The Anonymous Widower

Vivarail’s Plans For Zero-Emission Trains

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the Modern Railways web site.

This is the introductory subtitle.

Vivarail Chairman Adrian Shooter talks to Modern Railways about the company’s Class 230s and its plans for battery trains.

The article is mainly a video of Mr. Shooter talking in front of various examples of Vivarail trains.

It’s probably easier to watch the video and listen on what is said.

But I have some thoughts on what he said.

Battery Range

Consider.

  • Early on in the video he talks about a battery range of forty miles with four battery packs on the train.
  • He also talks about switching battery supplier to Hoppecke.
  • Later he says that a train with six battery packs in the train, has a hundred mile range.

That is impressive.

The number of battery packs has increased by 50 % and the range has gone up by two-and-a-half times.

If those figures are right and I’ve no reason to disbelieve them, then Hoppecke have done a good job with the batteries.

A very rough calculation indicates their size.

  • The current 4 x 100 kWh takes the train 40 miles, which is 10 kWh per mile.
  • So to travel a hundred miles will need 1000 kWh.
  • Divide by six batteries and you get 167 kWh per battery or a 67 % increase in individual battery capacity.

If these are a new generation of batteries, what would they do for Hitachi’s Regional Battery train, which is proposed to have a range of 56 miles? They could give it a range of around 93 miles.

These ranges of distances would be very useful to manufacturers of battery trains.

Charging Battery Trains Using Vivarail’s Fast Charge System

The video did give a few more details of Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

I was also able to take this screen capture from the video, which shows the extra rails used to pass charge to the train and the batteries.

Note.

  • The rails are well-shielded. Not that they’re live unless a train is over the top and connected.
  • The driver  just has to stop the train in the correct place and automation does the rest.
  • This image is four minutes and thirty-five seconds into the video.

My only problem with the design is that those thick copper cables used to bring electricity to the train, way be a tempting target for metal thieves.

Vivarail Now Has Permission To Charge Any Train

Mr. Shooter said this about Vivarail’s Fast Charge system.

The system has now been given preliminary approval to be installed as the UK’s standard charging system for any make of train.

I may have got the word’s slightly wrong, but I believe the overall message is correct.

In the November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is a transcript of what Mr. Shooter said.

‘Network Rail has granted interim approval for the fast charge system and wants it to be the UK’s standard battery charging system’ says Mr. Shooter. ‘We believe it could have worldwide implications.’

I hope Mr. Shooter knows some affordable lawyers, as in my experience, those working in IPR are not cheap.

A Prototype Class 230 Train That Can Use 25 KVAC Is Under Construction

Mr. Shooter also announced that a version of the train with a third can in the middle, with a pantograph on the roof and a 35 KVAC transformer is under construction.

This will enable batteries to be charged from existing electrification.

I can already think of a few routes, where this train could be used.

  • Bedford and Bletchley – It would replace a diesel-electric Class 230 train.
  • Poulton-le-Fylde and Fleetwood
  • Oxenholme and Windermere
  • Glasgow Central and East Kilbride
  • Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland
  • Chester and Crewe – It would replace a battery Class 230 train
  • West Ealing and Greenford
  • Slough and Windsor Central
  • Henley and Twyford
  • Maidenhead and Marlow

This could be the standard train in many places.

The November 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, also has more details on this project.

  • The centre vehicle is under construction at their factory at Seaham in County Durham.
  • Mr. Shooter is quoted as saying. ‘We’ve identified 60 lines on partially electrified tracks’

Vivarail plans to demonstrate the concept on the Northumberland Line to Blyth and Ashington next spring.

West Highland Opportunity

This is a section of the print article, that is not mentioned in the video.

This is the introductory paragraph.

While Mr. Shooter highlights several opportunities south of the border to deploy the 25kV/battery Class 230, he is particularly interested in deployment of Vivarail trains in Scotland.

And this is the last paragraph, describing a possible deployment on the West Highland Line.

Top of the list is the West Highland Line.

Here a 25kV/battery Class 230 would operate under electric power from Glasgow Queen Street to Craigendoran Junction, switching there to battery power. The batteries could be topped up on the way using Vivarail’s fast charge system, with Mr, Shooter suggesting this could take place at Crianlarich, Oban and Fort William. On the West Highland the 60 mph top speed of the Class 230 is not prohibitive as the top speed on the route does not exceed this.

If this sounds familiar, I made a similar proposal in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, in a section, which is entitled Electric Trains On The West Highland Line Between Glasgow And Mallaig/Oban. I start with this sentence.

This might be considered as difficult as putting a London bus on the Moon.

But that was done by the Daily Sport newspaper, so perhaps my reasoning is the same as Vivarail’s.

My conclusion of the section was as follows.

What would battery-electric trains to Oban and Mallaig do for tourism in the area?

Hitachi would have one of the most scenic and iconic test tracks in the world!

These statements would surely, apply to a Vivarail train or a battery electric Class 385 train.

Pop-Up Metro

Mr. Shooter shows a battery train, which is going to the United States to trial a concept called a Pop-up Metro.

  • In the US, there are hundreds of lightly used freight lines serving towns and cities
  • Temporal separation would mean that freight and passenger trains used the lines at different times of the day.
  • Battery powered Vivarail trains could provide a Metro service.

He also talked about his US partner and 50 % shareholder in Vivarail, leasing trains for a year, to see if the concept was viable in a given area. He indicated, the cost could be less than a consultant’s report.

Could the Pop-up Metro concept work in the UK?

In these possible Beeching Reversal projects, there could be scope for using the concept.

Note.

  1. Some of these are on heritage railway infrastructure. Does a Class 230 train count a heritage unit?
  2. The Aston Rowant Extension is Chiltern territory, so Mr. Shooter could know it well!
  3. In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 230 train, there is a useful Cost Comparison.

I should say, that I like the concept of a Pop-up Metro.

  • The trains have proved they are up to the job.
  • A package of one or two trains and a containerised charging system could surely be created.
  • Installation of the battery charger in many platforms would not be a major engineering project costing millions.
  • On a heritage railway, the enthusiasts could probably do it from their own resources.

But the best point to me, is that a system could probably be leased for a year on a Try-Before-You-Buy basis for less than the cost of a consultant’s report.

Go for it!

Conversion Of Diesel Multiple Units To Battery Electric Multiple Units

This was the bombshell in the tail of the video.

There a lot of diesel multiple units in the UK and Mr. Shooter and Vivarail have developed a plan to convert some of them to battery electric operation.

The trains he is proposing to convert are diesel multiple units, that use a Voith transmission, which I list in How Many Diesel Multiple Units In The UK Have Voith Hydraulic Transmissions?.

Consider.

  • There are 815 trains on my list.
  • All have a Voith hydraulic transmission, with most having similar type numbers starting with T211.
  • Some are 75 mph trundlers and others are full-on 100 mph expresses.
  • All have one engine and transmission per car.

They fit into distinct groups.

Sprinters

Sprinters are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

The earliest were built in 1984 and all were built in the last century.

  • There are 314 trains in total.
  • All have a Cummins engine of 213 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 75 mph.

The trains may be elderly, but like some well-known actresses, they scrub up well with a little TLC.

The pictures show an immaculate refurbished Class 150 train, that I travelled on in Devon.

With a battery electric transmission, they would make a superb rural route and branch line train.

Express Sprinters

Express Sprinters are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

  • The earliest were built in 1990 and all were built in the last century.
  • There are 202 trains in total.
  • All have a Cummins engine of between 260 and 300 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 90 mph.

These pictures show a Class 159 train on a visit to the Swanage Railway, where it was shuttling in visitors.

With a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 90 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

Scotrail have forty Class 158 trains, which run on the following routes.

  • Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland – 5.5 miles
  • Fife Circle Line – 61 miles round trip
  • Stonehaven and Inverurie – 66 miles round trip.
  • Borders Railway – 70 miles round trip.
  • Edinburgh and Arbroath – 76 miles
  • Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh – 82.5 miles
  • Inverness and Aberdeen – 108 miles – Inter7City route.
  • Inverness and Wick – 174 miles
  • Inverness and Edinburgh – 175 miles – Inter7City route.

Note.

  1. The routes are shown in order of length.
  2. Anything over a hundred miles would need intermediate charging.
  3. Some routes would need charging at both ends.
  4. Glasgow Queen Street and Anniesland would probably not need a Class 158, but is very suitable for a battery electric train.
  5. The three longest routes from Inverness are probably too long for battery electric power, but two are run by Inter7City trains.
  6. A battery electric train on the Inverness and Kyle of Lochalsh route, would surely be a tourist asset.

With an eighty mile range, ScotRail could find a battery-equipped Class 158 train very useful.

Networkers

Networkers are a group of trains that were produced by British Rail.

  • The earliest were built in 1990 and all were built in the last century.
  • There are 96 trains in total.
  • All have a Perkins engine of 261 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211r transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 75 or 90 mph.

These pictures show ac selection of Class 165 and Class 166 trains.

As with the Express Sprinters, with a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 90 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

The Networkers are used by Great Western Railway and Chiltern Railways.

  • Great Western Railway do run a few long routes with their Networkers, but these routes would probably be too long for battery operation.
  • Local routes around Bristol, Exeter and Plymouth and some short branch lines could be possibilities for battery operation.
  • Great Western Railway have also leased tri-mode Class 769 trains for the Reading and Gatwick route.
  • Chiltern Railways don’t run their Networkers on the longer routes to Birmingham.
  • But they do run them on the shorter routes to Aylesbury (39 miles), Aylesbury Vale Parkway (41 miles), Banbury (69 miles), Gerrards Cross (19 miles), High Wycombe (28 miles), Oxford (66 miles) and Stratford-upon-Avon (104 miles).
  • Some of these Chiltern routes must surely be possibilities for battery operation. Especially, as all the stations in the list, don’t appear to be the most difficult to add a Fast Charge facility.

With an eighty mile range, battery-equipped Networkers could be very useful.

Turbostars

Turbostars are a group of trains that were produced at Derby.

  • The earliest were built in the last few years of the the last century.
  • There are 177 trains in total.
  • All have an MTU engine of 315 kW, with one engine per car.
  • They have a Voith T211 transmission, which drives two axles per car.
  • They have an operating speed of 100 mph.

These pictures show a selection of Turbostar trains.

As with the Express Sprinters and the Networkers, with a battery electric transmission, that gave a range of say 80 miles at 100 mph, they would be low cost competition for Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train on secondary routes.

The post; DfT and Arriva CrossCountry Sign Agreement is partly based on this article on Railway News, which has the same name.

This is a paragraph from the original article.

One element of this new contract is a focus on reducing the environmental impact of the operator’s diesel fleet. For instance, Arriva CrossCountry will do a trial of using electrical shore supplies on its Bombardier Turbostar fleet when these trains are in depots for cleaning. Trains are cleaned both in the winter and at night, which means that the interior lighting and heating systems have to be powered. By using electricity to power these systems instead of the trains’ diesel engines, there will be a reduction in both emissions and noise pollution, which is doubly important when the depots are near built-up areas.

If Turbostars were to have their power unit and transmission updated to battery electric, there would be less need to provide shore supplies to where the trains were to be cleaned.

How Would Sprinters, Express Sprinters, Networkers And Turbostars Be Converted To Battery Electric Power?

The layout of the transmission in all these trains is very similar.

That is not surprising, as they are effectively different interpretations of the same theme over four decades.

  • A diesel engine provides the power.
  • On the back of the diesel engine, a hydraulic transmission is mounted.
  • The transmission performs a similar function to an automatic gearbox in a car. Trains like cars perform better in the right gear.
  • The transmission is connected to the final drive in one or more of the bogies using a cardan shaft. The propeller shaft in many rear-wheel-drive vehicles, is a cardan shaft.

In the video at about 5 mins 50 seconds, Mr. Shooter outlines how the train will be converted to battery electric drive.

  • The diesel engine, hydraulic transmission, radiator, fuel tank and all the other diesel-related gubbins will be removed.
  • A 280 kW electric traction motor will be installed, which will be connected to the cardan shaft.
  • Batteries will be installed. Possibly, they will fit, where the diesel engine was originally located.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the weight of the battery was similar to that of all the equipment that has been removed, as this would mean the train’s handling wouldn’t change.

  • Acceleration will be faster, as it is in electrically-powered road vehicles.
  • The traction motor can work in reverse to slow the train and the energy regenerated by braking can be stored in the batteries.
  • Mr. Shooter doesn’t say if his battery electric trains use regenerative braking in the video, but it is possible and a common procedure, as it saves energy.

An intelligent control system will control everything  according to the driver’s needs and wishes.

This extract from the print edition, gives Mr. Shooter’s advantages of this diesel to battery electric conversion.

‘Unlike cars, trains have a planned duty cycle so you can easily plan for when the batteries should be charged’ says. Mr. Shooter. ‘Our analysis shows the fuel cost would be halved and the maintenance cost would be halved compared to a DMU. And to allay concerns about battery life we would offer to lease batteries on a cost per mile. You get the financial payback within five years, with the greenness free of charge!’ Mr. Shooter reports early work by Vivarail suggests a converted battery train on the Far North line might need fast charge stations at four locations.

 

Where In The World Is This?

The print edition of the interview poses an interesting question.

Mr. Shooter says the opportunities are significant, and reports Vivarail is in discussions with an overseas customer about a bid for battery trains for a new 500 mile line which would incorporate 12 fast charge points at stations. He also said customers are suggesting the use of solar parks or even tidal power to feed the static batteries at the fast charge stations, rather than power coming from the local supply.

Imagine two large cities about 500 miles apart, with a string of small towns between them.

  • The small towns might be on a scenic river or coastline.
  • Commuters drive to both cities.
  • People from the two cities visit the area to relax.
  • There might even be a lightly used freight line or a dismantled railway alignment running between the cities.
  • Perhaps, the road network is overloaded and a green alternative is needed.

Given, Vivarail is part-owned, by an American entrepreneur, I would expect, the proposed line is somewhere in North America. But I also think there would be possibilities in Australia, around the coast of the Baltic Sea and India and South East Asia.

Cpnclusion

This is the conclusion of the print article in Modern Railways.

While electrification will be the key component in decarbonising traction emissions, battery technology will have a role to play, and Vivarail is at the forefront of this development.

I wholeheartedly agree.

 

October 18, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cleethorpes Station – 16th September 2020

On Wednesday, I took a trip on the South Humberside Main Line from Doncaster to Cleethorpes and back.

Cleethorpes station is a terminal station on the beach, with cafes not far away.

This Google Map shows the station and its position on the sea-front and the beach.

The station organisation was a bit shambolic at present, probably more to do with COVID-19 than anything else, but the station and the train services could be developed into something much better, when the good times return, as they surely will.

Improving The Station Facilities

The original station building is Grade II Listed and although it is only only a three-platform station, there used to be more platforms.

Five platforms or even six would be possible, if there were to be a need.

But as the station has wide platforms, is fully step-free and has most facilities passengers need, most of the improvements would involve restoring the original station building for a productive use.

The Current Train Service

The main train service is an hourly TransPennine Express service between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport stations via Grimsby Town, Scunthorpe, Doncaster, Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly.

The trains are Class 185 trains, which are modern diesel multiple units, which entered service in 2006.

There is also a two-hourly service along the Barton Line to Barton-upon-Humber station.

It should be noted that all services to and from Cleethorpes, call at Grimsby Town station.

Could The TransPennine Service Be Run By Battery Electric Trains?

The route between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport can be split into the following legs.

  • Cleethorpes and Grimsby Town – Not Electrified – 3,25 miles – 8 minutes
  • Grimsby Town and Habrough – Not Electrified – 8 miles – 12 minutes
  • Habrough and Doncaster – Not Electrified – 41 miles – 56 minutes
  • Doncaster and Sheffield – Not Electrified – 19 miles – 29 minutes
  • Sheffield and Stockport – Not Electrified – 37 miles – 41 minutes
  • Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly – Electrified – 6 miles – 10 minutes
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport – Electrified – 11 miles – 12 minutes

Note.

  1. At the Manchester end of the route, trains are connected to the electrification for at least 44 minutes.
  2. The longest non-electrified leg is the 52 miles between Cleethorpes and Doncaster stations.
  3. Doncaster is a fully-electrified station.

This infographic shows the specification of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train.

TransPennine Express has a fleet of nineteen Class 802 trains, which can have their diesel engines replaced with battery packs to have a train with the following performance.

  • 125 mph operating speed, where electrification exists.
  • 56 mile range at up to 100 mph on battery power.
  • 15 minute battery charge time.
  • Regenerative braking to Battery.
  • They are a true zero-carbon train.

What infrastructure would be needed, so they could travel between Cleethorpes and Manchester Airport stations?

  • If between Cleethorpes and Habrough stations were to be electrified, this would give at least 20 minutes of charging time, plus the time taken to turn the train at Cleethorpes. This would surely mean that a train would leave for Manchester, with a full load of electricity on board and sufficient range to get to Doncaster and full electrification.
  • If between Doncaster and Sheffield were to be electrified, this would give at least 25 minutes of charging time, which would be enough time to fully-charge the batteries, so that Grimsby Town in the East or Stockport in the West could be reached.

I suspect that Doncaster and Sheffield could be an early candidate for electrification for other reasons, like the extension of the Sheffield tram-train from Rotherham to Doncaster.

Could The Cleethorpes And Barton-on-Humber Service Be Run By Battery Electric Trains?

Cleethorpes And Barton-on-Humber stations are just 23 miles apart.

This is probably a short enough route to be handled on and out and back basis, with charging at one end by a battery electric train. Vivarail are claiming a sixty mile range for their battery electric Class 230 trains on this page of their web site.

If between Cleethorpes and Grimsby Town stations were to be electrified, this would mean that a range of only forty miles would be needed and the batteries would be charged by the electrification.

A full hourly service, which is surely needed, would need just two trains for the service and probably a spare.

Cleethorpes And London King’s Cross Via Grimsby Town, Market Rasen, Lincoln Central And Newark North Gate

The Wikipedia entry for Cleethorpes station has references to this service.

This is the historical perspective.

In the 1970s Cleethorpes had a twice daily return service to London King’s Cross, typically hauled by a Class 55 Deltic.

That must have been an impressive sight.

And this was National Express East Coast’s plan.

In August 2007, after National Express East Coast was awarded the InterCity East Coast franchise, it proposed to start services between Lincoln and London King’s Cross from December 2010 with one morning service and one evening service extending from Lincoln to Cleethorpes giving Cleethorpes a link to London and calling at Grimsby Town and Market Rasen. These services were to be operated using the Class 180s but was never introduced. These services were scrapped when East Coast took over the franchise.

It came to nothing, but LNER have been running up to five trains per day (tpd) between London King’s Cross and Lincoln.

I will split the route into legs.

  • London King’s Cross and Newark North Gate- Electrified – 120 miles
  • Newark North Gate and Lincoln Central – Not Electrified – 16,5 miles
  • Lincoln Central and Market Rasen – Not Electrified – 15 miles
  • Market Rasen and Habrough – Not Electrified – 21 miles
  • Habrough and Grimsby Town – Not Electrified – 8 miles
  • Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes – Not Electrified – 3.25 miles

Note that a  round trip between Newark North Gate and Lincoln Central is thirty-three miles.

This means it would be possible for one of LNER’s Class 800 trains, that had been fitted with a battery pack and converted into one of Hitachi’s Regional Battery trains, would be able to run a London King’s Cross and Lincoln Central service without using a drop of diesel or needing a charge at Lincoln Central station.

Would it be possible to extend this service to Grimsby Town on battery power?

I suggested earlier that between Cleethorpes and Habrough should be electrified.

As Newark North Gate and Habrough stations are 52.5 miles apart, it would be rather tight for a battery electric train to cover the whole route without an extra charge somewhere.

Possible solutions could be.

  • Fit a bigger battery in the trains.
  • Extend the electrification at Newark North Gate station.
  • Extend the electrification at Habrough station.

I;m sure that there is a solution, that is easy to install.

Conclusion

If between Habrough and Cleethorpes station were to be electrified, these services could be run by battery electric trains.

  • Cleethorpes and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber
  • Cleethorpes and London King’s Cross

Note.

  1. The Manchester and London services would be run by Hitachi Regional Battery Trains converted from Class 800 and Class 802 trains.
  2. The Barton service could be run by a Vivarail Class 230 train or similar.

The first two services would be hourly, with the London service perhaps 1 or 2 tpd.

Cleethorpes would be well and truly on the rail network.

September 18, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Targets Overseas Markets

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

This is an extract from the article.

Shooter told RAIL: “We are at the moment putting together a bid for an operator – not in this country – where the routes would be up to 500 miles long, to be provided totally with battery trains using this device.

“This bid we are putting together contemplates trains that are running for several hours – 60 to 70 miles between charging stations, but possibly going twice that far in emergency if the charging station should go down.”

By this device I suspect they mean their Fast Charge device, which is described in this press release from Vivarail.

This extract describes how it works.

The concept is simple – at the terminus 4 short sections of 3rd and 4th rail are installed and connected to the electronic control unit and the battery bank. Whilst the train is in service the battery bank trickle charges itself from the national grid – the benefit of this is that there is a continuous low-level draw such as an EMU would use rather than a one-off huge demand for power.

The train pulls into the station as normal and the shoegear connects with the sections of charging rail.  The driver need do nothing other than stop in the correct place as per normal and the rail is not live until the train is in place.

That’s it!

That sounds simple to me.

Where Would This Possible Order Be From?

I have ridden in a Vivarail battery train, as I wrote in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

I have also ridden the diesel variant, as I wrote in A First Ride In A Revenue-Earning Class 230 Train.

I very much feel, I can list a few of the good qualities of the trains.

Big Windows

The big windows give a good view, so I wonder if the trains would work well on a railway noted for its scenery.

Quietness

I have ridden in two battery trains.

The other was Bombardier’s Class 379 BEMU, that I wrote about in Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?.

Both were extremely quiet.

No Infrastructure Required

Except for the charging stations, no infrastructure is required.

Sturdy Engineering

Although the trains were only originally built for the London Underground, they are sturdily-built trains, as they used to share tracks with full-size trains.

I suspect, they are certified to share tracks with freight trains, as they do on the Marston Vale Line.

A Range Of Interiors And Customer Facilities

Although the trains tend to use the old London Underground seat frames, they have a range of interiors, which seem to be well-designed and comfortable.

I have been on Class 230 trains, with tables, a single toilet, onboard Wi-Fi, and electrical charging points.

Zero-Carbon

The trains are probably as near to zero-carbon, as any! Especially, if all the Fast Charge stations are powered by renewable electricity.

Remote Servicing

The trains have been designed for remote servicing.

Conclusion

All of these qualities lead me to think, that an ideal line in the UK could be the Far North Line, between Inverness and Wick and Thurso.

Although the train ticks a lot of boxes, it could well be too slow, It is also only a 160 mile route and not five-hundred

But there must be quite a few long, scenic lines in countries, where a passenger service needs to be added to a freight line, that perhaps serves a remote mining town.

Sweden and Norway are surely possibilities, but Finland is ruled out because it is Russian gauge.

Could the trains end up in parts of Africa, Canada and the United States?

Who knows?

September 3, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Vivarail And Hitachi Seem To Be Following Similar Philosophies

This press release on the Vivarail web site, is entitled Battery Trains And Decarbonisation Of The National Network.

This is the two paragraphs.

Vivarail welcomes the recent announcements regarding new technologies for rail, and the growing understanding that battery trains will be a key part of the decarbonisation agenda.

Battery trains have been much misunderstood until now – the assumption has been that they can’t run very far and take ages to recharge.  Neither of these are true! Vivarail’s trains:

To disprove the assumptions, they then make these points.

  • Have a range of up to 100 miles between charges
  • Recharge in only 10 minutes

They also make this mission statement.

Vivarail’s battery train, Fast Charge and power storage system is a complete package that can drop into place with minimal cost and effort to deliver a totally emission-free independently powered train, ideally designed for metro shuttles, branch lines and discrete routes across the country.

They add these points.

  • Batteries can be charged from 750 VDC third-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification or hydrogen fuel cells.
  • A daily range of 650 miles can be achieved on hydrogen.
  • Vivarail seem very positive about hydrogen.
  • The company uses modern high-performance lithium Ion pouch batteries from Intilion.
  • It also appears that Vivarail are happy to install their traction package on other trains.

The press release finishes with this paragraph.

The rail industry needs to move now to hit its own decarbonisation targets and assist with the national effort.  Battery trains are the quick win to achieve that.

Following on from Hitachi’s announcement on Monday, that I wrote about in Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains, it does appear that battery trains will be arriving soon in a station near you!

July 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 20 Comments

Hyperdrive Innovation And Hitachi Rail To Develop Battery Tech For Trains

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

This is the introductory sub-title.

Hyperdrive Innovation and Hitachi Rail are to develop battery packs to power trains and create a battery hub in the North East of England.

The article gives this information.

  • Trains can have a range of ninety kilometres, which fits well with Hitachi’s quoted battery range of 55-65 miles.
  • Hitachi has identified its fleets of 275 trains as potential early recipients.

Hitachi have also provided an  informative video.

At one point, the video shows a visualisation of swapping a diesel-engine for a battery pack.

As a world-class computer programmer in a previous life, I believe that it is possible to create a battery pack, that to the train’s extremely comprehensive computer, looks like a diesel-engine.

So by modifying the train’s software accordingly, the various power sources of electrification, diesel power-packs and battery packs can be used in an optimum manner.

This would enable one of East Midlands Railway’s Class 810 trains, to be fitted with a mix of diesel and battery packs in their four positions under the train.

Imagine going between London and Sheffield, after the High Speed Two electrification between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield has been erected.

  • Between St. Pancras and Market Harborough power would come from the electrification.
  • The train would leave the electrified section with full batteries
  • At all stations on the route, hotel power would come from the batteries.
  • Diesel power and some battery power would be used between stations. Using them together may give better performance.
  • At Clay Cross North Junction, the electrification would be used to Sheffield.

For efficient operation, there would need to be electrification or some form of charging at the Sheffield end of the route. This is why, I am keen that when High Speed Two is built in the North, that the shsared section with the Midland Main Line between Clay Cross North Junction and Sheffield station, should be built early.

Hitachi have said that these trains will have four diesel engines. I think it will more likely be two diesel engines and two batteries.

The World’s First Battery-Electric Main Line

I suspect with electrification between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction, that a train fitted with four batteries, might even be able to run on electric power only on the whole route.

In addition, if electrification were to be erected between Leicester and East Midlands Parkway stations, all three Northern destinations would become electric power only.

The Midland Main Line would be the first battery electric high speed line in the world!

Hitachi On Hydrogen Trains

The press release about the partnership between Hitachi and Hyperdrive Innovation is on this page on the Hitachi web site.

This is a paragraph.

Regional battery trains produce zero tailpipe emission and compatible with existing rail infrastructure so they can complement future electrification. At the moment, battery trains have approximately 50% lower lifecycle costs than hydrogen trains, making battery the cheapest and cleanest alternative zero-emission traction solution for trains.

I have ridden in two battery-electric trains and one hydrogen-powered train.

I would rate them out of ten as follows.

It’s not that the iLint is a bad train, as the power system seems to work well, but the passenger experience is nowhere near the quality of the two battery trains.

In my view, battery vehicles are exceedingly quiet, so is this the reason?

On the other hand, it could just be poor engineering on the iLint.

Conclusion

This is as very big day in the development of zero- and low-carbon trains in the UK.

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Beeching Reversal – The Aston Rowant Extension Of The Chinnor Railway

This is one of the Beeching Reversal projects that the Government and Network Rail are proposing to reverse some of the Beeching cuts.

This Googlr Map shows the location of the proposed Aston Rowant station.

Note.

  1. The motorway junction is Junction 6 of the M40, where it joins the B4009.
  2. The hotel at the top of the map, which is marked by a pink arrow,  is the Mercure Thame Lambert.
  3. A road passes the hotel and goes South East parallel to the motorway.

The original Aston Rowant station, appears to have been in the triangular piece of land to the East side of the road.

Wikipedia gives a plan for the future of the Aston Rowant station under a section called Future, where this is said.

There were reports in 1997 that the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway (CPRR) wished to extend its operations to Aston Rowant. A joint venture between the CPRR and Chiltern Railways was also proposed whereby the national rail operator would construct a new station at Aston Rowant to allow frequent weekday commuter services along the Icknield Line to connect with main line traffic through to London Marylebone, leaving the CPPR to run heritage services at other times. The scheme, which would cost around £3m, would seek to take advantage of Aston Rowant’s location near junction 6 of the busy M40 motorway.

There doesn’t seem to be any more details on the Internet, but I could see the full scheme having the following.

  • A car-park by Junction 6 of the M40.
  • Minimal station facilities.
  • A shuttle train to Princes Risborough station using a diesel or battery Class 230 train or perhaps a heritage diesel.
  • At weekends, it would act as parking for the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway.
  • Given Adrian Shooter;s historic connections, this could be an ideal place for using Vivarail’s Pop-up Metro concept.

It could be a deal, where everyone’s a winner. Local commuters, Park-and-Ride users, the CPRR and Chiltern Railways could all benefit.

Conclusion

This is a simple scheme and I suspect the biggest problem could be getting the planning permission.

 

July 2, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Steam, But Not As You Know It…

The title of this post, is the same as that of a sub-section of this news article on the IMechE web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Burning vast amounts of coal, wood or oil, traditional steam locomotives are hardly environmentally friendly. Steamology Motion hopes to give steam a modern makeover with its W2W Zero Emissions Power System, a range extender for Vivarail Class 320 rolling stock.

This paragraph gives an outline of the technology.

Few details are available, but the project aims to boost air quality at stations and reduce noise and pollution. W2W stands for water-to-water, and the system has a compact energy dense steam generator at its heart. “Steam is generated using energy stored as compressed hydrogen and oxygen gas in tanks,” the project summary says. “High pressure, superheated steam is used to drive a turbine to do useful work by generating electricity.”

There is only a fine line between madness and genius.

 

June 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Pair Of Class 230 Trains In The Sun

The picture is from Vivarail and shows a pair of their Class 230 trains in the sun.

Compare it with this picture I took in 2014 and showed with others in Raw Material For A New Train.

The trains certainly scrub-up well.

The improvement is more than cosmetic, if you read this Press Release from Vivarail, which is entitled First Time Together – 230006 And 230007.

Features of this pair of trains for Transport for Wales include.

  • They are the UK’s first battery hybrid trains.
  • The trains are geo-fenced, so that the gensets are not used in sensitive areas or stations.
  • The batteries allow fast acceleration comparable with other electric trains.
  • The gensets charge the batteries.
  • They have high-specification interiors.

These trains must be an ultimate example of recycling, when you consider that the London Underground D78 Stock, on which the trains are based, were built around forty years ago.

Conclusion

I’m certainly looking forward to riding in these trains.

June 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Reinstatement Of The Bury-Heywood-Rochdale Lines

This is one of the successful bids in the First Round of the Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This article on Rochdale OnLine is entitled Successful First Step To Restore Rochdale-Heywood-Bury Railway Line.

The work can now begin to fill out what is possible, with the award of funding from the Government to go towards a full study.

The funding was welcomed by Tony Lloyd, the MP for Rochdale, who is quoted as saying this.

Metrolink services and the rail service from Rochdale to Manchester provide transport to the city centre, but it does not provide the kind of connections we need to get around the city region, in particular, from Rochdale and Heywood to Bury.

“The current public transport offering between Heywood and Manchester city centre is provided by bus services but during the busiest times of the day this journey can take more than one hour, limiting the borough’s residents’ access to the many jobs located there.

What will the new rail link look like?

In Rossendale Reopening Prospect, I gave my views, based on an article in the February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which had the same title.

Summarising the other article, I can say the following.

The Track

I described the track like this.

The plan envisages reinstating the route between Rawtenstall and Castleton Junction on the Calder Valley Line.

The section between Rawtenstall and Heywood stations, via Bury Bolton Street station is the heritage line of the East Lancashire Railway (ELR). It is best described as predominately single-track with passing loops.

The route is about twelve miles long.

The Services

These are given as follows.

  1. Manchester Victoria and Bury Bolton Street
  2. Bury Bolton Street and Rochdale
  3. Bury Bolton Street and Rawtenstall – Peak Hour shuttle.

It is suggested that the third route would be run by the ELR.

The Stations

The following stations will be on the route.

Most will need updating, but Heywood would probably be a new station.

The Trains

The original article suggests Class230 trains, but several others are possible. The proposed battery-electric Class 331 train is surely a possibility.

Conclusion

This could be a very sensible scheme.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Train With A Geo-Fence

This article on Rail Advent is entitled New Train For Wrexham to Bidston Line Begins Testing.

The testing of Vivarail‘s Class 230 train for Transport for Wales, is taking place along the Cotswold Line, prior to entering service.

This is the most significant paragraph in the article.

The train is also geo-fenced so that the gensets are never used in stations or sensitive areas, although, the batteries are extremely quiet anyway.

From personal experience of battery trains, including Vivarail’s prototype in Scotland, battery trains are very quiet.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments