The Anonymous Widower

Could Chiltern Go Battery-Electric?

In the October 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Chiltern Considers Turbo Future, with a sub-title of Battery Replacement Could Be On The Cards.

These are the first two paragraphs.

In early September Chiltern Railways was preparing to launch a market sounding exercise to consider options for the future of the Class 165 Turbo DMU fleet.

The operator has 28×2-car and 11×3-car ‘165s’. which operate alongside its more modern Class 168 DMUs and its loco-hauled sets. The market sounding exercise will consider two options for the future of the fleet – some sort of hybrid conversion, or outright replacement.

The Class 165 Trains

The Class 165 trains were built in 1990-1991.

  • Maximum Speed – 75 mph
  • Prime Movers – One per car, Perkins 2006-TWH
  • 2-car Trains – 28
  • 3-car Trains – 11

One is being converted to a diesel/battery hybrid.

The Class 168 Trains

The Class 168 trains were built in 1998-2004.

  • Maximum Speed – 100 mph
  • Prime Movers – One per car, MTU 6R 183TD13H
  • 2-car Trains – 9
  • 3-car Trains – 8
  • 4-car Trains – 11

One has been converted to a diesel/battery hybrid.

Conversion To Hybrid Operation

If this proves to be feasible, it will surely be the more affordable of the two options.

But it does leave Chiltern with a mixed fleet with two types of train with different maximum speeds and these lengths.

  • 2-car Trains – 37
  • 3-car Trains – 19
  • 4-car Trains – 11

Would a fleet of similar trains, with perhaps a maximum speed of 100 mph, be better operationally?

Battery-Electric Operation

The Modern Railways article introduces the concept of battery-electric operation with this paragraph.

If a replacement fleet is considered the best option for the Turbo units, the replacements could take the form of a straight battery EMU, taking advantage of recent advances in ‘fast charge’ technology.

The article also says this about battery technology and electrification.

There is optimism that advances in battery technology will provide a smooth pathway to decarbonise Chiltern’s operations – the company serves the only non-electrified London terminus.

In the longer-term, it is hoped electrification from Birmingham to Banbury as part of a strategy to decarbonise CrossCountry and freight services would enable Chiltern to run a battery EMU on London to Birmingham duties, running under battery power as far north as Banbury and switching to overhead wires from there, both powering the unit and enabling the batteries to be recharged.

The Modern Railways article looked at each route and I will do this in more detail.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury via High Wycombe

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 40 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Aylesbury stations.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Vale Parkway

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 41 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway stations.

It might be better to electrify between Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway stations.

London Marylebone And Banbury

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 69 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Banbury stations.

Leamington Spa And Birmingham Moor Street

Assuming the Birmingham and Banbury section of the route is electrified, this route will be electrified.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Moor Street Or Birmingham Snow Hill

Assuming the Birmingham and Banbury section of the route is electrified, this route can be considered to be in two sections.

  • London Marylebone and Banbury – Battery operation – 69 miles
  • Banbury and Birmingham – Electric operation – 42 miles

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station and on the electrified section.

London Marylebone And Gerrards Cross

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 19 miles or 38 miles both ways.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station.

London Marylebone And High Wycombe

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 28 miles or 56 miles both ways.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station.

London Marylebone And Oxford

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 66.8 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Oxford stations.

London Marylebone And Stratford-upon-Avon

Assuming the Birmingham and Banbury section of the route is electrified, this route can be considered to be in two sections.

  • London Marylebone and Banbury – Battery operation – 69 miles
  • Banbury and Hatton Junction – Electric operation – 26 miles
  • Hatton Junction and Stratford-upon-Avon – Battery operation – 9 miles

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station and on the electrified section.

Chiltern’s Mainline Service

Chiltern’s Mainline service between London and Birmingham is run by either a Class 68 locomotive pulling a rake of six Mark 3 coaches and a driving van trailer or two or three Class 168 trains.

As the locomotive-hauled train is about eight coaches, it could surely be replaced by two four-car multiple units working together.

I believe that if Chiltern obtained a fleet of four-car battery electric trains, this would be the most efficient fleets for all their routes.

Charging At London Marylebone Station

I took these pictures at Marylebone station today.

Note.

  1. It is a surprisingly spacious station and I feel that Furrer+Frey or some other specialist company could add some form of charging to the platforms.
  2. Charging would probably performed using the train’s pantograph.

It appears that the turnround time in Marylebone is typically twelve minutes or more, which should be adequate to fully charge a train.

 

Conclusion

Both solutions will work for Chiltern.

But I prefer the new battery-electric train, which has some crucial advantages.

  • Battery-electric trains will be quieter than hybrid trains.
  • Marylebone station has a noise problem and battery-electric trains are very quiet.
  • Chiltern have ambitions to built new platforms at Old Oak Common and to serve Paddington. This could be easier with a battery electric train.

Rhe only disadvantage is that Banbury and Birmingham would need to be electrified.

 

 

September 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Eversholt Rail And Vivarail To Develop Class 321 BEMU

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

These three paragraphs introduce the project.

Eversholt Rail and Vivarail have signed an agreement aimed at developing battery power – and range extension – to the Class 321 ‘Renatus’ fleet.

The 30 unit ‘Renatus’ fleet is a product of £65m investment in AC traction, air conditioning and upgraded interior. Completed in 2019, it provides a high-quality passenger experience, proven reliability in intensive operations and is widely compatible on the UK network. This fleet is currently operating on the Greater Anglia network until the introduction of their new trains is completed.

Eversholt Rail and Vivarail are committed to supporting the UK Government’s ambition to decarbonise its rail sector by 2050, and the Scottish Government’s objective of doing so by 2035. This proven and reliable fleet is an excellent fit in terms of characteristics, fleet size and availability for conversion to a Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU). Vivarail, as the designers and manufacturers of the UK’s only battery and hybrid trains currently in passenger service are well positioned to progress this development.

This paragraph talks about the design objectives.

We will be working together to develop a design to integrate battery technology to provide between 20 to 30 miles of self-propulsion. Enabling the fleet to operate on non-electrified or partly electrified routes would offer the opportunity to increase the range of modern, low-carbon options to accommodate passenger demand; to enable fleet cascades; to improve the passenger experience; and to bring air quality and decarbonisation benefits to local areas.

I have a few thoughts on what I have read so far.

Vivarail’s Technology

In Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway, I talked about a ride in the battery version of Vivarail’s Class 230 train.

The train impressed me, as it did others that day.

I know that the train is late on being introduced on the Borderlands Line in Wales, but then all bi-mode or tri-mode trains seem to be having software problems.

In D-Train Order For Marston Vale Confirmed, I talked about the technicalities of Vivarail’s battery train.

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.

Note.

I should say, that I have met some of Vivarail’s designers and I have been impressed.

They were also very complimentary about the D78 Stock, where it appears no expense was spared by Transport for London to keep them up to scratch.

I will apply Ian Walmsley’s rule in the extract to the Class 321 train.

  • Four cars
  • Thirty miles
  • As the Class 321 Renatus has a modern traction system, I’ll assume it is efficient and uses 3 kWh per vehicle mile for a gentle short branch line.
  • These figures would need a 360 kWh battery.

If the consumption was 5 kWh per vehicle mile, it would be a 600 kWh battery.

Under Train Space

There is plenty of space under a Class 321 train, as these pictures show.

My design would see a battery under each car, if that were possible to even out the weight.

The Renatus Interior

These pictures show the Renatus train and interior.

Not bad for a train approaching its mid-thirties.

Will The Train Have Third-Rail Shoe Gear?

I have read the technical documents for Porterbrook’s Class 769 train, which this is based on the Class 319 train.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 319 train, this is said,

Class 321 passenger units and Class 325 postal units were developed from the Class 319 design, using similar traction equipment and the same steel body design, with revised cab designs. The 325 units used a Networker style cab design.

It looks like except for cosmetic differences in the drivers cab, the Class 319, Class 321 and Class 325 trains are identical under the skin.

Does this mean that like the Class 319 train, Class 321 trains can be fitted with third-rail shoes?

It should be noted, that if the trains can be fitted with third-rail shoes, then Vivarail’s Fast Charge system can be used to charge the train.

Could Other Trains Be Converted?

It certainly looks like in addition to the Class 321 trains, both the Class 319 and Class 325 trains can be converted to battery-electric power.

These three trains are all members of British Rail’s Mark 3 family, which were designed before computers were used in structural design to be able to withstand the force of a twenty-four tonne cement truck falling on them from a bridge. On the 5th of November 2010, this nightmare scenario happened in the Oxshott Rail Accident and no-one was killed.

So to avoid the scrapyard, trains based on the Mark 3 coach, like the Class 320, Class 322, Class 455 and Class 456 trains will be happy to sign up to the Eversholt Rail and Vivarail conversion process.

  • The Class 320 trains are three-cars, so would offer another type of train.
  • The Class 322 trains are four-cars, were built for the Stanstead Express.
  • The Class 455 trains are four-cars with third-rail gear, so would offer another type of train.
  • The Class 456 trains are two-cars with third-rail gear, so would offer another type of train.

In SWR Says Farewell To ‘456’s, I talk about converting the two-car Class 456 trains after Mark Hopwood, who is now a big cheese at Great Western Railway, suggested the conversion to create a useful two-car battery-electric train.

If you doubt, the quality of the bodies and interiors of these trains from another era, I suggest you go to Liverpool Street station and take a ride in one of Greater Anglia’s Class 321 Renatus trains.

As there are six classes that could be converted, various different types of train can be converted to suit an operator’s needs.

Main Line Speed

Most of these trains are 100 mph trains, with drivers telling me, that they have superb brakes to handle stopping from that speed.

However, Class 455 and Class 456 trains are only 75 mph trains, with some of the Class 320 trains being only 90 mph trains.

Accidents And Incidents

As far as I can tell, none of these trains has had a serious accident, that has resulted in the death of a passenger.

Even the Oxshott Rail Accident only resulted in two serious and five minor injuries, with one of the serious injuries being the driver of the cement truck.

It is a remarkable safety record.

 

Possible Routes

I will do these on a company-by-company basis, as all companies needs are different.

c2c

c2c is an all-electric company.

I doubt there is a possibility of the company needing any battery-electric trains.

Chiltern Railways

Chiltern Railways is an all-diesel company.

They effectively have three different types of motive power and the solutions for each will be different.

  • Six Class 68 locomotives haul Chiltern’s flagship main line services. As there are thirty-four of these modern locomotives in operation in the UK, I would suspect their manufacturer; Stadler will come up with a zero-carbon solution for application to these locomotives. I suspect they will become hydrogen-powered.
  • Workhorses are 28 Class 168 trains totalling eighty-five carriages. One has been converted to hybrid operation by Rolls-Royce mtu and I suspect that Rolls-Royce mtu have a plan to make all these trains zero-carbon by 2030.
  • There are also 39 Class 165 trains, which are diesel Networkers, dating from the 1990s.

I suspect that as the Networkers are the oldest in the fleet, these might be replaced with new rolling stock or some cascaded Turbostars.

I also wonder, whether Chiltern’s owner; Deutsche Bahn is watching the development of the Rolls-Royce mtu solution as it could be very applicable in Germany.

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway is an all-electric railway except for two services, where diesel multiple units are used.

  • Eastbourne and Ashford International – 25.4 miles one-way – Charge at Eastbourne and Ashford International using existing electrification or a charger.
  • London Bridge and Uckfield – 25 miles one way – Charge at Hurst Green and Uckfield using existing electrification or a charger.

Note.

  1. The trains would need a third-rail capability.
  2. The company also has a fleet of nineteen forty-year-old Class 313 trains, which are used on Coastway services.
  3. The Class 321 BEMUs could take over all Coastway services between Ashford International and Portsmouth, which would probably make things easier for the operator, with respect to staff training.

The addition of a fleet of Class 321 BEMUs or similar would surely be a sensible move to improve Govia Thameslink Railway services.

Great Western Railway

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled GWR Seeks Input To Decarbonisation Plan.

This is the first four paragraphs.

Great Western Railway is to undertake a market engagement exercise to support its development of a decarbonisation plan including a move away from diesel traction.

The operator is seeking industry input to inform the creation of a Future Fleet & Depot Proposal, setting out ‘affordable’ options for decarbonisation whilst improving and aligning services to future customer needs.

This could include automated rapid battery charging and innovative approaches to energy supply.

The Future Fleet & Depot Proposal will be submitted to the Department for Transport. If accepted by DfT, GWR would then begin procurement of rolling stock and supporting infrastructure. It envisages that this could get underway in September 2024.

It looks a good plan.

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, I opened the post with this quote from Mark Hopwood who at the time was the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway and in Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I quote him as saying the following about the trains for the Fawley Branch Line.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Mark Hopwood is so right about using old diesels and he has moved on to be Managing Director of Great Western Railway.

Could Mr. Hopwood be a driving force behind the decarbonisation of the Great Western Railway?

These trains will be possibilities for battery-electric trains.

  • Newbury and Bedwyn – Four cars – 13.3 miles one way – Charge at Newbury using existing electrification
  • West Ealing and Greenford – Two cars – 2.5 miles one-way – Charge at West Ealing
  • Slough and Windsor & Eton Central – Four cars – 2.8 miles one-way – Charge at Slough using existing electrification
  • Maidenhead and Marlow – Two cars – 7.1 miles one way – Charge at Maidenhead using existing electrification – Four car trains could run between Bourne End and Paddington
  • Twyford and Henley-on-Thames – Four cars – 4.6 miles one-way – Charge at Twyford using extended existing electrification – Trains could run to Paddington
  • Reading and Gatwick Airport – Four cars – 17.4 and 12.1 mile sections without electrification – Charge on existing third-rail electrification
  • Reading and Redhill – Four cars – 17.4 and 12.1 mile sections without electrification – Charge on existing third-rail electrification
  • Reading and Basingstoke – Four cars – 13.6 miles one-way – Charge at Reading using existing electrification
  • Didcot Parkway and Oxford – Four cars – 10.3 miles one-way – Charge at Didcot Parkway using existing electrification
  • Didcot Parkway and Banbury – Four cars – 33 miles one-way – Charge at Didcot Parkway using existing electrification – Charger or electrification needed at Banbury
  • Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Cardiff Central and Taunton – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Weston-super-Mare and Severn Beach – Two/Four cars – 45 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads, Weston-super-Mare and Severn Beach
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth – Two/Four cars – 16.6 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood – Four cars – 4.4 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads
  • Great Malvern and Westbury – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Gloucester and Weymouth – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Swindon and Westbury – Two/Four cars  32.5 miles one-way – Charge at Swindon and Westbury
  • Exmouth and Paignton – Four cars – 39.5 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids, Exmouth and Paignton
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – Two/Four cars – 39.6 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids and Barnstaple
  • Exeter Central and Okehampton – Two/Four cars – 25.6 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids and Okehampton
  • Plymouth and Gunnislake – Two cars – 14.6 miles one-way – Charge at Plymouth and Gunnislake
  • Liskeard to Looe – Two cars – 8.3 miles one-way – Charge at Liskeard
  • Par and Newquay – Two cars – 20.8 miles one-way – Charge at Par and Newquay
  • Truro and Falmouth Docks – 11.8 miles one-way – Charge at Truro
  • St Erth and St Ives – 4.2 miles one-way – Charge at St. Erth

Note.

  1. Many of the charging stations could be standard systems that are available from companies like Furrer+Frey and Vivarail.
  2. Or alternatively, a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be erected.
  3. I suspect major stations like Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth will be electrified.
  4. There probably needs to be more electrification in the Bristol area.
  5. Mark Hopwood’s nose, that said two-car trains will be needed, is probably right.
  6. Some of the trains would need a third-rail capability.

I suspect that with appropriate charging or electrification nearly all of Great Western Railways services can be run using battery-electric trains.

It does appear that Eversholt Rail Group and Vivarail have got the specification of the trains very close to the ideal, with respect to Great Western Railway’s needs.

Southeastern

Southeastern is a fully-decarbonised train operating company, with respect to passenger services.

But it wants to reopen the Hoo Branch, which will need some self-powered trains. I wrote about this in Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening.

The Class 321 BEMU would surely be a possibility to extend London and Gravesend services, by a distance of about a dozen miles to a new station at Hoo.

These trains would need a third-rail capability.

 

 

August 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Success For The Dartmoor Line

This article on Railnews is entitled Railway Braces For Weekend Changes.

The article flags up that rail timetables will change to the summer timetable and uses the Dartmoor Line where services will go hourly, as an example.

The article says this about the changes to the Dartmoor Line and the success of the restored service to Okehampton station.

One of the many changes includes the doubling of service frequencies on the recently-reopened Dartmoor Line between Exeter and Okehampton, where scheduled passenger trains were restored last November. From Sunday trains will be running every hour, and rail minister Wendy Morton visited Okehampton yesterday to celebrate the improvements.

The reopening is part of the government’s promise to ‘Restore your railways’, and the Okehampton line is the first practical example of this in action. The line was upgraded for £10 million less than the £40.5 million budgeted, and Network Rail said the route has proved ‘hugely popular’, because passenger numbers have been more than double than predicted, reaching an average of over 2,500 a week during the first 20 weeks. The number of passengers at nearby Crediton, where the Dartmoor Line joins services on the Tarka Line from Barnstaple, is also 39 per cent higher than it was before the pandemic.

I have some thoughts.

Reopening Of The Line

Network Rail can build projects on time and on budget, if they get the project management right.

Passenger Numbers Between Exeter And Okehampton

If 2,500 passengers per week can use the line in the winter, when there is only one train per two hours (tp2h), how many passengers will use the train, when there is an hourly service?

2,500 passengers per week, throughout the year would be 125,000 passengers per year and as surely the summer will be busier, I don’t think it will be an unreasonable figure.

Okehampton station car park appears to have around 300 spaces, so at 2,500 passengers per week, there might be a not too distant day, when it fills up.

Passenger Numbers At Crediton

I am not surprised that traffic at Crediton is up by 39 percent.

Consider.

  • Pre-pandemic, Crediton station had one train per hour (tph) to and from Exeter.
  • Post-pandemic, Crediton has three trains per two hours to and from Exeter.

It looks like the train frequency has been increased by 50 % and the number of passengers has increased by 39 %.

That surely is not surprising and passenger numbers might increase further when one tph are running between Exeter and both Barnstaple and Okehampton, if there are more possible passengers to attract.

Car parking at Crediton station may also be a problem, as there appears to be less than a hundred spaces.

Okehampton Parkway Station

Okehampton Parkway Station is likely to be built to the East of Okehampton. Wikipedia says this about the station.

Okehampton Parkway is a proposed railway station in Okehampton on the Dartmoor Line. The station would be part of the Devon Metro and has been described as a priority station. The station is to be sited at the A30 junction at Stockley Hamlet and would be sited at the Business Park at Okehampton as well as serving a further 900 homes close to the site.

Wikipedia, also says that Devon County Council has bought the site.

This must be one of the best sites to build a parkway station in the UK.

  • It’s on the dual-carriageway A 30, between London and Cornwall.
  • The good people of Devon seem to like to use trains given the passenger numbers at Okehampton and Crediton stations.
  • Housing is being built nearby.

This Google Map shows Devon and Cornwall to the West of Okehampton and Barnstaple.

Note.

  1. Okehampton with two stations is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Barnstaple, which has a station, is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. There are well-visited holiday resorts all along the cost including Ilfracombe, Westward Ho! and Bude.

It strikes me that if Devon put together a network of zero-carbon buses, it would be well-used and they could sell the area for zero-carbon holidays.

Rolling Stock

Currently, the Okehampton and Barnstaple services are operated by Class 150 trains.

These are definitely not good enough, due to their age and diesel power.

The distances of the two services are as follows.

  • Exeter and Barnstable – 39.5 miles
  • Exeter and Okehampton – 25.5 miles

I feel that these routes could be handled by a battery-electric train like the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. For these routes, the trains would probably be based on four-car Class 385 trains, with a top speed of 90 mph.
  2. Charging would be in Exeter.
  3. Charging may not be needed at Barnstaple and Okehampton as the routes are downhill.

If battery-electric trains can’t handle the routes, I’m sure hydrogen-powered trains could.

May 13, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are The Office Of Rail And Road (Or Their Lawyers) Too Risk Averse?

An article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways is entitled Uckfield Third Rail Is NR Priority.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Electrification of the line between Hurst Green and Uckfield in East Sussex and the remodelling of East Croydon are the top Network Rail investment priorities south of the river, according to Southern Region Managing Director John Halsall. He told Modern Railways that third rail is now the preferred option for the Uckfield Line, as it would allow the route to use the pool of third-rail EMUs in the area. This is in preference to the plan involving overhead electrification and use of dual-voltage units put forward by then-Network Rail director Chris Gibb in his 2017 report (p66, September 2017 issue).

NR has put forward options for mitigating the safety risk involved with the third-rail system, including switching off the power in station areas when no trains are present and section isolation systems to protect track workers. ‘The Office of Rail and Road hasn’t yet confirmed third rail would be acceptable, but we are working out ways in which it could be’ Mr Halsall told Modern Railways. He added that bi-mode trains with batteries were not a feasible option on this line, as the 10-car trains in use on the route would not be able to draw sufficient charge between London and Hurst Green to power the train over the 25 miles on to Uckfield.

As an Electrical Engineer, who’s first real job in industry at fifteen was installing safety guards on guillotines nearly sixty years ago, I don’t believe that an acceptable solution can’t be devised.

But as at Kirkby on Merseyside, the Office Of Rail And Road, do seem to be stubbornly against any further third-rail installations in the UK.

I wonder what, the Office Of Rail And Road would say, if Transport for London wanted to extend an Underground Line for a few miles to serve a new housing development? On previous experience, I suspect Nanny would say no!

But is it more than just third-rail, where the Office Of Rail And Road is refusing to allow some technologies on the railway?

Battery-Electric Trains

I first rode in a viable battery-electric train in February 2015, but we still haven’t seen any other battery-electric trains in service on UK railways running under battery power.

Does the Office Of Rail And Road, believe that battery-electric trains are unsafe, with the lithium-ion batteries likely to catch fire at any time?

Hydrogen-Powered Trains

The hydrogen-powered Alstom Coradia iLint has been in service in Germany since September 2018.

But progress towards a viable hydrogen train has been very slow in the UK, with the only exception being demonstrations at COP26.

Are The Office Of Rail And Road still frightened of the Hindenburg?

Although hydrogen-powered buses have been allowed.

A Tale From Lockheed

When Metier Management Systems were sold to Lockheed, I worked for the American company for a couple of years.

I met some of their directors and they told some good American lawyer jokes, such was their disgust for the more money-grabbing of the American legal profession.

At the time, Flight International published details of an innovative landing aid for aircraft, that had been developed by Lockheed. It was a suitcase-sized landing light, that could be quickly setup up on a rough landing strip, so that aircraft, like a Hercules, with an outstanding rough field performance could land safely.

I read somewhere that a Flying Doctor service or similar had acquired some of these landing aids, so they could provide a better service to their clients.

But Lockheed’s lawyers were horrified, that they would get sued, if someone was seriously injured or even died, whilst the aid was being used.

Apparently, in the end, the aids were marked Not For Use In The USA.

Conclusion

I do wonder, if third-rail electrification, battery-electric trains and hydrogen-powered trains have come up against a wall created by over-cautious lawyers.

 

May 6, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Finally Battery-Electric Trains Going To Enter Service?

In the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there are three articles about battery-electric trains on four different routes.

The technology has been a long-term arriving, as I had my first ride in a battery-electric train in February 2015, which I wrote about in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

What kept it so long?

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is This A Plan For The Marshlink Line?

Uckfield Third Rail Is NR Priority is based on an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same name.

The Modern Railways article also has this to say about the Marshlink Line.

By contrast, the shorter trains in use on the Marshlink Line between Ashford and Hastings made bi-modes with batteries a realistic option there.

The Marshlink Line is electrified at both ends at Ashford International and Ore stations.

  • In between there are four small stations and one large one Rye in the middle.
  • Ashford and Rye are 15.3 miles apart.
  • Rye and Ore are 10.1 miles apart.
  • As it runs across the Romney Marsh, there probably aren’t too many gradients.

It would appear that with a fast charge system at Rye, battery-electric operation should be possible.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

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

For different lengths of trains, battery sizes can be calculated based on a distance of sixteen miles.

  • A five-car train would need a battery capacity of between 240 and 400 kWh.
  • A four-car train would need a battery capacity of between 192 and 320 kWh.
  • A three-car train would need a battery capacity of between 144 and 240 kWh.

In Uckfield Third Rail Is NR Priority, I estimated that the Uckfield branch could be served using five-car trains with batteries between 180 and 300 kWh.

It does look that a five-car battery-electric train could be developed that would handle both the Uckfield Branch and the Marshlink Line.

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Uckfield Third Rail Is NR Priority

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Electrification of the line between Hurst Green and Uckfield in East Sussex and the remodelling of East Croydon are the top Network Rail investment priorities south of the river, according to Southern Region Managing Director John Halsall. He told Modern Railways that third rail is now the preferred option for the Uckfield Line, as it would allow the route to use the pool of third-rail EMUs in the area. This is in preference to the plan involving overhead electrification and use of dual-voltage units put forward by then-Network Rail director Chris Gibb in his 2017 report (p66, September 2017 issue).

NR has put forward options for mitigating the safety risk involved with the third-rail system, including switching off the power in station areas when no trains are present and section isolation systems to protect track workers.

The Office of Road and Rail hasn’t given Network Rail’s scheme the OK yet, but as an Electrical Engineer, I believe that a safe system is possible.

Making Charging Safe At Greenford

This article on Ian Visits is entitled Ex-London Underground Trains To Be Tested On The Greenford Branch Line.

The article describes how despite using London Underground’s four-rail electrification, it will be possible with the right interlocks and systems to make such a system safe.

As Vivarail’s system is to be installed, it must already agree with all the Health and Safety rules.

A Safe System On The Uckfield Branch

Consider.

  • The unelectrified section of the Uckfield Branch is twenty-five miles long.
  • There are seven intermediate stations, with the longest section between any two stations under five miles.
  • Trains stop in each station on the route.
  • Trains appear to have a dwell time of about a minute in each station.
  • A ten-car pair of Class 707 trains would be 203.2 metres long.
  • All platforms have been lengthened for ten-car trains.
  • A battery-electric train running along unelectrified track, is no more dangerous than a diesel train.

This picture shows some typical third-rail electrification at Kidbrooke station in South East London.

Electrification At Kidbrooke Station

Note.

  1. The electrified rails are between the tracks.
  2. Gaps are possible to isolate sections of tracks.
  3. The third-rail is tapered, so that the third-rail shoes on the train can connect and disconnect easily.

Suppose you have a third-rail electric train with a range of say seven or eight miles on batteries.

Would it be possible to devise a safe electrified railway using this train and standard third-rail electrification with some safety modifications?

  • The track in each station would be electrified in the normal way with the third-rail away from the platform.
  • The length of electrification in each station would be  a few metres shorter than the length of the ten-car pair of Class 707 trains.
  • This would mean that the train would completely cover the electrification, when it stopped in the station.
  • The third-rail electrification would only be switched on, when a train is stopped in the station and the right interlocks are engaged.
  • Even if a passenger fell onto the tracks, they would probably be safe, unless they crawled through the wheels to the centre of the tracks.
  • There would be no electrification between the stations, which would protect track workers and trespassers.

I believe that a safe system can be devised.

A train going through a station would do the following.

  • Slowing down, the train would use regenerative braking, that helped to charge the batteries
  • The train would stop in a station, so that it connected with and covered the third-rail.
  • When the charging system recognised that a train was connected, it would start to charge the batteries.
  • When all passengers had unloaded and loaded and the train was ready, the driver would stop the charging process.
  • The train would move to the next station on battery power.
  • Safety interlocks would stop the charging under various unsafe circumstances.

I believe that Siemens could have developed a charging system like this for their Class 707 trains, as some of their other trains of a similar vintage to the Class 707 trains already offer battery options.

A Stepping Stone Approach

On the unelectrified section between Hurst Green Junction and Uckfield, there are the following stations.

  • Edenbridge Town – two platforms
  • Hever – two platforms
  • Cowden – single bi-directional platform – 7.9 miles South of Hurst Green Junction.
  • Ashurst – two platforms
  • Eridge – single bi-directional platform – 6.3 miles South of Cowden
  • Crowborough – two platforms
  • Buxted – single bi-directional platform – 4.7 miles South of Eridge
  • Uckfield – single platform – 2.3 miles South of Buxted

Suppose the following were to be done.

  • Do nothing at the two platform stations.
  • Fit an intelligent fast charging system at Cowden, Eridge, Buxted and Uckfield.
  • If it was felt to be needed to ensure reliable operation, the power supply to the Southbound platform could be boosted at Hurst Green station.
  • Procure some ten-car battery-electric trains, which have regenerative braking and a range of perhaps ten-twelve miles on battery power.

Note.

  1. A pair of five-car trains could be used instead of ten-car trains.
  2. Some five-car Class 377 trains fitted with batteries might be ideal.
  3. This would mean only four platforms would need to be electrified with fast charging systems.

I am sure that Vivarail Fast Charge systems could be used, if they were modified to work with standard third-rail systems and for bi-directional use.

What size of battery would be needed for this approach?

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

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

So for a ten-car train running for twelve miles, the train would need a battery capacity of between 360 and 600 kWh.

Or if it was two five-car trains between 180 and 300 kWh in each train.

Note that Vivarail find space for 424 kWh in the two-car Class 230 train, I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

I believe that a five-car Class 377 or 707 train could be fitted with a 300 kWh battery and this would give the train a range of 12 miles, which would enable it to provide a battery-electric service on the Uckfield Branch.

May 2, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Medway Council is working with Network Rail and other industry players in an effort to make restoration of a passenger service to Hoo on the Isle of Grain branch feasible. The Council was awarded £170 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund in 2020 to support schemes to facilitate building of 12,000 new houses in the area, with £63 million of the HIF money for reinstatement of services on the Hoo Branch.

The article mentions, this new infrastructure.

  • A new station South of the former Sharnal Street station.
  • Works to level crossings, of which there are six between Gravesend station and proposed site of the new Hoo station.
  • A passing place at Hoo Junction, where the branch joins the North Kent Line.
  • A passing place at Cooling Street.

Note.

  1. The single-platform Bow Street station cost £8 million.
  2. The single-platform Soham station cost nearly £22 million, but it has a bridge.
  3. Reopening the Okehampton branch and refurbishing Okehampton station cost £40 million.

I think costs will be very tight.

Possible Train Services

This is said in the article about the train service on the branch.

While third rail electrification was originally proposed, this idea has been discarded in favour of self-powered trains on the branch, such as battery-operated trains. Possible destinations include Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet for interchange with trains going to London, or extension of London to Dartford or Gravesend services over the branch, using hybrid third-rail/battery trains.

Consider.

  • Merseyrail will be using battery-electric trains to provide services to the new Headbolt Lane station, as permission was not available for extending the existing third-rail track.
  • Electrification would probably cost more than providing a charging system at Hoo station.
  • Turning the trains at Gravesend, Northfleet or Ebbsfleet could be difficult and a new bay platform would probably break the budget.
  • Both Dartford and Gravesend have two trains per hour (tph), that could be extended to the new Hoo station.
  • Hoo junction to Hoo station is no more than five or six miles.
  • The Dartford services have a possible advantage in that they stop at Abbey Wood station for Crossrail.
  • It may be easier to run services through Gravesend station, if the terminating service from Charing Cross were to be extended to Hoo station.
  • A two tph service between London Charing Cross and Hoo stations, with intermediate stops at at least London Bridge, Lewisham, Abbey Wood and Dartford would probably be desirable.

I feel that the most affordable way to run trains to Hoo station will probably be to use battery-electric trains, which are extended from Gravesend.

It may even be possible to run trains to Hoo station without the need of a charging system at the station, which would further reduce the cost of infrastructure.

Possible Trains

Consider.

  • According to Wikipedia, stopping Gravesend services are now run by Class 376, Class 465, Class 466 and Class 707 trains.
  • Real Time Trains indicate that Gravesend services are run by pathed for 90 mph trains.
  • Class 376, Class 465 and Class 466 trains are only 75 mph trains.
  • Class 707 trains are 100 mph trains and only entered service in 2017.

I wonder, if Siemens designed these trains to be able to run on battery power, as several of their other trains can use batteries, as can their New Tube for London.

In Thoughts On The Power System For The New Tube for London, I said this.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled London Underground Deep Tube Upgrade.

This is an extract.

More speculatively, there might be a means to independently power a train to the next station, possibly using the auxiliary battery, in the event of traction power loss.

Batteries in the New Tube for London would have other applications.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Moving trains in sidings and depots with no electrification.

It should be born in mind, that battery capacity for a given weight of battery will increase before the first New Tube for London runs on the Piccadilly line around 2023.

A battery-electric train with a range of fifteen miles and regenerative braking to battery would probably be able to handle a return trip to Hoo station.

An Update In The July 2022 Edition Of Modern Railways

This is said on page 75.

More positive is the outlook for restoration of passenger services on the Hoo branch, where 12,000 new houses are proposed and Medway Council is looking to build a new station halfway down the branch to serve them. As the branch is unelectrified, one idea that has been looked at is a shuttle with a Vivarail battery train or similar, turning round at Gravesend or another station on the main line.

Steve White worries that this could mean spending a lot of money on infrastructure work and ending up with what would be a sub-optimal solution. ‘Do people really want to sit on a train for 10 minutes before having to get out and change onto another train? I don’t think so. Ideally what you want is through trains to London, by extending the Gravesend terminators to Hoo.’

That would require a battery/third rail hybrid unit, but Mr. White thinks that is far from an outlandish proposal; with Networker replacement on the horizon, a small bi-mode sub-fleet could dovetail neatly with a stock renewal programme. Medway Council and rail industry representatives are working on coming up with a solution for Hoo that could do what it does best; facilitating economic regeneration in a local area.

Note that Steve White is Managing Director of Southeastern.

I’ll go along with what he says!

Conclusion

I believe that a well-designed simple station and branch line could be possible within the budget.

A battery-electric upgrade to Class 707 trains could be a solution.

But the trains could be very similar to those needed for Uckfield and to extend electric services in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

May 2, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Deutsche Bahn Is Building Overhead Line ‘Islands’ For Battery Trains

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

This paragraph describes the concept.

This means, instead of electrifying a line in full, as is conventional for electric trains to draw traction power, these lines will feature intermittent electrification. The first of these lines to become operational will be in Schleswig-Holstein in December 2023. Deutsche Bahn says it will only electrify short stretches (a few hundred metres up to a few kilometres) or stations – enough to allow battery-powered trains to recharge on these lines. The state rail operator estimates that this move will mean that more than ten million train kilometres can be completed using electric rather than diesel traction in Schleswig-Holstein. The diesel trains currently in use will be decommissioned. DB estimates an annual diesel fuel saving of around ten million litres.

It looks like a simple concept will save a lot of diesel fuel.

I first talked about electrification islands to charge battery-electric trains in The Concept Of Electrification Islands, which I wrote in April 2020.

March 16, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Battery And Hydrogen Trains For ScotRail ‘Could Make Scotland A Global Leader’ In Zero-Emission Transport

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in the Scotsman.

This is the first paragraph.

New fleets of cutting-edge trains expected to include battery and hydrogen power are to be ordered for ScotRail which the rail industry believes will put Scotland at the forefront of zero-emission transport.

Other points from the article.

  • Talgo appear to have passed the story to Scotland on Sunday.
  • Three routes are mentioned; Borders Railway, Fife Circle and Glasgow-East Kilbride.
  • The new trains could help phase out diesel trains by 2035, which is Scottish Government policy.
  • The Inter7City trains might be replaced by 2030.
  • Talgo hopes to win an order for its factory in Fife.

Talgo’s Managing Director is quoted as saying, they are starting testing of a hydrogen and electric train with a range of 311 miles.

Consider.

  • I wrote about this train in Talgo To Begin Fuel Cell Loco Trials.
  • Talgo’s hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for Scotland’s railways of which only forty percent are electrified.
  • A four or five-car high specification hydrogen and electric train would be ideal for the Inter7City routes, if it were built specifically for the routes.
  • The range would cover all of Scotland.
  • Hydrogen hubs are being planned all over Scotland.
  • Scotland have 26 Inter7City trainsets.

This could be a rather nice order to fund the factory and test all the trains close to the factory.

Is there a better place to show off your new train to a prospective buyer than the Highlands of Scotland?

In A Class 319 Train, But Not As We Know It!, I told this tale.

I am reminded of a tale, that I heard from a former GEC manager.

He was involved in selling one of GEC’s Air Traffic Control radars to a Middle Eastern country.

The only working installation of the radar was at Prestwick in Scotland, so he arranged that the dignitaries and the sales team would be flown to Prestwick in GEC’s HS 125 business jet.

As they disembarked at Prestwick and walked to the terminal, the pilot called the GEC Manager over.

The pilot told him “The Scottish Highlands at this time of the year, are one of the most beautiful places in the world! Would you and your guests like a low-level tour on the way back? I can arrange it, if you say so!”

Despite knowing GEC’s draconian attitude to cost control he said yes.

The sale was clinched!

I’m sure that Talgo will exploit the scenery and the local produce.

Talgo’s Hydrogen Trains

This page on the Talgo web site, is entitled Talgo’s Hydrogen Train Will Be Ready In 2023.

This paragraph gives an overview of Talgo’s hydrogen power system.

This system is configured as a modular solution that can be installed on all types of trains, as well as in upgrades from diesel to hydrogen. However, it has been specifically designed for the Vittal platform for Commuter and Regional trains, which Talgo has presented in the bidding process for various tenders in Spain and other countries.

And these two paragraphs describe Talgo’s hydrogen trains in more detail.

This innovative system uses hydrogen batteries that provide the energy for the train’s electric motors. It is powered by renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic or wind, which produce hydrogen that is stored and then used to power fuel cell-based propulsion systems, such as the one designed by Talgo. The system is complemented by batteries that increase the speed of the train when it starts, taking advantage of the braking system to recharge it.

Unlike the extended battery systems in the automotive industry, hydrogen (H2) technology is the logical answer to the needs of heavy transport and, in particular, of those railway lines that do not have catenary electrification systems, and which today depend on trains powered by diesel engines. The hydrogen system designed by Talgo enables conventional network lines to be “electrified” without the need for costly and lengthy adaptation operations, and without the use of fossil fuels.

What do they mean by hydrogen batteries? Looking at the German and the Spanish on the page, I think Talgo means hydrogen fuel cells.

The Rebuilding Of Ukraine

It should be noted that Talgo have sold trains in the past to Russia, which has a gauge of 1.520 metres, which lies between Iberian gauge of 1.668 metres and our standard gauge of 1.435 metres.

  • Talgo have also sold trains to Germany, who use standard gauge.
  • Talgo have built Strizh trains for Russia, that are both standard gauge and Russian gauge for running between Berlin and Moscow.
  • According to the BBC and The Times, Ukraine’s railways have been an important lifeline during the Russian invasion, but pictures show they are in need of modernisation and more electrification.
  • The Strizh trains or a development would surely be ideal for running between Kviv and Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw.
  • There would also appear to be a need for a hydrogen and electric regional train to reconnect the country back together.
  • Other countries using Russian gauge include Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland.

So are Talgo positioning themselves to take part in the modernisation of Ukraine’s railways, once the war is over?

  • Development and testing is done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Manufacturing could be done in Spain and Scotland.
  • Delivery from Scotland could either be by ship or if they were dual-gauge trains, they could be hauled through the Channel Tunnel and then through Germany and Poland.

As Talgo has the technology, I can certainly see them exploiting the Russian gauge market once Vlad the Mad has gone.

 

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments