The Anonymous Widower

RTRI Tests Fuel Cell Multiple Unit

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

JAPAN: Railway Technical Research Institute has started test running with a prototype multiple-unit which can work as a conventional or battery EMU or using a fuel cell powerpack.

Converted from an older 1·5 kV DC EMU, the test train comprises a 34 tonne motor car and 29 tonne trailer vehicle. Each car is 19 760 mm long and 2 950 mm wide. It is able to operate as a conventional EMU when running under overhead catenary, or as a battery unit off-wire, with or without the fuel cell in use to trickle-charge the batteries.

These are my thoughts.

The Hydrogen Fuel Cells.

The article says this about the hydrogen fuel cells.

Two polymer electrolyte fuel cells are contained in an underfloor module 2 600 mm long, 2 655 mm wide and 720 mm high, which weighs 1·9 tonnes.

The fuel cells are stated to have a rating of 90 kW at 200 to 350 V.

To get a handle on how powerful the hydrogen fuel cells are, these are some characteristics of a British Rail Class 456 train.

  • It is a two-car electric multiple unit.
  • It weighs 72.5 tonnes.
  • It has an operating speed of 75 mph.
  • It is a 750 VDC train.
  • It has a power output of 373 kW

I wouldn’t think that the two trains are that far apart in performance and capacity.

The Japanese train has a total power output from the fuel cells of 180 kW, but it can also use power from the battery.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the Japanese fuel cell and battery combination was powerful enough to power the British train.

I also think, they would fit underneath a typical British train like the Class 456 train, which has a width of 2800 mm.

The Hydrogen Tanks

The article says this about the hydrogen tanks and the range.

Hydrogen is stored in four high pressure cylinders at 35 MPa, with a capacity of 180 litres, giving a range of 72 km.

The mass of the hydrogen in the tank according to this calculator on the Internet is around 4.3 Kg.

In How Much Energy Can Extracted From a Kilogram Of Hydrogen?, I showed that a typical fuel cell can produce 16 kWh from a kilogram of hydrogen.

So the hydrogen tank can be considered a battery holding 4.3 * 16 = 68.8 kWh.

That doesn’t sound much, so perhaps the capacity figure is for a single tank. In that case the total for the train would be 275.2 kWh, which seems more in line with the battery size of Vivarail’s two-car battery prototype, which has 424 kWh.

Each tank would be something like 2500 mm long and 300 mm in diameter, if they were cylindrical. Double the diameter to 600 mm and the capacity would be over 700 litres.

The Battery

The article says the train has a 540 kW battery, which I think could be a misprint, as it would more likely be 540 kWh.

Performance

The article says this about the performance.

The four 95 kW traction motors provide a maximum acceleration of 0·7 m/s2, and an electric braking rate of 0·86 m/s2

It also says that the range is 72 km.

My observations on the performance and traction system are.

  • The traction power of the two-car Japanese train at 380 kW is very similar to the 373 kW of the similar-sized British Class 456 train
  • The acceleration rate is very typical of an electric multiple unit.
  • Bracking is regenerative and used to charge the batteries. As it should!

This leads me to conclude, that this is a train, that could run a short public service, just as the Class 379 BEMU demonstrator did in 2015.

Thoughts About Range

The range is quoted at 72 kilometres (forty five miles.) This figure is unusual in that it is very precise, so perhaps it’s the Japanese way to give an exact figure, whereas we might say around or over seventy kilometres.

Applying my trusty formula of three kWh per vehicle-mile for cruising gives a energy requirement of 270 kWh for the full range, which is close to the four-tank energy capacity of 275.2 kWh.

Comparison With Alstom’s Breeze

Alstom are building a hydsrogen-powered version of a Class 321 train, which they have named Breeze.

Like the Japanese train, this is a effectively two-car train with respect to capacity as large hydrogen tanks to give a thousand kilometre range are installed.

So do the developers of both trains feel that a hydrogen-powered train to replace two- and three-car diesel multiple units is the highest priority?

Conclusion

If nothing else, it seems the Japanese have designed a two-car electric multiple unit, that has the following characteristics.

  • Practical size of two-cars.
  • Most equipment underneath the train.
  • Useful range.
  • Acceleration and braking in line with modern units.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • Ability to work on overhead, battery and hydrogen power.

I am led to the conclusion, that once their research is finished, the Japanese could design a very practical hydrogen-powered train for production in the required numbers.

 

 

 

September 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Could A Battery- Or Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive Borrow A Feature Of A Steam Locomotive?

Look at these pictures of the steam locomotive; Oliver Cromwell at Kings Cross station.

Unlike a diesel or electric locomotive, most powerful steam locomotives have a tender behind, to carry all the coal and water.

The Hydrogen Tank Problem

One of the problems with hydrogen trains for the UK’s small loading gauge is that it is difficult to find a place for the hydrogen tank.

The picture is a visualisation of the proposed Alstom Breeze conversion of a Class 321 train.

  • There is a large hydrogen tank between the driving compartment and the passengers.
  • The passenger capacity has been substantially reduced.
  • The train will have a range of several hundred miles on a full load of hydrogen.

The Alstom Breeze may or may not be a success, but it does illustrate the problem of where to put the large hydrogen tank needed.

In fact the problem is worse than the location and size of the hydrogen tank, as the hydrogen fuel cells and the batteries are also sizeable components.

An Ideal Freight Locomotive

The Class 88 locomotive, which has recently been introduced into the UK, is a successful modern locomotive with these power sources.

  • 4 MW using overhead 25 KVAC overhead electrication.
  • 0.7 MW using an onboard diesel engine.

Stadler are now developing the Class 93 locomotive, which adds batteries to the power mix.

The ubiquitous Class 66 locomotive has a power of  nearly 2.5 MW.

But as everybody knows, Class 66 locomotives come with a lot of noise, pollution, smell and a substantial carbon footprint.

To my mind, an ideal locomotive must be able to handle these freight tasks.

  • An intermodal freight train between Felixstowe and Manchester.
  • An intermodal freight train between Southampton and Leeds.
  • A work train for Network Rail
  • A stone train between the Mendips and London.

The latter is probably the most challenging, as West of Newbury, there is no electrification.

I also think, that locomotives must be able to run for two hours or perhaps three,  on an independent power source.

  • Independent power sources could be battery, diesel, hydrogen, or a hybrid design
  • This would enable bridging the many significant electrification gaps on major freight routes.

I feel that an ideal locomotive would need to meet the following.

  • 4 MW when running on a line electrified with either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail.
  • 4 MW for two hours, when running on an independent power source.
  • Ability to change from electric to independent power source at speed.
  • 110 mph operating speed.

This would preferably without diesel.

Electric-Only Version

Even running without the independent power source, this locomotive should be able to haul a heavy intermodal freight train between London and Glasgow on the fully-electrified West Coast Main Line.

I regularly see freight trains pass along the North London Line, that could be electric-hauled, but there is a polluting Class 66 on the front.

Is this because there is a shortage of quality electric locomotives? Or electric locomotives with a Last Mile capability, that can handle the routes that need it?

If we have to use pairs of fifty-year-old Class 86 locomotives, then I suspect there are not enough electric freight locomotives.

Batteries For Last Mile Operation

Stadler have shown, in the design of the Class 88 locomotive, that in a 4 MW electric locomotive, there is still space to fit a heavy diesel engine.

I wonder how much  battery capacity could be installed in a UK-sized 4 MW electric locomotive, based on Stadler’s UK Light design.

Would it be enough to give the locomotive a useful Last Mile capabilty?

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I estimated that a Class 88 locomotive could replace the diesel engine with a battery with a battery capacity of between 700 kWh and 1 MWh.

This would give about fifteen minutes at full power.

Would this be a useful range?

Probably not for heavy freight services, if you consider that a freight train leaving the Port of Felixstowe takes half-an-hour to reach the electrification at Ipswich.

But it would certainly be enough power to bring the heaviest freight train out of Felixstowe Port to Trimley.

If the Felixstowe Branch Line were to be at least partially electrified, then I’m sure a Class 88 locomotive with a battery instead of the diesel engine could bring the heaviest train to the Great Eastern Main Line.

  • Electrifying between Trimley and the Great Eastern Main Line should be reasonably easy, as much of the route has recently been rebuilt.
  • Electrifying Felixstowe Port would be very disruptive to the operation of the port.
  • Cranes and overhead wires don’t mix!

I wonder how many services to and from Felixstowe could be handled by an electric locomotive with a Last Five Miles-capability, if the Great Eastern Main Line electrification was extended a few miles along the Felixstowe Branch Line.

As an aside here, how many of the ports and freight interchanges are accessible to within perhaps five miles by electric haulage?

I believe that if we are going to decarbonise UK railways by 2040, then we should create electrified routes to within a few miles of all ports and freight interchanges.

Batteries For Traction

If batteries are to provide 4 MW power for two hours, they will need to have a capacity of 8 MWh.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this.

Traction batteries seem to have an energy/weight ratio of about 0.1kWh/Kg, which is increasing with time, as battery technology improves.

This means that a one tonne battery holds about 100 kWh.

So to hold 8 MWh or 8,000 kWh, there would be a need to be an 80 tonne battery using today6’s technology.

A Stadler Class 88 locomotive weighs 86 tonnes and has a 21.5 tonne axle load, so the battery would almost double the weight of the locomotive.

So to carry this amount of battery power, the batteries must be carried in a second vehicle, just like some steam locomotives have a tender.

But suppose Stadler developed another version of their UK Light locomotive, which was a four-axle locomotive that held the largest battery possible in the standard body.

  • It would effectively be a large battery locomotive.
  • It would have cabs on both  ends.
  • It might have a traction power of perhaps 2-2.5 MW.
  • It would have a pantograph for charging the battery if required.

It could work independently or electrically-connected to the proposed 4 MW electric locomotive.

I obviously don’t know all the practicalities and economics of designing such a pair of locomotives, but I do believe that the mathematics say  that a 4 MW electric locomotive can be paired with a locomotive that has a large  battery.

  • It would have 4 MW, when running on electrified lines.
  • It would have up to 4 MW, when running on battery power for at least an hour.
  • ,It could use battery-power to bridge the gaps in the UK’s electrification network and for Last Mile operation.

A  very formidable zero-carbon locomotive-pair could be possible.

Hydrogen Power

I don’t see why a 4 MW electric locomotive , probably with up to 1,000 kWh of batteries couldn’t be paired with a second vehicle, that contained a hydrogen tank, a hydrogen fuel-cell.and some more batteries.

It’s all a question of design and mathematics.

It should also be noted, that over time the following will happen.

  • Hydrogen tanks will be able to store hydrogen at a greater pressure.
  • Fuel cells will have a higher power to weight ratio.
  • Batteries will have a higher power storage density.

These improvements will all help to make a viable hydrogen-powered generator or locomotive possible.

I also feel that the same hydrogen technology could be used to create a hydrogen-powered locomotive with this specfication.

  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 2 MW on electrification.
  • 1.5 MW on hydrogen/battery power.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Ability to pull a rake of five or six coaches.

This could be a very useful lower-powered locomotive.

What About The Extra Length?

A Class 66 locomotive is 21.4 metres long and a Class 68 locomotive is 20.3 metres long. Network Rail is moving towards a maximum freight train length of 775 metres, so it would appear that another twenty metre long vehicle wouldn’t be large in the grand scheme of things.

Conclusion

My instinct says to be that it would be possible to design a family of locomotives or an electric locomotive with a second vehicle containing batteries or a hydrogen-powered electricity generator, that could haul freight trains on some of the partially-electrified routes in the UK.

 

 

 

July 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Breeze Hydrogen Multiple-Unit Order Expected Soon

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

This is the first paragraph.

Alstom Transport is hopeful of confirming an order before the end of this year for its Breeze hydrogen multiple-unit trains being developed in partnership with leasing company Eversholt Rail, suggesting that the first trains could enter service ‘as early as 2022’.

It then goes out to fill out some of the thinking behind the Alstom Breeze hydrogen-powered train.

The Breeze Is A Stop-Gap

Alstom are quoted as indicating the Breeze is an interim solution, until the next generation of train is available.

But after a ride to Southend recently in a Class 321 Renatus, I’m sure that the ride and passenger acceptance will be of a high standard.

And that’s what counts. Hydrogen is only the train’s personal power supply.

Alstom Are Not Building A Suburban Trundler

The Alstom Coradia iLint is not an exciting train.

  • It has a cruising speed of 87 mph.
  • It has a range of 370-500 miles.
  • It has a noisy mechanical transmission.
  • It always runs on hydrogen-power.
  • The prototypes have covered 100,000 km.

In my view, it is very much a first generation compromise design.

The article says more about the Alstom Breeze.

  • It has a slightly faster cruising speed of 90 mph
  • The Breeze will have 50% more power than the iLint. Does this mean better acceleration and/or a longer and heavier train?
  • It will have a 1,000 km range.
  • It will have regenerative breaking.
  • It will have a new AC traction package, as does a Class 321 Renatus. So will the two systems be the same?

I am also fairly sure, the train will be able to use electrification of both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail, as Class 321 trains can now!

Train Capacity

This is said about train capacity.

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 Class 172/0 trains, that are two-car 23 metre diesel multiple units, have 124 seats.

In Hydrogen Trains Ready To Steam Ahead, I estimated that a three-car Alstom Breeze would have a seating capacity of around 140 seats, with the ability to perhaps take an additional 160 standees.

So was my seat estimate fairly good? I also think, that as the Breeze has been designed with bags of grunt, I suspect that the basic train could be increased in size by adding extra trailer cars.

After all, the legendary Class 442 train is a five-car train, with a power-car in the middle. South Western Railway, think they are worth pulling out of the scrapyard and refurbishing to run expresses between Waterloo and Portsmouth.

I am fairly certain, that Alstom can create a five-car Class 321 Breeze with the following characteristics.

A capacity of about three hundred seats.

  • A near-100 mph top speed.
  • A 1000 km range on hydrogen.
  • The ability to use 25 KVAC overhead and/or 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • The ability to run two trains as a ten-car train.

It would be ideal for the following routes.

  • Liverpool and North Wales via Chester
  • Norwich and Derby
  • Newcastle and Carlisle
  • Preston and Carlisle via Barrow
  • Cardiff and the South Coast of England
  • Borders Railway
  • Southampton and Ashford
  • Waterloo and Exeter

All of these routes have partial electrification, which would reduce the amount of hydrogen needed to be carried around.

Now that is an interesting multi-variable calculation!

Hydrogen Infrastructure

Alstom seem to be developing infrastructure solutions to supply hydrogen for fleets of ten or more trains, which could be shared with other applications. The obvious one could be where a train depot and a fleet of buses share a facility in say a large city like Exeter, which has an extensive diesel train network.

The article also says this about the source of hydrogen.

Ideally, the trains would use ‘green’ hydrogen manufactured by electrolysis using surplus renewable energy rather than ‘brown’ hydrogen from steam methane reforming.

I agree wholeheartedly with that!

Delivery In 2022?

Consider what has already been achieved in other projects.

  • Alstom have proved they can generate enough electricity to power a practical train.
  • Eversholt have proved that you can turn Class 321 trains into comfortable and efficient 100 mph Class 321 Renatus trains for routes up to a hundred miles.
  • Several classes of Mark 3-based electrical multiple units have been re-engined with AC traction, including the Class 321 Renatus.
  • Engineers all over the UK have modified Mark 3-based coaches and multiple units to create better and more-efficient trains.

Helping delivery of the project, is a legacy of drawings and philosophy from British Rail Engineering.

If Alstom say 2022, I believe that that could be a feasible date.

Conclusion

The ghost of British Rail Engineering is certainly a benign one allowing all sorts of worthwhile development paths.

May 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

These are the first two paragraphs

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

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

It strikes me that this could be a good fit.

Powering A Bus

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

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

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

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

Powering A Class 230 Train

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Concept Train

Vivarail’s press release describes a concept train.

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

Vivarail seem very certain of the formation of production trains.

I am not surprised at this certaincy.

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

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

Range Of A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

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

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

I said this about range.

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

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

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

Refuelling A Hydrogen-Powered Class 230 Train

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

Conclusion

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

 

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

Hydrogen Trains To Be Trialled On The Midland Main Line

This article on Railway Gazette is entitled Bimode And Hydrogen Trains As Abellio Wins Next East Midlands Franchise.

Abellio will be taking over the franchise in August this year and although bi-mode trains were certain to be introduced in a couple of years, the trialling of hydrogen-powered trains is a surprise to me and possibly others.

This is all that is said in the article.

Abellio will also trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line.

It also says, that the new fleet will not be announced until the orders are finalised.

In this post, I’m assuming that the hydrogen trial will be performed using the main line trains.

Trains for the Midland Main Line will need to have the following properties

  • 125 mph on electric power
  • 125 mph on diesel power
  • Ability to go at up to 140 mph, when idigital n-cab signalling is installed and the track is improved.
  • UK gauge
  • Ability to run on hydrogen at a future date.

I think there could be three types of train.

  • A traditional bi-mode multiple unit, with underfloor engines like the Hitachi Class 800 series, is obviously a possibility.
  • An electrical multiple unit, where one driving car is replaced by a bi-mode locomotive with appropriate power.
  • Stadler or another manufacturer might opt for a train with a power pack in the middle.

The second option would effectively be a modern InterCity 225.

  • South of Kettering, electricity would be used.
  • North of Kettering, diesel would be used
  • Hydrogen power could replace diesel power at some future date.
  • Design could probably make the two cabs and their driving desks identical.
  • The locomotive would be interchangeable with a driver car.

Bi-modes would work most services, with electric versions working to Corby at 125 mph.

Which manufacturer has a design for a 125 mph, hydrogen-powered train?

Alstom

Alstom have no 125 mph UK multiple unit and their Class 321 Hydogen train, is certainly not a 125 mph train and probably will still be under development.

Bombardier

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I compared diesel and hydrogen-power on bi-mode Aventras and felt that hydrogen could be feasible.

In that post, I wrote a section called Diesel Or Hydrogen Power?, where I said this.

Could the better ambience be, because the train doesn’t use noisy and polluting diesel power, but clean hydrogen?

It’s a possibility, especially as Bombardier are Canadian, as are Ballard, who produce hydrogen fuel-cells with output between 100-200 kW.

Ballard’s fuel cells power some of London’s hydrogen buses.

The New Routemaster hybrid bus is powered by a 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine and uses a 75 kWh lithium-ion battery, with the bus being driven by an electric motor.

If you sit in the back of one of these buses, you can sometimes hear the engine stop and start.

In the following calculations, I’m going to assume that the bi-mode |Aventra with batteries has a power source, that can provide up to 200 kW, in a fully-controlled manner

Ballard can do this power output with hydrogen and I’m sure that to do it with a diesel engine and alternator is not the most difficult problem in the world.

So are Bombardier designing the Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, so that at a later date it can be changed from diesel to hydrogen power?

All an Aventra needs to run is electricity and the train, the onboard staff and passengers don’t care whether it comes from overhead wires, third-rail, batteries, diesel or hydrogen.

Bombardier  also have the technology for my proposed locomotive-based solution, where one driver-car of an Aventra is replaced by what is effectively a locomotive.

If Bombardier have a problem, it is that they have no small diesel train to replace Abellio’s small diesel trains. Could the longer services use the bi-mode Aventras and the shorter ones Aventras with battery power?

CAF

CAF probably have the technology, but there would be a lot of development work to do.

Hitachi

Hitachi have the bi-mode trains in the Class 802 trains, but haven’t as yet disclosed a hydrogen train.

Siemens

They’ve made a few noises, but I can’t see them producing a bi-mode train for 2022.

Stadler

In a few weeks time, I will be having a ride in a Stadler-built Class 755 train, run by Abellio Greater Anglia.

The Class 755 train is a bi-mode 100 mph train, from Stadler’s Flirt family.

Could it be stretched to a 125 mph train?

  • Stadler have built 125 mph electric Flirts.
  • It is my view, that Stadler have the knowledge to make 125 mph trains work.
  • Flirts are available in any reasonable length.
  • I’ve read that bi-mode and electric Flirts are very similar for drivers and operators.

These could work the Midland Main Line.

If the mainline version is possible, then Abellio could replace all their smaller diesel trains with appropriate Class 755 trains, just as they will be doing in East Anglia.

Stadler with the launch of the Class 93 locomotive, certainly have the technology for a locomotive-based solution.

East Midlands Railway would be an all-Stadler Flirt fleet.

As to hydrogen, Stadler are supplying hydrogen-powered trains for the Zillertalbahn, as I wrote in Zillertalbahn Orders Stadler Hydrogen-Powered Trains.

Talgo

Talgo could be the joker in the pack. They have the technology to build 125 mph bi-mode trains and are building a factory in Scotland.

My Selection

I think it comes down to a straight choice between Bombardier and Stadler.

It should also be noted, that Abellio has bought large fleets from both manufacturers for their franchises in the UK.

Zero-Carbon Pilots At Six Stations

This promise is stated in the franchise.

Once the electrification reaches Market Harborough in a couple of years, with new bi-mode trains, running on electricity, the following stations will not see any passenger trains, running their diesel engines.

  • St. Pancras
  • Luton Airport Parkway
  • Luton
  • Bedford
  • Wellingborough
  • Kettering
  • Corby
  • Market Harborough

These are not pilots, as they have been planned to happen, since the go-ahead for the wires to Market Harborough.

Other main line stations include.

  • Beeston
  • Chesterfield
  • Derby
  • East Midlands Parkway
  • Leicester
  • Long Eaaton
  • Loughborough
  • Nottingham
  • Sheffield

Could these stations be ones, where East Midlands Railway will not be emitting any CO2?

For a bi-mode train to be compliant, it must be able to pass through the station using battery power alone.

  • As the train decelerates, it charges the onboard batteries, using regernerative braking.
  • Battery power is used whilst the train is in the station.
  • Battery power is used to take the train out of the station.

Diesel power would only be used well outside of stations.

How would the trains for the secondary routes be emission-friendly?

  • For the long Norwich to Derby and Nottingham to Liverpool routes, these would surely be run by shorter versions of the main line trains.
  • For Stadler, if secondary routes were to be run using Class 755 trains, the battery option would be added, so that there was no need to run the diesel engines in stations.
  • For Bombardier, they may offer battery Aventras or shortened bi-modes for the secondary routes, which could also be emission-free in stations.
  • There is also the joker of Porterbrook’s battery-enhaced Class 350 train or BatteryFLEX.

I think that with the right rolling-stock, East Midlands Railway, could be able to avoid running diesel engines in all the stations, where they call.

Why Are Abellio Running A Hydrogen Trial?

This is a question that some might will ask, so I’m adding a few reasons.

A Train Manufacturer Wants To Test A Planned Hydrogen Train

I think that it could be likely, that a train manufacturer wants to trial a hydrogen-powered variant of a high-speed train.

Consider.

  • The Midland Main Line is about 160 miles long.
  • A lot of the route is quadruple-track.
  • It is a 125 mph railway for a proportion of the route.
  • It has only a few stops.
  • It is reasonably straight with gentle curves.
  • Part of the route is electrified.
  • It is connected to London at one end.

In my view the Midland Main Line is an ideal test track for bi-mode high speed trains.

A Train Manufacturer Wants To Sell A Fleet Of High Speed Trains

If a train manufacturer said to Abellio, that the fleet of diesel bi-mode trains they are buying could be updated to zero-carbon hydrogen bi-modes in a few years, this could clinch the sale.

Helping with a trial, as Abellio did at Manningtree with Bombardier’s battery Class 379 train in 2015, is probably mutually-beneficial.

The Midland Main Line Will Never Be Fully Electrified

I believe that the Midland Main Line will never be fully-electrified.

  • The line North of Derby runs through the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Would UNESCO allow electrification?
  • I have been told by drivers, that immediately South of Leicester station, there is a section, that would be very difficult to electrify.
  • Some secondary routes like Corby to Leicester via Oakham might be left without electrification.

But on the other hand some sections will almost certainly be electrified.

  • Around Toton, where High Speed Two crosses the Midland Main Line and the two routes will share East Midlands Hub station.
  • Between Clay Cross Junction and Sheffield, where the route will be shared with the Sheffield Spur of High Speed Two.
  • The Erewash Valley Line, if High Speed Two trains use that route to Sheffield.

The Midland Main Line will continue to need bi-mode trains and in 2040, when the Government has said, that diesel will not be used on UK railways,

It is my view, that to run after 2040, there are only two current methods of zero-carbon propulsion; on the sections without overhead electrification battery or hydrogen power.

So we should run trials for both!

Abellio Know About Hydrogen

Abellio is Dutch and after my trip to the Netherlands last week, I wrote The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen, which describes how the Dutch are developing a green hydrogen economy, where the hydrogen is produced by electricity generated from wind power.

So by helping with the trial of hydrogen bi-mode trains on the Midland Main Line, are Abellio increasing their knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of hydrogen-powered trains.

In Thoughts On Eurostar To North Netherlands And North West Germany, I  proposed running bi-mode trains on the partially-electrified route between Amsterdam and Hamburg via Groningen and Bremen, which would be timed to connect to Eurostar’s services between London and Amsterdam. These could use diesel, hydrogen or battery power on the sections without electrification.

If hydrogen or battery power were to be used on the European bi-mode train, It would be possible to go between Sheffield and Hamburg on a zero-carbon basis, if all electric power to the route were to be provided from renewable sources.

Abellio Sees The PR Value In Running Zero-Carbon Trains

In My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint, I talked about running hydrogen-powered trains on a hundred mile lines at 60 mph over the flat German countrside

The Midland Main Line is a real high speed railway, where trains go at up to 125 mph between two major cities, that are one-hundred-and-sixty miles apart.

Powered by hydrogen, this could be one of the world’s great railway journeys.

If hydrogen-power is successful, Abellio’s bottom line would benefit.

Conclusion

This franchise will be a big improvement in terms of  carbon emissions.

As I said the choice of trains probably lies between Bombardier and Stadler.

But be prepared for a surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint

I’m finally, riding in a hydrogen-powered Alstom Coradia iLint train through the German countryside.

Not as quiet as the two battery trains, I’ve ridden, but that’s because It feels to me that the traction motors are crudely under the passengers and cardan shafts are used to drive the wheels!

Battery electric trains with regenerative braking should be virtually free of any mechanical noise. Both the Class 379 and Class 230 battery demonstrators were almost silent. As electricity generated from hydrogen doesn’t appear to generate much noise, then a hydrogen-powered train can also be almost silent.

From talking to fellow passengers, it would appear that the train has been very reliable in service.

Alstom are proving hydrogen would work well in a train designed for that purpose, but updating a DMU with a mechanical transmission, possibly isn’t the way to go.

Class 321 Breeze Train

I think that the Class 321 Breeze train will be quieter and faster.

It appears too, that if Alstom’s conversion follows the design of the Class 321 Renatus, the train will have a totally flat floor.

Come to think of it, I can’t think of a train running in the UK, that doesn’t have a totally flat floor!

The iLint, like the Lint has several sets of steps.

These are not acceptable in a modern train, bus or tram.

Lint 41 And iLint Compared

It is interesting to compare the iLint with the current diesel Lint 41s on the route.

  • The iLint is faster and may accelerate better.
  • The iLint is based on the bigger Lint 54, so it has more seats and two doors instead of one on each side of the cars.
  • The newer iLint appears to have a higher quality interior.

I feel that the iLint will be quicker on a real.route.

The Future Of Buxtehude And Cuxhaven

Currently, to go between Buxtehude and Cuxhaven and back to Buxtehude takes around five hours. So that means the current hourly service needs five trains.

But if the iLint could do a round trip in four hours, the number of trains would be teduced to four.

If to increase capacity, all trains were pairs of iLints, the number of trains required would be eight.

Supposing it was required to double frequency, this would mean sixteen trains would be needed!

And how many trains have been ordered? Sixteen!

Coincidence or good planning?

Publicising The Achievement

When Bombardier created the Class 379 IPEMU, they made certain that there was a lot of local publicity including a report on BBC Look East.

I made a point of asking local residents about the train and no-one had heard of it. Although, I must say that students who regularly used the train, were very much in favour.

This was the only information, I found about the train.

It was only in German, which I can read,. But surely, such an important achievement deserves better publicity and explanation in perhaps German, English and French.

Conclusion

Alstom have proved that hydrogen-power is possible in a smaller train, suitable for regional routes.

My reservations are totally about the Lint, which is an inferior train compared to many others that I’ve ridden in the UK and Europe.

I wouldn’t like to use the train in a wheel-chair!

The next generation of purpose-built trains with hydrogen power will be much better!

 

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 6 Comments

More About Steamology Motion

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

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

This is said in the article.

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

A Visualisation Of An Alstom Breeze Hydrogen-Powered Train

I have found a visualisation of an Alstom Breeze hydrogen-powered train on Twitter.

Click To View!!

January 15, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment