The Anonymous Widower

Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

Solar panels could be used to power a sizeable chunk of Britain’s DC electric rail network, a new report has suggested.

Climate change charity 10:10 and Imperial College London’s Energy Futures Lab looked at the feasibility of using solar panels alongside the track to directly power the railway.

The report claims that 15 per cent of the commuter network in Kent, Sussex and Wessex could be powered directly by 200 small solar farms. It suggested that solar panels could also supply 6 per cent of the London Underground’s energy requirements and 20 per cent of the Merseyrail network.

In another article in today’s Times about the study, this is said.

Installing solar farms and batteries alongside lines also could provide the extra energy needed to power more carriages on busy routes that otherwise would require prohibitively expensive upgrades to electricity networks.

Note the use of batteries mentioned in the extract from The Times. This would be sensible design as power can be stored, when the sun is shining and used when it isn’t!

If you want to read the full report, click here!

I will lay out my thoughts in the next few sections.

Is This Technique More Applicable To Rail-Based Direct Current Electrification?

All of the routes mentioned for application of these solar farms,; Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail are electrified using one of two rail-based direct current systems.

Consider the following.

Powering The Track

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

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

It would appear that as rail-based direct current electrification needs a lot of feeder stations along the line, this might be better suited for solar power and battery electrification systems.

Consider.

  • Most of the feeder stations would not need a connection to the National Grid.
  • Solar panels generate low direct current voltages, which are probably cheaper to convert to 750 VDC than 25 KVAC.
  • In installing electrification on a line like the Uckfield Branch, you would install the extra rails needed and a solar farm and battery system every two or three miles.
  • With the situation mentioned in the extract from The Times, you might add a solar farm and battery system, to a section of track, where more power is needed.
  • For efficiency and safety, power would only be sent to the rail when a train was present.

I trained as an Electrical Engineer and I very much feel, that solar power and battery systems are better suited to powering rail-based electrification. Although, they could be used for the overhead DC systems we use in the UK for trams.

Modular Design

Each of the solar farm and battery systems could be assembled from a series of factory-built modules.

This would surely make for a cost-effective installation, where capacity and capabilities could be trailored to the location.

Regenerative Braking

Modern trains use regenerative braking, which means that braking energy is converted into electricity. The electricity is handled in one of the following ways.

  1. It is turned into heat using resistors on the train roof.
  2. It is returned through the electrification system and used to power nearby trains.
  3. It is stored in a battery on the train.

Note.

  1. Option 1 is not efficient.
  2. Option 2 is commonly used on the London Underground and other rail-based electrification systems.
  3. Option 2 needs special transformers  to handle 25 KVAC systems.
  4. Option 3 is efficient and is starting to be developed for new trains and trams.

If batteries are available at trackside, then these can also be used to store braking energy.

I believe that using solar farm and battery systems would also enable efficient regenerative braking on the lines they powered.

But again, because of the transformer issue, this would be much easier on rail-bassed direct current electrification systems.

Could Wind Turbines Be Used?

Both solar farms and wind turbines are not guaranteed to provide continuous power, but putting a wind turbine or two by the solar farm would surely increase the efficiency of the system, by generating energy in two complimentary ways and then storing it until a train came past.

Wind energy could also be available for more hours in the day and could even top up the battery in the dark.

In fact, why stop with wind turbines?

Any power source could be used. On a coastal railway, it might be wave or tidal power.

Could Hydrogen Power Be Used?

I think that hydrogen power could be another way to create the energy needed to back up the intermittent power of solar farms and wind turbines.

I put a few notes in Hydrogen-Powered Railway Electrification.

 

Would The Technique Work With Battery Trains?

Most certainly!

I haven’t got the time or the software to do a full simulation, but I suspect that a route could have an appropriate number of solar farm and battery systems and each would give the battery train a boost, as it went on its way.

Would The Technique Work With 25 KVAC Electrification?

It would be more expensive due to the inverter involved to create the 25 KVAC needed.

But I feel it would be another useful tool in perhaps electrifying a tunnel or a short length of track through a station.

It could also be used to charge a train working a branch line on batteries.

Would The Technique Work With Dual Voltage Trains?

Many trains in the UK can work with both third-rail 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

Classes of trains include.

  • The Class 319 trains built for Thameslink in the 1980s.
  • The Class 345 trains being built for Crossrail.
  • The Class 387 trains built for various operators.
  • The Class 700 trains recently built for Thamelink.

There are also other classes that could be modified to run on both systems.

Provided they are fitted with third-rail shoes, there is no reason to stop dual-voltage trains running on a line electrified using solar farms and batteries.

The technique could surely be used to electrify a branch line from a main line electrified using 25 KVAC.

Consider Henley Branch Line.

  • It is four-and-a half miles long.
  • It is not electrified.
  • It connects to the electrified Great Western Main Line at Twyford station.
  • The line can handle trains up to six-cars.
  • All services on the line are worked by diesel trains.

Services consist of a shuttle between Henley-on-Thames and Twyford, with extra services to and from Paddington in the Peak and during the Regatta.

Network Rail were planning to electrify the line using 25 KVAC overhead electrification, but this has been cancelled, leaving the following options for Paddington services.

  • Using battery trains, possibly based on the Class 387 trains, which would be charged between Paddington and Twyford.
  • Using Class 800 bi-mode trains.
  • Using Class 769 bi-mode trains.

All options would mean that the diesel shuttle continued or it could be replaced with a Class 769 bi-mode train.

An alternative would be to electrify the branch using third-rail fitted with solar farm and battery systems.

  • All services on the line could be run by Class 387 trains.
  • Voltage changeover would take place in Twyford station.

There are several lines that could be served in this way.

Installation Costs

I’ll repeat my earlier quote from the Modern Railways article.

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

If you were going to electrify, the twenty-four non-electrified miles of the Marshlink Line, with traditional Southern  Electric third-rail, you would need around 8-12 National Grid connections to power the line. As the Romney Marsh is probably not blessed with a dense electricity network, although it does have a nuclear power station, so although putting in the extra rails may be a relatively easy and affordable project, providing the National Grid connection may not be as easy.

But use solar farm and battery systems on the remoter areas of the line and the number of National Grid connections will be dramatically reduced.

Good National Grid connections are obviously available at the two ends of the line at Hastings and Ashford International stations. I also suspect that the electricity network at Rye station could support a connection for the electrification.

This could mean that six to eight solar farm and battery systems would be needed to electrify this important line.

I obviously, don’t have the actual costs, but this could be a very affordable way of electrifying a remote third-rail line.

Which Lines Could Be Electrified Using Solar Farm And Battery Systems?

For a line to be electrified and powered by solar farm and battery systems, I think the line must have some of the following characteristics.

  • It is a line that is suitable for rail-based direct current electrification.
  • It is not a particularly stiff line with lots of gradients.
  • It is in a rural area, where National Grid connections will be difficult and expensive.
  • It has a connection to other lines electrified by rail-based systems.

Lines to electrify are probably limited to  Southern Electric (Kent, Sussex and Wessex), London Underground and Merseyrail.

I also suspect there are several branch lines that could be reopened or electrified using rail-based electrification.

Conclusion

It’s a brilliantly simple concept that should be developed.

It is well suited to be used with rail-based direct current electrification.

It would be ideal for the electrification of the Uckfield Branch.

 

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Is What I Call A MOAB

Jamestown is a small Australian town of a few over fourteen hundred souls, probably home to several million flies and some of the most venomous spiders and snakes known to man.

I have never visited the town, but I must have flown nearly over it, when I flew a Piper AQrrow around Australia with C.

Just to the North of the town is the Hornsdale Wind Farm, which consists of 99 wind turbines with a generating capacity of 315 MW.

But this is not what brought the wind farm to my attention in an article in today’s Times under a headline of Biggest Ever Battery Plugs City’s Energy Gap.

This is said.

The battery array was built after a high-stakes bet by Elon Musk, 46, the US technology billionaire behind Tesla electric cars, that he could meet a 100-day building deadline or he would give the system away.

Wikipedia has a section on this battery.

This is said.

South Australia received 90 proposals and considered 5 projects. Tesla, Inc. is building the world’s most powerful lithium ion battery adjacent to the wind farm. It has two sections; a 70 MW running for 10 minutes, and a 30 MW with a 3 hour capacity. Samsung 21700-size cells are used.

It will be operated by Tesla and provide a total of 129 megawatt-hours (460 GJ) of storage capable of discharge at 100 megawatts (130,000 hp) into the power grid. This will help prevent load-shedding blackouts and provide stability to the grid (grid services) while other generators can be started in the event of sudden drops in wind or other network issues. It is intended to be built in 100 days counting from 29 September 2017, when a grid connection agreement was signed with Electranet, and some units were operational. The battery construction was completed and testing began on 25 November 2017. It is owned by Neoen and Tesla, with the government having the ability to call on the stored power under certain circumstances.

It certainly seems to be the Mother-Of-All-Batteries! Hence MOAB!

The Times is reporting that the battery system has cost £30 million.

This works out at about £233,000 to store each Megawatt-Hour stored.

When you consider that we have five offshore that are bigger than the Hornsdale Wind Farm, surely it is only a matter of time before we add a battery to one.

These MOABs are an intriguing concept!

 

November 27, 2017 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Diesel And Battery Trains ould Be The Solution For Island Line

The title of this post is the same ass this article on the Island Echo.

The article discusses what is going to happen to the Island Line. I wrote about this line in A Trip On The Island Line.

This is said.

South Western Railway have revealed that the Island’s 80-year-old trains could be replaced with a diesel, battery or flywheel powered locomotive, a tram or even a guided bus lane.

The train operator, which took over the running of Island Line earlier this year, has stated in a consultation document published this week that the Class 483 former London Underground trains are no longer viable, with parts availability becoming an issue and limited capability of electricity. supply.

They are obviously looking for some new trains.

The Current Trains On The Island Line

The current trains on the Island Line are Class 483 trains, which started life as London Underground 1938 Stock.

The trains are 2597 mm. wide and 2883 mm. high.

Looking at the height and widths of London Underground’s 1972 Stock and 1973 Stock, these current trains are about thirty mm. wider and a few mm. higher.

So it might be possible to take some o0f these trains and remanufacture them for the Island Line.

But there are problems.

  • These trains are over forty years old.
  • London Underground won’t be replacing these trains for several years yet.
  • London Underground probably needs all the of the trains in these classes that it’s got.

So the Island Line needs some new trains from another source.

The Trains On The Glasgow Subway

The Glasgow Subway trains were constructed in the late 1970s, by Metro-Cammell, who  built the 1972 and 1973 Stock for London Underground.

The Glasgow Subway has an unusual gauge of four foot, as opposed to standard gauge of four foot eight and a half inches. So the Glasgow hauge is 220 mm. narrower than standard.

The Glasgow Subway trains also seem to be 300 mm. narrower and 240 mm. shorter than the 1972 Stock.

I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that the Glasgow Subway trains were designed by making them slightly smaller than the 1972 and 1973 Stock that had just been built.

New Glasgow Subway trains are being designed and built by Stadler. These will obviously be designed to fit the current platforms and tunnel, as they will have to work with the current trains.

New Trains For The Island Line

Modern computer-aided-design systems can probably scale up Stadler’s Glasgow Subway design to a train that would fit the Island Line.

Standard gauge bogies would have to be fitted.

But it surely is a route to get a basic train, that could be then fitted with appropriate motive power.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed For The Island Line?

Currently, trains on the Island Line run in pairs of two-car trains. This means that to maintain the the current two trains per hour service needs four two-car trains. According to Wikipedia, there are five operational Class 483 trains, with one in store.

If the new trains were similar to the new Glasgow Subway trains, which are four cars, two trains could provide the current service.

After upgrading the Brading loop, four trains would allow a four trains per hour service.

Would a spare train be needed?

Why Would A Big Company Like Stadler Want To Supply A Small Order For The Island Line?

This question has to be asked and I’ll use an extract from this article on Rail Engineer, which is entitled Subway Revival – Glasgow to introduce UTO.

Although there had been concerns that suppliers may not be interested in an order for a small number of four-foot gauge Subway trains, this proved not to be the case. Charlie commented that the Swiss company Stadler was “quite excited at the idea” as it has a bespoke manufacturing operation and its production lines can easily be changed to produce small orders, such as 34 cars for the Berlin Underground and 10 Croydon trams.

Sixteen or twenty cars for the Island Line doesn’t seem so small!

It certainly seems, that if you are a train or tram operator and you want a vehicle that is a little bit out-of-the-ordinary, then Stadler are interested!

What Would The Stadler Trains Be Like For Passengers?

Another extract from the Rail Engineer article, describes the new trains for the Glasgow Subway.

Stadler is to supply 17 four-car articulated trains with wide walk-through connections and a standard floor height, made possible by using smaller diameter wheels. Each train will be 39.25 metres long, compared with 37.74 metres for the current three-car units. The trains have 58 km/hr maximum speed and will have capacity for 310 passengers compared with the current 270. They will also accommodate wheelchairs.

I would suspect that the Island Line trains would be slightly wider and taller, which would give welcome space.

Battery Trains For The Island Line

The Island Echo article mentions battery trains.

So would they be a good idea on the Island Line?

Regenerative Braking

I would be pretty sure that the current Class 483 trains are not fitted with regenerative braking, which saves energy and cuts the electricity bill for running the trains.

I also suspect that the electrical power supply, is not capable of handling the return currents generated by regenerative braking.

However, the new trains for the Glasgow Subway, which I believe could be the basis for an Island Line train, do have regenerative braking.

Putting batteries on the train is a simple way of handling the electricity generated by braking. It is just stored in the battery and then used again, when the train accelerates away.

Health And Safety

Bombardier have stated that batteries on trains can be used to move trains in depots, so the amount of electrification in depots can be reduced.

As batteries can move the train short distances, there may be other safety critical places, where removing the electrification could be recommended.

Track Maintenance Savings

Reducing the amount and complication of electrified track, must save on maintenance.

Emergency Power

Despite the best of intentions, power failures do happen and having a capability to get the train to the next station using batteries must be a good thing.

Running On Batteries

The Island Line is less than ten miles long and the possibility must exist of being able to charge the batteries at each end of the line and run between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin on batteries.

There would be a balance to be struck between battery size and the length of electrification at each end.  Perhaps electrification could be kept on the following sections.

  • Ryde Pier Head to Smallbrook Junction
  • Sandown to Shanklin

A lot would depend on the state and design of the line’s power network.

Route And Track Extensions

Short extensions or new track layouts could be built without electrification to save building costs.

Conclusion

On balance, battery trains would seem t0 be a useful feature for the new trains on the Island Line.

Improvements To The Island Line

The Wikipedia entry for the Island Line has a section called Future. Various improvements are put forward.

It seems there has been a lot of talk and very little action.

My thoughts follow.

Brading Loop

Wikipedia says this about a loop at Brading station.

A suggestion in early 2009 was to reinstate the loop at Brading, thus allowing a ‘Clock Face’ timetable to encourage greater use. The outcome of this is still awaited.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the loop is clearly visible to the East of the station.

Trains with a battery capability will give advantages.

  • Flexibility of design.
  • Simplified track layouts.
  • No electrification of new track.

The much-needed loop could become affordable!

Extension to Ventnor

There have been proposals to reopen the line south of Shanklin, to the original terminus at Ventnor.

You can still  trace the line on Google Map and if the need is there, trains with a battery capability would surely aid its reopening.

The line could be single track and without electrification.

 

Conclusion

New trains with a battery capability will give the Island Line a new lease of life.

I also believe that Stadler have the capability to build a suitable battery train, based on their design for the new trains for the Glasgow Subway.

 

 

 

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Riding On A Battery-Electric Double-Deck Bus

This morning I rode on a battery-electric double-deck bus.

Some of these buses are russing on route 98 between Holborn and Willesden Garage, which includes a run down Oxford Street.

There’s more on the buses in this page on the Metroline web site.

I went upstairs and the experience was little different to that of a normal hybrid bus.

My Thoughts

My thoughts in various areas.

Design

It is a well-designed bus, that is easy to use for this seventy-year-old.

Passenger Experience

Travelling along Oxford Street, the passenger experience was equal to that of a New Routemaster, without the occasional low noise of the engine.

 

Performance Of The Bus

As we proceeded along Oxford Street, the performance of the bus, was very much in line with current hybrid buses.

The bus wasn’t full on the upper deck, but I suspect that the total weight of the passengers is very much lower than the weight of the battery, so this might mean that a full bus performs well compared with an empty bus.

Limited Space On The Lower Deck

There is one obvious problem and that is that the size of the battery reduces the number of seats downstairs.

As I said earlier, I doubt the weight of the passengers is a problem, but the available space, where they sit and stand could be.

Economics Of The Bus

The bus will obviously be expensive to purchase and to run, as batteries are expensive and need to be replaced every few years.

Coupled with the fact that capacity is smaller than current hybrid buses, which probably means more buses are needed to perform the required service, the economics of the buses may not be suitable for many routes.

I also wonder, if a battery-electric double-deck bus has better economics than a single-deck bus, as the extra weight of the top deck and the extra passengers is small compared to the weight of the battery.

But the economics will get better with improved battery technology.

The Marketing Advantages

BYD and Metroline could be  big winners here, as corporate videos and marketing material showing buses in Central London, can’t be a bad thing!

The Competition From Diesel Hybrid Buses

I believe that one competitor to the battery-electric bus will be the next generation of diesel hybrid buses.

Take the current modern hybrid buses like a New Routemaster or any other hybrid bus built in the last couple of years. These have a battery that can power the bus for perhaps a couple of miles.

As the battery is smaller, it can be squeezed into an unlikely space. On a New Routemaster, the diesel engine is under the back stairs and the battery is under the front stairs.

A technique called geo-fencing can be retro-fitted, which forbids the use of the buses diesel engine in sensitive areas, based on GPS technology.

So a route like London’s route 98 could work through the ULEZ on battery power and charge the battery between Edware Road station and Willesden Garage.

The Competition From Hydrogen Hybrid Buses

This will surely be similar to that from diesel hybrid buses.

  • Battery size will probably be as for a diesel hybrid bus.
  • As hydrogen doesn’t give out noxious emissions, this will be an advantage and you won’t need the geo-fencing.
  • But you will need to store the hydrogen.

As hydrogen technology improves, I feel that thehydrogen hybrid bus could become a formidable competitor.

The Competition From Converting Old Diesel Buses To Diesel Hybrid Buses

I talked about this in Arriva London Engineering Assists In Trial To Turn Older Diesel Engine Powered Buses Green.

Never underestimate good engineers with a good idea, that has a good financial payback.

Conclusion

There is going to be a lot of competition between the various technologies and the passengers, bus operators, London and London’s air will be big winners.

As all of this technology can be applied anywhere, other parts of the UK will benefit.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Auckland Rows Back On battery Train Plan

The title of this post is the same as this article on the International ailway Journal.

This is said.

Following approval by Auckland Council, the proposal went to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for final sign-off. However, in the run-up to New Zealand’s general election on September 23, a political consensus emerged in favour of bringing forward electrification of the Papakura – Pukekohe line, prompting the NZTA to reject the case for battery trains.

Can we assume the reason for the change of order is political?

Certainly, CAF, who are building the trains seem to have the required battery technology. This is also said.

CAF says the contract will include an option to equip the trains with battery packs at a later date if required.

I just wonder if battery trains are just too risky for politicians, who tend to be rather conservative and badly-informed about anything technological.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

BBC Click On Batteries

This weekend’s Click on the BBC is a cracker and it’s all about batteries.

Electric Mountain

It starts with pictures of the UK’s largest battery at Dinorwig Power Station or Electric Mountain, as it is colloquially known.

The pumped storage power station was completed in 1984 and with a peak generating capacity  of 1.6 GW, it was built to satisfy short term demand, such as when people make a cup of tea in advert breaks in television programs. Under Purpose of the Wikipedia entry for Dinorwig Power Station, there is a very good summary of what the station does.

To build Dinorwig was a wonderful piece of foresight by the CEGB, over forty years ago.

Would environmentalists allow Dinorwig Power Station to be built these days?

That is a difficult question to answer!

On the one hand it is a massive development in an outstanding area of natural beauty and on the other Dinorwig and intermittent power sources like solar and wind power, is a marriage made in heaven by quality engineering.

As solar and wind power increase we will need more electric mountains and other ways of storing considerable amounts of electricity.

Close to Electric Mountain, another much smaller pumped storage power station of 100 MW capacity is being proposed in disued slate quarries at Glyn Rhonwy. This article on UK Hillwalking, is entitled Opinion: Glyn Rhonwy Hydro is Causing a Stir.

The article was written in 2015 and it looks like Planning Permission for the new pumped storage power station at Glyn Rhonwy has now been given.

The UK’s particular problem with pumped storage power stations, is mainly one of geography, in that we lack mountains.

However Electric Mountain is in the top ten pumped storage power stations on this list in Wikipedia.

I doubt in today’s economy, Electric Mountain would be built, despite the fact that it is probably needed more than ever with all those intermittent forms of electricity generation.

The Future Of Pumped Storage Technology

But if you read Wikipedia on pumped-storage technology, there are some interesting and downright wacky technologies proposed.

I particular like the idea of underwater storage, which if paired with offshore wind farms could be the power of the future. That idea is a German project called StEnSea.

Better Batteries

Click also talks about work at the Warwick Manufacturing Group about increasing the capacity of existing lithium-ion batteries for transport use by improved design of the battery package. Seventy to eighty percent increases in capacity were mentioned, by a guy who looked serious.

I would reckon that within five years, that electric vehicle range will have doubled, just by increments in chemistry, design and manufacture.

Batteries will also be a lot more affordable.

Intelligent Charging

Warwick Manufacturing Group are also working on research to create an intelligent charging algorithm, as a bad charging regime can reduce battery life and performance.

I rate this as significant, as anything that can improve performance and reduce cost is certainly needed in battery-powered transport.

The program reclons it would improve battery performance by ten percent in cars.

Surely, this would be most applicable to buses or trains, running on a regular route, as predicting energy use would be much easier, especially if the number of passengers were known.

In Technology Doesn’t Have To Be Complex, I discussed how Bombardier were using the suspension to give a good estimate of the weight of passengers on a Class 378 train. I suspect that bus and train manufacturers can use similar techniques to give an estimate.

So a bus or train on a particular route could build a loading profile, which would be able to calculate, when was the optimum time for the battery to be charged.

As an example, the 21 bus, that can be used from Bank station to my house, is serviced by hybrid new Routemasters. It has a very variable passenger load and sometimes after Old Street, it can be surprisingly empty.

Intelligent charging must surely offer advantages on a bus route like this, in terms of battery life and the use of the onboard diesel engine.

But is on trains, where intelligent charging can be of most use.

I believe that modern trains like Aventras and Hitachi’s Class 800 trains are designed to use batteries to handle regenerative braking.

If you take a Class 345 train running on Crossrail, the battery philosophy might be something like this.

  • Enough energy is stored in the battery at all times, so that the train can be moved to a safe place for passenger evacuation in case of a complete power failure.
  • Enough spare capacity is left in the battery, so that at the next stop, the regnerative braking energy can be stored on the train.
  • Battery power would be used where appropriate to reduce energy consumption.
  • The control algorithm would take inputs from route profile and passenger loading.

It may sound complicated, but philosophies like this have been used on aircraft for around forty years.

Reusing Vehicle Batteries In Homes

Click also had detailed coverage about how vehicles batteries could be remanufactured and used in homes. Especially, when solar panels are fitted.

Other Batteries

On the on-line version, the program goes on to look at alternative new ideas for batteries.

Inside Electric Mountain

The on-line version, also gives a tour of Electric Mountain.

Conclusion

The future’s electric, with batteries.

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Could There Be A Battery-Powered Class 319 Flex Train?

In the advance copy of the brochure for the Class 319 Flex train, that Porterbrook have sent me, there is a few comments about using batteries on the train.

This strong statement is Porterbrook’s view on a battery-option for the train.

A large battery option was shown to be heavy, would require a lot of space and have long recharge times.

But Porterbrook are also quoted in the article in Rail Magazine, which is entitled Flex… and flexibility, as saying.

Batteries are definitely doable, but rail will have to overcome the current range limitations for traction power. We think traction battery technology will give you a range of around 20km to 30km [12-18 miles] before needing recharging, and this is not enough for most operators.

But a lot of uses of a battery train are for very short distances.

  • Moving a train in a depot.
  • Moving a train to an electrically-dead siding for overnight parking.
  • Moving a train to a safe evacuation place like the next station after an electrification failure.
  • Moving a train over an electrically-dead section of line.
  • Running on very short branch lines without electrification.
  • Running to a temporary station.
  • Remote start-up of the train.

As the Class 319 train is a DC train, fitting batteries would not need an expensive voltage converter.

Electrically-Dead Stations

The new Health and Safety  regulations as regards electricity in stations are causing Network Rail serious problems and great expense with electrification.

A train with a limited battery option may offer significant safety advantages in that if it had a range of six mile or so on full batteries then stations could be built without electrification.

Third rail systems are often broken in stations for a short distance, so that staff can safely cross the tracks. They are also broken at level crossings.

Most trains including all Class 319 trains have contact shoes at both end of the train and can bridge a short gap.

An onboard battery would allow the trains to bridge larger gaps.

The problem with overhead electrification is that the pantograph must be lowered and raised at the correct times. But this is one of those problems that could be done automatically and safely by systems linked to GPS.

There’s certainly a patent with the name of Pantograph Control Via GPS.

No overhead wires in a station with a rich architectural heritage, may lead to easier and more affordable electrification.

Think Hebden Bridge!

Very Short Branch Lines

Several  branch lines that have been proposed for electrification are less than six miles in length.

  • Brentford – 4 miles
  • Greenford – 2.7 miles
  • Henley – 4.5 miles
  • Levenmouth Rail Link – 5 miles
  • Windsor – 2.5 miles

So if 20 to 30 km. (12-18 mile) range mentioned by Porterbrook is serious, a Class 319 Flex train with batteries instead of diesel engines should be able to handle short branch lines with ease, provided that the batteries could be charged on the main line or in an electrified bay platform.

As electrificastion procedes more opportunities will present themselves.

This Google Map shows the distance between Leeds Bradford Airport and the Harrogate Line.

The Harrogate Line is likely to be electrified in the next tranch of electrification, as most of the other suburban lines from Leeds are already electrified.

The distance between the Airport and the Harrogate Line is probably about a mile, so Class 319 trains fitted with an affordable battery could manage this line.

Battery Technology Will Improve

It should be born in mind that battery technology will get better, thus range will increase for a battery if a given physical size.

A guaranteed twenty mile range would bring these routes into the list of possible routes for a Class 319 train with batteries.

  • Braintree – 6.4 miles
  • Coventry to Nuneaton – 10 miles
  • Marlow – 7.25 miles
  • Windermere – 10 miles

Braintree is interesting, as it needs a passing loop and the cheapest way to do this would be to remove the electrification, update the track and signalling and use an independently-powered train.

Battery Technology On Other Trains

Simpler battery systems like this will be able to be applied to a large number of modern electric trains on UK railways.

Note that I haven’t included the Alstom, CAF, Hitachi, Siemens and Stadler trains running now or in the future.

Will they sit on their hands and watch the other manufacturers’ trains get more efficient? You bet they won’t!

It is also worth noting that some of these trains, unlike the Class 319 trains, have regenerative braking, which could store their braking-generated energy in the battery, rather than returning it to the electrification.

Conclusion

Porterbrook have let a big genie out of the bottle.

 

 

 

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 4 Comments

Business As Usual: Vivarail Begins Testing Of New Battery Train

The title of this post is taken from this article in Rail Technology Magazine.

So it would appear that Class 230 trains are now running on batteries.

Apparently you can swap batteries for diesel power-packs.

The train certainly has a low-cost paint job!

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Theresa Mentions The B-Word

On today’s Andrew Marr Show, Theresa May has just said that she has setup a review into battery technology.

I can’t find anything else.

However, I did find this snippet in The Sunday Times, when I bought the paper.

Ministers will pledge to invest in digital, energy, construction and transport infrastructure in each region. Funding is already earmarked for an institute to develop new battery technology.

That is probably something we need.

January 22, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

Meet Coventry’s Battery Boffin Taking On Tesla

This is the title on an article in the Business section of The Sunday Times.

Read it, but if you can’t here’s a quick summary.

  • Professor David Greenwood at the Warwick Manufacturing Group is developing a battery for Jaguar and Land Rover.
  • Plans are afoot to build a massive battery factory in Coventry.
  • Greenwood and his team are working to give the Nissan Leaf more range and a more affordable battery.

I don’t believe that the team in Coventry are the only group in the world with similar aims.

Note that in How Big Would The Batteries Need To Be On A Train For Regenerative Braking?, I reckoned that one battery from a Nissan Leaf could handle the regenerative braking energy of a four-car Class 710 train, running between Gospel Oak and Barking.

We are approaching the era of battery transportation at a fast pace.

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment