The Anonymous Widower

A Railway That Needs Electric Trains But Doesn’t Need Full Electrification

This article on Rail Magazine is entitled ScotRail Targets Further Electrification Schemes.

This is the first paragraph.

The five years from 2019 could feature more wiring in Scotland, with ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Alex Hynes telling RAIL: “I’d love to see more electrification – Stirling to Perth, East Kilbride and the Edinburgh South Suburban.”

In this post, I will look at electrification of the Busby Railway to East Kilbride station.

  • The station is 11.5 miles from Glasgow Central station.
  • The station has an altitude of 504 feet.
  • It is a single platform station.
  • The route to Glasgow is double-track, except for the last section from Busby station, which is single track, with a passing loop at Hairmyres station.
  • A two trains per hour (tph) service is provided between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride using two two-car diesel Class 156 trains.

This picture shows East Kilbride station.

Nothing complicated at this station and it comfortably handles two tph.

In the UK, there are several stations where four tph are handled using a single platform.

Transport for Wales also intend to run four tph to several single-platform stations including Rhymney, which is high in the valleys.

I suspect that with modern signalling and driver aids, Glasgow’s drivers would be capable of running four tph between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride stations.

Judging by my trip on the route, there is certainly a need for more capacity, as if every seat is taken at two in the afternoon, two-car trains running at a frequency of two tph is just not enough.

So surely running new four-car electric trains to the current timetable, would be the standard solution for this route?

But!

Look at these pictures of the route..

It wouldn’t be a nightmare to electrify, but because of the stone bridges and the steel footbridges, it would be expensive and very disruptive.

The following should also be noted.

  • The railway has never gone further than East Kilbride station.
  • There is no freight on the line, except for that needed for maintenance.

I am very much drawn to the conclusion, that to electrify the whole route would use money that would probably be better spent on improving step-free access at some of the stations.

Electric Trains To East Kilbride Without Full Electrification

Before I detail the solutions, I shall look at the energy required to raise a train from Glasgow to East Kilbride station.

Consider.

  • A four-car electric train like a Class 321 train weighs 138 tonnes.
  • This train has 309 seats, so could probably accommodate 400 passengers.
  • Assuming each weighs 90 kg with buggies, baggage, bicycles and bagpipes, this gives a train fully-loaded train weight of 174 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator, it would take 73 kWh of energy to raise the train to the 504 feet altitude of East Kilbride station.

It should also be noted that Glasgow Central station and the approaches to the station are fully electrified almost as far as Crossmyloof station.

What solutions are available to have as-new electric trains running between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride station?

The Rhymney Line Solution

The Rhymney Line runs between Cardiff Central and Rhymney stations.

In the design of the new South Wales Metro, the highest section of this line between Ystrad Mynach and Rhymney stations will be run on battery power.

  • This section is about eleven miles long.
  • It is a mixture of single and double-track.
  • The height difference is 410 feet.

This is very similar in severity to the Busby Railway.

Transport for Wales are proposing to use Tri-Mode Stadler Flirt trains on this route.

These trains would be able to handle the East Kilbride route without any modification to the track or electrification.

It would just mean.

  • Trains identical to those on the South Wales Metro.
  • Building and delivering the trains.
  • Training the drivers and other staff.

There would be other advantages.

  • Stadler trains seem to be one of the best for step-free access, with automatic gap fillers between platform and train.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are ready for modern signalling.
  • They can change mode at line speed.

These trains which will be Class 755 trains in Abellio Greater Anglia service, have a central power-pack, that can incorporate diesel or battery power to supplement power from the electrification.

Good engineering design would probably mean.

  • The four slots in the power pack, can be fitted with a diesel engine, battery or perhaps even a hydrogen fuel cell to give a power profile tailored to the route.
  • The battery would weigh a similar amount to the Deutz diesel engine, which would give a battery capacity of perhaps 100-120 kWh.
  • There is an intelligent computer system controlling the power and braking systems.
  • The trains come in various lengths from three-cars upwards.

This is a summary of the Stadler multi-mode trains ordered for the UK.

  • Abellio Greater Anglia – Electric/Diesel – 14 x three-cars – Two Deutz diesel engines
  • Abellio Greater Anglia – Electric/Diesel – 24 x four-cars  – Four Deutz diesel engines
  • Trains for Wales – Electric/Diesel – 11 x four-cars  – Four (?) Deutz diesel engines
  • Trains for Wales – Electric/Diesel/Batteries – 7 x three-cars – One Deutz diesel engine and three batteries (?)
  • Trains for Wales – Electric/Diesel/Batteries – 17 x four-cars – One Deutz diesel engine and three batteries

I’m sure Abellio Greater Anglia won’t leave Abellio ScotRail, short of operational information.

In addition, they might be ideal for other routes in the Glasgow area.

They would use the electrification, when close to Glasgow.

I can’t see any reason, why another version of the Tri-Mode Stadler Flirt won’t be able to run services between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride stations.

The Battery Solution

Transport for Wales intend to run their Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts on battery from Ystrad Mynach to Rhymney. I can’t see any reason why a well-designed battery train can’t do the similar climb to East Kilbride station.

Of the major train manufacturers, only Stadler seem to have declared their hand with the Rhymney Line proposal.

  • Bombardier have run prototypes in the UK and Germany, but are very protective with solid information.
  • CAF have run battery trams and will introduce them to the UK in the next year or so.
  • Hitachi use batteries in their trains and have run battery trains in Japan.

Also, consider that between Glasgow Central and Pollokshields East stations is electrified and extending this electrification to say Busby Junction. where the Busby Railway leaves the Glasgow South Western Line, would have the following benefits.

  • The distance to run on batteries would be reduced by about three miles.
  • There would be more electrification to ensure that train batteries were full before the climb to East Kilbride.
  • If bi-mode trains were to run to Kilmarnock, Dumfries and Carlisle, they would have more electrified line to use.

This short section of electrification would certainly improve the mathematics of running battery trains to East Kilbride.

As Busby Junction to Kilmarnock is around twenty miles, it might even make it possible to run battery trains between Glasgow Central and Kilmarnock stations.

I have no doubts that, a battery train can be built to handle services between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride.

The Hydrogen Solution

I tend to think of trains powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, as battery trains with an environmentally-friendly onboard power source.

The Busby Line route is ideal for battery trains, especially, if there is a few miles of new electrification at the Glasgow Central end of the route.

Alstom’s proposed hydrogen-powered Class 321 train, could also be ideal for this route.

Four-car trains with a decent interior, would certainly solve the overcrowding on the route.

In A Class 321 Renatus, a comment was put, that says that the hydrogen-powered Class 321 trains will share the Renatus interior.

I’d suspected that would be the case, as why would the train’s owners; Eversholt Rail Group, design two different interiors for the same purpose?

The train would be able to leave Glasgow Central station with a full battery and with the help of electricity from the hydogen fuel cell, it would be able to climb to East Kilbride.

Coming down, the train would be partly powered by the battery, but mainly by gravity. Energy generated by the regenerative braking would be stored in the battery.

Alstom will be building a mathematical model of the train and its performance on various routes, so they will know the energy flows, when the train is working.

I said earlier that the following routes would be ideal for Stadler’s bi-mode trains.

  • The Glasgow South Western Line to Kilmarknock, Dumfries and Carlisle.
  • The Ayrshire Coast Line to Ayr and Stranraer.
  • The West Highland Line to Oban and Mallaig.

I feel the same logic applies to Alstom’s hydrogen trains.

Conclusion

All three solutions, I outlined in this post, could be possible.

The solutions have several things in common.

  • All will be fully tested elsewhere on the UK rail network.
  • None need any electrification between Busby Junction and East Kilbride.
  • All would benefit from a few extra miles of electrification between Busby Junction and Glasgow Central station.
  • All solutions are backed by respected train building companies.

I think there will be a very keen contest to see who supplies the trains for this and other related routes from Glasgow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Stone Arch Railway Bridges Of Scotland

There are a lot of stone arch railway bridges in the UK, but they do seem to more numerous in Scotland, than in England.

These pictures show a selection of bridges on the Borders Railway.

I counted to about fifteen between Edinburgh Waverley and Galashiels stations.

There were probably about an equal number of bridges where a stone arch bridge had been replaced by a modern concrete structure, like this one.

They’ll probably last a thousand years, but they lack the charm of the stone arch bridges.

These pictures show a selection of bridges on the Busby Railway between Glasgow Central and East Kilbride stations.

These pictures show a selection of the many bridges between Aberdeen and Montrose stations on the Edinburgh – Aberdeen Line.

I took pictures of at least twenty.

Freight Trains

Freight trains, especially those with the larger containers need a loading gauge, that is big enough to accept them.

The loading gauge in the UK, is summed up by these two sentences from Wikipedia.

Great Britain has (in general) the most restrictive loading gauge (relative to track gauge) in the world. This is a legacy of the British railway network being the world’s oldest, and having been built by a plethora of different private companies, each with different standards for the width and height of trains.

These are the commonest gauges.

  • W6a: Available over the majority of the British rail network.
    W8: Allows standard 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) high shipping containers to be carried on standard wagons.
    W10: Allows 2.9 m (9 ft 6 in) high Hi-Cube shipping containers to be carried on standard wagons and also allows 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) wide Euro shipping containers.
    W12: Slightly wider than W10 at 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) to accommodate refrigerated containers.

W12 is recommended clearance for new structures, such as bridges and tunnels

The Borders Railway appears to have been built to at least W8, so it could handle standard freight containers.

But the line doesn’t carry freight!

On the other hand, I suspect the following were considered, when designing the Borders Railway.

  • Network Rail and rail maintenance companies, may need to bring some large rail-mounted equipment along the line for regular or emergency maintenance.
  • If the line is extended to Carlisle, the route could be used as a diversion for freight trains, if the West Coast Main Line is closed, due to weather or engineering works.
  • There may be a need to use the Borders Railway to extract timber from the forests of the Borders.

The need for freight on the Borders Railway, explains why there are so many new overbridges.

Electrification

Electrification with overhead wires needs extra clearance.

It looks to me, that the Borders Railway has been given enough clearance for future electrification.

Problems With EGIP

Electrification under the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Program (EGIP), proved to be difficult.

It wasn’t helped by the standards changing half-way through the project and the numerous bridges and tunnels that had to be rebuilt.

An important route like Edinburgh to Glasgow probably needs to be fully-electrified, but the difficulties encountered and those in Lancashire have encouraged Network Rail and the engineering consultants to look at other methods of electrifying lines in the UK.

Electrification Between Edinburgh And Aberdeen

I doubt this will ever happen in a conventional manner.

  • Would electrification of the Forth Bridge and Tay Rail Bridge be allowed?
  • The disruption of rebuilding the stone bridges would be enormous.
  • The line only has a maximum speed of 100 mph.

Diesel and alternative power sources like hydrogen will be able to maintain the fastest speeds, that are possible on the line.

Money would probably give better value, if it were to be used to increase line speed.

Opposition To Rebuilding Bridges

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Network Rail Electrification Plans Stalled After Council Rejects Bridge Removal Bid.

This is first paragraph.

Campaigners are celebrating after plans from Network Rail to demolish a bridge as part of its electrification scheme were rejected by a local council.

The bridge in question is a Grade II listed overbridge at Steventon in Oxfordshire.

It is not unlike those in Scotland, that are shown in my pictures.

In the 1960s, British Rail would have just blown it up and replaced it with a concrete monstrosity.

I am not advocating a return to this policy, but Network Rail has a problem at Steventon, that they need to fully electrify the line, if electric trains are to use the route on electric power, rather than using environmentally-unfriendly diesel power.

Since the new Class 800 trains for the route were designed and ordered, the technology has moved on.

In South Wales, discontinuous electrification and trains with a battery capability will be used.

Conclusion

Scotland and other parts of the UK, like the Pennines and in the valleys of South Wales, have a serious problem with the way the Victorians built our railways.

\development of the UK rail network with electrification and an enhanced freight capability needs to be thought out carefully and with great ingenuity.

 

 

 

 

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment