The Anonymous Widower

The Mathematics Of Fast-Charging Battery Trains Using Third-Rail Electrification

In Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains, I talked about how Vivarail are proposing to fast-charge their Class 230 trains.

  • The trains are fitted with special high-capacity third rail shoes.
  • Third-rail electrification is laid in stations.
  • The third rail is powered by a bank of bstteries, that are trickle-charged from the mains or perhaps even solar power.
  • When the train connects to the rail, the rail is made live and a fast transfer takes place between third-rail and train.

So how much electricity could be passed to a train during a stop?

The most powerful locomotive in the UK, that can use 750 VDC third-rail electrification is a Class 92 locomotive.

According to Wikipedia, it can produce a power output of 4 MW or 4,000 kW, when working on third-rail electrification.

This means, that in an hour, four thousand kWh will be transferred to the train using conventional third-rail electrification.

Or in a minute 66.7 kWh can be transferred.

In Vivarail’s system, because they are transferring energy between batteries, enormous currents can be passed.

To illustrate how batteries can can deliver enormous currents here’s a video of  a guy using two car batteries to weld things together.

These currents are possible because batteries have a low impedance and when the battery on the train is connected to the battery bank on the station, the two batteries will equalise their power.

If we take the example of the Class 92 locomotive and conventional electrification, this would be able to transfer 200 kWh in three minutes or 400 kWh in six minutes.

But I believe that battery-to-battery transfers could be at a much higher current

Thus in a typical one or two minute stop in a station, upwards of 200 kWh could be transferrred to the train..

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 6 Comments

Vivarail Wins Environment Award For Class 230 Train

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Vivarail has announced that they have won the Environment award for their Class 230 battery train and fast charge system.

The awards are one of the industry’s top events.

The article also says this about the Class 230 trains.

  • 60 miles range between charges
  • 10 minute recharge time
  • And can be fitted with range extenders (such as pantograph, genset or fuel cells)

Trains are getting more like houses.

After one useful life, someone comes along and gives them trains a makeover and they have a second useful life.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Units Take Over Marston Vale Services

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

The article contains an informative video of Adrian Shorter talking about the Class 230 train.

Much of the article and the video is information that has already been well reported.

Adrian Shooter does mention that the diesel-electric-battery versions of the Class 230 train for Transport for Wales will incorporate geo-fencing.

This would mean that in sensitive areas, the diesel engines would be cut out and only  battery power would be used.

The process would be controlled automatically using the train’s position from GPS.

This technique has been used on hybrid buses to lower emissions and noise levels in sensitive areas.

 

May 30, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail And Arcola Announce Partnership To Bring Emission-Free Trains To The UK

The title of this post is the same as this press release from Vivarail.

These are the first two paragraphs

Vivarail, designers and manufacturers of the Class 230 trains, and hydrogen fuel cell specialists Arcola Energy today announced a long-term collaboration.

The companies share a determination to help de-carbonise the UK’s transport system. Vivarail has already designed and run an emission-free battery train whilst Arcola lead the market in supplying power systems for efficient fuel cell electric vehicles, primarily buses, to the UK. Working together the companies will develop a hydrogen/battery hybrid train.

It strikes me that this could be a good fit.

Powering A Bus

In New Facility To Power Liverpool’s Buses With Hydrogen, I described Arcola Energy’s involvement in a project to create and fuel hydrogen-powered buses in conjunction with Alexander Dennis.

  • A typical hybrid double-decker bus like a New Routemaster has a battery capacity of 55 kWh.
  • If these Liverpool hydrogen-powered double-decker buses have serial hybrid transmission like the New Routemaster, I could envisage them having a battery of up to 100 kWh, as let’s face it, the New Routemaster design is now eight years old and battery technology has moved on.

So the Arcola Energy-sourced fuel cell must be able to continuously top-up, the battery, in the same manner as the diesel engine on a hybrid bus.

Sit in the back of a New Routemaster and you can hear the engine cutting in and out. It doesn’t seem to work very hard, even on routes like the 73, which operate at high loadings.

Powering A Class 230 Train

Vivarail’s battery-powered Class 230 train, has a battery capacity of  106 kWh.

This size of battery could certainly be changed by a hydrogen fuel cell.

But could a hydrogen fuel cell provide enough power to keep the train running?

  • Vivarail are clamming a range of fifty miles, which means that their two-car battery trains are consuming around 2 kWh for every mile.
  • I will assume the train is travelling at its operating speed of sixty mph, which is a mile every minute.
  • To keep the battery topped up would need 2 kWh to be produced every minute.

A hydrogen fuel cell with a rating of 120 kW would be needed to power the train continuously. But as the fuel cell would only be topping up the battery, I suspect that a smaller fuel cell would be sufficient.

The Ballard fuel cell is a HD variant of their  FCveloCity family.

This page on the Ballard web site is the data sheet of an HD fuel cell of their  FCveloCity family.

  • The fuel cells come in three sizes 60, 85 and 100 kW
  • The largest fuel cell would appear to be around 1.2 m x 1 m x 0.5 m and weigh around 400 Kg.
  • The fuel cell has an associated cooling subsystem, that can provide heat for the train.

This Ballard fuel cell would appear to be capable of mounting under the floor of a train.

There are probably several other fuel cells that will fit the Class 230 train.

Arcola should know the best hydrogen fuel cell for the application, in terms of size, power and cost.

The Concept Train

Vivarail’s press release describes a concept train.

The concept train will be used to demonstrate the system capability and test performance. Vivarail’s production hydrogen trains will consist of 4-cars, with 2 battery driving motor cars and 2 intermediate cars housing the fuel cell and tanks.

Vivarail seem very certain of the formation of production trains.

I am not surprised at this certaincy.

  • The mathematics of battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trains is well known.
  • Vivarail have experience  of running their battery-powered prototype.
  • Arcola have experience of the capabilities of hydrogen-power.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some  commonality between the Alexander Dennis and Vivarail installations.

Range Of A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

Nothing is said in Vivarail’s press release about the range on hydrogen.

In Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead, I examined Alstom’s Class 321 Breeze hydrogen train, based on an article in The Times.

I said this about range.

The Times gives the range of the train as in excess of 625 miles

The Class 321 Breeze looks to be designed for longer routes than the Class 230 train.

I would suspect that a hydrogen-powered Class 230 train would have the range to do a typical day’s work without refuelling.

Refuelling A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

I don’t think this will be a problem as Arcola appear to have the expertise to provide a complete solution.

Conclusion

This is a co-operation, where both parties are bringing strengths to the venture.

 

May 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will The Class 230 Trains Be Coming Home?

Long term readers of this blog, will notice, that I keep returning to the short Greenford Branch Line in West London.

  • It is four kilometres long
  • It runs between West Ealing and Greenford stations.
  • Greenford station is step-free and West Ealing station should be by December 2019.
  • There are three intermediate stations.
  • It is mainly double track, with a short length of single track at both ends.
  • Two trains per hour (tph) is provided by a single Great Western Railway (GWR) Class 165 diesel train.

It will be a valuable feeder route for passengers to and from Crossrail, which is rumoured to be opening to Reading in December 2019.

An opening of the Western branches of Crossrail between Paddington and Reading would bring the following services to West Ealing station.

  • Two tph between Paddington and Reading
  • Two tph between Paddington and Maidenhead
  • Four tph between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 4
  • Two tph between Paddington and Heathrow Terminal 5

Two tph shuttling between West Ealing and Greenford is a bad match to the future ten tph on Crossrail.

Four tph Run Between West Ealing And Greenford Stations

This would obviously be ideal, but is it possible?

This Google Map shows West Ealing Junction, where the Greenford Branch joins the Crossrail tracks alongside the Great Western Main Line.

Note how the two tracks of the Greenford Branch Line start in the North-west corner of the map.

  • They join into a single-track, which passes under the footbridge.
  • The tracks then split a few metres to the East of the bridge.
  • The Northern track goes into the bay Platform 5 at West Ealing station, which must be over eighty metres long.
  • The Southern track joins the Crossrail line towards Paddington.

The track layout allows the ocassional refuse trains to pass along the Greenford Branch Line, but would also allow four tph to be run into the bay Platform 5.

This picture shows the current state of the under-con step-free bridge at West Ealing station.

Once this bridge is complete, probably later this year, West Ealing station will be ready for four tph to Greenford.

The simplest safe operation would be for an incoming train to West Ealing station, to wait at Drayton Green station, until it was passed by the outgoing train. Once the points and the signals were set, the incoming train, would move into West Ealing station.

This Google Map shows the lines at the Greenford end of the Greenford Branch Line.

Note how the two tracks of the Greenford Branch Line start in the South-East corner of the map.

  • They join into a single track.
  • After a few metres, the tracks split into two.
  • The Western track dives under the Westbound Central Line and goes into the bay Platform at Greenford station.
  • The Northern track goes under both Central Line tracks and joins the Acton-Northolt Line.

It would appear that the track layout is designed so that four tph can work into Greenford station.

The Problem Of The Trains

The current Class 165 train works the line well.

  • A two-car train has enough capacity
  • At 45 metres long the train fits the short platform at Greenford station.
  • I estimate that in a month, the train does about 5,400 miles.

But as the only GWR diesel train, surrounded by large numbers of electric trains, the Class 156 train probably has to trundle some miles to be serviced.

In an ideal world, the train would have the following properties.

  • Less than fifty metres long.
  • Self-powered.
  • Ability to be serviced locally.
  • To run a four tph service, two trains and a spare would probably be needed

To look after the trains and hold the spare train, a convenient facility will be needed.

This Google Map shows the wider area around West Ealing station and West Ealing Junction.

Note the sidings between the Great Western Main Line, the Greenford Branch and the Plasser UK factory.

These sidings are where GWR stable some of their Class 387 trains.

But if the rumours are correct, that Crossrail is going to take over London to Reading services in December 2019, GWR will probably have less use for this facility.

It would surely, be an ideal mini-depot for the Greenford Branch Line fleet.

  • It is a secure site.
  • A refuelling facility could be provided, if necessary.
  • If a passenger service were to be started on the Brentford Branch Line, that is only a few miles away.

There may be a small amount of trackwork needed for efficient operation.

Did A Small Revolution Start In Bedford Yesterday?

In A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train, I wrote about my ride in the first Class 230 train to enter public service.

This was the conclusion to my post.

It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

So will a small fleet of Class 230 trains be coming back to London, where they spent the first nearly forty years of their working lives?

  • The Class 230 train is the right size.
  • The Class 230 train is a quality train, with an interior, that can be tailored to the route.
  • Servicing can be organised locally.
  • Diesel or battery power is available.

A fleet of four trains would provide the following services.

  • Four tph on the Greenford Branch Line.
  • One or two tph on the Brentford Branch Line.

One train would be spare.

What Is The Likelihood Of A Passenger Service On The Brentford Branch Line?

Like the Greenford Branch Line, the Brentford Branch Line could be a valuable feeder line for Crossrail.

  • Hounslow Council have been pushing for a passenger service between Southall and a station at the Golden Mile (The Great West Road)
  • South of the Golden Mile, the original route can be seen on Google Map and there might be possibilities to extend it to the original terminus.
  • It would be in walking distance of a lot of development at Brentford Lock West.
  • Unfortunately, a new viaductwould need to be built over the Great West Road.

If the branch gets passenger trains, I estimate that one train could run a two tph service between Southall and Brentford Golden Mile.

New developments around Brentford could be what eventually makes adding passenger trains to this freight line worthwhile.

What About The Costs?

Transport for London is probably very happy with the current service on the Greenford Branch Line, as it is not their responsibility.

If Crossrail opens to Reading in December 2019, I suspect GWR will look at this leftover from privatisation as a increasing nuisance.

The Wikipedia entry for the Class 230 train has a section on Cost Comparison.

  • Using the figures for a Class 150 train, GWR are spending about 14,300 pounds a month, plus staff and fuel to provide the current service.
  • Three Class 230 trains providing a four tph service would cost an operator about 25,300 pounds a month, plus staff and fuel.

How much extra revenue for Transport for London, would a four tph service on the Greenford Branch Line generate, if Crossrail were to open to Reading?

An extra train for the Brentford Branch ine would probably add another 9,000 a month, plus staff and fuel.

I have no evidence, but after my ride yesterday, I feel that Class 230 trains could transform the economics of rail services in West Ealing and Brentford.

Conclusion

Bring a small fleet of Class 230 trains home!

And while you’re about it, reopen the Brentford Branch Line to passenger trains with an hourly service.

April 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train

When I heard that London North Western Railway were running a new Class 230 train between Bedford and Bletchley, I just had to go.

These are my thoughts.

Comparison With D78 Stock

I regularly used the D78 Stock from their introduction in 1980 until their retirement in 2017. In Raw Material For A New Train, I showed a few pictures of one of the last D78 Stock trains to be in service.

The picture with the orange doors shows a Class 378 train, at the same platform as the D78 train for comparison.

The trains have certainly undergone changes with new wndows and a new interior, but some components like the  longitudinal seats, appear to have just been refurbished.

But the Class 230 train has retained the well-lit feel of the D78 Stock.

An Interior For All Passengers

Passengers come in many different types and the interior has been well-designed to cope all types of passengers who might use the train.

As it also takes clues from other trains, that work on high-capacity routes, I feel it would cope well if on perhaps a weekend, there was some form of event or festival.

Longitudinal Seating

Vivarail have retained some of the old London Underground longitudinal seating, which must be unique in the UK outside the London Underground/Overground and the Glasgow Subway.

But it does seem to fit in more seats.

Seat Comfort

To me, seat comfort is all important, as I have a posterior that objects to certain seats, like those on Thameslink’s Class 700 trains.

But these seats were fine, despite the fact they looked like the dreaded Thameslink seats. But then perhaps the padding is different!

Tables

LNWR have chosen to fit several tables in these trains, which were big enough to lay out a tabloid-sized newspaper.

Wi-Fi, Power And USB Points

Wi-fi is fitted to this train and there were numerous power and USB points. The latter were in the armrests of the longitudinal seats, which in my view, is the obvious, if not essential place. Other train manufacturers please note!

An Unfussy, Surprisingly Quiet And Workmanlike Ride

Passengers don’t generally rave about the quality of the ride in Underground trains and I would generally describe the ride of the average Underground train as workmanlike.

But then I’ve been riding Underground trains for at least sixty-five years and a modern S7 Stock train, is so much better than the 1938 Stock trains I can remember.

The ride of the Class 230 train is unfussy, surprisingly quiet and it still has that workmanlike quality of forty-year-old Underground trains.

Without doubt though, the ride and especially the noise is much better than the Alstom Coradia iLint, that I wrote about in My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint.

Engine Noise

The two diesel engines beneath our feet, were not any more noticeable, than the engine on one of London’s Routemaster buses.

I would expect that High quality noise suppression techniques have been used.

An Air Of Quality

The finish of the train appeared to have a good quality

Operating Speed

Using the |SpeedView app on my phone, the train seemed to trundle on happily at around 45-50 mph.

Passenger Reaction

The passengers seemed to be fairly pleased with their new train, and several said it was better than the single car Class 153 train.

A Senior Manager from LNWR, also seemed pleased with his new train.

Conclusion

It is a well-designed train, that impressed me.

It should find a niche in the train market.

The fact that the train is in service, will in itself provoke interest from train operating companies and Councils and other groups promoting new or reopened train services.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more orders this year.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 4 Comments

Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains

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

A few points from the article.

  • Class 230 trains running on battery power have a range of sixty miles.
  • Fully charging the train takes seven minutes.
  • Short lengths of third and fourth-rail are used.
  • Power is provided from a battery bank, which is trickle charged.

I feel this paragraph describes the key feature.

The automatic technique utilises a carbon ceramic shoe, which is capable of withstanding the significant amount of heat generated during the process.

The article finishes with a quote from Vivarail CEO Adrian Shooter.

I know how important it is to the public and the industry as a whole to phase out diesel units and our battery train is paving the way for that to take place today not tomorrow.

Consider.

  • Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens and Stadler have built or are building third-rail powered trains for the UK.
  • Bombardier, Porterbrook and Stadler are developing battery-powered trains for the UK.
  • Trickle-charging of the secondary batteries could be performed by mains power or a local renewable source like wind or solar.
  • Control electronics can make this a very safe system, with low risk of anybody being hurt from the electrical systems.

I’ve said it before, but I think that Vivarail may have some very important technology here.

If I have a worry, it is that unscrupulous companies and countries will probably find a way round any patent.

 

March 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 5 Comments

More About Steamology Motion

In Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators, I talked about a company called Steamology, who were given a grant by the Department for Transport to develop a method of converting hydrogen into energy.

The company is called Steamology Motion and in Issue 872 of Rail Magazine more details are given in an article, which is entitled DFT Hands Out £350,000 Each To Five Rail Green Schemes.

This is said in the article.

Steamology Motion, the final recipient, aims to create a new zero-emmissions power train for a Vivarail Class 230 train. The W2W system generates steam from compressed hydrogen and oxygen stored in tanks. The steam then drives a turbine to generate electricity.

The concept is aimed at being a ‘range extender’ able to charge onboard battery packs.

My mathematical modelling skills for this type of system have never been strong, but I’m sure that others will know how much hydrogen and oxygen are needed to charge a 200 kWh battery.

  • A quick search of the Internet reveals that small steam turbines could be available
  • I very much suspect, that as the system is a ‘range extender’, rather than a power unit to take the train hundreds of miles, that the physical size of the gas tanks will be smaller than those proposed by Alston for their hydrogen conversion of a Class 321 train.

I also don’t think that the DfT would have given £350,000 to the company, if the the physics and the mathematics weren’t credible.

Conclusion

If this technology is successful, I suspect it could have other applications.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Spearheads Development Of Green Fuel Technologies

The title of this post is the same as that of this press release from Vivarail.

The press release describes and shows visuals of their new hydrogen-powered Class 230 train.

These are a few points from the press release.

A Four-Car Train

This is said about the basic philosophy of the design.

Vivarail’s on-going success in launching new technologies to the UK market means it is the only train manufacturer with a fully approved base train to work from. The hydrogen train will follow the design of the Transport for Wales fleet with two driving motor cars powered by Hoppecke batteries, the only difference being that instead of a diesel genset beneath the intermediate car the hydrogen train will have two carriages housing the fuel cells and hydrogen tanks.

Building on an approved base train must be the way to go.

Underfloor Power

This is said about the position of the hydrogen tanks and the fuel cells.

Unlike other trains the Vivarail Class 230s will store all the equipment beneath the floor making a much more stream-lined and efficient vehicle able to carry more passengers and deliver faster journey times.

I would suspect that Vivarail have designed tanks and fuel cells, that take up less space.

Modular Design

The design appears to be modular from this extract.

Vivarail’s standard modular power pack designs allow easy transition from one power source to another – in this case simply adapting a genset to a fuel cell.  Both sit in the same space envelope beneath the train and indeed a train built as a diesel unit could be converted to run with hydrogen if required.

Would you design it, any other way?

Range Of 650 Miles

This is a thousand kilometres and seems to be the design range of most hydrogen trains.

Class-Leading Acceleration

It is a good idea to look at the ratio of weight to length of a basic trains, that will be converted to hydrogen power.

The difference is probably because the D78 Stock is  built from aluminium.

Keeping the weight down is a good way to increase the rate of acceleration.

Regenerative Braking

Why would you design a train without it?

Conclusion

The only supplier mentioned in the press release is Hoppecke, who will be making the batteries.

It looks to me that Vivarail have looked at every component for a hydrogen train and chosen the best ones with respect to performance, size and weight.

I shall be looking forward to taking a ride!

 

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Vivarail And Hoppecke Announce Long-term Supply Of Batteries For Class 230s

The title of this post is the same as that of a press release from Vivarail.

Some extracts.

A 3-car Class 230 can run for 65 miles between charges which means they are more than able to operate numerous routes throughout the UK, and active conversations are taking place with interested operators. Battery trains enable emission-free rail travel in areas where electrification is either non- or only partially existent. The trains are particularly suited to urban routes where authorities wish to eliminate pollution caused by traditional DMUs as well as scenic lines where the natural environment needs protecting.

A Sixty-five mile range is very respectable and a good start.

Currently Vivarail is building a fleet of diesel/battery hybrids to operate the Wrexham-Bidston line for Transport for Wales, where the diesel gensets will be used to charge the batteries not to power the train. This power variant gives the range of a diesel train, the performance of an EMU (with acceleration of 1m p/s/s up to 40 miles per hour) and combines it with emission-free travel. As well as using the genset to charge the batteries the train also has regenerative braking – as do all the battery trains.

The acceleration is up there with a Class 345 train.

Hoppecke’s Lithium Ion batteries are ideally suited for the Class 230s by providing the rapid charging needed for battery trains. Simulations and performance data show that many non-electrified routes can be operated by the Class 230 battery trains and to make this possible in the short-term Vivarail has designed and patented an automatic charging system and battery bank. This means that costs of both infrastructure upgrades and daily operation are hugely minimised – in some cases by millions of pounds.

The batteries will probably be fairly traditional, but reading about Hoppecke on the web, they seem to be a company that believes in service. They also seem to supply back-up power supplies for critical infrastructure like telecommunications and computing.

Note too, that Vivarail have patented their charging system.

Designs for other types of hybrid trains exist including the use of existing OHL with a pantograph and transformer and 3rd rail with shoegear. Additionally, a new hydrogen variant is being developed which, similarly to the diesel hybrid, will exceed the pure battery train’s range of 65 miles.

Other power sources could be added, when they are invented.

A Serial Hybrid Train

The Class 230 trains for Wales are actually serial hybrids, just like one of London’s Routemaster buses. As the Press Release says, the generator set charges the batteries and these drive the train.

In the Press Release the following methods are mentioned for charging the batteries.

  • Diesel generators on the train.
  • Static charging systems at stations.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • 25 KVAC overhead line electrification.
  • 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Vivarail have split the control systems into two-more or-less independent systems; one keeps the batteries charged up in an optimal manner and the other links the batteries to the train’s systems and traction motors.

I also suspect that Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph Aventra With Batteries is a serial hybrid.

Conclusion

Is there anything recycled London Underground trains can’t do?

I have read somewhere, that Vivarail have talked about on-board self-service coffee machines!

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 8 Comments