The Anonymous Widower

Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch

In Rounding Up The Class 170 Trains, I said this, which is based on a quote from an article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

Are Battery Electrostars On The Way?

The article finishes with this paragraph about the Class 171 trains, that will come from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and be converted back to Class 170 trains.

GTR currently uses the ‘171s’ on the non-electrified Marshlink and Uckfield lines, and the release of these sets to EMR is contingent on their replacement with converted Electrostar EMUs with bi-mode battery capability, removing these diesel islands of operation from the otherwise all-electric GTR fleet.

So are these battery Electrostars finally on their way?

The article got several comments, which said that some five-car Electrostars were to be converted and they would probably be Class 376 trains, that would be used.

The comments also said that Network Rail were working on using short lengths of third-rail to charge the train batteries.

That sounds like Vivarail’s system to me, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Southern’s Current Diesel Fleet

I will start by looking at Southern’s current diesel fleet that works London Bridge and Uckfield stations and the Marshlink Line.

Currently, Southern has a diesel fleet of Class 171 trains.

  • 12 x two-car trains
  • 8 x four-car trains.

According to Modern Railways, the following trains will transfer to EMR Regional in September 2021.

  • 10 x two car
  • 6 x three-car, which will be created by moving a few cars in the four-car trains.

It looks as if after the transfer Southern will be left with eight driver-cars and ten intermediate cars.

This would give them four four-car trains and two spare intermediate cars. I’m sure that someone will have a need for the intermediate cars to lengthen a two-car Class 170 train because of capacity issues.

The Marshlink Line Service

The service on the Marshlink Line is an hourly service between Ashford International and Eastbourne stations.

  • It is run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Trains were four-cars most times I’ve used it.
  • Journey times are around one hour and twenty-minutes.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three four-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if there is a spare train, four trains would be ideal, After all the transfers, this is the remaining number of Class 171 trains, that would be left with Southern.

If they wanyted to get rid of the diesel trains, then they could replace the trains on the Marshlink Line with four four-car battery bi-mode Electrostars!

Network Rail’s Plan For The Uckfield Branch

This document on the Network Rail web site from 2016, is entitled Delivering A Better Railway
For A Better Britain – Route Specifications 2016 – South East.

In the document, this is said about the the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield.

The key issue presently is overcrowding on the shorter length services that operate on the route during and close to the peak hours. As the route is operated by Class 171 diesel units, there is only a small fleet available to the TOC to deploy on the route. As a result some peak and shoulder peak services are not able to operate at the maximum length the route is capable of (8-car).

Electrification schemes in the North West will displace rolling stock to strengthen existing peak services to 8-car and eventually of 10-car operation during CP5, so associated platform lengthening is currently being developed, this will also be compatible with 12-car 20m vehicle trains.

Electrification is still an aspiration for this route or use of battery-powered trains (currently under development) if they are deemed successful.

Signalling is controlled by Oxted Signal Box but during CP5 this will be transferred to Three Bridges ROC.

The key point is that the platforms have been lengthened for 240-metre long trains, which will also allow ten-car Class 171 trains, which have 23 metre vehicles.

The Uckfield Branch Service

The service on the Uckfield Branch is an hourly service between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

  • It is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • The platforms on the route can accept ten-car trains with 23 m vehicles or twelve-car trains with 20 metre vehicles.
  • A round trip takes three hours.
  • It would appear that three ten- or twelve-car trains are needed to run the service.

So if we add in a spare and perhaps an extra train for the rush hour, it would appear that around half-a-dozen ten- or twelve-car battery bi-mode trains will be needed for the service.

  • As a ten-car train would be two five-car trains, twelve five-car trains would be needed.
  • As a twelve-car train would be three four-car trains, eighteen four-car trains would be needed.

Interestingly, Southern have three trains that could be candidates for conversion to battery bi-modes in their fleet.

  • One hundred and fifty-two four-car Class 377 trains.
  • Thirty-four five car Class 377 trains.
  • Twenty-nine four-car Class 387 trains.

All trains were built for longer commuter journeys,

Which Electrostars Will Be Converted To Battery Operation For The Uckfield Service?

Obviously, the trains must be four- or five-cars and suitable for conversion to battery bi-mode trains, but I feel they must have other features.

  • Toilets
  • First Class seats.
  • Plenty of tables.
  • Wi-fi and plug sockets.
  • Comfortable interiors.
  • End gangways, to ensure staff and passengers can move around the train if required.

I’ll now look at the various fleets of Electrostars.

Class 357 Trains

The Class 357 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect c2c need them and they are not third rail.

Class 375 Trains

The Class 375 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

But if the new Southeastern franchise should decide on a complete fleet replacement, as the trains are dual-voltage, they might be very useful if fitted with a battery capability.

Class 376 Trains

The Class 376 trains can probably be discounted, as I suspect Southeastern need them.

The trains are also third-rail only and lack toilets, so would probably need a rebuilt interior.

Class 377 Trains

The Class 377 trains are a possibility as Soiuthern has a large fleet of both four- and five-car trains.

But they would be losing the Class 171 trains, so would probably need to bring in some new trains to have a large enough fleet.

Class 378 Trains

The Class 378 trains can probably be discounted, as London Overground need them.

Class 379 Trains

The Class 379 trains are surely a possibility, as Greater Anglia will be releasing them before the end of 2020.

Consider.

  • There have no new home to go to.
  • I am suspicious that that NXEA overpaid for these trains and Macquarie are sitting on a very good deal, that will cost Grester Anglia a lot to cancel!
  • They appeared to me to be a shoe-in for Corby services, so perhaps they lost out to the Class 360 trains on cost.
  • They are only 100 mph trains, whereas others are 110 mph trains.
  • They would need to be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • The trains are coming up to nine years old and probably need a refresh.
  • They have an interior aimed at airport passengers.

If I was Macquarie, I’d convert these into go-anywhere battery bi-modes for use in small fleets by operators.

But, Porterbrook’s battery-bi-mode conversion of a Class 350 train may be available at a lower price.

Class 387 Trains

The Class 387 trains are surely a serious possibility, for the following reasons.

  • Govia already has fifty-six of these trains on lease and in service.
  • c2c has six trains, that could come off lease in 2021.
  • The trains are dual voltage
  • The trains are 110 mph trains.
  • They can run as twelve-car walk-through trains.
  • Many of the trains are leased from Porterbrook.

I’ve felt for some time, that these trains would make excellent battery bi-modes.

But they are a good fit for Southern, as surely one could be scrounged from their Great Northern fleet to create a prototype for test.

I would feel that having the required number of trains for the Uckfield Branch can be achieved by September 2021, when the Class 171 trains will be sent to the Midlands.

There is also a backstop, in that there are nineteen Class 365 trains in store, which were replaced by Class 387 trains on Great Northern services. If there is a shortage of Class 387 trains during the conversion, surely some of these Class 365 trains could stand in, just as they did successfully in Scotland recently.

My Choice

I would convert Class 387 trains.

  • There are quite a few Class 387 trains, that could be converted.
  • Southern already have fifty-six Class 387 trains.
  • There are enough to convert eighteen for Uckfield and four for the Marshlink
  • It could be possible to deliver the full fleet before the Class 171 trains leave.
  • If during conversion of the trains, they are short of stock, Southern can hire in some Class 365 trains.

It looks to be a low-risk project.

It will also have collateral benefits.

  • The hourly London Bridge and Uckfield service will be raised to maximum capacity without any new infrastructure, except the trains and a number of battery chargers.
  • Diesel will be eliminated in London Bridge station making the station electric trains only.
  • Diesel will be eliminated between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.
  • Efficient regenerative braking to battery would be available on the complete route.
  • A ten-car diesel service between East Croydon and London Bridge will be replaced by a twelve-car electric service. stations.

In addition, if the diesel trains on the Marshlink Line were to be replaced by battery bi-modes, Southern would be a diesel-free franchise.

What About New Trains?

It’s all about the money and whether the new trains could be delivered in time.

I would suspect that Bombardier, CAF, Stadler and others are making competitive proposals to Southern, but would they be more affordable and timely, than a conversion of Class 387 trains?

But could they be as competitive if Bombadier and Porterbrook co-operated to convert some of Porterbrook’s Class 387 trains, that are already leased to Great Northern?

You don’t usually move house if you need a new boiler, you replace the boiler!

What About Hydrogen Trains?

The Alstom Breeze based on a Class 321 train is scheduled to first come into service in 2022. This is too late, as the Class 171 trains are scheduled to leave in September 2021.

Hydrogen trains would need a hydrogen filling station.

Kinetic Energy Of Class 387 Trains

I will calculate the kinetic energy of a four-car Class 387 train.

I will assume the following.

  • Empty train weight – 174.81 tonnes – Read from the side of the train.
  • Seats – 223
  • Standees – 60 – Estimated from the seats/standing ratio of a Class 720 train.
  • Total passengers – 283
  • Each passenger weighs 90 Kg, with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a passenger weight of 25.47 tonnes and a train weight of 200.28 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy calculator, gives the following kinetic energies.

  • 40 mph – 8.89 kWh
  • 50 mph – 13.9 kWh
  • 60 mph – 20.0 kWh
  • 70 mph – 27.2 kWh
  • 80 mph – 35.6 kWh
  • 90 mph – 45.0 kWh
  • 100 mph – 55.6 kWh
  • 110 mph – 67.3 kWh

These figures are for a full train, but even so many will think they are low, when you think that 60 kWh batteries are used in hybrid buses.

A Trip To Uckfield

I took a trip to Uckfield today and these are my observations.

  • The maximum operating speed of the train was no more than 70 mph.
  • For much of the journey the train trundled along at around 40-50 mph.
  • The route is reasonably flat with only gentle gradients.
  • I hardly noticed the diesel engine under the floor of my car.
  • Obviously in the Peak, the engines will have to work harder.

It was a very good demonstration of five Turbostars working in unison.

I can understand why East Midlands Railway are using Class 170 trains, as their standard train for EMR Regional.

Modelling the Route

I have built a mathematical model of the route between Hurst Green and Uckfield using Excel.

Input parameters are.

  • Cruise Energy Consumption in kWh per vehicle mile. I assumed 3 kWh per vehicle mile
  • Cruise Kinetic Energy in kWh. I assumed a 70 mph cruise and used 20 kWh
  • Regeneration Energy Loss as a ratio. I assumed 0.15.

These parameters showed that a battery of between 290 kWh and 350 kWh would be needed, that was full at Hurst Green and was recharged at Uckfield.

Note that Vivarail are talking about putting 424 kWh under a three-car Class 230 train.

This page on the Vivarail web site is entitled Battery Train Update.

This is a paragraph.

Battery trains are not new but battery technology is – and Vivarail is leading the way in new and innovative ways to bring them into service. 230002 has a total of 4 battery rafts each with a capacity of 106 kWh and requires an 8 minute charge at each end of the journey. With a 10 minute charge this range is extended to 50 miles and battery technology is developing all the time so these distances will increase.

So it looks like Vivarail manage to put 212 kWh under each car of their two-car train.

I don’t think putting 350 kWh of batteries under a four-car Class 387 train would be impossible.

I have also created an Excel model for the second route between Ashford and Ore stations.

This shows that a battery of about 300 kWh on the train should cover the route.

It might appear strange that the longer Marshlink route needs a smaller battery, but this is because it leaves both ends of the route with a full battery.

These two links give access to the two Excel models that I have used. Feel free to  access and criticise them.

AshfordOre

HurstGreenUckfield

It does appear, that on both these routes, if a train starts with full batteries, the energy in the battery is reduced in these ways as it travels along the route.

  • There is an energy use to power the train along the line which is proportional to the vehicle-miles.
  • Energy is needed to accelerate the train to line speed after each stop.
  • Energy is needed to operate stop-related functions like opening and closing the doors.

But there will also be energy recovered from regenerative braking from line speed, although this won’t cover the subsequent acceleration.

I suspect with better understanding and better data, Bombardier can create a simple formula for battery size needed based on the following.

  • The length of the route.
  • The number of stations.
  • The line speed
  • The gradient and speed profile of the route
  • The kinetic energy of the train at various loadings and speeds
  • The amount of energy needed for each vehicle mile
  • The efficiency of the regenerative braking

It is not the most difficult of calculations and I was doing lots of them in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Charging The Train At Uckfield

This picture shows the long platform at Uckfield station.

The platform has been built to accept a twelve-car electric train and if traditional third rail electrification were to be installed, this could be used to charge the batteries.

I would use a Vivarail-style system, which I described fully in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

As trains take a few minutes at Uckfield to turnback, I’m sure enough time can be arranged in the timetable to charge the batteries with enough power to get back to the electrification at Hurst Green.

The train would switch the charging system on and off by automatically connecting and disconnecting.

 

 

 

September 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Tender Set To Be Issued For East West Rail Rolling Stock

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

Brief details of the fleet include.

  • Eleven trains.
  • Self-propelled.
  • Three cars.

Services are due to commence in 2024, serving Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Are Three Car Trains Long Enough?

New train services in the UK, especially those on new or reopened routes, seem to suffer from London Overground Syndrome.

I define it as follows.

This benign disease, which is probably a modern version of the Victorian railway mania, was first identified in East London in 2011, when it was found that the newly-refurbished East London Line and North London Line were inadequate due to high passenger satisfaction and much increased usage. It has now spread across other parts of the capital, despite various eradication programs.

The Borders Railway certainly suffered and the London Overground is still adding extra services on the original routes.

Three-car trains may be enough for the initial service, but provision must be made  for running longer trains.

  • The trains that are purchased must be capable of lengthening.
  • Platforms must be built for longer trains.

So often we don’t future-proof new rail routes.

What Performance Is Needed?

I’ll ask this question first, as it may affect the choice of train.

The trains will certainly be at least capable of 100 mph operation.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were capable of 110 mph or even 125 mph, as this would surely make it easier for trains to go walkabout on the Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines.

Faster East West trains might also get more services out of the fleet.

Appropriate acceleration and braking would be needed.

Conservative Or Innovative?

Will we get more of the same or will some of the responders to the tender offer trains based on innovative designs?

I would hope that as the line will eventually connect Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, the trains will take over the flavour of the route and be more innovative.

The Route

The eventual full route of the East West Rail Link will serve these sections.

  • Reading and Ocford – 25 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Oxford and Milton Keynes – 43 miles – Not electrified
  • Milton Keynes and Bedford – 20 miles – Partially-electrified
  • Bedford and Sandy – 10 miles – Not electrified
  • Sandy and Cambridge – 25 miles – Partially-electrified.

Note.

  1. The distances are approximate.
  2. With the exception of Oxford, all the major stations will be served by electric trains on other routes.

It is rather a mixture created out of existing and abandoned routes.

Could Battery Trains Run On The East West Rail Link?

Consider.

  • All the major stations except Oxford have electrification.
  • Sections of the route are electrified.
  • The route is not very challenging.
  • The longest section without electrification is around forty miles.

All this leads me to believe that a battery-electric train with a range of forty miles could handle the route, if there was the means to charge the train at Oxford.

Possibly the easiest way to achieve the charging station at Oxford station, would be to electrify between Didcot Junction and Oxford stations.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I showed that to run at 125 mph, a train needs around three kWh per vehicle mile.

This would mean that to run between Oxford and Milron Keynes stations, would need a maximum power of around 40*3*3 kWh or 360 kWh.

This is only a 120 kWh battery in each car.

I am fairly certain, that a well-designed battery train could run on the East West Rail Link.

The Usual Suspects

There are several train companies, who could be offering existing trains or their developments.

Alstom

Alstom don’t have a current design of train for the UK, but they are heavily into the development of trains powered by hydrogen.

By 2024, I suspect they will be offering a purpose-built hydrogen-powered train for the UK.

Also, by that time, I think it will be likely, that many buses in cities will be powered by zero-carbon hydrogen and the availability of this fuel would be much better than it is today.

An East West Rail Link running hydrogen-powered trains would go a long way to answer the electrification lobby.

Bombardier

Bombardier are developing a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, that they are proposing for various franchises in the UK, including the Midland Main Line.

I believe that by rearranging the components of this train, they could develop a train that would be very suitable for the East West Rail Link.

  • Three cars
  • At least 100 mph operating speed
  • In service by 2024 or earlier.

It could be a bi-mode train with batteries, or if battery and the associated charging technology has improved, it could be a battery-electric train.

The latter would certainly fulfil the flavour of the route.

Bombardier’s Aventra would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

CAF

CAF have recently introduced the Class 195 traincaf in the UK.

But would a diesel train be acceptable on a flagship route?

On the other hand CAF have been delivering battery-powered trams for several years and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company, offer an innovative battery-electric train for the East West Rail Link.

Hitachi

Hitachi don’t make self-powered trains in the UK.

But in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I wrote about the company’s plans to use batteries as range extenders on their Class 385 trains.

I suspect that by 2024, these trains will be running in Scotland and they will probably be high-quality reliable trains.

So could these trains be able to run between Reading and Cambridge using battery power, topped up at the various sections of electrification along the route.

Hitachi’s development regime is cautious, professional and well-funded, so I suspect they could offer a version of the Class 385 train, for delivery in 2024.

Hitachi would also have the advantages of an electrical version and the ability to add more cars.

Siemens

Siemens have a large number of modern electrical multiple units in the UK, but none are self-powered, except the diesel Class 185 train.

Siemens will have a factory in the UK to built London Underground trains by 2024.

But eleven trains could be an expensive order to fulfil, if it required a new self-powered train design.

Stadler

Stadler are an innovative company and their Class 755 train will shortly be starting passenger service in East Anglia.

  • It is three-cars, which is extendable if required.
  • It has a 100 mph operating speed.
  • It is a bi-mode; diesel and electric train.
  • Trains for Wales have ordered a diesel/electric/battery version.
  • There are rumours of hydrogen-powered versions.

Stadler could certainly deliver some of these trains by 2024.

Summing Up

I would suspect that the front runners are Bombardier, Hitachi and Stadler, with CAF in fourth place.

  • All could probably develop a zero-emission train for the route using battery technology.
  • Stadler will have trains in service this year, and I suspect Bombardier and Hitachi will be running trains by 2022.

I think we could be seeing some very good trains on the route.

 

 

 

 

July 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Is Bombardier’s 125 mph Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, A 125 mph Battery-Electric Aventra With Added Diesel Power To Extend The Range?

The LEVC TX taxi is described in Wikipedia as a plug-in hybrid range-extender electric vehicle.

Could Bombardier’s 125 mph Bi-mode Aventra with batteries, be an equivalent rail vehicle?

I will start with the Class 720 train for Greater Anglia, which is probably the nearest train to a 125 mph Aventra in production.

  • It is formed of ten-cars.
  • It is 243 metres long.
  • It can accommodate 1,100 seated and 290 standing passengers.
  • It has a 100 mph operating speed, although this article on the East Anglian Daily Times, says it will be tested at up to 110 mph.

I will use this information to make some assumptions about Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries.

Weight Of A Ten-Car Class 720 Train

In The Formation Of A Class 710 Train, I give the weight and length of a four-car Class 710 train as the following.

  • Weight – 157.8 tonnes
  • Length – 82.88 metres

Adjusting this weight to the 243 metres length of a ten-car Class 720 train, gives a weight of 462.7 tonnes.

This is the best I can do for the moment.

Kinetic Energy Of A Train At 125 mph

This is my calculation.

  • The empty weight of the train is 462.7 tonnes
  • To that must be added 1390 passengers, who average out at 90 Kg each with baggage, bikes and buggies. This is 125.1 tonnes.
  • This gives a total train weight of 587.8 tonnes.
  • Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives a kinetic energy of 255 kWh at 125 mph.

For those of you, who feel I am a bit cavalier over the use of mass and weight, I agree with you, but many reading this won’t know the difference.

Handling Regenerative Braking

Imagine a train stopping from 125 mph at a station.

  • Looking at the roof of a Class 345 train, they don’t have any resistor banks, so energy must be stored on the train or returned through the electrification. Are all Aventras the same? See Class 710 Train Rooves At Blackhorse Road Station.
  • The batteries must be able to handle all the energy generated by the traction motors in their braking mode.
  • So they must be able to handle the 255 kWh of a train running at 125 mph.

It would probably mean energy storage over 300 kWh.

Some Aventras Are Two Half Trains

In A Detailed Layout Drawing For A Class 345 Train, I give the formation of a nine-car Class 345 train as.

DMS+PMS+MS1+MS3+TS(W)+MS3+MS2+PMS+DMS

Note.

  1. Eight cars have motors and only one doesn’t.
  2. The train is composed of two identical half-trains, which are separated by the TS(W) car.
  3. There are four wheelchair spaces in the TS(W) car.

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required. The intention is that every car will be powered although trailer cars will be available.

Unlike today’s commuter trains, AVENTRA will also shut down fully at night. It will be ‘woken up’ by remote control before the driver arrives for the first shift

This was published over seven years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

The extract talks about pairs of cars, which share the main electrical components.

So in the Class 345 train and possibly the ten-car Class 720 trains, are the DMS and PMS cars at the ends of the train, these pairs of cars?

I like the half-train concept, as I suspect a clever computer system on the train can reconfigure the train, if say a pantograph or other major component fails.

Distributing The Energy Storage

I feel that the best philosophy would be to distribute the batteries and/or supercapacitors through the train.

Energy storage of somewhere between thirty and sixty kWh in each car would probably be more than sufficient to handle the braking energy by a wide margin.

As typically, hybrid buses like London’s New Routemaster have batteries of about 60 kWh, I’m fairly certain a big enough battery could be placed under each car.

My Electrical and Control Engineering experience also suggests that if most axles are powered on the train, distributing the energy storage could mean shorter and more efficient cabling and electricity flows.

Could the train be a formation of more independent cars each with their own computer systems, connected by the common power bus mentioned in the earlier extract and a high-capacity computer network.

How Much Power Would A Train Need In The 125 mph Cruise?

I investigated this question in How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph? and came to the conclusion, that 3 kWh per vehicle mile is a sensible figure.

I also feel that as the three kWh per vehicle mile relates mainly to an InterCity 125, that Bombardier could do better with a modern train.

Consider.

  • Derby and Leicester are thirty miles apart.
  • A journey takes twenty minutes.
  • A train is running non-stop between the two stations at 125 mph.

Using the train consumption figure of three kWh per vehicle mile, means that a ten-car train would need 900 kWh.

The required power would need to be supplied at a rate of 2,700 kW.

This means one of the following.

  1. The train has an enormous on-board power-unit.
  2. The train has an enormous battery.
  3. The train has a very high aerodynamic and electrical efficiency.

Or it could be a figment of Bombardier’s imagination.

Only the Option 3 is feasible.

Consider.

  • Bombardier also build aircraft and must have some aerodynamicists, wind tunnels and other facilities of the highest class.
  • Aventras seem to have very clean lines.
  • Aventras are very quiet trains inside and outside.
  • Bombardier claim that the trains have intelligent air-conditioning and lighting.
  • Class 710 trains have an average car weight, which is seven percent lighter than Class 378 trains.

It is also known that Bombardier have had a lot of trouble programming the advanced Train Control and Management System (TCMS). I believe that this could be because it is very sophisticated and getting it right took longer than expected.

I say this because the specification for the first version of Artemis was challenging to program as so much was first-of-its-type software. It was late, but once correct, it became an amazing world-wide success.

Is the Aventra another game-changing project?

There are all sorts of ways, that a sophisticated TCMS, can save electricity on a train.

  • Ultra smooth acceleration and braking.
  • Intelligent power management.
  • Precise control of all train systems, like heating, air-conditioning and lighting, according to ambient conditions and passenger loading.
  • GPS or ERTMS-controlled Driver Assistance Systems.

Couple this with lightweight structures, innovative design and world-class aerodynamics and could the train have an electrical usage as low as one kWh per vehicle mile?

This would mean a train between Derby and Leicester would consume 300 kWh, at a rate of 900 kW for twenty minutes.

Have Bombardier read about the design of the Douglas Skyhawk?

Wikipedia says this about the design and development of the aircraft.

The Skyhawk was designed by Douglas Aircraft’s Ed Heinemann in response to a U.S. Navy call for a jet-powered attack aircraft to replace the older Douglas AD Skyraider (later redesignated A-1 Skyraider). Heinemann opted for a design that would minimize its size, weight, and complexity. The result was an aircraft that weighed only half of the Navy’s weight specification. It had a wing so compact that it did not need to be folded for carrier stowage. The first 500 production examples cost an average of $860,000 each, less than the Navy’s one million dollar maximum.

I remember reading how Heinemann was ruthless on saving weight and complexity to get a more capable aircraft.

Every improvement in efficiency means you need less power to power the train, which in a multi-mode train, means one or more of the following.

  • Physically-smaller diesel engines and fuel tanks.
  • Smaller hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen tanks.
  • Smaller onboard energy storage.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some radical weight-saving developments in the traction system. Lightweight diesel engines, energy storage and other large electrical components are all possibilities.

This all may seem pie-in-the-sky thinking, but a similar control revolution happened at Rollls-Royce with the RB 211 engine, when around 1990, full authority digital engine control or FADEC was developed

Is another company, with its designers and researchers in Derby going down the same route? Or do they all drink in the same pub?

Rolls-Royce certainly appear to have been successful, with their large aero engines.

I stated earlier that an energy use of one kWh per vehicle mile, would mean a train between Derby and Leicester would consume 300 kWh, at a rate of 900 kW.

Here’s a complete set of figures for a ten-car train.

  • 4 – 1200 kWh – 3,600 kW
  • 3 – 900 kWh – 2,700 kW
  • 2 – 600 kWh – 1800 kW
  • 1 – 300 kWh – 900 kW
  • 0.5 – 150 kWh – 450 kW

The second figure is the energy needed by the train between Derby and Leicester and the third is the rate, it would need to be supplied for a twenty-minute schedule.

Note how, that as the train gets more efficient and needs less power per vehicle mile, the rate of supplying energy to the train gets dramatically less.

Supplying 3,600 kW from electrification would be easy and trains like the Class 390 train are designed to take 5,000 kW to maintain 125 mph. But supplying that energy from on-board diesels or batteries would durely require enormous, heavy components.

Could 125 mph Be Sustained By Diesel Engines?

Bombardier have said, that their proposed High-Speed Bi-Mode Acentra with batteries will have the following characteristics.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on both electricity and diesel.
  • A flat floor
  • A class-leading passenger environment.

The last two points are the difficult ones, as it means that engines must be smaller.

  • Smaller engines make a flat floor, which is so good for less-mobile passengers, buggy pushers or case-pullers, much easier to design.
  • Smaller engines make much less noise and vibration.

But surely, small engines wouldn’t provide enough power to drive the train at 125 mph.

CAF’s new Class 195 train has a Rolls-Royce MTU 6H1800R85L engine, which is rated at 390 kW in each car. These engines aren’t that noisy and fit neatly under the train floor. But disappointingly, they drive the train, through a noisy ZF Ecolife mechanical transmission.

Dimensions and weight of this engine are as follows.

  • Length – : 2.6-4 metres
  • Width – 2.1- 2.8 metres
  • Height – 0.8 metres
  • Dry Weight – 2.9-4.0 tonnes
  • Wet Weight – 3.0-4.2 tonnes

If engines like this were packaged properly with an alternator to generate electricity, I believe it would be possible to put enough power under the floor of a ten-car train.

  • The train is 240 metres long.
  • It will probably be two half trains, so it could be easy to fit two engines in each half train.
  • One engine could be under the driving cab and the other in the best place for balance.

I’m sure Rolls-Royce MTU could oblige.

They have a 12V1600R80LP PowerPack, described in this datasheet on the MTU web site.

  • It has a 700 kW output.
  • It is built for diesel-electric operation.
  • It is slightly larger than the engine in the Class 195 train.

Could one of these engines be put under each driving car?

Calculating backwards would mean that the train would need an energy use of 1.55 kWh per vehicle mile.

I believe that by good design, this is a very attainable figure.

As in London’s New Routemaster bus, the engines would top up the batteries on the train, which would then power the traction motors and the other train systems.

The TCMS would control everything.

  • Use an appropriate number of engines in every phase of the trip.
  • Raise and lower the pantograph without driver action.
  • Use battery power if required to boost diesel power.
  • Even out engine use, so that wear was equalised.

I’m led to the conclusion, that with power of about 1,400 kW from two modern underfloor diesel engines, a high-speed bi-mode Aventra with batteries can cruise at 125 mph.

Kinetic Energy Implications

If I modify the kinetic energy calculation to add ten tonnes for the diesel engines, the kinetic energy goes up to 259 kWh.

This may seem surprising, but the kinetic energy calculation is dominated by the square of the speed of the train.

If the engines at ten tonnes each, that only increases the train’s kinetic energy to 264 kWh.

One of the arguments against bi-mode trains, is that they are carrying heavy diesel engines around, that are doing nothing most of the time.

Whe  the train is accelerating to operating speed, some extra kWhs will be expended, but once in the cruise, they enjoy a free ride.

Stopping At A Station

As I said earlier, when the train is running at 125 mph, it has an energy of 255 kWh.

With the two added diesel engines, this could be a bit higher and perhaps up to 264 kWh.

This energy would be used to recharge the onboard storage at a station stop.

The TCMS would probably ensure that, when the train came to a full stop, the onboard storage was as full as possible.

In a five-minute stop, running the two diesel engines could add 116 kWh to the batteries, but I suspect an automatic charging system could be better.

Accelerating From A Station

Diesel power would probably not be enough working alone, but the energy in the onboard storage would also be used to accelerate the train to the 125 mph cruise.

Optimal Station Stops

The Class 720 trains on Greater Anglia will be sharing tracks and platforms on the Great Eastern Main Line with Class 745 and Class 755 trains from Stadler.  It has been stated by Greater Anglia, that the Stadler trains will provide level access between platform and train and will use gap fillers to improve the operation.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Class 720 trains providing level access on Greater Anglia, where most of the platforms seem to be fairly straight.

Level access is important, as it speeds up station calls by easing entry to and exit from the train.

Most of the stations on the Midland Main Line appear to be fairly straight. The exception was Market Harborough station, which has now been rebuilt with step-free access and straighter platforms.

I would think it extremely likely, that whatever bi-mode trains run the Midland Main Line in the future, they will save time on the current service, by executing very fast station stops.

I would expect that maximum stop time at the stations will be of the order of two minutes.

This time may not be long enough for a train to connect to a charger and take on more power for the batteries.

Conclusion

The TCMS and the way it manages all the energy on the train, is key to creating a successful 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries.

It would appear that the diesel engines can be used as required to charge the batteries.

So it perhaps might be best to consider the train to be a battery one, with diesel engines.

As a Control Engineer, I’m proud of what Bombardier are doing.

But the aviation industry was doing this thirty years ago, so it has probably been a long time coming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

I Don’t Think Bombardier And Transport for London Will Be Disappointed

I’ve just been through this week’s performance of the service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, using the Real Time Trains web site.

  • This week was the first with a full four trains per hour service with four-car trains.
  • There were a couple of cancellations on Monday and Tuesday.
  • On Monday, a station guy, said there were problems earlier, but I found the service, as it should be.
  • On one day this week BBC London said there was a shortage of drivers around 07:30, but two bulletins later, they stated service was normal.

Not bad for the first week of a full service!

Train Testing And Driver Training?

It should also be noted that most nights, there are a few movements out of Willesden TMD. Are these test runs and/or driver training?

Ridership

I haven’t ridden the trains this week in the Peak, but in the Off Peak, the number of passengers does appear to be down on a few weeks ago.

It could of course be the increase in frequency!

Next week, I’ll have a ride in the Peak!

Conclusion

I suspect that Bombardier and Transport for London are not disappointed.

June 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Bombardier Transportation Consortium Preferred Bidder In $4.5B Cairo Monorail

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Toronto Star.

This the first three paragraphs of the article.

Bombardier Transportation says its consortium has been named preferred bidder in a C$4.5 billion contract to build and supply a new monorail system in Egypt’s capital.

The company’s potential share of the design and build contract for the system in Cairo is C$1.8 billion with an operations and maintenance deal valued at about C$1.67 billion over 30 years.

The 54-kilometre monorail will connect East Cairo with the New Administrative City and a second 42-km line will connect 6th October City with Giza.

The railway division of Bombardier Inc. will deliver the project in partnership with two Egyptian companies Orascom Construction and the Arab Contractors with the trains being developed and built in Derby, Britain.

The article then mentions the Bombardier Innovia monorail.

  • The latest Innovia 300 monorail is automated and driverless.
  • These trains can travel at 80 kph
  • They can handle 48,000 passengers per hour in both directions.
  • The latest versions are manufactured in Brazil, Canada and China
  • The latest versions are installed or planned in Brazil, China, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

I think there must be more to this project than the article in the Toronto Star.

What Are The Strengths Of The Innovia 300 Monorail?

This is Bombardier’s video of the monorail.

It looks to be a well-designed system, that has several strengths.

  • It is automated and driverless.
  • Cars are short and the trains can take quite curves, with as low as a 46 metre radius.
  • Trains can have up to eight cars. The Cairo trains will be four cars.
  • The latest cars look stylish, with cab design not unlike an Aventra.
  • The cars appear to be walkthrough.
  • The track is a slender concrete beam with walkways on either side for passenger evacuation and maintenance.
  • The tracks wouldn’t necessarily have to be elevated.
  • Construction could be quicker than a conventional railway.
  • It could also be built to travel over roads, railways, water and building, by placing the beam at the right height.

I would like to see one in operation, but Brazil is a long way, so I’ll stick with the video for the moment.

Why Develop And Build In Derby?

Why would a big company like Bombardier, with already three production lines for the monorail, want to setup another production line in Derby?

Bombardier say that the trains will also be developed in Derby.

Perhaps, some or all of these reasons apply.

  • The cross-section of an Innovia 300 monorail car looks to be about the size of a British train.
  • Can Derby’s manufacturing technology that has been used successfully to build Electrostar and Aventra bodies be applied to the Innovia monorail.
  • Derby has good relations with a large number of appropriate suppliers in the UK and Europe.
  • The new version will use the Aventra parts bin to cut development and manufacturing costs.
  • Supporting the Egyptian system from Derby will not be difficult.
  • Canada has better relations with the UK, than Brazil or China.

But even so, development could surely have been continued in Canada.

So Bombardier must have very good reasons!

Are Bombardier Proposing A Closely-Related Design For The Tyne And Wear Metro?

The current Class 994 trains of the Tyne and Wear Metro have the following dimensions.

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.45 metres
  • Car Length – 27.8 metres
  • Train Length – 55.6 metres

The Class 710 train, which is an Aventra has the following dimensions.

  • Width – 2.77 metres
  • Height – 3.76 metres

So it would appear that the standard Aventra might be too large to fit the Metro, where Bombardier are approved bidders.

It does appear that Bombardier have designed the Aventra’s body from three aluminium extrusions, so these could be resized to fit the smaller dimensions of the Metro.

But looking at the video of the Innovia 300 monorail, I get the impression, that above the floor, the body might be almost the same size as that needed for the trains for the Metro.

So Bombardier would need to design an appropriate chassis, to replace that used for the monorail.

This could mean that the bodies on both trains could be identical.

  • Four fifteen metre cars, would give a length of sixty metres.
  • If longer trains are needed, then extra cars could be inserted up to a length of eight cars.
  • The trains would be walk-through with lots of doors for easy exit according to the video.
  • The four-car design would enable tight curves could be negotiated.
  • There would surely be advantages in support and maintenance.
  • Cabs could be provide for the driver if required.

I also believe that any new trains must have step-free access between train and platform. This picture shows a current train at South Shields station.

 

That is not bad for a system that opened forty years ago.

I would think that Bombardier will make the access better, when designing a new chassis from scratch.

But the big advantages of commonality between the Innovia monorail and the Metro cars, would be in the areas of support and expansion or lengthening of the fleet in the future.

What About The Docklands Light Railway?

The Docklands Light Railway like the Tyne and Wear Metro, is another one-off system, that is incompatible with most other rail systems in the UK.

The DLR is intending to replace the rolling stock and Bombardier has been shortlisted.

The current trains of the DLR have the following dimensions.

  • Width – 2.65 metres
  • Height – 3.47 metres
  • Car Length – 28 metres
  • Train Length – 56 metres

Give or take a few millimetres, they are almost the same size as the trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Could we see similar trains on the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway?

Wikipedia says that the new DLR fleet will be 87 metres long, so could that mean six 14.5 metre cars?

A Possible Tram-Train?

Bombardier build trams and have supplied them to the UK.

The UK has just started to develop tram-train systems, with the South Wales Metro being developed in the next few years with Class 399 tram-trains.

If Bombardier use the concept, I’ve outlined here for the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway, I believe it is only a short development to get a tram-train, that could run in the UK

I’m sure that they could get it to work in Blackpool, where the company supplied their trams for the Blackpool tramway.

Are Bombardier Expecting Orders From Europe?

It was only in 2014, that the first Innovia 300 monorail route, Line 15 (São Paulo Metro), opened in Brazil.

But since then, have several Transport Authorities, City Councils and Governments visited Brazil to have a look?

Do Bombardier feel that they will be selling other systems in Europe?

If so, then Derby will be an excellent sales, development,  production and support base.

Could We See Some Monorails In The UK?

If you look at the list of Bombardier Innovia systems on Wikipedia, there are several short systems at places like airports and theme parks and a few longer systems of which the Cairo system will be the longest.

I can see opportunities for the shorter distance systems.

  • As a part of developments of Heathrow Airport’s third runway.
  • As a part of the development of Gatwick Airport’s second runway.
  • Linking Ebbsfleet International and Northfleet stations.
  • Linking East Midlands Airport to East Midlands Parkway station.
  • Linking the proposed Eden Centre at Morecambe with Lancaster station.
  • Linking Bristol Airport to the City Centre
  • Greenhithe station to the Bluewater shopping Centre.
  • It could be a modern replacement for the Liverpool Overhead Railway.

There are probably other locations at stations, airports and theme parts, where Innovia monorail systems could be installed.

As to a longer system in the UK, the only one I can think off would be to link High Speed Two at East Midlands Hub station to Derby and Nottingham and perhaps East Midlands Airport.

But then that would then be a system on Derby’s doorstep.

Conclusion

There are possibilities and with a billion pound-plus order, the project could be on its way!

But surely, the big advantage to Bombardier is if they get the orders for the new trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway, they can create trains with a lot of shared components for all three applications.

The two UK systems would get trains that weren’t totally unique, which must ease maintenance and future expansions of the respective systems.

 

 

May 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

East Midlands Class 222 Trains

The Class 222 train is the workhorse of the Midland Main Line.

Where will they go, when they are replaced by new bi-mode trains in 20222?

They have some good properties.

  • Built in 2003-2005 and refurbished in 2011-2012.
  • 125 mph capability
  • Lots of tables.
  • Meet all the access reguilations.
  • Good ride on FLEX-Eco bogies.

But there is the annoying noise of the under-floor diesel engines.

In Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?, I commented on a statement by Bombardier to upgrade these trains with batteries, to give full regenerative braking, improve their efficiency and require less running of the engines in stations.

April 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The GOBlin Users Think Things Are Looking Up

This was one of their tweets tonight.

Two Class 710s out on the WCML tonight and they’ve allowed onto the fast lines as well with no shadowing ROG diesel! Things are looking up!

So are they right?

TfL and Bombardier are being increasingly brave with where they are taking the trains.

Pictures have been taken of Class 710 trains in these places.

  • During the day at Gospel Oak, Walthamstow Queens Road and Upney.
  • At night on the West Coast Main Line

As a software man of at least forty years experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to be told, that the important train control software is now working as it should in most situations.

  • And in those situations where it doesn’t work, Bombardier have probably got a work-round. Even if it is stop and reboot! We’re all familiar with that on our desk- or lap-tops.
  • It would mean a trained technician on each train, but as there are twenty trains al;ready built, testing and driver training can continue on as many trains, as can be accommodated on the various test tracks and routes.

As I have said many times, there has been a major failure on the part of all European train manufacturers and governments, to make sure there is enough testing facilities for all the trains ordered from European manufacturers in the last few years for both Europe and export.

Software needs a lot of testing and with desktop software, you need to have tens of testers, each with their own installation.

Why should trains, which these days are just computers on wheels be any different?

I suspect that the cabs and control systems in the various classes of Aventra, with the exception of the Class 345 train, are identical.

  • Bombardier have said the the 345s have an older computer architecture based on the Electrostar.
  • Having the same software on every Aventra must make testing and acceptance into service so much easier.
  • The software would be configured for the each train size and application.

I wouldn’t be surprised, if Bombardier retrofitted the 345s with the computer system of all other Aventras.

Identical computer systems across all Aventras would have benefits for Bombardier.

  • A mixed fleet of Aventras of different sizes and performance could be driven by all drivers, with the appropriate route knowledge.
  • New versions of the software could be distributed automatically over the Internet.
  • It would be easier to add new hardware and software features to the trains.

Aircraft manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have been using similar philosophies for years.

If I’m right about this, I would expect to see the following after the 710s are working reliably on the GOBlin and the Watford DC Line.

  • A rapid introduction of the 710s on the Lea Valley Lines limited only by train testing and mileage accumulation, and driver training.
  • The next fleet of Aventras start to be tested for another operator.

Bombardier are gearing up for high production rates of Aventras, so there will not necessarily be serial production of fleets.

  • London Overground might take the initial twenty and run them for a year to ascertain any small design changes they need, which will be incorporated into the rest of the trains.
  • Greater Anglia may get some of their fleet, so they can train drivers and see what changes are needed on their platforms etc.

I actually think, that train companies would like to call off trains from Bombardier at a rate that they can bring into service. As Bombardier are producing a large number of very similar trains, they can then build them in the order that suits their customers and Bombardier’s cash flow.

But to do this successfully, you need orders for a large number of similar trains!

 

 

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bombardier Aventra And Brexit

You might think what is the connection between a radical design of train and the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

Great Leap Forward Projects

Both are projects that their promoters would say will create a Great-Leap-Forward for Bombardier and the UK respectively.

The Devil Is In The Detail

Both are in trouble.

  • Bombardier’s engineers and software developers can’t get software for the Aventra and particularly the Class 710 train for the London Overground, working in the way the train and its operator need.
  • UK and EU politicians, aided by some of the most able and expensive lawyers and consultants, can’t stitch together a workable Brexit agreement that is acceptable to all.

Does this mean that both projects are doomed?

Were The Original Plans Creditable?

I’ll take the Aventra first.

Bombardier had missed out on the Thameslink contract and needed to win the Crossrail contract to survive.

So virtually starting with a clean sheet of paper and knowing very well what technology was the best and could be used to advantage, set about designing a train that could adapt for every possible use.

Bombardier also spoke to all those, who would be using or dealing with the trains in some way, to ascertain what they needed.

The result was that Bombardier won the Crossrail order and have since sold fleets of Aventras to London Overground, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway, West Midlands Trains and c2c.

It should also be said that they probably sold some of these fleets before a large number of Aventras were actually running.

So at least Bombardier’s plans appeared sufficiently detailed and creditable to six train operating companies.

Brexit was sold to the British public, in much the same way that evangelists sell you the latest religion, political philosophy, magic cancer cure or con. Is there any difference between the four?

Was any thought given to the serious problem like the Irish border? If anything was, I don’t remember hearing or reading it!

The major policies I remember was that all the money we give to Europe will go to the NHS and that immigration will be cut to almost zero.

Everything that said you should vote Remain was dismissed as Project Fear!

But the philosophy was enough to win the referendum.

What Were The Risks?

The Leavers would have lost, if they had got the estimates of any of these wrong.

  • The power and delivery of their philosophy.
  • The dislike of immigrants.
  • iThe hatred of all things European, except holidays in the sun.
  • The weakness of the Remainers message.

It was an easy sell and a majority of the British public bought it.

Forty years ago, when we created Artemis, we followed a route similar to Bombardier with the Aventra, but on a much smaller scale.

  • We did an extensive survey of users of Project Management Systems.
  • We laid out our objectives, which I have somewhere on a single A4 sheet of paper.
  • We researched and defined what hardware we would need.
  • I was then able to program the first system.

And guess what! The software was late, by several months.

But at least, when I got it right, systems were able to be delivered. And the orders started to flow!

Based on my experience, the software that runs the Bombardier Aventra will be the biggest risk in the design of the train.

If I’d put this risk to the engineer in charge of Aventra development, I would have been very surprised, if they didn’t agree.

Getting Back On Track

Bombardier will probably do what I did forty years ago.

Keep at it, until the software is perfect and the Class 710 trains run as it says in the brochure.

As happened with Artemis, once you have one system going, on the signing off of the software, you can create other systems or in Bombardier’s case; trains.

Bombardier can add the software to the scores of trains they have already built and stored and start testing, certification and delivery of individual trains.

Software, is like a magic elixir, that brings inanimate objects to life.

Will a magic elixir be found to solve the Brexit logjam?

Bombardier have to create software, that does the following.

  • Controls all parts of the train, so they do as promised.
  • Connect all train systems together.
  • The software must also work flawlessly.

It only needs to work in one language.

The philosophy and structure for a Brexit deal are more complicated.

  • There are a lot more issues to be solved.
  • Twenty-eight countries, their governments, parliaments and people must be satisfied.
  • How many languages will be involved?

Anybody, who reckons they could get a deal is probably a fantasist.

Why Was Artemis Developed?

We knew that there was a need for a small Project Management System.

But look at the date we started development; 1976. James Callaghan had just taken over from Harold Wilson as Prime Minister.

  • The country was not doing well.
  • The government didn’t have a large majority.
  • Everything was doom and gloom.
  • Tax rates were as high as eighty percent.
  • There was a housing crisis.
  • Many were worried about their jobs.
  • There was a lot of industrial unrest.

Surely, it wasn’t the time to risk all on a new venture?

But we were not of the herd and we didn’t hold back and went for it. And the rest as they say is history.

It is now 2019 and many of the issues I listed about the mid-1970s still apply.

  • The country is not doing well.
  • The government doesn’t have a large majority.
  • Everything is doom and gloom.
  • There is a housing crisis.
  • Many are worried about their jobs.

But there is one big difference. If you have an idea that is worth developing, raising money to develop it, is a lot easier to find.

To me, Brexit is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many to develop an idea and/or create a business to overcome the myriad number of problems leaving the EU will bring.

  • As leaving the EU without a deal will create more problems, it might be preferable for job creation.
  • Brexit may also create opportunities in Europe for new and innovative businesses.

It will be large industries, that will find times harder.

 

 

 

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Far So Good On The Gospel Oak To Barking Lne

Since Monday, I have taken four trips on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line, with two in the Class 172 trains and two in the four-car Class 378 train.

  • The only problem I’ve seen was at about two on Tuesday afternoon, where the platform at Blackhorse Road station was jam-packed and the next train was a 172!
  • There has been no reports in the media; good, bad or indifferent.
  • RidingTheGoblin on Twitter has been reporting no problems.

It looks to me, that the passenger experience will only get better for the next few weeks as two other four-car Class 378 trains replace two Class 172 trains.

That should take everything to mid-March.

So that gives Transport for London and/or Bombardier six weeks to rustle up some more trains.

Options could include.

Class 710 Trains

If Class 710 trains are delivered in time, drivers will have to be trained, so this would put at least a week or so in the critical path.

Borrow Some Class 378 Trains

Services could be reduced elsewhere on the Overground and more Class 378 trains introduced.

Conclusion

There is only one four-car train and judging from the effects I’ve seen with this single train, an all four-car fleet will mean that the capacity on the line will be very lsrge. Will it encourage more to use the line?

As to the future, it’s going to be a close-run thing.

My money is on Bombardier delivering the Class 710 trains. They have most to lose and it’s their fault!

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Roger Ford On Bombardier’s Aventra Problems

It has been well-publicised that Bombardier are having problems getting their new Class 710 trains working reliably for service on the Gospel Oak to Barking Lines.

In the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article written by the well-respected Roger Ford, which is entitled Train Makers Face ‘Year Of Truth’.

Roger makes a succession of important points about Bombardier and Aventras in particular.

Class 345 Trains

Roger says this.

While reliability continues to be poor, software issues have been largely down to signalling interfaces at the western end of Crossrail.

Production appears to have been paused at 57, with perhaps 37 accepted.

Class 345 Trains And Class 710 Trains Use Different Software

Roger says this.

For the Class 345s, Transport for London specified an evolution of the Class 378 ‘last generation’ software. However the units for London Overground and Greater Anglia, and the other Aventra contracts for delivery beyond 2019, are true next generation trains with a new ‘family tree’ of software.

So it would appear that Class 345 and Class 710 software problems could be unrelated!

My experience of putting together large complicated software systems over forty years, leads me to add these two statements.

  • If the base hardware has been thoroughly tested and put together in a professional manner, it will be very rare for the software to not work on one set of hardware and work perfectly on several dozen other sets.
  • You can’t do too much testing; both of the hardware and the software, both on test systems and in real-life scenarios.

I don’t know anything of the computer hardware structure and its connectivity on Aventras, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot has been lifted straight out of the aerospace industry, in which Bombardier has a substantial presence. Borrowing proven techniques and hardware will hopefully reduce the risk.

The major risk will be the software that is totally new and unique to the Aventra.

So to me, it is not surprising that the complicated signalling on Crossrail, has been the major trouble on the Class 345 trains.

In this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, this is a paragraph.

London Overground was due to put new Bombardier Class 710 electric multiple units into traffic on the route from March 2018, with a full rollout by May. However, problems with the Train Control Management System (TCMS) has so far prevented this.

I suspect that the TCMS is totally new and unique and has a level of complexity much higher than what is used in the Class 345 train.

  • It will have the ability to test all the trains sub-systems on a continuous basis.
  • The TCMS  will be an important part of the train testing process, which is why I have listed it first.
  • The TCMS will control 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail power collection.
  • It will control the energy storage, that is reputedly fitted to the train.
  • It will handle regenerative braking using the energy storage.
  • Electricity usage will be optimised.
  • It will control all the displays and systems throughout the train.
  • It will interface to the signalling system.
  • It will communicate train status and faults back to the depot.

I also suspect that every Aventra will have the same TCMS, which will probably be compatible with the proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

This is not a new concept, as in the 1980s, Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft had identical cockpits, flight control systems and a common rating for pilots.

The Aventra has been described as a computer-on-wheels. Could it also be described as an aircraft-on-rails?

When I was growing up, all new trains, aircraft and vehicles were generally fully described with detailed cutaway drawing in a comic called Eagle.

Bombardier have seemed to be very reluctant to give details about what lies under the skin of an Aventra. Could it be very different to all other trains?

There is one big disadvantage about having a common TCMS, in that, it requires a very high quality of software design, programming and testing and that any lateness in the software delays the whole project.

Class 710 Trains For The Gospel Oak To Barking

Roger says this about the delayed Class 710 trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

According to,Bombardier, delivery of the Class 710 fleet is now due to be completed by the end of 2019. Given that the original date was September 2018, this is 15 months late. But with large numbers of Class 710 vehicles in storage, it also seems unduly pessimistic.

Roger does not have a reputation for looking on the bright side of life, so when he says that the schedule is unduly pessimistic, I give that a high chance of being right.

Surely, when the final approved version of the TCMS software is delivered, all of those trains in storage can be woken up, tested by the TCMS software then go through a pre-delivery check with the appropriate level of trouble-free running.

It’s a bit like having a new PC on your desk. You can’t really use it, until the software you need to do your job is installed. But as the software will be designed for your PC and has already been fully tested, it is unlikely to be a traumatic operation.

It appears to me, that the more comprehensive the TCMS software, the quicker it will be to take a train from manufacture to ready for service.

Class 720 Trains For Greater Anglia

Bombardier are already building the Class 720 trains for Greater Anglia.

Are these just being checked and tested before being put into store?

As with the Class 710 trains, will they be woken up using the same final fully tested version of the TCMS software?

I would be very surprised if the software on the two trains used different versions of the software.

When I was writing Artemis, we had two versions; one for single users and another for multiple users.

The software for both was identical and it worked on two different operating systems.

That is one of the advantages you get with well-written software.

Hence my belief that all Aventras have a common TCMS software.

Building Aventras

The article says that Bombardier are gearing up to have six Aventra production lines in Derby, which would mean they can turn out 24 vehicles a week.

That is a high production rate, which would mean that the 222 vehicles for the London Overground could be built in under ten weeks.

Bombardier must be expecting a lot of orders!

 

 

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment