The Anonymous Widower

Saving Fuel In Rail Vehicles

The title of this post is the same as this page on the web site of a company called Artemis Intelligent Power.

The first paragraph sums up the project and the participants.

Since 2013, Artemis has been proud to work with leading companies Ricardo and Bombardier on the project ‘Digital Displacement® Rail Transmission with Flywheel Energy Storage’ which has been supported by the government funding body Innovate UK.

So who are the players, mentioned in this paragraph.

  • Artemis Intelligent Power, is a company that has been spun out of Edinburgh University, that is now owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. In 2015, the company won a MacRobert Award, which is regarded as the leading prize recognising UK innovation in engineering.
  • Ricardo is one of those companies, that have shaped our lives, but few people have ever heard of. At some time most of us would have driven a diesel car, where the engine has been designed around patents or ideas from Ricardo.
  • Bombardier in the UK are best known for the trains they build in Derby.
  • Innovate UK is the UK Government’s innovation agency.

I think it is true to say, that these players wouldn’t be short of ideas, engineering knowledge and resources, including money.

This second paragraph, describes in simple details, what they aim to achieve.

The system is based on the use of Artemis Digital Displacement® pump-motors to capture braking energy from diesel multiple unit (DMU) rail cars, store it in high tech Ricardo flywheels and then use it to displace diesel fuel during vehicle acceleration. Such energy recovery is commonplace on modern electric trains but there is general agreement in the rail industry that are many routes where electrification is unlikely ever to make economic sense.

There is also a press release from Ricardo, which has this title Significant fuel savings and rapid payback shown for rail flywheel hybrid technology.

The project has a name of DDFlyTrain and searching for this word, found this article in the Railway Gazette, which gives more details. These are the last two paragraphs of the article.

The delivery of the flywheel will now enable the assembly of a test rig for laboratory verification trials. Ricardo said its latest flywheel represents a significant advance on products available two years ago, drawing on research undertaken for Formula 1 cars. The flywheel spins in a permanent vacuum to reduce energy losses, with transmission by a magnetic gear system which does not require rotating seals or vacuum pumps The flywheel will be mated with Artemis’ Digital Displacement hydraulic transmission technology, which combines mechanical electric and software elements to facilitate efficient operation despite the varying speeds and loadings of a rail environment.

There are currently no firm plans for installation on a real trainset, but this could be undertaken in the future following laboratory tests.

I shall be searching for DDFlyTrain.


Artemis Intelligent Power and Ricardo have developed some very advanced technology.

The News page on the Artemis IP web site, details some varied applications for their technology in the fields of wave power, excavators, diesel railcar transmissions and wind power.

Ricardo’s flywheel has the name of TorqStor and looks to have potential in other applications.

Could we be seeing a larger version of Torqstor in Electrical Multiple Units, like the new Aventra?

With technology companies like Ricardo and Artemis IP, you never know what is possible, until it has been done!

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rolling Stock Leaser Beacon Rail Acquires 78-Train Fleet

The title of this post is the same as this article on Global Rail News. This is the first paragraph.

European rolling stock leaser Beacon Rail has acquired the 352-vehicle fleet of Bombardier Class 220 and Class 221 Voyager’s from subsidiaries of Lloyds Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The diesel-electric multiple units are currently in passenger service on the Virgin West Coast and the Arriva Cross Country franchises.

Is it just a tidying up by two banks of their asset portfolios or is there something more behind the transaction?

Beacon Rail Leasing is a ROSCO  or specialist train leasing company and this is their mission statement.

The Mission of Beacon Rail Leasing is to be the leading provider of high utility rolling stock to the Pan-European operator base. Management’s goal is to provide the company’s equity investors with superior returns by being the best managed and most efficiently operated rail operating lease company in the Pan-European Market.

So do they have a long-term plan for these trains?

In Modern Trains From Old, I write about three articles in the February 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is a relevant extract from the previous post.

Bi-Modus Operandi

This is the title of an article by Ian Walmsley in the magazine, who makes the case for adding an extra coach with a pantograph to the Class 220, 221 and 222 and effectively creating a bi-mode train.

The idea is not new and I wrote about it in The Part-Time Electric Train, after a long editorial comment in Modern Railways in 2010.

If anything, the case for convcersion is even better now, as quality high-speed bi-mode trains are desperately needed.

As the article suggests, they could sort out some of the other problems with the trains.

There are quite a few suitable trains.

  • Class 220 trains – 34 trains of four cars.
  • Class 221 trains – 43 trains of a mix of four and five cars.
  • Class 222 trains – 27 trains of a mix of four, five and seven cars.

All are 125 mph trains.

ROSCOs are always looking for innovative ways to make money.

So perhaps Beacon have got together with Eversholt Rail Group, who are the owner of the Class 222 trains and Bombardier, the manufacturer of all three classes of trains to create a series of affordable 125 mph bi-mode trains.

I have no idea if these trains will be updated, but on the 20th of July, this document, which is entitled Rail update: bi-mode train technology, was published by the Department of Transport.

This is said about the new East Midlands franchise.

The next operator will be required to deliver modern, fast and efficient trains. This includes a brand new fleet of bi-mode intercity trains from 2022, delivering more seats and comfort for long-distance passengers. The provision of these trains will replace plans to electrify the line north of Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, improving journeys sooner, without the need for wires and masts on the whole route, and causing less disruption to services. We do not intend to proceed with plans to electrify the line from Kettering to Sheffield and Nottingham, and there will be further investment to come to ensure Sheffield is HS2-ready.

Ian Walmsley’s proposal of adding an extra coach, wouldn’t deliver brand-new bi-mode intercity trains, but it could deliver refurbished Class 222 trains with the following characteristics for the new East Midlands franchise.

  • More seats in one or more extra carriages.
  • One extra carriage would have an automatic pantograph to access the 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Trains could probably be any length from five-cars upwards, that the operatir wanted.
  • Refurbished interiors.
  • Wi-fi, 4G and power sockets.
  • Ability to run on electricity South of Kettering.
  • Diesel power North of Kettering
  • Update the current rheostatic to regenerative braking using energy storage in both electric and diesel mode.
  • 125 mph operating speed.
  • A modern and efficient electrical and control system.


  1. I suspect that some features and equipment from the new Aventra would be incorporated.
  2. The trains might cost a bit more to lease, but they would generate more revenue and ultimately profits.
  3. But the biggest advantage of going this route, is that the concept can be tested by building a single carriage and inserting it into a refurbished test train.
  4. After the concept is proven and a go-ahead is given, trains could be built steadily. It should also be said that Bombardier did a superb job in lengthening London Overground’s Class 378 trains twice!
  5. An efficient control system could reduce the amount of time the diesel engines were running.

Similar conversions could be performed on the Class 220 and Class 221 trains.


It will be interesting to see what happens.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bombardier’s Giant Spanner In The Works

On The 10:35 From Liverpool Street To Shenfield, I talked to several passengers and one thing that impressed a couple was the built-in 4G mobile-phone capability of the trains.

So much wi-fi on trains is tedious to use and the operator wants to get you to register, so they can bombard you with spam.

For this and other reasons, I rarely use wi-fi.

Now that Bombardier have fitted 4G to Crossrail’s Aventras, will every new train in the UK, be fitted with this capability?

You bet it will! Or the train won’t sell!

I actually, think that 4G capability could be a train feature that appeals to many older travellers., who I suspect generally aren’t the heaviest users of bandwidth, but also want instant access at all times.

4G all the time gives you this.

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This morning I was sitting waiting on Platform 8 at Stratford station.

Platform 8 is separated from Platform 9 by just two tracks, so you notice a train, when it goes through Platform 9 at speed.

Usually, the trains that go through Platform 9 at speed towards Liverpool Street station are Class 321 trains or rakes of Mark 3 coaches oulled by a Class 90 locomotives.

Today, a new Class 345 train went through and the level of noise was extremely low compared to other trains.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will First MTR Drop The Class 707 Trains?

To avoid confusion, before starting the post, I will say these two sentences about the train operating companies that operate from London to the South West, out of Waterloo station.

The current train operating company is South West Trains, which is owned by the Stagecoach Group.

From the 20th of August, 2017, the train operating company will be South Western Trains, which is a joint venture of First Group and MTR Corporation. Some articles refer to the joint venture as First MTR, which I will use as appropriate.

There are reports, that the new franchise, wants to drop the new fleet of Class 707 trains, which are just being delivered.

This article in Rail Technology Magazine is entitled RMT slams ‘crazy’ First MTR decision to drop new £200m SWT trains.

This is said.

The company, which is a partnership between FirstGroup and Hong Kong firm MTR, was awarded the South Western franchise on Monday, but now has allegedly dropped plans for 150 carriages that were ordered in 2014 from Siemens and is instead commissioning new trains on a cheaper annual lease.

First MTR hopes that the new carriages will be rolled out onto the network from 2019.

The operator must deliver 90 new trains and 750 new carriages for the franchise – which it takes over from Stagecoach on 20 August – by the end of 2020.

Note that the article uses First MTR.

Whether it is a crazy decision, I will not speculate about, but when First MTR bid for this franchise, they knew that the Class 707 trains were on order,

So they must have had a plan about how they would be running or not running these trains for some time.

In Increasing Capacity On Waterloo Suburban Services, I looked at what I stated in the title.

This was one of my conclusions.

This calculation shows that you can sometimes replace a large number of 75 mph trains with a significantly smaller number of 100 mph units and still attain the same service frequency.

It sounds like a case of getting something for nothing, but it’s all about the mathematics.

Newton would have come to the same conclusion,  if he’d worked out how many horses were needed to get passengers from London to Cambridge.

Services to Windsor and Eton Riverside

To illustrate this saving of trains, I’ll look at the services between Waterloo and Windsor and Eton Riverside stations.

Services currently take 54 minutes. This would be a typical round trip.

  • Leave Waterloo at 08:58
  • Arrive Windsor at 09:52
  • Leave Windsor at 10:23
  • Arrive Waterloo at 11:19
  • Leave Waterloo at 11:28

As trains leave Waterloo at XX:28 and XX:58, this means that trains must start their diagrams at 08:58, 09:28, 09:58, 10:28 and 10:58 to provide two tph.

So five ten-car trains will be needed to provide the service, or as the 75 mph Class 458/5 trains, typically used on the line are five-cars, ten five-car trains will be needed.

South West Trains have talked about introducing the new Class 707 trains on Windsor services.


  • Class 458/5 trains take two hours thirty minutes for the round trip.
  • The trains make twelves stops in each direction.
  • Class 707 trains are 100 mph trains, probably with better acceleration and braking.
  • Class 707 trains can probably reduce station dwell time by a minute or so.
  • Waterloo is getting five new long platforms, that are probably signalled to turn a train fast.

With the reduced station dwell time, the faster train speed and quicker turn rounds at both ends of the route, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that a Class 707 train could do the round trip in under two hours.

If trains were to leave Waterloo and Windsor at XX:28 and XX:58, this means that trains must start their diagrams at 08:58, 09:28, 09:58 and 10:28 to provide two tph.

So four ten-car or eight five-car Class 707 trains will be needed to provide the service..

The Waterloo to Windsor service could become.

  • 2 tph starting at say XX:28 and XX:58 at both Waterloo and Windsor.
  • A faster service.
  • There might be space in the schedule to add some extra stops or open a new station.

It would be realised with two trains fewer.

How Many Other Trains Could Be Saved On The Network?

These suburban termini have out and back services from Waterloo.

The times are for a typical one-way journey from Waterloo, which usually has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).

I feel that a modern 100 mph train like a Class 707 train could go out and back from Waterloo to Chessington South, Epsom and Hampton Court comfortably within an hour. Thus only two trains would be needed for a 2 tph service.

It’s The Slow Trains That Are The Problem

In the simple Windsor example, the replacement of 75 mph trains with modern 100 mph trains gives positive benefits for passengers, train operating companies and Network Rail.

But the train operator has the downside, that the schedules for 100 mph trains can’t be worked by 75 mph trains.

So for optimal operation, the 75 mph trains must only be used on routes, where they are as efficient as a 100 mph train.

Currently South West Trains have the following 75 mph trains.

This is a total of 592 vehicles and which could be sorted into about sixty ten-car trains.

So possibly the best solution is to go for a fleet, where all trains are modern 100 mph five-car trains.

The quoted 750 new vehicles works out as 75 new ten-car trains.

As they will be introducing ninety new trains, it looks like they need another fifteen trains.

Uprating The Class 458/5 Trains

As First MTR will be introducing ninety new trains, it looks like they need another fifteen trains.

These are some facts about the Class 458/5 trains.

  • They were manufactured as four-car Class 458/0 and eight-car Class 460  trains.
  • Both trains had a 100 mph capability.
  • They were rebuilt as five-car trains.
  • The rebuilt trains were geared to 75 mph to avoid overheating.
  • They are owned by Porterbrook, who have form in innovative train deals involving a certain amount of rebuilding.

So could engineers have found a way to remanufacture these trains as 100 mph units, so they can do a useful job for the new franchise?

The original order for Class 458 trains was for thirty trains, which as they are now five-car units, gives the required 150 coaches.

I suspect that First MTR have found a way to gear these formerly Class 458/0 trains back to 100 mph units and avoid the overheating.

Perhaps though those with cabs donated from Class 460 trains will go into store.



Replacing The Class 455 And Class 456 Trains

This would mean that First MTR just need a replacement for the Class 455 and Class 456 trains, that meets the requirements of their franchise commitments.

  • 150 Five-car or seventy-five ten-car trains.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Short dwell-times at stations.
  • Wi-fi and power points.
  • Toilets.

So why drop the Class 707 trains?

The Specification Is Not Good Enough

The trains don’t have the following.

  • Wi-fi and power points.
  • Toilets.

As these requirements are in the franchise specification, perhaps First MTR feel that it might be less hassle and more profitable to let the trains go after a couple of years.

They would be an adequate stop-gap, but new trains designed specifically for the franchise would be better.

The Class 700 Trains Have A Bad Reputation

You rarely read any good passenger reports of the Class 700 trains running on Thameslink.

But you do get reports about, hard seats, no tables etc.

I was in a Class 700 train yesterday and compared to the Class 158 train, I rode on Sunday to and from Ilkeston, they were inferior in ride and seat quality.

So perhaps First MTR feel that the Class 707 trains are best avoided.

Is There A Better Train?

MTR are going to be the operator of Crossrail, with its Class 345 trains, which are Aventras built by Bombardier in Derby.

I can’t believe that MTR are not privy to all the performance and customer feedback data from Class 345 testing and as there is nothing in the media, we’ll have to wait until the first Aventras enter service on Crossrail in May.

So have MTR decided that the Aventra is a much better train than the Class 707 train?

I’ll look at how a fleet of Aventras might fit First MTR’s needs.

  • If you look at Greater Anglia’s order for Aventras it is for 22 ten-car and 89 five-car trains, which is the same as First MTR appear to need.
  • Greater Anglia’s Aventras are at least 100 mph trains geared to short dwell-times at stations.
  • With new trains, First MTR can specify any interior they want, so toilets, wi-fi, 4G and power points are no problem.
  • Aventras are designed around a power system, that easily allows dual-voltage trains, as on the London Overground.

But I believe Aventras have another big advantage.

I have been told by Bombardier, that all Aventras will be wired ready for onboard energy storage and I believe that energy storage will have major uses on the trains, if it is installed.

  • Handling regenerative braking energy on the train in an efficient way.
  • Ability to move trains short distances without electrification.
  • Allowing remote warming up of trains.
  • Next station recovery, when the power fails.
  • Safer depots without electrification.
  • Longer electrically dead sections at level crossings.
  • Stations without electrification.
  • New short branch lines could be developed without electrification.
  • Ability to divert over lines without electrification.

Onboard energy storage may not give spectacular advantages like running from Basingstoke to Exeter without electrification, but it gives all manner of small advantages, that cut the cost of operating the trains.

Consider the line between Windsor and Staines, which is about ten miles long and has three intermediate stations and two level crossings. If the trains to Windsor have the capability to run from Staines to Windsor and back using onboard energy, then the electrification could be removed, thus increasing safety and reducing maintenance costs and track charges to the operator. If a train was made up of two five-car units working as a ten-car train, then all electrical systems are duplicated for reliability.

Third-rail electrification, which is often perceived as dangerous by Health and Safety bodies.

But once all electric trains on a route, use onboard energy storage for efficiency and operational reasons, will we see innovative track and station design, that is more affordable to build and maintain, and a whole lot safer?

It should also be noted that First Group have stakes in both First MTR and GWR.

So they could have a common sub-fleet with the following characteristics.

  • Dual-voltage.
  • Onboard energy storage for sections without electrification.

These could run routes like.

  • Reading to Gatwick Airport.
  • Westbury to Swindon.
  • Southampton to Salisbury

At about £7.5million a five-car train, this order for 150 five-car trains would be in the order of a billion pounds.

In this section, I’ve used the Aventra as an example, but what’s to stop another manufacturer coming up with a better train than the Class 707 train?


In The Interim

It will be unlikely, that replacement trains for the Class 455 and Class 456 trains will arrive before 2019-2020.

Before the end of 2020, when First MTR are mandated to introduce the new trains, the following will happen.

  • They will receive thirty 100 mph Class 707 trains.
  • They could reorganise the Class 458 trains into another thirty 100 mph trains.
  • The remodelling of Waterloo will be complete and this will decrease train turnround times.
  • Some level crossings will have been removed.
  • Other bottlenecks could have been eased.

This might enable services to be improved on selective routes, where congestion is worst.



As soon as First MTR can pass the Class 707 trains to another operator they will.

I also think, that as First MTR’s need for new trains is very similar to that of Greater Anglia, that Aventras are in the front of the race to supply the company with new trains.








April 3, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Parallel Thinking From Bombardier

Bombardier’s New Talent 3 Electrical Multiuple Unit

This is the data sheet on Bombardier’s web site announcing the new Talent 3 EMU, which has recently been announced at Innotrans 2016. It is the successor to the Talent 2.

These are some phrases picked from the sheet.

  • Flexible and efficient when operating as commuter, regional, or intercity train.
  • The use of proven and optimized components, recognized in operation in several European countries,
  • For the first time a TALENT EMU train is compatible with the BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE Li-ion battery system.

Reading the data sheet the train seems very similar to the Aventra, except that in the case of the Talent 3, they mention batteries.


This Bombardier press release is entitled New PRIMOVE battery for rail presented at InnoTrans exhibition.

This is said.

The TALENT 3 EMU with PRIMOVE battery system will provide an environmentally friendly alternative to diesel trains operating on non-electrified lines. The results will significantly reduce noise pollution and emissions while making rail passenger transport cleaner and more attractive. Operators and passengers will also benefit from a battery technology that eliminates the need to change trains when bridging non-electrified track sections.

Other documents and web pafes emphasise how Primove is for all tranport applications. Thjs is the Primove web site.

In their data sheet, Bombardier said this.

For the first time TALENT EMU train is compatible with the BOMBARDIER PRIMOVE Li-ion battery system.

Reading about Primove, it would appear to be various standard modules.

Supposing you fit a train with the a standard Primove battery. This will give a defined range and performance to a p[articular train or tram with a specfic size battery.

As an electrical engineer and a control engineer in particular, I would suspect that the connections and the control system are the same for all batteries and that provided the battery can fit within the space allocated, all sizes will fit all trains.

So a suburban trundler would probably have less battery capacity, than a fast regional express, that stopped and started  quickly all the time.

If you want more range and performance, you just fit a bigger or more efficient battery.

I suspect too, that if an innovative company came up with another battery design, perhaps based on something like several miles of strong knicker elastic, so long as the plugs fit and it goes in the standard space, Bombardier would at least look at it.

So it looks like the fitting of batteries could be totally scale-able and future-proofed to accept new innovative battery technologies.

Aventras And Batteries

There has been no direct mention of batteries on Aventras

This is the best information so far!

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-Iron batteries if required.

Bombardier have confirmed the wiring for onboard power storage to me.

But you have to remember that the Talent 3 is for the more generous European loading gauge.

So could it be that Bombardier’s standard Primove system fits the Talent 3 and it’s too big for an Electrostar and an Aventra designed on standard lines?

But possibly, splitting the various heavy electrical components between two cars, as indicated in the Global Rail News article, gives more space for fitting a standard Primove battery and distributes the weight better.

Perhaps they can even fit a standard Primove battery into an Aventra, if it has the underfloor space to itself!

Obviously, using the same batteries in a Talent 3 and an Aventra must have cost and development advantages. Especially, if you can size the battery for the application.

Electrostars And Batteries

It has always puzzled me, why some Electrostars with an IPEMU-capability have not appeared. Could it be, that the amount of electrical equipment required is too much for a standard design of train running on a UK loading gauge?

Bombardier must have a target range for a train running on batteries. Perhaps, the Electrostar can’t get that range, but the Aventra with its twin power-car design can!

I wonder if the Electrostar with batteries and an IPEMU-capability will borrow from the Aventra design and have twin power-cars. That could be a much more major modification than that performed on a Class 379 train to create the BEMU denonstrator early last year.

But it could enable the use of a standard Primove battery and obtain the range needed for a viable Electrostar with an IPEMU-capability.

Crossrail And Energy

Crossrail is unlike any other railway, I’ve ever seen, with the exception of the RER under Paris.

  • Crossrail will be deep and all stations will have platform edge doors.
  • Crossrail will have twenty-four trains per hour.
  • A fully loaded Crossrail train going at the design speed of 145 kph has an energy of 105.9 kWh.

All of these and other factors will lead to lots of energy and heat being introduced into the stations, trains and tunnels.

One way of minimising problems is to design the the tunnels, trains, stations and electrical systems together.

As an example of how systems interact consider this. A train pulling away from the station needs a lot of energy to get to line-speed. In a traditional design, there could be a lot of energy wasted as heat in the overhead wires getting the electricity to the train. This heat would then need more air-conditioning to cool the platforms and the train.

So in this and many ways, saving energy, not only saves costs, but leads to further energy saving elsewhere.

Because of enegy problems, railways like Crossrail have to be designed very carefully with respect to energy usage.

Class 345 Trains

A few facts about Class 345 trains, for Crossrail, from their fact sheet.

  • They have been specifically designed for Crossrail.
  • Regenerative braking is standard.
  • High energy efficiency.
  • Acceleration is up to 1 m/s² which is more than an |Electrostar.
  • Maintenance will be by the manufacturer in purpose-built depots.

From this I conclude that it is in Bombardier’s interest to make the train efficient and easy to service.

I also founds this snippet on the Internet which gives the formation of the new Class 345 trains.

When operating as nine-car trains, the Class 345 trains will have two Driving Motor Standard Opens (DMSO), two Pantograph Motor Standard Opens (PMSO), four Motor Standard Opens (MSO) and one Trailer Standard Open (TSO). They will be formed as DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO+TSO+MSO+MSO+PMSO+DMSO.

As the article from Global Rail News  said earlier, the power system of an Aventra is based on two cars, with the heavy equipment split. So as each half-train seems to have be DMSO+PMSO+MSO+MSO in a Class 345 train, could the trains be using a three-car power system, with one car having the converter and batteries in the other two, all connected by a common bus.

It should also be noted that most Electrostar pantograph cars, don’t have motors, but the Class 345 trains do. Thus these trains must have prodigious acceleration with thirty-two diving axles in a nine-car formation.

There are also sound engineering and operational reasons for a battery to be fitted to the Class 345 trains.

  • Handling regenerative braking in the tunnels. As a train stops in a tunnel station, the regenerative brakes will generate a lot of energy. It would be much more efficient if that energy was kept in batteries on the train, as the tunnel electrical systems would be much simpler. There could also be less heat generated in the tunnels, as the overehead cables would be carrying less power to and from the trains.
  • Remote wake-up capability. Trains warm themselves up in the sidings to await the driver.
  • The depots could be unwired. I’ve read that the main Old Oak Common depot is energy efficient. Batteries on the trains would move the trains in the depots.

But the biggest advantage is that if power fails in the tunnel, the train can get to the next station using the batteries. In a worst case scenario, where the train has to be evacuated, the batteries could keep the train systems like air-conditioning, doors and communication working, to help in an orderly evacuation via the walkway at the side of the track.

How do you open the doors on a boiling train with fifteen hundred panicking passengers and no power? An appropriately-sized battery solves the problem.

Incidentally, I have calculated that a Class 345 train, loaded with 1,500 80 Kg people travelling at 145 kph has an energy of 105.9 kWh. As s Nissan Leaf electric car can come with a 50 kWh battery, I don’t believe that capturing all that braking energy on the train is in the realm of fantasy.

One big problem with regenerative braking on a big train with these large amounts of energy, must be that as the train stops 105.9 kWh must be fed back through the pantograph to the overhead line. And then on starting-up again 105.9 kWh of energy must be fed to the train through the pantograph, to get the train back up to speed.

As this is happening at a crowded station like Bond Street, twenty-four times an hour in both directions, that could mean massive amounts of energy flows generating heat in the station tunnels.

Remember that London’s tube train are smaller, have similar frequencies and have regenerative braking working through a third-rail system.

Surely, if the train is fitted with a battery or batteries capable of handling these amounts of energy, it must be more efficient to store and recover the energy from the batteries.

Batteries also get rid of a vicious circle.

  • Feeding the braking energy back to the overhead wire must generate heat.
  • Feeding the start-up energy to the train from the overhead wire must generate heat.
  • All this heat would need bigger air-conditioning, which requires more energy to be drawn by the train.

Batteries which eliminate a lot of the high heat-producing electricity currents in the tunnels at stations, are one way of breaking the circle and creating trains that use less energy.

After writing this, I think it is obvious now, why the trains will be tested in short formations between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

The trains could be without any batteries during initial service testing, as all the reasons, I have given above for batteries don’t apply on this section of Crossrail.

  • Regenerative braking can either work using two-way currents on the upgraded overhead wiring or not be used during testing.
  • Remote wake-up is not needed, as the trains will be stored overnight at Ilford depot initially.
  • Ilford depot is still wired, although the jury may be out on that, given the depot is being rebuilt.
  • There will be no need to do rescues in tunnels.

Once the trains have proven they can cope with herds of Essex girls and boys, batteries could be fitted, to test their design and operation.

You have to admire Bombardier’s careful planning, if this is the way the company is going.

Could the following be the operating regime for Crossrail going from Shenfield to Reading?

  • The train runs normally between Shenfield and Stratford, using regenerative braking through the overhead wires or batteries.
  • The train arrives at Stratford with enough power in the batteries to come back out or get to a station, if there was a total power failure.
  • The train uses regenerative braking with the batteries between Whitechapel and Paddington.
  • In the tunnels, the power levels in the batteries, are kept high enough to allow train recovery.
  • Once in the open, regenerative braking could use overhead wires or batteries as appropriate.
  • The train even handles complete power failure and perhaps a problem with one pair of power cars, as the train is in effect two half-trains coupled together, with at least two of everything.

Has there ever been a train design like it?


It looks to me, that the Aventra and Talent 3 trains are just different-sized packages for the same sets of components like Flex-Eco bogies and Primove batteries.

One train is for the UK and the other for Europe and the rest of the world.

But have the two design teams been borrowing ideas and components from both sides of the Channel?

You bet they have!

Brexit? What Brexit?

The engineers of Crossrail, have not only dug one of the biggest holes in Europe for a long time, but with Bombardier’s engineers, they could also have designed a very efficient and different way of getting passengers through it.

I am very strongly of the opinion, that putting batteries on the trains to handle regenerative braking in tunnels, is almost essential, as it is simpler, possibly more affordable and cuts the amount of heat generated in the tunnels.



September 24, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is This A Significant Move In The Rolling Stock Market?

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled Bombardier-Hitachi joint venture to bid for New Tube for London.

I think it makes sense for several reasons.

  • The New Tube for London order is massive in that it will re-equip the some of the deep-level tube lines with state-of-the-art, air-conditioned and automated trains.
  • Bombardier have lots of experience with dealing with Transport for London, in recent years.
  • Hitachi haven’t built a complete train for London.
  • Both companies have large factories in the UK.
  • Over the next few years, if speculation is confirmed, Bombardier will be building a lot of Aventras for East Anglia, the Midland Main Line and Merseyside.
  • Hitachi will also be building a lot of Class 800/801 trains.
  • Hitachi have said, that both factories would produce the trains.
  • Financially, a joint bid is probably better.
  • As we are now in a post-Brexit world, accepting a bid from a European company would not be a good idea.

But I also feel that this could be a strategic partnership, where there is a good mix of experience, that combined with the UK’s undoubted skills in providing reliable and modern underground railways, could open up a world-wide market in the future, as other cities and regions in the world look to improve transportation in cities crowded with traffic.

I will finish this post with a little bit of speculation about what the New Tube for London will be like.

  • Walk-through like the S-Stock built by Bombardier.
  • More headroom for tall standees.
  • Air-conditioning and other passenger comforts.
  • Level access to all platforms.
  • Wi-fi and mobile phone signals.
  • USB ports in arm-rests.
  • Lots of passenger information.
  • Novel features, designed with the future in mind.
  • Automated, at least to the standard of the Victoria Line.
  • I doubt they will be driver-less like the Docklands Light Railway.
  • A limited battery capability to get trains to the next station on power failure and allow depots to have less electrification for safety.

As these trains will still be in service past 2050, I think that we’ll see the best designers wanting to be associated with this project and the New Tube for London will benefit.

Eventually identical trains will be running on all lines, although some lines might have extra cars inserted.

August 5, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment