The Anonymous Widower

Could Chiltern Go Battery-Electric?

In the October 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Chiltern Considers Turbo Future, with a sub-title of Battery Replacement Could Be On The Cards.

These are the first two paragraphs.

In early September Chiltern Railways was preparing to launch a market sounding exercise to consider options for the future of the Class 165 Turbo DMU fleet.

The operator has 28×2-car and 11×3-car ‘165s’. which operate alongside its more modern Class 168 DMUs and its loco-hauled sets. The market sounding exercise will consider two options for the future of the fleet – some sort of hybrid conversion, or outright replacement.

The Class 165 Trains

The Class 165 trains were built in 1990-1991.

  • Maximum Speed – 75 mph
  • Prime Movers – One per car, Perkins 2006-TWH
  • 2-car Trains – 28
  • 3-car Trains – 11

One is being converted to a diesel/battery hybrid.

The Class 168 Trains

The Class 168 trains were built in 1998-2004.

  • Maximum Speed – 100 mph
  • Prime Movers – One per car, MTU 6R 183TD13H
  • 2-car Trains – 9
  • 3-car Trains – 8
  • 4-car Trains – 11

One has been converted to a diesel/battery hybrid.

Conversion To Hybrid Operation

If this proves to be feasible, it will surely be the more affordable of the two options.

But it does leave Chiltern with a mixed fleet with two types of train with different maximum speeds and these lengths.

  • 2-car Trains – 37
  • 3-car Trains – 19
  • 4-car Trains – 11

Would a fleet of similar trains, with perhaps a maximum speed of 100 mph, be better operationally?

Battery-Electric Operation

The Modern Railways article introduces the concept of battery-electric operation with this paragraph.

If a replacement fleet is considered the best option for the Turbo units, the replacements could take the form of a straight battery EMU, taking advantage of recent advances in ‘fast charge’ technology.

The article also says this about battery technology and electrification.

There is optimism that advances in battery technology will provide a smooth pathway to decarbonise Chiltern’s operations – the company serves the only non-electrified London terminus.

In the longer-term, it is hoped electrification from Birmingham to Banbury as part of a strategy to decarbonise CrossCountry and freight services would enable Chiltern to run a battery EMU on London to Birmingham duties, running under battery power as far north as Banbury and switching to overhead wires from there, both powering the unit and enabling the batteries to be recharged.

The Modern Railways article looked at each route and I will do this in more detail.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury via High Wycombe

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 40 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Aylesbury stations.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Vale Parkway

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 41 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway stations.

It might be better to electrify between Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway stations.

London Marylebone And Banbury

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 69 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Banbury stations.

Leamington Spa And Birmingham Moor Street

Assuming the Birmingham and Banbury section of the route is electrified, this route will be electrified.

London Marylebone And Birmingham Moor Street Or Birmingham Snow Hill

Assuming the Birmingham and Banbury section of the route is electrified, this route can be considered to be in two sections.

  • London Marylebone and Banbury – Battery operation – 69 miles
  • Banbury and Birmingham – Electric operation – 42 miles

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station and on the electrified section.

London Marylebone And Gerrards Cross

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 19 miles or 38 miles both ways.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station.

London Marylebone And High Wycombe

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 28 miles or 56 miles both ways.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station.

London Marylebone And Oxford

London Marylebone and Oxford would be under battery operation for 66.8 miles.

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone and Oxford stations.

London Marylebone And Stratford-upon-Avon

Assuming the Birmingham and Banbury section of the route is electrified, this route can be considered to be in two sections.

  • London Marylebone and Banbury – Battery operation – 69 miles
  • Banbury and Hatton Junction – Electric operation – 26 miles
  • Hatton Junction and Stratford-upon-Avon – Battery operation – 9 miles

Trains would be charged at London Marylebone station and on the electrified section.

Chiltern’s Mainline Service

Chiltern’s Mainline service between London and Birmingham is run by either a Class 68 locomotive pulling a rake of six Mark 3 coaches and a driving van trailer or two or three Class 168 trains.

As the locomotive-hauled train is about eight coaches, it could surely be replaced by two four-car multiple units working together.

I believe that if Chiltern obtained a fleet of four-car battery electric trains, this would be the most efficient fleets for all their routes.

Charging At London Marylebone Station

I took these pictures at Marylebone station today.

Note.

  1. It is a surprisingly spacious station and I feel that Furrer+Frey or some other specialist company could add some form of charging to the platforms.
  2. Charging would probably performed using the train’s pantograph.

It appears that the turnround time in Marylebone is typically twelve minutes or more, which should be adequate to fully charge a train.

 

Conclusion

Both solutions will work for Chiltern.

But I prefer the new battery-electric train, which has some crucial advantages.

  • Battery-electric trains will be quieter than hybrid trains.
  • Marylebone station has a noise problem and battery-electric trains are very quiet.
  • Chiltern have ambitions to built new platforms at Old Oak Common and to serve Paddington. This could be easier with a battery electric train.

Rhe only disadvantage is that Banbury and Birmingham would need to be electrified.

 

 

September 25, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Trip To Skegness

Last Thursday, I took a trip to Skegness to get out of the heat.

I took these pictures on the way.

These are my observations and thoughts.

Changing At Grantham

A few minutes after getting off the LNER Azuma, the East Midlands Railway Class 156 train arrived at the opposite face of the wide platform.

Unlike some changes you get on trains in the UK, it was all rather painless and unhurried.

The change coming home was a bit slower, but there is a bar on the London platform, that serves a good selection of good beers.

Grantham To Skegness

The journey to Skegness took around an hour and a half and I arrived at 13:51.

Skegness Station

Skegness station is not the grandest, but it does have six platforms, which is probably a lot for just an hourly service from Nottingham and Grantham.

Skegness

I didn’t stay long, as it was surprisingly too cold and I hadn’t brought a coat.

Skegness To Grantham

The return trip was better, as the train was a more modern Class 170 train.

Surely, when East Midland Railways get their full quota of Class 170 trains, then the Poacher Line between Nottingham and Skegness will be one of the routes, where they will be used.

I also suspect that with 100 mph trains always running the service, as opposed to the Class 156 trains, which are only 75 mph units, there could be speed improvements on the line.

  • Grantham and Skegness is 58 miles.
  • There are a large number of level crossings.

An hour service between Grantham and Skegness could be possible and might generate more passengers.

Rolls-Royce MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

I wonder if this route could be improved by fitting the Class 170 trains with Rolls-Royce MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

  • The hybrid technology would have a lower fuel consumption and allow electric operation in stations.
  • The prototype hybrid is already working on Chiltern Railways in a Class 168 train.
  • The Class 168 train is an earlier version of the Class 170 train and they are members of the Turbostar family.
  • Rolls-Royce are developing versions of these hybrid transmissions, that will work with sustainable fuels.
  • As we have a total of 207 Turbostar trainsets, these could be a convenient way of cutting carbon emissions on long rural lines.
  • As Rolls-Royce MTU are also developing the technology, so their diesel engines can run on hydrogen, it is not outrageous to believe that they could be on a route to complete decarbonisation of this type of train.

I believe that we could see hydrogen-hybrid Class 170 trains, with a Rolls-Royce badge on the side.

The Massive Greenhouse

I found that this was owned by Fountain Plants.

Is Lincolnshire going to grow the UK’s greens? Or at least give them a good start in life?

More greenhouses like this will enable the UK to create our carbon dioxide and eat it!

 

 

July 17, 2022 Posted by | Food, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cutting Emissions – Cleaner, Greener Turbostars

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

It is a detailed technical description about how one of Chiltern Trains’s Class 168 trains has been converted to hybrid power.

This extract from the article gives the results of the conversion.

In July 2021, to celebrate Chiltern Railways’ 25th anniversary, the prototype was used to carry a number of invited guests to Bicester for a celebration lunch. The unit achieved speeds of up to 100mph during this demonstration run and operated with emission free battery power into/out of Marylebone and Bicester. The converted train is expected to reduce CO2 by up to 25%, nitrous oxide by up to 70%, particulates by up to 90% and fuel consumption by up to 25%. There was also an expectation that engine noise level will be reduced by 75%.

The article finishes by discussing how all 450 cars of the combined Class 168/170 fleet could be converted.

The article also hopes that the new Chiltern contract could lead to a full conversion of the fleet to hybrid operation.

It is an article well-worth a read.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 10 Comments

UK’s First 100mph Battery-Diesel Hybrid Train Enters Passenger Service

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

These are the first three paragraphs.

The UK’s first 100mph battery-diesel hybrid train is entering passenger service to cut carbon emissions and boost air quality.

It was developed by adding a powerful battery to a 20-year-old diesel train to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 25%, according to owner Porterbrook.

The firm added that the two-carriage train, named HybridFLEX, also provides a 75% decrease in noise and a 70% decrease in nitrogen oxide.

The battery-diesel hybrid transmission is from MTU, who are a Rolls-Royce company and they go further with this press release which is entitled World Premiere: MTU Hybrid PowerPack From Rolls-Royce Enters Passenger Service.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce, Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways are making rail history together with a climate-friendly world premiere: A hybrid diesel-battery-electric train that reduces CO2 emissions by up to 25% entered passenger service in the UK today for the first time. The so-called HybridFLEX train is powered by two mtu Hybrid PowerPacks and is operated by Chiltern Railways on the route between London Marylebone and Aylesbury. Together with the leasing company Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways, Rolls-Royce has converted a Class 168 DMU into the HybridFLEX train. The partners are proving that existing rail vehicles can be used in a climate-friendly way without the need to install complex and expensive new infrastructure. It is the world’s first regular passenger operation with mtu Hybrid PowerPacks, of which 13 have already been ordered.

This is significant for the railways of the UK.

The train that has been converted is a Class 168 train, which itself had been converted from a Class 170 train, when it transferred to Chiltern Railways in 2016.

I think this means that all Bombardier Turbostars in Classes 168, 170, 171 and 172 can probably be fitted with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

That is the following numbers of trains and cars.

  • Class 168 – 28 trains – 86 cars
  • Class 170 – 139 trains – 372 cars
  • Class 171 – 20 trains – 56 cars
  • Class 172 – 39 trains – 93 cars

Note.

  1. This totals to 226 trains and 607 cars.
  2. As each car has an engine, this will be an order of 607 PowerPacks, if all trains were to be converted.

This could certainly help to meet the Government’s aim of getting rid of all diesel only trains by 2040.

Can The CAF Civities Be Converted?

There are three Classes of CAF Civity diesel multiple units; 195, 196 and 197, all of which have Rolls-Royce MTU engines.

Could these be converted to hybrid operation by the swapping of the current diesel engines for MTU Hybrid PowerPacks?

I would suspect they could, as the CAF Civity trains might have been designed after MTU disclosed plans of the MTU Hybrid PowerPack to train builders prior to its announcement in September 2018.

Conclusion

MTU Hybrid PowerPacks could go a long way to eliminating diesel-only trains on UK railways. They could even run the diesels on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to lower their carbon-footprint further.

 

February 10, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Rolls-Royce And Flanders Electric Plan To Develop Hybrid Retrofit Solution For Mining Trucks

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first paragraph.

Rolls-Royce and Flanders Electric have agreed to develop a retrofit solution for hybridizing mining trucks with mtu engines, batteries and hybrid control systems, and Flanders drive train solutions. The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding enabling them to offer a scalable retrofit kit for hybridizing mining trucks in a wide range of mining applications.

This looks to be a promising application of a version of MTU Mybrid PowerPack technology, that is being trialled on a Class 168 train on Chiltern Railways.

They are claiming a CO2 reduction of twenty percent.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

First Passenger Journey In The UK With mtu Hybrid PowerPack

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

This is the first paragraph.

The mtu Hybrid-PowerPack has passed another milestone successfully: In the UK, a train with mtu hybrid drive carried passengers for the first time as part of a special journey.

So how did mtu, a German manufacturer of large diesel engines for trains and ships, end up in bed with Rolls-Royce?

Wikipedia says this.

MTU Friedrichshafen remained a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler until 2006 when it was sold off to the EQT IV private equity fund, becoming a part of the Tognum Corporation.

Rolls-Royce Holdings and Daimler AG acquired Tognum in 2011. In 2014, Tognum was renamed Rolls-Royce Power Systems, having become a 100 per cent subsidiary of Rolls-Royce Holdings.

A bit tortuous, to say the least!

This paragraph from the press release describes the journey.

The journey of the train – called HybridFLEX – was part of celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of UK rail operator Chiltern Railways, which will use the train on its routes. It is a converted Turbostar DMU, which was previously equipped with a conventional mtu drive system.

It doesn’t sound very special, but it’s the equivalent of taking your BMW, Jaguar or Mercedes from twenty years ago and converting it to a full hybrid car with batteries, to assist the diesel engine.

Fuel and emission savings of 25 per cent are claimed, with the additional benefit that the train will not use the diesel engines in stations or sensitive areas.

In HybridFLEX Battery-Diesel Train Continues Programme Of Testing, I said this.

In the UK, the following diesel multiple units are fitted with modern MTU engines and could be candidates from a replacement power pack.

That is a total of 990 diesel engines.

As some of the Class 196 and Class 197 trains have yet to be delivered, I do wonder, if it would be sensible to deliver them as diesel-battery hybrid trains.

That is a lot of diesel engines, that could be replaced by MTU Hybrid Power Packs.

Conversions of other trains are also ongoing in Germany and Ireland.

This article from Rolls-Royce, is entitled  Hybrid Train Trials and gives a lot more details.

This is a quote from the article on fuel savings.

A fuel saving of 15 per cent is a
fantastic result and means that under
optimum conditions, 20 to 25
per cent should be possible. 

The savings certainly fit with Chiltern’s findings.

I have a few questions.

Can Locomotive Size PowerPacks Be Built?

As an engineer, I don’t see why not!

And there is certainly a need for them to cut diesel usage and carbon emissions with locomotives.

Conclusion

These conversions could be a very good interim solution.

 

July 25, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 26 Comments

HybridFLEX Battery-Diesel Train Continues Programme Of Testing

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

The HybridFLEX battery-diesel train is currently undertaking a programme of tests between Duffield and Wirksworth, prior to returning to Chiltern Railways in the summer.

Fitted with a Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drive, the HybridFLEX will cut noise emissions in stations and deliver zero emissions when operating under battery power.

All seems to be going well, according to the article.

I like the concept, as to replace a diesel engine with a diesel-battery hybrid power pack must surely be a sensible way to at least partially decarbonise.

In the UK, the following diesel multiple units are fitted with modern MTU engines and could be candidates from a replacement power pack.

That is a total of 990 diesel engines.

As some of the Class 196 and Class 197 trains have yet to be delivered, I do wonder, if it would be sensible to deliver them as diesel-battery hybrid trains.

 

 

May 29, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Irish Rail And Porterbrook Order MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

The title of this post is the same as that of this this article on the International Rail Jotnal..

This is the first paragraph.

Irish Rail (IE) and British rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook have signed contracts with Rolls-Royce for the supply of 13 MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, the first firm orders for the hybrid rail drives.

Other points are made in the article.

  • IE has ordered nine PowerPacks for Class 22000 trains. If the technology works they intend to convert all 63 trainsets, which will need 234 PowerPacks, as each car has a diesel engine.
  • Porterbrook has ordered four for Class 168 and Class 170 trains.
  • The PowerPacks will be delivered between mid-2020 and 2021.
  • The MTU engines are built to EU Stage 5 emission regulations.
  • The PowerPacks can switch to battery power in stations and sensitive areas.
  • Under battery power, noise is reduced by 75 % and CO2 emissions by up to 25 %
  • Operating costs are significantly reduced.
  • The PowerPacks have regenerative braking, thus they reduce brake pad wear.
  • Due to electric power, the trains have been acceleration, which may reduce journey times.

It seems that passengers, train operating companies, train leasing companies and those that live by the railway are all winners.

If the concept works reliably and meets its objectives, I can see MTU selling a lot of Hybrid PowerPacks.

Which Operators Will Be Used For Trials?

This is a valid question to ask and I’ll put my thoughts together.

Irish Rail Class 22000 Train

These trains only run in Ireland with one operator;Irish Rail, so they will be used for trials.

As each car has one MTU diesel engine and Irish rail are stated in Wikipedia as wanting to run three-car and six-car sets, could they be converting one train of each length?

British Rail Class 168 Train

All the nineteen Class 168 trains of various lengths are in Chiltern Railway’s fleet, they will be the trial operator.

Chiltern also have nine two-car trains, which could be ideal for trial purposes as they will need two Hybrid PowerPacks.

British Rail Class 170 Train

Porterbrook own upwards of thirty two-Car Class 170 trains with CrossCountry, Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains.

As Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains are replacing their Class 170 trains, this means that CrossCountry will soon be the only user of two-car units.

The four two-car trains from Greater Anglia, will be going to Trains for Wales (TfW).

TfW currently has thirty two-car Pacers in its fleet, which must be replaced by the end of 2019.

TfW is bringing in the following trains.

  • Nine four-car Class 769 trains from Porterbrook.
  • Eight three-car Class 17 trains from Greater Anglia
  • Four two-car Class 17 trains from Greater Anglia

This is a total of sixty-eight cars.

So TfW are replacing a load of scrapyard specials with quality, more powerful trains, with approximately 13 % more capacity.

TfW are proposing to use the Class 170 trains on the following routes.

  • Heart of Wales line (from 2022)
  • Regional services between South and West Wales
  • South Wales metro lines – Ebbw Vale/Maesteg (until 2022)
  • Crewe-Shrewsbury local services (from 2022)

There is a mixture of routes here and it would be a good trial,

Other Trains

If the MTU PowerPack proves successful and leads to widespread conversion of the Class 168 and Class 170 fleets, will we see the twenty Class 171 trains and thirty-nine Class 172 trains converted to hybrid power?

Conclusion

It looks like a good solid project to me!

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment