The Anonymous Widower

Bristol Temple Meads Station – 28th July 2020

I took these pictures of Bristol Temple Meads station, when I visited.

Note.

  1. The station is Listed to the highest level of Grade 1.
  2. London services seem to use Platforms 15 and 16.
  3. There is quite a fair bit of space between the tracks.

.Do Network Rail need all the hassle of full electrification of one of Brunel’s most famous creations?

Bristol Temple Meads Station And Trains With a Battery Capability

Hitachi’s Class 800 train with a battery electric capability or Regional Battery Train, is described in this infographic from the company.

The proposed 90 km or 56 mile range would even be sufficient take a train between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads stations on a return trip. So this means that one of these trains could work the London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads stations service via Bath Spa using the electrification between London Paddington and Chippenham stations.

But where could trains reach, if they were able to leave Bristol Temple Meads station with a fully-charged battery?

  • Bristol Parkway – 6 miles
  • Cardiff Central – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Cheltenham Spa – 41 miles
  • Filton Abbey Wood – 4 miles
  • Gloucester – 39 miles
  • Newport – 5 miles to the electrified Great Western Main Line.
  • Severn Beach – 13.5 miles
  • Taunton – 45 miles
  • Westbury – 28.5 miles
  • Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles

Note.

  1. Return trips to Bristol Parkway, Filton Abbey Wood, Severn Beach and Western-super-Mare would be possible.
  2. The other destinations will need charging facilities.

Other local destinations could be added as the Bristol Metro develops.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The curving nature of the platforms doesn’t make 25 KVAC overhead electrification easy.
  2. Trains to and from London appear to use the two Eastern platforms 13 and 15.
  3. It might be possible to increase platform lengths to run longer trains to and from places like London.

I believe that there are three possible ways of charging the trains in Bristol Temple Meads station.

25  KVAC Overhead Electrification

This could be short length of standard 25 KVAC overhead electrification in platforms, that would be served by trains with pantographs like the Class 800 trains.

The driver would stop in the correct place in the platform and connect the pantograph, whilst waiting in the station.

Note that the Class 800 trains to and from London typically take 35-20 minutes to turn round, which is time enough for a full charge.

750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification

This could be short lengths of standard 750 VDC third-rail electrification in platforms, that would be used by standard third-rail shoes on trains.

The train would connect automatically and charging would take place, whilst waiting in the station.

A Specialist Charging Facility Like Vivarail’s Fast Charge System

Vivarail’s Fast Charging system is described in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

This extract from this Vivarail press release explains how the system works.

he concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

I believe that this system or something like it could be adapted to work with all trains with a battery capability in the UK.

I also believe that this system can be designed so that it is ultra-safe and doesn’t disrupt, the visual impact of the station.

Conclusion

Bristol Temple Meads station could be converted into a station, where a high proportion of trains ran solely on electricity.

 

 

 

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Could Hitachi’s Class 800 Trains Work The Cornish Main Line On Battery Power?

The distance between Plymouth and Penzance stations along the Cornish Main Line is just seventy-nine miles and thirty-eight chains. I’ll call it 79.5 miles.

Hitachi’s proposed train is described in this infographic.

The range on battery power of 90 km or 56 miles, will not be quite enough to get all the way between Plymouth and Penzance!

But note the phrase – Allows Discontinuous Electrification; at the top of the infographic.

Will Electrification Be Needed?

Obviously or the train could perhaps wait at Truro for ten minutes to charge the batteries.

But how customer-unfriendly and disruptive to good operating practice is that?

Could Bigger Batteries Be Fitted?

This obviously is a possibility, but surely an operator would prefer all of their trains to have the same battery range and updating them all for a longer distance might not be an economic proposition.

Could Intelligent Discontinuous Third-Rail Electrification Be Used?

Third-rail electrification, is hated by the Health & Safety Taliban, as it occasionally kills people trespassing or falling on the railway. But in the UK, we have around 1,500 miles of third-rail electrified line, that generally operates to a high level of safety.

Can my modern successors make third-rail electrification absolutely safe in new installations?

Third-Rail And Discontinuous Electrification Installations!

To connect to overhead electrification, the driver or an automatic system on the train, must raise the pantograph. It doesn’t often go wrong, but when it does, it can bring down the wires. This section on panotograph weaknesses from Wikipedia give more details.

With third-rail, the connection and disconnection is automatic, with far less to go wrong.

These pictures show a gap in the third-rail electrification at the Blackfriars station, which was rebuilt in 2012, so it must meet all modern regulations.

Note the gap in the third-rail, which carries the current.

  • The third-rail shoes on the train disconnect and connect automatically, as the train passes through.
  • The only rails with voltage are between the tracks for safety.
  • The high-tech shields appear to be real tree wood painted yellow.

As an Electrical Engineer, I actually suspect, that this gap in the conductor rail, is to isolate the North and South London electricity supplies from each other,, so that a catastrophic failure on one side doesn’t affect both halves of Thameslink.

Third-Rail Electrification In Stations

Most rail passengers in the UK, understand third-rail electrification, if they’ve ever used trains in the South of London or Merseyside.

Electrifying stations using third-rail equipment could enable battery trains to go further.

  • Stopping trains could top-up their batteries.
  • Passing trains, that were low on power could make a pit-stop.
  • All trains would connect automatically to the third-rail, when in the station.

The safety level would be raised by making sure that the third-rail was electrically-dead unless a train was over the top.

I am by training a Control Engineer and one of my first jobs in a dangerous factory as a fifteen-year-old,  was designing and building safety systems, that cut power to guillotines, when the operator put their hands somewhere they shouldn’t! I remember endlessly testing the system with an old broom, which survived unscathed.

I believe that only switching on the electrification, when a train completes the circuit, is a fairly simple operation for modern control switchgear. I can imagine an intelligent switch constantly monitoring the resistance  and only switching on power, when the resistance in the circuit looks like a train.

Third-Rail Electrification In Discrete Locations

Overhead electrification can receive complaints in scenic locations, but third-rail electrification can be invisible in tunnels and over bridges and viaducts.

The Cornish Main Line has four tunnels, two bridges, which include the Royal Albert Bridge, and no less than thirty-two viaducts.

How many of these could be used to hide electrification?

  • Any electrified sections could be intelligently controlled to increase safety.
  • Power for the electrification could come from local renewable sources, using techniques like Riding Sunbeams.

I can see engineers developing several techniques for discrete electrification.

Third-Rail And Charging Battery Trains

I like the Vivarail’s Fast Charge concept of using third-rail equipment to charge battery trains.

This press release from the company describes how they charge their battery electric Class 230 trains.

  • The system is patented.
  • The system uses a trickle-charged battery pack, by the side of the track to supply the power.
  • The first system worked with the London Underground 3rd and 4th rail electrification standard.

As the length of rails needed to be added at charging points is about a metre, installing a charging facility in a station, will not be the largest of projects.

Under How Does It Work?, the press release says this.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoe-gear connects with the sections of charging rail. The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

As an electrical engineer, I’m certain the concept could be adapted to charge the batteries of a conventional third-rail train.

Vivarail’s press release says this about modification to the trains.

The train’s shoe-gear is made of ceramic carbon so it is able to withstand the heat generated during the fast charge process.

That wouldn’t be a major problem to solve.

Hitachi And Third Rail

The picture shows a Hitachi Class 395 train at Gillingham station.

 

The silver-coloured  third-rail equipment is clearly visible, under the javelin logo.

These trains are cousins of all the new Hitachi trains in the UK, so I suspect fitting third-rail equipment to Class 80x trains, is just a matter of finding the appropriate documents on the computer and raiding the parts bin.

I suspect, as Hitachi will probably be building some more trains for Southeastern to start the Highspeed service between London St. Pancras and Hastings, that Hitachi are already working on the design of a third-rail high-speed train with batteries.

I doubt that Hitachi have any fears about fitting third-rail gear to their trains, as an optional extra.

Electrifying Between Plymouth And Penzance

Obviously, Plymouth and Penzance stations would have charging facilities, but now many would the trains handle the 79.5 miles in between?

There are three possibilities.

Limited-Third Rail Electrification

As I indicated earlier short lengths of intelligent third-rail electrification could be added at various places on the route.

A full battery would take the train fifty-six miles and as the Cornish Main Line is nearly eighty miles long, I suspect that the train would need almost a full charge halfway along the route.

  • Hitachi claim in the infographic, that a full-charge takes 10-15 minutes, when the train is static, so I will assume the largest figure of this range, as charging on the move might not be as efficient, with everything happening at 90 mph.
  • So I will assume a fifteen minute charge time.
  • Typically, a Class 80x takes two hours between Penzance and Plymouth, which is an average speed of just 40 mph.
  • In fifteen minutes, the train will go ten miles. So a rough estimate would say ten miles should be electrified.

As electrification in stations would allow trains to have a bigger sup, a scientifically-correct simulation would show the best philosophy.

The London Paddington and Penzance services call at the following stations, that are West of Plymouth.

Liskeard, Saltash, St. Germans, Bodmin Parkway, Lostwithiel, Par, St Austell, Truro, Redruth, Camborne, Hayle and St Erth

Note.

  1. Some smaller stations do get skipped.
  2. According to Real Time Trains, stops seem to take 1-2 minutes.
  3. Trains are usually nine- or ten-cars, but I feel that the proposed improvements between Bodmin General and Bodmin Parkway stations, that I wrote about in Increased Service Provision Bodmin General-Bodmin Parkway, may result in a large reorganisation of services between London and Cornwall.

Could it be that electrifying the major stations with third-rail electrification would enable enough power to be taken on board by a train running between London Paddington and Penzance, so that the journey could be completed?

Vivarail Fast Chargers

Vivarail’s Fast Chargers could be fitted at all or selected stations and trains could take a sip as and when they need.

A charger would also be needed at any Cornish terminal station, that would have services from battery electric trains.

A Mixture Of Third-Rail Electrification And Vivarail Fast Chargers

Both technologies are interchangeable and can be used with compatible battery electric trains.

I would expect an accurate mathematical model will indicate the best layout of electrification and Fast Chargers.

 

July 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement Of The Beverley And York Rail Line

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

The York And Beverley Line does what it says in the name.

A section in the Wikipedia entry is entitled Re-Opening Proposals and the treatment of the trackbed after closure would appear to be a case study in how not to mothball a railway.

  • The original route has been built on in several places at Huntingdon, New Earswick, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge.
  • A new route will have to be built to connect to the York and Scarborough Line at Haxby.
  • There may also be problems at Beverley.

The only positive thing I can see, is that York City Council, want to re-open Haxby station. If this station were to be re-opened with a future-proofed design that might help in the wider scheme of reopening the Beverley and York Line.

This Google Map shows the original location of Haxby station.

Note.

  1. There is a dreaded level crossing in the middle of the village, that typically has around two trains per hour (tph)
  2. The road going to the West at the top of the map, is called Station Road, which is a bit of a giveaway.
  3. The building on the triangular site is called Station garage.
  4. Some reports on the Internet say that allotments will be turned into car parks.
  5. According to Wikipedia 22,000 people live within three miles of the station site.

The station site appears to be hemmed in by housing and comments from readers on one report are complaining about car parking being a problem an definitely don’t want the station.

Wikipedia says this about the proposed service on the Beverley and York Line.

The report recommended reinstating a service from Hull via Beverley, Market Weighton, Stamford Bridge and Pocklington connecting to the York to Scarborough Line at Haxby, on a double track line with a frequency of 2 trains per hour, with intermediate stations only at Market Weighton, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge. The estimate journey time was under 1 hour.

As the Beverley and York Line can’t join the York and Scarborough Line in the middle of Haxby, would it join North or South of the town?

Joining to the North would allow the Beverley trains to call at Haxby, but that would mean the level crossing was busy with six tph.

This Google Map shows the countryside between Haxby in the North and Earswick in the South.

Note.

  1. The York and Scarborough Line going through the centre of Haxby and then passing down the West side of the light brown fields.
  2. York is to the South and Scarborough is to the North.

I wonder, if the Beverley and York Line could branch to the East here and skirt to the North of Earswick before continuing to Pocklington for Beverley.

Perhaps, a Park-and-Ride station could be situated, where the railway and the road called Landing Lane cross?

At Beverley, this Google Map shows how the Beverley and York Line connects to the station.

Note.

  1. Beverley station at the bottom of the map.
  2. The Hull and Scarborough running North-South through the station.

The line divides by Beverley Rugby Football Club, with the trackbed of the Beverley and York Line going off in the North-Westerly direction.

This seems a lot easier than at the York end of the route.

I have flown my virtial helicopter over much of the route between Beverley and York, and the trackbed is visible but missing in places, where construction has taken place.

Would The Route Be Single Or Double-Track?

The plans call for double track, but would it be necessary?

  • There will only be two tph, that will take under an hour.
  • No freight trains will use the line.
  • The route is 32 miles long.

I suspect a single track would suffice, with a passing loop at Market Weighton station.

Should The Line Be Electrified?

I wouldn’t electrify the whole line, but I would electrify the following.

  • Hull and Beverley, so that battery trains to and from London could top up their batteries.
  • Haxby and York, so that battery trains to and from Scarborough could top up their batteries.

These two short stretches of electrification would allow battery electric operation between Hull and York, trains could charge their batteries at either end of the route.

Electrification Between Hull And Beverley

Consider.

  • Hull Trains extend their London and Hull services to Beverley.
  • Hull and Beverley are just over eight miles apart.
  • Trains to and from London Kings Cross use the electrification on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Temple Hirst Junction.
  • Hull and Temple Hirst Junction are thirty-six miles apart.
  • Hull Trains and LNER use Hitachi Class 800 or Class 802 electro-diesel trains on services between London Kings Cross and Hull.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric conversion of these trains, would have a range of 56 miles, according to this infographic.

I have flown my helicopter along the route and counted the following.

 

  • Level crossings – 5
  • Modern road bridges – 5
  • Footbridges – 5
  • Other bridges – 5
  • Stations – 1

Nothing looked too challenging.

In my view electrification between Hull and Beverley and at convenient platforms at both stations, would be a simple way of decarbonising rail travel between London and Hull.

If this electrification were to be installed, distances from the electrification between Hull and Beverley, these would be the distances to be covered on battery power to various places.

  • Bridlington – 23 miles
  • Doncaster via Goole – 41 miles
  • Leeds – 52 miles
  • Neville Hill Depot – 49 miles
  • Scarborough – 45 miles
  • York – 52 miles

Note.

  1. All of these places would be in range of a fully-charged Hitachi battery electric train running to and from Hull.
  2. Of the destinations, only Bridlington and Scarborough, is not a fully-electrified station.
  3. One of the prerational problems in the area, is that due to a lack of electrification to the East of Neville Hall Depot, electric trains from York and Hull have difficulty reaching the depot. Trains with a battery capability won’t have this problem.
  4. Hull and Beverley and a lot of stations in the area, would only be served by electric trains, with a battery capability.

There would be a large decrease in pollution and emissions caused by passenger trains in the area.

Electrification Between Haxby And York

Consider.

  • York and Haxby are 4 miles apart.
  • York and Scarborough are 42 miles apart.
  • York and Beverley are 32 miles apart.

Note that unlike at Beverley, there is no need to electrify the end of the route, as trains can be charged in the turnround at York.

With a charging facility at Scarborough, the Class 802 trains of TransPennine Express could work this route if fitted with batteries.

Could Lightweight Electrification Be Used?

Electrification gantries like these have been proposed for routes, where the heavy main-line gantries would be too intrusive.

They could have a place in the rebuilding of lines like Beverley and York.

Trains Between York And Beverley

The UK’s railways need to be decarbonised before 2040.

As a train delivered today, would probably last forty years, I think it would be prudent to only introduce zero-carbon trains to the network, where they are able to run the proposed services.

There is no doubt in my mind, that all these local services in East Yorkshire could be run using battery-electric trains with a 56 mile range.

  • Hull and Doncaster
  • Hull and Leeds
  • Hull and Neville Hill Depot
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York via Beverley and Market Weighton
  • Hull and York via Selby
  • York and Scarborough

The only electrification needed would be as follows.

Electrification between Hull and Beverley.

Electrification of some platforms at Beverley and Hull stations.

Some form of charging at Scarborough.

Charging may also be needed at Bridlington station.

The trains needed for the route seem to fit Hitachi’s specification well and a Class 385 train to the following specification, would do a highly capable job.

  • Three or four-cars.
  • Batteries for a 56 mile range.
  • 90-100 mph operating speed.

I’m also sure that Bombardier, CAF and Stadler could also provide a suitable train.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used?

I feel that they could be used successfully and might enable cost savings on the substantial rebuilding of the route needed.

  • Lighter weight structures.
  • Single track with passing places.
  • Tramway electrification or battery.
  • Less vidual intrusion.
  • The service could also have more stops.

Perhaps too, it could go walkabout in Hull City Centre to take passengers to and from Hull station.

Conclusion

It is rebuilding the tracks between Beverley and York, that will be difficult in the reopening of this line, which with hindsight should have not been vandalised by British Rail.

But even, if the Beverley and York Line is not re-opened, it does look that if Beverley and Hull were to be electrified, it would enable a network of battery electric zero-carbon trains in East Yorkshire and allow battery electric trains to run between Kings Cross and Hull.

 

 

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Electrifying Wales

I would not be surprised to learn that Wales wants to decarbonise their railways.

At present, Wales only has the following electrified railways either in operation or under construction.

  • The South Wales Main Line between the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.
  • The South Wales Metro based on local railways around Cardiff and Newport is being created and will be run by electric trains.

There is no more electrification planned in the future.

Hitachi’s Specification For Battery Electric Trains

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic for their Regional Battery Train.

This gives all the information about the train and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

The Welsh Rail Network

If you look at the network of services that are run by Transport for Wales Rail Services, they connect a series of hub stations.

Major hubs include the following stations.

  • Cardiff Central – Electrified
  • Chester
  • Hereford
  • Shrewsbury
  • Swansea

Smaller hubs and termini include the following stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Birmingham International – Electrified
  • Birmingham New Street – Electrified
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Carmarthen
  • Crewe – Electrified
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Hereford
  • Holyhead
  • Llandudno Junction
  • Manchester Airport – Electrified
  • Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified
  • Machynlleth
  • Milford Haven
  • Newport – Electrified
  • Pembroke Dock

Running Welsh Routes With Electric Trains

These routes make up the Welsh rail network.

Chester And Crewe

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Crewe and Chester are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Crewe stations.

Chester And Holyhead via Llandudno Junction

Consider.

  • All services between Llandudno Junction and England call at Chester.
  • All services running to and from Holyhead call at Llandudno Junction.
  • The route between Chester and Holyhead is without electrification.
  • Chester and Llandudno Junction are 54 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles can leave Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Holyhead stations.

Chester And Liverpool Lime Street

Consider.

  • The route between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Runcorn is without electrification.
  • Chester and Runcorn are 14 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Runcorn with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations.

Chester And Manchester Airport

Consider.

  • The route between Warrington Bank Quay and Manchester Airport is electrified.
  • The route between Chester and Warrington Bank Quay is without electrification.
  • Chester and Warrington Bank Quay are 18 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Chester and Warrington Bank Quay with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Manchester Airport stations.

Chester And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Chester and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Chester and Shrewsbury are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Chester with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Chester and Shrewsbury stations.

Llandudno And Blaenau Ffestiniog

Consider.

  • The route between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog is without electrification.
  • Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Llandudno and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations.

Machynlleth And Aberystwyth

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Aberystwyth are 21 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of 56 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth stations.

Machynlleth And Pwllheli

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Pwllheli is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Pwllheli are 58 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 58 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Pwllheli with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Pwllheli stations.

Machynlleth And Shrewsbury

Consider.

  • The route between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Machynlleth and Shrewsbury with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury stations.

Shrewsbury and Birmingham International

Consider.

  • The route between Birmingham International and Wolverhampton is electrified.
  • The route between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton are 30 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.

 Shrewsbury And Cardiff Central via Hereford

Consider.

  • All services between Cardiff Central and Shrewsbury call at Hereford.
  • The route between Cardiff Central and Newport is electrified.
  • The route between Newport and Shrewsbury is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Hereford are 51 miles apart.
  • Hereford and Newport are 44 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Hereford and Newport with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Cardiff Central stations.

Shrewsbury And Crewe

  • The route between Shrewsbury and Crewe is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Crewe are 33 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train with a range of upwards of 61 miles, can leave Shrewsbury and Crewe with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Crewe stations.

Shrewsbury and Swansea

Consider.

  • The Heart of Wales Line between Shrewsbury and Swansea is without electrification.
  • Shrewsbury and Swansea are 122 miles apart.
  • Trains cross at Llandrindod and wait for up to eleven minutes, so there could be time for a charge.
  • Shrewsbury and Llandrindod are 52 miles apart.
  • Swansea and Llandrindod are 70 miles apart.

It appears that another charging station between Swansea and Llandrindod is needed

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Shrewsbury, Swansea and the other charging station, with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Shrewsbury and Swansea stations.

Swansea And Cardiff Central

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Cardiff Central is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Cardiff Central are 46 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Cardiff Central with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Cardiff Central stations.

Swansea And Carmarthen

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Carmarthen is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea and Carmarthen with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Carmarthen stations.

Swansea And Fishguard Harbour

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Fishguard Harbour are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Fishguard Harbour are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Fishguard Harbour with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Fishguard Harbour stations.

Swansea And Milford Haven

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Milford Haven is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Milford Haven are 72 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Milford Haven are 41 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Milford Haven with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Milford Haven stations.

Swansea And Pembroke Dock

Consider.

  • The route between Swansea and Pembroke Dock is without electrification.
  • Swansea and Pembroke Dock are 73 miles apart.
  • Tramins could top up the batteries during the reverse at Carmathen.
  • Swansea and Carmarthen are 31 miles apart.
  • Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock are 42 miles apart.

I believe that if a battery-electric train, with a range of 56 miles, can leave Swansea, Carmathen and Pembroke Dock with full batteries, that it will be possible to run between Swansea and Pembroke Dock stations.

Other Routes

I have not covered these routes.

  • Borderlands Line
  • Cardiff Valley Lines, that will be part of the South Wales Metro
  • Routes on the electrified South Wales Main Line, that are to the East of Cardiff.

The first will run between Chester and the electrified Merseyrail system and the others will be electrified, except for short stretches.

Stations Where Trains Would Be Charged

These stations will need charging facilities.

Aberystwyth

Aberystwyth station only has a single terminal platform.

I’ve not been to the station, but looking at pictures on the Internet, I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems.

Birmingham International

Birmingham International station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Blaenau Fflestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog station has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Cardiff

Cardiff station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Chester

Chester station has two through platforms and one bay platform, that are used by Trains for Wales.

  • The through platforms are bi-directional.
  • The bay platform is used by services from Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Airport and Piccadilly.
  • The station is a terminus for Merseyrail’s electric trains, which use 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • Some through services stop for up to seven minutes in the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

The simplest way to charge trains at Chester would be to electrify the two through platforms 3 and 4 and the bay platform 1.

I would use 750 VDC third-rail, rather than 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

I have a vague recollection, that there is an avoiding line at Chester station, so trains can go straight through. Perhaps that should be electrified too.

Carmarthen

Carmarthen station is a two platform station, with a rather unusual layout, that I wrote about in Changing Trains At Carmarthen Station.

I took these pictures when I passed through in 2016.

Note the unusual step-free crossing of the tracks.

This Google Map shows the layout at the station.

I believe it is another station, where third-rail electrification could be the solution.

  • Most trains seem to reverse at the station, which gives time for a full charge.
  • Others terminate here.

but would they still allow passengers to cross the line as they do now, whilst trains are being charged?

Crewe

Crewe station is fully-electrified.

  • Trains for Wales seem to use Platform 6 for through trains and the bay Platform 9 for terminating trains.
  • Both platforms appear to be electrified.
  • Terminating trains appear to wait at least 9-11 minutes before leaving.

It does appear that Crewe station is ready for battery-electric trains.

Fishguard Harbour

Fishguard Harbour station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Hereford

Hereford station has four through platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As with Chester, I would electrify this station with 750 VDC third-rail equipment.

But the electrification wouldn’t be just for train services in Wales.

  • West Midlands Trains, run an hourly service to Birmingham New Street and there is only a forty-one mile gap in the electrification between Hereford and Bromsgrove.
  • Great Western Railway’s service to London, has a massive ninety-six mile run to the electrification at Didcot Junction, which could be bridged by installing charging facilities at Worcestershire Parkway and/or Honeybourne stations.

Both services have generous turnround times at Hereford, so would be able to leave fully-charged.

Distances from Hereford station are as follows.

  • Abergavenny – 24 miles
  • Bromsgrove – 41 miles
  • Great Malvern – 21 miles
  • Honeybourne – 48 miles
  • Ludlow – 13 miles
  • Newport – 44 miles
  • Shrewsbury – 51 miles
  • Worcester Parkway – 33 miles

Hereford station could be a serious battery-electric train hub.

Holyhead

Holyhead station has three terminals platforms.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Liverpool Lime Street

Liverpool Lime Street station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Llandrindod

Llandrindod station has two through platforms.

I took these pictures at the station as I passed through in 2016.

The Heart of Wales Line is certainly a route, that would benefit from larger trains. Zero-carbon battery-electric trains would surely fit well in the area.

This Google Map shows the station.

It would appear that, it is another station, that could be fitted with third-rail electrification to charge the trains.

Distances from Llandrindod station are as follows.

  • Shrewsbury – 52 miles
  • Llandovery – 27 miles
  • Llanelli – 59 miles
  • Swansea – 70 miles

It would appear that a second station with charging facilities or bigger batteries are needed.

Llandudno Junction

Llandudno Junction station has four platforms.

This Google Map shows the station.

There is plenty of space.

As at Chester, the simple solution would be to electrify the platforms used by trains, that will need charging.

Butb there may also be a wider plan.

Llandudno Junction station is at the Western end of a string of five closely-spaced stations with Prestatyn station in the East.

  • Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn are eight miles apart.
  • Trains take twenty-three minutes to pass through this section.
  • Some trains do a detour to Llandudno station before continuing.
  • For part of the route, the railway lies between the dual-carriageway A55 road and the sea.

So why not electrify this section of railway between Llandudno Junction and Prestatyn stations?

  • Either 750 VDC this-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Prestatyn and Chester are 46 miles apart.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead are 40 miles apart.

If third-rail electrification were to be used, it might be advantageous to electrify to Llandudno station.

  • It would be less intrusive.
  • It would be quieter in an urban area.
  • It would give the trains to Blaenau Ffestiniog trains a good charge.

But above all third-rail electrification might cost a bit less and cause less disruption to install.

Machynlleth

Machynlleth station is where the Aberystwyth and Pwllheli services split and join.

This Google Map shows the station.

Consider.

  • There is a train depot by the station.
  • Will there be a good power supply at the station to charge the trains?
  • Machnylleth and Pwllhelli are 58 miles apart.
  • Machynlleth and Shrewsbury are 61 miles apart.

I think that Machynlleth might be pushing things too far, without extra stations with charging facilities.

One solution might be to develop the Riding Sunbeams concept and electrify the route between Newtown and Dovey Junction via Machynlleth, using third-rail technology powered-by solar or wind power.

Another solution would be batteries with a larger capacity.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Manchester Piccadilly

Manchester Piccadilly station is fully-electrified and ready for battery-electric trains.

Milford Haven

Milford Haven station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pembroke Dock

Pembroke Dock station only has a single terminal platform.

My comments would be similar to what, I said for Aberystwyth station. I would hope a standard solution can be developed.

Pwllheli

Pwhelli station is a only has a single terminal platform.

This Google Map shows the location of the station.

The stsation is at the North West corner of the bay.

My first reaction, when I saw this was that I have to go.

So I took a closer look at the station instead.

I suspect that fitting a charging facility into the station, wouldn’t be the most difficult of engineering problems. Although, there might be a problem getting a good enough connection to the National Grid.

Shewsbury

Shrewsbury station is a five-platform station.

This Google Map shows the station’s unusual location over the River Severn.

It must be one of few stations in the world, where trains enter the station from three different directions.

  • From Crewe and Chester to the North.
  • From Hereford and Wales to the South.
  • From Birmingham and Wolverhampton in the East.

Adding electrification to all or selected platforms should allow trains to recharge and be on their way.

  • Under current timetables, dwell times in Shrewsbury are up to eight minutes.
  • I would suspect the train times could be adjusted, so that trains left the station with full batteries.

With battery-electric services to Aberystwyth, Birmingham International, Birmingham New Street, Cardiff Central, Chester, Crewe, Hereford, Holyhead, London Euston, Manchester, Pwllheli and Swansea, it will be a very important station.

Swansea

Swansea station has four terminal platforms.

A charging facility could be added to an appropriate number of platforms.

Or perhaps, the last few miles of track into the station should be electrified, so trains could charge on the way in, charge in the station and charge on the way out.

Third Rail Electrification

I have suggested in this post, that 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used in several places.

I will repeat what I said earlier, when discussing Chester station.

  • I’m an engineer, who deals in scientifically-correct solutions, not politically-correct ones, devised by jobsworths.
  • Maintenance staff at the station will be familiar with the technology.
  • Station staff and passengers will know about the dangers of third-rail electrification.
  • Trains connect and disconnect automatically to third-rail electrification.
  • Trains don’t have to stop to connect and disconnect, so passing trains can be topped-up.
  • Hitachi with the Class 395 train and Alstom with the Class 373 train, have shown even trains capable of 140 mph can be fitted with third-rail shoes to work safely at slower speeds on lines electrified using third-rail.
  • Modern control systems can control the electricity to the third-rail, so it is only switched on, when the train completes the circuit.

Third-rail electrification should be seriously considered.

A Standardised Terminal Solution

In this post, I mentioned that the following stations could be powered by a scandalised solution, as they are all one platform, terminal stations.

  • Aberystwyth
  • Blaenau Ffestiniog
  • Fishguard Harbour
  • Holyhead
  • Milford Haven
  • Pembroke Dock
  • Pwllheli

The system might also be applicable at Carmarthen and Swansea.

My view is that Vivarail’s Fast Track charging based on third-rail technology would be ideal. I discussed this technology in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

Conclusion

With a bit of ingenuity, all train services run by Transport for Wales, can be run with battery-electric trains.

 

July 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Northern’s Battery Plans

The title of this post, is half of the title of an article in the March 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

It appears that CAF will convert some three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery-electric trains.

  • A three-car Class 331 train has a formation of DMSOL+PTS+DMSO.
  • A fourth car with batteries will be inserted into the train.
  • Batteries will also be added to the PTS car.
  • The battery-electric trains would be used between Manchester and Windermere.

It looks like a round trip would take three hours including turnarounds, thus meaning three trains would be needed to run the service.

The article says this.

The branch was due to be electrified, but this was cancelled in 2017, and as a result 3×3-car Class 195 trains were ordered. As well as the environmental benefits, introduction of the battery ‘331s’ on Windermere services would free-up ‘195s’ for cascade elsewhere on the Northern network.

Note that the total length or the route is 98 miles of which only the ten miles of the Windermere Branch Line are not electrified.

What Battery Capacity Would Be Needed?

I reckon it will be fine to use a figure of 3 kWh per vehicle-mile to give a rough estimate of the power needed for a return trip from Oxenholme to indermere.

  • Two x Ten Miles x Four Cars x 3 kWh would give 240 kWh.
  • There would also be losses due to the seven stops, although the trains have regenerative braking, to limit losses.

Remember though that CAF have been running battery trams for several years, so I suspect that they have the experience to size the batteries appropriately.

In Thoughts On The Actual Battery Size In Class 756 Trains And Class 398 Tram-Trains, I say that four-car Class 756 trains will have 600 kWh of batteries and a range of 40 miles. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a four-car Class 331 train had similar battery size and range on batteries, as the two trains are competing in the same market, with similar weights and passenger capacities.

Charging The Batteries

The Modern Railways article says this about charging the train’s batteries.

Northern believes battery power would be sufficient for one return trip along the branch without recharging, but as most diagrams currently involve two trips, provision of a recharge facility is likely, with the possibility that this could be located at Windermere or that recharging could take place while the units are in the platform at Oxenholme.

The bay platform 3 at Oxenholme station is already electrified, as this picture shows.

I particularly like Vivarail’s Fast Charging system based on third-rail technology.

A battery bank is connected to the third-rail and switched on, when the train is in contact, so that battery-to-battery transfer can take place.

It’s just like jump-starting a car, but with more power.

This form of charging would be ideal in a terminal station like Windermere.

  • The driver would stop the train in Windermere station in the correct place, for passengers to exit and enter the train.
  • In this position, the contact shoe on the train makes contact with the third-rail, which is not energised..
  • The Fast Charging system detects a train is connected and connects the battery bank to the third-rail.
  • Energy flows between the Fast Charging system’s battery bank and the train’s batteries.
  • When the train’s batteries are full, the Fast Charging system switches itself off and disconnects the third-rail.
  • The third-rail is made electrically dead, when the train has left, so that there is no electrical risk, if someone should fall from the platform.

Note that the only time, the third-rail used to transfer energy is live, there is a four-car train parked on top of it.

When I was eighteen, I was designing and building electronic systems using similar principles to control heavy rolling mills, used to process non-ferrous metals.

Changing Between Overhead Electrification And Battery Power

All trains running between Manchester Airport and Windermere, stop in Platform 3 at Oxenholme station to pick up and put down passengers.

  • Trains going towards Windermere would lower the pantograph and switch to battery power.
  • Trains going towards Mabchester Airport would raise the pantograph and switch to overhead electrification power.

Both changes would take place, whilst the train is stopped in Platform 3 at Oxenholme station.

February 28, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 4 Comments

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work LNER’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains

For this post, I will assume that the train is five  or nine-cars long. This is the length of LNER‘s Class 800 and 801 trains.

LNER’s Services

These are LNER services that run from London to the North of England and Scotland.

I shall go through all the services and see how they would be affected by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train.

London Kings Cross And Edinburgh

  • The service runs at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph)
  • Some services extend to Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness and are discussed in the following sections.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Aberdeen

  • The service runs at a frequency of four trains per day (tpd)
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Inverkeithing, Kirkaldy, Leuchars, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose and Stonehaven.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 394 miles to Haymarket.

The service is 524 miles long and takes seven hours and four minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Inverkeithing – 12 miles – Not Electrified
  • Inverkeithing and Kirkcaldy – 13 miles – Not Electrified
  • Kirkaldy and Leuchars – 25 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leuchars and Dundee – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dundee and Arbroath – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Arbroath and Montrose – 14 miles – Not Electrified
  • Montrose and Stonehaven – 24 miles – Not Electrified
  • Stonehaven and Aberdeen – 16 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles
  2. Dundee and Stonehaven is a distance of 55 miles

So could the service be run with Fast Charging systems at Dundee, Stonehaven and Aberdeen?

I think it could, but the problem would be charging time at Dundee and Stonehaven, as it could add twenty minutes to the journey time and make timetabling difficult on the route.

Perhaps, an alternative would be to electrify a section in the middle of the route to create an electrification island, that could be reached from both Haymarket and Aberdeen.

The obvious section to electrify would be between Dundee and Montrose.

  • It is a distance of 31 miles to electrify.
  • I have flown my virtual helicopter along the route and it could be already gauge-cleared for electrification,
  • Dundee station has been recently rebuilt.
  • Haymarket and Dundee is a distance of 58 miles.
  • Montrose and Aberdeen is a distance of 40 miles.
  • Pantographs could be raised and lowered at Dundee and Montrose stations.

With this electrification and a Fast Charging system at Aberdeen, I believe that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train could run between London Kings Cross and Aberdeen.

As an alternative to the Fast Charging system at Aberdeen, the route of Aberdeen Crossrail between Aberdeen and Inverurie could be electrified.

  • This would enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to run between Inverurie and Montrose.
  • The route through Aberdeen is newly-built, so should be gauge-cleared and reasonably easy to electrify.

It should also be noted that if battery-electric trains can run between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, then these services are also possible, using the same trains.

  • Glasgow and Aberdeen
  • Stirling and Aberdeen

All passenger services  between Scotland’s Cenreal Belt and Aberdeen appear to be possible using battery-electric trains

London Kings Cross And Stirling

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Inverness

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamstown, Stirling, Gleneagles, Perth, Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore.
  • Currently, the electrification goes 429 miles to Stirling, but I have read that the Scottish government would like to see it extended to Perth, which is 462 miles from London.

The service is 581 miles long and takes eight hours and six minutes.

To ascertain, if the Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train, could run this route, I’ll display the various sections of the route.

  • London Kings Cross and Haymarket – 394 miles – Electrified
  • Haymarket and Falkirk Grahamsrown – 23 miles – Electrified
  • Falkirk Grahamsrown and Stirling – 11 miles – Electrified.
  • Stirling and Gleneagles – 17 miles – Not Electrified
  • Gleneagles and Perth –  16 miles – Not Electrified
  • Perth and Pitlochry – 28 miles – – Not Electrified
  • Pitlochry and Kingussie – 44 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Kingussie and Aviemore – 12 miles – Not Rlectrified.
  • Aviemore and Inverness – 34 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The distance between Dunblane, where the electrification actually finishes and Perth is only 28 miles, which shouldn’t be too challenging.
  2. All the sections North of Perth are well within range of a fully charged train.
  3. Some sections of the route are challenging. Look at the video I published in Edinburgh to Inverness in the Cab of an HST.
  4. Hitachi run diesel Class 800 trains to Inverness, so they must know the power required and the battery size to run between Perth and Inverness.

I also believe that the Scottish Government, ScotRail, the Highland tourist industry and Hitachi, would all put their endeavours behind a project to get battery-electric trains between Perth and Inverness.

It would send a powerful message, that if battery-electric trains can run on one of the most scenic rail lines in the world without electrification, then nowhere is out of reach of battery trains.

Looking at the figures, I am convinced that a series of Fast Charging systems at stations like Pitlochry, Kingussie and Aviemore could supply enough power to allow a nine-car version of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train to work the route.

This battery-electrification, would also enable battery-electric Class 385 trains to work the route.

If all this sounds a bit fanciful and over ambitious, read the history of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, which brought electricity to the area in the 1940s and 1950s.

This battery-electrification is a small project compared to what the Hydro-Electric Board achieved.

I can see a time, when similar techniques allow battery-electric trains to run these lines from Inverness.

  • Far North Line – 174 miles
  • Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh – 82 miles
  • Inverness and Aberdeen – 108 miles

The Far North Line would probably need two or three Fast Charging systems at intermediate stations, but the other lines would probably only need one system, somewhere in the middle.

I think that this analysis for London and Inverness shows that all parts of England, Scotland and Wales can be served by modern battery-electric trains.

It would also appear that the cost of the necessary Fast Charging systems, would be much more affordable than full electrification, North of Perth.

I estimate that less than a dozen Fast Charging systems would be needed, North of Perth.

  • Some electrification might be needed in Inverness station.
  • Electrification between Inverurie and Aberdeen could help.
  • There’s no shortage of zero-carbon electricity from wind and hydro-electric power.

A couple of years ago, I speculated in a post called London To Thurso Direct.

Could it happen on a regular basis in the summer months?

London Kings Cross And Leeds

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Harrogate

  • The service runs at a frequency of six tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Harrogate is a distance of nineteen miles and is not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Leeds to Harrogate and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification at and around Leeds.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Bradford Foster Square

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Bradford Forster Square is a distance of fourteen miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Skipton

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
  • Leeds and Skipton is a distance of twenty-six miles and electrified.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Lincoln

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per two hours (1tp2h)
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
  • Newark North Gate and Lincoln is a distance of sixteen miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Newark North Gate to Lincoln and back, using battery power alone.
  • Batteries will be charged using the electrification between Newark North Gate and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And York

  • The service runs at a frequency of 1tp2h
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

London Kings Cross And Hull

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tpd
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate, Retford and Doncaster
  • Temple Hirst Junction and Hull is a distance of thirty-six miles and not electrified.
  • Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric Class AT-300 train should be able to go from Temple Hirst Junction and Hull and back, using battery power and a Fast Charger system at Hull.
  • Batteries will also be charged using the electrification between Temple Hirst Junction and London Kings Cross.

This service can be run totally using the existing electrification.

Consider.

  • The train runs seventy-two miles to get to Hull and back on lines without electrification..
  • Hitachi state that the trains maximum range on battery power is sixty-five miles.
  • Hull Trains and TransPennine Express also run similar trains on this route, that will need charging at Hull.

So rather than installing a Fast Charging system at Hull, would it be better to do one of the following.

  • Create a battery-electric AT-300 train with a bigger battery and a longer range. A One-Size-Fits-All could be better.
  • However, the larger battery would be an ideal solution for Hull Trains, who also have to reverse and go on to Beverley.
  • Electrify the last few miles of track into Hull. I don’t like this as electrifying stations can be tricky and getting power might be difficult!
  • Electrify between Temple Hirst Junction and Selby station and whilst this is done, build a solution to the problem of the swing bridge. Power for the electrification can be taken from the East Coast Main Line.

I’m sure a compromise between train battery size and electrification can be found, that creates a solution, that is acceptable to the accountants.

Conclusion

I think it could be possible, that LNER could use a fleet of all-electric and battery-electric AT-300 trains.

 

 

 

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Hull Trains’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains.

For this post, I will assume that the train is five cars long. This is the length of Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains.

Recently, Hitachi have released this infographic.

This seems to give the same information and a definitive range of 90 km or 56 miles.

Hull Trains’s Services

Hull Trains run a train between Kings Cross and Hull, with some trains extending to Beverley.

  • The service runs at a frequency of five trains per day (tpd) to Hull station and two tpd to Beverley station.
  • Intermediate stations are Stevenage, Grantham, Retford, Doncaster, Selby, Howden, Brough and Cottingham

The Beverley service is 213 miles long and takes three hours and seven minutes.

These are facts about the operation of the service.

  • The train changes between diesel and electric operation at Temple Hirst Junction, which is on the electrified East Coast Main Line.
  • Temple Hirst Junction is forty-four miles from Beverley and thirty-six miles from Hull.
  • Trains to and from Beverley reverse at Hull and and are allowed eighteen minutes for the operation.
  • This reverse at Hull is enough time to charge the train’s batteries using a Fast-Charging system.

As these trains could have a range of at least fifty-five miles on battery power, is there any point to bother with diesel?

Could Hull Trains and TransPennineExpress Share A Fast-Charger?

In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?, I said this about their Manchester Piccadilly and Hull service.

As with the Scarborough and Redcar Central services, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Hull.

As Hull Trains and TransPennine Express are both First Group companies, I would assume they would share amicably!

But would they allow LNER’s Azumas to use their Fast-Charger?

Could Hull Station Go Zero-Carbon?

If all the Hitachi trains used by Hull Trains, LNER and TransPrnnine Express were to use battery power to run between Hull station and the nearest electrification, the only diesel trains using the station would be Northern‘s assortment.

Northern run services through or to Hull as follows.

  • Sheffield and Hull
  • Sheffield and Bridlington
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York

All services have a frequency of around one train per hour.

These services could be run by either battery-electric or hydrogen-electric trains.

Hull station is also a big bus interchange, so these would need to be converted to electric or hydrogen.

I’m sure iTM Power not far away in Sheffield, would be happy to provide a hydrogen system to fuel the buses and the trains.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that if a Fast-Charging system, were to be fitted at Hull and used during reverse or turnround at the station, that a Class 802 train fitted with batteries could work Hull Train’s service without using a drop of diesel.

I can just see the advertising – Hull Trains – Your carbon-free way between London and Hull!

It wouldn’t even need any electrification, other than the Fast-Charging system at Hull.

I also believe that Hull station and the co-located bus station could go carbon-free.

 

February 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out the battery-electric train’s specification.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • Trains are designed to be created by conversion of existing Class 80x trains

For this post, I will assume that the train is five cars long. This is the length of TransPennine Express’s Class 802 trains.

TransPennine Express’s Services

These are TransPennine Express services that run in the North of England and to Scotland.

I shall go through all the services and see how they would be affected by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

Liverpool Lime Street And Edinburgh

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • Intermediate stations are Newton-le-Willows, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Leeds, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth

The service is 305 miles long and takes four hours and 25 minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 220 miles – Electrified

Note that the distance between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, which is the only section of the route without electrification is sixty-three miles, which is just within the 55-65 mile battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

That is too close for my liking, as what happens, if the train gets delayed by an operational incident.

In this article on the BBC, which was published in August 2019 and is entitled Detailed TransPennine £2.9bn Rail Upgrade Plans Unveiled, the following is said.

  • The route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will be electrified.
  • Parts of this route will have two extra tracks.
  • The plans will be going to full consultation, later in the year.

This would mean that a route summary would be like this.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Colton Junction – 29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 220 miles – Electrified

The two sections without electrification are well within the 55-65 mile battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery electric train.

It should also be noted that the electrification between Newcastle and Edinburgh is rather down on power and needs upgrading.

I would suspect that Hitachi’s proposed battery electric train could handle this power deficiency by using the batteries.

Liverpool Lime Street And Scarborough

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Lea Green, Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Garforth, York, Malton and Seamer

The service is 142 miles long and takes two hours and 58 minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and York – 6 miles – Electrified
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles – Not Electrified

Between Liverpool Lime Street and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh service.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that a route summary would be like this.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Victoria – 32 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Electrified
  • Dewsbury and and Colton Junction – 29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and York – 6 miles – Electrified
  • York and Scarborough – 42 miles – Not Electrified

As Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train has a range of 55-65 miles on battery power, it looks to me that this service could be handled by the train.

It would need a Fast Charging system at Scarborough to recharge the batteries to be able to return to York.

But, as the timetable allows a generous turn-round, fully-charging the batteries shouldn’t be a problem.

Manchester Airport And Newcastle

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and Chester-le-Street

The service is 162 miles long and takes three hours and one minute.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Edinburgh – 86 miles – Electrified

Between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the two Liverpool Lime Street services, that I discussed previously.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train could handle this route with ease.

Manchester Airport And Redcar Central

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Gatley, Manchester Piccadilly, Manchester Oxford Road, Manchester Victoria, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Leeds, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Yarm, Thornaby and Middlesbrough

The service is 162 miles long and takes three hours and fifteen minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Manchester Victoria – 13 miles – Electrified
  • Manchester Victoria and Huddersfield  – 26 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Colton Junction – 20 miles – Not Electrified
  • Colton Junction and Northallerton – 35 miles – Electrified
  • Northallerton and Redcar Central – 29 miles – Not Electrified

Between Manchester Victoria and Colton Junction, the route is identical to the previously discussed services.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train could handle this route with ease.

As with the Scarborough service, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Redcar Central.

Manchester Piccadilly And Hull

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds, Selby and Brough

The service is 94 miles long and takes two hours and four minutes.

The route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Huddersfield  – 25 miles – Not Electrified
  • Huddersfield and Dewsbury – 8 miles – Not Electrified
  • Dewsbury and Leeds – 9 miles – Not Electrified
  • Leeds and Hull – 52 miles – Not Electrified

Between Huddersfield and Leeds, the route is identical to the previously discussed services.

The improvement of the section between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will also benefit this service and mean that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route.

As with the Scarborough and Redcar Central services, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Hull.

Manchester Piccadilly And Huddersfield

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Stalybridge, Mossley, Greenfield, Marsden and Slaithwaite

The service is 25 miles long and takes forty-three minutes.

The route is without electrification.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route with ease.

The train could charge at either end using the electrification.

Huddersfield And Leeds

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Deighton, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Batley, Morley and Cottingley

The service is 17 miles long and takes thirty-six minutes.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train should be able to handle this route with ease.

The train could charge at Leeds using the electrification.

Manchester Airport And Cleethorpes

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport, Sheffield, Meadowhall Interchange, Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Habrough and Grimsby Town

The service is 124 miles long and takes two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

he route can be divided into sections, some of which are electrified and some of which are not!

  • Manchester Airport and Stockport – 16 miles – Electrified
  • Stockport and Sheffield  – 37 miles – Not Electrified
  • Sheffield and Doncaster – 19 miles – Not Electrified
  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 52 miles – Not Electrified

There would need to be some en route charging and surely the easiest way to achieve this would be to extend the electrification at Doncaster to Sheffield.

As with the other services, a Fast-Charging system would probably be needed at Cleethorpes.

Manchester Airport And Glasgow Central Or Edinburgh Waverley Via Preston

This service is all-electric.

Conclusion

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train can handle all of TransPennine’s routes without using one drop of diesel.

What I have found interesting, is that the eight miles of electrification between Huddersfield and Dewsbury appears to make the operation of a battery-electric train a lot easier.

It looks like someone at Hitachi and Network Rail have taken a calculator to a decent hostelry and worked out a cunning plan!

 

 

 

February 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Chiltern Railways’s Services?

Before I answer this question, I will lay out a few specifications and the current status.

Hitachi’s Proposed Battery Electric Train

Based on information in an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, which is entitled Sparking A Revolution, the specification of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train is given as follows.

  • Based on Class 800-802/804 trains or Class 385 trains.
  • Range of 55-65 miles.
  • Operating speed of 90-100 mph
  • Recharge in ten minutes when static.
  • A battery life of 8-10 years.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.

For this post, I will assume that the train is four or five cars long.

Chiltern Railways’ Main Line Services

These are Chiltern Railways services that run on the Chiltern Main Line.

London Marylebone And Gerrards Cross

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • Intermediate stations are Wembley Stadium, Sudbury & Harrow Road, Sudbury Hill Harrow, Northolt Park, West Ruislip, Denham and Denham Golf Club

The service is nineteen miles long and takes thirty minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at one end of the route.

London Marylebone And High Wycombe

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Wembley Stadium,  South Ruislip, Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield
  • Some services terminate in a bay platform 1 at High Wycombe station.

The service is twenty-eight miles long and takes forty-two minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at one end of the route.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via High Wycombe

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations are Gerrards Cross, Seer Green and Jordans, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Monks Risborough and Little Kimble
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 1 at Aylesbury station.

The service is 43.5 miles long and takes sixty-six minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route.

London Marylebone And Banbury (And Stratford-upon-Avon)

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations for the Banbury service are Denham Golf Club, Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester North and Kings Sutton.
  • Intermediate stations for the Stratford-upon-Avon service are Denham Golf Club, Gerrards Cross, Beaconsfield, High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester North and Kings Sutton, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Hatton, Claverdon, Bearley, Wilmcote and Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway.

The Banbury service is 69 miles long and takes one hour and forty-five minutes.

The Stratford-upon-Avon service is 104 miles long and takes two hours and twenty-two minutes.

Running these two services will need a bit of ingenuity.

Leamington Spa And Birmingham Moor Street

  • The service runs at a frequency of one train per two hours (tp2h)
  • Intermediate stations for the service are Warwick, Hatton, Lapworth, Dorridge and Solihull.

The service is 23 miles long and takes forty-one minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at one end of the route.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Moor Street

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations for the service are High Wycombe, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick Parkway and Solihull.

The service is 112 miles long and takes one hour and forty-four minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and also fully charged somewhere in the middle.

Distances from London Marylebone of the various stations are.

  • High Wycombe – 28 miles
  • Bicester North – 55 miles
  • Banbury – 69 miles
  • Leamington Spa – 89 miles
  • Warwick – 91 miles
  • Warwick Parkway – 92 miles
  • Solihull – 105 miles

Consider.

  • It looks like a fully-charged train from London Marylebone could reach Bicester North, but not Banbury, with a 55-65 mile battery range.
  • Travelling South, Bicester North could be reached with a fully-charged train from Birmingham Moor Street.

But it would appear to be too marginal to run a reliable service.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Snow Hill

  • The service runs at a frequency of one tph
  • Intermediate stations for the service are Bicester North, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Warwick Parkway, Dorridge, Solihull and Birmingham Moor Street

The service is 112 miles long and takes two hours and a minute.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and also fully charged somewhere in the middle.

London Marylebone And Kidderminster

Some services between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill are extended to Kidderminster.

The distance between Kidderminster and Birmingham Snow Hill is twenty miles and the service takes forty-two minutes.

London Marylebone And Oxford

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations for the service are High Wycombe, Haddenham & Thame Parkway, Bicester Village, Islip and, Oxford Parkway.
  • The service runs into dedicated platforms at Oxford station.

The service is 67 miles long and takes one hour and nine minutes.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and some supplementary charging somewhere in the middle.

Chiltern’s Aylesbury Line Services

These are Chiltern Railway‘s services that run on the London And Aylesbury Line (Amersham Line).

London Marylebone And Aylesbury (And Aylesbury Vale Parkway) via Amersham

  • The service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • Intermediate stations are Harrow-on-the-Hill, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer, Amersham, Great Missenden, Wendover and Stoke Mandeville.
  • It appears that there is sufficient time at Aylesbury Vale Parkway in the turnround to charge the train using a Fast Charging system.

The Aylesbury service is 39 miles long and takes one hour.

The Aylesbury Vale Parkway service is 41 miles long and takes one hour and twelve minutes.

It should be possible to run both services with trains charged at both ends of the route.

 

Chiltern Railways’ Future Train Needs

Chiltern Railways will need to add to or replace some or all of their fleet in the near future for various reasons.

Decarbonisation

Chiltern are probably the passenger train operating company, with the lowest proportion of zero-carbon trains. It scores zero for zero-carbon!

Government policy of an extinction date of 2040 was first mentioned by Jo Johnson, when he was Rail Minister in February 2018.

As new trains generally last between thirty and forty years and take about five years to design and deliver, trains ordered tomorrow, will probably still be running in 2055, which is fifteen years after Jo Johnson’s diesel extinction date.

I feel that, all trains we order now, should be one of the following.

  • All-electric
  • Battery-electric
  • Hydrogen-electric
  • Diesel electric trains, that can be converted to zero-carbon, by the replacement of the diesel power, with an appropriate zero-carbon source.

Hitachi seem to be designing an AT-300 diesel-electric train for Avanti West Coast, where the diesel engines can be replaced with batteries, according to an article in the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

Pollution And Noise In And Around Marylebone Station

This Google Map shows the area around Marylebone station.

Cinsider.

  • Marylebone station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  • The station is surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in London.
  • A lot of Chiltern’s trains do not meet the latest regulations for diesel trains.
  • Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Euston, Fenchurch Street, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo stations are diesel-free or have plans to do so.

Will the residents, the Greater London Council and the Government do something about improving Chiltern’s pollution and noise?

New trains would be a necessary part of the solution.

New And Extended Services

Consider.

  • Chiltern plan to extend the Aylesbury Parkway service to Milton Keynes in connection with East West Rail. This service would appear to be planned to run via High Wycombe and Princes Risborough.
  • There has also been proposals for a new Chiltern terminus at Old Oak Common in West London to connect to Crossrail, High Speed Two and the London Overground.
  • Chiltern could run a service between Oxford and Birmingham Moor Street.
  • With the demise of the Croxley Rail Link around Watford, Chiltern could be part of a revived solution.
  • In Issue 899 of Rail Magazine in an article entitled Calls For Major Enhancement To Oxford And Didcot Route, it states that there will be three tph between Oxford and Marylebone, two of which will start from a new station at Cowley.

Chiltern certainly have been an expansionist railway in the past.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chiltern ordering new trains.

As I said earlier, I suspect they wouldn’t want to order some new short-life diesel trains.

125 mph Running

Consider.

  • The West Coast Main Line has an operating speed of 125 mph.
  • East West Rail is being built for an operating speed of 125 mph.
  • Some parts of the Chiltern Main Line could be electrified and upgraded to 125 mph operation.

For these reasons, some of Chiltern’s new fleet must be capable of modification, so it can run at 125 mph, where it is possible.

100 mph Trains

Around half of Chiltern’s fleet are 100 mph trains, but the other half, made up of Class 165 trains only have a 75 mph operating speed.

Running a fleet, where all trains have a similar performance, must give operational and capacity improvements.

Increasing Capacity

Chiltern’s Main Line service to Birmingham is run using six Mark 3 carriages between a Class 68 locomotive and a driving van trailer.

These trains are 177.3 metres long and hold 444 passengers.

These trains are equivalent in length to a seven-car Hitachi Class AT-300 train, which I estimate would hold just over 500 passengers.

Changing some trains for a more modern design, could increase the passenger capacity, but without increasing the train length.

Aventi West Coast And High Speed Two

Chiltern’s services to Birmingham will come under increasing pressure from Avanti West Coast‘s revamped all-electric fleet, which within ten years should be augmented by High Speed Two.

It will be difficult selling the joys of comfortable diesel trains against the environmental benefits of all-electric zero-carbon faster trains.

Great Western Railway And Possible Electrification To Oxford

Chiltern’s services to Oxford will also come under increasing pressure from Great Western Railway’s services to Oxford.

  • When Crossrail opens, Paddington will be a much better terminal than Marylebone.
  • Crossrail will offer lots of new connections from Reading.
  • Great Western Railway could run their own battery-electric trains to Oxford.
  • Great Western Railway will be faster between London and Oxford at 38 minutes to Chiltern’s 65 minutes.

Will new trains be needed on the route to retain passengers?

Will Chiltern Have Two Separate Fleets?

Currently, Chiltern Railways have what is effectively  two separate fleets.

  • A Chiltern Main Line fleet comprised of five sets of six Mark 3 coaches, a Class 68 locomotive and a driving van trailer.
  • A secondary fleet of thirty-four assorted diesel multiple units of various ages and lengths, which do everything else.

But would this be their fleet, if they went for a full renewal to fully-decarbonise?

Would they acquire more Main Line sets to work the services to Birmingham, Kidderminster and perhaps some other Midlands destinations?

Do the Oxford services require more capacity for both Oxford and Bicester Village and would more Main Line sets be a solution?

What destinations will be served and what trains will be needed to work services from new destinations like Milton Keynes and Old Oak Common?

I can see Chiltern acquiring two fleets of battery-electric trains.

  • Chiltern Main Line trains based on Hitachi AT-300 trains with between five and seven cars.
  • Suburban trains for shorter journeys, based on Hitachi Class 385 trains with perhaps four cars.

Both would be fairly similar under the skin.

Conclusion On Chiltern Railways’ Future Trains

I am very much drawn to the conclusion, that Chiltern will have to introduce a new fleet of zero-carbon trains.

Electrification would be a possibility, but have we got enough resources to carry out the work, at the same time as High Speed Two is being built?

Hydrogen might be a possibility, but it would probably lead to a loss of capacity on the trains.

Battery-electric trains might not be a solution, but I suspect they could be the best way to increase Chiltern’s fleet and decarbonise at the same time.

  • Hitachi’s basic train design is used by several train operating companies and appears to be well received, by Train operating companies, staff and passengers.
  • Hitachi appear to be well-advanced with a battery-electric version.
  • Hitachi seem to have sold the concept of battery-electric AT-300 trains to Avanti West Coast to replace their diesel-electric Class 221 trains.

The sale of trains to Avanti West Coast appears to be very significant, in that Hitachi will be delivering a diesel-electric fleet, that will then be converted to battery-electric.

I like this approach.

  • Routes can be converted gradually and the trains fully tested as diesel-electric.
  • Electrification and/or charging stations can be added, to the rail network.
  • As routes are ready, the trains can be converted to battery-electric.

It would appear to be a low-risk approach, that could ensure conversion of the fleet does not involve too much disruption to passengers.

Possible Electrification That Might Help Chiltern Railways

These lines are or could be electrified in the near future.

Amersham Line Between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham Stations

The only electrified line on the Chiltern Railways network is the section of the Amersham Line between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham stations.

  • It is electrified using London Underground’s system.
  • It is fourteen miles long and trains take twenty-two minutes.
  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill is a distance of only nine miles
  • Aylesbury and Amersham is a distance of only fifteen miles.

Could this be of use in powering Children Railways’ trains?

The maths certainly look promising, as if nothing else it means the maximum range of one of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains is fourteen miles further, which may enable Chiltern’s proposed service between London Marylebone and Milton Keynes to reach the 25 KVAC electrification at Bletchley.

But if the new trains were to use the London Underground electrification, they would have to be dual-voltage units.

As Hitachi have already built dual-voltage Class 395 trains for the UK, I don’t think, that this will be a problem.

Dorridge/Whitlock’s End And Worcestershire via Birmingham Snow Hill

In the February 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a feature, which is entitled West Midlands Builds For The Future.

This is said about electrification on the Snow Hill Lines.

Remodelling Leamington is just one of the aspirations WMRE has for upgrading the Great Western’s Southern approach to Birmingham, which serves a number of affluent suburbs, with growing passenger numbers. “Electrification of the Snow Hill Lines commuter network is something which we are keen to explore.’ says Mr. Rackliff.

As well as reducing global carbon emissions, yhis would also help reduce air pollution in central Birmingham and local population centres. ‘From a local perspective, we’d initially want to see electrification of the core network between Dorridge/Whitlock’s End and Worcestershire via Birmingham Snow Hill as a minimum, but from a national perspective it would make sense to electrify the Chiltern Main Line all the way to Marylebone.’

Note the following distances from Dorridge.

  • Leamington Spa – 13 miles
  • Banbury – 33 miles
  • Bicester North – 47 miles
  • High Wycombe – 74 miles

It looks as if, electrification of the Snow Hill Lines would allow trains to travel from Bicester or Banbury to Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham Snow Hill or Kidderminster.

Reading And Nuneaton via Didcot, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa And Coventry

This route, which is used by CrossCountry services and freight trains, has been mentioned in the past, as a route that may be electrified.

Note the following distances from Didcot.

  • Oxford – 10 miles
  • Ayhno Junction – 27 miles
  • Banbury 32 miles
  • Leamington Spa – 52 miles
  • Coventry – 62 miles
  • Nuneaton – 72 miles

Electrifying this route would link together the following lines.

Note that Aynho Junction is only 36 miles from High Wycombe and 64 miles from London Marylebone.

Fast Charging At Terminal Stations

Chiltern Railways use the following terminal stations.

  • Aylesbury station, where a bay platform is used.
  • Aylesbury Parkway station
  • Banbury station, where a bay platform is used.
  • Birmingham Moor Street station, where all bay platforms are used.
  • Birmingham Show Hill station
  • High Wycombe station, where a bay platform is used.
  • Kidderminster station
  • London Marylebone station, where all platforms are used.
  • Oxford station, where two North-facing bay platforms are used.
  • Stratford-upon-Avon station

I suspect that something like Viviarail’s Fast-Charging system, based on well-proven third-rail technology could be used.

  • This system uses a bank of batteries to transfer power to the train’s batteries.
  • The transfer is performed using modified high-quality third-rail electrification technology.
  • Battery-to-battery transfer is fast, due to the low-impedance of batteries.
  • The system will be able to connect automatically, without driver action.
  • The third-rail is only switched on, when a train is present.
  • The battery bank will be trickle-charged from any convenient power source.

Could the battery bank be installed under the track in the platform to save space?

If Network Rail and Chiltern Railways would prefer a solution based on 25 KVAC technology, I’m sure that Furrer and Frey or another electrification company have a solution.

Installing charging in a platform at a station, would obviously close the platform for a couple of months, but even converting all six platforms at Marylebone station wouldn’t be an impossible task.

Possible Electrification Between London Marylebone And Harrow-on-the-Hill

Consider.

  • All trains to Aylesbury have to travel between London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill stations, which is nine miles of track without electrification. It takes about twelve minutes.
  • Trains via High Wycombe use this section of track as far as Neasden South Junction, which is give miles and typically takes seven minutes.
  • Leaving Marylebone, these trains are accelerating, so will need more power.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines around Neasden.

Note.

  1. The Chiltern Railways tracks are shown in black.
  2. Two tracks continue to the North-West to Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aylesbury.
  3. Two tracks continue to the West to Wembley Stdium station and High Wycombe.
  4. Two tracks continue South-East into Marylebone station, running non-stop.
  5. The Jubilee Line tracks in the middle are shown in silver,
  6. The Metropolitan Line tracks are shown in mauve.

These pictures were taken of the two Chiltern tracks from a Jubilee Line train running between West Hampstead and Wembley Park stations.

Note, that the tracks have no electrification and there is plenty of space.

I feel that to accelerate the trains out of Marylebone and make sure that the batteries are fully charged, that these tracks should be electrified.

There is space on this section for 25 KVAC overhead, but would it be better to use an electrified rail system?

  • As you approach Marylebone there are several tunnels, which might make installation of overhead wires difficult and disruptive.
  • There are London Underground tracks and their third and fourth rail electrification everywhere.
  • Between Harrow-on-the Hill and Amersham stations, Chiltern and Metropolitan Line trains share the same track, which is electrified to London Underground standards and used for traction power by the Metropolitan Line trains.
  • Trains connect and disconnect to third-rail electrification, without any complication and have been doing it for over a hundred years.

On the other hand, there are arguments against third-rail systems like safety and electrical inefficiency.

Running Chiltern’s Routes Using A Battery-Electric Train

I will now take each route in order and look at how battery-electric trains could run the route.

London Marylebone And Oxford

Consider.

  • This route is 67 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 134 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains currently wait in the bay platforms at Oxford for up to thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.

When I outlined this route, I said this.

It should be possible to run this service with trains charged at both ends of the route and some supplementary charging somewhere in the middle.

I’m discussing this route first, as it has the complication of needing some form of intermediate charging.

The obvious place for some intermediate charging would be High Wycombe station.

  • It is 28 miles from Marylebone
  • It is 38 miles from Oxford
  • Trains seem to stop for a couple of minutes at High Wycombe.

As trains would only need to pick up a half-charge at the station, would it be possible for a train passing through High Wycombe to be able to use a Fast-Charging system, to give the battery a boost?

As a Control and Electrical Engineer by training, I think that this is more than possible.

It leads me to believe that with Fast Charging systems at Marylebone, Oxford and High Wycombe, Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains can run a reliable service between Marylebone and Oxford.

London Marylebone And Gerrards Cross

Consider.

  • This route is just nineteen miles.
  • An out and back trip is thirty-eight miles.
  • Trains appear to use a reversing siding to change tracks to return to London. They wait in the siding for up to thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.

I am fairly sure, that this route could be run by trains charged at Marylebone station only.

However, if charging is needed at Gerrards Cross, there is plenty of time, for this to be performed in the reversing siding.

It might even be reversed with all charging taking place at Gerrards Cross, so that fast turnrounds can be performed in Marylebone station.

London Marylebone And High Wycombe

Consider.

  • This route is just twenty-eight miles.
  • An out and back trip is fifty-six miles.
  • Trains wait in the bay platform for up to thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.

Everything said for the Gerrards Cross service would apply to the High Wycombe service.

London Marylebone And Banbury

Consider.

  • This route is 69 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 138 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in platform 4 at Banbury for around thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at High Wycombe station.

As with the Marylebone and Oxford route, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Oxford service, High Wycombe is the obvious choice,

High Wycombe is only 41 miles from Banbury, which is well within range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric train.

London Marylebone And Stratford-upon-Avon

Consider.

  • This route is 104 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 208 miles.
  • The distance between Stratford-upon-Avon and Banbury is 35 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in Platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon for over thirty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at Banbury station, where they wait for several minutes.
  • Trains call at High Wycombe station.

As with the Marylebone and Oxford and Marylebone and Banbury routes, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Oxford and Banbury services, High Wycombe is the obvious choice,

But this route could also use the Fast Charging system at Banbury.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Moor Street

Consider.

  • This route is 112 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 224 miles.
  • The distance between Birmingham Moor Street and Banbury is 43 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in the bay platform at Birmingham Moor Street for thirteen minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at Banbury and High Wycombe stations.

As with the Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon route, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Stratford-upon-Avon service, High Wycombe and Banbury are the obvious choice,

London Marylebone And Birmingham Snow Hill

Consider.

  • This route is 112 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 224 miles.
  • The distance between Birmingham Snow Hill and Banbury is 43 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains wait in the bay platform at Birmingham Snow Hill for ten minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • Trains call at Banbury and High Wycombe stations.

As with the Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon route, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Stratford-upon-Avon service, High Wycombe and Banbury are the obvious choice,

London Marylebone And Kidderminster

Consider.

  • This route is 132 miles.
  • An out and back trip is 264 miles.
  • The distance between Kidderminster and Banbury is 63 miles.
  • The route is probably too long for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, without some intermediate charging.
  • Trains call at Banbury and High Wycombe stations.

As with the Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham routes, this route will need some intermediate charging and as with the Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham services, High Wycombe and Banbury are the obvious choice,

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via High Wycombe

Consider.

  • The route is 43.5 miles
  • An out and back trip is 87 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 1 at Aylesbury station, where trains wait for up to thirteen minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • The train will also be fully-charged at Marylebone.

It looks that this route could be easily handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at High Wycombe to give the battery a top-up.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via Amersham

Consider.

  • The route is 39 miles
  • An out and back trip is 78 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 3 at Aylesbury station, where trains wait for up to twenty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • The train will also be fully-charged at Marylebone.

It looks that this route could be easily handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at High Wycombe to give the battery a top-up.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Vale Parkway Via Amersham

Consider.

  • The route is 41 miles
  • An out and back trip is 82 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • This service usually terminates in Platform 1 at Aylesbury Vale Parkway station, where trains wait for up to nine minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Marylebone.
  • The train will also be fully-charged at Marylebone.

It looks that this route could be easily handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at Aylesbury to give the battery a top-up.

Leamington Spa And Birmingham Moor Street

Consider.

  • The route is 23 miles
  • An out and back trip is 46 miles.
  • This service usually terminates in a bay platform at Birmingham Moor Street station, where trains wait for up to twenty minutes, which is more than enough time to fully-charge the train for return to Leamington Spa.

I am fairly sure, that this route could be run by trains charged at Bitmingham Moor Street station only.

New And Extended Services

These services are planned or have been mentioned as possibilities.

London Marylebone And Milton Keynes Via High Wycombe, Princes Risborough, Aylesbury And Aylesbury Vale Parkway

This is the new service that Chiltern will start running in the next few years.

Consider.

  • I estimate the distance between Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Bletchley, where 25 KVAC overhead electrification starts is 18 miles, with Milton Keynes a further three miles.
  • The distance between Marylebone and Bletchley via High Wycombe would be 63.5 miles.
  • The route is probably short enough for the proposed Hitachi battery-electric train, to run the route without intermediate charging.
  • Charging would normally be in Milton Keynes and Marylebone, with a certain amount of charging from the 25 KVAC between Bletchley and Milton Keynes.

It looks that this route could be handled with charging at both ends of the route, but if there has been a charging error, the train can obviously make a pit-stop at High Wycombe or Aylesbury to give the battery a top-up.

Birmingham Moor Street And Oxford

Consider.

  • Birmingham Moor Street station could have more South-facing bay platforms.
  • Birmingham Moor Street station is only a short walk from the new High Speed Two station at Birmingham Curzon Street.
  • Oxford station has two North-facing bay platforms.
  • Oxford station and Aynho Junction is only twenty miles and well within battery range, if High Wycombe and Banbury is electrified.
  • Banbury and Oxford currently takes 23 minutes.
  • Banbury and Birmingham Moor Street currently takes 44 minutes

It looks like a Birmingham Moor Street and Oxford service would take one hour and seven minutes.

London Marylebone And The Cowley Branch

This proposed service is probably about four to five miles further on from Oxford station.

There may be problems with how the track is laid out, but with a charging station at the end of the branch, I doubt that distance would be a problem.

Croxley Rail Link Proposal

I said this earlier.

With the demise of the Croxley Rail Link around Watford, Chiltern could be part of a revived solution.

The original plan died a long time ago, but could there be a simpler Chiltern-based solution?

  • Rebuild the railway between Croxley and Watford High Street stations.
  • Build new stations at Watford Vicarage Road and Cassiobridge.
  • A single track link would be more affordable could certainly handle two tph and possibly four.
  • Chiltern would run a two tph service between Watford Junction and Aylesbury stations.
  • The service would call at Watford High Street, Watford Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, Croxley, Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Chalfont & Latimer, Amersham, Great Missenden, Wendover and Stoke Mandeville.

I’m sure a more comprehensive scheme than the original one can be devised.

Important Stations

These are some of the more important stations and a few notes.

Aylesbury

As Chiltern develops the network in the next few years, these services could run to and/or through Aylesbury station.

  • One tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe
  • One tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via Amersham
  • One tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Amersham
  • One tph – London Marylebone and Milton Keynes via High Wycombe and Aylesbury Vale Parkway (new service)

I could also see a two tph service between Watford Junction and Aylesbury via Amersham.

Summing all this up means that two tph go via High Wycombe and four tph go via Amersham.

This Google Map shows Aylesbury station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 3 from South to North.
  2. Trains going South via High Wycombe call in Platforms 1 or 2.
  3. Trains going South via Amersham call in Platforms 2 and 3
  4. Trains going North call in Platforms 2 and 3.

These pictures show the station.

It is a spacious station, with step-free access and I feel that it could handle more services.

Banbury

I am sure that Banbury station, will be an important charging point for Chiltern’s battery-electric trains going North of Banbury.

This Google Map shows the layout of the recently-refurbished Banbury station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 4 from West to East.
  2. Trains going North call in Platforms 1 or 2.
  3. Trains going South call in Platforms 3 or 4.
  4. The Marylebone and London service usually turns back in Platform 4 after waiting there for over half-an-hour.
  5. Northbound Stratford-upon-Avon services generally use Platform 1, but most others generally use Playform 2.
  6. Southbound Stratford-upon-Avon services generally use Platform 4, but most others generally use Playform 3.

It looks to me, that Banbury station could handle the charging of trains as they pass through, as all of Chiltern’s services that serve destinations to the North of Banbury, stop at the station.

Hitachi are saying, that one of their proposed battery-electric trains needs ten minutes to be fully-charged.

So there may need to be some adjustment to the time-table to lengthen the stops at Banbury, to give ten minutes of charging time.

Alternatively, a few miles of electrification could be centred on Banbury, perhaps between Aynho Junction and Leamington Spa, which is a distance of twenty-six miles, which takes one of Chiltern’s trains around twenty-three minutes.

This would surely give enough time to fully-charge the batteries, but would also benefit CrossCountry, if they should go the battery-electric route.

I have followed the route between Aynho Junction and Leamington Spa in my helicopter and it would appear to be a fairly straight and uncomplicated route. I would say, it is about as difficult to electrify, as the Midland Main Line between Bedford and Kettering/Corby, which appears to have been one of Hetwork Rail’s better electrification projects, which should be delivered on time and has been installed without too much disruption to trains and passengers.

High Wycombe

It looks to me, that High Wycombe station will be an important charging point for Chiltern’s battery-electric trains going North to Oxford and Banbury.

Unlike Banbury, High Wycombe has not seen many changes over the years.

This Google Map shows High Wycombe station.

Note.

  1. Platforms are numbered 1 to 3 from South to North.
  2. Platform 1 is a bay platform that faces London.
  3. Platform 2 is the Westbound platform.
  4. Platform 3 is the Eastbound platform.
  5. High Wycombe has five tph in both directions, with an upgrade to six tph possible, after two tph run to the Cowley Branch.

The frequency of the trains through High Wycombe station could probably be handled by a Fast Charging system, but it would be tight to fit all current five services into an hour. It would appear to preclude any extra services going through High Wycombe, as there just isn’t enough time in an hour.

For this reason, I think that High Wycombe station needs full electrification, so that all passing trains can top up their batteries.

This gives the interesting possibility, that a train leaving High Wycombe for London with a full battery, would probably have enough charge in the battery to travel the 28 miles to London Marylebone and return. The train could always have a top-up at Marylebone.

So how far would the electrfication, through High Wycombe run?

Given that for operational reasons, it is probably best that pantographs are raised and lowered in stations, it is probably best if the various routes were electrified to the next station.

  • The Chiltern Main Line route would be electrified as far as Banbury station, where all trains stop. The distance would be 41 miles.
  • The Oxford route would be electrified as far as Bicester Village station, where all trains stop. The distance would be less than two miles from the Chiltern Main Line
  • The Aylesbury route would be electrified as far as Princes Risborough station, where all trains stop. This would be included in the Chiltern Main Line electrification.

It looks to me, that just 43 miles of double-track electrification would enable Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains to reach all parts of the Chiltern network.

Distances of the various destinations from the electrification are as follows.

  • Birmingham Moor Street – 43 miles
  • Birmingham Snow Hill – 43 miles
  • Kidderminster – 63 miles
  • Marylebone – 28 miles
  • Milton Keynes – 27 miles
  • Oxford – 38 miles
  • Oxford – Cowley – 43 miles
  • Stratford-upon-Avon  35 miles

Only Kidderminster could be tricky, but not if the Snow Hill Lines are electrified through Birmingham.

Electrification of the Chiltern Main Line between High Wycombe and Banbury with a number of Fast Charging systems in selected stations, would be my preferred option of enabling Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains to work the Chiltern network.

These pictures show High Wycombe station.

It does appear that the bridge at the Western end of the station my need to be modified, so that overhead wires can be threaded underneath.

Conclusion

Quite unexpectedly, I am pleasantly surprised.

Chiltern Railways’ current network can be run by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric AT-300 trains.

  • Fast charging systems will be needed at Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Banbury, Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham Snow Hill, Gerrards Cross, High Wycombe, Kidderminster, Marylebone, Milton Keynes and Oxford.
  • Banbury and High Wycombe will need to be able to top-up trains as they pass through.
  • No large scale electrification will be needed. Although any new electrification will be greatly accepted!

As I indicated earlier, I would electrify the core part of the Chiltern Main Line route between High Wycombe and Banbury.

It would probably be a good idea to electrify a few miles at the Southern end of the line, where it runs into Marylebone station.

  • Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill.
  • Marylebone and West Ruislip
  • Old Oak Common and West Ruislip.

I would use third-rail electrification to be compatible with London Underground and because of the automatic connection and disconnection.

But most surprisingly, there are already generous turnround times at most terminal stations, which give enough time to charge the trains.

It’s almost, as if Chiltern are preparing for battery-electric trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charging Battery Trains

In Sparking A Revolution, I talked about Hitachi’s plans to develop battery versions of their Class 800 trains.

The article also gives the specification of a Hitachi battery train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

These figures are credited to Hitachi.

Methods Of Charging

I can envisage two main methods of changing battery trains.

  • Static charging in a station, depot or siding.
  • Dynamic charging, whilst the train is on the move.

I am not covering other possible methods like battery swapping in this post.

Static Charging

Hitachi only mention static charging in their specification and they give a charge time of ten minutes.

This is a very convenient time, when you consider quite a few trains take around 10-15 minutes to turn round at a terminus.

Two companies have stated that they have products that can charge battery trains in around this time.

  • Vivarail offers a system based on well-proven third-rail electrification technology.
  • Furrer and Frey offers a system based on overhead electrification technology.

I suspect that other companies are developing systems.

Dynamic Charging

With dynamic charging, the batteries are charged as the trains run along standard electrified routes.

In the UK, this means one of two systems.

  • 750 VDC third rail electrification
  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification

Both systems can be used to charge the batteries.

Note that in the BEMU Trial in 2015, the Class 379 train used for the trial charged the batteries from the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

A Mixture Of Dynamic And Static Charging

Many routes will be handled by a mixture of both methods.

As an example London Paddington and Cheltenham is electrified except for the 42 miles between Swindon and Cheltenham.

A round trip between London Paddington and Cheltenham could be handled as follows.

  • London Paddington to Swindon using electrification – Dynamic charging battery at the same time!
  • Swindon to Cheltenham using battery power
  • Turnround at Cheltenham – Static charging battery at the same time!
  • Cheltenham to Swindon using battery power
  • Swindon to London Paddington using electrification

Note the following.

  1. Two legs of the round-trip are run using electrification power.
  2. Two legs of the round-trip are run using battery power.
  3. There is one dynamic charge and one static charge of the batteries.

No diesel power would be used on the journey and I suspect journey times would be identical to the current timetable.

I suspect that many routes run by battery electric trains will employ a mixture of both dynamic and static charging.

Here’s a few examples.

  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate
  • London St Pancras and Melton Mowbray
  • London Euston and Chester
  • London Paddington and Bedwyn

There are probably many more.

Intermediate Charging On A Long Route

South Western Railway has a fleet that is nearly all-electric.

But they do have forty diesel trains, which are mainly used for services between London Waterloo and Exeter.

These don’t fit with any decarbonising strategy.

There is also the problem that the route between London Waterloo and Exeter, is only electrified as far as Basingstoke, leaving a long 124 miles of route without electrification.

This means that a battery train needs to charge the batteries at least twice en route.

Charging At A Longer Stop

The obvious approach to providing en route charging would be to perform a ten minute stop, where the batteries are fast charged.

Looking at Real Time Trains, the stop at Salisbury is often five minutes or more, as trains can join and split and change crews at the station.

But two stops like this could slow the train by fifteen minutes or so.

Charging At A An Electrification Island

On the section of the route, West of Salisbury, there are a series of fairly close-together stations.

  • Tisbury – 7 miles
  • Gillingham – 16 miles
  • Templecombe – 18 miles
  • Sherborne – 23 miles
  • Yeovil Junction – 39 miles
  • Crewkerne – 48 miles
  • Axminster – 61 miles

Note,

The distances are from Salisbury.

  1. Much of this nearly ninety mile section of the West of England Line between Salisbury and Exeter is single track.
  2. The Heart of Wessex Line between Westbury and Weymouth crosses at Yeovil Junction.
  3. There are three sections of double track and four passing loops.
  4. There is a passing loop at Axminster.

It strikes me that the optimal way of charging battery trains on this secondary route might be to electrify both the West of England and Heart of Wessex Lines around Yeovil Junction station.

The power for the electrification island, could come from local renewable sources, as proposed by Riding Sunbeams.

Distances from Yeovil Junction station are.

  • Bath Spa – 50 miles
  • Castle Cary – 12 miles
  • Exeter St. Davids – 49 miles
  • Salisbury – 39 miles
  • Weymouth – 30 miles

With a battery-electric train with a 55-65 mile range, as proposed in Hitachi’s draft specification, SWR’s London Waterloo and Exeter service would certainly be possible. Charging would be at Salisbury and in the Yeovil area.

On Summer Saturdays, SWR also run a London Waterloo and Weymouth service via Salisbury and Yeovil Junction. This would appear to be within the range of a battery-electric train.

As Weymouth is electrified with third-rail, I suspect that arranging charging of a battery-electric train at the station, will not be an impossible task.

The other service through the area is Great Western Railway‘s service between Gloucester and Weymouth, that runs every two hours.

It would appear that in some point in the future, it will be possible to run this service using a Hitachi battery-electric train.

Third-Rail Or Overhead?

The previous example of an electrification island would probably use 750 VDC third-rail electrification, but there is no reason, why 25 KVAC overhead electrification couldn’t be used.

Note that these trains have been talked about as possibilities for running under battery power.

  • Greater Anglia’s Class 379 trains, built by Bombardier
  • Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, built by Stadler.
  • Merseyrail’s Class 777 trains, built by Stadler.
  • Scotrail’s Class 385 trains, built my Hitachi
  • Several companies’ Class 800 trains, built by Hitachi
  • Suthern’s Class 377 trains, built by Bombardier

All the manufacturers named have experience of both dual-voltage trains and battery operation.

I would suspect that any future battery-electric trains in the UK will be built to work on both of our electrification systems.

When talking about battery-electric trains, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may have advantages.

  • It can be easily powered by local renewable sources, as Riding Sunbeams are proposing.
  • It is compatible with Vivarail’s Fast-Charging system.
  • Connection and disconnection is totally automatic and has been since Southern Railway started using third-rail electrification.
  • Is is more affordable and less disruptive to install?
  • Third-rail electrification can be installed in visually-sensitive areas with less objections.

Developments in third-rail technology will improve safety, by only switching the power on, when a train is connected.

More Electrification Islands

These are a few examples of where an electrification island could enable a battery-electric train to decarbonise a service.

London Euston and Holyhead

In Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?, I looked at running Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains between London Euston and Holyhead.

I proposed electrifying the fourteen miles between Rhyl and Llandudno Junction stations, which would leave two sections of the route between London Euston and Holyhead without electrification.

  • Rhyl and Crewe is fifty-one miles.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles.

Both sections should be within the battery range of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains, with their 55-65 mile range.

The following should be noted.

  • The time between arriving at Rhyl station and leaving Llandudno Junction station is nineteen minutes. This should be time enough to charge the batteries.
  • Either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification could be used.
  • There could be arguments for third-rail, as the weather can be severe.
  • The railway is squeezed between the sea and the M55 Expressway and large numbers of caravans.

The performance of the new trains will be such, that they should be able to run between London Euston and Holyhead in a similar time. Using High Speed Two could reduce this to just under three hours.

Edinburgh And Aberdeen

I’m sure Scotland would like to electrify between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

But it would be a difficult project due to the number of bridges on the route.

Distances from Edinburgh are as follows.

  • Leuchars – 50 miles
  • Dundee – 59 miles
  • Arbroath – 76 miles
  • Montrose – 90 miles
  • Stonehaven – 114 miles
  • Aberdeen – 130 miles

A quick look at these distances indicate that Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains with a 55-65 mile range could cover the following sections.

  • Edinburgh and Dundee – 59 miles
  • Arbroath and Aberdeen – 56 miles

Would it be possible to electrify  the seventeen miles between Dundee and Arbroath?

I have just flown my helicopter along the route and observed the following.

  • Dundee station is new and appears to be cleared for overhead wires.
  • Many of the bridges in Dundee are new and likely to be cleared for overhead wires.
  • There is a level crossing at Broughty Ferry station.
  • Much of the route between Broughty Ferry and Arbroath stations is on the landward side of golf links, with numerous level crossings.
  • Between Arbroath and Montrose stations, the route appears to be running through farmland using gentle curves.
  • There is a single track bridge across the River South Esk to the South of Montrose station.
  • According to Wikipedia, the operating speed is 100 mph.

Montrose might be a better Northern end to the electrification.

  • It has a North-facing bay platform, that could be used for service recovery and for charging trains turning back to Aberdeen.
  • Montrose and Aberdeen is only forty miles.
  • It might be possible to run the service between Montrose and Inverurie, which is just 57 miles on battery power.

The problem would be electrifying the bridge.

Operationally, I can see trains running like this between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

  • Trains would leave the electrification, just to the North of Edinburgh with a full battery.
  • Battery power would be used over the Forth Bridge and through Fife and over the Tay Bridge to Dundee.
  • Electrification would take the train to Arbroath and possibly on to Montrose. The battery would also be charged on this section.
  • Battery power would take trains all the way to Aberdeen.

Trains would change between battery and electrification in Dundee and Arbroath or Montrose stations.

My one question, is would it be a good idea to electrify through Aberdeen, so that trains returning South could be charged?

I believe that four or five-car versions of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains would be able to run the route.

Glasgow And Aberdeen

This builds on the work that would be done to enable battery-electric trains go between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

The route between Glasgow and Dundee is partially-electrified with only a forty-nine mile section between Dundee and Dunblane without wires.

I believe that four or five-car versions of Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains would be able to run the route.

 

To Be Continued…

 

Conclusion

I don’t think it will be a problem to provide an affordable charging infrastructure for battery trains.

I also think, that innovation is the key, as Vivarail have already shown.

February 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment