The Anonymous Widower

Birmingham Announces Hydrogen Bus Pilot

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The city council has bought 20 new hydrogen double-decker buses as part of its Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot to kick-start the hydrogen market as a viable zero-emission fuel.

The buses will be built by Wrightbus.

October 7, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The World’s First Bi-Mode Hydrogen-Electric Train

This news page on the University of Birmingham web site is entitled HydroFLEX Secures Funding For Hydrogen-Powered Train Design.

The page is mainly about the new funding from Innovate UK, that I wrote about in First Of A Kind Funding Awarded For 25 Rail Innovation Projects, but it also includes this significant paragraph.

As well as being the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train, HydroFLEX is also the world’s first bi-mode electric hydrogen train. It will be undergoing mainline testing on the UK railway in the next few weeks.

One of my disappointments in the design of the Alstom Coradia iLint, is that, it is designed as a hydrogen-power only train, where it could surely have had a pantograph fitted, for more efficient working.

Consider.

  • I suspect many hydrogen-powered trains will only be doing short distances, where electrification is not available, so daily distances under hydrogen power could be quite short.
  • In the UK, a smaller hydrogen tank would certainly ease the design problems caused by a large fuel tank.
  • There have been improvements in hydrogen storage in recent years.

The funding award to the project talks about raft production, so are the engineers, aiming to design a hydrogen power-pack on rafts, that could be fitted underneath the large fleets of retired electric multiple units, that are owned by Porterbrook.

Now that would be a game changer.

  • Porterbrook have thirty-seven Class 350 trains, that will be replaced in the next few years by new trains. The electric trains are less than a dozen years old and Porterbrook have been talking about fitting batteries to these trains and creating a battery/FLEX train. Would making these trains bi-mode hydrogen-electric trains be better?
  • Birmingham wants to open up new rail routes in the city on lines without electrification. What would be better than a hydrogen powered train, designed in the city’s premier university?
  • Routes from Birmingham to Burton-on-Trent, Hereford, Leicester, Shrewsbury, Stratford-on-Avon and Worcester would be prime candidates for the deployment of a fleet of bi-mode hydrogen-electric trains.
  • Birmingham have already asked ITM Power to build a hydrogen filling station in the city for hydrogen buses.

 

June 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Camp Hill Line Set To Gain Third Station

The title of this post, is the same as that of a sub-section on this page on Rail News.

This is said.

PLANS to build a station at Moseley on the Camp Hill line in Birmingham have been submitted. If approved, Moseley will be the third station on the restored route, where Birmingham City Council has already given the go-ahead to stations at Kings Heath and Hazelwell. The line was closed to passengers as a ‘wartime economy’ in January 1941, but the withdrawal was confirmed in November 1946.

 

Under Future Plans on the Wikipedia entry for the Camp Hill Line, this is said.

In July 2018, the Midlands Rail Hub was unveiled which would see reopening of Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell with the chords built to connect Birmingham Moor Street with the line to Kings Norton and another to Water Orton.

In September 2018, the designs of the new stations were revealed as Kings Heath, Hazelwell and Moseley were planned for reopening by 2021 with a frequency of 2 trains per hour.

It looks to me, that Birmingham City Council are going to make the Camp Hill Line an important route across the city.

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Reopening Of Darlaston And Willenhall Train Stations Moves Closer

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Wolverhampton Express And Star.

This is the introductory paragraph.

A bid to reopen two railway stations after more than half a century has taken a major step forward after planning applications were formally submitted.

The two stations are Willenhall Bilston Street and Darlaston James Bridge on the Walsall–Wolverhampton Line.

  • The route is electrified, as it is used as a diversion route for the West Coast Main Line.
  • There will be an hourly service between Wolverhampton and Walsall.
  • There will be a second hourly service between Wolverhampton and Birmingham via Willenhall, Darlaston and Tame Bridge Parkway stations.
  • It is planned that services will open in December 2021.

It appears that funding is in place from Whitehall.

Conclusion

Will much work need to be done to get these two station projects shovel-ready?

If not, why not get going?

 

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

First Passenger Train In 80 Years Runs On Camp Hill Line

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

These two paragraphs described the route, that the train took on the Camp Hill Line.

On Monday morning a train carrying the Mayor, West Midlands Railway’s customer experience director Jonny Wiseman and other representatives from across the rail industry, travelled along the line.

The train followed the route of what would be the re-opened line, stopping at the Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell sites before arriving into Kings Norton, and later returning to Birmingham New Street.

The article has a picture showing the VIPs showing boards indicating the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, that will be reopened.

Wikipedia says this under Future for all three stations.

In 2019, the project to re-open the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell received £15 million in Government funding, with construction due to start in 2020 and aimed for completion in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

£15million seems good value to reopen three stations.

Let’s hope the world has solved the COVID-19 crisis before the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Trains For The Service

The picture in the article, shows the test service was run by a two-car Class 170 train. This is an ideal train to do the testing, but as the Camp Hill Line is not electrified, self-powered trains will be needed for the passenger service.

West Midlands Trains will have a good selection of self-powered trains with which to run the service.

  • They already have a selection of Class 170 and Class 172 Turbostar diesel multiple units in very good condition, which total thirty-seven two-cars and twenty-one three-cars.
  • I’m sure Vivarail will pitch diesel-electric or battery-electric versions of their Class 230 trains.
  • Alstom will probably pitch the Breeze hydrogen-powered train.
  • Porterbrook will probably pitch their proposed Battery/FLEX conversion of Class 350 trains.

I don’t think there will be a problem finding a suitable fleet for this route.

I suspect some form of battery-electric train will be used, as there is lots of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the Birmingham area, that can be used to charge the batteries.

Battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles would also open up the possibilities for other electric services for West Midlands Trains.

A Thought On Construction

Because of COVID-19, there will probably be numbers of unemployed in this part of Birmingham, who have skills that could be useful to do the building work.

So should the non-railway related parts of the reopening be accelerated to put money in the pockets of the local unemployed.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Needs Wires?

I went to Birmingham today to look at the recently-opened  extension of the West Midlands Metro, which runs from outside Birmingham New Street station to Birmingham Library on battery power.

Note.

  1. Pavements, tram stop furniture and other details need to be finished.
  2. There no wires between near to New Street station and the Birmingham Library tram stop.
  3. The route is double-track.
  4. The stops all have two platforms.
  5. The route will be extended past Birmingham Library and on to new stops at Brinfleyplace, Five Ways and Edgbaston,
  6. The last three pictures show the pantograph being lowered outside New Street station.

These are my thoughts on other areas.

Battery Installation

The batteries appear to be on the roof of the two end sections of the trams.

They don’t appear to be very large, so it looks to me that CAF have taken great trouble with the design.

After all, the batteries were fitted to the trams by maintenance staff at West Midlands Metro, after one tram was converted in Spain.

Battery Operation

I observed the following.

  • Birmingham Library tram stop doesn’t appear to have a charging station.
  • Trams running towards Birmingham Library tram stop, drop the pantopgraph at New Street station.
  • Although I didn’t see it, trams going in the other direction, probably raise the pantograh at New Street station.
  • I would assume that trams leave New Street station for Birmingham Library,  with full batteries, that have been charged on the way from Wolverhampton.
  • Trams appear to have no problem climbing from New Street station to the Town Hall tram stop.
  • If required trams could coast down the hill to New Street station.

The operation on battery power appears to be very simple.

Note that there are three other tram systems, that use these CAF Urbos 3 trams, that use batteries; Granada, Luxembourg and Seville.

There will surely be others, judging by the quality I saw in Birmingham.

Noise On Battery Power

Like other battery-powered vehicles, that I’ve ridden, they seem to be very quiet, when running on batteries. I suspect, that with the pantograph safely down in its hole, a lot of clanking and screeching doesn’t happen.

The Location Of The Temporary Terminus

The Birmingham Library tram stop makes an excellent temporary terminus.

  • It is at the top of the hill, so will surely attract passengers, not wanting to walk all the way up.
  • It is not far from the library, conference hall, conference centre and the restaurants on Brindleyplace.
  • The tracks can be easily extended to Edgbaston.
  • There is a crossover to allow trams to be turned back in either platform.
  • There are also no need for wires at the tram stop.

I also think, that if there are no wires on the extension from Birmingham Library tram stop, that the building of the extension could be much simpler.

The New Extension Opened Early

I’m fairly certain, that the newly-opened section of track is completely without wires.

  • Did this simplify testing and allow the extension to open a few days early, once staff training had been completed?
  • It certainly allows revenue to be collected earlier.
  • Have the battery modifications to the trams been designed so that the full extension can be handled on battery power?
  • Does this mean that the route can be built and tested in sections, by just laying the track and testing it?

If this is the plan, it is rather elegant and could save construction costs and testing time.

Extending The Edinburgh Tram

Is a similar construction plan to be used on the Edinburgh trams for their extension?

The trams are all built by CAF, which must help..

Conclusion

Birmingham must now have one of the best City Centre tram in the world.

  • The batteries are charged on the long run between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
  • The changeover between battery and overhead power happens at a busy stop, so doesn’t delay the tram.
  • There is sufficient power to climb the hill from New Street station to Birmingham Library.

It’s a much better system than the MetroCentro in Seville, which was also built by CAF. But that is now twelve years old and is only about as long as Birmingham’s current section without wires.

These pictures show the charging system in Seville from my post called Seville’s Elegant Trams.

Seville’s trams have to charge the battery at every stop and I suspect the technology could be used in the West Midlands if needed.

Are we also seeing an innovative construction method for a tram system?

  • An electrified core is built first.
  • Battery trains can be tested on an electrified line with the pantograph down.
  • The initial line is then extended, as required at the ends using plain track and battery operation.
  • The extension is done gradually in sections to allow full testing.

It should be possible to save construction time and project cost.

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

Trams Tested On New Section Of West Midlands Metro

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the South Wales Argus.

I don’t understand why test running of the battery trams on the West Midlands Metro has been reported in South Wales.

But it does report, that the UK’s first battery trams could be running in December.

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Mayor’s Plan For Shopping That’s Right Up Your Street

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on page 48 of Saturday’s Times.

This is the precis.

The former John Lewis boss is using his retail experience to help to rejuvenate Walsall.

|According to the article, Walsall town centre is in a bad way with large numbers of empty shops.

The article is positive about Andy Sreet’s plans and feels, that if anybody can bring about a transformation, then he can with his retail experience.

I wish him and Walsall luck!

June 1, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Bordesley Station To St. Andrews Has Improved

At various times on this blog, I’ve complained about this route, but it’s finally got better, as these pictures show.

Bordesley station is really only opened for the football, so I suspect that a lift would very much be a low priority.

I have a feeling that it might be possible to walk along the canals from the City Centre, to the lock that I saw.

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

A Walk Across Birmingham City Centre

I took this walk across Birmingham City Centre to look at the works on the Midland Metro Extension to Egbaston.

These are some of the pictures I took.

There’s certainly a lot of work going on.

It will be interesting to see how the trams get from New Street station to Victoria Square. It could be power up one hill and gravity down another.

The tram extension is to be finished in 2019.

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment