The Anonymous Widower

Thoughts On The Design Of A High Speed Freight Shuttle

I am enthusiastic about the concept proposed by Rail Operations Group, that will see Class 769 trains running freight shuttles between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station, which I wrote about in A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

But if you were starting from scratch, how would you design the ultimate freight shuttle train?

Consider these objectives.

The Amazon Objective

Amazon and their suppliers would like next day delivery for all of their customers.

Probably within a country the size of the UK, next day delivery can be achieved.

But I suspect that Amazon and their competitors would like anybody in the world to get as near as next day delivery as possible from anywhere in the world.

Giving worldwide next day delivery is obviously impossible, but giving it to as much of the world as is currently practical is clearly an Amazon objective.

We live in a I-Want-It-Now world!

Destinations To Be Served

I feel that places to be served by high speed light freight shuttles fall into various groups.

Major Cities

The proposed shuttle into Liverpool Street station will be the first of many.

Liverpool Street station is also an easy station at which to run such a service.

  • There is level access from the street for vehicles like electric vans and cargo bikes at Platform 10, using the old taxi cab road.
  • The station and the approaches are fully electrified.
  • Crossrail will release platform space at the station.

Three trains per day can probably be accommodated in the Off Peak hours, with more services during the night.

It would not be possible to fit a light freight facility into all city-centre stations, as easily as it appears to be at Liverpool Street.

But I do think light freight facilities of this type at the following stations could be possible..

  • Brighton
  • Bristol Temple Meads
  • Glasgow Central
  • Liverpool Lime Street
  • London Euston
  • London Paddington
  • Manchester Piccadilly
  • Nottingham

Some recently rebuilt stations like Birmingham New Street, would be very difficult, so I would recommend that all station developments, should take possible light freight facilities into account.

Logistics Parks, Ports And Airports

London Gateway is a large port and logistics facility, to the East of London.

Other ports like Felixstowe, Immingham, Liverpool and Southampton might also want to develop high speed light freight services as will the various logistics parks and freight terminals dotted around the country.

Most are served by rail connections, although in many cases like Felixstowe, London Gateway, Liverpool and Southampton, the last few miles need to use some form of independent power.

Could these light freight services connect to airports like Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted?

Retail Parks And Out-Of-Town Shopping Centres

Large retail groups, like Marks and Spencer, Sainsburys and Tesco have set up large distribution centres often in the centre of England, some of which have rail access.

Could major retail centres like Lakeside in Essex, Sheffield Meadowhill, Gateshead Metro Centre and others receive goods by rail.

Specialist Terminals

If you go to Montrose station, you can see the remains of sidings, where Scottish fish was loaded to be taken by rail to ports for export to places like New York.

But it is likely that specialist terminals will be setup to handle goods, such as seafood, flowers and Scotch whisky.

Some seasonal products like Cornish flowers would only need a part-time facility, but these would only be rudimentary.

Long Rural Routes

I can see the requirement for light freight deliveries increasing in all parts of the UK.

Some destinations are probably expensive for delivery companies.

But could an integrated delivery system be setup using the long rural rail routes.

  • Inverness and Wick
  • Inverness and Aberdeen
  • Glasow and Oban
  • Chester and Holyhead
  • Settle and Carlisle

Services might automatically roll pallets off and on at stations, which would then be handled locally by a purpose-built van or light truck.

  • Some services would start in London and the South-East, but others could start in the East Midlands or the Scotland’s Central Belt
  • Some services would connect with ferries to serve islands, like the Hebrides and the Orkneys.
  • A daily service might do wonders for business in rural areas.

London and Wick takes thirteen hours by passenger train. This would enable, somebody in Wick wanting an urgent part for a machine that has broken, to order it from London and certainly receive it within forty-eight hours.

Great Britain And Ireland Services

Services between Great Britain and Ireland will be a problem, as trains will have to unload on one side of the Irish sea onto trucks for delivery after the sea crossing.

Unless politicians do what I suggest in A Solution To The Northern Irish Problem!, which is to build a high speed rail system connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • The main crossing would be a bridge or a tunnel, where my preference would be for a bridge.
  • The main route would be Glasgow and Dublin via Stranraer and Belfast.
  • There would be a 125 mph connection between Carlisle and Stranraer
  • The Irish section of the route would be an electrified standard-gauge railway capable of running trains at 125 mph.
  • The route would handle passengers and freight.
  • There could a branch to Shannon, where some proposals have been made to create a deep water port.

I estimated that London and Belfast would take four hours, with an hour longer for Dublin.

But as this fixed link would probably not be built this century, as Ulster always says no, unloading on to trucks would probably be necessary for a long time.

Continental Services

Why not? Unlike Ireland, there’s a rail connection and it’s standard gauge!

Eurostar has shown that the same trains can run successfully on British, French, Belgian and Dutch railways and trains can now be fitted with systems to access the various electrification voltages.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Europe-wide high-speed light freight service for appropriate cargoes.

Summing Up Destinations

I can sum up the destinations as follows.

  • They will not be large grand affairs, in many cases.
  • There must be easy access for local transport, which will include a proportion of electric vehicles.
  • Destinations are generally within a few miles of an electrified main line.
  • Some services like Cornish flowers or Scottish seafood will need an independently-powered train, with a moderate range.

You can see why Rail Operations Group have chosen to use bi-mode Class 769 trains, as they will be ideal to connect to places perhaps a hundred miles from electrification.

New Or Refurbished Trains?

The proposed service is to be run with a Class 769 train, which is a bi-mode rebuild of a 1980s Class 319 train.

But would it be better to use a brand new train, rather than an old conversion?

In the future, if the experiment is a success, a new train will probably be designed, that will be based on the experience of the trials.

But at the moment modifying an old train, is probably a more affordable approach and one that carries less risk.

Operating Speed

The Class 769 train can operate at 100 mph on electrified lines and at around 90 mph, when relying on the diesel generators.

In High Speed Urban Freight Logistics By Rail, I talked about Rail Operations Group’s plans for running high speed freight services between Thames Gateway and the Central Belt in Scotland.

Surely, a faster train would be desirable for services along high speed lines.

Train Capacity And Interior

This will depend on the application and I suspect Rail Operation Group’s trial will show the optimum design.

But I wouldn’t be surprised to see trains based on British Rail’s standard length of eighty metres, as this would mean, they will easily fit so many existing stations without expensive modification.

If longer trains are needed for busy routes, then the trains could work in twos or threes, as many British Rail electric multiple units have done for decades.

Are Freight Shuttles Ideal Trains For Battery Power?

The train will not need the full air-conditioning and toilet services of a passenger train, which could mean.

  • Electrical power needed for services other than traction would be lower.
  • Underneath the train could be relatively free of equipment.

In addition, it should be noted.

  • Most routes will be run for the major part on electrified lines.
  • Charging technology for batteries at remote destinations could be easily provided.
  • Battery-electric trains have operational, environmental and marketing advantages over trains with diesel engines.

So why not efficiently fill space under the train with batteries?

For their initial service between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station, Rail Operations Group would probably only need to use diesel for less than a dozen miles.

Could Modified InterCity 125 Trains Be Used?

The fact that they are diesel is a major drawback, but there are other problems too!

  • Major structural work would be needed to create cargo doors.
  • I suspect that they may be too long.
  • They may not be very operator friendly.

Other companies have proposed them for high speed freight, but nothing has materialised so far.

Conclusion

Rail Operation Group’s thinking is spot on!

 

 

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

The New Light Freight Terminal At Liverpool Street Station

These pictures show the old cab road at Liverpool Street station, where the proposed light freight terminal will be developed.

The spacious cab road shut a few years ago and was moved to its current position in front of the station. Nowadays it is used mainly for deliveries to the station and the retail units, by Network Rail maintenance vehicles and sometimes by Rail Replacement Buses.

This second set of pictures show the exit of the cab road in Primrose Street, behind the station.

Note  these points about the old cab road.

  1. There is some nice ironwork and a vaulted ceiling, but nothing that would be damaged if electric vans and cargo bikes used the cab road to serve freight shuttles.
  2. The road surface and the brickwork all appear to be in good condition.
  3. By removing the barrier between the cab road and platform 10, there would be no problem loading and unloading trains.
  4. There is also a good wide passage leading from the old cab road to the main concourse of the station.

I suspect that the only functional building in the area, which is the Left Luggage Office, will have to be moved. But it might be better placed on the main concourse.

Platform 10 Looks Very Convenient For The Freight Shuttle

The closeness of Platform 10 and the old cab road makes the platform look very convenient for the terminus of freight shuttles from London Gateway

How Will The Freight Shuttles Travel Between London Gateway And Liverpool Street Station?

The route from London Gateway to Liverpool Street station will be as follows.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the tracks, where the Gospel Oak to Barking Line crosses over the Great Eastern Main Line.

The train will join the Great Eastern Main Line here for a fast run into Liverpool Street station.

  • I suspect the train will switch to the fast lines using the crossovers shown in the map.
  • Note that the performance of a Class 769 train on electrified track, will be only slightly less than the expresses.

At Liverpool Street station, the train will run into Platform 10.

Will Liverpool Street Station Lose A Platform?

Currently, Platforms 9 and 10 are generally used for the London and Norwich services.

  • These trains run at a frequency of two trains per hour (tph).
  • They are formed of a rake of Mark 3 coaches topped sand tailed by a Class 90 locomotive and a driving van trailer.
  • They call at various stations en route including Chelmsford, Colchester and Ipswich and are very heavily used at peak times.
  • Entry to and exit from the trains is not of a modern standard and I suspect turnround times can sometimes must be very slow.

From next year, these trains will be replaced  by modern twelve-car Class 745 trains.

  • These trains have 757 seats, which I have read somewhere is more than the current trains.
  • The trains will have level access between train and platform at all stations.
  • I suspect turnround times will be shorter, due to the modern design.

Frequency between London and Norwich will also be increased yp three tph, by extending a service between London and Ipswich, which will be run by a Class 720 train.

Will it be possible to fit three tph into Platforms 9 and 10?

I suspect that it might be tight, as over the last few months, Norwich trains have sometimes  been using higher numbered platforms like 14.

So will the proposed three tph to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich be moved to two higher numbered platforms.

This would enable platform 10 to be used by freight shuttle trains, but will the station be able to run all the services, with one platform less?

Current Services Into Liverpool Street Station

Current services from Liverpool Street station are as follows.

  • Six tph – GEML – TfL Rail – Shenfield
  • Three tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Southend
  • Two tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Norwich
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Ipswich
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Clacton
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Colchester Town
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Braintree
  • Four tph – WAML- London Overground – Chingford
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Cheshunt
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Enfield Town
  • Four tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Stansted Airport
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Hertford East
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia -Cambridge

Totalling these up means the following.

  • 16 tph use the double-track West Anglia Main Line (WAML)
  • 15 tph use the four-track Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) as far as Shenfield.
  • 6 tph use the double-track GEML to the North of Shenfield.

It looks neatly balanced.

Would moving Norwich services to a pair of the higher-numbered platforms improve operation?

All WAML services would be in platforms 1 to 9, as against platforms 1 to 8 now!

All GEML services would be in platforms 10 to 18, as against platforms 9 to 18 now!

If platform 10 is used by the freight shuttles, this would make operational sense, as the shuttle will approach Liverpool Street along the GEML after joining at Manor Park station.

Future Services Into Liverpool Street Station

From 2021 or so, these could be the from Liverpool Street station.

  • Three tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Southend
  • Three tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Norwich
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Clacton
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Colchester Town
  • One tph – GEML – Greater Anglia – Braintree
  • Four tph – WAML- London Overground – Chingford
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Cheshunt
  • Two tph – WAML- London Overground – Enfield Town
  • Four tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Stansted Airport
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia – Hertford East
  • Two tph – WAML- Greater Anglia -Cambridge

Totalling these up means the following.

  • 16 tph use the double-track West Anglia Main Line (WAML)
  • 9 tph use the four-track Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) as far as Shenfield.
  • 12 tph from Crossrail will use the slow lines as far as Shenfield.
  • 3 tph use the double-track GEML to the North of Shenfield.

Crossrail has opened up capacity on the Great Eastern Main Line.

  • Currently, there are 15 tph on the GEML using platforms 9 to 15.
  • In 2021, there will be just 9 tph on the GEML using platforms 10 to 17.

There will be extra services to Lowestoft and Crossrail’s Peak Hour service to Gidea Park station.

But even so, I suspect there will be space for more services.

 

 

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

High Speed Urban Freight Logistics By Rail

The title of this article is the same as that of this article  on World Cargo News.

It describes from a freight operator’s point-of-view,  Rail Operation’s Group‘s plans to run freight services between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station, which I wrote about in  A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

Points include.

  • Current operators are struggling to lower their carbon footprint.
  • Congestion is affecting delivery times.
  • Charges to use London’s ULEZ could add two hundred pounds per round trip to costs.
  • To enter London, trucks will need high visibility cabs in a couple of years time.
  • Last mile delivery would be by e-vans and cargo bikes.
  • This initial service is about proving the concept and identifying the best techniques.

The article also discloses that Rail Operations Group are planning to run a high-speed overnight freight service between London Gateway and the Central Belt in Scotland, using their modified Class 769 trains.

  • Journey time will be reduced from eleven-twelve hours by truck to five-and-a-half by rail.
  • The deadline for guaranteed overnight delivery will go from 20:00 to 23:00.
  • Trains will be running at 100 mph on electricity all the way.
  • If it works going North, surely it will work going South.

I can see Rail Operations Group needing a lot more trains, than the two they have ordered.

 

 

November 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

Minister Quotes Definitive Dates For Final Northern Pacer Withdrawals

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Class 142 Pacers are expected to be withdrawn by Northern by February 17 2020, with all the ‘144s’ out of service by May 17 2020, according to Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.

This is a mess and a mess, where the main culprits are not those usually blamed by the unfortunate travellers; Northern Rail  and the Government.

  • Network Rail made a terrible hash of installing electrification, mainly it appears to some bad surveying, some bad management decisions and their hiring of Carillion.
  • CAF for the late delivery of Class 195 and Class 331 trains.
  • Porterbrook and their contractor for the late delivery of Class 769 trains.

There was a similar problem on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line as Bombardier were having problems with the computer systems on the Class 710 trains, which came into service several months after the electrification was finally complete.

So Bombardier put their hands up and paid for a free month’s travel on the line.

Surely, those that are responsible for the Pacers still being in service, should follow Bombardier’s  lead.

 

October 31, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pacers To Continue Into 2020, Operators Confirm

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Operators have confirmed that their Pacer diesel multiple-units will remain in service into early 2020, in spite of previous announcements that the unpopular four-wheeled vehicles dating from the 1980s would be withdrawn before enhanced PRM accessibility requirements come into force on January 1 2020.

The article then summarises the situation in the three operators running Pacers.

Northern

Some Pacers used by Northern will continue in service into 2020, because of late delivery of new Class 195 diesel trains and Class 331 electric trains.

They are also still awaiting delivery of eight Class 769 trains, which are very late into service.

Great Western

Great Western has said, that some Pacers will continue in service around Exeter.

No reason is given, but it does appear that because of non-delivery of electrification to Oxford and the late arrival of Crossrail, Great Western they still need Class 165 and Class 166 trains to work services for London commuters.

They are also still awaiting delivery of nineteen Class 769 trains.

Transport For Wales

Transport for Wales are in the same position as Great Western, in that the Class 769 trains, they ordered have still not been delivered.

The Operator Will Get The Blame!

Obviously, the operator will get the blame, but I would argue that all three have at least tried hard to avoid this crisis, as they knew the Pacers would have to be on their way to the scrapyard at the end of 2019.

  • If CAF had delivered their trains for Northern on time, things would be much better in the North.
  • If Porterbrook and their engineers had delivered the Class 769 trains on time, all three operators would be in a better position.

Hopefully, in a few months, the new trains will have been delivered and the Class 769 trains will have been created and in service.

 

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

A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned

Edition 889 of Rail Magazine has an article which is entitled London Gateway-Liverpool Street Freight Trial Planned.

Rail Operations Group are planning to run a freight shuttle between London Gateway and Liverpool Street station.

Trains will be Class 769 bi-mode trains.

  • The trains will be fitted with roller doors, roller cages and strengthened floors.
  • Three aervices will leave Thames Gateway at 0029, 1208 and 1856.
  • They will return from Liverpool Street at 0242, 1421 and 2100.
  • Services will use Platforms 9 and 10 in Liverpool Street station.

It seems a very detailed plan.

A few of my thoughts.

Journey Time

I would estimate that a time of about 45 minutes to an hour would be possible.

Use Of Platforms 9 and 10

These two platforms are generally used for the London and Norwich expresses via Colchester and Ipswich, but it appears that only one service is timed to arrive in times when the station is really busy.

Platform 10 is near to the old Cab Road and so there is good vehicle access from the back of the station.

Final Delivery

The article says that trucks would be used for the final deliveries, with battery vehicles planned for the future.

Would There Be Sufficient Capacity For Trucks In The Cab Road?

A Class 769 train has four twenty metre long cars, so capacity will be equivalent of four small-to-medium supermarket delivery articulated trucks.

You wouldn’t get artics into the Cab Road, but would you get enough small trucks in to pick up a complete train-load?

  • At night or in the evening, this would surely be possible!
  • However, in the afternoon, it would surely be too busy, for more than a couple of delivery vans.

I’m sure Karl Watts has a well-laid plan.

What Is The Role Of UPS In This Freight Service?

In the Wikipedia entry for London Gateway, this is said.

Development of the Logistics Park has followed the initial stages of development of the port. UPS is developing a 32,000 square metre package sorting facility on the site – one of the American firm’s largest ever infrastructure investments outside of the USA. Since March 2017,

UPS wouldn’t build a facility the size of thirty two football pitches and then send out a series of trucks to their biggest market in the City of London , only for the packets to get stuck in the  traffic.

I suspect that packets will be sorted into small easily-managed loads for delivery by electric vans, cargo bicycles or Shank’s Pony, from Liverpool Street station.

And Could Lidl Be In On The Act?

The Wikipedia entry for London Gateway also says this.

German grocery retailer Lidl has been operating out of the DP World London Gateway Logistics Centre, the first warehouse to be developed on the site.

This article in the Guardian is entitled Lidl In The Middle: Chain To Open First Store In Central London. This is said.

Lidl is to launch its first store in central London as it opens 40 new shops across the capital in the next five years.

Could Lidl be thinking of using such the proposed service to supply Central London stores?

  • Last mile delivery could be by electric vehicles.
  • Catching the 0029 train from London Gateway could be ideal.
  • Goods could be on the shelves by early in the morning.

I think that this could offer interesting possibilities.

Supermarket deliveries were also one of the cargoes proposed in the LaMiLo project that I talked about in The LaMiLo Project.

Why Use Bi-Mode Trains?

Consider.

  • Virtually all of the route is electrified, except for the last mile or so into the London Gateway.
  • It would be possible to electrify those last few miles and use electric trains.
  • Electric trains like unmodified Class 319 trains could be used for the service.

But cranes, containers and 25 KVAC overhead wires are a possible disaster waiting to happen, as a crane driver once told me!

When Will The Service Start?

The article says that the service could start in April or May.

Could There Be Other Services?

This is the last paragraph of the article.

Watts mentioned that other routes were a possibility for the business, suggesting that routes from the West Midlands to the Scottish Central Belt and the West Midlands to the West Country have been investigated. No dates have yet been given for any such trials.

I would also think, that there could be opportunities for moving high-value or perishable cargoes into major city centre stations in the middle of the night.

Suitable stations could be.

  • Birmingham New Street
  • Bristol
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool Lime Street
  • Manchester Piccadilly

I am not being anti-Geordie, but Newcsastle might be a difficult station to unload cargoes from trains onto trucks!

Conclusion

If seems to me that Rail Operations Group are being innovative with trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Warning As Electricity Cables Are Switched On In Manchester

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

This is the first paragraph.

Network Rail has warned members of the public to stay off the railway as new high voltage equipment goes live on the line between Stalybridge and Manchester Victoria.

It now looks like electric the current service between Stalybridge and Wigan North Western stations can now be run more efficiently by a Class 769 train, when these enter service.

If Network Rail were to get their skates on and electrify between Bolton and Wigan North Western stations via Lostock Junction, the talybridge and Wigan North Western Route could be run by electric traction.

This electrification of the Lostock Junction route, would also allow the Wigan North Western and Alderley Edge service to be run by electric traction.

Looking at Google Maps of the route, it appears that gantries are being or have been erected.

July 23, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Is There Nothing A Class 319 Train Can’t Do?

If a train every goes into orbit round the world, it will be highly-likely that it will be a Class 319 train!

Electric Trains In North-West England

The fleet of eighty-six trains entered service in 1987 on Thameslink  and now twenty-seven are plying their trade on the electrified routes around the North-West of England.

  • You don’t hear many complaints about them being called London’s cast-offs.
  • Passengers fill them up in Blackpool, Liverpool, Manchester and Preston.
  • They still do 100 mph where possible.
  • They seem to be reliable.
  • They are not the most attractive of trains.

But handsome is as handsome does!

Drivers have told me, that although the suspension may be a bit soft for the bumpy route across Chat Moss, the trains do have superb brakes.

Bi-Mode Class 769 Trains

Nearly thirty of the trains are being converted into bi-mode Class 769 trains for working partially-electrifired routes and although these are running late, they should be in service this year.

Rail Operations Group

Two Class 769 trains have been ordered to be fast logistics trains by Rail Operations Group.

Wikipedia says the trains will be used to transport mail.

But if you read the history of the Rail Operations Group, they make the assets sweat and I’ve read the trains will still have seats, so they might do some other rail operations.

The Hydrogen-Powered Class 799 Train 

And now comes the Class 799 train!

This is a demonstrator to prove the concept of conversion to hydrogen power.

The fact that the train now has it’s own number must be of some significance.

Alstom are converting Class 321 trains into Class 321 Breeze trains.

  • The conversion will reduce passenger capacity, due to the large hydrogen tank
  • It will have a 1,000 km range.
  • It will have regenerative breaking.
  • It will have a new AC traction package
  • It will probably have the interior of a Class 321 Renatus train.

The conversion will obviously build on Alstom’s experience with the Alstom Coradia iLint train and Eversholt’s experience with the Renatus.

When it comes to the Class 799 train, the following will apply.

  • Porterbrook have all the experience of creating the bi-mode and dual-voltage Class 769 train.
  • Birmingham University’s Birmingham Centre For Railway Research And Education (BCRRE) are providing the expertise to design and convert the Class 319 train to hydrogen power.
  • I also wouldn’t be surprised to find out, that the BCRRE has applied some very extensive mathematical modelling to find out the performance of a hydrogen-powered Class 319 train.
  • The conversion could be based closely on Class 769 experience and sub-systems,

Could the main purpose be to demonstrate the technology and ascertain the views of train operators and passengers on hydrogen power?

The most important question, is whether the Class 799 train, will have the same passenger capacity as the original Class 319 train?

If it does, then BCRRE must have found a way to store the hydrogen in the roof or under the floor.

It should be noted, that it was only in September 2018, that the contract to develop the Class 799 train was signed and yet less than a year later BCRRE and Porterbrook will be demonstrating the train at a trade show.

This short development time, must mean that there is not enough time to modify the structure of the train to fit a large hydrphen tank inside, as Alstom are proposing.

A smaller hydrogen tank could be placed in one of three places.

  • Underneath the train.
  • On the roof.
  • Inside the train, if it is small enough to fit through the train’s doors.

Note.

  1. I doubt that anybody would put the tank inside the train for perceived safety reasons from passengers.
  2. On the roof, would require substantial structural modifications. Is there enough time?

So how do you reduce the size of the hydrogen tank and still store enough hydrogen in it to give the train a useful range?

In Better Storage Might Give Hydrogen The Edge As Renewable Car Fuel, I indicated technology from Lancaster University, that could store four times as much hydrogen in a given size of tank.

This reduced tank size would make the following possible.

  • The hydrogen tank, the fuel cell and the batteries could be located underneath the four-cars of the Class 319 train.
  • The seating capacity of the Class 799 train could be the same as that of a Class 319 train.

Clever electronics would link everything together.

If BCRRE succeed in their development and produce a working hydrogen-powered Class 799 train, how would the technology be used?

Personally, I don’t think we’ll see too many hydrogen-powered Class 799 trains, running passengers on the UK network.

  • The trains are based on a thirty-year-old train.
  • The interiors are rather utilitarian and would need a lot of improvement, to satisfy what passengers expect.
  • Their market can probably be filled in the short-term by more Class 769 trains.

But I do believe that the technology could be applied to more modern trains.

A Hydrogen-Powered Electrostar

Porterbrook own at least twenty four-car Electrostar trains, which have been built in recent years.

Six Class 387 trains, currently used by c2c, may come off lease in the next few years.

Could these trains be converted into a train with the following specification?

  • Modern train interior, with lots of tables and everything passengers want.
  • No reduction in passenger capacity.
  • 110 mph operating speed using electrification.
  • Useful speed and range on hydrogen power.
  • ERTMS capability, which Porterbrook are fitting to the Class 387 trains to be used by Heathrow Express.

It should be born in mind, that a closely-related Class 379 train proved the concept of a UK battery train.

  • The train was converted by Bombardier.
  • It ran successfully for three months between Manningtree and Harwich.
  • The interior of the train was untouched.

But what was impressive was that the train was converted to battery operation and back to normal operation in a very short time.

This leads me to think, that adding new power sources to an Electrostar, is not a complicated rebuild of the train’s electrical system.

If the smaller hydrogen tank, fuel cell and batteries can be fitted under a Class 319 train, I suspect that fitting them under an Electrostar will be no more difficult.

I believe that once the technology is proven with the Class 799 train, then there is no reason, why later Electrostars couldn’t be converted to hydrogen power.

  • Class 387 trains from c2c, Great Northern and Great Western Railway.
  • Class 379 trains, that will be released from Greater Anglia by new Class 745 trains.
  • Class 377 trains from Southeastern could be released by the new franchise holder.

In addition, some Class 378 trains on the London Overground could be converted for service on the proposed West London Orbital Railway.

A Hydrogen-Powered Aventra

If the Electrostar can be converted, I don’t see why an Aventra couldn’t be fitted with a similar system.

Conclusion

A smaller hydrogen tank, holding hydrogen at a high-density would enable trains to be converted without major structural modifications or reducing the passenger capacity.

The development of a more efficient method of hydrogen storage, would open up the possibilities for the conversion of trains to electric-hydrogen hybrid trains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chester To Liverpool Via Runcorn

This new service between Chester and Liverpool Lime Street stations via Runcorn station and the Halton Curve, started a couple of weeks ago.

I took these pictures of the journey.

Note.

  1. The service was busy, as everybody seemed to be going to Liverpool to prepare for the evening’s match.
  2. The Class 150 train kept up a good speed, which indicates that Network Rail didn’t cut quality on the link.
  3. Runcorn is about the halfway point of the journey.
  4. The route is electrified between Runcorn and Liverpool Lime Street stations.
  5. The Class 150 train was a bit tired.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a hybrid train working this route.

Operation would be as follows.

  • All these trains work be capable of 100 mph using 25 KVAC overhead electrification between Liverpool Lime Street and Runcorn stations.
  • Power changeover would be at Runcorn station.
  • Between Runcorn to Chester stations is only about fourteen miles.. This will be well within battery range in a few years.

Transport for Wales will be obtaining trains from a crowded market.

More Halton Curve Services

Under Planned Improvements in the Wikipedia entry for Transport for Wales, this is said.

Introduction of a new hourly Liverpool to Llandudno and Shrewsbury service, and a new two-hourly Liverpool to Cardiff Central service from December 2022.

Adding these to the current hourly service, this would mean that two trains per hour (tph) would normally run between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester stations, with three trains in every alternate hour.

I think that, there would be a marketing advantage in running hybrid trains on these routes. Hydrogen would be ideal, as these would not need recharging like battery trains after a long trip.

To go through the single-track Halton Curve appears to take trains about five minutes, so up to eight tph could probably be feasible, which would mean four tph between Liverpool and Chester via Runcorn in both directions.

If Trains for Wales are going to compete with the Merseyrail electric services, they need a four tph frequency in both directions.

Flexible Ticketing

Currently, if you want to buy a ticket between the Chester and Liverpool Lime Street, you have to buy an appropriate ticket for your chosen route.

Surely, tourists and others might like to do the out and back journeys by a different route.

If London Underground and some train companies can share ticketing, then surely Merseyrail and other train companies can do the same.

Conclusion

This new service will be surprisingly well-used and needs an iconic hybrid train.

  • Diesel is not appropriate for the long term, although in Northern Connect Between Chester And Leeds To Start In May, I did report a rumour that Class 769 trains might be running between Chester and Leeds.
  • Hydrogen is non-polluting and has a longer range, that could make services between Liverpool and Holyhead possible.
  • Battery will probably need a charging infrastructure.

My money is on hydrogen power.

 

 

June 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bedwyn, Didcot Parkway And Oxford Services After Crossrail Opens To Reading

When Crossrail opens to Reading as it is rumoured with happen in December 2019, what will happen to the Great Western Railway (GWR) services to Bedwyn, Dicot Parkway and Oxford?

The Current Services

These services currently run to these destinations from London Paddington station.

  • Bedwyn station has an hourly service, that goes non stop between London and Reading and then calls at all stations between Reading and Bedwyn.
  • Didcot Parkway station has a two trains per hour (tph) stopping service, that stops at most stations, including those between Reading and Didcot Parkway.
  • Oxford station has a two tph fast service.
  • Reading station has a two tph stopping service, that stops at most stations.
  • The Didcot Parkway and Reading services give London and Reading a four tph electric service.
  • Other trains stop at important stations and there are some shuttle trains serving Reading, Didcot Parkway and Oxford.

Recent developments have included

  • Oxford and Bedwyn services now generally seem to run from the main station.
  • The fast Oxford services now run by Class 802 trains.

GWR are also testing running Class 802 trains to Bedwyn.

Future Services To Bedwyn

The turnback facility at Bedwyn station has been upgraded, so that it can take a five-car Class 802 train.

When some sighting and safety issues are settled, it is likely that Class 802 trains will take over services to Bedwyn.

  • Five-car bi-mode Class 802 trains will be used.
  • Trains will not stop between London and Reading.
  • Trains will stop at all station between Reading and Bedwyn.
  • Trains will run on electric power between London and Newbury.
  • Trains will run on diesel power between Newbury and Bedwyn.

Will the current seventy minute time be reduced by the faster trains, running at higher speed between London and Reading?

Battery Trains To Bedwyn

In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I wrote about how batteries could be added to Class 385 trains, so they could run services without electrification.

Consider.

  • Class 802 and Class 385 trains are both both members of Hitachi’s A-Train family, sharing many features and systems.
  • Newbury to Bedwyn and back is about thirty miles.
  • Batteries could be charged between London and Newbury.

I very much feel that if Hitachi apply battery technology to the Class 802 trains, that Bedwyn could be an ideal test destination.

Extension Of Bedwyn Services To Marlborough

In A Station For Marlborough, I wrote about a local plan to open a new station in the twon of Marlborough, which would be on a single track branch, that leaves the main line to the West of Bedwyn.

Class 802 trains with a battery capability, would be the ideal trains for this extension.

Future Services To Oxford

GWR have started running bi-mode Class 802 trains to Oxford at a frequency of two tph

  • Services stop at Slough and Reading.
  • I have seen nine-car trains on this route.
  • Trains run on electric power between London and Didcot Parkway
  • Trains run on diesel power between Dicot Parkway and Oxford.

The service is augmented with a diesel shuttle between Oxford and Didcot Parkway.

  • This service runs at a frequency of two tph
  • One train every two hours is extended to Banbury.
  • This service is the only way to get to the intermediate stations of Appleford, Culham and Radley.

I very much feel that services between London and Oxford can be improved.

Four tph To Oxford

If train companies feel that Reading is worth four tph on Crossrail between the city and London, surely Oxford needs a four tph GWR service to the capital.

  • Two would be fast trains stopping only at Reading and Slough.
  • Two would stop at Slough and all stations between Reading and Oxford.
  • Bi-mode Class 802 trains would be used.
  • Trains run on electric power between London and Didcot Parkway
  • Trains run on diesel power between Dicot Parkway and Oxford.

Note.

  1. All intermediate stations would have a direct two tph service to London, Reading and Oxford.
  2. Currently, many journeys involve a long wait or a change at Didcot Parkway.

In addition, no station between Reading and Didcot Parkway gets a worse service than they do now, with the Class 387 trains to Didcot Parkway.

Battery Trains To Oxford

If Hitachi develop them, why not?

A Reading And Oxford Shuttle

I very much believe that important commuter routes need a frequency of four tph, as this enables a Turn-Up-And-Go service and encourage passenger numbers. Especially on a route like Reading and Oxford, where there is a lot of new housing being built.

If two tph are run between London and Oxford, stopping at all staions between Reading and Oxford, perhaps the way to give this service would be to run a shuttle between Reading and Oxford using bi-mode Class 769 trains.

  • A two tph shuttle would give four tph at all intermediate stations.
  • Trains would run on electric power between Reading and Didcot Parkway.
  • Trains would run on diesel power between Didcot Parkway and Oxford.
  • Some or all trains could be extended to Banbury.
  • I estimate that four trains would,d be needed for two tph.

Oxford would only be getting the quality of railway system a city of its size and standing needs.

Conclusion

There is a lot of scope to improve the train services in the Thames Valley, whether or no Crossrail takes over the Reading services.

 

 

April 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment