, London’s Trameslink, Crossrail and East London Line and innumerable railways across the world.

Build a system for small-size trains and you paint yourself into a dead end. I doubt for instance, London will ever build another new Tube-size line across London.

As I explored the Matro, the tracks also seemed to be in generally good condition.

This picture taken at South Hylton station shows typical track in apparently good condition.

Tunnels And Bridges

Wikipedia has a section on the tunnels of the Metro. This is said.

The tunnels were constructed in the late 1970s, using mining techniques, and were constructed as single-track tubes with a diameter of 4.75 metres. The tunnels under Newcastle were mechanically bored through boulder clay and lined with cast iron or concrete segments. The tunnel under Gateshead, was bored through sandstone and excavated coal seams. Old coal mine workings, some of which dated from the Middle Ages had to be filled in before the tunnelling began.

This description of the Crossrail tunnels is on this page of their web site.

A network of new rail tunnels have been built by eight giant tunnel boring machines, to carry Crossrail’s trains eastbound and westbound. Each tunnel is 21 kilometres/13 miles long, 6.2 metres in diameter and up to 40 metres below ground.

The Crossrail tunnels have a walkway on either side, but they are only 1.25 metres larger in diameter than those of the Metro. So it would appear that there is not much difference in size of the important section in the middle, where the trains run.

It is worthwhile looking at the widths of various trains.

The last three figures are from Wikipedia.

Look at these pictures of some of the tunnels and bridges on the Metro.

The weather could have been betterfor photography.

I rode on all the branches of the Metro and, I get the impression that all the bridges and tunnels seem to have been built with a generous clearance in both width and height.

I very much feel that when the Metro was built that unlike some other lines, it was well-built to a heavy rail standard.

I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that a battery-powered train based on say an Electrostar like the Class 379 BEMU demonstrator, could pass through all of the Metro.

Electrification

The electrification is a unique 1500 VDC overhead system, which is the same as was used on the Woodhead Line, which closed to passenger trains in 1970 and to goods in 1981.

Could it be that the Metro got this voltage, rather than the 25 KVAC used on similar systems in London and Glasgow suburban routes, as British Rail and their contractors had 1500 VDC expertise available in the North and all their 25 KVAC expertise was employed elsewhere?

The bridges and tunnels seem to have been built with the ability to handle the higher and more common voltage.

1500 VDC may have also saved on the cost of the installation, as they had a lot of gantries and brackets from the Woodhead Line.

These pictures show the simplistic nature of some of the electrification.

However, on the South Hylton Branch, which was built in the 2000s, it appears that better methods were used, as these pictures show.

The gantries and supports are certainly better than many you see on the Lea Valley Lines.

This picture shows 25 KVAC electrification at Walthamstow Central station.

Note the extra insulators to deal with the higher voltage.

Would it be possible and worthwhile to convert all of the Metro lines to 25 KVAC?

In theory this must be possible, but I think it is probably more important to first beef up the electrification gantries to the higher standard of the South Hylton Branch.

Consider.

  • A driver told me, that electrification failures are not unknown.
  • Trains running on 25 KVAC are more energy-efficient.
  • Trains could be built that would be able to run on both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC, that use the same pantograph for current collection and automatically adjust to the voltage received.
  • Trains with batteries can be used on sections without electrification.
  • Mixed voltage systems are possible, that would have 25 KVAC electrification on some sections of track and 1500 VDC on others.
  • The passenger Health and Safety case would need to be established for the higher voltage.

The electrification could be designed holistically with any future trains to maximise reliability, electrical efficiency and operational flexibility, and minimise costs.

Obviously, during the changeover to new trains, all lines would need to be at 1500 VDC, so that the current rolling stock could be used as required.

Stations

These pictures show a selection of Metro stations.

The stations appear to be in generally good condition and vary from the the basic to well-preserved Victorian stations like Tynemouth and Whitley Bay.

The platforms are generally of an adequate length, which except for some stations in tunnels seem to have been built to accept three of the current trains working together, which would be a formation 83.4 metres long.

This would be long enough to accept one of any number of four-car trains running on the UK rail network, which are usually eighty metres long. London Overground’s, new Class 710 trains will be this length.

Sunderland Station

Sunderland station, is an important station on the Metro.

I describe the station and its operation in The Rather Ordinary Sunderland Station.

 

 

Accessibility

Stations are step-free, but this is often by the use of ramps and a few more lifts woulds be welcome.

Access from platform to train is generally good, as these pictures show.

Note the picture of the access to a Grand Central Class 180 train.

I suspect that when Northern replace their Class 142 trains, with brand new Class 195 trains on the services between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, that the step-free access will be good.

I think a lot of credit is due to the original designers of the Metro, who thought about what they were doing and seem to have created a system that fitted heavy rail trains, Metro trains and users requiring step-free access.

Trains

There are several sets of electric trains in the country, that continue to defy their age and are a tribute to their builders, refurbishers and operating companies, by providing a quality service to passengers and other stakeholders

  • Merseyrail’s Class 507 and Class 508 trains.
  • The Class 315 trains of TfL Rail and the London Overground.
  • The Piccadilly Line’s 1973 Stock trains.
  • South Western Railway’s Class 455 trains.
  • The trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro.

|These pictures show the trains for the Metro.

Note.

  1. The quality is not bad for nearly forty years of service.
  2. The lady in the last picture, sitting in the front of the train, watching the world go by.
  3. Standing is not difficult in the rush hour for this seventy-year-old stroke survivor.
  4. Information could be better.
  5. The Metro needs a new train wash.

Wikipedia says this about the Proposed New Fleet.

The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

I’ll put my ideas at the end of this note.

Signalling

The Metro is unique in the UK, in that it uses the Karlsruhe model to mix Metro trains with heavy rail trains on the Southern branch to Sunderland and South Hylton.

If in the future modern signalling and trains are used on the Metro, an increasingly intricate set of routes could be designed.

Add in dual-voltage trains able to run on both the Metro’s 1500 VDC and the National network’s 25 KVAC and the possibilities will be even greater.

Operating Method

The trains are run in the same way as London Underground, with only a driver on the train, who does the driving and controls the doors.

Ticketing

As I always find outside London, ticketing is still in the Victorian era.

Will the Tyne and Wear Metro embrace a contactless card based on bank and credit cards?

Possible Future Expansion

Wikipedia gives a list of possible extensions under Proposed Extensions And Suggested Improvements.

These include.

Tyne Dock To East Boldon

Wikipedia says this.

Tyne Dock to East Boldon along a dismantled railway alignment through Whiteleas could easily be added, because two Metro lines are separated by only a short distance (1.61 miles). This would provide a service from South Shields to Sunderland via the Whiteleas area of South Shields.

If ever there was a route for a battery-powered train, this must be it.

Consider.

  • The route is less than two miles.
  • The route connects two electrified lines.
  • You can see the disused track-bed on a Google Map.
  • No electrification would be required.
  • The battery would be charged between South Shields and Tyne Dock and East Boldon and Sunderland.
  • Modern signalling would allow the route to be built as a single track if required, handling up to ten tph in both directions.
  • Single platform stations could be built as required.

I can certainly understand, why Wikipedia mentioned battery trains.

Washington

Wikipedia says this.

Washington either via the disused Leamside line or a new route. Present planning may lead to the Leamside line being opened at least as far as Washington as a conventional rail line for passengers as well as freight, although this could be shared with Metro trains in the same way as the line from Pelaw Junction to Sunderland.

Washington station would only be a short run of less than ten miles along a reopened Leamside Line.

  • If somebody else paid for 25 KVAC electrification of the Leamside Line, then dual-voltage trains could run the service.
  • If not, they could use battery-power.

Either way, Washington would get a Metro service.

If as I believe, the new trains on the Metro will be main line trains, then what is the point of running heavy rail services to the town, as the Metro would be able to serve more places and with a change at Newcastle station, you could get a train virtually anywhere.

The possibility must also exist if the Leamside Line is developed as a diversion of the East Coast Main Line, then the Metro could go as far South as Durham.

Blyth And Ashington

Wikipedia says this.

Blyth and Ashington, running on existing little-used freight lines. Northumberland Park station has been built to provide a link to a potential new rail service to these communities; if opened, it will not be a part of the Metro system.

Ashington is around fourteen miles from Northumberland Park station, which means that an return journey might be possible on battery-power.

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 probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to Blyth and Ashington.

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

If the Metro trains could have a high energy efficiency, I think it would be reasonable to assume that 4 kWh per vehicle mile is attainable.

So a three car train, would need a battery of 14 x 2 x 3 x 4 = 336 kWh. That is not an unattainable figure for battery size.

Killingworth And Cramlington

Wikipedia says this.

A northward extension to Killingworth and Cramlington has been planned since the Metro was on the drawing board, but would require widening of the busy East Coast Main Line to four tracks, which would be expensive, and a new alignment involving street running.

Suppose the new Metro trains were modern trains, such as the latest offerings from Bombardier, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens, Stadler and others, that were able to do the following in addition to running on the Metro.

  • Use 25 KVAC electrification.
  • Operate at around or even over 100 mph.
  • Execute fast stops at a station.

Would they be able to perhaps run a four tph Metro service along the East Coast Main Line to Cramlington station?

I suspect with modern signalling and a couple of passing loops on the East Coast Main Line, the answer is yes!

This may eliminate the need for street-running.

West End Of Newcastle

Wikipedia says this.

Extending the Metro to the West End of Newcastle would require new track, involving tunnelling and bridging in rough terrain; this would be very costly and is perhaps least likely to receive funding, though would probably have the highest potential ridership.

In this article in the Newcastle Chronicle, which is entitled What Could Happen To The Metro, this is said.

A rail extension out of Central Station along the original Newcastle to Carlisle line could head along Scotswood Road to serve Newcastle’s west, while a bridge could then connect the city to the Metrocentre. This would be integrated with the Metro system. Building developments in Gallowgate have greatly reduced any chance of extending the Metro west from St James’ Park.

The railway alignment still seems to be there in places.

It would be another extension that would use battery-powered trains on sections, that don’t have electrification.

Ryhope And Seaham

Wikipedia says this.

Ryhope and Seaham, a proposal drawn up by Tyne and Wear Passenger Authority to use the existing Durham coast line south of Sunderland.

Sunderland to Seaham is about six miles, so is definitely in range of battery trains.

But that is being timid!

Sunderland to Middlesbrough is probably about thirty miles and I believe it will be possible to do those sort of distances on battery power alone, in a few years. Provided that the train could be recharged at Middlesbrough.

What would a four or six tph service between Middlesbrough and Newcastle Airport via Hartlepool, Seaham, Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle, do for the area?

Conclusion About Possible Future Expansion

In this section on expanding the Metro network, it has surprised me how many of the extensions could be done with dual-voltage or battery-powered trains.

  • Tyne Dock To East Boldon – Battery
  • Washington – Battery
  • Blyth And Ashington – Battery
  • Killingworth And Cramlington – Dual-Voltage
  • West End Of Newcastle – Battery
  • Ryhope And Seaham – Battery
  • Middlesbrough – Battery and Dual-Voltage

I think it shows how we must be careful not to underestimate tyhe power of battery trains. But then I’m one of the few people in the UK, outside of the residents of Harwich, who’s ridden a battery-powered four-car heavy rail train in normal service! Mickey Mouse, they are not!

New Trains

I’ll repeat what Wikipedia says this about the Proposed New Fleet.

The proposed new fleet would consist of 84 trains to replace the existing 90 train fleet, as Nexus believe that the improved reliability of the newer trains would allow them to operate the same service levels with fewer trains. These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet, and a full width drivers cab instead of the small driving booth of the existing trains. The proposed new fleet is planned to have dual voltage capability, able to operate on the Metro’s existing 1.5 kV DC electrification system and also the 25 kV AC used on the national rail network, to allow greater flexibility. Battery technology is also being considered.

I’ll now give my views on various topics.

Heavy Rail Train Or Lightweight Metro?

Will the trains be lightweight metro trains or variants of heavy rail trains like Aventras, Desiro Cities or A-trains to name just three of several?

The advantages of the heavy rail train are.

  • It could run at 90 or even 100 mph on an electrified main line.
  • It will meet crashworthiness standards for a main line.
  • It would likely be a design with a lot in common with other UK train fleets.
  • It could run into most railway stations.
  • If it was shorter than about sixty metres it could use all current Metro stations without station rebuilding.

On the other hand the lightweight metro train would be lighter in weight and possibly more energy-efficient.

Walk-Through Design

Wikipedia says this about the seating layout.

These are proposed to have longitudinal seating instead of the 2+2 bench seating arrangement of the present fleet.

Longitudinal seating has been successfully used on London Overground’s Class 378 trains.

  • This layout increases capacity at busy times.
  • It allows passengers to distribute themselves along the train and get to the right position for a quick exit.

But the biggest advantage, is that when linked to selective door opening, it enables a longer train to be used successfully in stations with short platforms.

London Overground use this facility on their Class 378 trains to overcome platform length problems at a few stations on the East London Line.

But train design is evolving.

Bombardier have shown with the Class 345 train, that you can have both in the same train. So in a three-car train, you might have two identical driver cars with longitudinal seating and a middle car with 2+2 bench seating.

Bombardier are able to get away with this, as they are maximising the space inside the train. I wrote about it in Big On The Inside And The Same Size On The Outside.

These pictures show the inside of one of Crossrail’s Class 345 trains.

Whoever builds the new Metro trains, they’ll probably have similar interiors.

Train Length

A trend seems to be emerging, where new fleets of trains are the same length as the ones they replace, although they may have more carriages.

This has happened on Greater Anglia, Merseyrail and West Midlands Trains.

It probably makes sense, as it avoids expensive and disrupting platform lengthening.

Currently, the Metro trains work in pairs, which means a train length of 55.6 metres. As the standard UK train carriage size for suburban multiple units is often twenty metres, then if the platforms can accept them, three-car trains would be possible for the new trains.

Longer trains would be possible in most stations, except for some in the central tunnel, which appear to have platforms around sixty to seventy metres long.

So perhaps four-car trains would be possible for the new trains, that would use selective door opening at the short platforms of the stations in the central tunnels.

Because the trains are walk-through, passengers can position themselves accordingly, for the station, where they will leave the train.

London Overground have also shown that selective door opening and walk-through trains can be used to advantage, when trains are lengthened to increase capacity.

Dual-Voltage

Obviously, the trains will have the capability of running on both 1500 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead wires, as the extension to Killingworth And Cramlington would need the latter, for a start.

The interchange between the two different voltages can be very simple, due to some technology developed for the
German cousins of the Class 399 tram-train. A ceramic rod separates the two voltages and the pantograph just rides over. The train or tram-train, then determines the voltage and configures the electrical systems accordingly.

Batteries

These would appear to be key to several of the proposed extensions.

Batteries also enable other features.

  • Movement in depots and sidings without electrification.
  • Emergency power, when the main power fails.
  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Remote train warm-up.

In a few years time, all trains with electric drive will have batteries, that are probably around 75-100 kWh.

Operating Speed

To work efficiently on the East Coast Main Line, 90 mph or even a  100 mph operating speed will be needed.

Note that Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which will generally work routes very similar to the Metro, have a 90 mph operating speed.

These faster trains will result in an increased service.

Currently, trains between Newcastle Airport and South Hylton take 65 minutes with sixteen stops.

Modern trains have the following features.

  • Minimised dwell times at stations.
  • Smooth regenerative braking and fast acceleration.
  • Driver Advisory Systems to improve train efficiency.
  • Higher safe speeds in selected sections.
  • Trains are designed for quick turnrounds at each end of the route.

In addition, train operators are organising station staff to minimise train delays.

Put it all together and I’m pretty certain, that this route could be done comfortably in under an hour.

So the same number of trains are able to do more trips in every hour.

Handling Tight Curves

Under Electrics, Wikipedia says this about the ability of the trains to handle tight curves.

Metro has a maximum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), which it attains on rural stretches of line. The vehicles have a minimum curve radius of 50 m (55 yd), although there are no curves this tight except for the non-passenger chord between Manors and West Jesmond.

Could this chord be avoided by different operating procedures?

Serving Newcastle Station

Northern’s services from Newcastle station are.

  • 1 tph – Northbound on the East Coast Main Line to Cramlington and Morpeth with services extended to Chathill at peak hours.
  • 1 tph – Southbound along the Durham Coast Line to Middlesbrough calling at Heworth, Sunderland, Seaham, Hartlepool, Seaton Carew, Billingham, Stockton andThornaby, with an extension to James Cook University Hospital and Nunthorpe.
  • 1 tph – Westbound on the Tyne Valley Line to Carlisle calling at MetroCentre, Prudhoe, Hexham, Haydon Bridge, Haltwhistle, Brampton and others at alternate hours.
  • Westbound slow service on the Tyne Valley Line to Hexham calling at Dunston, MetroCentre, Blaydon, Wylam, Prudhoe, Stocksfield, Riding Mill, Corbridge and terminating at Hexham, with an extension to Carlisle at peak hours.
  • 1 tph – Newcastle to Metro Centre calling at Dunston only during the day.

Pathetic is probably a suitable word.

When Greater Anglia have their new trains, services between Ipswich, Norwich, Colchester, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft and Yarmouth, will be at least two tph and sometimes three and four on most routes.

Newcastle To Sunderland Via Sunderland

Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough surely need a four tph rail connection along the Durham Coast Line.

I believe that dual-voltage Metro trains with a battery capability could run between Middlesbrough and Newcastle at a frequency of four tph.

If they can’t, I’m certain that a suitable train could be procured.

If the new Metro trains are correctly-configured heavy-rail trains, then surely a go-anywhere express version can be built.

  • Identical train bodies, cabs and traction systems to new Metro trains
  • An interior geared to the needs of passengers.
  • Four or five cars with selective door opening.
  • Ability to run on Metro tracks using 1500 VDC overhead wires.
  • Ability to run on 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Batteries for regenerative braking, emergency power and distances up to two miles.
  • Diesel or preferably hydrogen power pack.
  • Sufficient range to keep going all day.
  • 90-100 mph capability.

As the trains would have an identical cross-section to the new Metro trains, they could do any of the following at Newcastle.

  • Terminate at Newcastle station.
  • Go through Newcastle station to Metrocentre, Hexham, Carlisle, Morpeth or some other destination.
  • Go through the tunnel of the Metro to Newcsastle Airport.
  • Go through the tunnel of the Northumberland Park station to link to the North-East.

I believe that such a train could run as an express to link the whole conurbation from Middlesbrough to Morpeth together.

Newcastle To Carlisle Via Metrocentre and Hexham

The train that i just proposed would be ideal for this route.

I also believe that Metrocentre needs at least six tph connecting it to the centre of Newcastle and the Metro.

The proposed West End of Newcastle branch of the Metro looks to be a necessity, to provide some of this frequency.

What Is The Point Of Northern?

With the right trains, all of the local services in the Tyne-Wear-Tees area can be satisfied by a Metro running modern trains making the maximum use of modern technology.

This model already works in Merseyside, so why not in the North-East? And Manchester, Leeds and South Yorkshire!

A Tees Valley Metro

I have always been keen on the creation of a Tees Valley Metro. I wrote about it in The Creation Of The Tees Valley Metro.

Get the design of the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro right and they could work any proposed Tees Valley Metro.

Conclusion

I think that Nexus will get some very interesting proposals for their new trains, which will open up a lot of possibilities to extend the network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

A Video About The Class 230 Battery Train

This article on InsideEVs has a rather good video of the Class 230 train demonstrator, which is entitled Fully Charged Checks Out A Battery Powered Train.

Very interesting!

The video was made by Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged.

 

 

December 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment