The Anonymous Widower

Running Battery Electric Trains Between London Marylebone And Aylesbury

This post was suggested by Fenline Scouser in a comment to Vivarail Targets Overseas Markets, where they said.

I have long thought that one UK application that would make sense is the Marylebone – Aylesbury via Harrow on the Hill service, the intermediate electrified section lending itself to full recharge on each trip. ? stabling facility at Aylesbury with overnight charging.

It does look to be an idea worth pursuing.

Current And Future Services

Currently, the services between London Marylebone and Aylesbury are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe
  • London Marylebone and Aylesbury via Amersham
  • London Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway via Amersham

All services are one train per hour (tph)

In the future, it is planned to extend the Aylesbury Vale Parkway service to Milton Keynes, according to information I found on the East West Rail web site.

  • It looks like the service will go via High Wycombe, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Monks Risborough, Little Kimble, Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.
  • The service will have a frequency of 1 tph.
  • Time between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury is quoted as 33 minutes.
  • Time between High Wycombe and Milton Keynes is quoted as 63 minutes.

Will this leave the Marylebone and Aylesbury are as follows?

  • 1 tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe.
  • 2 tph – London Marylebone and Aylesbury via Amersham

Passengers between London Marylebone and Aylesbury would have the same service.

Distances

These are a few distances, of which some have been estimated.

  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 9.18 miles.chains
  • Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 14.27 miles.chains – Electrified
  • Aylesbury and Amersham – 15.23 miles.chains
  • London Marylebone and High Wycombe – 28.11 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury and High Wycombe – 15.28 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway – 2.25 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Calvert – 8.19 miles.chains
  • Aylesbury and Milton Keynes – 16.40 miles.chains – Estimated

Note that there are eighty chains to the mile.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train, is the only battery electric train intended for the UK network for which a detailed specification has been released.

This infographic from Hitachi gives the specification.

Note that ninety kilometres is fifty-six miles.

I would suspect that battery trains from other manufacturers, like Bombardier, CAF and Stadler, will have a similar specification.

Battery Electric Trains Between London Marylebone And Aylesbury

I’ll take each possible route in turn.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via Amersham

The three sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 9.23 miles – Not Electrified
  • Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham – 14.34 – Electrified
  • Amersham and Aylesbury – 15.29 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is 38.85 miles
  2. A typical service takes just under twenty minutes to travel between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham. This should be enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. A train going South from Harrow-on-the-Hill could reach London Marylebone and return.
  4. A train going North from Amersham could reach Aylesbury and return.

I am fairly confident, that a battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train could work this route.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Vale Parkway Via Amersham

The four sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and Harrow-on-the-Hill – 9.23 miles – Not Electrified
  • Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham – 14.34 – Electrified
  • Amersham and Aylesbury – 15.29 miles – Not Electrified
  • Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway – 2.31 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is 41.16 miles
  2. A typical service takes just under twenty minutes to travel between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Amersham. This should be enough to fully charge the batteries.
  3. A train going South from Harrow-on-the-Hill could reach London Marylebone and return.
  4. A train going North from Amersham could reach Aylesbury Vale Parkway and return.

I am fairly confident, that a battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train could work this route.

London Marylebone And Aylesbury Via High Wycombe

The two sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and High Wycombe- 28.14 miles – Not Electrified
  • High Wycombe and Aylesbury – 15.35 miles – Not Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is 43.50 miles
  2. There is no electrification to charge the trains.

A battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train will need charging to work this route.

However, with charging at both ends, this would be a route for a battery electric train.

At the London Marylebone end, there are two possible solutions.

  • Electrify the station traditionally, together with perhaps the tracks as far as Neasden, where the routes split. Either 750 VDC third-rail or 25 KVAC overhead electrification could be used.
  • Fit fast charging systems into all the platforms at the station.

Note.

  1. Turnround times in Marylebone station are typically nine minutes or more, so using a charging system should be possible.
  2. Power for the electrification should not be a problem, as the station is close to one of London’s central electricity hubs at Lisson Grove by the Regent’s Canal.

The final decision at Marylebone, would be one for the engineers and accountants.

At the Aylesbury end, it should be noted that much of the under twenty miles of track between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury and on to Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Calvert us single-track.

So why not electrify from Princes Risborough and Calvert, where the route joins the East West Railway?

The electrification in Aylesbury station could also be used to top-up trains going to London via Amersham.

I would use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, using lightweight gantries like these, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

Electrification doesn’t have to be ugly and out-of-character with the surroundings.

London Marylebone And Milton Keynes Via High Wycombe, Aylesbury and Aylesbury Vale Parkway

The three sections of the route are as follows.

  • London Marylebone and High Wycombe- 28.14 miles – Not Electrified
  • High Wycombe and Aylesbury – 15.35 miles – Not Electrified
  • Aylesbury and Milton Keynes – 16.50 miles – Partially Electrified

Note.

  1. The total distance is sixty miles
  2. There is some electrification to charge the trains between Bletchley and Milton Keynes.

A battery electric train, with the range of a Hitachi Regional Battery Train should be able to work this route, if they can work London Marylebone and Aylesbury, with charging at Aylesbury.

Milton Keynes Central is a fully-electrified station.

The picture shows Platform 2A, which is South-facing electrified, five-car platform, which could be used by the Chiltern service.

Train Specification

Consider.

  • Chiltern Railway’s workhorse is a Class 168 train, which is a diesel multiple unit of up to four cars, with a 100 mph operating speed.
  • The longest leg without electrification could be London Marylebone and Aylesbury via High Wycombe, which is 43.5 miles.
  • Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train has a range of fifty-six miles.
  • As there is a need to work with London Underground electrification, a dual-voltage train will be needed.

So a battery electric train with this specification would probably be ideal.

  • Four cars
  • Ability to work with both 750 VDC third-rail and 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Battery range of perhaps 55 miles.

Could the specification fit a battery-equipped Class 385 train, which will probably be built for Scotland?

Conclusion

I am convinced that battery electric trains can run between London Marylebone and Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Milton Keynes stations.

The following would be needed.

  • A battery electric range of perhaps fifty-five miles.
  • Some form of charging at Marylebone and Aylesbury stations.

I would electrify, the single-track route between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

September 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beeching Reversal – Reinstatement Of The Beverley And York Rail Line

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

The York And Beverley Line does what it says in the name.

A section in the Wikipedia entry is entitled Re-Opening Proposals and the treatment of the trackbed after closure would appear to be a case study in how not to mothball a railway.

  • The original route has been built on in several places at Huntingdon, New Earswick, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge.
  • A new route will have to be built to connect to the York and Scarborough Line at Haxby.
  • There may also be problems at Beverley.

The only positive thing I can see, is that York City Council, want to re-open Haxby station. If this station were to be re-opened with a future-proofed design that might help in the wider scheme of reopening the Beverley and York Line.

This Google Map shows the original location of Haxby station.

Note.

  1. There is a dreaded level crossing in the middle of the village, that typically has around two trains per hour (tph)
  2. The road going to the West at the top of the map, is called Station Road, which is a bit of a giveaway.
  3. The building on the triangular site is called Station garage.
  4. Some reports on the Internet say that allotments will be turned into car parks.
  5. According to Wikipedia 22,000 people live within three miles of the station site.

The station site appears to be hemmed in by housing and comments from readers on one report are complaining about car parking being a problem an definitely don’t want the station.

Wikipedia says this about the proposed service on the Beverley and York Line.

The report recommended reinstating a service from Hull via Beverley, Market Weighton, Stamford Bridge and Pocklington connecting to the York to Scarborough Line at Haxby, on a double track line with a frequency of 2 trains per hour, with intermediate stations only at Market Weighton, Pocklington and Stamford Bridge. The estimate journey time was under 1 hour.

As the Beverley and York Line can’t join the York and Scarborough Line in the middle of Haxby, would it join North or South of the town?

Joining to the North would allow the Beverley trains to call at Haxby, but that would mean the level crossing was busy with six tph.

This Google Map shows the countryside between Haxby in the North and Earswick in the South.

Note.

  1. The York and Scarborough Line going through the centre of Haxby and then passing down the West side of the light brown fields.
  2. York is to the South and Scarborough is to the North.

I wonder, if the Beverley and York Line could branch to the East here and skirt to the North of Earswick before continuing to Pocklington for Beverley.

Perhaps, a Park-and-Ride station could be situated, where the railway and the road called Landing Lane cross?

At Beverley, this Google Map shows how the Beverley and York Line connects to the station.

Note.

  1. Beverley station at the bottom of the map.
  2. The Hull and Scarborough running North-South through the station.

The line divides by Beverley Rugby Football Club, with the trackbed of the Beverley and York Line going off in the North-Westerly direction.

This seems a lot easier than at the York end of the route.

I have flown my virtial helicopter over much of the route between Beverley and York, and the trackbed is visible but missing in places, where construction has taken place.

Would The Route Be Single Or Double-Track?

The plans call for double track, but would it be necessary?

  • There will only be two tph, that will take under an hour.
  • No freight trains will use the line.
  • The route is 32 miles long.

I suspect a single track would suffice, with a passing loop at Market Weighton station.

Should The Line Be Electrified?

I wouldn’t electrify the whole line, but I would electrify the following.

  • Hull and Beverley, so that battery trains to and from London could top up their batteries.
  • Haxby and York, so that battery trains to and from Scarborough could top up their batteries.

These two short stretches of electrification would allow battery electric operation between Hull and York, trains could charge their batteries at either end of the route.

Electrification Between Hull And Beverley

Consider.

  • Hull Trains extend their London and Hull services to Beverley.
  • Hull and Beverley are just over eight miles apart.
  • Trains to and from London Kings Cross use the electrification on the East Coast Main Line to the South of Temple Hirst Junction.
  • Hull and Temple Hirst Junction are thirty-six miles apart.
  • Hull Trains and LNER use Hitachi Class 800 or Class 802 electro-diesel trains on services between London Kings Cross and Hull.

Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric conversion of these trains, would have a range of 56 miles, according to this infographic.

I have flown my helicopter along the route and counted the following.

 

  • Level crossings – 5
  • Modern road bridges – 5
  • Footbridges – 5
  • Other bridges – 5
  • Stations – 1

Nothing looked too challenging.

In my view electrification between Hull and Beverley and at convenient platforms at both stations, would be a simple way of decarbonising rail travel between London and Hull.

If this electrification were to be installed, distances from the electrification between Hull and Beverley, these would be the distances to be covered on battery power to various places.

  • Bridlington – 23 miles
  • Doncaster via Goole – 41 miles
  • Leeds – 52 miles
  • Neville Hill Depot – 49 miles
  • Scarborough – 45 miles
  • York – 52 miles

Note.

  1. All of these places would be in range of a fully-charged Hitachi battery electric train running to and from Hull.
  2. Of the destinations, only Bridlington and Scarborough, is not a fully-electrified station.
  3. One of the prerational problems in the area, is that due to a lack of electrification to the East of Neville Hall Depot, electric trains from York and Hull have difficulty reaching the depot. Trains with a battery capability won’t have this problem.
  4. Hull and Beverley and a lot of stations in the area, would only be served by electric trains, with a battery capability.

There would be a large decrease in pollution and emissions caused by passenger trains in the area.

Electrification Between Haxby And York

Consider.

  • York and Haxby are 4 miles apart.
  • York and Scarborough are 42 miles apart.
  • York and Beverley are 32 miles apart.

Note that unlike at Beverley, there is no need to electrify the end of the route, as trains can be charged in the turnround at York.

With a charging facility at Scarborough, the Class 802 trains of TransPennine Express could work this route if fitted with batteries.

Could Lightweight Electrification Be Used?

Electrification gantries like these have been proposed for routes, where the heavy main-line gantries would be too intrusive.

They could have a place in the rebuilding of lines like Beverley and York.

Trains Between York And Beverley

The UK’s railways need to be decarbonised before 2040.

As a train delivered today, would probably last forty years, I think it would be prudent to only introduce zero-carbon trains to the network, where they are able to run the proposed services.

There is no doubt in my mind, that all these local services in East Yorkshire could be run using battery-electric trains with a 56 mile range.

  • Hull and Doncaster
  • Hull and Leeds
  • Hull and Neville Hill Depot
  • Hull and Scarborough
  • Hull and York via Beverley and Market Weighton
  • Hull and York via Selby
  • York and Scarborough

The only electrification needed would be as follows.

Electrification between Hull and Beverley.

Electrification of some platforms at Beverley and Hull stations.

Some form of charging at Scarborough.

Charging may also be needed at Bridlington station.

The trains needed for the route seem to fit Hitachi’s specification well and a Class 385 train to the following specification, would do a highly capable job.

  • Three or four-cars.
  • Batteries for a 56 mile range.
  • 90-100 mph operating speed.

I’m also sure that Bombardier, CAF and Stadler could also provide a suitable train.

Could Tram-Trains Be Used?

I feel that they could be used successfully and might enable cost savings on the substantial rebuilding of the route needed.

  • Lighter weight structures.
  • Single track with passing places.
  • Tramway electrification or battery.
  • Less vidual intrusion.
  • The service could also have more stops.

Perhaps too, it could go walkabout in Hull City Centre to take passengers to and from Hull station.

Conclusion

It is rebuilding the tracks between Beverley and York, that will be difficult in the reopening of this line, which with hindsight should have not been vandalised by British Rail.

But even, if the Beverley and York Line is not re-opened, it does look that if Beverley and Hull were to be electrified, it would enable a network of battery electric zero-carbon trains in East Yorkshire and allow battery electric trains to run between Kings Cross and Hull.

 

 

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are Hitachi Designing the Ultimate Battery Train?

In Sparking A Revolution, a post based on an article of the same name in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine, I repeated this about the specification of Hitachi UK Battery Train Specification.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

Does this mean that the train can do 55-65 miles cruising at 90-100 mph?

How Much Energy Is Needed To Accelerate A Five-Car Class 800 Train To Operating Speed?

I will do my standard calculation.

  • Empty train weight – 243 tonnes (Wikipedia for Class 800 train!)
  • Passenger weight – 302 x 90 Kg (Includes baggage, bikes and buggies!)
  • Train weight – 270.18 tonnes

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the kinetic energy at various speeds are.

  • 60 mph – 27 kWh
  • 80 mph – 48 kWh
  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh
  • 125 mph – 117 kWh – Normal cruise on electrified lines.
  • 140 mph – 147 kWh – Maximum cruise on electrified lines.

Because the kinetic energy of a train is only proportional to the weight of the train, but proportional to the square of the speed, note how the energy of the train increases markedly after 100 mph.

Are these kinetic energy figures a reason, why Hitachi have stated their battery train will have an operating speed of between 90 and 100 mph?

A 100 mph cruise would also be very convenient for a lot of main lines, that don’t have electrification in the UK.

What Battery Size Would Be Needed?

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.

For comparison, an InterCity 125 train, had a figure of 2.83 kWh per vehicle-mile.

Hitachi are redesigning the nose of the train for the new Class 804 train and I suspect that these trains can achieve somewhere between 1.5 and 3 kWh per vehicle-mile, if they are cruising at 100 mph.

Doing the calculation for various consumption levels gives the following battery capacity for a five-car train to cruise 65 miles at 100 mph

  • 1.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 487 kWh
  • 2 kWh per vehicle-mile – 650 kWh
  • 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile – 812.5 kWh
  • 3 kWh per vehicle-mile – 975 kWh

These figures don’t include any energy for acceleration to line speed from the previous stop or station, but they would cope with a deceleration and subsequent acceleration, after say a delay caused by a slow train or other operational delay, by using regenerative braking to the battery.

The energy needed to accelerate to operating speed, will be as I calculated earlier.

  • 90 mph – 61 kWh
  • 100 mph – 75 kWh

As the battery must have space to store the regenerative braking energy and it would probably be prudent to have a ten percent range reserve, I can see a battery size for a train with an energy consumption of 2 kWh per vehicle-mile, that needed to cruise at 100 mph being calculated as follows.

  • Energy for the cruise – 650 kWh
  • 10% reserve for cruise – 65 kWh
  • Braking energy from 100 mph – 75 kWh

This gives a total battery size of 790 kWh, which could mean that 800 kWh would be convenient.

Note that each of the three MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines, fitted to a Class 800 train, each weigh around two tonnes.

In Innolith Claims It’s On Path To 1,000 Wh/kg Battery Energy Density, I came to these conclusions.

  • Tesla already has an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg.
  • Tesla will increase this figure.
  • By 2025, the energy density of lithium-ion batteries will be much closer to 1 KWh/Kg.
  • Innolith might achieve this figure. But they are only one of several companies aiming to meet this magic figure.

Suppose two of the MTU 12V 1600 diesel engines were each to be replaced by a two tonne battery, using Tesla’s current energy density, this would mean the following.

  • Each battery would have a capacity of 500 kWh.
  • The train would have one MWh of installed battery power.
  • This is more than my rough estimate of power required for a 65 mile trip.
  • The train would have little or no weight increase.
  • I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that the exchange of a diesel engine for a battery was Plug-and-Play.

Hitachi would have an electric/battery/diesel tri-mode train capable of the following.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Out and Back Range – about 20-30 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Emergency diesel engine.

I feel it would be a very useful train.

Trains That Could Be Fitted With Batteries

The original article in Rail Magazine says this.

For the battery project, positive discussions are taking place with a number of interested parties for a trial, with both Class 385s and Class 800s being candidates for conversion.

So this means that the following operators will be able to use Hitachi’s battery technology o their trains.

  • Avanti West Coast – Class 80x trains
  • First East Coast Trains – Class 80x trains
  • East Midlands Railway – Class 80x trains
  • GWR – Class 80x trains
  • Hull Trains – Class 80x trains
  • LNER – Class 80x trains
  • ScotRail – Class 385 trains
  • TransPennine Express – Class 80x trains

Although, I based my calculations on Class 80x trains, I suspect that the methods can be applied to the smaller Class 385 trains.

Possible Out-And-Back Journeys

These are possible Out-And-Back journeys, that I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle.

  • Edinburgh and Tweedbank – 30 miles from Newcraighall
  • London Paddington and Bedwyn – 30 miles from Reading
  • London Euston and Blackburn – 12 miles from Preston
  • London Kings Cross and Bradford – < 27 miles from Leeds
  • London Euston and Chester – 21 miles from Crewe
  • London Kings Cross and Harrogate – <18 miles from Leeds
  • London Kings Cross and Huddersfield – 17 miles from Leeds
  • London St. Pancras and Leicester – 16 miles from Market Harborough
  • London Kings Cross and Lincoln – 17 miles from Newark
  • London St. Pancras and Melton Mowbray – 26 miles from Corby
  • London Kings Cross and Middlesbrough – 20 miles from Northallerton
  • London Kings Cross and Nottingham – 20 miles from Newark
  • London Paddington and Oxford – 10 miles from Didcot
  • London Kings Cross and Redcar – 29 miles from Northallerton
  • London Kings Cross and Rotherham- 14 miles from Doncaster
  • London Kings Cross and Sheffield – 20 miles from Doncaster
  • London and Weston-super-Mare – 19 miles from Bristol

Note.

  1. Provided that the Out-And-Back journey is less than about sixty miles, I would hope that these stations are comfortably in range.
  2. Leicester is the interesting destination, which would be reachable in an Out-And-Back journey. But trains from the North stopping at Leicester would probably need to charge at Leicester.
  3. I have included Blackburn as it could be a destination for Avanti West Coast.
  4. I have included Melton Mowbray as it could be a destination for East Midlands Railway.
  5. I have included Nottingham, Rotherham and Sheffield as they could be destinations for LNER. These services could prove useful if the Midland Main Line needed to be closed for construction works.
  6. I’m also fairly certain, that no new electrification would be needed, although every extra mile would help.
  7. No charging stations would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Possible Journeys Between Two Electrified Lines

These are possible journeys between two electrified lines, that  I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle.

  • London St. Pancras and Eastbourne via Hastings – 25 miles between Ashford and Ore.
  • Leeds and York via Garforth – 20 miles between Neville Hall and Colton Junction
  • London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge – 54 miles between Ely and Norwich.
  • Manchester Victoria and Leeds via Huddersfield – 43 miles between Manchester Victoria and Leeds.
  • Preston and Leeds via Hebden Bridge – 62 miles between Preston and Leeds.
  • Newcastle and Edinburgh – Would battery-electric trains get round the well-publicised power supply problems on this route?

Note.

  1. I am assuming that a range of 65 miles is possible.
  2. If the trains have a diesel-generator set, then this could be used to partially-charge the battery in places on the journey.
  3. Leeds and York via Garforth has been scheduled for electrification for years.
  4. Preston and Leeds via Hebden Bridge would probably need some diesel assistance.
  5. London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge is a cheeky one, that Greater Anglia wouldn’t like, unless they ran it.
  6. As before no new electrification or a charging station would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Possible Out-And-Back Journeys With A Charge At The Destination

These are possible Out-And-Back journeys, that I believe Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains could handle, if the batteries were fully charged at the destination.

  • Doncaster and Cleethorpes – 52 miles from Doncaster.
  • London Paddington and Cheltenham – 42 miles from Swindon
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln – 64 miles from Newark
  • London Euston and Gobowen – 46 miles from Crewe
  • London Euston and Wrexham – 33 miles from Crewe
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – 45 miles from Selby
  • London Kings Cross and Shrewsbury – 30 miles from Wolverhampton
  • London Kings Cross and Sunderland 41 miles from Northallerton
  • London Paddington and Swansea – 46 miles from Cardiff
  • London Paddington and Worcester – 67 miles from Didcot Parkway
  • London St. Pancras and Derby – 46 miles from Market Harborough
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham – 43 miles from Market Harborough

Note.

  1. I am assuming that a range of 65 miles is possible.
  2. If the trains have a diesel-generator set, then this could be used to partially-charge the battery in places on the journey.
  3. I am assuming some form of charging is provided at the destination station.
  4. As before no new electrification would be needed.

I suspect, I’ve missed a few possible routes.

Midland Main Line

The Midland Main Line could possibly be run between London St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield without the use of diesel.

Consider.

  • The route will be electrified between London St. Pancras and Market Harborough.
  • In connection with High Speed Two, the Midland Main Line and High Seed Two will share an electrified route between Sheffield and Clay Cross North Junction.
  • London St. Pancras and Derby can be run with a charging station at Derby, as Market Harborough and Derby is only 46 miles.
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham can be run with a charging station at Nottingham, as Market Harborough and Nottingham is only 43 miles.
  • The distance between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough is 67 miles.
  • The distance between Sheffield and Leeds is 38 miles.

It looks to me that the range of East Midlands Railway’s new Class 804 trains, will be a few miles short to bridge the gap on batteries, between Clay Cross North Junction and Market Harborough station, but Leeds and Sheffield appears possible, once Sheffield has been electrified.

There are several possible solutions to the Clay Cross North and Market Harborough electrification gap.

  1. Fit higher capacity batteries to the trains.
  2. Extend the electrification for a few miles North of Market Harborough station.
  3. Extend the electrification for a few miles South of Clay Cross North Junction.
  4. Stop at Derby for a few minutes to charge the batteries.

The route between Market Harborough and Leicester appears to have been gauge-cleared for electrification, but will be difficult to electrify close to Leicester station. However, it looks like a few miles can be taken off the electrification gap.

Between Chesterfield and Alfriston, the route appears difficult to electrify with tunnels and passig through a World Heritage Site.

So perhaps options 1 and 2 together will give the trains sufficient range to bridge the electrification gap.

Conclusion On The Midland Main Line

I think that Hitachi, who know their trains well, must have a solution for diesel-free operation of all Midland Main Line services.

It also looks like little extra electrification is needed, other than that currently planned for the Midland Main Line and High Speed Two.

North Wales Coast Line

If you look at distance along the North Wales Coast Line, from the electrification at Crewe, you get these values.

  • Chester – 21 miles
  • Rhyl – 51 miles
  • Colwyn Bay – 61 miles
  • Llandudno Junction – 65 miles
  • Bangor – 80 miles
  • Holyhead – 106 miles

It would appear that Avanti West Coast’s new AT-300 trains, if fitted with batteries could reach Llandudno Junction station, without using diesel.

Electrification Between Crewe And Chester

It seems to me that the sensible thing to do for a start is to electrify the twenty-one miles between Crewe and Chester, which has been given a high priority for this work.

With this electrification, distances from Chester are as follows.

  • Rhyl – 30 miles
  • Colwyn Bay – 40 miles
  • Llandudno Junction – 44 miles
  • Bangor – 59 miles
  • Holyhead – 85 miles

Electrification between Crewe and Chester may also open up possibilities for more electric and battery-electric train services.

But some way will be needed to charge the trains to the West of Chester.

Chagring The Batteries At Llandudno Junction Station

This Google Map shows Llandudno Junction station.

Note.

  1. It is a large station site.
  2. The Conwy Valley Line, which will be run by battery Class 230 trains in the future connects at this station.
  3. The Class 230 train will probably use some of Vivarail’s Fast Charging systems, which use third-rail technology, either at the ends of the branch or in Llandudno Junction station.

The simplest way to charge the London Euston and Holyhead train, would be to build a charging station at Llandudno Junction, which could be based on Vivarail’s Fast Charging technology or a short length of 25 KVAC overhead wire.

But this would add ten minutes to the timetable.

Could 25 KVAC overhead electrification be erected for a certain distance through the station, so that the train has ten minutes in contact with the wires?

Looking at the timetable of a train between London Euston and Holyhead, it arrives at Colwyn Bay station at 1152 and leaves Llandudno Junction station at 1200.

So would it be possible to electrify between the two stations and perhaps a bit further?

This Google Map shows Colwyn Bay Station,

Note how the double-track railway is squeezed between the dual-carriageway of the A55 North Wales Expressway and the sea.

The two routes follow each other close to the sea, as far as Abegele & Pensarn station, where the Expressway moves further from the sea.

Further on, after passing through more caravans than I’ve ever seen, there is Rhyl station.

  • The time between arriving at Rhyl station and leaving Llandudno Junction station is nineteen minutes.
  • The distance between the two stations is fourteen miles.
  • Rhyl and Crewe is fifty-one miles.
  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles.

It would appear that if the North Wales Coast Line between Rhyl and Llandudno Junction is electrified, that Hitachi’s proposed battery trains can reach Holyhead.

The trains could even changeover between electrification and battery power in Rhyl and Llandudno Junction stations.

I am sure that electrifying this section would not be the most difficult in the world, although the severe weather sometimes encountered, may need some very resilient or innovative engineering.

It may be heretical to say so, but would it be better if this section were to be electrified using proven third-rail technology.

West of Llandudno Junction station, the electrification would be very difficult, as this Google Map of the crossing of the River Conwy shows.

I don’t think anybody would want to see electrification around the famous castle.

Electrification Across Anglesey

Llanfairpwll station marks the divide between the single-track section of the North Wales Coast Line over the Britannia Bridge and the double-track section across Anglesey.

From my virtual helicopter, the route looks as if, it could be fairly easy to electrify, but would it be necessary?

  • Llandudno Junction and Holyhead is forty-one miles, which is well within battery range.
  • There is surely space at Holyhead station to install some form of fast-charging system.

One problem is that trains seem to turn round in only a few minutes, which may not be enough to charge the trains.

So perhaps some of the twenty-one miles between Llanfairpwll and Holyhead should be electrified.

London Euston And Holyhead Journey Times

Currently, trains take three hours and forty-three minutes to go between London Euston and Holyhead, with these sectional timings.

  • London Euston and Crewe – One hour and thirty-nine minutes.
  • Crewe and Holyhead – Two hours and four minutes.

The big change would come, if the London Euston and Crewe leg, were to be run on High Speed Two, which will take just fifty-five m,inutes.

This should reduce the London Euston and Holyhead time to just under three hours.

Freight On The North Wales Coast Line

Will more freight be seen on the North Wales Coast Line in the future?

The new tri-mode freight locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive, will be able to take advantage of any electrification to charge their batteries, but they would probably be on diesel for much of the route.

Conclusion On The North Wales Coast Line

Short lengths of electrification, will enable Avanti West Coast’s AT-300 trains, after retrofitting with batteries, to run between Crewe and Holyhead, without using any diesel.

I would electrify.

  • Crewe and Chester – 21 miles
  • Rhyl and Llandudno Junction – 14 miles
  • Llanfairpwll and Holyhead – 21 miles

But to run battery-electric trains between London Euston and Holyhead, only Rhyl and Llandudno Junction needs to be electrified.

All gaps in the electrification will be handled on battery power.

A Selection Of Possible Battery-Electric Services

In this section, I’ll look at routes, where battery-electric services would be very appropriate and could easily be run by Hitachi’s proposed battery-electric trains.

London Paddington And Swansea

Many were disappointed when Chris Grayling cancelled the electrification between Cardiff and Swansea.

I went along with what was done, as by the time of the cancellation, I’d already ridden in a battery train and believed in their potential.

The distance between Cardiff and Swansea is 46 miles without electrification.

Swansea has these services to the West.

  • Carmarthen – 32 miles
  • Fishguard – 73 miles
  • Milford Haven  71 miles
  • Pembroke Dock – 73 miles

It looks like, three services could be too long for perhaps a three car battery-electric version of a Hitachi Class 385 train, assuming it has a maximum range of 65 miles.

But these three services all reverse in Carmarthen station.

So perhaps, whilst the driver walks between the cabs, the train can connect automatically to a fast charging system and give the batteries perhaps a four minute top-up.

Vivarail’s Fast Charging system based on third-rail technology would be ideal, as it connects automatically and it can charge a train in only a few minutes.

I would also electrify the branch between Swansea and the South Wales Main Line.

This would form part of a fast-charging system for battery-trains at Swansea, where turnround times can be quite short.

I can see a network of battery-electric services developing around Swansea, that would boost tourism to the area.

Edinburgh And Tweedbank

The Borders Railway is electrified as far as Newcraighall station and the section between there and Tweedbank is thirty miles long.

I think that a four-car battery-electric Class 385 train could work this route.

It may or may not need a top up at Tweedbank.

The Fife Circle

The Fife Circle service from Edinburgh will always be difficult to electrify, as it goes over the Forth Rail Bridge.

  • The Fife Circle is about sixty miles long.
  • Plans exist for a short branch to Leven.
  • The line between Edinburgh and the Forth Rail Bridge is partly electrified.

I believe that battery-electric Class 385 train could work this route.

London Kings Cross and Grimsby/Cleethorpes via Lincoln

The Cleethorpes/Grimsby area is becoming something of a  renewable energy powerhouse and I feel that battery trains to the area, might be a significant and ultimately profitable statement.

LNER recently opened a six trains per day service to Lincoln.

Distances from Newark are as follows.

  • Lincoln – 17 miles
  • Grimsby – 61 miles
  • Cleethorpes – 64 miles

A round trip to Lincoln can probably be achieved on battery alone with a degree of ease, but Cleethorpes and Grimsby would need a recharge at the coast.

Note that to get to the Cleethorpes/Grimsby area, travellers usually need to change at Doncaster.

But LNER are ambitious and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them dip a toe in the Cleethorpes/Grimsby market.

The LNER service would also be complimented by a TransPennine Express service from Manchester Airport via Sheffield and Doncaster, which could in the future be another service run by a Hitachi battery train.

There is also a local service to Barton-on-Humber, which could be up for improvement.

London Waterloo And Exeter

This service needs to go electric, if South Western Railway is going to fully decarbonise.

But third-rail electrification is only installed between Waterloo and Basingstoke.

Could battery-electric trains be used on this nearly two hundred mile route to avoid the need for electrification.

A possible strategy could be.

  • Use existing electrification, as far as Basingstoke – 48 miles
  • Use battery power to Salisbury – 83 miles
  • Trains can take several minutes at Salisbury as they often split and join and change train crew, so the train could be fast-charged.
  • Use battery power to the Tisbury/Gillingham/Yeovil/Crewkerne area, where trains would be charged – 130 miles
  • Use battery power to Exeter- 172 miles

Note.

  1. The miles are the distance from London.
  2. The charging at Salisbury could be based on Vivarail’s Fast-Charging technology.
  3. The charging around Yrovil could be based on perhaps twenty miles of third-rail electrification, that would only be switched on, when a train is present.

I estimate that there could be time savings of up to fifteen minutes on the route.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sparking A Revolution

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in Issue 898 of Rail Magazine.

The sub-title is.

When it comes to powering a zero-enissions train with no overhead line infrastructure, battery power is clearly the answer, according to Hitachi.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Over the next decade around 1,000 diesel-powered vehicles will need to be replaced with vehicles that meet emissions standards.

Hitachi, which has been building bi-mode trains for the UK since 2012, and electric trains since 2006, says that retro-fitting old vehicles alone will not be good enough to improve capacity, reliability or passenger satisfaction.

Battery power is the future – not only as a business opportunity for the company, but more importantly for the opportunities it offers the rail industry.

Speaking is Andrew Barr of Hitachi Rail.

Some important points are made.

  • Hitachi has identified various towns and cities, where battery trains would be useful including Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hastings, Leeds and Manchester.
  • Andrew Barr says he gets a lot of questions about battery power.
  • Battery power can be used as parts of electrification schemes to bridge gaps, where rebuilding costs of bridges and other infrastructure would be too high.
  • Battery trains are ideal for decarbonising branch lines.
  • Batteries could be fitted to Class 385, 800, 802 and 804 trains.

Hitachi would like to run a battery train with passengers, within the next twelve months.

The article also gives the specification of a Hitachi battery train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

These figures are credited to Hitachi.

Hitachi are also thinking about tri-mode trains.

  • Batteries could be installed on Class 800-802/804 trains.
  • Battery-only power for stations and urban areas.
  • 20% performance improvements or 30% fuel savings.

These is also credited to Hitachi.

Costs And Power

This is an insert in the article, which will apply to all applications with traction batteries.

This is said.

The costs of batteries are expected to halve in the next five years, before dropping further again by 2030.

Hitachi cites research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) which expects costs to fall from £135/kWh at the pack level today to £67/kWh in 2025 and £47/kWh in 2030.

United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI)  is also predicting that battery energy density will double in the next 15 years, from 700 Wh/l to 1,400 Wh/l in 2035, while power density (fast charging) is likely to increase four times in the same period from 3 kW/kg now to 12 kW/kg in 2035.

In Batteries On Class 777 Trains, I quoted a source that said that Class 777 trains are built to handle a five tonne battery.

I estimated the capacity as follows.

Energy densities of 60 Wh/Kg or 135 Wh/litre are claimed by Swiss battery manufacturer; Leclanche.

This means that a five tonne battery would hold 300 kWh.

Hitachi’s figures are much higher as it looks like a five tonne battery can hold 15 MWh.

Batteries will be going places on Hitachi trains.

 

February 16, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Traction System Of A Class 385 Train

This document on the Hitachi web site is entitled Development of Class 385 Semi-customised/Standard Commuter Rolling Stock for Global Markets.

The Hitachi document gives a schematic of the traction system of a Class 385 train.

This is the description, that accompanies the diagram.

Railway businesses in the UK include ROSCOs, TOCs, and track maintenance and management companies. The TOCs pay fees, called track access charges, which are based on the weight of rolling stock and the distance travelled, and are obliged to pay the track maintenance and management company for the electrical power consumed in train operation. Because lighter trains put less load on the track, they incur lower track access charges. As lighter trains also consume less electrical power, there was strong demand from the TOC to make the rolling stock lighter, right from the pre-contract stage.

There are two types of Class 385, a four-car train set and a three-car train set. The four-car train set has two motor cars (M) and two trailer cars (T) in what is called a 2M2T configuration. For a three-car train set, in contrast, sufficient traction capacity is provided by 1.5 M cars. Accordingly, the Class 385 adopts a system in which the traction unit (converter) is split into two drive systems, with each car having two motor bogies that are controlled separately (see Fig. 4). This means that three-car train sets can have a 1.5M1.5T configuration in which one of the bogies on one of the two M cars is a trailer bogie, thereby eliminating two traction motors and one traction unit drive system. This configuration reduces the weight of a three-car train set by approximately 1.5 tonnes.

Next time you design a train, will you stand more chancw of getting the order, if you think out of the box?

August 10, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Scottish Government Approve £75m Levenmouth Rail Link

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

The plan seems to have been well-received by politicians and the media.

I’ve always thought this line to be a good candidate for reopening.

  • It is only five miles long.
  • It would serve Scotland’s largest town without a rail station.
  • There must be freight opportunities for freight, as the line could serve Scotland’s largest distillery.

There is more here on the Wikipedia entry for the Levenmouth Rail Link under Cost, Feasibility And Services.

Could The Levenmouth Rail Link Be Part Of A Bigger Picture?

The Fife Circle Line is an important route into Edinburgh for commuters, shoppers and visitors.

This map from Wikipedia shows the stations on the Fife Circle Line.

Consider.

  • The route is not electrified.
  • A train starting in Edinburgh and going rund the loop would cover about sixty miles.
  • Trains have a frequency of four trains per hour (tph)

It would appear that it would be the sort of service that would be ideal for electric trains, like ScotRail’s Class 385 trains, where a fleet of perhaps eight trains could provide the current service.

But there is a big obstacle to electrification; the Forth Rail Bridge.

It would be a difficult engineering project, that would cause massive disruption and one that would probably be strongly opposed by the Heritage lobby.

This map from Wikipedia shows the proposed Levenmouth Rail Link.

Note how it connects to the Fife Circle Line at Glenrothes with Thorton and Kirkcaldy stations.

I estimate that the distance between Leven and Edinburgh stations would be about 31 miles.

Could Battery-Electric Trains Work To Glenrothes with Thorton And Leven?

Consider these  facts abut battery-electric trains.

  • Bombardier ran a battery-electric train on the 11.5 mile Mayflower Line in public service for three months, without a hitch in 2015.
  • Hitachi, Siemens, Stadler and Vivarail have sold battery-electric trains.
  • Hitachi are running battery-electric trains in Japan.
  • Ranges of upwards of fifty miles are being claimed.
  • Battery-electric trains are a quality experience for passengers.

.As the Edinburgh and Leven and dinburgh and Glenrothes with Thorton routes  are about thirty miles, I believe it is now possible to run battery-electric trains on these two routes.

  • They would be charged at the Edinburgh end using the existing electrification.
  • Charging stations would be needed at Leven and Glenrothes with Thornton.
  • Electrification could also be erected as far as Dalmeny station at the Edinburgh end, which would reduce the range on batteries by about seven miles.

There would be no difficult engineering and the Forth Rail Bridge would look the same as the day it was built!

Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires

I covered this in more detail in Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires.

Hitachi appear to be serious according to this article of the same name on Rail Engineer.

The article concludes with this paragraph.

Hitachi’s proposal to operate battery trains in Scotland is at an early stage. However, with their use being recommended by the rail decarbonisation task force and the Scottish Government about to pass new climate change legislation, it may not be long before battery trains are operating in Scotland.

Hitachi aren’t stupid and I doubt they could want for a better portfolio of launch routes, than some of those in Scotland.

  • Edinburgh and Leven over the Forth Rail Bridge.
  • Edinburgh and Grenrothes with Thornton over the Forth Rail Bridge.
  • The Borders Railway.

I also show in the related article, that Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig may be possible.

The Rail Network And Electrification To The West Of Edinburgh

This map shows the rail system to the West of Edinburgh.

All lines except for the route through South Gyle and Edinburgh Gateway stations are electrified.

Electrification as far as Dalmeny station, the addition of the new chord (shown in yellow) and fill in electrification to join the chord to the Glosgow wires would open up the possibilities of more routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow and a connection between Glasgow and the Fife Circle.

But battery-electric trains would be needed.

ScotRail has Options For More Class 385 Trains

This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 385 trains.

10 unit optional follow up order after 2020.

So ScotRail seem to have a gateway to the future.

Will Battery-Electric Trains Be Good For Tourism?

I very much doubt, that they’ll be bad for it!

Conclusion

The announcement of the reinstatement of the Levenmouth Rail Link, could be be a collateral benefit of a decision to trial or even order some battery-electric Hitachi Class 385 trains.

August 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Manchester Victoria To Chester

On Saturday, I went between Manchester Victoria and Chester on the new hourly Northern Connect service between Chester and Leeds.

Note.

  1. The train was a Class 158 train, with a Class 153 train acting as a capacity enhancer.
  2. The train was only doing 60 mph on the West Coast Main Line.
  3. The service was fairly busy.
  4. The route is electrified between Manchester Victoria and Warrington Bank Quay stations.

On this Saturday morning, it appeared to me that a better train is needed.

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.

In my view Class 769 trains are ideal for the route between Chester and Leeds.

  • They are four-car trains.
  • They can do 100 mph, where electrification is available.
  • They are 90 mph trains on diesel.

There main problem, is not their age, but since they were proposed, train interiors have moved on. Passengers and train operating companies want more tables and comfortable seats. Even some refurbishments of forty-year-old trains have tables. In What Train Is This?, I described a high class refurbishment of a Class 150 train. Here’s a picture.

The Chester and Leeds route and probably many other routes in the UK need a train with the following characteristics.

  • 100 mph using either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 100 mph on secondary power like diesel, battery or hydrogen.
  • two hundred mile range without refuelling.
  • Four or five cars.
  • Comfortable interior with tables, wi-fi, power points and everything else passengers want.

Train operating companies would probably like a 125 mph version.

Hitachi already have a train with this specification in the Class 800 train. In Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires, I detail, Hitachi’s plans for Class 385 trains. Could these be stretched to perhaps do 100 miles on batteries.

Bombardier are offering a High Speed Bi-Mode Aventra with batteries and Stadler are introducing the Class 755 train for Greater Anglia.

Conclusion

It looks to me, that Northern need to get themselves some new 100 mph hybrid trains. The diesels they have on order are so Twentieth Century and late!

June 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hitachi Plans To Run ScotRail Class 385 EMUs Beyond The Wires

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

This is the first paragraph.

Hitachi are in discussions with the Scottish Government to run a Class 385 variant with underfloor batteries that could either be charged whilst under the wires or whilst stationary at the end of the route.

The article makes these points, about adding batteries to Class 385 trains.

  • It would be straightforward to add batteries to give a range of twenty miles on batteries.
  • Sixty miles would be possible but more difficult.
  • Experience gained with the DENCHA trains in Japan would be used.

The article concludes with this paragraph.

Hitachi’s proposal to operate battery trains in Scotland is at an early stage. However, with their use being recommended by the rail decarbonisation task force and the Scottish Government about to pass new climate change legislation, it may not be long before battery trains are operating in Scotland.

I think it should be noted that Hitachi’s order book is rather thin these days and it appears that innovative technology will sell new trains.

Alstom, Bombardier, CAF, Siemens, Stadler and Vivarail have all designed, demonstrated or sold trains, where batteries are used improve efficiency or extend range.

As Scotland has several routes, where battery trains could provide a service, perhaps Hitachi thought it was time to do some marketing, to make sure that they got any orders for battery trains.

Scotrail would probably prefer to have a battery train similar to their largest fleet of electric trains.

Electric Trains On The West Highland Line Between Glasgow And Mallaig/Oban

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

But consider.

  • The West Highland Line is electrified as far as Helenburgh Central station.
  • Electrification to Helensburgh Upper station would probably not be a difficult project for Network Rail in Scotland.
  • Heleburgh Upper to Mallaig is just under 140 miles.
  • Hellensuburgh Upper to Oban is around 80 miles.
  • Crianlarich station, where the two routes divide is forty miles from Helesburgh Upper.
  • Fort William station is around halfway between Mallaig and Crianlarich.
  • Trains take several minutes to reverse at Fort William.

Vivarail have developed fast charging for battery trains, that I wrote about in Vivarail Unveils Fast Charging System For Class 230 Battery Trains.

If Hitachi can develop a Class 385 train with batteries, that has a range of perhaps sixty miles on a full battery, then I believe it would be possible to run an electric train service between Glasgow and Oban and Mallaig.

  • Charging stations would need to be able to fully charge the batteries in perhaps six minutes.
  • Trains would leave Hellensburgh Upper with a full battery and charging stations at Crianlarich and Fort William would top up the batteries.
  • The longest stretch is between Crianlarich and Fort William and it would probably need an additional charging station at perhaps Tulluch.

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

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

 

 

April 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 11 Comments

A First Ride In A Class 385 Train

Yesterday, I finally got a ride in a Class 385 train between Linlithgow and Glasgow Queen Street stations.

These are my observations.

Ride, Seats And Tables

I have written in many commuter trains all over Europe and these trains are very much towards the top in these important three areas.

Ride seemed to my innocent and not-so-well-padded posterior to be fine and very similar to the closely-related Class 800 trains.

It certainly didn’t pose any problems to this well-balanced stroke survivor, when I walked around.

Seats were certainly better than some other trains.

It was also pleasing to see lots of tables, which is very much a British tradition, that seems to have really kicked-off in the InterCity 125s.

In some ways sitting there, it reminded me of Great Western Railway’s Class 387 trains.

Both are certainly a very good standard for a commuter train with a journey up to perhaps ninety minutes.

Large Windows

The trains seem to follow Bombardier’s Aventras, Stadler’s Flirts and some other new trains in having large windows.

It would be very difficult to prove, but I wonder, when trains have big windows aligned with the seats, it increases ridership amongst occasional travellers. Anything that improves the experience must increase the change of repeat journeys.

Quirky But Good Interior Design

Some of the design details are quite quirky.

  • The priority seat covers are different and make a bold statement.
  • There are labels everywhere, advertising the features.

And there are good features too.

  • Plenty of bins for the rubbish, that commuters discard.
  • Sensible sized luggage racks.
  • Wide lobbies and doors.
  • There might be space between and under the seats for medium-sized cases.

The design is not bland and boring like a Class 700 train.

Spacious Trains

Someone described the trains, as having more space. I think that’s down to generous lobbies and large windows.

I also don’t think, the trains have not been designed for a maximum number of people, but for a maximum return on investment.

These are different things.

I suspect that a maximum return on investment is obtained, with a comfortably-full train, operating like that all day.

Overcrowded trains do the following.

  • Encourage passenger to use other modes of transport.
  • Lengthen station dwell times, which make trains late.
  • Make it difficult for less able passengers to use the trains.

But getting the balance right between train capacity and route is a complex problem.

Step-Free Access

Hitachi don’t seem to do good step-free access, where wheel-chairs, buggies and wheeled-cases can just roll in and out.

These trains are no exception Although, it could be that ScotRail has so many different types of trains, that the standard platform height hasn’t been defined yet!

Stadler have said, that all their trains used by Greater Anglia and Merseyrail will have this property, so I would have thought that other manufacturers would follow.

Passengers will demand it!

Train Formations

There is a document on the Hitachi web site, which is entitled Development of Class 385 Semi-customised/Standard Commuter Rolling Stock for Global Markets, which gives insights into Hitachi’s thinking.

This is the introduction.

The Class 385 is based on the AT-200, which was developed for global markets with the aim of providing flexibility of configuration while making maximum use of standardisation. It is a semi-customised model of a type common in global markets, with fewer components and greater standardisation of components achieved by adopting the “mother design” developed for the AT-300 (a typical example of which is the Class 800) and competitive lead times achieved by shortening the specification-setting process.

Note the close relationship between the Class 385 and Class 800 trains.

The document gives a detailed graphic and states that the four-car units have the following formation.

  • DMCLw – Driver Motor Composite Lavatory with 20 First Class seats, 15 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space
  • TPS – Trailer Pantograoh Standard with 80 Standard Class seats
  • TS – Trailer Standard with 80 Standard Class seats
  • DMSL – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with 62 Standard Class seats and a space-saving toilet.

Note.

  1. The coach designations on the delivered trains has been taken from this page on scot-rail.co.uk.
  2. This gives a total of 257 seats as against 273 seats in Wikipedia.
  3. The difference of 16 seats is twice the number of doors, so it could be that Hitachi have squeezed in a few more seats, between the provisional and final design.

The three-car trains would appear to have the following formation.

  • DMSLw – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with about 50 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space
  • TPS – Trailer Pantograoh Standard with 80 Standard Class seats
  • DMSL – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with 62 Standard Class seats and a space-saving toilet.

Note.

  1. This article in Rail Magazine, says that all trains have Universal Access Toilets and two wheelchair spaces.
  2. This gives a total of 192 seats as against 206 seats in Wikipedia.
  3. Add in two seats for each of the six doors and the difference is two seats.

I should have read the numbers from the side of the train on my visit to Scotland.

If you type “Class 800 regenerative braking” into Google, you will find this document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

This is a paragraph.

Trains have a unit configuration of up to 12 cars,
including the ability to add or remove standardized
intermediate cars and the generator units (GUs)
(generators with diesel engines) needed to operate
commercial services on non-electrified lines. Along
with the A-train concept, developed in Japan, the
new rolling stock is also based on technology from the
Class 395 rolling stock developed by Hitachi for the
UK High Speed 1 that entered commercial operation
in 2009, providing compatibility with UK railway
systems together with high reliability.

This is also said about the Automatic Train Identification Function.

To simplify the rearrangement and management
of train configurations, functions are provided for
identifying the train (Class 800/801), for automatically
determining the cars in the trainset and its total length,
and for coupling and uncoupling up to 12 cars in
normal and 24 cars in rescue or emergency mode.

It’s all very Plug-and-Play.

Although, these two extracts come from a document describing the Class 800 trains, both these trains and the Class 385 trains are members of the Hitachi A-Train family.

If you look at the train formations of Class 800 trains, Wikipedia gives them as.

5-car: DPTS-MS-MS-MC-DPTF
9-car: DPTS-MS-MS-TS-MS-TS-MC-MF-DPTF

Note.

  1. DPTS and DPTF are Driver Pantograph Trailer cars, with Standard and First Class seats respectively
  2. MS, MF and MC are Motored cars with Standard, First and Composite(mixed Standard and First Class), seats respectively.
  3. TS is a Trailer car with Standard Class seats.

Trains use two standard Driver cars and then add a number number of Motored and Trailer cars in between, to get the required train length and capacity.

I would be very surprised, if the formations of the Class 385 train were to be very different.

There appear to be the following Driver cars.

  • DMCLw – Driver Motor Composite Lavatory with 20 First Class seats, 15 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space – Used in four-car trains
  • DMSLw – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with about 50 Standard Class seats, a Universal Access Toilet and Wheelchair Space – Used in three-car trains
  • DMSL – Driver Motor Standard Lavatory with 62 Standard Class seats and a space-saving toilet – Used in both three- and four-car trains.

As with the Class 800 trains, I suspect you can create a train of the required length and capacity by adding the appropriate number of trailer cars between the two driver cars.

According to this page on the Hitachi web site, the AT200 trains have an operating speed of up to 125 mph. So perhaps for the greaster power, that might be needed for higher speeds, motored cars can be added as well.

I am puzzled about the length of the current trains.

At the present time, the Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley route can accept seven-car trains, which are formed from a three-car and a four-car working together.

But when platform extensions are complete at Glasgow, eight-car trains will be possible, which will be formed of two-four-car trains.

So why didn’t Abellio ScotRail use a Crossrail-like solution, where seven-car trains were ordered and these were then lengthened by an extra car, after the extension of the platforms?

  • The current train formations waste space with two unused drivers cabs in every train.
  • Do trains running on the half-hour journey across Scotland need two Universal Access and two space-saving toilets?

By comparison Abellio Greater Anglia‘s ten-car Class 720 trains have one Universal Access and two space-saving toilets for 1,145 seats. The seats/toilet for the three trains are as follows.

  • 10-car Class 720 train – 382
  • 3-car Class 385 train – 103
  • 4-car Class 385 train – 137

ScotRail obviously need both three- and four-car Class 385 trains to replace some of the older trains on other routes.

I do find it strange, that two divisions of Abellio have gone for such different solutions.

Gangways

The pictures show that the train has end gangways.

I intended to walk through between the two trains, but the train was full and I couldn’t get near the door.

If the trains were the correct length for the route, then you have to wonder, if the complication of gangways between trains is worth the extra weight, expense and driver’s visibility problems.

But the gangway does aid staff access between different trains.

But I do wonder, if the ability to add and remove cars that seems to be a feature of Class 385 trains, means that gangways between trains may be an unnecessary feature.

Consider these other train orders.

Gangways seem to be going out of fashion, unless they are needed fpr emergency use.

If some of ScotRail’s services need trains with gangways, these could always be run by the current Class 380 trains.

Conclusions

The Class 385 trains appear to be a well-designed train, that should do an excellent job.

But I do question the need for the gangways between trains.

It should also be born in mind, that Scotland is planning more electrification, which will need more trains.

By perhaps converting pairs of four-car sets into eight-car trains, by replacing two Driver cars with appropriate Trailer or Motored cars, two more complicated Driver cars would be liberated, which could form the basis of the extra trains.

There are probably endless combinations, one of which will give ScotRail, the optimal fleet, that will deliver the required services for the best price.

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Class 365 Trains To The Rescue

I had intended to get a ride on a new Class 385 train, but I only caught a glimpse of one going the other way, from a Class 365 train, that I used both ways between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Passengers seemed to be quite happy with the Class 365 trains cascaded from the Cambridge Cruiser.

I really think that Hitachi have got their production of the Class 385 trains, seriously wrong here.

The body shells are made in Japan and then sent to Newton Aycliffe by sea. This must be an easy way to ensure a slow production of trains.

Bombardier make the body shells in the same factory as they design and assemble the trains.

Even if CAF make their body shells in Spain, that is a much shorter and probably more reliable journey.

I must admit if I was the CEO of a train operating company, I wouldn’t buy a Hitachi train.

But then Tony Blair only wanted a new factory, close to his constituency!

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment