The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Where Are All The Battery-Electric Trains?

Consider these dates and notes

February 10th, 2015

, I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after an excellent first ride in Bombadier’s experimental battery-electric multiple unit or BEMU based on a Class 379 train.

October 10th, 2018

I wrote Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway, after a ride on Vivarail’s Class 230 train in Scotland.

October 15th, 2018

This article on Railway Gazette, which was entitled BatteryFLEX Desiro EMU Conversion Proposed, announced Porterbrook’s plan to convert their Class 350/2 trains to battery-electric operation.

September 30th, 2019

I wrote Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch.

I indicated that according to Modern Railways, battery Electrostars were on their way to replace Class 171 trains, that need to be cascaded to East Midlands Railway by September 2021.

February 28th, 2020

I wrote Northern’s Battery Plans.

This described a plan by Northern Trains and CAF to convert three-car Class 331 trains into four-car battery electric trains, by adding a battery car.

July 6th, 2020

I wrote Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, which announced Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Hitachi are now testing Class 803 trains, which have batteries, but only for hotel purposes and not traction.

Although, I do suspect that the batteries in Class 803 trains will be very similar to those in other Hitachi trains.

It’s just not good engineering to do the same job twice and all Hitachi trains are members of the same A-train family.

August 12, 2020

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, I mused on some remarks made by Mark Hopwood, who then was the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway.

December 15th, 2020

Hitachi released a press release which was entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Details given in the press release include.

  • A five-car train will be used as the prototype.
  • The objective is fuel savings of 20 %.
  • Battery power will be used in stations.

I have read elsewhere that testing will start in 2022, with trains entering service a year later.

In addition, I have written many posts on this blog about the possible deployment of battery-electric trains.

There are certainly a lot of ideas and aspirations for the development and use of battery trains, but except for the Class 803 trains, which only use batteries for emergency hotel power and are now under test, no battery-electric trains have been seen on the UK rail network.

I have a few thoughts.

Existing Trains That Could Be Converted To Battery-Electric Trains

The following trains would appear to be candidates for conversion to battery-electric operation for passenger operations.

  • Class 350 trains – 87 trains of four cars – 110 mph – Will be replaced by Class 730 trains.
  • Class 360 trains – 21 trains of four cars – 110 mph – In service with East Midlands Railway between St. Pancras and Corby, but with batteries could extend the route to Oakham and Melton Mowbray.
  • Class 379 trains – 30 trains of four cars – 100 mph – Have been replaced by Class 745 trains and now filling in for late delivery of new Class 720 trains.
  • Class 385 trains – 24 trains of four cars – 100 mph – In service with Scotrail and could be upgraded to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Class 385 trains – 46 trains of three cars – 100 mph – In service with Scotrail and could be upgraded to Regional Battery Trains.
  • Class 387 trains – 107 trains of four cars – 110 mph – Some are being replaced with new trains and it appears that some may be available for conversion. There must also be question marks over Heathrow and Gatwick Express services.

Note.

  1. All trains have an operating speed of 100 or 110 mph.
  2. I suspect most of the 100 mph trains could be upgraded to 110 mph trains.
  3. There is a total of nearly three hundred four-car trains.

In addition, there are other trains like Class 377 trains, Class 444 trains, Class 450 trains and Class 707 trains. that could be converted to battery-electric operation should it be necessary or the trains were withdrawn from service due to being replaced with new trains.

We could have access to over five hundred battery-electric trains, if all were to be converted.

Does that mean that until fleets start to wear out, we will not need to buy any new electric multiple units for the standard gauge UK rail network?

A Comparison Between A Hitachi Regional Battery Train And An Existing Electric Multiple Unit With Added Batteries

If you compare an Hitachi Regional Battery train based on a four-car Class 385 train with a four-car Class 350 train you get the following with Hitachi figures first.

  • Cars – 4 – 4
  • Operating Speed – 100 mph – 110 mph
  • Seats – 273 – 270
  • Length – 92 metres – 82 metres
  • Dual-voltage – Probably possible – Yes

The two trains could share a route and few passengers would complain or even notice the difference.

Will Battery-Electric Trains Have Collateral Benefits?

All these trains, that are available to conversion to battery-electric trains are modern 100 mph four-car units that meet all the regulations.

They will offer a better standard of service than say a Class 156 diesel train, but most importantly, their size will mean that most services in the UK would be run by a four-car train, which would help to ease overcrowding in a lot of places.

Where Are The Battery Electric Trains?

Could it be that someone has added up the number of trains we already have and has decided that with decarbonisation to the fore, that by using a mix of battery-electric trains and discontinuous electrification, we can create a unified electric train network in England, Scotland and Wales, without ordering large fleets of new trains.

The specification for the UK’s standard battery-electric local train may need to emerge first, but I suspect that train manufacturers and upgraders like Wabtec, want to make sure they create a battery-electric train to these standards.

  • Very reliable.
  • A range as long as feasibly possible.
  • Long-lasting

So with this technology change from pure-electric, bi-mode and diesel trains to pure-electric and battery-electric, is everybody making sure, that it ends up as a success, rather than a disaster?

Over the last few years, there have been a lot of late train deliveries for various reasons and releasing battery-electric trains too early might not be prudent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Using Hitachi ABB Power Grids Technology At Uckfield Station

This post describes how the ABB Power Grids technology could be used to allow battery-electric trains to run between London Bridge and Uckfield stations.

The London Bridge And Uckfield Route

The London Bridge And Uckfield route has these characteristics.

  • It is forty-six miles long
  • The Southern section between Heald Green junction and Uckfield station is 24.7 miles and is not electrified.
  • A service takes approximately eighty minutes.
  • Trains run at a frequency of one train per hour (tph)
  • The route has been upgraded to be able to handle twelve car trains.
  • The route is currently run by Class 171 diesel trains.
  • Govia Thameslink Railway is the operator.

It looks to me if you assume a ten minute turnround, then that gives a three-hour round trip.

This would mean the following.

  • Trains would have ten minutes charging time at Uckfield.
  • If twelve car trains were running on the branch then nine four-car trains would be required for an hourly service.
  • Two tph would require twice as many trains.

It looks to me, that Network Rail have arranged the route and the timetables for a fleet of battery-electric trains.

The Battery-Electric Trains

There have been several hints in the rail media, that battery-electric Bombardier Electrostars will be used for the London Bridge and Uckfield route.

I wrote Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch in September 2019.

  • In the related post I suggested Class 377, Class 379 or Class 387 trains.
  • All are four-car Bombardier Electrostars.
  • All are 100 or 110 mph trains.
  • The Class 387 trains are already dual voltage, but I suspect all trains could be converted to third-rail or dual-voltage.
  • My choice would be Class 379 trains, as they are being made redundant by Greater Anglia and thirty quality trains are looking for a new home.

But all three types would be acceptable and Govia Thameslink Railway has both of the other types in its extensive fleet.

Charging The Battery-Electric Trains

This picture shows the single twelve-car platform at Uckfield station.

There would appear to be plenty of space on the side away from the platform.

There would appear to be two main methods of charging the trains.

A Length Of 750 VDC Third-Rail Electrification On The Side Away From The Platform

  • The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.
  • It could even be made very safe, if an interlock were to be provided, that ensured that the third-rail were only to be live, when a train was in the station that needed charging.

This would be possible, but I suspect the Anti-Third-Rail Electrification Mafia will get this simple method stopped.

A Length Of 25 KVAC Overhead Electrification Powered By One Of Hitachi ABB Power Grids Containised Power Systems

The electrification would be long enough to charge a twelve-car train.

The driver or an automated system would raise the pantographs after the train stopped in the station.

Interlocks could be provided to increase safety.

The overhead electrification would be powered by one or more of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’s containerised power systems

Lightweight catenary could be used to reduce visual intrusion.

The curved beam at the top of this overhead electrification gantry is laminated wood.

Because of the higher voltage used, I suspect that the Hitachi ABB Power Grids could charge a twelve-car train in under ten minutes.

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Class 171 Trains And MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

The Class 170 trains and the Class 171 trains are identical, except that they use different coupling systems.

So as MTU Hybrid PowerPacks are being fitted to Class 170 trains, it would seem to be almost certain, that they could be fitted to the other closely-related class.

Southern runs the Class 171 trains on two routes, that are partially-electrified.

  • Ashford to Brighton via Hastings and Eastbourne – 25 miles without electrification
  • London Bridge to Uckfield via Oxted – 23 miles without electrification.

It seems to be environmentally-unfriendly to not run a hybrid train on these routes.

Could A Class 171 Train With An MTU Hybrid PowerPack Run On Third-Rail Lines?

It would appear that the Class 170 and 171 trains, use the same or similar bogies as the Class 377 trains.

These pictures show the bogies on a Class 377 train.

And these are pictures of the bogies on a Class 171 train.

Note.

  1. The pictures were taken at London Bridge station.
  2. The two bogies appear to be of a similar design, although they are for trains with different traction systems.
  3. The bogies in the Class 171 train seem to fit close to the third-rail.
  4. On the Class 377 train, the two end bogies have shoes.

As the Class 377 trains can be and nearly always are fitted with third-rail shoes, would it be possible to fit third-rail shoes to Class 171 trains, at the same time as the transmission is changed from hydraulic to electric, when the MTU Hybrid PowerPacks are installed?

If it is possible to install third-rail shoes, then this power could be used to charge the battery or power the train.

Searching the Internet, I have found this blurb for the MTU Hybrid PowerPack.

This is said

Naturally, rail vehicles with hybrid drive can also be powered exclusively by the diesel engine. This also means great flexibility for the operator: The trains can be deployed on both electrified
and non-electrified rail routes. 

In addition, upgrading to a trimodal power system – with an additional pantograph – is easy because the system is already equipped with an electric motor. This gives the operator considerable freedom with regard to deployment of the vehicles – it‘s a big plus when they can respond flexibly in the future to every route requirement or tender invitation.

A pantograph wouldn’t be much use in Southern territory, but the ability to connect to third-rail power certainly would be.

When clever electronics and a well-programmed control system are added, it should be possible to create an environmentally-friendly train, that could use third-rail, diesel or battery power as required.

Range On Battery Power

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

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

So how far would my proposed electric/diesel/battery hybrid train travel.

It would have a battery capacity of 61.2 kWh, if it had two one-battery MTU Hybrid PowerPack

Assume that the batteries are fully charged at Oxted, Asford and Ore, where they leave the existing electrification.

This would give the following ranges.

  • 3 kWh per vehicle mile – 10 miles
  • 4 kWh per vehicle mile – 7.5 miles
  • 5 kWh per vehicle mile – 6 miles

Note.

  1. ,If the MTU Hybrid PowerPacks had two batteries range would be doubled.
  2. Both the unelectrified routes have sections in open countryside, where diesel power could be used without too much disturbance.
  3. The diesel engines could be used to top up the batteries at Uckfield.

Looking at the two routes, there would be a big cut in the running of trains on diesel.

Diesel Savings Between London Bridge And Uckfield

The distance between London Bridge and Uckfield stations is 46.1 miles, of which 23 miles are not electrified.

Going South, I would suspect because of the regenerative braking and the full batteries at Oxted, that perhaps ten miles of diesel running would be needed.

Going North, because the batteries wouldn’t be full, I suspect about fifteen miles of diesel-running would be needed.

Currently in a round trip, the trains run for 92.2 miles on diesel, but with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks and a third-rail capability, this could be reduced to around twenty-five miles, with no running in stations.

This would be a seventy-three percent reduction in diesel running.

Diesel Savings Between Ashford And Eastbourne

The distance between Ashford and Eastbourne stations is 43 miles, of which 25 miles are not electrified.

On the section without electrification, I suspect that perhaps ten miles of diesel running would be needed.

Currently in a round trip, the trains run for 86 miles on diesel, but with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks and a third-rail capability, this could be reduced to around thirty miles, with no running in stations.

This would be a sixty-five percent reduction in diesel running.

Conclusion

The rail industry has only just started to look at the application of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

I’m pretty certain, that they’ll be used in some surprising applications.

 

September 21, 2018 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 4 Comments