The Anonymous Widower

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 | , , , , | 12 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

Pop Up Metro Aims To Provide Affordable Passenger Operation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Trains News Wire.

It describes entrepreneur Henry Posner’s Railroad Development Corporation‘s concept of a Pop-Up Metro and how it is being demonstrated in Rockhill, Pennsylvania, where it is being demonstrated at the Rockhill Trolley Museum.

Routes suggested in the article include.

Not all these routes are fully electrified.

There is some interesting ideas in the concept.

The female project manager is also quoted as saying

I found that if you just say yes to Henry, something interesting happens!

Little did I think, that these days, I’d see that said in a serious article.

Let’s hope that represents the can-do approach behind the design, but staying within the rules of safety.

 

October 2, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Southall Station – 28th August 2021

Southall station is now another station, that is ready for Elizabeth!

I took these pictures this morning.

Note.

  1. It appears all four current platforms will be getting step-free access with lifts.
  2. The leg of the bridge to Platform 1 hasn’t been completed, although the lift tower is in place.
  3. The station signage is bi-lingual; English and Punjabi.
  4. A new modern station building has been added to the North of the original station building, which opened in 1839.
  5. A level walkway runs between  the new station building and the footbridge.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. This image was taken during building of the footbridge.
  2. The new station building and the walkway to the footbridge don’t appear to have been erected at the time of the image.
  3. The Southern pair of lines are the fast lines that go through Platforms 1 and 2.
  4. The Northern pair of lines are the slow lines that go through Platforms 3 and 4, which will be used by Crossrail.
  5. There is a fifth unused platform face, that shares the island and the stairs and future lift with Platform 1.

This map from cartometro.com shows the lines through the station in detail.

Note the single line coming in from the South-East is the freight-only Brentford Branch.

A Passenger Service On The Brentford Branch

It would appear that, when the builders complete the step-free footbridge at Southall station, that there will be a step-free interchange between Crossrail and any future passenger service on the Brentford Branch.

I feel that the Brentford Branch would be ideal for one of Adrian Shooter‘s Pop-Up-Metros, that would use Vivarail‘s Class 230 trains or similar.

In its simplest form a train would just shuttle between Brentford and the unnumbered fifth platform at Southall station.

August 28, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments