The Anonymous Widower

Alstom And Snam To Develop Hydrogen Trains In Italy

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2 View.

This paragraph sums up the agreement.

As part of the agreement, Alstom will manufacture and maintain newly built or converted hydrogen trains, while Snam will develop the infrastructures for production, transport and refuelling.

It does appear that Alstom is setting up similar deals across Europe, with now Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and Austria being prepared for hydrogen trains, manufactured or converted by Alstom.

The only recent reference, that I can find to the Alstom Breeze for the UK, is this article in Electric And Hybrid Vehicle Technology International, which is entitled Is Post-Covid The Perfect Time To Start A Hydrogen Transportation Revolution?

There is just a new visualisation pf the train to illustrate an article.

June 5, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

300th Coradia Polyvalent Train Delivered By Alstom

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

The Polyvalent is a variety of the Alston Coradia, that was first ordered for France.

This is the description of the train in Wikipedia.

As of 2018, the Coradia Polyvalent is the latest variant in the Coradia family. It can operated at a maximum speed of 160 km/h in electric or bi-mode at voltages of 25 kV and 1,500 kV; a cross-border version capable of operating at a voltage of 15 kV, suitable for the German and Swiss rail networks, has also been made available. The low integrated floor of the carriages provides improved accessibility and a high level of visibility to passengers. As a measure to restrict vibrations and noise levels, motorised bogies are placed at both ends of each carriage.

The Rail Advent article adds this.

In response to the hydrogen plan by the French Minister, Alstom is now looking to incorporate a dual-mode hydrogen version of the Coradia Polyvalent range.

I would assume, this means an electric train, that can use hydrogen power, when the electrification stops.

This is how a hydrogen train should work and from reports, it appears the Alstom Breeze based on a rebuilt Class 321 train, will work like this.

The Alstom Coradia iLint may have proved the concept of hydrogen power, but compared to other hydrogen and battery powered buses and trains, I’ve ridden, it scores poorly in terms of noise, vibration and harshness.

May 24, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 3 Comments

‘World First’: SGN Launches Bid For 300 Green Hydrogen Homes Project In Fife

This title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Business Green.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Around 300 homes in Scotland could soon have their heating and cooking powered by green hydrogen produced from renewable electricity under proposals for “the world’s first green hydrogen-to-homes network” unveiled today by SGN.

A few points from the article.

  • Construction could start in the winter of 2020/21.
  • The project will take two or three years.
  • The modified houses appear to be in Levenmouth.
  • The project has been dubbed H100 Fife.
  • The hydrogen will be produced by electrolysis using electricity generated by offshore wind.

The article also gives a round-up of the state of hydrogen in the UK.

Could This Have Other Implications For Levenmouth?

In Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link, I discussed the rebuilding of the Levenmouth Rail Link.

I suggested that the route could be run by Hitachi Class 385 trains with batteries, which Hitachi have stated are being developed. I covered the trains in more detail in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires.

If there were to be a source of hydrogen at Levenmouth, could hydrogen-powered trains be used on the route?

The Levenmouth Rail link could be a prototype for other short rail links in Scotland.

 

In

 

 

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Government’s Bias Against Hydrogen Buses Challenged

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Industry leaders, campaign groups and academics today challenged the Government’s “deliberate” and “misjudged” bias against hydrogen buses in its pursuit of decarbonising public transport.

I do find this article a bit surprising.

  • We have had a couple of trials of hydrogen buses in London and Aberdeen and I can’t remember any serious adverse stories.
  • Jo Bamford has rescued Wrightbus and plans to make thousands of hydrogen-powered buses.
  • Councils seem keen on hydrogen-powered buses.
  • There has been articles praising hydrogen in quality newspapers.
  • It’s almost, as if someone in the Department of Transport, is saying No, for an illogical reason.

The government also seems to have given Alstom the nod to develop hydrogen trains.

Or has it?

I wrote Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon, almost exactly a year ago and nothing has happened.

The only valid excuse is that the Department for Transport is up to its neck in work for COVID-19!

 

May 20, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Orders For Alstom Breeze Trains Still Expected

It is almost a year since I wrote Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon, but no order has so far been placed.

But some things have happened or are happening.

At present, Greater Anglia appear to have 102 Class 321 trains in service, all of which could be converted to Alstom Breeze trains.

Although it should be noted that thirty trains have been upgraded to a Renatus specification, as cover, if there are any problems during Greater Anglia’s fleet changeover.

The Conversion Process

The 102 Class 321 trains will release the same number of each of the following coaches.

  • DTCO – Driving Trailer Composite Open
  • TSO – Trailer Standard Open
  • PMSO – Pantograph Motor Standard Open
  • DTSO – Driving Trailer Standard Open

Each three-car Breeze will need two Driver Trailer cars and a Pantograph Motor car to be converted.

Driver Trailer Cars

Consider.

  • Most two- and three-car diesel multiple units in the UK, don’t have First Class seats.
  • Many new trains like those of Greater Anglia and South West Trains don’t have First Class seats.
  • Seating in these cars will be very much reduced by the fitting of a large hydrogen tank.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see both types of Driver Trailer cars converted into identical cars.

Pantograph Motor Car

The Pantograph Motor car will be seriously modified, with these systems and components installed.

  • A new AC traction system.
  • Batteries fed by the fuel cells,
  • Regenerative braking

All will be controlled by a sophisticated energy management system.

  • Will regenerative braking be able to charge the batteries?
  • Will the pantograph be retained, so that on electrified lines, the trains can use the electrification?
  • Will the fitting of third-rail shoes be considered?
  • Will the train retain the 100 mph capability of the Class 321 train?

The train could be a real 100 mph efficient go-anywhere train.

New Interiors

New Class 321 Renatus-style interiors will be fitted.

The Class 321 Renatus is a high-class interior for a suburban train.

  • There are both fully-accessible and standard toilets.
  • There are power sockets and wi-fi.
  • Passenger information displays are fitted.

I suspect tables could be fitted, if the operator required them.

Northern Trains And The Alstom Breeze

The three-car Alstom Breeze is expected to have a similar capacity to a two-car diesel multiple unit.

Northern Trains Current And Future Trains

At present Northern have the following two-car diesel multiple units in service, according to Wikipedia.

In addition, there are eight three-car Class 158 trains, which gives a total of 107 trains, that could be suitable for replacement by Alstom Breeze trains.

If these were the only trains available, Northern would have to keep some old diesel multiple units in service for longer.

But there are other trains expected to enter service, in the coming months.

Northern should just about scrape through, especially as COVID-19 has reduced services.

I would think, that Northern could absorb quite a lot of Alstom Breeze trains.

Deployment On Teesside

In Fuelling The Change On Teesside Rails, I talked about using the trains on Teesside.

  • Services would be centred on Darlington and Middlesbrough.
  • There is a supply of hydrogen nearby.
  • Bishop Auckland, Newcastle, Nunthorpe, Redcar and Whitby could be served.
  • The 1000 km range could be useful.
  • The trains could even be a tourist attraction for the area.

In Northern’s Hydrogen Plans, I wrote about progress on these plans, which included applying for planning permission for the depot at Lackenby.

Deployment Around Widnes

In A Hydrogen Mobility Roadmap For North-West England, I wrote using the trains around Widnes.

  • Services could be centred around Alstom’s Widnes factory.
  • Hydrogen could be supplied by pipeline from Runcorn.
  • Chester, Liverpool and Manchester could be served.
  • Some routes might need more capacity.

Could Alstom introduce a couple of pre-production trains on a route past Widnes, in a similar way, that they have introduced the Coradia iLint train in Germany?

This approach seems to have helped a successful introduction into service of the trains.

Increasing Capacity

I do think that these trains will need extra capacity on some routes, like perhaps Liverpool and Manchester via Widnes and Warrington.

The solution would surely be to add one of the spare Trailer cars to bring the trains up to four cars and increase the passenger capacity by perhaps fifty percent.

Northern Routes Currently Run By Two-Car Diesels

Wikipedia lists these services as run by two-car-diesels in Classes 150, 155, 156 and 158.

  • Barrow-in-Furness and Carlisle
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster
  • Blackburn and Rochdale
  • Blackburn and Wigan Wallgate
  • Blackpool North and York
  • Clitheroe and Rochdale
  • Hexham and Nunthorpe *
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York
  • Huddersfield and Castleford
  • Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Huddersfield and Sheffield
  • Lancaster and Morecambe/Heysham Port
  • Leeds and Carlisle
  • Leeds and Chester
  • Leeds and Goole
  • Leeds and Knottingley
  • Leeds and Lincoln
  • Leeds and Manchester Victoria
  • Leeds and Morecambe
  • Leeds and Nottingham
  • Leeds and Selby
  • Leeds and Sheffield
  • Leeds and Wigan Wallgate
  • Leeds and York
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Oxford Road *
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Buxton
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Chester
  • Manchester Piccadilly and New Mills Central
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Rose Hill Marple
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Sheffield
  • Manchester Victoria and Kirkby
  • Manchester Victoria and Southport
  • Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge
  • Middlesbrough and Whitby *
  • Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Newcastle and Chathill
  • Newcastle and Morpeth
  • Oxenholme Lake District and Windermere
  • Preston and Blackpool South
  • Preston and Colne
  • Preston and Ormskirk
  • Saltburn and Bishop Auckland/Darlington *
  • Sheffield and Adwick
  • Sheffield and Bridlington
  • Sheffield and Gainsborough Central
  • Sheffield and Hull
  • Southport and Alderley Edge

Those marked with an * could be served by hydrogen trains from Laverton and Widnes.

Positioning Hydrogen Trains

Trains often have to be positioned from and to the depot at the beginning and end of a day’s work.

On my list of services, there is an hourly shuttle service between Oxenholme Lake District and Windermere stations.

Suppose this service was to be run by an Alstom Breeze based at Widnes.

  • The train could be fuelled with hydrogen at Widnes, early in the day.
  • The train could position to Oxenholme Lake District along the West Coast Main Line, using the electrification, after joining it a few miles from the depot.
  • Each round trip to Windermere is 20 miles or 32 kilometres.
  • An Alstom Breeze train has a range of 1000 kilometres on hydrogen, so it could do thirty round trips without refuelling.
  • At the end of the day, the train would return to the depot using the electrification.

I would expect, that the long range of hydrogen trains could make them easier to diagram or schedule, than battery ones.

They might also be able to work some distance away from the depot, if they could use an electrified route for positioning.

So if we look at Widnes, these are approximate distances to stations where hydrogen services might run.

  • Liverpool Lime Street – 12 miles
  • Manchester Airport – 33 miles
  • Manchester Oxford Road – 22 miles
  • Preston – 33 miles
  • Warrington Central – 6 miles
  • Wigan North Western – 18 miles

Some of the routes to these stations are partially electrified, so the trains could position using the electrification.

Consider these routes.

  • Preston and Blackpool South – 20 miles
  • Preston and Colne – 19 miles
  • Preston and Ormskirk – 20 miles

A hydrogen train could position from Widnes and perhaps do fifteen trips before needing a refuel.

I will also look at distances from Lackenby, where the Teesside Depot will be built, as I wrote in Northern’s Hydrogen Plans.

  • Darlington – 23 miles
  • Newcastle via East Coast Main Line – 59 miles
  • Newcastle via Durham Coast Line – 54 miles
  • York via Northallerton and East Coast Main Line – 56 miles

I suspect quite a few services could be run from Lackenby depot, if the electrified East Coast Main Line was used to position the trains.

Possible Future Stages

If the trains are successful, I can see that Northern Trains will want to introduce more hydrogen trains.

As the Government controls this franchise, does this make more zero-carbon trains more or less likely?

More Trains

There are only so many Class 321 trains to convert, but after Alstom complete their takeover of Bombardier, I believe that a hydrogen-powered Aventra could become a reality.

I wrote about my ideas for this in I Design A Hydrogen Aventra.

So in the long term, if more hydrogen trains are needed, it shouldn’t be a problem.

More Depots

More depots will be needed and I would expect others like Lackenby will be added in strategic locations.

  • Given the service pattern, Blackburn, Leeds and Sheffield must be possibilities.
  • Hydrogen will probably be generated in the depots using electrolysers.

In the future could we see depots for hydrogen trains shared between bordering franchises?

  • A depot at Carlisle could be shared between Northern and Scotrail
  • A depot at Chester could be shared between Northern and Trains for Wales
  • A depot at Exeter could be shared between Great Western and South West Railways

ITM Power in Rotherham have the technology to generate the hydrogen, which could also be used to fuel the local buses and other vehicles.

Conclusion

From pubished reports, it looks to me, that Northern have been thinking hard how they can deploy a substantial fleet of Alstom Breeze trains, by using depots at Widnes and Lackenby, where the trains can be refuelled overnight.

I am also fairly sure that Alstom will design the Breeze, so that trains can position themselves along the West and East Coast Main Lines, using the 25 KVAC electrification.

 

 

 

 

May 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

A Hydrogen Mobility Roadmap For North-West England

In the last few days, the North West Hydrogen Alliance has published a document entitled A Hydrogen Mobility Roadmap.

Some information from a well-written and very informative document.

Vehicle Types Covered In The Roadmap

A composite picture at the start of the document shows the following hydrogen-powered vehicles.

  • A double-deck bus.
  • A heavy goods vehicle.
  • A passenger car.
  • A passenger train.

Other vehicles, which exist or are under development, could have been added.

  • A refuse truck.
  • A high capacity fork lift or dump truck.
  • A freight locomotive.
  • The availability of hydrogen fuel in an area, must encourage the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Comparison Of Electric And Hydrogen

The document gives a comparison between electric and hydrogen power.

Speed Of Refuelling

  • Electric – The current long duration of battery recharges rules out many forms of transport
  • Hydrogen – Hydrogen refuelling speed is largely similar to current petrol and diesel fuelling

Distance On Single Charge/Tank

  • Electric – At the present time, cars will travel 150-250 miles per charge, but current battery weight means they are unsuitable for HGVs
  • Hydrogen – Vehicles can travel 500+ miles on a single tank of hydrogen, which can be scaled up to suit vehicle size

Availability Of Fuel

  • Electric – Growing network of charge points, but this is creating problems for power networks
  • Hydrogen – Only 12 refuelling stations in the UK

Availability Of Vehicles

  • Electric – Various cars to choose from, buses and trains readily available, with HGVs and ships in development
  • Hydrogen – Cars, buses and trains largely available. HGVs and ships in development

Note.

  1. The speed of refuelling and the range for hydrogen.
  2. The need for more hydrogen refuelling stations.
  3. Both battery and hydrogen ships are in development.

I think their points are fair.

Road, Rail And Marine

The document discusses the various modes of transport and how hydrogen can help, with respect to both carbon-emissions and pollution.

The Alstom Breeze Trains

This picture is a visualisation of the Alston Breeze.

This is said about the Alstom Breeze trains.

Alstom in Widnes is ready to deploy its new Breeze trains and is working with Northern Rail to identify routes that are suitable for conversion to hydrogen.

A map also shows hydrogen train symbols on the Liverpool and Manchester Line, that goes via Widnes and Warrington and conveniently passes the Alstom factory at Widnes.

I wonder, if we’ll see an acceleration of this project?

Consider.

  • Northern Rail is now directly controlled by the Government.
  • Some Class 321 trains for conversion, will surely be available this summer.
  • The updating of the trains, except for the hydrogen system has been developed in the Renatus project.
  • Alstom have the experience of the successful hydrogen-powered Alstom Coradia iLint from Germany.
  • Supplying the Alstom factory with hydrogen, shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • I doubt any extra infrastructure is needed to run the trains.
  • Alstom have sold two or three fleets of iLints on the back of a successful introduction into service of two prototype trains.

I don’t think, Alstom and all the various partners and stakeholders would object if the project were to be accelerated.

What’s Already Happening In The North West?

These hydrogen-powered projects are mentioned.

  • Twenty double-deck buses for Liverpool City Centre.
  • Alstom Breeze trains.
  • storengy refuse trucks for Cheshire.
  • ULEMCo are converting trucks and ferries.
  • Port of Liverpool air quality.

It does seem to be that if you give an area a hydrogen network, possible users will find ways to use it to their advantage.

Rising To The Challenge

This section answers these questions.

Where Will The Hydrogen Come From?

Initially from INEOS at Runcorn, where I used to work around 1970 and BOC at St. Helens.

How Will It Be Transported?

Mainly by innovative use of new and existing pipelines.

How Do We Get To Critical Mass?

It looks like they’ll start slowly with hydrogen from Runcorn and St. Helens and build from there.

I would add a further question.

Will They Be Adding Hydrogen Filling Stations To The Network?

The North West needs them!

Hydrogen Storage

This is said about storing hydrogen.

Geologically, Cheshire is one of the few places in the UK where major underground gas storage in salt caverns has been delivered, paving the way for potential hydrogen storage, which is already done at scale elsewhere.

When I worked at ICI, I was given a tour of one of salt caverns. One is rumoured to be large enough to enable a full-size replica of Salisbury cathedral to be built inside.

Research

This is said about research.

Esteemed universities, and a wealth of innovative research companies, mean the region can deliver new hydrogen technologies. With academia working side-by-side with industry, the North West’s institutions can equip the next generation of skilled workers to support the hydrogen economy.

As a graduatev of one of those esteemed universities, how can I disagree?

Carbon Capture And Storage

This is said about carbon capture and storage.

Offshore reservoirs in the East Irish Sea can store carbon dioxide (CO2) produced from hydrogen production. Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) is essential technology to help the UK in its fight against climate change. CCUS can capture up to 95% of the CO2 emissions associated with producing hydrogen from natural gas.

Whether you want to produce hydrogen this way is another matter. But the oil refineries and chemical plants along the Mersey are surely prime candidates for CCUS.

An Alliance

Not for nothing is the project called the North West Hydrogen Alliance!

Sixteen partners are mentioned at the end of the document.

 

May 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Definitive Hydrogen Train

There is only one hydrogen-powered train in service and that is the Alstom Coradia iLint, which is running in Germany.

I feel it is very much an interim design, as Alstom has taken a diesel-mechanical Lint train and swapped the diesel for a hydrogen-powered electricity generator and an electric motor.

Alstom are converting electric Class 321 trains into a hydrogen-powered version called Breeze.

A typical train would be three cars. The visualisation shows one of the two driver cars, that contain a large hydrogen tank behind the cab.

Between the two driver cars would be a trailer car.

Using Electrification

Nothing has been disclosed yet, but it would surely be easy to allow this hydrogen train to keep its pantograph on the trailer car and be able to use electrification if it is installed.

This would increase the range of the train and might allow a version with a smaller hydrogen tank and a greater passenger capacity.

Charging Batteries

In a definitive hydrogen-powered train, which had been designed from scratch to use hydrogen, I could envisage, that the batteries could also be charged, when the train is connected to either electrification or a charging station.

A Smart Computer

The train would have a very smart computer, which would do the following.

  • Manage the various power sources.
  • Choose the appropriate source for the route, weather, passenger load, fuel and battery levels.
  • Raise and lower the pantograph automatically.
  • Control the trains systems to minimise electricity use.

This is little different to many trains, built in the last few years.

Conclusion

The definitive hydrogen-powered train will be a battery-electric-hydrogen hybrid train.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

First Passenger Train In 80 Years Runs On Camp Hill Line

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

These two paragraphs described the route, that the train took on the Camp Hill Line.

On Monday morning a train carrying the Mayor, West Midlands Railway’s customer experience director Jonny Wiseman and other representatives from across the rail industry, travelled along the line.

The train followed the route of what would be the re-opened line, stopping at the Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell sites before arriving into Kings Norton, and later returning to Birmingham New Street.

The article has a picture showing the VIPs showing boards indicating the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell, that will be reopened.

Wikipedia says this under Future for all three stations.

In 2019, the project to re-open the stations at Moseley, Kings Heath and Hazelwell received £15 million in Government funding, with construction due to start in 2020 and aimed for completion in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

£15million seems good value to reopen three stations.

Let’s hope the world has solved the COVID-19 crisis before the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Trains For The Service

The picture in the article, shows the test service was run by a two-car Class 170 train. This is an ideal train to do the testing, but as the Camp Hill Line is not electrified, self-powered trains will be needed for the passenger service.

West Midlands Trains will have a good selection of self-powered trains with which to run the service.

  • They already have a selection of Class 170 and Class 172 Turbostar diesel multiple units in very good condition, which total thirty-seven two-cars and twenty-one three-cars.
  • I’m sure Vivarail will pitch diesel-electric or battery-electric versions of their Class 230 trains.
  • Alstom will probably pitch the Breeze hydrogen-powered train.
  • Porterbrook will probably pitch their proposed Battery/FLEX conversion of Class 350 trains.

I don’t think there will be a problem finding a suitable fleet for this route.

I suspect some form of battery-electric train will be used, as there is lots of 25 KVAC overhead electrification in the Birmingham area, that can be used to charge the batteries.

Battery-electric trains with a range of perhaps forty miles would also open up the possibilities for other electric services for West Midlands Trains.

A Thought On Construction

Because of COVID-19, there will probably be numbers of unemployed in this part of Birmingham, who have skills that could be useful to do the building work.

So should the non-railway related parts of the reopening be accelerated to put money in the pockets of the local unemployed.

March 19, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Community Leaders Add Their Voices To Demand For Railway Extensions In Nottinghamshire To Be A ‘Top Priority’

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The opportunity to make ‘isolated’ rural areas more “attractive to investors” is one reason why campaigners and local politicians think it should be a “top priority” to extend railways in Nottinghamshire.

It does seem to me that arguments for new or reopened rail lines are getting more professional, as more arguments prevail.

I think that the extension of the Robin Hood Line through the Sherwood Forest to Warsop, Edwinstowe and Ollerton, is one of those projects, that will get approved in the next few years.

  • The track is already in place and used for such purposes as driver training.
  • The route could link a large number of people to High Speed Two, if the closely-related Maid Marian Line were to be reopened.
  • The Robin Hood Line also links up to the High Marnham Test Track, which could be extended further East.

I do wonder, if an extended Robin Hood Line would be an ideal route for introducing Alstom’s Class 321 Breeze hydrogen trains.

 

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

I Design A Hydrogen Aventra

This article on Rail News is entitled Alstom Moves Ahead With Bombardier Takeover.

This is a paragraph in the report, which is dated the eighteenth of last month.

n a statement issued last night, Alstom said it had ‘signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bombardier Inc. and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in view of the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation. Post-transaction, Alstom will have a backlog of around €75bn and revenues around €15.5bn. The price for the acquisition of 100 per cent of Bombardier Transportation shares will be €5.8bn to €6.2bn, which will be paid via a mix of cash and new Alstom shares.’

That sounds pretty definite to me.

In the UK, Alstom will take over a company with the following projects.

  • A large order book for building Aventras in the Litchurch Lane factory at Derby.
  • Several support projects for existing train fleets.
  • A joint design project with Hitachi to bid for the trains for High Speed Two. Alstom are also bidding for High Speed Two, as are CAF, Siemens and Talgo.
  • Design and build the cars for the Cairo monorail.
  • Bombardier have been offering train operating companies a bi-mode Aventra.

There are also rumours, that Bombardier are in the running for a large order for Southeastern.

What are Bombardier’s strengths in the UK?

  • The Aventra is without doubt an excellent train, but with some software teething troubles.
  • The company has the ability to turn out finished trains at a formidable rate.
  • The company can make the carriage bodies in a high-tech plant.
  • Could the bodies be built in a larger size?
  • Or even a smaller size for a country like Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria or South Africa that uses a narrow gauge?
  • The company has the ability to design complete trains to the UK’s smaller standards.
  • The company can make trains in both European-sizes in Europe and UK-sizes in Derby.
  • The company builds bogies for other train manufacturing companies.

On the other hand, Bombardier has the following weaknesses.

  • It doesn’t make any diesel-powered trains, although it has successfully trialled battery-powered trains.
  • It has dismissed hydrogen-powered trains.
  • But above all the finances of the parent company are a basket case.

It appears to me that Alstom might bring much needed technology and finance to Bombardier UK. In return, they will acquire a modern design, that can be used in the UK and other countries, that use a smaller loading gauge.

Obviously, if the takeover goes through, more information should be forthcoming in the near to mid future.

The Future For Hydrogen Trains In The UK

I would suspect, that Alstom have designed a train in the Class 321 Breeze, that fits their view of what will work well in the UK train market.

  • It is a sixty metre long train, for a couple, where most platforms are at least eighty metres long.
  • It has a capacity similar to that of a modern two-car diesel multiple unit.
  • The Renatus version of the Class 321 train has a modern and reliable AC-based traction package. Or that’s what a Greater Anglia driver told me!
  • Eversholt Rail Group have already devised a good interior.
  • I said I was impressed with the interior of the train in A Class 321 Renatus.
  • The train can operate at 100 mph on a suitably electrified line, when running using the electrification.
  • Adding an extra trailer car or two could be a simple way of increasing capacity.

I should say, that I think it will be a quieter train, than the Coradia iLint, which has a rather noisy mechanical transmission.

I feel that a Class 321 Breeze train could be a good seller to routes that will not be electrified, either because of difficulty, expence or politics.

With a 100 mph operating speed on electrification and perhaps 90 mph on hydrogen power, it may have enough performance to work a lot of routes fast, profitably and reliably.

I think, that the Alston Class 321 Breeze will prove whether there is a market for hydrogen-powered trains in the UK.

I would think, that use of these trains could be a big application.

Replacement Of Two-And Three-Car Diesel Multiple Units

There are a lot of these still in service in the UK, which include.

All of these are currently running services all over Great Britain and I have ignored those trains run by Chiltern Railways as they will logically be replaced by a dedicated batch of new trains, with possible full- or part-electrification of the route. Or they could be custom-designed hydrogen trains.

As there are only 105 Class 321 trains that can be converted, some other trains will be needed.

I suppose classes of trains like Class 365 trains and others can be converted, but there must come a point, when it will be better to build new hydrogen trains from scratch.

Components For Hydrogen Trains

This article on Rail Business is entitled Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon.

It says this about the design of the Alstom Breeze train.

The converted HMUs would have three roof-mounted banks of fuel cells on each of the two driving vehicles, producing around 50% more power than the iLint. Two passenger seating bays and one door vestibule behind each cab would be replaced by storage tanks. The fuel cells would feed underfloor battery packs which would also store regenerated braking energy. The current DC traction package on the centre car would be replaced by new AC drives and a sophisticated energy management system. Despite the loss of some seating space, each set of three 20 m vehicles would provide slightly more capacity than a two-car DMU with 23 m cars which it would typically replace.

The following components will be needed for hydrogen trains.

One Or More Hydrogen Tanks

This picture shows the proposed design of the  Alstom Class 321 Breeze.

Note how half the side of the front car of the train is blocked in because it is full of the hydrogen tank. As this Driver Car is twenty metres long, each hydrogen tank must be almost seven metres long. If it was one larger tank, then it could be longer and perhaps up to fourteen metres long.

Batteries

As the Rail Business article said, that the batteries are underfloor, I wouldn’t be surprised to see all cars having a battery pack.

I favour this layout, as if cars all are motored, it must cut the length of cabling and reduce electrical losses.

Effectively, it creates a train with the following.

  • Faster acceleration
  • Smooth, fast deceleration.
  • Efficient braking
  • Low energy losses.

It should also add up to a train with good weight distribution and high efficiency.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

In the Class 321 Breeze, Alstom are quoted as having three banks of fuel cell on the roof of each driver car.

This would distribute the power derived from hydrogen to both ends of the train

Hydrogen For Hydrogen Trains

Alstom’s Coradia iLint trains do not have a custom-design of hydrogen system, but over the last few years green hydrogen systems have started to be supplied by companies including ITM Power from Rotherham. Recently, they have supplied the hydrogen system for the hydrogen-powered Van Hool  Exqui-City tram-buses in Pau in France. A similar system could be used to refuel a fleet of Breeze trains.

It looks like we have a limited number of hydrogen-powered trains and their fuel could be made available, but not enough to replace all of the UK’s small diesel trains, if we rely on Class 321 Breeze trains.

So there will be a need to build some more.

My Design Of Hydrogen Train

I would start with the Aventra design.

  • It is very much Plug-and-Play, where different types of cars can be connected together.
  • Cars can be any convenient length.
  • Some Aventras, like the Class 345 trains for Crossrail are even two half-trains.
  • There are various styles of interior.
  • The Aventra appears to be a very efficient train, with good aerodynamics and a very modern traction system with regenerative braking.
  • Driver, pantograph, trailer and motor cars and third-rail equipment are available.
  • Battery cars have probably been designed.
  • For good performance, Aventras tend to have a high proportion of motored cars.
  • Aventras have been designed, so that power components can be distributed around the train, so that as much space as possible is available for passengers.

This picture shows a four-car Class 710 train, which is an Aventra.

In the next sub-sections I will fill out the design.

Train Layout

Perhaps, a hydrogen-powered train could be five cars and consist of these cars.

  • Driver Motor Car
  • Trailer or Motor Car
  • Hydrogen Tank Car
  • Trailer or Motor Car
  • Driver Motor Car

Equipment would be arranged as followed.

  • I would put the hydrogen tank in the middle car. Stadler have been very successful in putting a power car in the middle and it could be the ideal car for some of the important equipment.
  • As I said earlier, I would put batteries under all cars.
  • Regenerative braking and electrification would be used to charge the batteries.
  • I think, I would put the hydrogen fuel cells in Alstom’s position on the rear part of the roof of the driver cars.
  • There would also be a need to add a pantograph, so that could go on any convenient car!
  • I do wonder, if the middle-car could be developed into a mini-locomotive with a walkway through, like the PowerCar in a Stadler Class 755 train.

There’s certainly a lot of possibilities on how to layout the various components.

Passenger Capacity

The five-car hydrogen-powered Aventra, I have detailed is effectively a four-car Aventra like a Class 710 train, with a fifth hydrogen tank car in the middle.

So the passenger capacity will be the same as a four-car Aventra.

The Class 710 trains have longitudinal seating, as these pictures of the interior show.

They have a capacity of 189 sitting and 489 standing passengers or a total capacity of 678.

Greater Anglia’s Class 720 trains have transverse seating and a five-car train holds 540 sitting and 145 standing passengers.

Multiplying by 0.8 to adjust for the hydrogen car and the capacity would be 432 sitting and116 standing passengers or a total capacity of 548.

Seats in various UK four-car electric multiple units are as follows.

  • Class 319 – 319
  • Class 321 – 309
  • Class 375 – 236
  • Class 379 – 209
  • Class 380 – 265
  • Class 385 – 273
  • Class 450 – 264

It would appear that a five-car hydrogen-powered Aventra, with one car taken up by a hydrogen tank and other electrical equipment can carry a more than adequate number of passengers.

Extra Passenger Capacity

Suppose to eliminate diesel on a route, a five-car Class 802 train were to be replaced with a six-car hydrogen-powered Aventra, which contained five passenger cars

  • The capacity of the Class 802 train is 326 seats, which still compares well with the five-car hydrogen-powered Aventra.
  • The extra car would increase the passenger capacity.

As Aventras are of a Plug-and-Play design, extra cars would be added as needed.

Maximum Length

Aventras tend to have lots of powered axles, as this improves accelerations and braking, so I suspect that trains with four or five cars on either side of the hydrogen car would be possible.

Nine-car trains could be ideal for replacing trains like Class 800 bi-mode trains to reduce the number of diesel trains. The Class 800 trains would then be converted to Class 801 electric trains or a new battery/electric version.

A Walkway Through The Hydrogen Car

These pictures show the walkway through the PowerCar in a Stadler Class 755 train.

I’m sure that an elegant design of walkway can be created.

In-Cab Digital Signalling

It goes without saying, that the train would be capable of being fitted with in-cab digital signalling.

Performance On Electrification

Bombardier have stated that they have a design for a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra. They might even have designed the trains to achieve 140 mph running on routes with full in-cab digital signalling.

These electrified lines are likely to be able to support 140 mph running with full in-cab digital signalling.

  • East Coast Main Line
  • Great Western Main Line
  • Midland Main Line
  • West Coast Main Line

As these hydrogen-powered Aventras may need to run on these high speed electrified lines, I would design the trains so that they could achieve the design speed of these lines, when using the electrification.

This would enable the trains to keep out of the way of the numerous 140 mph electric expresses.

Performance On Batteries And Hydrogen

Hydrogen-powered trains are essentially battery-electric trains, which have the ability to top up the batteries using hydrogen power.

I would suspect that a well-designed hydrogen/battery/electric train should have the same maximum speed on all modes of power, subject to the capabilities of the track and having sufficient power in the batteries to accelerate as required.

The Complete Package

As Hydrogen filling stations from companies like ITM Power and others, that can refuel hydrogen-powered trains are a reality, I’m certain, that it would be possible to create a package solution for a railway company that needed the complete solution.

Different Gauges

If you take a country like Malawi, Malawi Railways looks to need improvement.

They have a three-foot six-inch gauge railway, so could a package of narrower hydrogen-powered Aventras and a solar-powered hydrogen-generator be put together to improve Malawi’s railways?

In When Do Mark 2 Coaches Accept The Inevitable?, I discuss how British Rail Mark 2 coaches were converted from UK loading gauge to one that would work with New Zealand’s 1067 mm. gauge.

So I suspect that a design related to trains built for the UK could be modified for running on the narrow gauge lines of Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Conclusion

I think it would be possible to design a hydrogen/battery/electric train based on an Aventra with the following characteristics.

  • Up to eleven cars
  • A hydrogen car with a hydrogen tank in the middle of the train.
  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • In-cab digital signalling
  • 140 mph running where the route allows.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Sufficient range on hydrogen power.
  • Sophisticated computer control, that swaps mode automatically.

The train would be possible to run the following routes, if configured appropriately.

  • Kings Cross and Aberdeen
  • Kings Cross and Inverness
  • Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln and Grimsby
  • Kings Cross and Redcar via Middlesbrough
  • Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge
  • Paddington and Penzance
  • Paddington and Swansea
  • Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke

Some routes might need a section of fill-in electrification, but most routes should be possible with a hydrogen fill-up at both ends.

 

 

 

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Business, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments