The Anonymous Widower

The Vivarail Fast Charge System At West Ealing – 7th November 2022

I went to West Ealing station today and took these pictures.

At last, it seems something is happening.

Note the concrete pads on the other side of the track for the bay platform. There appear to be eight pads, which could be to support the containers that will hold the Vivarail Fast Charge System.

November 9, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 8 Comments

Eversholt Rail And Vivarail To Develop Class 321 BEMU

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Eversholt Rail.

These three paragraphs introduce the project.

Eversholt Rail and Vivarail have signed an agreement aimed at developing battery power – and range extension – to the Class 321 ‘Renatus’ fleet.

The 30 unit ‘Renatus’ fleet is a product of £65m investment in AC traction, air conditioning and upgraded interior. Completed in 2019, it provides a high-quality passenger experience, proven reliability in intensive operations and is widely compatible on the UK network. This fleet is currently operating on the Greater Anglia network until the introduction of their new trains is completed.

Eversholt Rail and Vivarail are committed to supporting the UK Government’s ambition to decarbonise its rail sector by 2050, and the Scottish Government’s objective of doing so by 2035. This proven and reliable fleet is an excellent fit in terms of characteristics, fleet size and availability for conversion to a Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU). Vivarail, as the designers and manufacturers of the UK’s only battery and hybrid trains currently in passenger service are well positioned to progress this development.

This paragraph talks about the design objectives.

We will be working together to develop a design to integrate battery technology to provide between 20 to 30 miles of self-propulsion. Enabling the fleet to operate on non-electrified or partly electrified routes would offer the opportunity to increase the range of modern, low-carbon options to accommodate passenger demand; to enable fleet cascades; to improve the passenger experience; and to bring air quality and decarbonisation benefits to local areas.

I have a few thoughts on what I have read so far.

Vivarail’s Technology

In Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway, I talked about a ride in the battery version of Vivarail’s Class 230 train.

The train impressed me, as it did others that day.

I know that the train is late on being introduced on the Borderlands Line in Wales, but then all bi-mode or tri-mode trains seem to be having software problems.

In D-Train Order For Marston Vale Confirmed, I talked about the technicalities of Vivarail’s battery train.

Battery Prototype

The article also gives more details of the battery prototype.

  • The train has four battery rafts, each with a capacity of 106 kWh
  • Range is up to fifty miles with a ten minute charge at each end of the journey.
  • Range will increase as battery technology improves.
  • The train is charged using a patented automatic charging point.
  • The batteries will have a seven-year lifespan, backed by a full warranty.
  • Battery rafts would appear to be interchangeable with the diesel generators.
  • Hydrogen power will be used within the next few years.

The specification seems comprehensive and it would appear there is a high degree of innovative automation and well-thought-out electrical engineering.

Train Energy Consumption

The train has the following characteristics.

  • Two cars
  • 424 kWh of battery capacity.
  • 50 mile range

This gives a consumption 4.24 kWh/per car/per mile.

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 probably not much more taxing than the Marston Vale Line.

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

I am surprised that the Class 230 train lies in the 3-5 kWh range, but then I’m not sure of the weights of the two trains.

I estimate two-car units to weigh as follows.

  • Class 230 train plus batteries – Around 50 tonnes.
  • Electrostar – Around 90 tonnes
  • Aventra – Around 80 tonnes

I shall get some better figures, when I actually see the trains, as the weight is on the side.

Note.

I should say, that I have met some of Vivarail’s designers and I have been impressed.

They were also very complimentary about the D78 Stock, where it appears no expense was spared by Transport for London to keep them up to scratch.

I will apply Ian Walmsley’s rule in the extract to the Class 321 train.

  • Four cars
  • Thirty miles
  • As the Class 321 Renatus has a modern traction system, I’ll assume it is efficient and uses 3 kWh per vehicle mile for a gentle short branch line.
  • These figures would need a 360 kWh battery.

If the consumption was 5 kWh per vehicle mile, it would be a 600 kWh battery.

Under Train Space

There is plenty of space under a Class 321 train, as these pictures show.

My design would see a battery under each car, if that were possible to even out the weight.

The Renatus Interior

These pictures show the Renatus train and interior.

Not bad for a train approaching its mid-thirties.

Will The Train Have Third-Rail Shoe Gear?

I have read the technical documents for Porterbrook’s Class 769 train, which this is based on the Class 319 train.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 319 train, this is said,

Class 321 passenger units and Class 325 postal units were developed from the Class 319 design, using similar traction equipment and the same steel body design, with revised cab designs. The 325 units used a Networker style cab design.

It looks like except for cosmetic differences in the drivers cab, the Class 319, Class 321 and Class 325 trains are identical under the skin.

Does this mean that like the Class 319 train, Class 321 trains can be fitted with third-rail shoes?

It should be noted, that if the trains can be fitted with third-rail shoes, then Vivarail’s Fast Charge system can be used to charge the train.

Could Other Trains Be Converted?

It certainly looks like in addition to the Class 321 trains, both the Class 319 and Class 325 trains can be converted to battery-electric power.

These three trains are all members of British Rail’s Mark 3 family, which were designed before computers were used in structural design to be able to withstand the force of a twenty-four tonne cement truck falling on them from a bridge. On the 5th of November 2010, this nightmare scenario happened in the Oxshott Rail Accident and no-one was killed.

So to avoid the scrapyard, trains based on the Mark 3 coach, like the Class 320, Class 322, Class 455 and Class 456 trains will be happy to sign up to the Eversholt Rail and Vivarail conversion process.

  • The Class 320 trains are three-cars, so would offer another type of train.
  • The Class 322 trains are four-cars, were built for the Stanstead Express.
  • The Class 455 trains are four-cars with third-rail gear, so would offer another type of train.
  • The Class 456 trains are two-cars with third-rail gear, so would offer another type of train.

In SWR Says Farewell To ‘456’s, I talk about converting the two-car Class 456 trains after Mark Hopwood, who is now a big cheese at Great Western Railway, suggested the conversion to create a useful two-car battery-electric train.

If you doubt, the quality of the bodies and interiors of these trains from another era, I suggest you go to Liverpool Street station and take a ride in one of Greater Anglia’s Class 321 Renatus trains.

As there are six classes that could be converted, various different types of train can be converted to suit an operator’s needs.

Main Line Speed

Most of these trains are 100 mph trains, with drivers telling me, that they have superb brakes to handle stopping from that speed.

However, Class 455 and Class 456 trains are only 75 mph trains, with some of the Class 320 trains being only 90 mph trains.

Accidents And Incidents

As far as I can tell, none of these trains has had a serious accident, that has resulted in the death of a passenger.

Even the Oxshott Rail Accident only resulted in two serious and five minor injuries, with one of the serious injuries being the driver of the cement truck.

It is a remarkable safety record.

 

Possible Routes

I will do these on a company-by-company basis, as all companies needs are different.

c2c

c2c is an all-electric company.

I doubt there is a possibility of the company needing any battery-electric trains.

Chiltern Railways

Chiltern Railways is an all-diesel company.

They effectively have three different types of motive power and the solutions for each will be different.

  • Six Class 68 locomotives haul Chiltern’s flagship main line services. As there are thirty-four of these modern locomotives in operation in the UK, I would suspect their manufacturer; Stadler will come up with a zero-carbon solution for application to these locomotives. I suspect they will become hydrogen-powered.
  • Workhorses are 28 Class 168 trains totalling eighty-five carriages. One has been converted to hybrid operation by Rolls-Royce mtu and I suspect that Rolls-Royce mtu have a plan to make all these trains zero-carbon by 2030.
  • There are also 39 Class 165 trains, which are diesel Networkers, dating from the 1990s.

I suspect that as the Networkers are the oldest in the fleet, these might be replaced with new rolling stock or some cascaded Turbostars.

I also wonder, whether Chiltern’s owner; Deutsche Bahn is watching the development of the Rolls-Royce mtu solution as it could be very applicable in Germany.

Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway is an all-electric railway except for two services, where diesel multiple units are used.

  • Eastbourne and Ashford International – 25.4 miles one-way – Charge at Eastbourne and Ashford International using existing electrification or a charger.
  • London Bridge and Uckfield – 25 miles one way – Charge at Hurst Green and Uckfield using existing electrification or a charger.

Note.

  1. The trains would need a third-rail capability.
  2. The company also has a fleet of nineteen forty-year-old Class 313 trains, which are used on Coastway services.
  3. The Class 321 BEMUs could take over all Coastway services between Ashford International and Portsmouth, which would probably make things easier for the operator, with respect to staff training.

The addition of a fleet of Class 321 BEMUs or similar would surely be a sensible move to improve Govia Thameslink Railway services.

Great Western Railway

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled GWR Seeks Input To Decarbonisation Plan.

This is the first four paragraphs.

Great Western Railway is to undertake a market engagement exercise to support its development of a decarbonisation plan including a move away from diesel traction.

The operator is seeking industry input to inform the creation of a Future Fleet & Depot Proposal, setting out ‘affordable’ options for decarbonisation whilst improving and aligning services to future customer needs.

This could include automated rapid battery charging and innovative approaches to energy supply.

The Future Fleet & Depot Proposal will be submitted to the Department for Transport. If accepted by DfT, GWR would then begin procurement of rolling stock and supporting infrastructure. It envisages that this could get underway in September 2024.

It looks a good plan.

In Converting Class 456 Trains Into Two-Car Battery Electric Trains, I opened the post with this quote from Mark Hopwood who at the time was the interim Managing Director of South Western Railway and in Special Train Offers A Strong Case For Reopening Fawley Line, I quote him as saying the following about the trains for the Fawley Branch Line.

However, SWR’s Mark Hopwood favours a much bolder plan. “We’d have to take a decision, once we knew the line was going ahead. But my personal belief is that we should be looking for a modern environmentally-friendly train that can use third-rail electricity between Southampton and Totton and maybe operate on batteries down the branch line.”

Pressed on whether that would mean Vivarail-converted former-London Underground stock, Hopwood ads. “It could be. Or it could be a conversion of our own Class 456, which will be replaced by new rolling stock very shortly. But I don’t think this is the time to use old diesels.

Mark Hopwood is so right about using old diesels and he has moved on to be Managing Director of Great Western Railway.

Could Mr. Hopwood be a driving force behind the decarbonisation of the Great Western Railway?

These trains will be possibilities for battery-electric trains.

  • Newbury and Bedwyn – Four cars – 13.3 miles one way – Charge at Newbury using existing electrification
  • West Ealing and Greenford – Two cars – 2.5 miles one-way – Charge at West Ealing
  • Slough and Windsor & Eton Central – Four cars – 2.8 miles one-way – Charge at Slough using existing electrification
  • Maidenhead and Marlow – Two cars – 7.1 miles one way – Charge at Maidenhead using existing electrification – Four car trains could run between Bourne End and Paddington
  • Twyford and Henley-on-Thames – Four cars – 4.6 miles one-way – Charge at Twyford using extended existing electrification – Trains could run to Paddington
  • Reading and Gatwick Airport – Four cars – 17.4 and 12.1 mile sections without electrification – Charge on existing third-rail electrification
  • Reading and Redhill – Four cars – 17.4 and 12.1 mile sections without electrification – Charge on existing third-rail electrification
  • Reading and Basingstoke – Four cars – 13.6 miles one-way – Charge at Reading using existing electrification
  • Didcot Parkway and Oxford – Four cars – 10.3 miles one-way – Charge at Didcot Parkway using existing electrification
  • Didcot Parkway and Banbury – Four cars – 33 miles one-way – Charge at Didcot Parkway using existing electrification – Charger or electrification needed at Banbury
  • Cardiff Central and Portsmouth Harbour – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Cardiff Central and Taunton – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Weston-super-Mare and Severn Beach – Two/Four cars – 45 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads, Weston-super-Mare and Severn Beach
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth – Two/Four cars – 16.6 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads and Avonmouth
  • Bristol Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood – Four cars – 4.4 miles one-way – Charge at Bristol Temple Meads
  • Great Malvern and Westbury – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Gloucester and Weymouth – Probably needs electrification in the Bristol area.
  • Swindon and Westbury – Two/Four cars  32.5 miles one-way – Charge at Swindon and Westbury
  • Exmouth and Paignton – Four cars – 39.5 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids, Exmouth and Paignton
  • Exeter Central and Barnstaple – Two/Four cars – 39.6 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids and Barnstaple
  • Exeter Central and Okehampton – Two/Four cars – 25.6 miles one-way – Charge at Exeter St. Davids and Okehampton
  • Plymouth and Gunnislake – Two cars – 14.6 miles one-way – Charge at Plymouth and Gunnislake
  • Liskeard to Looe – Two cars – 8.3 miles one-way – Charge at Liskeard
  • Par and Newquay – Two cars – 20.8 miles one-way – Charge at Par and Newquay
  • Truro and Falmouth Docks – 11.8 miles one-way – Charge at Truro
  • St Erth and St Ives – 4.2 miles one-way – Charge at St. Erth

Note.

  1. Many of the charging stations could be standard systems that are available from companies like Furrer+Frey and Vivarail.
  2. Or alternatively, a short length of 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be erected.
  3. I suspect major stations like Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth will be electrified.
  4. There probably needs to be more electrification in the Bristol area.
  5. Mark Hopwood’s nose, that said two-car trains will be needed, is probably right.
  6. Some of the trains would need a third-rail capability.

I suspect that with appropriate charging or electrification nearly all of Great Western Railways services can be run using battery-electric trains.

It does appear that Eversholt Rail Group and Vivarail have got the specification of the trains very close to the ideal, with respect to Great Western Railway’s needs.

Southeastern

Southeastern is a fully-decarbonised train operating company, with respect to passenger services.

But it wants to reopen the Hoo Branch, which will need some self-powered trains. I wrote about this in Effort To Contain Costs For Hoo Reopening.

The Class 321 BEMU would surely be a possibility to extend London and Gravesend services, by a distance of about a dozen miles to a new station at Hoo.

These trains would need a third-rail capability.

 

 

August 17, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Are Finally Battery-Electric Trains Going To Enter Service?

In the April 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there are three articles about battery-electric trains on four different routes.

The technology has been a long-term arriving, as I had my first ride in a battery-electric train in February 2015, which I wrote about in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

What kept it so long?

May 5, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Vivarail Fast Charge System At West Ealing – 4th May 2022

This article on Rail Business UK is entitled UK Railway News Round-Up.

This is the first section.

Vivarail has awarded Sella Controls a contract to supply of Tracklink III Readers and beacons for GWR’s Class 230 battery train fast charging trial on the Greenford branch. As the train enters the station one beacon will initiate the deployment of the train collectors for charging, and another beacon will trigger the charging process when the train is in the correct position.

I went to West Ealing station today and took these pictures.

Note.

  1. The bay platform is Platform 5.
  2. I couldn’t see any signs of any Tracklink III Readers.
  3. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that two Class 230 trains could fit in Platform 5.

I took these pictures of the station in April 2021.

It does appear by comparing the pictures, that the biggest change is that the area on the far side of the track in Platform 5, which has been cleared.

May 4, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

New Trains Could Be Operating Through Flintshire From May But No Green Light For Two An Hour Service

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Transport for Wales (TfW) is aiming to bring a number of its new Class 230 trains into service on the Wrexham – Shotton – Bidston line next month, three years later than first planned.

However a two train per hour service promised by TfW from December 2021 is yet to be approved by the rail regulator due to an ongoing conflict with a freight operator.

The lateness of the new trains is down to the Covids.

This Google Map illustrates the ongoing conflict with the freight operator.

Note.

  1. The Borderlands Line running up the Eastern side of the map.
  2. Buckley station is at the North of the map.
  3. Pennyffordd station is at the South of the map.
  4. The Padeswood cement works is on a siding to the West of the line.

The problem is that when a cement train leaves the works, it blocks the railway line for an hour.

Improvements are obviously needed, if the two operators are to share this line.

The article suggests various ideas including Park-and-Ride facilities.

April 26, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 20 Comments

Battery Train And Fast Charger To Be Tested In London

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

This is the first paragraph.

Great Western Railway has signed an agreement to test Vivarail’s Class 230 battery multiple-unit and fast charging technology under real-world conditions on the 4 km non-electrified branch between West Ealing and Greenford in West London.

As an engineer, who started designing control systems for rolling mills in the mid-1960s and went on to get a Degree in Control and Electrical Engineering from Liverpool University, before working for ICI applying computers to a variety of problems, I can’t look at a railway line like the Greenford Branch without wanting to automate it.

I had one amateurish attempt in An Automated Shuttle Train On The Greenford Branch Line. I was trying to get four trains per hour (tph) on the branch and I don’t think that is possible, with the Class 230 trains.

Now we know the train we are dealing with, I could plan an automated system, that would drive the train.

  • Each journey on the branch takes around 11-12 minutes.
  • Two tph would take between 44 and 48 minutes shuttling between the two stations in an hour.
  • The article states that recharging takes ten minutes.
  • If the train charged the batteries once per hour, that would leave between two and six minutes for the other three stops.
  • Any freight train using the branch seems to take about six minutes, so they could sneak through, when the shuttle is having a fast charge.
  • I would also use a similar system to that originally used on the Victoria Line. After the driver has closed the doors and ascertained that there were no problems, they would press a button to move the train to the next station and then automatically open the doors.

From this rough calculation to run a two tph service, I suspect that the train needs to be able to go between West Ealing and Greenford stations in ten minutes. Assuming one ten minute Fast Charge per hour, this would give three minutes and twenty seconds to turn the train, at the three terminal station stops.

I certainly feel, that an automatic shuttle would be possible.

February 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And Great Western Branch Lines Between Paddington And Oxford

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

One reader suggested these lines in a comment, as they are all run by diesel Class 165 trains.

These are the lines, that could be converted to Hydrogen operation.

Greenford Branch

The branch runs between West Ealing and Greenford via Drayton Green, Castle Bar Park and South Greenford.

  • It has a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).
  • The branch is 2.5 miles long.
  • Services take eleven minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. In GWR To Test Battery Train On Branch Line, I wrote about Great Western Railway’s plans to test battery-eclectic trains on this line.
  2. The platform at Greenford station may need lengthening to accommodate the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.
  3. It is my view that the branch needs four tph.
  4. It might also be possible to run Peak hour services to and from Paddington.

I do think that if the train length issue is solved that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

A two-car Class 230 train would certainly fit.

Windsor Branch

The branch runs between Slough and Windsor & Eton Central.

  • It has a frequency of three tph
  • The branch is 2.8 miles long.
  • Services take six minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. The extra capacity of the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could be welcome.
  2. Prince Charles would like it.

I do think that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

Marlow Branch

The branch runs between Maidenhead and Marlow via Furze Platt, Cookham and Bourne End.

  • It has a frequency of one tph
  • The branch is 7.1 miles long.
  • Services take twenty-three minutes.
  • The service reverses at Bourne End.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note that the three-car Alstom Hydrogen Aventra may be too long to execute the reverse at Bourne End.

I do think that if the Bourne End problem can be solved that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

The two-car Class 165 train, that currently works the branch is 46 metres long, so a two-car battery-electric train may be needed for this branch. A two-car Class 230 train would certainly fit.

Regatta Line

The branch runs between Twyford and Henley-on-Thames via Wargrave and Shiplake.

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The branch is 4.6 miles long.
  • Services take twelve minutes.
  • It needs a single train to run the service.

Note.

  1. If this line needed more capacity trains could be doubled up, as there are no length issues.
  2. It might also be possible to run Peak hour services to and from Paddington.

I do think that a single Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could work this branch.

North Downs Line

The line runs between Reading and Gatwick Airport via Wokingham, Crowthorne, Sandhurst, Blackwater, Farnborough North, North Camp, Ash, Guildford, Shalford, Chilworth, Gomshall, Dorking West, Dorking Deepdene, Betchworth, Reigate and Redhill

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The route is 53.1 miles long.
  • The route is partially-electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The route has been planned for 100 mph trains.
  • Services take eighty-two minutes.
  • It needs six trains to run the service.

Note.

  1. The route is proposed to be run by four-car Class 769 bi-mode trains.
  2. Would a three-car train be sufficient for this route?
  3. The Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are only 90 mph trains and would they be fast enough?

I do think that Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this route, but given the number of trains and possible capacity and speed issues, a four-car battery-electric train could be better suited to the route.

Reading And Basingstoke Line

This line runs between Reading and Basingstoke via Reading West, Mortimer and Bramley

  • It has a frequency of two tph
  • The route is 15.4 miles long.
  • There is 25 KVAC overhead electrification at Reading.
  • There is 750 VDC third-rail electrification at Basingstoke, but the platform used by the service is unelectrified.
  • The route has been planned for 100 mph trains.
  • Services take twenty-eight minutes.
  • It needs two trains to run the service.

Note.

  1. For a battery-electric train to work this route, it might need a charging system at Basingstoke.
  2. The Alstom Hydrogen Aventras are only 90 mph trains and would they be fast enough?

I do think that a pair of Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this service.

Oxford Canal Line

This route runs between Didcot Psrkway and Banbury via Appleford, Culham, Radley, Oxford, Tackley, Heyford and Kings Sutton.

  • It is effectively two routes with a combined frequency of two tph between Didcot Junction and Oxford and half that between Oxford and Banbury.
  • The full route is 33 miles long.
  • There is 25 KVAC overhead electrification at Didcot Parkway.
  • Services take forty-one minutes.
  • It probably needs four trains to run the service.

I do think that a small fleet of Alstom Hydrogen Aventras could work this service.

Some General Thoughts

These are a few general points.

Stabling And Hydrogen Fuelling

Reading Train Care Facility is a large depot to the west of Reading.

  • It is ideally placed for all the lines, that I’ve mentioned.
  • It is connected to all the lines by electrified lines.

I am sure that it would be possible to build a hydrogen fuelling facility at the depot.

Two-Car Battery-Electric Trains

It looks like the Greenford and Marlow Branches might need to be served by two-car battery-electric trains.

Four-Car Trains

Some of the services might be run by four-car trains, as these would be more suitable for the number of passengers.

Total Number Of Trains

My rough estimates of numbers of trains are as follows.

  • Greenford Branch – 1 train
  • Windsor Branch – 1 train
  • Marlow Line – 1 train
  • Regatta Line – 1 train
  • North Downs Line – 6 trains
  • Reading And Basingstoke Line – 2 trains
  • Oxford Canal Line – 4 trains

This would be a total of sixteen trains or ten, if the Class 769 trains were used on the North Downs Line.

Additional Routes

There may be other routes, where the trains could be used, that are handy for Reading Train Care Facility.

Hydrogen or battery power may give advantages in opening new routes.

Would Hydrogen Trains Attract Passengers And Tourists?

I think they could, as if nothing there is a curiosity value.

Conclusion

This collection of routes surround Reading Train Care Facility and would be a nice package to run with hydrogen or battery-electric trains.

 

 

November 13, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Reopening the Stoke – Leek Line

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

These are my thoughts.

The State Of The Line Today

This sentence describes the Stoke  Leek Line in Wikipedia.

The Stoke to Leek line is a mothballed railway route, which up until 1988 was used by BR freight trains to reach the quarries at both Cauldon Lowe and Oakamoor.

This map was also clipped from Wikipedia.

Note.

  1. Leek is at the top of the map.
  2. Leek is a town of 21,000 people.
  3. The distance between Stoke-on-Trent and Leek is about eleven miles by road.
  4. The Waterhouses branch Line leads to the quarries.
  5. The Churnet Valley Line is a heritage line.

I have flown by virtual helicopter along the line and you can see a single-track railway amongst the weeds.

Leek

This Google Map shows Leek.

The original station was demolished to make way for the Morrisons supermarket.

I suspect that there is sufficient space close to the supermarket to fit in a simple single-platform station for the single-track from Stoke-on-Trent.

Rolling Stock

I suspect this line would best be served by battery-electric trains.

  • It’s no more than a dozen miles.
  • There is electrification at Stoke-on-Trent station.
  • Leek has the lower altitude by 220 ft.

I suspect a charging system would be needed at Leek.

Vivarail’s Class 230 trains could be ideal for this line.

Freight

Reading about the line, it appears that there are plans that propose reopening the line for traffic from the quarries.

It would need to be decided, if freight were to be allowed on the line.

Conclusion

This could be a useful passenger line, with a freight capability, if that were needed.

October 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reopening The Oswestry – Gobowen Line

On October 27th this Beeching Reversal Project was given £50,000 to build a case for reopening.

These are my thoughts.

Gobowen Station

Gobowen station appears to be a fine station.

Wikipedia says this about the future of the station.

Gobowen station may become the northern terminus of the proposed Cambrian Heritage Railways line to Llynclys, Pant and Blodwel via Oswestry. Shropshire Council was to acquire the coal yard at Gobowen for railway-related uses, including car parking for the station. If the plans are fully realised, the station would have three platforms, one of which would be for the Heritage Railway.

It does look as if, Shropshire Council have got the money for a full study.

This Google Map shows Gobowen station.

Note.

  1. The two tracks of the Chester-Shrewsbury Line each have a platform.
  2. Step-free access is by the level crossing, which is at the North end of the station.
  3. It looks like it would be space to convert the Northbound platform into an island platform, where the Western platform face would be for the heritage trains.

This second Google Map shows the tracks at the South end of Gobowen station.

Note.

There is a set of points to allow trains to access a third platform at Gobowen station.

The single-track line to Oswestry branches off to the West at the bottom of the map.

It would appear that a bay platform at Gobowen station can be created to handle trains to Oswestry.

Oswestry Station

Oswestry station appears to be another fine station.

  • It is also Grade II Listed.
  • It has just a single platform.
  • It appears to be owned by the local authority.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. The station is the large building with the chimneys in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. The single platform is behind it.
  3. The platform is long enough to take a 1200 metre long train.

This station would make an ideal terminus.

The Track Between Oswestry And Gobowen

The track is single-track with a couple of foot crossings, so I don’t think it will need much to bring it up to a modern standard.

A Shuttle Service Between Oswestry And Gobowen

I suspect a two-car shuttle train between the two stations would suffice for most of the day.

Transport for Wales have some Class 230 trains and these would be ideal. They could even be battery-electric trains if a battery charging system were to be installed at one station.

Could Avanti West Coast Run A Service To London?

It looks like Avanti West Coast’s Class 805 trains could run along the line between Gobowen and Oswestry.

So could Avanti’s planned service to Gobowen terminate at Oswestry instead?

It would all depend on the passenger forecasts and actual numbers

Could Avanti West Coast Run A Battery-Electric Service To London?

Consider.

  • Oswestry is a town of 17,500 people, so probably has a reasonable electricity supply, especially if it were to be backed up by a battery.
  • The amount of renewable electricity produced over the border in Wales is only going to grow.
  • There is plenty of space at Oswestry to put in a charging system to replace the batteries.

Distances are as follows.

  • Crewe and Chester – 21.1 miles
  • Chester and Gobowen – 24.6 miles
  • Gobowen and Oswestry – 3.3 miles

This is a total distance of 49 miles.

Avanti West Coast have ordered thirteen bi-mode Class 805 trains, which will replace the diesel Class 221 trains currently working between London Euston and Chester. Holyhead and Shrewsbury.

  • They will run at 125 mph between Euston and Crewe using electric power.
  • If full in-cab digital signalling were to be installed on the electrified portion of the route, they may be able to run at 140 mph in places under the wires.
  • They will use diesel power on the North Wales Coast Line to reach places like Chester, Holyhead and Wrexham.
  • According to an article in Modern Railways, the Class 805 trains could be fitted with batteries.

I wouldn’t be surprised that when they are delivered, they are a version of the Hitachi’s Intercity Tri-Mode  Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. I suspect that the batteries will be used to handle regenerative braking on lines without electrification, which will save diesel fuel and carbon emissions.
  2. The trains accelerate faster, than those they replace.
  3. The claimed fuel and carbon saving is twenty percent.
  4. It is intended that these trains will be introduced next year.

But Hitachi have not given any predictions of the range of these trains on battery power alone.

However, they do claim a battery range of 56 miles for the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is based on similar technology.

I believe it would be possible to run a zero-carbon London Euston and Oswestry service.

  • The trains would be Class 805 trains fitted with batteries.
  • Trains could stop at Milton Keynes Central, Lichfield Trent Valley, Stafford, Crewe, Chester, Wrexham General and Gobowen.
  • Trains would use electrification between London Euston and Crewe.
  • Trains would recharge their batteries South of Crewe and at Oswestry.

I doubt that a battery-electric zero-carbon train serving Cheshire, Shropshire and North-East Wales would have a negative effect on the area.

Just as Hull and Lincoln seem to be moving towards a frequency of one train per two hours from London, I wonder if this service could ever attain the same frequency.

Onward From Oswestry

Cambrian Heritage Railways are planning to run services past Oswestry on their heritage railway.

Will this be a good idea?

Where Now For First Group?

First Group are a shareholder in Avanti West Coast.

They also own Lumo, who last week launched their open-access service between London and Edinburgh. Their marketing is all about being green and sustainable.

I just wonder if a battery-electric service to Gobowen is successful, they will apply this model all over the group.

Hull Trains service between London and Hull is an obvious possibility for a battery-electric zero-carbon service.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that reopening of the Oswestry – Gobowen Line opens up other possibilities.

October 31, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vivarail To Unveil 80mph Super-Class 230 At COP26

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

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail intends to show off a new design of battery-powered zero-emission Class 230 unit at next month’s COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.

Features of the train include.

  • 80 mph operating speed, as opposed to 60 mph of the mph of the current Class 230 train and 45 mph of the original London Underground D78 Stock.
  • Two driver cars and a trailer car in between.
  • Ten minutes to fully charge the batteries.
  • The two driver cars have three battery packs.

I doubt the designers of the train at Metro-Cammell, envisaged this future development.

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 7 Comments