The Anonymous Widower

Skeleton To Supply Ultracapacitors To CAF

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

These two sentences are in the last paragraph.

In its German plant in Großröhrsdorf, Skeleton Technologies is working on so-called hybrid energy storage systems. In short, the advantages of lithium-ion batteries (high energy density) are to be combined with the advantages of ultracapacitors (high performance, long service life) in such hybrid storage systems

But I suggest you read the article as it indicates how supercapacitors could be used on battery-trams and trains.

If CAF use supercapacitors on their trains it will not be their first application on heavy rail in the UK. In Brush Traction Signs Contract With Skeleton Technologies For Modules For Class 769 Trains, I describe how supercapacitors are used to start the engines.

September 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 13 Comments

Thoughts On CAF’s Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains

I first wrote about CAF’s battery-electric trains in Northern’s Battery Plans, where I describe how CAF and Northern are planning to convert a number of three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • The fourth car would contain batteries.
  • Batteries would also be added to the PTS (pantograph) car.

I suspect that the battery range could be arranged so that all Northern’s routes suitable for battery-electric operation could be handled.

These are my thoughts.

How Much Would The Conversion Cost?

I will first make rough estimate of what the extra car would cost.

Northern placed a £500 million order for the following trains.

  • 31 x three-car Class 331 trains
  • 12 x four-car Class 331 trains
  • 25 x two-car Class 195 trains
  • 33 x three-car Class 195 trains

This is a total of 290 trains.

So on a rough estimate, each car will cost around £1.72 million.

As batteries would also be added to the pantograph car, the cost of updating a three-car train to a four-car battery-electric train would probably be around two million.

Why Are CAF Proposing A Four-Car Train With Two Battery Cars?

When I first read about CAF’s and Northern’s plans, I wondered, why CAF were also putting batteries in the pantograph car, as surely, with their extensive experience with battery-powered trains, CAF could fit enough batteries into one battery-car for a reasonable range, as Bombardier did seven years ago.

Having done all the calculations around Wigan and Bolton in Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced, I suspect that CAF and Northern want a trans-Pennine range, so they can compete with TransPennine Express.

Two cars with batteries is probably needed for that.

Could The Three-Car Trains Be Converted To Three-Car Battery-Electric Trains?

But there is a collateral benefit of putting batteries in the pantograph car.

I suspect that in a four-car Class 331 trains have a trans-Pennine range, which between Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations is 50.2 miles and between Carlisle and Newcastle stations is 61.5 miles. So let’s say that the four-car Class 331 train with two battery packs has a range of 70 miles.

So what would be the range of a three-car train with one battery pack.

One battery pack would only take a four-car train 35 miles, so a single battery pack would contain 140 car-miles of electricity.

If a single-battery were to be fitted to the pantograph car of a three-car train, 140 car-miles would give a range of 46.7 miles.

My conclusion about the Bolton and Wigan electrification  in Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced, was as follows.

This electrification of just 6.5 miles of double-track between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station seems to be one of the smaller electrification projects.

But on closer examination, when linked to a fleet of battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles, the electrification enables battery-electric trains to run these services.

  • Southport And Alderley Edge
  • Southport And Stalybridge
  • Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

With a charging station in Blackburn station, then the Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn service can be added.

All these four services could be run by three-car battery-electric Class 331 trains. And if the services are to be run by six-car trains, a pair can be coupled up.

What Would Be The Range Of A Four-Car Battery-Electric Train With Only One Battery?

If I’m right that a four-car battery-electric Class with two batteries has a range of seventy miles across the Pennines, then a train with one battery should be able to manage 35 miles.

Conclusion

It sounds like the Spanish might have come up with a cunning plan, that might be able to convert both three- and four-car Class 331 trains to battery-electric operation.

By adding a battery to the pantograph car, this enables a four-car battery-electric train with a trans-Pennine range.

Summing up the various options gives the following ranges.

  • Three-car battery-electric train with one battery pack – 46.7 miles
  • Four-car battery-electric train with one battery pack – 35 miles
  • Four-car battery-electric train with two battery packs – 70 miles

I’m impressed.

 

September 3, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

CAF Selected For Major Battery Train Order

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette International.

This is the first paragraph.

CAF has been named as preferred bidder for what it says is the largest order to date for battery trains. This covers the supply and maintenance of more than 60 electric multiple-units which will be able to operate on non-electrified sections of the Niederrhein-Münsterland network.

On reading the rest of the article, it sounds like the trains are to a high standard, with all the features one could expect.

As in Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced, I predicted that CAF could sell a number of battery-electric trains to Northern in the UK, it looks like CAF could be building a substantial number of battery-electric trains.

There could even be the possibility of some of the German trains being assembled in the CAF factory in Newport, as the logistics might be easier.

 

September 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 6 Comments

Bolton-Wigan £78m Rail Electrification Project Announced

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

This is a small electrification project compared to many, but it still includes.

  • 13 miles of electrification.
  • 450 new overhead line equipment stanchions.
  • Modifications to 17 bridges and two level crossings.
  • Platform extensions at Westhoughton, Hindley and Ince stations, so that they can handle six-car trains.

Completion is expected to be 2025.

The numbers indicate it could be be a small project with quite a bit of work.

I have a few specific thoughts.

How Far Will The Electrification Go?

This document on the Government web site is entitled Green Light Given For Wigan To Bolton Electrification.

These are two paragraphs.

The track between Wigan North Western station and Lostock Junction near Bolton will receive a £78 million upgrade, targeted to complete in 2024/2025.

Through electrifying almost 13 miles of infrastructure and lengthening platforms, this investment will ensure that CO2 emitting diesel trains are replaced by electric rolling stock. As longer trains with additional capacity, these will provide passengers with greener, more comfortable and more reliable journeys.

Note.

  1. Lostock junction is on the Manchester and Preston Line which was electrified in 2019.
  2. As is typical, the electrification continues for a short distance from Lostock junction towards the Wigan stations.
  3. Wigan North Western station is a fully-electrified station on the West Coast Main Line.
  4. Wigan Wallgate station is not electrified.
  5. The distance between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station is 6.9 miles.
  6. Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station is double-track all the way.
  7. My Track Atlas shows crossovers that allow trains to and from Lostock junction to access some platforms at Wigan North Western.

These facts lead me to these conclusions.

  • As thirteen files of electrification would be 6.5 miles of double-track electrification, the new electrification would create a fully-electrified line between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station.
  • By electrifying the crossovers at Wigan Station junction, electric trains would to able to access both Wigan stations.

But this does mean, that electric trains can’t run past Wigan Wallgate station, as the wires seem to stop there.

Electrification At Wigan Wallgate Station

Mark Clayton has made this comment to this post.

Yes there is a single track connecting from the track through Hindley to the WCML and vice versa, however at Wallgate there are buildings straddling the line and the station itself. Maybe the track could be lowered, but it could well be a major engineering project to get the wires under Wallgate.

The best picture, that I can get of the tracks under Wallgate is this 3D image from Google Maps.

It does seem a bit tight in terms of height.

I have also looked at several videos of trains going trough the station and I suspect that the tracks may need lowering to get the wires through.

Or they could use some of the discontinuous tricks being used on the South Wales Metro.

It could be difficult, but I don’t think it will be impossible.

I do suspect though for operational reasons, Network Rail and the train operators would want the wires to extend to the station.

  • Train operators probably prefer to raise and lower the pantograph in a station, in case anything goes wrong.
  • If battery-electric trains should be used on the line, then if necessary, they could wait in the station to charge the batteries.
  • If the station is wired, then the West-facing bay-platform can also be wired, so that it could be used for a battery-electric shuttle train to Kirkby or Southport.

It looks to me, that for lots of reasons, the engineers will have to find a way of getting the wires under the low bridge under Wallgate.

Services That Use All Or Part Of The Route Between Lostock Junction And Wigan

These services use all or part of the route.

  • 1 tph – Southport and Alderley Edge via Ince (irregular), Hindley, Westhoughton and Bolton
  • 1 tph – Southport and Stalybridge via Hindley, Westhoughton and Bolton
  • 1 tph – Kirkby and Manchester Victoria via Ince (irregular), Hindley, Daisy Hill, Hag Fold, Atherton, Walkden, Moorside, Swinton and Salford Crescent.
  • 1 tph – Wigan Wallgate and Blackburn via Hindley, Daisy Hill, Atherton, Walkden, Swinton and Salford Crescent.
  • 1 tph – Wigan Wallgate and Leeds via Daisy Hill, Atherton, Walkden and Salford Crescent.

Note.

  1. tph is trains per hour.
  2. The two services that terminate at Wigan Wallgate sometimes terminate in Wigan North Western station.
  3. Wigan Wallgate station would appear to get up to five tph to Manchester, via a variety of routes.

I wonder how many of these services could be run by a battery-electric train, with a performance like the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note 90 kilometres is 56 miles.

I will look at each route in detail.

Southport And Alderley Edge

The only section without electrification will be between Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations, which is a distance of 17.4 miles.

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run a return trip between Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations on battery power and have time for a leisurely turnround in Southport.

The batteries would be charged on the fully electrified section of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Alderley Edge stations.

Southport And Stalybridge

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Wigan Wallgate and Southport stations – 17.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge stations – 7.6 miles

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run a return trip on both sections without electrification.

The batteries would be charged on the fully electrified section of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Wigan Wallgate and Kirkby stations – 12.1 miles
  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles

With a battery range of 56 miles, a battery-electric train should be able to run services on both sections without electrification.

The batteries would be charged on the two fully electrified sections of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Blackburn stations – 39.4 miles

The first section could be easily run by a battery electric train, but the second section would need a charger at Blackburn station to return to Manchester Victoria station.

The batteries would be charged on the two fully electrified sections of the line between Wigan Wallgate and Manchester Victoria stations.

Wigan Wallgate And Leeds

There are two sections without electrification.

  • Hindley and Salford Crescent stations – 13.4 miles
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations – 50.2 miles

The first section could be easily run by a battery electric train.

But the second section would be very much touch-and-go with a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, despite the fact that both Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations are electrified.

It should also be noted that Network Rail has plans in the TransPennine Upgrade to electrify the route between Leeds and Heaton Lodge junction between Mirfield and Brighouse stations. This would reduce the second section without electrification to a more manageable 37.1 miles.

I suspect that by the time the TransPennine Upgrade is complete, battery range would have improved to allow Manchester Victoria and Leeds stations to handle the route.

Battery-Electric Trains That Could Run The Services Through Wigan Wallgate Station

I have used the Hitachi Regional Battery Train as an example of a train that might run the services through Wigan Wallgate station.

  • It has an operating speed of 100 mph.
  • It could be based on a Class 385 train, which have three or four cars.
  • It would have a battery range of 56 miles.

I suspect a demonstration train will run by 2025, which is the expected date of completion of the Lostock and Wigan electrification project.

But other manufacturers and rolling stock companies could also supply trains, with this specification.

  • Alstom could create a battery-electric train based on an Electrostar, like a Class 379 or Class 387 train.
  • CAF are developing a battery-electric train based on a Class 331 train.
  • Porterbrook are developing a battery-electric train, based on a Class 350 train.
  • Stadler could probably deliver a battery-electric Flirt based on a Class 755 train.

Competition would hopefully result in an excellent train, that would be suitable for many routes in the UK.

Northern’s Battery Plans And CAF

I suspect though that CAF could be the front runner as Northern already have forty-three Class 331 trains in service.

In Northern’s Battery Plans, I describe how CAF and Northern are planning to convert a number of three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • The fourth car would contain batteries.
  • Batteries would also be added to the PTS (pantograph) car.

I suspect that the battery range could be arranged so that all routes suitable for battery-electric operation could be handled.

In this article on Rail Magazine, which is entitled Northern Plans More New Trains After CAF Milestone, this is a paragraph.

A CAF source confirmed that a lot of work was ongoing with Northern, including the continued development of a battery EMU that is planned to be tested on the Oxenholme-Windermere route.

As the article dates from January 2021, things should be progressing.

Possible routes for battery-electric operation could be.

  • Northumberland Line – Under construction
  • Csrlisle and Newcastle – 61.5 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Wigan Wallgate and Leeds via Dewsbury – 50.2 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds via Hebden Bridge – 49.8 miles between electrification at both ends
  • Leeds And Carlisle via Settle – 86.8 miles between electrification at both ends.
  • Leeds and Morecambe – 37.8 miles between electrification.
  • Manchester Airport and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.7 miles from electrification
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere – 10.9 miles from electrification

Note.

  1. The distance is the longest section without electrification.
  2. Some routes have electrification at both ends.
  3. Some need an out-and-back journey at one end of the route.

I was surprised that the Settle and Carlisle Line could be included and as battery technology improves it certainly will be possible.

What a tourist attraction that line would be if worked by battery-electric trains.

Conclusion

This electrification of just 6.5 miles of double-track between Lostock junction and Wigan Wallgate station seems to be one of the smaller electrification projects.

But on closer examination, when linked to a fleet of battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles, the electrification enables battery-electric trains to run these services.

  • Southport And Alderley Edge
  • Southport And Stalybridge
  • Kirkby And Manchester Victoria

With a charging station in Blackburn station, then the Wigan Wallgate And Blackburn service can be added.

It also looks that with the completion of the TransPennine Upgrade between Huddersfield and Leeds, that it might even be possible to run Wigan Wallgate and Leeds using battery-electric trains.

There will be a long list of stations, previously served by diesel trains, that will now only be served by electric or battery-electric trains.

  • Appley Bridge
  • Atherton
  • Bescar Lane
  • Burscough Bridge
  • Daisy Hill
  • Gathurst
  • Hag Fold
  • Hindley
  • Hoscar
  • Ince
  • Kirkby
  • Meols Cop
  • Moorside
  • New Lane
  • Orrell
  • Parbold
  • Pemberton
  • Rainford
  • Southport
  • Swinton
  • Upholland
  • Walkden
  • Wigan Wallgate
  • Westhoughton

That is a total of twenty-four stations.

Never in the field of railway engineering, has one small section of electrification delivered electric trains to so many stations.

 

September 1, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Will Hitachi ABB Power Grids Technology Be Used At Headbolt Lane Station?

Today, I was sent a link to the North Cheshire Rail User Group’s Newsletter for Spring 2021.

Current Progress on Merseyrail’s Class 777 Trains

This is said in the newsletter about the progress of the new Class 777 trains.

At a recent meeting of the Liverpool City Region rail user groups hosted by Liam Robinson, Chair of
Merseytravel, a short presentation was given detailing progress in bringing the new Class 777 Stadler fleet into
operation. NCRUG has been keeping a keen watch on the introduction of this new fleet; later model Class 777’s
have the ability to leave the 3rd rail and operate under battery power for 20 miles or more with a full load thus
permitting expansion of the Merseyrail network beyond its current limits.

Particularly of interest in our patch is the Ellesmere Port to Helsby line, although at one point in the meeting I
did raise the concept of ultimately having a complete Merseyrail service circling the Mersey Estuary on a metro
styled basis Ambitious certainly, but unrealistic as a long-term goal? There would be considerable work required
at Liverpool south Parkway to connect the Merseyrail line to the network, however the terrain is suitably flat and
the trains will be capable. This obvious evolution of the network did seem to take the meeting by surprise.

Unfortunately the much anticipated introduction of the Class 777’s has been delayed for a number of factors,
not least of all the pandemic but border issues and storage also play a part. Trails are taking place on the Kirby
and Ormskirk lines, and full introduction might not be until as late as next year. The Liverpool City Region has a
clearly defined set of (deliverable) objectives for development of the rail network and the expansion has been
prioritised with a line to Skelmersdale being top of the list and the first step of that being a new station at Headbolt
Lane, Kirby – plans are already well developed for this. It is expected to be this line where proof of concept trails
will be conducted for the battery powered 777’s, although Merseyrail does have authorisation to use Ellesmere
Port–Helsby on account of the low traffic movements on that line! Network expansion is being considered to
Widnes via Hunts Cross and possibly as far as Warrington, but when the question of Ellesmere Port–Helsby
was raised, the route, although under consideration, was not high on the priority list. I suspect it will be at least
several years away and I’m sure the delayed introduction of the type will not only come as a disappointment for
NCRUG but also the Community Rail Partnership and CWaC Council, who have funded a basic feasibility study
into possible demand. Therefore we are left with the Northern Trains service for the foreseeable future – 3 return
trains daily on the current schedule.

After reading this extract, I am puzzled. The original priority was to use the battery capabilities of the new Class 777 trains to extend the Ellesmere Port service to Helsby.

  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations are 5.2 miles apart.
  • Ellesmere Port has a two trains per hour (tph) service to Birkenhead and Liverpool.
  • Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations are linked by a three trains per day (tpd) service.

Helsby station has comprehensive connections to Chester, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Warrington Bank Quay station.

Two tph between Ellesmere Port and Helsby stations would certainly improve train services in the area and probably explains the disappointment shown by the writer of the newsletter.

So why have Merseyrail switched the emphasis to battery trains to Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale from Ellesmere Port and Helsby?

Headbolt Lane Station

Headbolt Lane station is a station of an unusual design, which I wrote about in Headbolt Lane Station Fly-Through.

  • Two platforms appear to face West towards Liverpool.
  • One platform appears to face East towards Wigan and Manchester.
  • The platforms meet head-on and a walkway runs between them to allow passengers to access all platforms.
  • There appears to be provision for a fourth platform to serve Skelmersdale. which is to the East of Headbolt Lane.

I think the design means that access to all platforms is level, passengers can enter from both sides of the railway and the station doesn’t need an expensive bridge.

Between Kirkby And Headbolt Lane Stations

Headbolt Lane and Kirkby stations are a couple of miles apart at most. So were Merseyrail hoping to extend the third-rail electrification to Headbolt Lane station, but the Office of Rail and Road has more or less said that no more third-rail electrification is allowed. See ORR’s Policy On Third Rail DC Electrification Systems.

So are Merseyrail having to use battery power between Kirkby and Headbolt Lane stations?

If they are then they have the trains.

As according to the extract from the Cheshire Rail User Group’s Newsletter, the Class 777 trains have a range of twenty miles on battery power, then this should be no problem.

The Skelmersdale Shuttle

The design of Headbolt Lane station does mean that there will be no through running between Liverpool and Skelmersdale.

So it looks to me, that to allow full step-free access to all platforms, the Skelmersdale service will be a battery-electric shuttle train.

  • It could also be the only train on a single-track between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale, which would simplify signalling and operation.
  • Two tph could be possible with a single train.
  • The train would be charged in either termini using an appropriate charging system.

How many other simple branch lines could be run that way or built new?

Headbolt Lane And Manchester Victoria Via Wigan Wallgate

Consider.

  • The distance between Headbolt Lane and Manchester Victoria stations is just under thirty miles, which is well within range of the average battery-electric trains currently under development.
  • As the current Kirkby and Manchester Victoria stations is run by Northern Trains and they are likely to be acquiring some Class 331 trains with a battery capability, these will surely be an ideal train.
  • The train would be charged in the East-facing platform at Headbolt Lane station using an appropriate charging system.

Headbolt Lane station would be a diesel-free station. As incidentally, so would Kirkby and Skelmersdale stations.

Charging Trains At Headbolt Lane Station

It would appear that both East-facing platforms at Headbolt Lane station will need to charge these trains.

  • A Class 777 train with a third-rail capability and the ability in the future to access overhead electrification.
  • A Class 331 train with no third-rail capability and the ability to access overhead electrification.

Class 777 trains from Liverpool would hopefully have enough power in their batteries to return to Kirkby.

It would appear that a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in both platforms would be ideal for charging trains to and from Manchester and Skelmersdale.

If one of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’s containerised overhead electrification power systems could handle both platforms, it would surely be ideal.

A crossover to allow Manchester and Skelmersdale trains to use either East-facing platform, might be desirable, as it could improve reliability.

Conclusion

It looks like Hitachi ABB Power Grids can provide a sensible solution to handling battery-electric trains at Headbolt Lane station. Or for that matter at any station, where battery-electric trains interface with the UK rail network.

July 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Headbolt Lane Station Fly-Through

I had to show this Merseytravel YouTube video, as I feel the new Headbolt Lane station uses some interesting ideas.

This Google Map shows Headbolt Lane and the railway.

Note.

  1. The footbridge over the railway. I took the pictures from and around this bridge in Merseyrail To Skelmersdale – Headbolt Lane Station.
  2. The footbridge can’t be seen in the YouTube video.

Liverpool is to the West and Wigan is to the East.

These are my thoughts.

Is The Station North Or South Of The Railway?

As it is called Headbolt Lane, the station must have good access from that road, otherwise travellers will get rather confused.

So until proven otherwise, I will assume that the station must be to the North of the railway.

Which Way Is Liverpool In the Video?

If the station is North of the railway, then in the first part of the video, the visualisation approaches the station from the North and Liverpool is to the right and Wigan is to the left.

If that is right, then the yellow bus always points towards Liverpool.

How Many Platforms?

Wikipedia says that Headbolt Lane station will have three platforms.

From the video there will be two platforms for trains to and from Liverpool, although the current layout at Kirkby station makes do with just one platform.

There would also appear to be a single platform for trains to and from Wigan, Bolton and Manchester.

But there is a second Eastern track shown in the video, which possibly indicates provision has been made for a second platform for services in that direction.

Wot No Bridge?

It would appear that there is no bridge over or subway under the railway.

But it does appear that the platform layout shown allows passengers to walk between the ends of the tracks on the level to the platform or platforms on the side of the station away from the station building.

Will There Be A Second Entrance To The Station On The Other Side Of The Tracks?

The layout would allow this and it could be useful for those passengers living or working on that side of the railway.

Is The Platform Layout Unique?

I have travelled widely looked at railway stations all over the world.

But I can’t remember seeing a layout like this.

The layout does have advantages.

  • An expensive bridge with lifts will not be needed.
  • There is nothing mechanical or electrical to go wrong.
  • Extra platforms can be added if required.
  • It can also be used as a simple step-free way to cross the railway.

I suspect that the layout could be used in other places.

Train Frequencies To Liverpool

The current service between Kirkby station and Liverpool is four trains per hour (tph), which is handled on a single platform.

One platform at Headbolt Lane would surely be sufficient, but a second platform must surely allow extra services and provide more resilience in case of train failure.

Train Frequencies To Wigan, Bolton And Manchester

The current service between Kirkby station and Manchester is one tph, which is handled on a single platform.

One platform at Headbolt Lane would surely be sufficient and could easily handle two tph.

Are two platforms provided for Liverpool services, so that extra services could be run in the Peak or to provide more resilience, should a train fail in the station.

A Service To Skelmersdale

Consider.

  • Skelmersdale is about five miles North of the line between Headbolt Lane and Wigan.
  • One of Merseyrail’s current Class 507 trains covers the 5.5 miles between Kirkby and Sandhills station in twelve minutes.
  • The proposed layout of Headbolt Lane station does not allow direct services between Liverpool and Skelmersdale.

These distances and timing would mean the following.

  • A single shuttle train between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale could run a two tph service.
  • A pair of shuttle trains between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale could run a four tph service.

Passengers would need to change trains at Headbolt Lane station.

This may seem less passenger-friendly than a direct service, but it could be the most affordable option.

And it could always be improved with modifications at Headbolt Lane station.

Is There A Role For Battery-Electric Trains?

Consider.

  • For Health and Safety reasons, it is very unlikely that any new third-rail track will be laid in the UK.
  • The distance between the current Kirkby station and the new Headbolt Lane station is about 1.5 miles.
  • The distance between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale stations is less than eight miles.
  • I suspect Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale stations would both have good power supplies.
  • Merseyrail’s new Class 777 trains have a battery capability.

Would this allow the following?

  • Liverpool and Headbolt Lane services to use battery power between Kirkby and Headbolt Lane station. All charging would be done between Liverpool and Kirkby.
  • The shuttle train between Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale would work on battery power, with batteries charged at both ends of the route.

There is also the possibility, that the Headbolt Lane and Manchester Victoria service could be run using battery-electric Class 331 trains.

  • Headbolt Lane and Manchester Victoria will be a 28.5 mile service with a couple of miles of electrification at the Manchester end.
  • I estimate that the battery-electric Class 331 trains will have sufficient range to handle this route with charging at Headbolt Lane station.
  • Currently, trains from Manchester Victoria take over ten minutes to turnround at Kirkby station.
  • Provision for a charger could be built into Headbolt Lane station.

It would be a simple way to electrify the Kirkby and Manchester Victoria service.

In addition, battery-electric Class 331 trains are likely to have longer battery range than the Class 777 trains.

So might it be better if the Headbolt Lane and Skelmersdale shuttle was worked by battery-electric Class 331 trains.

If the two East-facing platforms at Headbolt Lane station were to be fitted with charging facilities, this would give an increased level of reliability.

Could Northern’s Manchester Victoria Service Terminate At Skelmersdale?

If both services were to be run by Northern’s battery-electric Class 331 trains, this could be a possibility.

  • A reverse would be needed at Headbolt Lane station.
  • I estimate that 2tph on the route would fit together well.
  • Trains would be charged at Skelmersdale station.
  • Chargers might not be needed at Headbolt Lane station.

In addition, a two tph service would fit in well with four or six tph to Liverpool.

Conclusion

It’s almost as if Headbolt Lane station could consist of three elements.

  • The station facilities, bus interchange and car parking.
  • A two-platform station for Merseyrail services to Liverpool
  • A two-platform station with charging facilities for Northern services to Blackburn, Bolton, Manchester Victoria, Skelmersdale and Wigan.

All services from Headbolt Lane station will be run by battery-electric reains.

Costs have been saved by the following.

  • Not having a bridge over the tracks.
  • Maintaining the separation between Northern and Merseyrail services.
  • Not electrifying between Kirkby and Headbolt Lane stations.
  • Not electrifying the Skelmersdale Branch.

The whole station appears to have been designed on a single level.

 

 

 

May 24, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Battery-Electric Class 331 Trains On The Radar

In the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article which is entitled Northern Looks To The Future.

This is a paragraph.

Also on the radar is the creation of hybrid Class 331 EMUs fitted with batteries. A proposal has been developed by CAF and owner Eversholt Rail to augment three-car ‘331s’ with a fourth vehicle containing batteries, which would see batteries also fitted to the existing centre car. The Manchester to Windermere route has been touted as a possible location for deployment, with trains switching to battery power on the non-electrified branch from Oxenholme, although the line’s user group still favours electrification of the branch.

I have a few thoughts.

Electrification at Oxenholme

In Surprising Electrification At Oxenholme, I detailed the electrification at Oxenholme station in May 2018.

Consider.

  • Platform 3 used by the Windermere trains is fully electrified.
  • The crossover South of the station used by trains going between the Windermere Branch Line and the West Coast Main Line is fully electrified.
  • The electrification continues for perhaps a hundred metres along the Windermere branch.

I am fairly certain, that this electrification has been designed so that a bi-mode or battery-electric train can perform a reliable power changeover in Platform 3 at Oxenholme station.

What Will Be The Range Of A Four-Car Battery-Electric Class 331 Train?

This is very much a case of how long is a piece of string.

At least we know from the extract above that the train is designed to do a return trip between Oxenholme and Windermere stations, which is a distance of 20.4 miles and a six minute turnround.

We should also note that Hitachi are claiming a range of 56 miles for their Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

As the Class 331 with batteries will compete with the Hitachi Reional Battery Train, I would suspect that the range on easy level ground would be at least fifty miles at a speed of over 80 mph, if not 100 mph.

A Selection Of Possible Routes

These are a selection of other Northern routes where the battery-electric Class 331 trains might be used.

Manchester Airport and Barrow-in-Furness

Consider.

  • This is a sibling route to the Manchester Airport and Windermere route and currently has eleven services to Windermere’s four.
  • This is a 103.7 mile route.
  • All but 28.1 miles is electrified.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Barrow-in-Furness should be able to handle this route.

Lancaster and Barrow-in-Furness

Consider.

  • This is a 34.8 mile route
  • All but 28.1 miles is electrified.
  • Lancaster is a fully electrified station.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Barrow-in-Furness should be able to handle this route.

Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness

This is the 85.7 mile route of the Cumbrian Coast Line of which none is electrified.

Consider.

  • Carnforth is a fully-electrified station.
  • Barrow-in-Furness station could be electrified.
  • It is a fairly level route along the coast.
  • I suspect that electricity supplies are available at Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield, Whitehaven and Workington to power electrification.
  • Carlisle is a fully-electrified station.
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield are only 35 miles apart.
  • CAF have produced trams for Birmingham and Seville, that work with discontinuous electrification.
  • There are parts of the route, where there would be those, who would object to the erection of electrification gantries.

I feel it would be possible to electrify the Cumbrian Coast Line using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Surely, a battery-electric train along the Cumbrian Coast by the Lake District would be the ideal train for the area

Lancaster and Morecambe

Consider.

  • This is a 4 mile route.
  • None is electrified.
  • Heysham is another four miles past Morecambe.
  • Lancaster is a fully-electrified station.

This route might have been built for battery-electric trains.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

York and Blackpool North

Consider.

  • This is a 105.5 mile route.
  • In a few years about 62 miles will be without electrification.
  • It goes through the picturesque Calder Valley.

As with the Cumbrian Coast Line, I believe that this service could be run using battery-electric Class 331 trains, with a range of at least fifty miles and some short sections of new electrification.

Preston and Colne

Consider.

  • This is a 29 mile route.
  • None is electrified.
  • It is steeply uphill to Colne.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Colne should be able to handle this route.

Alternatively, they could use Newton’s friend to return down the hill.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

As with York and Blackpool North, this route would benefit with electrification between Preston and Blackburn.

Preston and Blackpool South

Consider.

  • This is a 20 mile route.
  • 7.7 miles is electrified.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains  should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

In an ideal world, Preston and Blackburn would be electrified and trains would run between Colne and Blackpool South, as they used to do.

Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • This is a 45.5 mile route,
  • 26.5 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at both ends.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains  should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road

Consider.

  • This is a 34.2 mile route.
  • 26.5 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at both ends.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains  should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Southport and Alderley Edge

  • This is a 52 mile route,
  • 27 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at the Southern end.
  • There is third rail electrification at Southport.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Southport should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

Manchester Piccadilly and Chester

Consider.

  • This is a 45 mile route.
  • 38 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.
  • There is third rail electrification at Chester.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Chester should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton

Consider.

  • This is a 25.5 mile route.
  • 17.8 miles is not electrified.
  • It is steeply uphill to Buxton.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Buxton should be able to handle this route.

Alternatively, they could use Newton’s friend to return down the hill.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Manchester Piccadilly and Rose Hill Marple

Consider.

  • This is a 13.3 mile route.
  • 8.3 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Manchester Piccadilly and New Mills Central

Consider.

  • This is a 13 mile route.
  • Only 2 miles is electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains should be able to handle this route.

This route might be possible with no extra infrastructure.

Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield

Consider.

  • This is a 42 mile route.
  • Only 2 miles is electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at Manchester end.
  • It is a scenic route.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a fifty mile range and a charge at Sheffield should be able to handle this route.

Southport and Stalybridge

  • This is a 45 mile route.
  • 27 miles is not electrified.
  • It will be fully electrified at the Southern end, when electrification between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge is completed.
  • There is third rail electrification at Southport.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Southport should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

Manchester Victoria And Kirkby

  • The Kirkby end of this route will change to the new Headbolt Lane station in a couple of years.
  • This is a 30 mile route.
  • 28 miles is not electrified.
  • It is fully electrified at the Southern end.
  • There is third rail electrification at Kirkby or Headbolt Lane.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a charge at Kirkby or Headbolt Lane should be able to handle this route.

Could some Class 331 be fitted with third-rail equipment to charge on Merseyrail’s third-rail electrification?

I would hope that the new Headbolt Lane station is being designed with battery-electric trains from Manchester in mind!

Rochdale And Clitheroe

Consider.

  • This is a 44.7 mile route.
  • There is 10.7 miles of electrification between Bolton and Manchester Victoria.
  • The Clitheroe end of the route has 23.7 miles of line without electrification.
  • The Rochdale end of the route has 10.4 miles of line without electrification.
  • It is steeply uphill to Clitheroe.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains should be able to handle the Rochdale end, but could struggle with the climb to Clitheroe.

But it appears that all services needing to climb the hills to Colne and Clitheroe now stop in Platform 2, which is different to Wikipedia, which says that services to Clitheroe stop in Platform 1.

  • With charging in platform 2 and a fifty-mile range battery-electric Class 331 trains could reach Clitheroe (9.8 miles), Colne (17 miles), and possibly Leeds (50 miles).
  • With charging in platform 4 and a fifty-mile range battery-electric Class 331 trains could reach Bolton (14 miles) and Preston (12 miles)
  • Would a fully-charged train leaving Blackburn be able to go via Todmorden and reach the electrification at Manchester Victoria, which is a distance of 39.4 miles?

Note.

If necessary a few well-planned extra miles of electrification would ensure reliable battery-electric services  in East Lancashire centred on Blackburn.

The closely-related Blackburn and Rochdale and Blackburn and Wigan Wallgate services would fit in well with an electrified Blackburn station, that could fully charge trains.

I certainly believe that electrifying Preston and Blackburn could give extra benefits.

  • Battery-electric trains between Blackpool and Liverpool in the West and Colne, Hebden Bridge, Bradford, Leeds and York in the East.
  • Direct electric services from Euston to Blackburn and Burnley.
  • Fast freight paths across the Pennines.

In addition, it would probably allow battery-electric trains to run to Leeds via a reinstated Skipton and Colne link.

Wigan And Leeds

Consider.

  • The route can terminate at either Wigan North Western or Wigan Wallgate station.
  • This is a 68.2 mile route using Wigan North Western.
  • Wigan North Western is a fully-electrified station.
  • The 16 miles between Wigan North Western and Salford Crescent stations is not electrified.
  • The 5 miles between Salford Crescent and Manchester Victoria stations is electrified.
  • The 37.2 miles between Manchester Victoria and Mirfield stations is not electrified.
  • The 12.2 miles between Mirfield and Leeds will be electrified in the next few years.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a fifty mile range should be able to handle this route.

Chester And Leeds

Consider.

  • This is a 89.7 mile route.
  • There is third rail electrification at Chester.
  • The 18.1 miles between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay stations is not electrified.
  • The 21.8 miles between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Victoria stations is electrified.
  • The 40.3 miles between Manchester Victoria and Bradford Interchange stations is not electrified.
  • The 9.4 miles between Bradford Interchange and Leeds stations is not electrified.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.
  • There seems to be generous turnround times at Chester and Leeds.

It looks to me that the trains are going to need a full battery charge at Bradford Interchange or perhaps Leeds and Bradford Interchange needs to be fully electrified.

I also feel that it would help if the electrification through Manchester Victoria were to be extended towards Rochdale.

But I don’t think it will be impossible for battery-electric Class 331 trains to work the route between Leeds and Chester with some new electrification and/or charging at Bradford Interchange.

Manchester Victoria And Leeds

Consider.

  • This is a shortened version of the Chester and Leeds route.
  • This is a 49.8 mile route.
  • Manchester Victoria is a fully-electrified station.
  • The 40.3 miles between Manchester Victoria and Bradford Interchange stations is not electrified.
  • The 9.4 miles between Bradford Interchange and Leeds stations is not electrified.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.

My comments would be similar to the Chester and Leeds route.

Leeds And York Via Harrogate And Knaresborough

Consider.

  • This is a 38.8 mile route.
  • Leeds is a fully-electrified station.
  • The Harrogate Line is not electrified.
  • York is a fully-electrified station.

Battery-electric Class 331 trains with a fifty mile range should be able to handle this route.

There are two other services on the Harrogate Line.

  • Leeds and Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • Leeds and Knaresborough – 22.1 miles

I have a feeling that a fleet of battery-electric trains could electrify all services on the Harrogate Line with no extra infrastructure.

Summing Up The Possible Routes

I have assumed that the proposed battery-electric Class 331 train has a range of around fifty miles, which is not unlike that for the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

It would appear that many of Northern’s routes can be run by a train with this range including some that are around a hundred miles.

There are also routes like the Harrogate Line, which would accept a battery-electric Class 331 train tomorrow, if it were available.

Will A  Mix Of Four-Car Electric And Battery-Electric Trains Be Better Than A Mix Of Four-Car And Three-Car Electric Trains?

If the technology is right, I suspect that a four-car battery-electric Class 331 train will be able to substitute for one without batteries on a route that doesn’t need battery power.

This must surely have advantages when trains are in maintenance or otherwise unavailable, as nothing annoys passengers more than an overcrowded train.

Conclusion

The Modern Railways article also says this.

More widely, Northern has previously stated ambitions to acquire more trains, and work was underway last year to identify what this requirement might be.

From my simple analysis on some of their routes, I would look to acquire some four-car battery-electric Class 331 trains, once they have been oroven to work.

May 23, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Consett-Newcastle Connection

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts. There used to be a direct line between Newcastle and Consett, which was the Derwent Valley Railway, which connected Consett to the Tyne Valley Line.

I would assume that the basis of the plan, is to reinstate this route and build a new station at Consett.

The Former Route

I will show the route starting from the Tyne Valley Line.

Connection To The Tyne Valley Line

This Google Map shows the MetroCentre with the Tyne Valley Line running along its North side.

Note.

  1. The River Tyne running along the North side of the map.
  2. MetroCentre station on the Tyne Valley Line is by the North-East corner of the MetroCentre.
  3. The River Derwent meanders its way to the River Tyne, to the West of the MetroCentre.
  4. The Derwent Valley Line used to come through this area to join the Tyne Valley Line.

I have a feeling that much of the route of the Derwent Valley Line lies under the new roads.

This map clipped from the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Line, shows how, the line connected to the Tyne Valley Line.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The Scotswood Railway Bridge is the dark-coloured bridge in the North-West corner of the map.
  2. The Tyne Valley Line runs East-West across the map.
  3. Swalwell station must have been in the area of the junction on the A1.

As the old route appears to be blocked, another route must be found to connect to the Tyne Valley Line.

Perhaps there would be enough space to squeeze a railway line alongside the River Derwent.

Between Swalwell And Nine Arches Viaduct

The Nine Arches Viaduct is an iconic feature of the line. This image of the bridge was taken from a Google Map.

This second image shows it as a map.

 

Note that I have arranged the map, so that the path that uses the route of the Derwent Valley Line runs between the South-West and North-East corners of the map.

This third Google Map has the Nine Arches Viaduct in the South-West corner and Swalwell in the North-East corner.

Note the tadpole-shaped green space by the bridge.

Between Nine Arches Viaduct and Lintz Green

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. The Nine Arches Viaduct is in the North-East corner.
  2. Lintz Green is in the South West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Lintz Green and Rowlands Gill.

The History section in the Wikipedia entry for the Derwent Valley Railway, explains why a more direct route wasn’t taken in this area.

Between Lintz Green And Ebchester

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

Lintz Green is at the Eastern edge of the map.

Ebchester is in the South-West corner.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at High Westwood and Ebchester.

Between Ebchester and Consett

This Google Map shows this section.

Note.

  1. Ebchester is at the Northern edge of the map in the centre.
  2. Consett is in the South of the map.
  3. Shotley Bridge Hospital is an NHS hospital.

On the Derwent Valley Railway, there were stations at Shotley Bridge, Blackhill and Consett.

Consett Station

A new station would have to be built in Consett.

Consett is a town of around 25,000 and is shown in this Google Map.

Note that the red arrow shows the rough location of the original station near Annfield Plain. The station and the tracks were demolished in the 1980s to make way for new roads.

How thinking on transport has changed in forty years!

Is This Route Feasible?

Google gives the distance between the Metrocentre and Consett as 11.5 miles and Wikipedia says that Consett is about 900 feet above sea level.

To put the altitude into perspective, this is higher than Merthyr Tydfil, but not as high as Buxton, so I feel that trains could ascend to Consett, as steam trains did in far-off Victorian days, when they carried over half a million passengers every year, according to Wikipedia.

I would say, that although restoring the route could be challenging, it would not be filed under Impossible.

These are a few other thoughts.

Would The Route Carry Freight?

If we’re talking about long freight trains with lots of containers or many trucks of coal, the answer is probably a negative.

But rail freight is changing, I can see many towns in the UK getting a high speed parcels service using modified electric multiple units.

  • Rail Operations Group and others are planning to experiment with this type of service.
  • With on-line shopping, 25,000 residents can generate a lot of deliveries and returns.
  • The average guy on the Consett omnibus, is getting more worried about carbon emissions.

But trains like these could fit in with the passenger service on the route and could even unload at a well-designed passenger terminal in Consett.

The route would also have to be able to take maintenance and construction trains, just like the London Underground and the Tyne and Wear Metro do!

Would The Route Be Single- Or Double-Track?

Consider.

  • The original Victorian route was double-track.
  • The more trains on the route, the greater the need for a full double-track railway.
  • Would the Nine Arches Viaduct accommodate a double-track.
  • Single-track railways are easier to construct and more affordable.

Hopefully a serious study, will give an answer.

How Would Trains Go Between MetroCentre and Newcastle Stations?

Currently, there are three trains per hour (tph) between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations.

The Tyne and Wear Metro generally runs on the principle of five tph, so a one or two tph service between Consett and Newcastle would fit in well with the Tyne and Wear Metro, even if it was not their service.

This Google Map shows MetroCentre station.

Could a third platform be fitted here to run a shuttle service to Consett?

Trains between MetroCentre and Newcastle stations, go via Dunston station, Norwood Junction and the King Edward VII Bridge.

Note.

  1. Norwood Junction also allows trains to go between The Tyne Valley Line and the East Coast Main Line in both North and South directions.
  2. The comprehensive track layout to the South of Newcastle allows access to everywhere.

The Consett trains could even be run on a Back-to-Back basis to Ashington and Blyth, which is now being called the Northumberland Line in the media.

Would The Line Be Zero-Carbon?

I feel strongly, that all new or reopened railways should be zero-carbon.

But whether it should be electrified is another matter and depends on the rolling stock.

Battery Electric Trains To Consett

If the route to Consett is to be zero-carbon, then the obvious choice for the route are battery electric trains.

  • To run these successfully, there would probably need to be some electrification along the Tyne Valley Line, as far as the junction with the new Derwent Valley Line, so trains started the climb to Consett with full batteries.
  • If necessary, some parts of the Derwent Valley Line could be electrified, to assist the trains up the hill.
  • Coming down from Consett, they could use Newton’s friend, with regenerative braking charging the batteries.
  • Intriguingly, between MetroCentre and Hexham is under twenty miles, so why not run these services using similar battery electric trains.

I also think, that if the electrification were to be 25 KVAC, then it could enable battery electric trains like Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train or CAF’s proposed battery-electric Class 331 train, to run between Newcastle and Carlisle stations.

The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains

I believe that the new trains being built by Stadler for the Tyne and Wear Metro, will be very similar to the Class 777 trains for Merseyrail.

The Class 777 trains are known to have this features.

  • A capacity of 484 passengers.
  • An operating speed of 75 mph.
  • A weight of 99 tonnes.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • A small battery to be used for hotel power, when there is no electrification.
  • Some will be fitted with batteries to allow route extension on unelectrified lines, like between Ormskirk and Preston, which is 15.3 miles.
  • In the future, they will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

The new Tyne and Wear trains appear to be different to the Class 777 trains in the following ways.

  • A different length, with five cars instead of four.
  • Ability to use 750 VDC overhead instead of 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Longitudinal instead of transverse seating.

These facts should also be born in mind.

Stadler built the Class 399 tram-trains for Sheffield, that can use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification from the same pantograph.

Parts of the Tyne and Wear Metro use tram-train operation under the Karlsruhe model, which is also used in Sheffield.

Could The Tyne And Wear Metro’s New Trains Work Between Newcastle And Consett Stations?

I feel if the following conditions were to be met, that the Tyne And Wear Metro’s new trains, would be able to work the route.

  • Batteries with sufficient range to work the route were fitted.
  • Ability to use both 750 VDC and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Sufficient electrification were erected to power the train and charge the batteries on their journey between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.

It is my view, that the trains could be ideal for the route.

They could also work between Newcastle and Hexham, with slightly larger batteries than their Liverpool cousins.

What Size Batteries Would Be Needed For A Service To Consett?

I will do a calculation based on the Class 777 train figures.

  • The train weight is 99 tonnes.
  • Each of 484 passengers weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This adds up to 38.7 tonnes giving a train weight of 137.7 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Potential Energy Calculator gives a value of 103 kWh to lift the full train the 900 feet to Consett.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

The new Tyne and Wear Metro trains have five cars, so assuming 3 kWh per vehicle mile, would need the following energy to power the train to Consett.

5* 3 * 11.5 = 172.5 kWh

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 400 kWh battery on the train.

On the flat, it would do about twenty-seven miles, which would mean the train could provide a service between Newcastle and Hexham.

Incidentally, the distance between Newcastle and Ashington is under twenty five miles of which a couple of miles are electrified.

Conclusion

Newcastle and Consett would appear to be an ideal route to reopen.

It would require.

  • A dozen miles of new track. much of which would be on an dismantled alignment.
  • An appropriate number of new stations.
  • Some electrification between Newcastle and MetroCentre stations.
  • A number of the new Stadler trains for the Tyne and Wear Metro to be fitted with batteries.

A service of one or two tph could be provided.

In addition, the following could be possible.

  • The Newcastle and Hexham service could be run by the same battery electric trains.
  • The Consett and Newcastle service could be run Back-to-Back with the proposed Newcastle and Ashington service.

This scheme has collateral benefits.

 

 

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Train To Be Developed With EU Funding

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The FCH2RAIL consortium’s €14m project to design, develop and test a prototype hydrogen fuelled train has been awarded a €10m grant from the European Commission’s Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking as part of the Horizon 2020 Programme.

The FCH2RAIL consortium is led by CAF, who have a factory at Newport in South Wales.

CAF are actively working on a battery electric version of their Class 331 train for the UK, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

The battery-electric Class 331 train will involve adding an extra car with batteries.

Will CAF be looking to apply this hydrogen technology developed from  the FCH2RAIL programme on UK-sized trains?

They could add a fourth car to a Class 331 train with all the necessary hydrogen gubbins.

November 7, 2020 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Beeching Reversal – South Fylde Line Passing Loop

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

The Project

This project is described on this page on the web site of the Fylde MP; Mark Menzies, which is entitled Improving The South Fylde Rail Line.

The page lists that these improvements are needed.

Track And Stations

These improvements are listed for track and stations.

The bid involves laying around three miles of track between Lytham and St Annes stations, the creation of a new rail platform at Ansdell and Fairhaven Station, the installation of signalling along the line, and potential platform changes at Preston Station. There is scope for improvements to St Annes and Lytham Stations, should Network Rail decide it would rather include those stations within the passing loop – but that would be decided further along the process.

Services

The objective is to be able to run two trains per hour (tph) between Preston and Blackpool South stations.

Trains

Better trains are needed.

It certainly looks like the Pacers have already gone.

The Route

I shall describe the current route in this section.

Blackpool South Station

The Google Map shows Blackpool South station.

Note.

  1. Entrance to the station is from Waterloo Road, which runs East-West across the map.
  2. There are a pair of bus stops by the station entrance.
  3. There is a lot of car parking close to the station.
  4. I suspect that the single platform can hold a modern eighty-metre four-car train.
  5. This seventy-year-old has no difficulty waking to the football ground or the Blackpool trams from the station.

With two tph and some updated facilities, this would be a very useful station.

I suspect there is even space to add a second platform in the future, if that were felt to be necessary.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Station

This Google Map shows Blackpool Please Beach station and the nearby Pleasure Beach.

We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of this station. One beautiful late summer Saturday, I was going to see Ipswich play at Blackpool and out of curiosity I had explored the train to Colne station. In those days a decade ago, Colne and Blackpool South was one service and the train from Colne was full of families, by the time it got to Preston. A large proportion, left the train at the Pleasure Beach.

The conductor told me, that the crowds, I had witnessed weren’t untypical.

Squires Gate Station and Blackpool Airport

This Google Map shows Squires Gate station and the nearby Blackpool Airport.

Blackpool Airport after a troubled few years seems to be finding a niche market, with a few business, commercial, offshore and training flights.

But I believe that airports like Blackpool in the future can develop another large niche – electric aviation.

Getting to places like Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and Wales by a nineteen-seat electric airliner will need the following.

  • As short a flight as possible.
  • Close to the coast would help.
  • Good public transport links. Blackpool Airport has both tram and train.
  • Space for aircraft to be parked, whilst charging.
  • Plentiful supplies of renewable electricity. The over-300 MW Burbo Bank Wind Farm is not far away in Liverpool Bay and it will only be joined by more and larger wind farms.
  • Frequent public transport.

Blackpool Airport could tick all these boxes, with a thick green marker.

Some example direct distances from Blackpool include

  • Aberdeen – 238 miles
  • Amsterdam Schipol – 340 miles
  • Belfast City – 128 miles
  • Cardiff – 165 miles
  • Dublin – 134 miles
  • Edinburgh – 150 miles
  • Exeter – 211 miles
  • Geneva – 661 miles
  • Glasgow – 155 miles
  • London Gatwick – 220 miles
  • London Heathrow – 192 miles
  • London Southend – 219 miles
  • Newcastle – 89 miles
  • Paris Orly – 422 miles
  • Isle of Man Ronaldsway – 68 miles
  • Southampton – 208 miles

These distances fit nicely with the range of the nine-seater Eviation Alice electric aircraft, which is predicted to be 620 miles.

St. Annes-on-the-Sea Station

This Google Map shows St. Annes-on-the-Sea station.

Note.

  1. Blackpool is to the North-West and Preston is to the South-East
  2. St. Annes-on-the-Sea is one of those convenient single-platform stations, where you just walk in-and-out on the level.
  3. The passing loop would start on the Preston side of the bridge.

There would need to be no major infrastructure work at the station, although I would expect the facilities could do with a makeover.

Ansdell And Fairhaven Station

In Should The Blackpool South Branch Be Electrified?, I said this about improvements to Ansdell and Fairhaven station.

Ansdell and Fairhaven station is nearest to the course at Royal Lytham.

    • The Open Championship is a very important event on the golfing calendar.
    • Other important golfing events are also held on the course
    • Royal Lytham and St.Annes, last held the Open in 2012 and 2001. So it might come back to Royal Lytham in the mid-2020s.

Ansdell and Fairhaven station used to have two platforms, as described in Wikipedia.

The station was set out as an island platform with tracks on both faces until the singling of the line in the 1980s. Trains now only use the southern face. A disabled access ramp now covers the northern part of the station.

So could a rebuild of the station do the following?

    • Restore two platforms on an island at the station.
    • Put in full disabled access.
    • Create a passing loop.
    • Longer platforms might be a good idea.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

    1. The disabled ramp winding away.
    2. The platform is probably about a hundred metres long.
    3. It would appear that there is space at the far end to extend the platform.

I suspect that an ambitious architect with vision, could design a station that met all objectives.

It could be the best Championship Golf Course railway station in the world.

Lytham Station

This Google Map shows Lytham station.

Lytham station will be the Eastern end of the loop and it is likely, that the single-track will change to double at the Western end of the station.

As with St. Annes-on-the-Sea station, I suspect that a good makeover, will be all that will be needed.

Moss Side Station

This Google Map shows Moss Side station.

The only problem here is the level crossing, so do Network Rail want to remove it?

Kirkham And Wesham Station

This Google Map shows Kirkham and Wesham station.

There are three platforms, which from bottom to top on the map are.

  • Platform 1 – Trains to Blackpool South
  • Platform 2 – Trains to Blackpool North
  • Platform 3 – Trains to Preston

All platforms seem to be being electrified in these  pictures. that I took during construction.

Note.

  1. It can’t be described as a station, built down to a small budget.
  2. In the captions to the pictures, I’ve numbered the platforms from left to right.
  3. The last picture looks down Platform 1 and there is an electrification gantry at the Preston end.

Could this comprehensive electrification be so that trains to Blackpool North can use both Platforms 1 and 2?

  • This would allow overtaking of say a local train by a London express.
  • Trains could also be turned back in Platform 1, before the end of its journey, if there was a problem.
  • The electrification is also substantial enough for the longest Class 390 trains.
  • It could even accommodate a classic compatible High Speed Two train.

So does the last point, mean that Blackpool North station is a possible High Speed Two destination? Provided, the platforms at Blackpool North station are long enough, I think it does!

This Google Map shows Kirkham West Junction, where trains to Blackpool North and Blackpool South stations diverge.

Note.

  1. The electrification gantries and their shadows can be seen.
  2. Preston is to the South-East and the route is fully-electrified.
  3. Blackpool North is to the North-West and the route is fully-electrified.
  4. Blackpool South is to the West. The double-track becomes single before Moss Side station.

This picture shows the route going off to Blackpool South.

I took the picture from a train going to Blackpool North station.

So why are wires being run along the first few hundred metres of the Blackpool South Branch?

The Timetable

Currently, trains take the following times to do these journey legs.

  • Run between Ansdell and Fairhaven and Blackpool South stations – 12 minutes
  • Turnback at Blackpool South station – 3 minutes
  • Run between Blackpool South and Ansdell and Fairhaven stations – 11 minutes

As the trains will be running every thirty minutes and the three legs total twenty-six minutes, that means there’s four minutes float.

So hopefully, it should be easily stainable, by an experienced rail timetable creator.

The Trains

I have remarked that I find the electrification at Kirkham & Wesham station, both comprehensive and slightly unusual.

Could The Electrification Have Been Designed For Battery Electric Trains To Blackpool South Station?

But there is one very plausible reason for the electrification layout – The Blackpool South Branch has been designed, so that services on the branch can be rum using battery trains.

  • The distance between Kirkham & Wesham and Blackpool South stations is just over eleven miles.
  • So for a round trip a range of perhaps twenty-five miles on battery power would suffice.
  • There would also be a need for a few minutes of hotel power, whilst waiting at Blackpool South station.

These power needs are well within the capabilities of the average battery train.

  • Trains could be charged on the nine minute run  between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham stations.
  • Changeover between electrification and battery power would take place in Kirkham & Wesham station.

An ideal train would surely be CAF’s four-car battery electric version of the Class 331 train, which I wrote about in Northern’s Battery Plans.

  • According to an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same name, these trains will be working between Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Class 331 trains without batteries will be running to and from Blackpool North station.
  • Four-car trains are probably the right size for the route.

There would also probably be no need for a charging station at Blackpool South station, if trains could leave Kirkham & Wesham station with a full battery.

Where Would The Trains Terminate In The East?

These would be the obvious choices.

  • Blackburn – Where there is a convenient bay platform.
  • Colne – Where they used to terminate!
  • Liverpool – Merseyrail has the trains and Liverpool has lots of punters and the imagination.
  • Preston – Where they do now!
  • Skipton – If the Skipton-Colne Link is built!

My money would be on Skipton, using a new Skipton-Colne Link, for the following reasons.

  • Politicians of all colours and roses are in favour.
  • Skipton has an electrified route to Leeds.
  • Skipton-Colne would be a valuable by-pass route during the building of Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Battery-powered trains would be ideal for Skipton-Colne.

Would A Battery Electric Train Be Feasible Between Blackpool South And Liverpool?

Consider.

  • An all-stations service would complement the fast service between Liverpool Lime Street and Blackpool North stations via St. Helens, Wigan North Western and Preston.
  • The service could either go between Liverpool and Preston via Ormskirk or Southport and a reinstated Burscough Chord.
  • The Ormskirk route is 15 miles of unelectrified line and the Southport route is just four miles further.
  • A service via Southport would need to reverse at Southport station.
  • The service would be run using dual-voltage Class 777 trains fitted with batteries.
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification, is already  installed between Preston and Kirkham & Wesham stations,
  • Using existing electrification, trains would leave Kirkham & Wesham, Ormskirk, Preston and Southport stations with full batteries.
  • A coastal service between Blackpool and Liverpool would surely attract visitors.
  • Liverpool and Blackpool are the two biggest urban areas on the coast.
  • There are several golf courses on the route, including three courses that have held the Open; Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

It may be a bit fanciful. But.

  • Merseyrail will have the trains.
  • Liverpool has the potential passengers.
  • I believe the route could handle a two tph service.
  • In Reopen Midge Hall Station, I showed that it was possible to run a two tph service between Liverpool and Preston, with one tph via each of Ormskirk and Southport.

Liverpool also has bags of ambition and imagination.

Would A Battery Electric Train Handle Preston And Skipton?

I estimate that this route is forty-one miles, with a stiff rise from Rose Grove to Colne station.

So would a battery electric train be able to handle this distance?

Hitachi are talking 56 miles for their Regional Battery Train, so I suspect CAF would want and need to be competitive with a similar specification.

Perhaps the logical service would be to run between Leeds and Blackpool South.

  • The service would go via Preston, Blackburn, Burnley Central, Colne and Skipton.
  • Leeds and Skipton is electrified.
  • Preston and Kirkham & Wesham is electrified.
  • No extra chargers for trains would be needed.

The only new infrastructure needed would be the Skipton and Colne Link.

Electrification Between Preston And Blackburn

Consider.

  • In Colne – Skipton Reopening Moves Closer, I talked about the proposed Huncoat Rail Fright Terminal, that could be built North of Blackburn on the East Lancashire Line.
  • Blackburn is a major hub for passenger services.
  • An electrified Blackburn would allow Manchester and Clitheroe to be run by battery electric trains. Clitheroe is ten miles and Bolton is thirteen.
  • An electrified Blackburn would allow Blackburn and Manchester Victoria via the Todmorden Curve to be run by battery electric trains. The whole route is 39.5 miles.
  • It may be possible for battery electric trains to reach Leeds via Hebden Bridge, as it is only fifty miles away, which is within Hitachi’s range.
  • As the Blackburn area grows, there will be more pressure for a daily London service.
  • Some think, the Calderdale route should be electrified.
  • Preston and Blackburn stations are just twelves miles apart.
  • There is a multiple unit depot at Blackburn.
  • I also feel that battery electric trains fanning out from Blackburn, wouldn’t do the town’s image any harm.

For all these reasons, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a short stretch of electrification added between Preston and Blackburn.

Conclusion

I like this proposal and it could be a big asset to trains across the Pennines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 27, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments