The Anonymous Widower

A Battery-Electric Class 99 Locomotive

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I introduced the Class 99 locomotive, for which the first order was announced by Stadler and GB Railfreight today.

This was the start of that post, which I wrote in early March 2022.

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

GB Railfreight is planning to order a fleet of main line electro-diesel locomotives with a modular design which would facilitate future replacement of the diesel engine with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell module.

The rest of the article gives clues to the deal and the specification of the locomotives.

  • Negotiations appear to have started with Stadler for locomotives to be built at their Valencia plant.
  • Twenty locomotives could be ordered initially, with options for thirty.
  • The locomotive will be Co-Co bi-modes.
  • The diesel engine will be for heavy main line freight and not just last-mile operations.
  • They would be capable of hauling freight trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe, within two minutes of the times of a Class 66 locomotive.
  • They will be of a modular design, so that in the future, the diesel engine might be replaced by a battery or fuel cells as required and possible.

They have provisionally been called Class 99 locomotives.

Note the introductory paragraph of the Railway Gazette article.

GB Railfreight is planning to order a fleet of main line electro-diesel locomotives with a modular design which would facilitate future replacement of the diesel engine with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell module.

What sort of range and performance will this give to a Class 99 locomotive?

In Class 99 Electro-Diesel Locomotive Order Confirmed, I came to this conclusion.

It does appear that a design based around the latest version of a Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine will be possible.

The easiest way to create a battery-electric Class 99 locomotive would be to replace the Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine with the largest and most efficient batteries possible, add regenerative braking to battery and the best control system for the locomotive and the batteries, that engineers can devise.

These are my thoughts.

Range Of A Euro Dual On Diesel

Consider.

  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a 3,500 litre fuel tank.
  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a fuel consumption of 1039.3 L/hr.

This should allow the locomotive to run for about three hours and twenty minutes or about 250 miles.

Obviously, any electrification on the route, will increase the range.

Weight Of The Diesel Engine

This data sheet for the Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine gives a weight of over twenty tonnes, which is certainly a lot of weight.

You’ve also got the weight of the fuel tank, which could also contain in the Euro Dual hold nearly three tonnes of diesel.

I will assume that the weight of a Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine and the associated gubbins could be as high as 25 tonnes.

How Much Energy Could A Twenty Tonne Battery Hold?

In Innolith Claims It’s On Path To 1,000 Wh/kg Battery Energy Density, which was written two years ago.

This was my conclusion of that post.

I am led to believe these statements are true.

  • Tesla already has an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg.
  • Tesla will increase this figure.
  • By 2025, the energy density of lithium-ion batteries will be much closer to 1 KWh/Kg.
  • Innolith might achieve this figure. But they are only one of several companies aiming to meet this magic figure.

These figures will revolutionise the use of lithium-ion batteries.

I feel it is reasonable to go along with Tesla’s figure of 250 Wh/Kg, which gives a 5 MWh battery could replace the C175-16 diesel engine, if it had a total weight of 20 tonnes.

If the battery could have a total weight of 25 tonnes, the battery would have a capacity of 6.25 MWh.

It does look like the Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine and the associated gubbins could be replaced by a substantial battery.

As the years go by, the capacity of the batteries will only grow.

Will Battery-Electric Class 99 Locomotives Have Regenerative Braking?

According to Wikipedia, Stadler Euro Dual locomotives do have regenerative braking, so it would seem likely, that this could be used to recharge the batteries, in addition to 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it is available.

I will assume that battery-electric Class 99 locomotives will have regenerative braking.

How Long Could A Battery-Electric Class 99 Locomotive Run On Batteries?

Consider.

  • To have the performance of a Class 99 locomotive on diesel, the locomotive would need to output 2,800 kW.

Without regenerative braking this would give these figures.

  • A 5 MWh battery would run for at least one hours and 47 minutes.
  • A 6.25 MWh battery would run for at least two hours and 13 minutes.

Add in regenerative braking and short strategic lengths of electrification and large parts of the UK network would be opened up to electrified trains.

Conclusion

Stadler have probably done extensive simulations of the UK network with battery-electric Class 99 locomotives, so they would know the true potential of these locomotives.

April 29, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 6 Comments

Fortescue Unveils World-First Electric Train Using Gravity To Recharge

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

These two paragraphs summarise the project.

Fortescue has announced the development of an electric train that recharges itself using gravity, as the Australian resources giant finalises its acquisition of UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering.

Fortescue is dedicating $50 million, in partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), for research and development on the Infinity Train, which fully recharges its battery using gravitational energy when it descends.

Note.

  1. Most of Australia’s iron ore is mined in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
  2. There are at least four railways in Pilbara leading to the coast.
  3. As the mines are higher than the coast, the heavily loaded trains will be going downhill, whereas the empties will be going uphill.
  4. There would certainly appear to be scope for charging going to the coast and coming back on a full battery with the empties.
  5. 94 % of Australia’s iron ore exports are transported by train from Pilbara to the coast.

There are hundreds of locomotives used for transportation of Iron ore from Pilbara to the coast.

Will Williams Convert Existing Locomotives?

I suspect they will as this is route that Wabtec is taking with their FLXdrive locomotives.

Will Williams Convert Locomotives For Other Pilbara Companies?

I suspect what Andrew Twiggy Forest wants he gets.

Could Williams Convert Other Diesel Electric Locomotives

I suspect they could and I wouldn’t rule out seeing a battery-electric Class 66 locomotive.

I laid out my thoughts in Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?.

March 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Union Pacific Railroad Makes Largest Investment In Wabtec’s FLXdrive Battery-Electric Locomotive

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE: UNP) today announced the purchase of 10 FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives from Wabtec Corporation (NYSE: WAB). The order, which marks the largest investment in battery technology by a North American railroad, will upgrade Union Pacific’s rail yard infrastructure and support its commitment to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“As an industry leader, Union Pacific is pioneering a major application of battery power in its rail yards,” said Rafael Santana, President and CEO for Wabtec. “Battery power is an ideal solution to reduce the environmental impact and costs of yard operations. Using the FLXdrive in the rail yard can significantly improve local air quality, as well as reduce noise by up to 70% for neighboring communities.”

The approximately 2.5-MWh locomotives are each powered solely by 7,000 battery cells, providing Union Pacific a zero-emission solution for its yard operations. The 10 FLXdrives will enable the railroad to eliminate 4,000 tons of carbon annually from its rail yards, the equivalent of removing 800 cars from the highway. The new locomotives will be manufactured in the United States with the first units being delivered to Union Pacific in late 2023.

It would appear that the major use will be in their rail yards.

There is also this second press release from Union Pacific, which is entitled Union Pacific Railroad To Assemble World’s Largest Carrier-Owned Battery-Electric Locomotive Fleet.

This is the first paragraph.

Union Pacific Railroad (NYSE: UNP) today announced plans to purchase 20 battery-electric locomotives for testing in yard operations. The combined purchases and upgrades to yard infrastructure are expected to exceed $100 million, representing the largest investment in battery-electric technology by a U.S. Class I railroad. The locomotives will be acquired from Progress Rail, a Caterpillar company, and Wabtec Corporation (NYSE:WAB), two companies at the forefront of locomotive innovation, and will be the world’s largest carrier-owned battery-electric locomotive fleet in freight service.

The press release also says that Union Pacific will be netzero by 2050.

Conclusion

All of this action in the United States and Australia with battery-electric locomotives, from two manufacturers; Progress Rail and Wabtec, leads me to the conclusion, that proposals to create battery-electric locomotives from Class 66 or Class 68 locomotives in the UK, will soon be being discussed by the owners of the locomotives and Wabtec and Stadler.

January 29, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Suppliers Sought For New Bi-Mode Locomotives For TransPennine Express And Great Western Railway

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

These three paragraphs give a summary of the proposed fleet of locomotives required by First Group for their two operations.

TransPennine Express is looking for expressions of interest from suppliers for a fleet of at least 15 bi-mode locomotives for use on with its Mk5 carriages.

The provision released by First Group is for up to 30 bi-mode locomotives, with an additional 5 for use on Great Western Railway’s Sleeper Service.

The operators say that the new locomotives must have the capability to be powered by overhead wires as well as being able to operate with an alternate traction mode, IE Diesel or Battery, where routes are not yet electrified or for use as a contingency.

I have also read the detailed proposal, which can be downloaded from this page of the First Group web site.

  • The locomotives must be capable of hauling a train at 100 mph.
  • First Group are putting a high emphasis on environmental impact of the locomotives.
  • The locomotives must be compatible with the latest emission regulations.
  • The locomotives must be low-noise.
  • The locomotives must be capable of hauling seven coaches, including a driving van trailer.

Nothing in the request for proposals would appear to be too challenging.

I have some thoughts.

The Number Of Locomotives For TransPennine Express

Currently, TransPennine Express has a fleet of fourteen Class 68 locomotives and enough coaches and driving van trailers to create thirteen rakes of Mark 5A coaches.

So why do TransPennine Express talk of up to thirty locomotives?

  • Fifteen locomotives would handle the current services, so thirty could cover new services or more services on the current locomotive-hauled routes.
  • Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes and Manchester Piccadilly and Hull are run by Class 185 diesel  trains, which will need replacing at some future time.
  • First Group probably know the costs of running Class 802 trains and locomotives with rakes of coaches better than anyone , so are they thinking about swapping some Class 802 trains for locomotives with rakes of coaches?

The last point would be one for the accountants.

But I am led to the conclusion, that TransPennine Express could be expanding and also decarbonising the long routes still operated by Class 185 trains.

The Number Of Locomotives For Great Western Railway

Currently, Great Western Railway has a fleet of four Class 57 locomotives to haul the Night Riviera.

Five replacement locomotives would probably be enough.

Could A Battery-Electric Locomotive Handle The TransPennine Express Requirement?

Currently, there are gaps in the electrification of the TransPennine network.

  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge – 7.7 miles – Electrification in progress
  • Stalybridge and Huddersfield – 18 miles
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrification in progress
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9.1 miles
  • Leeds and York – 25.6 – Electrification in progress
  • Northallerton and Redcar – 28.8 miles
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge – 7.5 miles
  • Leeds and Hull – 51.8 miles
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 72.1 miles
  • Scarborough and York – 42 miles
  • Doncaster and Sheffield – 18.7 miles
  • Sheffield and Stockport – 36.8 miles – Rumoured to be electrified

Note.

  1. Many gaps are quite small.
  2. The longest gaps are on easy routes.
  3. Sheffield will be electrified for the Midland Main Line.
  4. A length of electrification at Scunthorpe could ease Doncaster and Cleethorpes.

I feel that a battery-electric locomotive with a range of a hundred miles hauling seven coaches, would be able to handle all the TransPennine routes.

If the train could run the routes with an electricity consumption of 4 kWh per vehicle-mile, seven coaches would need 4 * 8 * 100 = 3.2 MWh of battery storage.

Note.

  1. A 3.2 MWh battery would weigh around 3.2 tonnes, which would be less than the diesel engine in a Class 68 locomotive.
  2. Regenerative braking to batteries could be used to improve range.
  3. In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?, I calculated that an InterCity 125 needs 1.81 kWh per vehicle mile to maintain 100 mph.

I am fairly certain, that a well-designed efficient battery-electric locomotive would be able to handle all of the routes for TransPennine Express.

Could A Battery-Electric Locomotive Handle The Night Riviera?

I have just looked up the Southbound Night Riviera on Real Time Trains.

  • It leaves Paddington at 23:50.
  • It is typically eight coaches and a Class 57 locomotive.
  • The train is planned to run at 75 mph.
  • The first 53 miles between Paddington and Newbury are electrified.
  • There is a stop of one hour and 39 minutes at Exeter.
  • Newbury and Exeter is 120.4 miles
  • Exeter and Penzance is 130.8 miles

The Northbound Night Riviera only has a five minute stop at Exeter and two minutes stops at Totnes, Newton Abbott and Taunton.

A battery-electric locomotive would need a range of 140 miles hauling eight coaches.

  • Some stops like Plymouth may need to be lengthened by a few minutes to charge the batteries.
  • Extra stops of perhaps five minutes could be added to top-up the batteries.
  • The train would be limited to 75 mph, which would improve efficiency.
  • It might even be prudent to electrify the uphill track of some of the steeper parts of the route.

But think of the marketing advantages of a zero-carbon sleeper train!

Conclusion

When I saw First Group’s proposals, I thought that they were over ambitious.

But after doing a few simple calculations, I think they can decarbonise some, but not all of the TransPennine Express services and the Night Riviera.

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Penmaenmawr Quarry Rail Terminal Opens

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Hanson has reopened its Penmaenmawr railhead in north Wales, as part of its strategy to reduce vehicle movements and associated CO2 emissions.

The quarrying company has spent £300 000 refurbishing the facility, including upgrades to the railhead conveyor which was last used in 2012. The first trial service was operated by GB Railfreight and transported stone to the Tuebrook depot near Liverpool to test the equipment and uncover any operational issues within the quarry and at the railhead.

The aim is to one one train per week between North Wales and North West England.

This Google Map shows the Penmaenmawr railhead.

Note.

  1. Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.
  2. The railhead is in the bottom-left corner of the map.
  3. The North Wales Expressway is between the railway and the beach.

There is a conveyor leading to the South and this second Google Map shows the vast quarry complex.

Penmaenmawr station is in the top right corner of the map.

It does appear to me, that this is a good move by Hanson.

  • If the quarry can be worked economically, it is surely worthwhile exploiting.
  • Opening new quarries, is generally not an easy process.
  • Even using diesel locomotives on the aggregate trains, probably saves carbon compared to trucks.
  • Closing the quarry would probably not be good for the area.
  • They only want to run one train per week.
  • I wonder, if the train goes through the Halton Curve that opened a couple of years ago.
  • Penmaenmawr and Tuebrook Sidings are a route of about eighty miles.

But I think in the future it could be a very good move, as at least one of three things will happen.

  • The North Wales Coast Line will be electrified.
  • Someone will develop a hydrogen-electric freight locomotive.
  • Wabtec will develop their battery-electric locomotive for the UK with a UK-sized FLXdrive battery.

All possibilities will help Hanson lower the carbon footprint of the route.

Given too, that Hanson will probably decarbonise their quarrying operations by using hydrogen-powered equipment, it should be possible to arrange a hydrogen supply at Penmaenmawr.

 

January 18, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

BHP Joins The Party On Electric Rail

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

BHP will add four battery-electric locomotives to its Western Australian rail network, becoming the fourth major miner to improve rail decarbonisation efforts in Australia since mid-December.

These are some details of the locomotives.

  • Two are from Progress Rail and two are from Wabtec.
  • The locomotives have 14.5 MWh batteries.
  • The locomotives will be delivered by 2023.

BHP will also investigate the use of regenerative braking using the topography of the rail route.

With four companies going electric, it does seem that Australian mining, is very much driving the move to battery-electric heavy-haul freight.

Considering, that Wabtec only formally launched the FLXdrive concept in Pittsburgh in September last year, which I wrote about in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh, that would appear to have been good going.

 

January 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rio Tinto Orders Wabtec FLXdrive Battery Locomotives To Reduce Emissions

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Wabtec Corporation (NYSE: WAB) and Rio Tinto announced today an order for four FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives to support sustainable operations of the mining company’s rail network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The 100-percent, battery-powered locomotive will help Rio Tinto’s effort to achieve a 50-percent reduction in Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030.

Some other points from the press release.

  • The locomotives have 7 MWh batteries.
  • The first locomotive will be delivered in 2023.
  •  The FLXdrive is anticipated to reduce the company’s fuel costs and emissions in percentage by double digits per train.

This paragraph describes how the FLXdrive locomotives will be used.

The mining company plans on using the locomotives in multiple applications including as a shunter in the railyard and ultimately in mainline service. In mainline operations, Rio Tinto currently uses three diesel-electric locomotives in a consist to pull trains with 240 cars hauling about 28,000 tons of iron ore. The FLXdrives will transition from the diesel locomotives in mainline service to form a hybrid consist, and recharge during the trip through regenerative braking and at charging stations. Wabtec’s next generation energy-management software system will determine the optimal times to discharge and recharge the batteries along to route ensuring the most fuel-efficient operation of the entire locomotive consist during the trip.

I can see this approach leading to even bigger fuel and emission savings.

Especially, if Wabtec developed a compatible locomotive, that was powered by hydrogen.

This was rumoured in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh, where a partnership between Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), Genesee & Wyoming and Wabtec to create the Freight Rail Innovation Institute was described.

Conclusion

There certainly seems to be a consensus between some of the world’s largest mining and rail companies about the  future of heavy freight trains to support the mining industry.

 

 

January 11, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadian National Buys Battery Locomotive

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

This is the first paragraph.

Canadian National’s Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad has purchased a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric freight locomotive, with financial support from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Marine & Rail Freight Movers grant programme.

The locomotive is intended to work in multiple with diesel locomotives and this cuts fuel consumption, pollution and noise.

I described the locomotive in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh and the more I learn about this locomotive the more I like it.

The locomotive numbered 3000, which appears in all Wabtec pictures is an example an ES44AC from the GE Evolution Series and was converted from a standard locomotive, that was in the test fleet.

Interestingly, Canadian National own several hundred of these locomotives, so they won’t be short of one to convert.

The diesel version would appear to be a 3.3 MW diesel locomotive.

In addition, this page on the Wabtec web site gives some details of the battery-electric locomotive.

  • The locomotive is powered by lithium-ion batteries.
  • There are around 20,000 battery cells
  • The batteries have their own air-conditioning
  • There is a sophisticated battery-management system.
  • The total battery size is 2.4 MWh
  • Power output is 4400 HP or 3.24 MW
  • Locomotive will run for 30-40 minutes at full power.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking.
  • Operating speed is 75 mph

Note that running at 75 mph for 40 minutes would cover fifty miles.

It does look as if, the diesel-electric and the battery-electric conversion have similar power outputs. Could this be, as the traction system on both locomotives are identical? It’s just that one uses a diesel generator and the other uses batteries.

Although there must be differences in the traction systems, as the battery-electric locomotive has regenerative braking.

The battery-electric locomotive is designed to work in conjunction with one or two diesel locomotives, where a sophisticated computer system decides which engines power the train.

  • Wabtec are claiming a thirty percent reduction in fuel and emissions compared to an all-diesel setup.
  • Electric power will also be used in depots and sensitive areas.

I do think though, that this is a pragmatic solution to cut the carbon footprint of heavy-freight in North America.

But it could be a half-way solution, as Wabtec have hinted that they are working on hydrogen-powered locomotives.

I also feel it might be possible to convert some of the UK’s Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives for lighter freight duties or working in a pair with a Class 66 locomotive to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

I discuss this in Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?

Have CN Bought The Prototype?

There is also this article on the Green Car Congress, which is entitled CN Purchases Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive.

The article seems fairly certain they have.

So perhaps, they want to get on with the job and see what the locomotive can do?

November 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wabtec and Mining’s Electric Evolution

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

It is a fascinating article, that describes how Wabtec are applying similar technology to the very large trucks used in mining and quarrying, that have been used in railway locomotives for decades.

AC electric final drives, overhead electrification and autonomous systems are all detailed.

They also talk about power agnostic technology, that can handle electricity no matter how it is provided.

It looks to me, that electric power will decarbonise these important industries.

The Quarrying Paradox

In the UK, we quarry a lot of stone and aggregate in places like the Mendips and the Peak District.

So will the quarrying companies go down the electric route for their on-site operations?

If the electric systems from Wabtec and other companies work reliably and reduce pollution, costs and carbon emissions, I can see no reason, why they shouldn’t.

But then, you have just quarried thousands of tonnes of zero-carbon aggregate and Freightliner et al, then haul it to where it is needed using a Class 66 locomotive, that emits more pollution and carbon emissions, than you have saved.

We need zero-carbon heavy-haul freight locomotives, powered by hydrogen or batteries now!

October 22, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Freight On The East West Main Line

This page on the East West Main Line Partnership web site, describes their ambitions towards freight.

This is said.

The freight and logistics sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Greater use of rail for freight and logistics provides additional resilience for the business community, while also acting on the need to achieve net zero.

Whilst not part of East West Rail, removing the bottlenecks on the Felixstowe to Midlands
corridor remains an immediate strategic priority for three sub-national transport bodies (England’s Economic Heartland, Transport East and Midlands Connect wrote to the Chancellor in this regard in July 2020).

However, the design and operation of the East West Main Line should take into account and contribute to the delivery of the requirements of the national rail freight strategy. In due course Great British Railways will have a statutory duty to consider the needs of rail freight and to take those needs into account in planning the future of the rail network.

It is therefore important that the East West Main Line is designed and delivered with the capability of supporting rail freight services without the need for additional works. In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

I have my thoughts.

Cutting Carbon Emissions In The Freight Sector

The obvious way to do this, would be to electrify every line in the country and purchase a new fleet of electric freight locomotives.

But the problems with this are the expense, disruption and timescale, it would take to replace all the locomotives and put up electrification on every line that might possibly be used by freight trains and  locomotives.

A solution is needed now, not in ten years.

But there are already solutions being demonstrated or developed that will cut carbon emissions from locomotives.

  • Stadler bi-mode Class 88 locomotives are already hauling freight trains and cutting emissions by using electric power where possible. But there are only ten of these locomotives.
  • The thirty Stadler tri-mode Class 93 locomotives on order for Rail Operations Group could or well be a game-changer. It is already known, that they will be able to cruise at 100 mph using electrification, so they will be able to mix it with the expresses on the Great Eastern Main Line. I suspect that these locomotives have been designed to be able to haul freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe, by juggling the power sources.
  • In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, I describe how Clean Air Power are converting a Class 66 locomotive to run on both diesel and hydrogen. This could be a very fruitful route, especially, if the diesel-electric Class 66 locomotives could be fitted with a pantograph to use electrification where it exists.
  • I have been very impressed with the work Wabtec have done to convert a large American diesel-electric locomotive into a battery electric locomotive. I wrote about it in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh. In Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?, I concluded that it might be possible to convert Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives using Wabtec’s technology.
  • In Powered By HVO, I talk about DB Cargo’s use of HVO to cut carbon emissions.

I am also sure that there are probably other solutions to decarbonise freight locomotives under development.

I would hope that over the next few years the amount of diesel fuel used in the freight sector will decrease significantly.

Improved Freight Routes

Currently, freight trains to and from Felixstowe take one of these routes.

  1. Via London – Using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line or Gospel Oak and Barking Line, and the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Via Nuneaton – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Peterborough and Leicester before joining the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.
  3. Via Peterborough – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely and Peterborough before taking the East Coast Main Line or the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln.

The first two routes routes have capacity problems, whereas the third route has been improved by the use of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line.

Problems on the first two routes include

  • The Great Eastern Main Line is only dual-track.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London are at full capacity.
  • The route via Nuneaton does not have much electrification.

The East West Main Line will open up a new route directly across the country for some services, that currently go via the London or Nuneaton routes.

  • Felixstowe and Birmingham
  • Felixstowe and Glasgow
  • Felixstowe and Liverpool
  • Felixstowe and Manchester

These services could use the East West Main Line to connect with the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley, if the track were to be modified.

In addition services between Felixstowe and South Wales and the West Country could use the East West Main Line to Oxford and then join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot.

The East West Main Line could reduce the number of freight trains on these routes.

  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak and Barking Line
  • Peterborough and Leicester Line

The first three lines are certainly at capacity.

The Newmarket Problem

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common, I talked about previous plans of the East West Rail Consortium, who were the predecessor of the East West Main Line Partnership for the rail line between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge through Newmarket.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

I have a feeling that if this plan were to be pursued, the Racing Industry in Newmarket wouldn’t be too keen on all the freight trains passing through the town.

Knowing the town and the racing industry and horses, as I do, I suspect that there will need to be serious noise mitigation measures through the town.

One would probably be a noise limit on the trains passing through, which might be very difficult for long freight trains, even if hauled by a much quieter battery-electric or hydrogen-powered locomotive.

Were the East West Main Line Partnership thinking of Newmarket, when they wrote the last sentence of the web page for freight.

In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

Newmarket is a unique town with a strong character and you shouldn’t take the town on lightly.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

Route Map Of The East West Main Line

 

 

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments