The Anonymous Widower

Merseyrail’s Battery Intentions

In New Merseyrail Fleet A Platform For Future Innovations, I quoted from  this article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

The article mainly is an interview with David Powell, who is programme director of rolling stock at Merseytravel.

This is a direct quote from the article.

We will be exploring, with Stadler, what the options are for having the trains becoming self-powered. This isn’t the bi-modes that lots of other people are talking about in the industry; this is on-board electrical storage.

The Wikipedia entry for Merseyrail links to this document, which puts a lot more flesh on Merseyrail’s intentions for battery trains.

It outlines strategies for the following routes.

Ellesmere Port And Helsby

The document says this.

There is a reasonable business case for extending the Merseyrail service through to Helsby.
However this is likely to be best served by the use of Merseyrail battery powered enabled
services. This will be tested on the new units in 2020.

According to Wikipedia, the sixth Class 777 train to be delivered will be fitted with batteries.

Currently, the service between Liverpool Central and Ellesmere Port stations is as follows.

  • A train every thirty minutes.
  • Trains take eighty-five minutes to do the round trip from Ellesmere Port round the Wirral Loop under Liverpool and back to Ellesmere Port.
  • There are thirty-one stops on the route.
  • There is a five minute turnround at Ellesmere Port station.

Two trains are needed to run the service.

The Current Class 507/508 trains and the future Class 777 trains both have the same operating speed, but there are performance differences.

The British Rail trains have 656 kW of power per train, whereas every new Stadler train will have 2,100 kW. The speed may be the same, but the acceleration will be much greater if needed and and the regenerative braking should be powerful and smoothly controlled.

  • Figures for the Class 313 train, which is similar to the Class 507/508 trains show a top speed of 75 mph and an acceleration of 0.67 m/s².
  • Figures for the Class 777 train show a top speed of 75 mph and an acceleration of 1.1 m/s².

These figures mean that a Class 507 train will get to 75 mph in 125 seconds, whereas the new Stadler trains will take just 76 seconds.

In addition, loading and unloading of passengers with their increasing levels of extras will be much faster due to the hollistic design of the trains and the platforms on the new Stadler trains.

It would not be unrealistic to see around a minute saved at every stop.

I think this level of improvement could be expected, with all the modern trains in the UK.

The extended service between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations is not much extra distance and time.

  • Just over five miles each way.
  • About thirteen minutes each way , based on existing services on the route.

So if the terminus were to be moved to Helsby, when the new trains are in service, the time savings between Ellesmere Port and Liverpool should cover the extra distance.

It should also be noted about Helsby station.

  • It has four platforms and could probably handle four trains per hour (tph).
  • A platform with a charging station could be created.
  • It has a wide selection of services including Chester, Llandudno, Manchester and Warrington.

To my mind, Liverpool to Helsby would be an ideal route for a battery electric train.

Ormskirk-Preston Enhancements

The document says this.

This incorporates both electrification from Ormskirk through to Preston and the potential
reintroduction one or both of the Burscough Curves. In view of the deferral of electrification
proposals, and the relative low ranking of the electrification proposal in the Northern Sparks
report, it is unlikely that the electrification proposal is expected to be taken forward in the
near future. In addition to this, the business case for extending electrification to Burscough,
and the introduction of the southern Burscough Curve, is poor. The potential use of battery
powered Merseyrail units may improve the business case for both proposals. This will be
reviewed after the Merseyrail units have been tested for battery operation in 2020.

Currently, the service between Ormskirk and Preston stations is as follows.

  • A train every hour.
  • Trains take around thirty minutes to go between the two terminal stations.
  • The route is fifteen and a half miles long.
  • There are three stops on the route.
  • There is a long turnround in a bay platform at Preston station.

At the present time, the service seems rather erratic, with some services replaced by buses and long connection times at Ormskirk.

The service between Liverpool Central and Ormskirk stations takes thirty-five minutes with eleven stops and is generally every fifteen minutes, with a half-hourly service in the evening and at weekends.

If a Class 777 train could use battery power, I estimate it could run between Liverpool Central and Preston stations within an hour.

This would surely open up the possibility of a new service between Liverpool and Preston.

  • It would take only a few minutes longer than the fifty-one minutes of a direct train between Liverpool Lime Street and Preston stations.
  • It would connect a lot of stations to the West Coast Main Line at Preston.
  • It would link the major sporting venues of Aintree, Anfield and Goodison or Everton’s new ground to the North.
  • At the Southern end, it could connect to Liverpool Airport.

The Class 777 trains would need to be able to do about thirty miles on battery power and if required, the technology exists to either top up the batteries at Preston or use a pantograph to access the overhead wires of the West Coast Main Line.

At the present time, the Ormskirk Branch Line between Ormskirk and Preston stations is only single track and probably needs resignalling, but I suspect that a four tph service could be run between Liverpool and Ormskirk, with two tph extended to Preston.

Extra track work, North of Ormskirk and the reinstatement of the Burscough curves would allow.

  • Four tph between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Liverpool and Southport via Ormskirk.
  • A service between Preston and Southport.

There is even the possibility of extending Liverpool and Preston services to Blackpool South station, if they used the overhead electrification through Preston to charge the batteries.

Borderlands Development

The document says this.

While the aspiration is to fully electrify the line, and incorporate it into the Merseyrail
network, this is very much a long term aspiration. In the interim period the aim is to develop
the line through the introduction of an improved diesel service. Merseytravel will work
closely with relevant cross-border organisations such as Growth Track 360 to bring this
about. There are a number of new station proposals for the line, the principal being a new
station close to the Deeside Industrial Park, which would improve the ability of the
workforce to access the site via public transport.

The Borderlands Line provides a service between Liverpool and Wrexham Central station with a change at Bidston station.

  • The twenty-seven miles between Wrexham Central and Bidston are not electrified.
  • The line is double-track throughout.
  • There are twelve stations on the line.
  • The service is hourly, but probably needs to be at least half-hourly.
  • The service takes about an hour between Wrexham and Bidston stations.

Using Class 777 trains on the route, using battery power between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations would enable.

  • A direct service, that terminated in the Wirral Loop under Liverpool.
  • An increased capacity at Bidston station.
  • A faster service.

I estimate that a time of perhaps seventy to eighty minutes between Liverpool Central and Wrexham Central stations will be possible.

There would be very little infrastructure work, except for new stations and the possible ability to top up batteries at Wrexham Central.

I suspect that political problems, rather than any railway ones will be larger.

Bootle Branch Electrification

The document says this.

A long term proposal which will need to be considered alongside the developing freight
strategy for the region and the expansion of the Port of Liverpool. The proposal envisages
the introduction of passenger services which will operate from the Bootle Branch into Lime
Street. An initial study is required to understand fully the freight requirements for the line
and what the realistic potential for operating passenger services over the line is.

The Bootle Branch is known as the Canada Dock Branch in Wikipedia.

Class 777 trains with a battery capability and the ability to use the overhead electrification into Liverpool Lime Street would be able to serve this route, without the need for electrification.

Obviously, if for freight efficiency, the route was electrified, the trains could use it as needed.

North Mersey Branch

The document says this.

A long term proposal; this envisages a new service operating from Ormskirk via Bootle into
Liverpool. It was reviewed as part of the Merseyrail Route Utilisation Strategy in 2009 which
identified a poor business case.

I can’t identify the actual route, but there are various rail alignments into and through the Docks.

Skelmersdale

The document says this.

Merseytravel is currently working with Lancashire County Council and Network Rail to
develop the Merseyrail network from Kirkby through to Skelmersdale. This work is expected
to be completed in 2019. Further development work will be required before this project is
implemented. While 3rd rail electrification is being considered currently, alternatives will be
considered later in the development process. A new station at Headbolt Lane to serve the
Northwood area of Kirkby is an integral part of this proposal. The potential to extend the
network further through to Wigan will need to be developed separately.

I wrote about this plan in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – How To Plan A New Rail-Link.

Thoughts On Battery Size And Range

Thjis article on Railway Gazette is entitled Battery Trial Planned For New EMU Fleet.

This is the first paragraph.

The sixth of the 52 four-car 750 V DC third rail electric multiple-units which Stadler is to supply for Merseyrail services around Liverpool is to be fitted with a 5 tonne battery to test the business case for energy storage. While all the EMUs will be equipped for regenerative braking, this is not seen as optimal on the Merseyrail network.

I find the last part of this paragraph difficult.

Does it mean the trains can use regenerative braking, but that it is not worth using?

This media release on the Stadler web site is entitled Stadler Signs Contract To Build And Maintain 52 Metro Trains For
Liverpool City Region.

This is a sentence.

The units will also be equipped with batteries that allow independent movement of the units in the workshop and depot areas.

Out of curiosity, what will be the kinetic energy of the four-car trains at the full speed of 75 mph

  • The train weight is given as 99 tonnes in Wikipedia.
  • The passenger capacity is 484, with a weight of 90 Kg each.
  • This gives a train weight of 142.56 tonnes.

Putting these figures into Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator gives a kinetic energy of 22.3 kWh.

I feel that this fairly low amount of energy could be held in a 60 kWh battery, that would probably come from a hybrid bus and weigh about 600 Kg.

I would be very surprised if Stadler are not using a smaller battery to do the following.

  • Handle regenerative braking.
  • Independent movement in the workshop and depot areas.
  • Train power in sidings and platforms.

It could also handle, train rescue to a safe evacuation point, in the event of power failure. I suspect that like Crossrail in London, Merseyrail would be very happy to have an independent recovery system in the tunnels under Liverpool, Birkenhead and the River Mersey.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I estimated that using 3 kWh per vehicle mile is not a bad estimate for the energy use of an electric train running at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Using this figure would give  a range on a 60 kWh battery of at least five miles, which would move the train out of the tunnels if the power failed.

But we’re talking about a modern lightweight train running on probably newly relaid track and my 3 kWh per vehicle mile could be a little on the high side.

Stadler are talking of fitting the sixth train with a fifty five battery, which would probably have a capacity of around 500 kWh.

Using various consumption figures, the range would be as follows.

  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 42 miles
  • 2 kWh per vehicle mile – 62 miles
  • 1 kWh per vehicle mile – 125 miles

Stadler and their battery supplier are probably working on.

  • A train that uses less electricity.
  • More efficient regenerativer braking.
  • A more intelligent train control system.
  • Increased energy density in the battery.
  • Efficient charging systems.
  • A plug-in battery pack that can be added and removed in minutes.

As a Control and Electrical Engineer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that the control, electrical and software system of trains with and without the five tonne battery are identical and some just have a larger amount of energy storage.

Range on battery power can only increase!

Consider the lengths of some of the routes discussed earlier.

  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby – 5 miles
  • Ormskirk and Preston – 16 miles
  • Bidston and Wrexham Central – 27  miles

Only the last route might need a charging station at the remote terminal.

My Own Speculation On Routes

I think there could be other routes that could easily be run by Class 777 trains running on battery power.

Onward From Hunts Cross

The current service between Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road stations is only two tph, using rather suspect rolling stock.

  • Under Merseyrail and London Overground rules, it should be at least four tph to give travellers a Turn-Up-And-Go service.
  • The stations are of variable quality, but are being improved and will soon be joined by a new station at Warrington Wrst.
  • There is a lot of new developments along the route.
  • The service terminates in a convenient bay-platform at Manchester Oxford Road station.
  • The service calls at Deansgale station for the Manchester Metrolink.

The route could be developed into a City-Centre-to-City-Centre and commuter route for both Liverpool and Manchester.

So could this route be run by Class 777 trains using battery power?

Consider.

  • Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road are just twenty-seven miles apart.
  • The last couple of miles to Oxford Road is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Hunts Cross is electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

It will be a Liverpool and Manchester Railway for the Twenty-First Century

I think it is one of those problems, where the engineering is easy, but the politics will be very difficult.

Onward From Headbolt Lane

The current service between Liverpool and Kirkby, which will be extended to the new station at Headbolt Lane, is a a Turn-Up-And-Go service of four tph. But the onward service to Wigan and Manchester is just a very inadequate hourly-service.

Consider.

  • Headbolt Lane and Wigan are just twelve miles apart.
  • Plans are being developed to create a proper transport interchange at Wigan for the arrival of High Speed Two.
  • Wigan North Western is electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Kirkby is and Headbolt Lane will be electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.

It would appear to be very possible to extend Class 777 trains from Kirkby to Wigan using battery power.

More Trains For Merseyrail

This is a paragraph from the Stadler media release about Merseyrail’s new trains.

The new four-car trains will all be in service by 2021, with the first unit arriving for testing by the middle of 2019.
The value of the manufacture and maintenance contracts for the 52 trains is up to £700m and Merseytravel
also has the option to procure an additional 60 units of rolling stock.

If the options are taken up, this would more than double the size of the Merseyrail’s fleet.

But where will these trains connect to Liverpool City Centre?

Helsby, Preston, Skelmersdale, Wrexham Central and the other routes in Liverpool will all need more trains, but nothing like sixty trains.

So will we see Wigan and Warrington added to Merseyrail’s destinations? And what about Manchester?

Never say no to Liverpool and their Swiss co-conspirators!

Conclusion

It is a comprehensive expansion strategy, where much of the work to create the various extensions is performed by adding equipment to the trains in factories or depots, rather than by the disruptive installation of electrification.

It looks very much like a case of Have Swiss Train Will Travel.

But then, I think the London Overground is using a similar strategy to expand in partnership with Bombardier.

Other networks like the Tyne & Wear Metro and those in cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Leeds will be using similar philosophies of battery trams, tram-trains and trains.

Cardiff has already disclosed their plans and Stadler are building the trains for the South Wales Metro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did Adrian Shooter Let The Cat Out Of The Bag?

This article with a video in the Scotsman is entitled Video: Battery Trains On Track To Cut Emissions and gives a lot of information about the Class 230 train. This is a paragraph.

The train is restricted to a 25mph speed on this week’s test trips, but Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter says it can sustain speeds of “60 mph for 40 miles” when new batteries become available next year.

Moreover, the batteries need just four minutes to recharge.

So what does this mean for the various routes?

Borderlands Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Borderlands Line.

The line runs between Bidston and Wrexham Central stations is around twenty-seven miles and takes an hour. There is a generous turnround time at both ends in the current schedule.

This Google Map shows the layout of the two-platform station at Bidston.

This picture shows the red-roofed shed in the middle of the island platform, with the tracks on either side.

Would it be sensible to add a dedicated bay platform at Bidston for charging the battery trains?

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Wrexham Central and then do the following.

  • Run to Bidston on battery power.
  • Turnround at Bidston, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Run back to Wrexham Central on battery power.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the thirteen intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long runs the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Chester To Crewe Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Chester to Crewe Line.

It runs between Chester and Crewe stations, is around twenty miles long and services take about twenty minutes.

As there are no stations between Chester and Crewe and the maximum speed of the Class 230 train is sixty mph, it looks like the train will be almost at maximum speed  along this route.

So will the four diesel engines be working hard?

When these trains were built in the 1980s, I doubt that anybody thought they’d be running services on a section of the North Wales Coast Line.

Conwy Valley Line

Transport for Wales have ordered Class 230 trains for the Conwy Valley Line.

It runs between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations, is around thirty miles long and services take eighty minutes to ascend and seventy to come down.

The train will certainly be able to start with a full battery after a long charge at Llandudno and then do the following.

  • Ascend to Blaenau Ffestiniog on battery power, with help from the diesel engines.
  • Turnround at Blaenau Ffestiniog, where four minutes could be used to charge the batteries.
  • Descend to Llandudno on battery power, with help from gravity.
  • The descent would be controlled by regenerative braking.
  • Regenerative braking would be used at the eleven intermediate stations.

If necessary during the long ascent the diesel engines could be used to provide more power or top up the batteries.

Greenford Branch

What do you do with a problem like the Greenford Branch?

In Could Class 165 HyDrive Trains Be The Solution To The Greenford Branch?, I looked at the possibility of using the proposed Class 165 Hydrive trains to provide a four trains per hour (tph) service on the Greenford Branch.

This was my conclusion.

Four tph is possible on the Greenford Branch, but it will need an extra crossover just outside West Ealing station.

Class 165 HyDrive trains with their extra performance would make the four tph timetable more reliable.

The lower noise and emissions of the trains would also please the local residents.

I also feel that a well-designed battery-powered two-car train, with perhaps a charging station at either end could also provide the improved service.

That well-designed battery-train has arrived in the shape of the Class 230 train.

Island Line

It appears likely, that Class 230 trains will be ordered for the Island Line.

It runs between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin stations, is under nine miles long and a typical round trip is as follows.

  • Shanklin to Ryde Pier Head – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Ryde Pier Head – 20 minutes
  • Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin – 24 minutes
  • Turnround at Shanklin – 5 minutes

The Island Line has an operating speed of just 45 mph.

Adding all that up, I would estimate that a train doing a round trip would do under twenty miles at a maximum speed of 45 mph.

Adrian Shooter said that the trains will be able to store 2,400 miles² /hour, whereas the Island Line would use only 900 miles² /hour in a round trip. They may be weird units, you won’t find in any text book, but I want to prove if something is possible or not.

It looks like it most definitely is possible for a battery-powered Class 230 train to perform a round trip on one charge of of the batteries.

Suppose though, the line was reinstated to Ventnor station, as a  line without electrification. A quick estimate gives the round-trip as thirty miles, which would need  1350 miles² /hour.

There could even be a second charging station at Ventnor.

Could we see a future Island Line like this?

  • No electrification.
  • Extension to a new Ventnor station.
  • A passing loop at Brading station.
  • Battery trains.
  • Relaid track for very gentle curves and high efficiency.
  • Charging stations at Ryde Pier Head and Ventnor stations.

I suspect with some faster running, where it is possible and perhaps one diesel power pack per train, three-car Class 230 trains could run a two tph service.

This type of service would not be unique for long, as other places would quickly copy.

Marston Vale Line

West Midlands Trains have ordered Class 230 trains for the Marston Vale Line.

It runs between Bedford and Bletchley stations, is around twenty-four miles long and services appear to take about forty-five minutes, with a turn-round time of well over four minutes.

So it would seem that each leg of a return journey would be less than forty miles and there would be sufficient time for a full four-minute charge at either end.

The regenerative braking would be useful in handling the eleven stops.

Conclusion

It isn’t one cat!

It’s a whole destruction, glorying or nuisance of felines!

 

 

 

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

First D-Train With Transport for Wales In March 2019

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

This is the first paragraph.

The first Class 230 D-Train for Transport for Wales should be ready by March 2019, with all five in traffic from May 2019.

There are also other details.

The Train Formation

More details are given about the formation of the Class 230 trains.

  • The trains will be three cars.
  • The driving cars will have batteries.
  • The centre car will have four generators.

When the trains were D78 Stock on the London Underground, they ran as a six-car train formed of two half-trains containing.

  • DM – Driving Motor
  • T – Trailer
  • UNDM – Uncoupling Non-Driving Motor

The two UNDM cars were coupled together, to form the six-car train.

So is the formation of a Class 230 train as follows?

  • DM – Driving Motor with battery
  • T – Trailer with four generators
  • DM – Driving Motor with battery

I would suspect that the DM cars are identical.

Regenerative Braking

The trains will have regenerative braking, where the energy recovered will be stored in the batteries.

In the D78 Stock, the Trailer car wasn’t motored, so unless motors are fitted in this application, the two Driving Motor cars can almost be considered two identical battery locomotives with regenerative braking, that are solely responsible for moving the train.

The Trailer Car With Power

The Trailer Car in the middle of the train contains the four generators.

The Wikipedia entry for the Ford Duratorq engine, has a section for a 3.2 litre diesel engine, where this is said.

The 3.2 is an I5 engine used in the Ford Transit, the Ford Ranger, Ford Everest, Mazda BT-50 and the Vivarail D-Train.

The standard engine has a rating of 200 hp or 150 kW.

The Class 230 train would appear to have an installed power of 600 kW.

Interiors

The article says that everything the passenger will see inside the train is new!

Performance

This is a quote from Tristan Guyard of Transport for Wales.

On the Conwy Valley and Wrexham – Bidston routes, ‘230s’ will be quicker than most other new trains built in the UK at the moment. This is because of the high proportion of motored wheels and the use of batteries to provide additional power. When these trains come into service, we will be able to improve journey times and have a more flexible timetable as soon as 2019.

The Conwy Valley Line seems a stiff route, which might get a better service with a more powerful train.

The Wrexham-Bidston route currently takes 56 minutes to go South and 58 minutes to go North, which probably makes timetabling a half-hourly service a difficult job.

Will the Class 230 trains offer enough extra performance for these services?

Perhaps this is why they have four diesel power packs.

We will find out next year, what is the toughness of these remanufactured London Underground trains!

Thoughts On The Traction System

How Does The Power Compare To Other Trains?

How powerful is the 600 kW in the Class 230 train?

By comparison. a two-car Class 156 train, has 860 kW of diesel power.

On the other hand the three-car Class 230 train has regenerative braking using batteries.

Is The Class 230 Train A Serial Hybrid?

In a serial hybrid vehicle, a power source like a diesel engine charges the battery and the battery drives the vehicle and powers internal systems.

The classic serial hybrid vehicle is a New Routemaster bus, which is powered by a 138 kW diesel engine.

In this bus., the engine starts and stops to keep the energy in the battery within a particular range.

It is a very simple control system and is regularly used in many applications, where water or temperature levels are to be kept within range.

The layout of the Class 230 train with a central power car could easily provide power to the batteries in the two Driving cars.

The train’s control system would switch the engines on and off automatically as required.

If two diesel generators supplied the battery in each Driving Car, the train could even be considered a double serial hybrid.

So this should make the train reliable, as most components of the drive-train are duplicated.

Conclusion

I sometimes feel that the Class 230 train could end up as a heroic design failure.

But then the oldest trains in service on the UK’s rail network are the London Underground 1938 Stock on the Island Line.

London Underground rolling stock seems to have a longevity, that other trains seem to have been built without!

Or is it that as the elderly fleets of the Glasgow Subway, Merseyrail and the Northern City Line seem to keep soldiering on, that spending a large proportion of your working life underground, is good for trains?

 

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

What Is It With The Welsh And Batteries?

If ordering two fleets of rail vehicles with batteries, that I wrote about in The Greening Of The Valleys, KeolisAmey Wales have now gone and ordered a third fleet for North Wales.

This article in the Railway Gazette is entitled Vivarail D-Trains For Wales & Borders.

This is the first paragraph.

Incoming Wales & Borders franchisee KeolisAmey is to take delivery of five three-car Class 230 D-Train diesel-battery multiple-units from Vivarail, which is to produce them using the bogies and aluminium bodyshells of withdrawn London Underground D78 metro trains.

Note that they are described as diesel-battery trains.

The article says the Class 230 trains will be used on these lines.

Five trains have been ordered, but I suspect it will eventually be more.

I believe that this picture shows a property of the Class 230 train, that would be ideal for Welsh routes or any other scenic lines.

They have large windows and get the interior design right and they could become an iconic way to fill a difficult niche market.

  • A reliable hourly or half-hourly service on a remote line.
  • A quality interior with everything customers expect like a fully-accessible toilet, wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Space for bikes, buggies, babies and wheel-chairs.
  • Step-free entry between train and platform was possible at some stations on the District Line and I suspect that many stations could be made, so that wheelchairs and buggies could just roll across.
  • The ability to be serviced remotely.

Note that the train is fitted with toilets from Cwmbran in South Wales.

Did Transport for Wales say, that if you fitted Welsh toilets, we’ll buy a few trains?

I suspect though, that they are much better toilets, than those I saw as a child in castles like Caernarfon, Conway and Harlech, where the inhabitants in the Middle Ages must have been quick on the job to avoid the getting shot with arrows, where it would hurt!

I suspect constipation was rare in those days!

Seriously though, here’s a video of the Class 230 trains for Wales.

This video comes from this article in this article on Wrexham.com.

How Do The Trains Work?

I obviously don’t know exactly, but I suspect the method of operation is very similar to that of some of the advanced hybrid buses, like a new Routemaster.

Each of the diesel engines have a generator, which produces electricity. This can either be fed directly to the traction motors to power the train or stored in the onboard battery.

The train’s control system manages the power and chooses, whether traction power comes from the diesel engine or the battery.

This means that the diesel engines don’t have to work all the time.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Battery EMUs For Merseyrail

The title of this post is the same as an article in the August 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Two of the new EMUs Stadler will build for the Merseyrail network will be fitted with batteries.

This is also said.

The initial benefits of the trial will be the energy recycling properties of the batteries, but with a larger battery the option could be to run the units away from the electrified Merseyrail network using battery power.

Other reports suggest that battery power could move the trains in depots.

Another report in the same edition of Modern Railways is entitled Class 769s For Wales.

It discusses the use of Class 769 trains on the Borderlands Line.

This is said.

Would safety regulations permit Class 769s, or other third-rail EMUs retrofitted with diesel engines, to operate the Wrexhm-Bidston Line and continue in the Mersey tunnels to Liverpool? No definite answer was available as Modern Railways went to press. Each bi-mode unit would displace pnly one two-car Class 150/2 unit from the line, but studies have predicted large growth in passenger numbers if the change of trains at Bidston were eliminated.

It is an interesting concept.

  • Porterbrook have already talked about converting Class 455 trains into bi-modes.
  • These third-rail units don’t have pantographs to snag in the tunnels.
  • They have been refurbished to a high standard in recent years.
  • The fuel safety problem in the tunnel, is something for which Formula One engineers may have a ready-made solution.

I’m sure if it does happen, Scouse humour will go into overdrive, about London cast-offs and old trains. But Class 455 bi-mode trains would have the last laugh.

Conclusion

It is encouraging to see in these two articles signs of radical but in my view totally sound thinking.

July 27, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Capacity Crunch At Chester – Borderlands Line

The Capacity Crunch At Chester article in the July 2017 Edition of Modern Railways talked about the Borderlands Line.

The article says this about the line and the passenger service.

The line is currently worked by two ATW Class 150/2 Sprinter units, which do their best to maintain the clockface hourly frequency. The Wrexham-Bidston Rail Users Association told the Wales & Borders franchise inquiry performance is far from ideal, highlighting late running frequently leads to trains being turned back at Shotton, meaning they do not reach Bidston to connect with Merseyrail services to Liverpool and leaving lengthy gaps at intermediate stations in England.

The article then talks about electrifying the line, but Network Rail have indicated that this would cost £207million. Apparently, third-rail electriication now needs palisade fencing along the track.

Enter The Class 455 Flex Train

In The Class 319 Flex Units To Be Class 769, I commented on the report, that Porterbrook were also looking at converting Class 455 trains to bi-modes.

Consider.

  • These trains could probably work Merseyrail’s tunnels, as they are closely related to the current trains.
  • They have quality 2 x 2 interiors.
  • They meet all regulations.
  • Performance is similar to the current trains.
  • They are four-cars.
  • Porterbrook will have ninety-one trains to place, when South Western Railway replaces them with Aventras.

The only problem is that the interiors are very red, which might upset half of Merseyside.

But I think it is possible that we could see Class 455 Flex trains working the Borderlands Line.

  • From Wrexham to Bidston, they would use their on-board diesel engines.
  • At Bidston, they would change from diesel to third-rail electric power.
  • From Bidston to Liverpool, they would join the queue of trains from the Wirral and go round the newly-rebuilt Loop Line.

I’m pretty sure, that if Merseyrail have signalled the Loop appropriately, that there would be enough capacity in the Loop to run two trains per hour (tph) between Wrexham and Liverpool.

Based on the following current timings.

  • Liverpool Lime Street -to Bidston – 17 minutes
  • Bidston to Wrexham – 1 hour

With a few performance tweaks, I suspect that a Class 455 Flex train could do the round trip in well under three hours.

So three trains could easily handle the current hourly service, but would give the following advantages.

  • Direct access to Liverpool City Centre.
  • Four-cars instead of two.
  • A much better interior.

The only problem would be checking that the Class 455 trains would fit the tunnels in the Loop Line. But seeing, that  the Class 455 trains, were built as a successor to the Class 508 trains used by Merseyrail, I suspect they fit.

Could Class 319 Flex Trains Be Used?

The reason I looked at Class 455 Flex trains first is that in a article in the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled ‘319 Flex’ Units To Be Class 769, this is said.

The company reports considerable interest in the concept and expects further orders soon, while it is also considering transferring the concept to other rolling stock, such as Class 455 EMUs.

As Porterbrook will soon receiving around ninety of these trains from South Western Railway, these struck me as possibilities for the Borderlands Line.

If you look at Merseyrail’s current Class 507 and Class 508 trains, Class 455 trains and Class 319 trains, they all appear to have a similar 2.82 metre width and a 3.58 metre height.

So if Class 319 Flex trains could work the tunnels under Liverpool, what would this do to service on the Borderlands Line.

  • Their 90 mph as opposed to 75 mph operating speed could bring the round trip under two and a half hours.
  • Five trains would be needed for a 2 tph service.
  • Wrexham to Liverpool times of under an hour and fifteen minutes should be possible.
  • The better performance of the trains would allow extra stops to be made with ease.
  • The trains can have First Class seats and fully-accessible toilets.

In Wales Orders Some Golden Oldies, I noted how Arriva Trains Wales are acquiring five Class 319 Flex trains as cover for the refurbishment of Class 150 and Class 158 trains on the Cardiff Valley Lines.

So once all of these diesel trains have been refurbished, will we be seeing the Class 319 Flex trains moved to the Borderlands Line?

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

Bidston Station And The Borderlands Line

Whilst in Liverpool, I took the Wirral Line to Bidston station, where the Borderlands Line to Wrexham Central station connects to the Merseyrail third-rail network.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

Bidston Station

Bidston Station

Some things surprised me at Bidston station.

  • The station had the feeling of a rural junction in deepest Lincolnshire or Devon, rather than one a few miles from the centre of one of the UK’s biggest cities.
  • When the train arrived from Wrexham it was much busier than I expected.
  • The junction between the two lines was laid out in lots of space.
  • The state of the station, which considering its location was very good with a large waiting room.

I could also understand, why various bodies say that the Borderlans Line could be run by trains with an IPEMU capability or to put it simply – on-board energy storage or batteries. Wikipedia says this under Proposed Battery Trains for the line.

A trial of a converted Electrostar train using energy from overhead wires and batteries when on non-electrified sections of track was undertaken in January and February 2015 on the Mayflower line. The train can travel up to 60 miles on energy stored in the batteries also recharging the batteries via the overhead-wires when on electrified track, at stations and via brake regeneration. A month later in March 2015, the introduction of battery powered trains was proposed for the Borderlands line by Network Rail.

The document suggested that consideration had been given to electrification and to running services further into Birkenhead ceasing termination at Bidston for greater connectivity. However these options were expressed as offering low value for money. They proposed that using battery powered rolling stock precluding full electrification of the line, providing a cheaper method of increasing connectivity into the electrified Birkenhead and Liverpool sections of the Wirral line. From the document:

“In the longer term, potential deployment of rolling stock with the ability to operate on battery power for part of their journey may provide the ability in an affordable manner to improve the service offering between the Wrexham – Bidston route and Liverpool.
Trains could operate on batteries on unelectrified sections of the track and take power from an electric pick-up on the electrified sections. Adoption of these types of trains would preclude full line electrification.

My thoughts on this are as follows.

New Infrastructure

Obviously, I only looked at Bidston station, but it would appear that except for perhaps signalling and electrificastion changes, that the station could accept trains with an IPEMU-capability tomorrow.

For instance, there would need to be electrification for some distance down the Borderlands Line, so that a train arriving from that direction with low batteries, wou;dn’t get stalled, if another train had failed in the station.

I don’t know the answer, but as Merseyrail is an island of third-rail electrification, Merseyrail are probably capable of calling on competent third-rail experts, either in-house or from a regional contractor.

New Stations

Plans exist for new stations on the line.

Whether the line is fully-electrified or served by trains with an IPEMU-capability is irrelevant, with stations probably being designed to be suitable for either.

One suggestion is for a new station at Woodchurch close to Junction 3 of the M53.

This Google Map shows the motorway junction.

Junction 3 Of The M53

Junction 3 Of The M53

Note how, the Motorway and the Borderlands Line go either side of the North Cheshire Trading Estate.

There is also plans for a station at Deeside Industrial Park, which looks like it could have a railway line already.

Another possibility would be to improve Shotton station, so that it was a genuine interchange between the Borderlands Line and the North Wales Coast Line.

This Google Map shows the area.

Shotton Stations

Shotton Stations

Note Hawarden Bridge station on the other side of the River Dee, which is also on the Borderlands Line.

Capacity In Liverpool On The Wirral Line

The single-track loop of the Wirral Line under Liverpool, that serves James Street, Moorfields, Lime Street, Central and James Street agin, is soon to be relaid with new track to go along with its recently-refurbished station, that can handle two three-car Class 508 trains, running as a six-car unit.

With modern signalling, it would probably have a limit of upwards of twenty trains per hour (tph), giving a train under the Mersey in both directions at least every three minutes.

Currently, the service on the Wirral Line includes.

  • 4 tph to Chester
  • 2 tph to Ellesmere Port
  • 4 tph to New Brighton
  • 4 tph to West Kirby

Capacity seems to be adjusted to that needed by running a mixture of three and six-car trains.

But there is undoubtedly spare capacity in Liverpool’s loop of stations.

And if more capacity is needed between Birkenhead and Liverpool, then running extra trains to new destinations on the West side of the Mersey is a simple way to increase it.

Wrexham would be an ideal destination, especially if at least two tph were provided on the route.

Freight Issues

There would appear to be a few freight trains, but none of a high frequency.

Wrexham to Liverpool Timings

Currently Wrexham Central to Bidston takes a couple of minutes over the hour. West Kirby trains, also take 34 minutes to go from Bidston round the loop under Liverpool

So this would probably mean that if you got the timings right, you could get from Wrexham Central to Liverpool Lime Street in about eighty minutes.

As Chester to Liverpool Central takes forty-one minutes, eighty minutes is rather slow between Wrexham and Liverpool.

So could electric trains do the route in under the hour?

If the line was fully electrified, judging on the Chester timings, that this is certainly the case.

Trains Needed Between Liverpool And Wrexham

As the round trip to and from Liverpool would probably take two hours, it would appear that two trains would be needed to provide an hourly service, with four trains nbeeded for 2 tph.

As there is a short platform at Wrexham Central station, trains would probably have a maximum length of three-cars.

IPEMU Range

Wrexham Central to Bidston stations, is about thirty miles, so based on Bombardier’s rumoured figures of sixty kilometres a charge, going out and back to Wrexham might be a bit on the long side.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see the single-track line between Wrexham General and Wrexham Central stations given third-rail electrification, to make sure that trains with an IPEMU-capability can work the line.

If extra stations are added to the Borderlands Line and Shotton station is rebuilt as an interchange with North Wales, I could see that the extra cost of third-rail electrification to Shotton would have a high value.

As Shotton is only about twenty miles from Wrexham, it might be possible to bridge the gap between Shotton and Wrexham using onboard power.

Costs

This is said about electrification costs of the Borderlands Line in Wikipedia.

Network Rail’s conclusion was that full line electrification is only feasible if it could be delivered for less than £100,000 for each km per single track. The twin track line would be £200,000 per line km, giving a total figure of £8.7 million, which is far below the estimate of full line electrification of £66 million. Another consideration is whether a new pattern of service delivers significant net benefits.

The new Stadler trains being purchased for MerseyRail are costing £460 million for 52 trains, according to this article in the Railway Gazette, which works out at about nine million pounds a train.

So if two trains are needed to provide an hourly service to Wrexham, the cost of the extra trains will be significant.

The Railway Gazette article also says this about the trains.

At 99 tonnes, the EMUs will be lighter than the current 105 tonne trains, and energy consumption is expected to be 20% lower, including regenerative braking; options for energy storage are to be studied.

The 750 V DC third-rail EMUs will be capable of conversion to dual-voltage operation for use on 25 kV 50 Hz lines with a view to serving Skelmersdale, Warrington and Wrexham in the longer term.

So I suspect, it’s put up the money and take your choice.

Conclusion

It would certainly be possible to electrify the Borderlands Line either using third-rail or overhead and I’m certain that any prudent transport authority would go for an optimal solution, especially as extending to Wrexhan will need extra trains.

I could see an holistic solution being applied to the Boasderlands Line.

  • At least two tph to Wrexham Central station.
  • New stations at Beechwood, Deeside Industrial Park and Woodchurch.
  • A rebuilt Shotton station.
  • Partial third-rail electrification.
  • Use of onboard energy storage to power trains on lines without electrification.

As it would be a project, where benefits were to both Merseyside and North Wales, funding would probably have several options.

 

 

 

 

 

December 17, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Undergound Stations In Liverpool

I took these pictures so I would have a record of the underground stations, as they are at the present time.

They are all clean, modern stations, that can handle two Class 507/508 trains, working as a six-car.

The pictures give a good idea of the size of the tunnels, which are 4.70 metres in diameter.

Compare this to other underground railways.

  • Crossrail – 6.20 metres.
  • Victoria Line – 3.81 metres.
  • Northern City Line – 4.90 metres.
  • Waterloo and City Line – 3.89 metres.

I would think that like the Northern City Line in London, that they may have the problem that trains need to be specially built for the tunnels.

So would this rule out a train like an Aventra, which has been designed to work in the larger tunnels of Crossrail?

 

 

December 17, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment