The Anonymous Widower

‘Castle’ HSTs To Be Withdrawn By Great Western Railway

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

This quote from a  GWR spokesman, sums up the action that will be taken.

The Castles were always designed to be a temporary measure on the Cardiff to Penzance route. We expect to replace the Castle Class trains on a phased basis over the next couple of years, bringing customers the benefit of more modern trains that will reduce both cost and carbon emissions across the route.

These are my thoughts.

Could The Engines In The Power Cars Be Replaced With Modern Carbon-Neutral Engines?

This would be an alternative way to solve the decarbonisation problem.

It would also mean that other applications of the Class 43 power cars, like ScotRail’s Inter7City trains, Cross Country’s HSTs and Network Rail’s New Measurement Train would have a decarbonisation route,

In Rolls-Royce Releases mtu Rail Engines For Sustainable Fuels, Rolls-Royce mtu outline their route to decarbonise rail engines using sustainable fuels.

This was the first paragraph of my conclusion in the linked article.

Rolls-Royce and Cummins seem to be doing a thoroughly professional job in decarbonising the diesel engines they have made in recent years.

The Class 43 power cars have Rolls-Royce mtu Series 4000 engines, which will soon be available to run on sustainable fuel.

I think as a possible fall-back, one Class 43 power car should be converted to carbon neutral.

Could The Engines In The Power Cars Be Replaced With Modern Hydrogen Engines?

I looked at this in Will We See Class 43 Power Cars Converted To Hydrogen?.

I came to the conclusion, that this might be possible and said this.

It would be the ultimate Roller.

But then Rolls-Royce know about winning battles with large internal combustion engines.

The Option Of New Trains

This quote from a  GWR spokesman was fairly definite about new trains, when they said.

The Castles were always designed to be a temporary measure on the Cardiff to Penzance route. We expect to replace the Castle Class trains on a phased basis over the next couple of years, bringing customers the benefit of more modern trains that will reduce both cost and carbon emissions across the route.

What trains could replace the Castles?

  • The Cardiff and Penzance route is just short of 250 miles or roughly 400 kilometres.
  • Only about 30 miles at the Cardiff end is electrified.
  • Trains would need to be able to handle 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 125 mph trains will be needed at the Cardiff end.
  • Four or five passenger cars will be needed.
  • Currently, there are twelve Castles, so I will assume twelve new trains.

As these trains will be lasting up to forty years, they must be zero-carbon, which must mean battery-electric or hydrogen.

Charging Battery-Electric Trains

Consider

  • Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St. Davis and Plymouth are large stations with several platforms. I suspect that a number of Furrer + Frey’s charging stations can be installed along the route.
  • The timetable would be adjusted to allow trains to be charged as they stopped to set down and pick up passengers.
  • Trains would dwell in the station and then use their 125 mph performance to regain the time.
  • I’ve also found a Penzance to Cardiff service, that stopped at Plymouth for fourteen minutes, which is more than enough to charge the batteries.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries would further eke out the range.
  • There might also be some extra electrification around Bristol or Exeter.
  • Some form of charging would be needed at Penzance.

Note.

  1. Putting up electrification may mean that it will delay the new trains for a few years.
  2. Charging stations along the route could probably be installed to a tight timetable.

I believe that with some top-class work, by battery and charger manufacturers, that a battery-electric train could be developed that could run between Cardiff and Penzance.

Thoughts On Hydrogen

Consider.

  • The Alstom Coradia iLint train has a range of about 1,000 km. on hydrogen.
  • Companies like Airbus, Boeing and a host of rocket makers will improve the storage and safety of hydrogen.
  • A range of a 1,000 km. would allow refuelling at one end of the route.
  • Trains could be multiple units or a hydrogen-electric locomotive pulling a rake of coaches with a driving van trailer.

I feel that hydrogen would be very feasible as a power source.

Alstom Could Offer A Hydrogen Aventra

Consider.

  • Alstom are developing a hydrogen-powered Aventra.
  • Bombardier were offering a 125 mph Aventra.
  • A typical Aventra like a Class 720 train seats a hundred passengers a car.

A hydrogen Aventra would be feasible.

Hitachi Could Offer A Battery-Electric Or Hybrid AT-300

In 2021, in Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%, I wrote about the announcement of the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Hybrid Train, which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Batteries replacing an engine to cut fuel usage and reduce carbon emissions.
  2. First time a modern UK intercity train, in passenger service, will use alternative fuel.
  3. These Hitachi trains use mtu engines, so I suspect they will be switched to sustainable fuel like HVO.
  4. The trains are 125 mph and 140 mph with the latest digital signalling.
  5. Great Western Railway already have 58 five-car Class 800/802 trains and 35 nine-car 800/802 trains.
  6. They would not need any changing stations or other infrastructure changes.
  7. Staff retraining would be minimal.

Testing of the prototype of these trains must be getting very close or even underway.

Stadler Could Offer A Battery-Electric Flirt Akku

Consider

  • Stadler have run a Flirt Akku on batteries for 243 km.
  • Flirt Akkus will go into service soon.
  • Flirts have been designed for 125 mph running.

With charging at Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance, I believe a Flirt Akku could handle the route.

Are Hitachi Home And Hosed?

I have a feeling that the announcement has been made about retiring the Castles as the prototype Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Hybrid Train is under test and is performing well.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to see an order for twelve more Class 802 trains soon.

 

 

November 27, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rolls-Royce Releases mtu Rail Engines For Sustainable Fuels

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Rolls-Royce.

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • mtu Series 1300, 1500 and 1800 engines already released; Series 1600 and 4000 to follow shortly
  • Up to 90% CO2 savings by operating existing engines with Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO/renewable diesel)
  • Locally emission-free operation possible in combination with mtu Hybrid PowerPack
  • Field tests with DB Cargo and RDC Autozug Sylt

Note.

  1. Hitachi Class 800, 802, 805 and Class 810 trains appear to use Series 1600 engines.
  2. CAF Class 195, 196 and Class 197 trains appear to use Series 1800 engines.
  3. Class 43 power cars, as used in InterCity 125 trains appear to use Series 4000 engines.

It would appear that many of the UK’s new diesel trains and the remaining Class 43 power-cars can be converted to run on HVO.

This paragraph from the press release gives more details.

Rolls-Royce is taking a significant step towards even more climate-friendly rail transport with the release of mtu rail engines for use with sustainable fuels. With synthetic diesel fuels of the EN15940 standard, CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 100 percent compared to fossil diesel. Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO or renewable diesel), which is already commercially available today, reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent. If the fuels are produced with the help of renewable energy and green hydrogen – through what is termed a Power-to-X process – existing rail vehicles can be operated in a completely CO2-neutral manner. The mtu Series 1800 engines which are used in mtu PowerPacks, as well as Series 1300 and 1500 for locomotives and multi-purpose vehicles, are already approved for use with synthetic fuels such as HVO. Series 1600 and versions of Series 4000 engines will follow in the near future. The release of engines for climate-friendly fuels requires a series of tests and trials and Rolls-Royce has found strong partners for this activity. DB Cargo and RDC Autozug Sylt have already tested or are currently testing mtu Series 4000 engines with HVO in their locomotives.

Rolls-Royce mtu seem to have covered all issues.

This is a very significant statement in the paragraph.

If the fuels are produced with the help of renewable energy and green hydrogen – through what is termed a Power-to-X process – existing rail vehicles can be operated in a completely CO2-neutral manner.

This must be the most affordable way to make your diesel trains zero carbon.

Conclusion

Rolls-Royce and Cummins seem to be doing a thoroughly professional job in decarbonising the diesel engines they have made in recent years.

It now needs someone to take small diesel engines down the conversion route, just as Rolls-Royce mtu and Cummins are cleaning up their large engines.

September 24, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

News Of The Day From Rolls-Royce

This press release from Rolls-Royce is entitled Rolls-Royce Advances Hybrid-Electric Flight With New Technology To Lead The Way In Advanced Air Mobility.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Rolls-Royce is officially announcing the development of turbogenerator technology, which includes a new small engine designed for hybrid-electric applications. The system will be an on-board power source with scalable power offerings and will complement the Rolls-Royce Electrical propulsion portfolio, enabling extended range on sustainable aviation fuels and later as it comes available through hydrogen combustion.

This paragraph outlines the use of the new small engine.

Current battery technology means all-electric propulsion will enable eVTOL and fixed wing commuter aircraft for short flights in and between cities and island-hopping in locations like Norway and the Scottish Isles. By developing turbogenerator technology, that will be scaled to serve a power range between 500 kW and 1200 kW, we can open up new longer routes that our electric battery powered aircraft can also support.

There is also a video in the press release, which gives more information.

  • The turbogenerator is compatible to their electric power and propulsion offering.
  • The turbogenerator has a power of 500-1200 kW to serve different aircraft platforms.
  • The system is modular and can be tailored to different applications.
  • The turbogenerator can either power the aircraft directly or charge the batteries.
  • The system can be configured to provide primary power for other applications.
  • Rolls-Royce are designing all the components; the turbogenerator, the gas turbine, the generator, the power electronics, so they all fit together in a compact and lightweight solution.
  • Rolls-Royce intend to manufacture all components themselves and not rely on bought-in modules.
  • Every gram of weight saved is important.

I suspect that one of the keys to making this all work is a very comprehensive and clever control system.

I have a few thoughts.

Weight Is Key

Rolls-Royce emphasise weight saving in the video. Obviously, this is important with any form of flying machine.

An Example System

Let’s suppose you want an electric power system to power a railway locomotive or one of those large mining trucks.

  • The locomotive or truck has an electric transmission.
  • Power of 2 MW is needed.
  • A battery is needed.
  • Fuel will be Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) or hydrogen.

A series hybrid-electric power unit will be created from available modules, which could be very fuel efficient.

What Will Rolls-Royce’s System Be Able to Power?

Although the system is aimed at the next generation of electric flying machines, these systems will be used in any application that wants an efficient zero- or low-carbon power source.

Consider.

  • Some large trucks have diesel engines with a power of almost 500 kW.
  • A Class 68 bi-mode locomotive has a 700 kW diesel engine.
  • A Class 802 train has three 700 kW diesel engines.
  • Rolls-Royce subsidiary MTU are a large supplier of diesel engines for rail, road and water.

It looks to me that Rolls-Royce have sized the system to hoover up applications and they have MTU’s experience to engineer the applications.

Class 43 Power Cars

The iconic Class 43 power cars running on UK railways are an interesting possibility for powering with Rolls-Royce’s new system.

  • Despite being over forty-years old, there are over a hundred and twenty still in service.
  • They were upgraded with new 1.7 MW MTU diesel engines in the early part of this century.
  • Rolls-Royce is based in Derby.
  • The Class 43 power cars were developed in Derby.
  • Hydrogen-powered Class 43 power cars, hauling GWR Castles or ScotRail Inter7Cities would be tourist attractions.
  • The Class 43 power cars need to be either decarbonised or replaced in the next few years.

Decarbonisation using Rolls-Royce’s new system would probably be more affordable.

This all sounds like a project designed in a pub in Derby, with large amounts of real ale involved.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.

Will The System Be Upgradable From Sustainable Aviation Fuel To Hydrogen?

This is an except from the introductory paragraph.

The system will be an on-board power source with scalable power offerings and will complement the Rolls-Royce Electrical propulsion portfolio, enabling extended range on sustainable aviation fuels and later as it comes available through hydrogen combustion.

This would appear that if used in aviation, it will be possible to upgrade the system from sustainable aviation fuel to hydrogen, when a suitable hydrogen supply becomes available.

But all applications could be upgraded.

A truck, like the one shown in the picture could be delivered as one running on sustainable aviation fuel and converted to hydrogen later.

Conclusion

Rolls-Royce have put together a modular system, that will have lots of applications.

 

 

June 22, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thales Supports Rollout Of UK Digital Railway Programme

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Porterbrook.

The press release starts with these bullet points.

  • Thales wins the fitment and supply of European Train Control System (ETCS) onboard units for Class 43 high-speed train retrofit.
  • Implementation will benefit passengers and freight operators by delivering additional capacity, improving performance, enhancing safety and reducing the costs of operating the national railway.

Which is followed by this explanation.

As a key player in delivering this digital transformation, Thales has today been awarded the contract for the Class 43 First in Class (FiC) design and fitment project that will use Network Rail’s new measurement train power cars in the Infrastructure Measurement fleet. The FiC project will culminate in a Type approval from the Office of Road and Rail to enable subsequent Class 43 ETCS fleet fitments.

The new Thales onboard system will be integrated as part of the Digital Railway train control system, and will enable rolling stock to operate on ETCS-equipped infrastructure. The onboard equipment is an evolution of Thales’s level 1 ETCS system that has been successfully deployed worldwide.

This could be a smart move.

  • Type Approval will mean that the Class 43 power cars of ScotRail’s Inter7Cities, Great Western Railway’s Castles and those of other operators can be retrofitted.
  • Will the New Measurement Train also be used to test the digital signalling, as it covers all the tracks in Great Britain in a four-weekly cycle?
  • Fitting of these iconic 1970’s designed power cars with the latest modern signalling could be a design exercise, that helps in the fitting of ETCS to other older and unusual locomotives.

I still think, that because of the iconic nature of the InterCity125, that we may see a conversion of Class 43 power cars to more sustainable operation.

  • All power cars now have modern MTU diesel engines, which probably could be fuelled by hydrogen.
  • The simplest way would be to run them on HVO, as I wrote about in Powered By HVO.
  • Some operations like the short format trains in Scotland and South-West England might be more suitable for battery-electric operation.
  • Given that there are 167 in operation or in store, it would be a good-sized order for the company converting the power cars.

I also believe that zero-carbon InterCity 125s could be an unusual tourist attraction.

Conclusion

The fitting of digital signalling to Class 43 power cars is a good move, but is it the start of a wider plan to bring these iconic trains up to modern standards.

 

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Agreement Will Drive Rail Decarbonisation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Porterbrook.

This is the important part of the press release.

Rolls-Royce is teaming up with Porterbrook to identify and develop technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality across the rail network. The two companies, who have signed a memorandum of understanding, will investigate the potential for the use of synthetic and net zero fuels, including hydrogen, both in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. Building on their recent success of jointly introducing hybrid battery-diesel railcars into passenger service, the two companies will also explore the potential for advanced hybridisation.

The relationship also includes considering the role of the wider rail ecosystem in decarbonisation, including fuel chain supply, infrastructure and operational models that can aid innovation and the transition to net zero.

The UK’s railway accounts for approximately 1% of all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions* and the Government’s ambition is to remove all diesel-only trains – both passenger and freight – from the network by 2040 and achieve a net zero rail network by 2050. The UK Government has identified a number of different routes to this target including alternative forms of power such as hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries, hybrid-electric and sustainable fuels.

Rolls-Royce have issued a similar press release.

I believe this agreement could result in significant benefits to the UK rail industry, in respect to reduction in diesel consumption, noise and carbon emissions.

Examples could include.

Unfortunately, I can’t add more examples as there is no Porterbrook fleet list on their web site.

February 14, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Will Zero-Carbon Freight Trains Be Powered By Battery, Electric Or Hydrogen Locomotives?

These are a few initial thoughts.

We Will Not Have A One-Size-Fits-All Solution

If you consider the various freight and other duties, where diesel locomotives are used, you get a long list.

  • Light freight, where perhaps a Class 66 locomotive moves a few wagons full of stone to support track maintenance.
  • Intermodal freight, where a Class 66 locomotive moves a long train of containers across the country.
  • Stone trains, where a Class 59 or Class 70 locomotive moves a very heavy train of aggregate across the country.
  • Empty stock movements, where a diesel locomotive moves an electrical multiple unit.
  • Supporting Network Rail with trains like the New Measurement Train, which is hauled by two diesel Class 43 power cars.
  • Passenger trains at up to and over 100 mph.

I can see a need for several types of zero-carbon locomotive.

  • A light freight locomotive.
  • A medium freight locomotive, that is capable of hauling many intermodal trains across the country and would also be capable of hauling passenger services.
  • A heavy freight locomotive, capable of hauling the heaviest freight trains.
  • A Class 43 power car replacement, which would probably be a conversion of the existing power cars. Everybody loves InterCity 125s and there are over a hundred power cars in regular service on railways in the UK.

There are probably others.

The UK Hydrogen Network Is Growing

Regularly, there are news items about companies in the UK, who will be providing green hydrogen to fuel cars, vans, buses, trucks and trains.

Hydrogen is becoming a fuel with a much higher availability.

The UK Electricity Network Is Growing And Getting More Resilient

We are seeing more wind and solar farms and energy storage being added to the UK electricity network.

The ability to support large numbers of battery-electric buses, cars, trucks and trains in a reliable manner, is getting more resilient and much more comprehensive.

There Will Be More Railway Electrification

This will happen and installation will be more innovative. But predicting where electrification will be installed, will be very difficult.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Now Have Rivals

Hydrogen fuel cells are normally used to convert hydrogen gas to electricity.

But over the last few years, alternative technology has evolved, which may offer better methods of generating electricity from hydrogen.

Fuel cells will not be having it all their own way.

Batteries Are Improving Their Energy Density

This is inevitable. and you are starting to see improvements in the fabrication of the battery packs to get more kWh into the space available.

In Wrightbus Presents Their First Battery-Electric Bus, I said this about the Forsee batteries used in the new buses from Wrightbus.

The Forsee brochure for the ZEN SLIM batteries gives an energy density of 166 Wh per Kg. This means that the weight of the 454 kWh battery is around 3.7 tonnes.

A one-tonne battery would have a capacity of 166 kWh.

  • It is the highest value I’ve so far found.
  • Technology is likely to improve.
  • Other battery manufacturers will be striving to match it.

For these reasons, in the rest of this post, I will use this figure.

Some Example Locomotives

In this section, I shall look at some possible locomotives.

Conversion Of A Class 43 Power Car

There are two Class 43 power cars in each InterCity 125 train.

  • The diesel engine is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The transmission is fully electric.
  • These days, they generally don’t haul more than five or six intermediate Mark 3 coaches.

I would see that the biggest problem in converting to battery power being providing the means to charge the batteries.

I suspect that these power cars would be converted to hydrogen, if they are converted to zero-carbon.

  • I would estimate that there is space for hydrogen tanks and a small gas-turbine generator in the back of the power car.
  • Much of the existing transmission could be retained.
  • A zero-carbon power car would certainly fit their main use in Scotland and the South-West of England.
  • I doubt hydrogen refuelling would be a problem.

They may even attract other operators to use the locomotives.

A Battery-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

I am using this Class 88 locomotive as a starting point, as the locomotive is powerful, reliable and was built specifically for UK railways. There are also ten already in service in the UK.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I started the article like this.

In Issue 864 of Rail Magazine, there is an article, which is entitled Johnson Targets A Bi-Mode Future.

As someone, who has examined the mathematics of battery-powered trains for several years, I wonder if the Age of the Hybrid Battery/Electric Locomotive is closer than we think.

A Battery/Electric Class 88 Locomotive

 After reading Dual Mode Delight (RM Issue 863), it would appear that a Class 88 locomotive is a powerful and reliable locomotive.

    • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle load of 21.5 tonnes.
    • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
    • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive when working from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
    • The locomotive has regenerative braking, when working using electrification.
    • It would appear the weight of the diesel engine is around seven tonnes
    • The closely-related Class 68 locomotive has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

The locomotive would appear to be carrying between 7 and 12 tonnes of diesel-related gubbins.

Suppose  that the diesel-related gubbins of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced with a ten tonne battery.

Using the Forsee figures, that I quoted earlier, this battery would hold 1660 kWh.

At the power level of the 700 kW of the Caterpillar C27 diesel engine in the Class 88 locomotive, that would give more than two hours power.

It looks to me, that a battery-electric Class 88 locomotive could be a very useful locomotive.

It might even be able to haul freight trains in and out of the Port of Felixstowe, which would be a big advantage in decarbonising the port.

Certainly, methods to charge battery trains on the move, are being developed like the system from Hitachi ABB Power Grids, that put up short sections of 25 KVAC overhead electrification, which would be driven by a containerised power system.

These systems and others like them, may enable some battery-electric freight trains to work routes like.

  • Felixstowe and Ipswich.
  • Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Peterborough and Nuneaton.
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Lincoln
  • Birmingham and Oxford

None of these routes are fully-electrified.

But because of the power limit imposed by the batteries, these locomotives will need to be recharged at points on the route.

This Google Map shows the Ipswich and Peterborough route crossing the Fen Line at Ely station.

Note.

  1. Ely Dock junction in the South-West corner, where the line from Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds joins the lines through Ely.
  2. Ely station towards the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Passenger trains run through the station.

But freight trains can take a route on the Eastern side of the station, which is not electrified.

At Ely station, a loop like this can be electrified using the existing electrification power supply, but at other places, systems like that from Hitachi ABB Power Grids can be used to electrify the loop or an appropriate section of the route.

These short sections of electrification will allow the train to progress on either electric or battery power.

A Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive Based on A Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

In The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive, I looked at creating a hydrogen-powered locomotive from a Class 68 locomotive.

I decided it was totally feasible to use readily available technology from companies like Rolls-Royce and Cummins to create a powerful hydrogen-powered locomotive.

The Class 68 locomotive is the diesel-only cousin of the electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive and they share a lot of components including the body-shell, the bogies and the traction system.

I suspect Stadler could create a Class 88 locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 4 MW using electric power
  • At least 2.5 MW using hydrogen power.
  • Hydrogen power could come from Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator based on a small gas-turbine engine.
  • 100 mph on both electricity and hydrogen.
  • It would have power output on hydrogen roughly equal to a Class 66 locomotive on diesel.
  • It would have a range comparable to a Class 68 locomotive on diesel.

This locomotive would be a zero-carbon Class 66 locomotive replacement for all duties.

A Larger And More Powerful Hydrogen-Electric Locomotive

I feel that for the largest intermodal and stone trains, that a larger hydrogen-electric locomotive will be needed.

With the way Wabtec are going in the United States, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a suitable locomotive cross the pond.

Conclusion

In the title of this post, I asked if freight locomotives of the future would be battery, electric or hydrogen.

I am sure of one thing, which is that all freight locomotives must be able to use electrification and if possible, that means both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail. Electrification will only increase in the future, making it necessary for most if not all locomotives in the future to be able to use it.

I feel there will be both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric locomotives, with the battery-electric locomotives towards the less powerful end.

Hydrogen-electric will certainly dominate at the heavy end.

 

 

July 11, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?

This article on Rail Advent is entitled Eversholt Rail Unveils First Swift Express Freight Train In Doncaster.

It is a full report on the first of a new breed of freight trains based on redundant 100 mph electric multiple units.

Three Rail Problems

The rail industry, its financiers and customers have a lot of problems, they’d like to solve, but these three seem to be coming together to create a whole new industry.

Rolling Stock Leasing Companies Have A Surplus Of Redundant Rolling Stock

 

Most of the released rolling stock has been made redundant because of the arrival of new trains.

What will be left will be a an assortment, which will contain a lot of trains with these characteristics.

  • Four cars
  • Can run in formations of 4, 8 and 12 cars
  • Electrically-powered.
  • Some trains are even dual voltage.
  • 100 mph operating speed.
  • Good reliability.
  • Easy maintenance and modification if needed.

Many were even built over thirty years ago by British Rail Engineering Ltd.

As someone, who used to part-own a company that leased trucks to operators, I know that to maximise cash-flow and ultimately profits, you don’t want them sitting in a yard or a siding.

Conversion to zero carbon is one option.

  • Porterbrook have said they will convert the Class 350 trains, that they own to battery-electric operation.
  • Porterbrook have also converted some Class 319 trains to electro-diesel Class 769 trains.
  • Porterbrook have also converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen operation.
  • Eversholt Rail Group and Alstom are converting Class 321 trains to hydrogen operation.

I also believe that the redundant Class 379 trains will also be converted to battery-electric operation.

But there will still be a substantial number of quality trains, that need a second life.

The Growth Of Parcel Freight

Parcel freight traffic driven by on-line shopping, has boomed in the pandemic.

This type of traffic often originates from outside of the UK and enters the country at places like London Gateway or East Midlands Airport.

Much of it is currently distributed to large cities by truck, which in this day and age is not a green option, or even an option at all.

Rail Operations Group have leased ten Class 769 trains and 9 Class 319 trains with the intention of running parcel services under the Orion brand. I wrote about this proposal in A Freight Shuttle For Liverpool Street Station Planned.

Road Congestion

Road congestion is getting worse and there is bir much point in having product stuck on the motorway, when it can be running along at a 100 mph on an electrified rail line.

The Need For Just-In-Time Deliveries

Many factories these days work on the Just-In-Time principle, with product delivered just as its needed.

As an example Toyota build their cars at Burnaston near Derby, but the engines are built in North Wales. I suspect that they go across the country by truck.

Looking at maps, the engine plant could be rail connected and I feel one could be arranged at Burnaston.

Do they keep a good stock of engines at Burnaston?

I can see several situations like this needing a regular company train.

Fast Food

Because of Brexit we will need to be growing more of our own food.

Traditionally, the Class 43 power cars of InterCity 125 trains carried flowers and fish up from Cornwall.

So will we see rail provide an alternative.

Conclusion

Put these problems together and you can see a fair number of four-car electric multiple units being converted to short 100 mph electric freight trains.

Eversholt Rail Group‘s Swift Express Freight Train is very much a demonstrator for their ideas and it has some expected and unexpected features.

Based On A Class 321 train

The train is based on a four-car Class 321 train.

I rode one recently and I timed it at over 90 mph on the way to Southend.

Trolley Cages

Pictures in the Rail Advent article show a stripped-bare interior with a steel floor, with another picture showing three supermarket trolley cages arranged across the train.

One estimate in the article says that each coach can handle over fifty of these cages and up to nine-and-a-half tonnes of cargo.

Four Seats And A Toilet

Eversholt feel that some of the trains could be used in a Travelling Post Office mode and there may be a need for sorting en route, so two first-class seats, two second-class seats and a toilet are provided.

This train would enable an Anglo-Scottish parcel service.

  • It might stop several times en route.
  • At each stop parcels would be rolled out and in, perhaps with the help of a Harrington Hump.
  • The on-train staff would sort the incoming parcels and put them in the required trolley for offloading.

I don’t think though, they’ll be delivering postal orders.

A Last Mile Capability

The article also disclosed that Eversholt were thinking of fitting a Last-Mile capability to the Swift Express Freight Train.

Batteries were mentioned and they would obviously work.

But one development recently is Porterbrook’s HydroFlex train, which has converted a Class 319 train to hydrogen power.

  • The conversion was done by Birmingham University.
  • It appears that all the hydrogen gubbins is underneath the floor, so cargo capacity would not be reduced.

I suspect underfloor hydrogen power could be very viable in an express freight train.

Fleet Size

The article talks of a fleet size of twenty and also says that the first train has been leased to an unnamed parcel distributor in the UK.

July 3, 2021 Posted by | Design, Finance, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

My First Ride In A Class 769 Train

I went to Cardiff today and had my first ride in a Class 769 train. These pictures summarise my ride on the train between Cardiff Central and Bargoed stations.

So what was it like?

Noise And Vibration

Going up to Bargoed, I deliberately sat as near over the top of the engine as I could.

There was a bit of a whine, but not as much as in a new Class 195 train.

For those, who commuted on Class 319 trains for years on Thameslink, they probably wouldn’t notice much difference.

Performance

For a 100 mph electric train built for running between the flat lands of Bedfordshire and the South Coast over the hillocks of the Downs, the train climbed to Bengoed, which has an altitude of around a thousand feet with a purpose.

But then I have a Porterbrook brochure for these trains and the power source was sized, such that the train would be able to climb the stiffest routes in the UK.

The Interior

It looked to me like the Thameslink interior with new sea covers and plugs to charge a mobile phone.

They could certainly be upgraded a bit further to the standard of the Class 319 trains on the Abbey Line, that I wrote about in A Very Smart Class 319 Train.

A Job To Do

Trains for Wales has acquired these trains for extra capacity, whilst they refurbish their Class 150, 153 and 160 trains.

It looks to me, that they will do this job more than adequately.

Future Uses

I suspect Porterbrook hope that these trains will find uses around the UK, as they have spent a lot of time, effort and money to bring these trains into service.

But there are around eighty of the Class 319 trains in service or in store, from which the Class 769 trains are converted.

So they could find uses in several niche applications.

Short Term Fleets

This is effectively, the Trains for Wales application, where extra trains are provided, so that a fleet refurbishment can be performed.

  • They would surely, have been a better replacement fleet for Greater Anglia, than the three Mark 2 coaches and a pair of diesel locomotives, that they used after a series of level crossing accidents.
  • They could also be used to increase capacity for some major events like the Open Golf or a pop festival.
  • Uniquely, they can stand in for both a 100 mph electric train or a 90 mph diesel train.
  • They can even be fitted with third-rail shoes.
  • They are the right size at four cars.
  • They fit most UK platforms.
  • They can be run in formations of up to twelve cars.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Porterbrook or someone on their behalf, keep a fleet of trains on standby to handle short term needs.

Route Development And Testing

There has been a lot of pressure to open up new routes in recent years and these trains would be ideal to try out routes and test new electrification.

Tri-Mode Services

Great Western Railway have a particular problem with their service between Reading and Gatwick, in that it has some third-rail electrification. As they might like to extend this service to Oxford, an ideal train would be dual-voltage and self-powered.

This extract is from the Great Western Railway section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Although initially planned for use in London and the Thames Valley whilst twelve Class 387 units are modified for Heathrow Express services, the future plan for these units will be operating on services between Oxford, Reading and Gatwick Airport, which would mean operating on unelectrified, 25 kV AC OHLE and 750 V DC third-rail routes. To enable this, Great Western Railway’s allocation of Class 769 units will retain their dual-voltage capability in addition to being fitted with diesel power units. The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

I suspect, that they’ll also be used on the Henley, Marlow and Windsor branches, which have some operational problems.

  • The branches are not electrified.
  • Some branches run occasional services to Paddington.
  • The Windsor branch probably needs more capacity.

The Marlow branch could be difficult, but I suspect that, there’s a solution somewhere.

Luxury Bi-Modes

Greater Anglia felt they needed luxury bi-modes for East Anglia and they bought Class 755 trains, which are probably a lot more expensive, as they are brand-new and from Stadler of Switzerland.

Surprisingly, the Class 319 trains have a higher passenger capacity.

But both trains could do a similar task, where the route is partially electrified.

As I said earlier about the GWR units.

The units will also receive an internal refurbishment and be fitted with air cooling.

Porterbrook’s brochure for the Class 769 train talks about using them between Manchester and Buxton.

Surely, this route could do with a Northern version of a GWR interior.

I also think a service should link Hellifield and Buxton. as I wrote about in Why Not Buxton To Hellifield?

That would show what Class 769 trains could do!

It would also connect the Peak District to the hills North of Lancashire.

I might also be, that the standby-fleet should also be the luxury variant of the train. Surely, supporters going to the Open at some of the inaccessible venues could afford pay to pay extra for a comfy train.

Express Freight And Parcels Services

Rail Operations Group would appear to have placed the second-largest order for Class 769 trains, which they will use to launch a high-speed parcels service called Orion.

This extract is from the Rail Operations Group section in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 769 train.

Orion is aiming to launch its first trial service conveying parcels and light freight in April 2021, with the Midlands to Mossend now likely to be the debut flow. The company is to use converted Class 319s for the service and is now planning for a fleet of 19 four-car units – nine Class 319s and 10 Class 769s. Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh is modifying the interiors of the units to accommodate roller cages for parcels, with the aim of operating primarily under electric power but with the 769s using their diesel engines to act as tractor units for the 319s on non-electrified stretches. The first 769 bi-mode, No 769501, has undergone its Flex conversion at Brush in Loughborough and is due to be outshopped from Arlington at Eastleigh in March following its interior modification.

In Did These Strawberries Have Road- Or Rail-Miles?, I talked about strawberries going between Scotland and London.

Surely, the movement of high-quality food could be one of the cargoes for Orion.

It wouldn’t be the first such traffic, as Class 43 power cars of the InterCity 125s used to carry flowers and fish up to London from Cornwall.

There’s a lot of space in the back of a Class 43 power car.

I certainly feel there are possibilities for using Class 769 trains as high speed parcels transport.

It should be noted that Class 325 trains already run high speed parcel services up and down the country on behalf of Royal Mail. These trains may look like later British Rail trains, but they are in fact based on Class 319 trains.

 

So I doubt, there’ll be any worries that the trains can’t handle the required services after conversion.

Conclusion

It looks to me that Porterbrooks plan to convert numbers of their Class 319 trains into Class 769 trains will find several ready markets.

It could be argued that more carbon savings could be achieved by perhaps a new battery-electric or hydrogen-electric train. But these will take years to develop!

These trains are a good short-term solution, that will help define their zero-carbon successors.

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Through Settle And Carlisle Service Under Consideration

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in the June 2021 Edition of Modern Railways.

This is the first paragraph.

Plans for a new Leeds to Glasgow through service via the Settle and Carlisle line are being developed, with CrossCountry and the Department for Transport starting to look at the possible scheme.

It sounds like a sensible idea to me.

The article also suggests the following.

  • CrossCountry is a possible operator.
  • CrossCountry are keen to improve services between Leeds and Glasgow
  • The trains could be InterCity 125s, freed up, by a the arrival of Class 221 trains from Avanti West Coast, when they receive their new Class 805 trains.
  • Maintenance of the trains wouldn’t be a problem, as this could be done at Neville Hill in Leeds or Craigentinny in Edinburgh.
  • Services could start in December 2023.

I have a few thoughts of my own!

The Route

The route between Leeds and Carlisle is obvious, but there are two routes between Carlisle and Glasgow.

Trains would probably choose a route and call at stations to maximise passenger numbers.

These stations are on the various routes.

  • Settle and Carlisle – Shipley, Bingley, Keighley, Skipton, Gargrave, Hellifield, Long Preston, Settle, Horton in Ribblesdale, Ribblehead, Dent, Garsdale, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, Langwathby, Lazonby & Kirkoswald and Armathwaite
  • Glasgow South Western – Dunlop, Stewarton, Kilmaurs, Kilmarnock, Auchinleck, New Cumnock, Kirkconnel, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Annan and Gretna Green
  • West Coast Main – Motherwell, Carstairs and Lockerbie

There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

 Upgrading The InterCity 125 Trains

CrossCountry appear to have enough InterCity 125 trains to muster five in a two Class 43  power car and seven Mark 3 coach formation.

They may not be fully in-line with the latest regulations and there may be a need for a certain degree of refurbishment.

These pictures show some details of a refurbished Great Western Railway Castle, which has been fitted with sliding doors.

Will The InterCity 125 Trains Be Shortened?

Scotrail’s Inter7City trains and Great Western Railway’s Castle trains have all been shortened to four or five coaches.

This picture shows a pair of Castles.

Journey Times, Timetable And Frequency

The current journey time between Leeds and Glasgow Central stations via the East Coast Main Line is four hours and eight minutes with nine stops.

The Modern Railways article says this about the current service.

The new service would be targeted at business and leisure travellers, with through journey times competitive with road and faster than the current direct CrossCountry Leeds to Glasgow services via the East Coast main line.

I would expect that CrossCountry are looking for a time of around four hours including the turn round.

  • Stops could be removed to achieve the timing.
  • The trains could run at 125 mph on the West Coast Main Line.

This could enable a train to have the following diagram.

  • 0800 – Depart Leeds
  • 1200 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • 1600 – Depart Leeds
  • 2000 – Depart Glasgow Central
  • Before 2400 – Arrive Leeds

Note.

  1. A second train could start in Glasgow and perform the mirrored timetable.
  2. Timings would probably be ideal for train catering.
  3. Trains would leave both termini at 0800, 1200, 1600 and 2000.
  4. The timetable would need just two trains.

I also think, if a second pair of trains were to be worked into the timetable, there could be one train every two hours on the route, if the demand was there.

I certainly believe there could be a timetable, that would meet the objectives of attracting business and leisure passengers away from the roads.

Tourism And Leisure Potential

The Settle and Carlisle Line is known as one of the most scenic railway lines in England, if not the whole of the UK.

There are important tourist sites all along the route between Leeds and Glasgow

Many of the stations are used by walkers and others interested in country pursuits.

I believe that it is a route that needs a quality rail service.

Travel Between London and Towns Along The Settle And Carlisle Line

In Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, I said this.

I think it is highly likely that in the future, there will be at least one train per hour (tph) between London Kings Cross and Leeds, that does the trip in two hours.

It may seem fast compared to today, but I do believe it is possible.

With a timely connection at Leeds station, will this encourage passengers to places along the Settle and Carlisle line to use the train?

What About the Carbon Emissions?

The one problem with using InterCity 125 trains on this route, is that they are diesel-powered, using a pair of Class 43 locomotives.

But then there are over a hundred of these diesel-electric locomotives in service, nearly all of which are now powered by modern MTU diesel engines, which were fitted in the first decade of this century.

Consider.

  • The locomotives and the coaches they haul have an iconic status.
  • Great Western Railway and Scotrail have recently developed shorter versions of the trains for important routes.
  • There are over a hundred of the locomotives in service.
  • Companies like ULEMCo are developing technology to create diesel-powered vehicles that can run on diesel or hydrogen.
  • There is plenty of space in the back of the locomotives for extra equipment.
  • MTU have a very large number of diesel engines in service. It must be in the company’s interest to find an easy way to cut carbon emissions.
  • I believe that the modern MTU diesel engines could run on biodiesel to reduce their carbon footprint.

And we shouldn’t forget JCB’s technology, which I wrote about in JCB Finds Cheap Way To Run Digger Using Hydrogen.

If they could develop a 2 MW hydrogen engine, it could be a shoe-in.

I believe that for these and other reasons, a solution will be found to reduce the carbon emissions of these locomotives to acceptable levels.

Conclusion

In this quick look, it appears to me that a Glasgow and Leeds service using InterCity 125 trains could be a very good idea.

May 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DfT and Arriva CrossCountry Sign Agreement

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The franchisee CrossCountry, which is owned by Arriva, has signed a three-year agreement with the Department for Transport to bring the franchise in line with the Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs).

CrossCountry has the following trains in its fleet.

34 x Class 220 trains

24 x Class 221 trains

This gallery shows Class 220 trains and the closely related Class 222 trains, which are in service with East Midlands Railways.

Note that these three fleets of Bombadier Voyager trains are now twenty years old and will probably need a makeover soon.

If they have a problem it is that they are diesel multiple units and create a lot of noise and pollution in stations and depots.

This is said in the Railway News article.

One element of this new contract is a focus on reducing the environmental impact of the operator’s diesel fleet.

, Two separate projects are mentioned.

  • Using a separate electrical supply to Turbostars during cleaning.
  • Use of on-train batteries on the Voyagers in stations.

In Have Bombardier Got A Cunning Plan For Voyagers?, I gave my thoughts on the second project, when Bombardier proposed it in 2018.

I can see the following scenario happening.

  • When the new Class 805 trains are delivered, Avanti West Coast’s Class 220 trains are transferred to Arriva CrossCountry.
  • When the new Class 810 trains are delivered, East Midland Railway’s Class 222 trains are transferred to Arriva CrossCountry.
  • CrossCountry update their Voyagers with batteries.
  • CrossCountry retire their InterCity 125 trains.

CrossCountry may have enough trains to run a mainly Voyager fleet, backed up by a few Turbostars.

Could Bombardier’s Plan Be Revived In A Different Form?

If CrossCountry had all the Voyages, they would have the following fleet.

  • 34 x four-car Class 220 trains – Currently with CrossCountry.
  • 20 x five-car Class 221 trains – Currently with Avanti West Coast
  • 20 x five-car Class 221 trains – Currently with CrossCountry
  • 4 x four-car Class 221 trains – Currently with CrossCountry
  • 6 x seven-car Class 222 trains – Currently with East Midlands Trains
  • 17 x five-car Class 222 trains – Currently with East Midlands Trains
  • 4 x four-car Class 222 trains – Currently with East Midlands Trains

This totals to eighty-five trains with a total of 285 intermediate cars, of which 128 were built with tilt for Class 221 trains.

Currently CrossCountry has a total of 58 four- and five-car Voyagers and enough Class 43 power cars for six InterCity 125 trains.

If they rearranged the non-tilting intermediate cars of the Voyagers, 157 intermediate cars is enough for one of the following.

  • 78 – four-car trains
  • 52 – five-car trains
  • 39 – six-car trains
  • 26 – eight-car trains
  • 22 – nine-car trains

Add in forty five-car Class 221 trains and there is more than enough trains for CrossCountry to run their current services without the retired InterCity 125s.

CrossCountry would also be able to form the trains into the lengths they needed for efficient services.

This formation photographed at Basingstoke could be formed of a single train, if they wished, as they have more than enough coaches.

I suspect in true design engineering fashion, engineers at CrossCountry have got the toy trains or Lego bricks out to shuffle the coaches on a big table to see what are the best train lengths for their network.

If they decided to go the eight-car route, which could give up to twenty-six trains, this would be more than enough to be able to retire the InterCity 125s.

Could one of the Intermediate cars be converted into a pantograph and battery car?

  • If the diesel engine and the associated gubbins were to be removed, this would save around two tonnes in weight.
  • A two-tonne battery could probably have a capacity of 200 kWh.
  • Bombardier probably have ideas about how a car could be converted.

Someone could have a lot of fun playing musical carriages and the following trains could be created.

  • A fleet of Voyager bi-mode  trains of optimum length for CrossCountry’s route network.
  • Most services would be run by single trains, which must give advantages to the operator, their staff and passengers.
  • All braking would be regenerative braking to battery to save energy.
  • Where electrification exists, the trains could use it.
  • All station stops would be performed on battery power.

There might even be some left over driving cars and some intermediate cars to be converted into battery electric trains for another route.

Conclusion

There is a route there for CrossCountry to have a much more environmentally-friendly fleet, better suited to their needs

  • The Turbostars would be given a local electricity supply to cut noise and pollution during overnight cleaning.
  • The InterCity 125s would be retired.
  • CrossCountry acquires as many Voyagers as it needs after Avanti West Coast and East Midlands Railway get their new trains.
  • The Voyagers carriages would be shuffled so that they could handle all routes and replace the InterCity 125s.
  • The design exists to convert the Voyagers into diesel-electric-battery tri-mode high speed trains.

Note.

  1. There are enough trains to do a gradual conversion, with CrossCountry having enough trains for a full service at all times.
  2. All trains will probably have been built this century or nearly so!

I also feel, that the fleet would be a marketing asset, rather than a bit of a discouragement to use CrossCountry’s services again.

 

 

 

October 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments