The Anonymous Widower

Distributed Propulsion ‘Maybe The Only Means’ For Small Electric Flight Progress

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers web site.

If you want to fly again, then this article offers pointers to how you might do it.

The E-Fan X Airliner

It gives this latest information on the E-Fa X airliner being tested by Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

Amid the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic, Rolls-Royce and Airbus cancelled flight tests of their E-Fan X airliner, a promising project that could have provided vital data on issues such as thrust management and electric systems at altitude.

Does that mean cancelled or scrapped?

2.5 MW From A Beer Keg-Sized Generator

This paragraph could be important.

“Among the many great achievements from E-Fan X has been the generator – about the same size as a beer keg – but producing a staggering 2.5MW,” said Vittadini’s Rolls-Royce counterpart Paul Stein. “That’s enough power to supply 2,500 homes and fully represents the pioneering spirit on this project.”

This picture shows a Class 66 locomotive.

The locomotive has a 2,460 kW diesel engine and an electric transmission.

I just wonder, if Rolls Royce’s high-powered small generator could replace the large, noisy and smelly diesel engines in these locomotives.

If the technology worked there are 455 of the noisy locomotives.

Snowballing Improvements

The article has a section with this title and it talks about how electric power may lead to other advantages.

Conclusion

Electric aircraft are more promising, than many think!

 

July 17, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut

The title of this post, is the same as that of a news snippet in the June 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

There is a picture of the electro-diesel Class 88 locomotive moving a nuclear flask from Sizewell on the closed Aldeburgh branch line to Crewe.

Note that is about 27-28 miles from the electrification at Ipswich East Suffolk Junction and the siding close to the power station, where flasks are loaded.

This is a classic use of an electric locomotive, that has a Last Mile-capability using an on-board diesel engine.

Many ports in the UK, like these examples are a few miles from the electrified network.

  • Felixstowe – 16 miles
  • Liverpool – 5 miles
  • London Gateway – 4 miles
  • Southampton – 2 miles

How many trains could be hauled to and from these and other ports using a Class 88 locomotive or their similar, but more powerful sibling; the Class 93 locomotive?

Conclusion

I suspect there are a number of routes that could be handled by electro-diesel locomotives.

I would like to see a serious analysis of all duties performed by diesel locomotives, like for example; Classes 66, 67, 68 and 70 locomotives, to see how many could be performed by suitably-sized electro-diesel locomotives.

If  there is a gap in the market, then a rolling stock leasing company, should fill it!

Just like Beacon Rail Leasing and Clayton Equipment appear to have done with a diesel shunter, which I wrote about in UK Diesel-Battery Hybrid Locomotive Lease Fleet Ordered.

As Beacon Rail Leasing seem to be heavily involved in the leasing of electro-diesel locomotives, perhaps, they’re working on it?

 

May 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Thirsty High-Rollers … Mining’s Heavy Haulers Prime Candidates For Hydrogen Conversion

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

You understand, what the author means about mining’s heavy haulers, when you open the article.

This paragraph describes their carbon emissions.

One large scale dump truck, depending on the haul road it is using, will use between 100 and 140 litres of diesel per 100km. These vehicles operate all day every day except for maintenance down time. That’s between 260kg and 360kg of CO2 per 100km per truck.
Large open pit mines have tens of these vehicles operating continuously, so the numbers build up very quickly.

The author then goes on to say why, that converting these vehicles to green hydrogen makes a lot of sense.

The dump trucks are already diesel/electric, which means that the diesel generator can be replaced with a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery.

Mining giant; Anglo-American will be introducing a prototype hydrogen-powered dump truck at a platinum mine in South Africa this year.

These paragraphs describe the transmission.

The vehicle, which is called a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) haul truck, will be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell module paired with Williams Advanced Engineering’s scalable high-power modular lithium-ion battery system. Williams provides batteries for FIA’s E-Formula motorsport.

This arrangement will replace the existing vehicle’s diesel engine, delivering in excess of 1MWh of energy storage. The battery system will be capable of recovering energy through regenerative braking as the haul truck travels downhill.

Note that the truck has more energy storage than is proposed for a four-car battery-electric train, like the Class 756 train, which has only 600 kWh.

The author finishes with this concluding paragraph.

With the major mining companies focusing on making significant strides in decarbonisation by 2030 expect there to be more announcements such as this focusing this “low hanging fruit” for the mining industry’s to materially reduce its carbon foot print.

Reading this, I can’t help feeling that replacement of a Class 66 locomotive with a zero-carbon hydrogen-battery-electric hybrid unit could be possible.

 

April 26, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will The Railway Between Buxton And Matlock Be Reopened?

In Issue 901 of Rail Magazine in an article about reopening the Northern route between Exeter and Plymouth, this is said, about possible rail re-opening of Beeching cuts.

Although not yet confirmed, they are believed by RAIL to include bids to reinstate the former Midland Railway route from Matlock-Buxton, and the line between Lostwithiel and Fowey.

I have found this news story on the Matlock Mercury, which is entitled Quarry Firms And Heritage Operator Consider Peak District Railway Line.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Proposals to revive a disused rail line through the Peak District have moved a step forward, but not the passenger service some have called for.

The reasons for the reinstatement are given in the story.

  • There is an enormous demand for stone from projects like Crossrail 2, High Speed Two and Heathrow Expansion and Derbyshire is a major source.
  • Currently, stone trains between Derbyshire and the South-East take a roundabout route via the congested and unsuitable Hope Valley Line and Sheffield.
  • A route via Matlock would join the Midland Main Line nearly thirty miles further South.

It should be noted that the original track-bed still exists and part is used for the double-track Peak Rail, with much of the rest being used for the cycling and walking route; the Monsal Trail.

Thoughts About The Design Of The Railway

In the June 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an excellent article, which is entitled Connecting The Powerhouses, that was written by Colin Boocock.

I wrote a post with the same name, based on his article, from which a lot of the following thoughts are taken.

Colin Boocock’s Thoughts On The Design

I said this in my previous post.

The track bed of the Peak Main Line is still intact and the author of the article suggests that there could be two ways of rebuilding the railway.

  • As a 75 mph single-track railway sharing the track-bed with the Monsal Trail.
  • As a 90 mph double-track railway, after moving the Monsal Trail to a more picturesque route.

Four or five, reopened or new stations could be built with passing loops to enable the minimum service frequency to be achieved, which the author suggests should be the following in both directions in every hour.

  • One fast passenger train
  • One stopping passenger train.
  • One freight train; full or empty.

But there are possible problems.

  • The A6 has to be crossed.
  • One local landowner didn’t allow consultants access to the line for an inspection.
  • Severn Trent Water are digging a large pipe into the track-bed.
  • Peak Rail have plans to extend their heritage line to Bakewell. Could both groups co-exist?

It sounds to me that everybody should find a good hostelry and thrash out a comprehensive co-operation agreement on the backs of engineering envelopes, fuelled by some excellent real ale.

But various improvements to the route and railway technology in general, in the last few years have probably made the reinstatement less challenging.

Ambergate Station And Junction

Ambergate station and the associated junction is where trains for Matlock station, leave the Midland Main Line and take the Derwent Valley Line.

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Rail Works To Affect Derbyshire Train Services and it describes work done to improve Ambergate Junction.

It is to be hoped, that the updating of the junction is at least well-documented, so that it can be updated easily to accept stone trains to and from the Derwent Valley Line.

Improved Handling Of Freight Trains At Buxton

In £14m Peak District Rail Freight Extension Unveiled, I indicated that the improvements at Buxton had been completed.

  • There are now two long sidings, that can each take a 26 wagon stone train and allow them to reverse.
  • Capacity has increased by 44 %
  • No more trains will be running.

According to this document on the Network Rail web site, the sidings operate on a 24 hour basis and on average, accommodate 6-10 freight trains every 24 hour period.

I’m not sure, but it looks like the sidings also allow all stone trains to access the following.

  • All quarries in the area with a rail connection.
  • The Great Rocks Freight Line to access the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield
  • The proposed reopened rail line to Matlock, Derby and the South.

The track layout at Buxton station would appear to allow trains to go between Manchester and Derby, once the Matlock and Buxton railway is reinstated.

Ambergate Station And Junction

Ambergate station and the associated junction is where trains for Matlock station, leave the Midland Main Line and take the Derwent Valley Line.

This article on the BBC is entitled Major Rail Works To Affect Derbyshire Train Services and it describes work done to improve Ambergate Junction.

It is to be hoped, that the updating of the junction is at least well-documented, so that it can be updated easily to accept stone trains to and from the Derwent Valley Line.

Signalling Improvements

One of Colin Boocock’s options for the route, is a 75 mph single-track railway sharing the track-bed with the Monsal Trail.

Single-track railways running an intense schedule could be a challenging signalling problem in the past, but with in-cab digital signalling, as used on Thameslink and the London Underground, it is much less onerous.

It should be possible to handle Colin Boocock’s desired minimum frequency of three trains per hour (tph) in both directions.

Colin Boocock’s second option of a 90 mph double-track railway, after moving the Monsal Trail to a more picturesque route, would be very much easier to signal to a very high degree of safety.

Electrification

Electrification would surely, be the best way to get heavy freight trains in and out of the area.

But I suspect the line could not be electrified in a traditional manner, as heavy gantries in the Peak District would not go down well!

But what about a design something like this?

I talk about this design in Prototype Overhead Line Structure Revealed.

It does seem to be a good attempt to reduce the clutter of girders, gantries and wires!

Freight Locomotives

If electrification is not possible, which is probably the case, as the locomotives will need access to large amounts of freight sidings, then diesel power will be needed,

The current Class 66 locomotives are not the most environmentally-friendly locomotives, but hopefully in a sensitive area like the Peak District, some more advanced locomotives could be used.

Passenger Trains

Quiet battery-electric or hydrogen-powered trains would be ideal for the route.

How Many Stone Trains Will Use The Route?

With the current lockdown because of COVID-19, it’s a bit difficult to ascertain how many stone trains are currently going into and out of the quarries in an hour.

But from the Network Rail figures, I have found and Colin Boocock’s minimum figure,  it looks like one tph would be a frequency for which to aim.

Could this frequency be handled between Matlock And Buxton?

Even if the route was single-track with passing loops, Colin Boocock’s minimum timetable could be achieved.

Note that the Great Rocks Freight Line will still be capable of handling trains via the Hope Valley Line and Sheffield.

Conclusion

I think that this scheme could be feasible, if engineers used modern signalling and other designs to blend in with the scenery.

 

 

March 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Unnecessary Diesel-Hauled Train

I took these picture at Blackhorse Road station this morning.

This train from Moss End to Dagenham Dock is pathed to be electric-hauled. So why was it hauled by a noisy and polluting Class 66 locomotive?

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

Could A Modular Family Of Freight Locomotives Be Created?

In Thoughts On A Battery/Electric Replacement For A Class 66 Locomotive, I looked at the possibility of creating a battery/electric locomotive with the performance of a Class 66 locomotive.

  • I felt that the locomotive would need to be able to provide 2,500 kW for two hours on battery, to bridge the gaps in the UK electrification.
  • This would need a 5,000 kWh battery which would weigh about fifty tonnes.
  • It would be able to use both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • It would have a power of 4,000 kW, when working on electrification.
  • Ideally, the locomotive would have a 110 mph operating speed.

It would be a tough ask to design a battery/electric locomotive with this specification.

The Stadler Class 88 Locomotive

Suppose I start with a Stadler Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 86.1 tonnes and an axle loading 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.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this about replacing the diesel-engine with a battery.

Supposing the seven tonne diesel engine of the Class 88 locomotive were to be replaced by a battery of a similar total weight.

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

A crude estimate based on this energy/weight ratio would mean that at least a 700 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 train and not make the locomotive any heavier. Given that lots of equipment like the alternator and the fuel tank would not be needed, I suspect that a 1,000 kWh battery could be fitted into a Class 88 locomotive, provided it just wasn’t too big.

This would be a 4,000 kWh electric locomotive with perhaps a twenty minute running time at a Class 66 rating on battery power.

The Stadler Class 68 Locomotive

The Stadler Class 68 locomotive shares a lot of components with the Class 88 locomotive.

  • It is a Bo-Bo locomotive with a weight of 85 tonnes and an axle loading of 21.2 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • It is a genuine 100 mph locomotive.
  • The locomotive has regenerative braking to a rheostat.
  • It has a 5,600 litre fuel tank and full of diesel would weight nearly five tonnes.

They are a locomotive with a growing reputation.

A Double Bo-Bo Locomotive

My devious engineering mind, thinks about what sort of locomotive would be created if a Class 68 and a Class-88-based battery/electric locomotive were integrated together.

  • It would be a double Bo-Bo locomotive with an axle loading of 21.5 tonnes.
  • It has a rating on electricity of 4,000 kW.
  • It has a rating on diesel of 2,800 kW.
  • Battery power can be used to boost the power on diesel as in the Stadler Class 93 locomotive.
  • It would be nice to see regenerative braking to the batteries.

Effectively, it would be a diesel and a battery/electric locomotive working together.

This picture shows a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive pulling a heavy freight train at Shenfield.

If this can be done with a diesel and an electric locomotive, surely a company like Stadler have the expertise to create a double locomotive, where one half is a diesel locomotive and the other is a battery/electric locomotive.

A Control Engineer’s Dream

I am a life-expired Control Engineer, but I can still see the possibilities of creating an sdvanced control system to use the optimal power strategy, that blends electric, battery and diesel power, depending on what is available.

I feel that at most times, the locomotive could have a power of up to 4,000 kW.

The Ultimate Family Of Locomotives

I have used a diesel Class 68 and a Class 88-based battery/electric locomotive,, to create this example locomotive.

In the ultimate family, each half would be able to work independently.

In time, other members of the family would be created.

A hydrogen-powered locomotive is surely a possibility.

The Control System on the master locomotive, would determine what locomotives were coupled together and allocate power accordingly.

Conclusion

I have used Stadler’s locomotives to create this example locomotive.

I suspect they are working on concepts to create more powerful environmentally-friendly locomotives.

As are probably, all the other locomotive manufacturers.

Someone will revolutionise haulage of heavy freight trains and we’ll all benefit.

 

 

June 6, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Freight Diesel Traction Realities

The title of this post is the same as that of a comprehensive article by Roger Ford in an article in the April 2019 Edition of Modern Railways.

In the article Roger talks about the problems of decarbonising the freight sector on the UK’s railways.

Future Traction

This section in the article begins with this paragraph

Since the laws of physics and chemistry rule out pure battery or hydrogen fuel cell 3 MegaWatt (4,000 hp) freight locomotives from around 2035 we are going to need to start replacing the diesel locomotives for routes yet to be electrified.

The following actions are suggested.

  • More electrification, through a rolling program.
  • Research into and production of low-CO2 locomotives.
  • 4000 hp locomotives to run faster, longer and heavier freight trains.

These actions will apply to many countries in Europe and the wider world.

Hybrid

This section in the article begins with these two paragraphs.

Extension of electrification will reduce the length of the last miles beyond the end of the wires, making increased use of electric traction viable. Here the challenge will be to provide sufficient diesel traction power and range.  Stadler’s Class 93 ‘tri-mode’ locotive provides an interesting preview.

It builds on the Class 88, which adds a 700kW diesel engine to a 4MW Bo-Bo electric locomotive.

The Class 93 locomotive has a larger 900 kW diesel engine and a lithium titanate oxide battery.

I estimated the battery size at 126 kWH in Stadler’s New Tri-Mode Class 93 Locomotive.

Roger reckons that the battery gives 6-7 ,minutes of power to boost output to 1,740 hp or 1300 kW.

  • The boost from the battery would appear to be 400 kW
  • For 6.5 minutes this would need 43.3 kWH

Either Roger’s 6-7 minutes or my deduced battery size of 126 kWH is wrong. So I will assume both figures are wrong.

Suppose though, you wanted to boost the power of a Class 93 locomotive to the 2,500 kW of a Class 66 locomotive for an hour, which would get a freight train into or out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • 1600 kW will be needed to boost the diesel engine.
  • 1600 kWH will need to be stored in the battery.
  • I will assume 75 Wh/Kg for the LTO batteries.
  • I have made no allowance for the use of regenerative braking.

This gives a weight of 21.3 tonnes for the batteries.

Roger says this in the article.

If you need to fit diesel engines and batteries into an electric locomotive for freight the a Co-Co configuration gives you another 20 tonnes on a 17.5 tonne axle load.

This leads me to believe that a hybrid locomotive with the power of a Class 66 locomotive and a range of one hour is possible.

 

 

 

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

Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium web site, this is said.

Note that doubling of Warren Hill Tunnel at Newmarket and
redoubling between Coldham Lane Junction and Chippenham Junction is included
in the infrastructure requirements. It is assumed that most freight would operate
via Newmarket, with a new north chord at Coldham Lane Junction, rather than
pursuing further doubling of the route via Soham.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

How Many Freight Trains Are We Talking About?

This table shows the number of freight trains going through Kennett station on the 1st of March 2019.

  • 00  1  1
  • 01  1  0
  • 02  0  1
  • 03  2  1
  • 04  1  1
  • 05  1  1
  • 06  1  2
  • 07  1  1
  • 08  1  0
  • 09  1  0
  • 10  1  0
  • 11  0  0
  • 12  0  0
  • 13  2  2
  • 14  0  2
  • 15  1  1
  • 16  0  1
  • 17  1  1
  • 18  0  1
  • 19  1  1
  • 20  1  0
  • 21  1  2
  • 22  0  2
  • 23  0  0

In the table the first figure is the hour, the second figure is the number of freight trains going West and the third figure is the number of freight trains going East.

This gives a daily total of eighteen trains going West and twenty-one trains going twenty-one trains going East.

But these figures will increase!

At present, Network Rail are adding a passing loop on the Felixstowe Branch Line. This article on Rail Magazine is entitled £60.4m Felixstowe Branch Upgrade Under Way and says this about the upgrade.

Installing the new line will create capacity for up to ten additional freight trains, each the equivalent of 76 lorries.

Not all will come via Kennett, as some will go via London.

The Port of Felixstowe will get larger and other improvements on the route across Suffolk will increase the number of freight trains passing through Kennett station.

I estimate that it is very likely that in a few years there will be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions for every hour of the day.

Rerouting The Trains Through Newmarket

Currently, these freight trains go via Ely, but the plan of the East West Rail Consortium would be to reroute all these freight trains through the Warren Hill tunnel and Newmarket station.

I suspect the reasons for the change of route could include the following.

Accessing The East West Rail Link From Newmarket Is Easy And Quick

If as expected the East West Rail Link joins the London-Cambridge Line just South of Cambridge South station, then the trains would run through Dullingham, Cambridge and Cambridge South stations, when running between the East West Rail Link and Newmarket station.

The East West Rail Link Will Be An Efficient Railway

Drive on a new motorway and the curves are smooth with relaxed gradients.

A new railway will be like that too and less energy will be used to power trains along its length.

Increasing the Capacity Through Ely Is Difficult

There is a very complicated track layout at Ely and increasing the number of trains might be difficult or very expensive.

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Avoid London

Take going between the Haven Ports and Bristol or South Wales.

Currently, these trains tend to go via London and in a couple of years will have to share tracks with London’s intensive Crossrail network between Acton Main Line and Reading stations.

Using the East West Rail Link, the trains would join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot, a few miles West of Reading.

How many services will use the East West Rail Link to by-pass London?

Freight Trains Will Use The East West Rail Link To Get To The West Coast Main Line

Currently, these trains either go via London or take the slow cross-country route via Peterborough to Nuneaton for the West Coast Main Line.

If they use the East-West Rail Link, they can join the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.

The East-West Rail Link Will Be An Important Freight Link

I think that as the years pass and more freight terminals are created, we will see more freight trains using the East-West-Rail-Link and many of these trains will go through Newmarket.

What Problems Would The Rerouting Create In Newmarket?

I can see these problems.

Noise And Vibration

Four freight trains per hour will create a lot of noise and vibration as they pass through.

Frightening The Horses

This Google Map shows a corner of the gallops at Newmarket.

Note how the railway from the East splits into two, to the West of the band of trees running down the map.

  • The top branch curves away to the North and goes through Soham to Ely.
  • The bottom branch curves away to the South and goes through Warren Hill Tunnel to Newmarket station and then on to Cambridge.

Alongside, the Southern route is the Al Bahatri all-weather gallop, which is an important facility for training racehorses. It can just be picked out as a sand-coloured line.

Currently, nearly all the freight trains take the Northern route to Ely, keeping them away from the Al Bahatri.

But, if the main freight route was through the town, as planned by the East West Rail Consortium, then at least four freight trains per hour would run alongside the gallop. There could also be four passenger trains per hour.

Railway Electrification

It is unlikely, that the railway through Newmarket will be electrified, but under a different government, this could happen.

It might add another dimension to disturbance through the town, as you get pantograph noise and occasional sparks and flashes. I don’t know how horses will react, but from my own experience years ago, they do react to electrical fields.

The Rail Freight Industry

Look at most freight trains on the UK’s railways and the locomotive on the front, is a noisy, smelly and polluting Class 66 or Class 70 locomotive.

You’ll see these American imports, which don’t meet the latest emission regulations, hauling freight trains, even when there are overhead wires for electric haulage.

Why?

Because rail freight companies are so driven by accountants, that they can’t be bothered to obtain more modern diesel locomotives, that are quieter, more powerful and less polluting.

The picture shows a modern Class 68 locomotive at Stratford. These are quieter and meet most of the noise and emission regulations.

Mitigating The Problems

I’ll deal with various methods, that could be used, starting with the easiest.

A Level Railway Through The Town

It looks like the Victorian engineers, who built the railway through the town, built it as level as possible, so that steam locomotives didn’t have to work so hard in the Warren Hill Tunnel, which I don’t think has a chimney for smoke.

Modern engineers will ensure that the railway is as level as possible, with gentle gradients and curves all the way between Kennett and Dullingham stations.

Passenger Trains With Batteries

Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains are powered by both overhead electrification and onboard diesel engines. The latter sit in a power pack in the middle of the train.

Not having seen or heard one of these Swiss-built trains in the metal, I can make no comment as to the noise and vibration of these trains, but they should be quieter than the current three-car Class 170 trains.

It does appear that passenger trains built in the last years are much quieter, as they are much more aerodynamically correct and slippery, so they generate less noise.

The new trains have also been ordered for the South Wales Metro. But the Welsh trains will additionally be fitted with batteries to avoid some difficult electrification in the Valleys.

So if the passenger trains prove to be noisy through the town, which I doubt they will be, there will be the option of adding batteries to avoid the use of diesel power.

It is my belief, that technology will ensure that passenger trains will not be a problem.

More Environmentally-Friendly Freight Locomotives

As I said earlier, smelly, noisy and polluting freight locomotives are a big problem.

This is not just a problem for places like Newmarket with special circumstances, but on railways like the London Overground and those in Central Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester,, where suburban electric railways have to accommodate heavy rail freight.

The railway locomotive manufacturers have designed solutions for the problem in recent years.

Stadler, who are an innovative Swiss company have started to manufacture a Class 93 locomotive, which can run on diesel, electric and/or battery power. I’m fairly sure, that one of the design goals of this locomotive is to be able to haul a heavy freight train between Felixstowe and Peterborough, using electric power where it is available and a mix of diesel and battery at other times.

At Newmarket if the new double-track was well-designed and almost level, I suspect that a Class 93 locomotive could haul a train between Kennett and Dullingham stations on battery power.

Locomotives of this type should be compulsory on all freight routes through sensitive areas.

The government must legislate, as left to themselves the rail freight companies will sit on their hands and wallets.

One of the conditions of a double-track railway through Newmarket, should be that only locomotives that meet the latest noise, vibration and pollution standards, like the Class 93 locomotive should be allowed.

Quieter 100 mph Freight Trains

Karl Watts, who is a disruptive innovator and CEO of the Rail Operations Group, has bought the first ten Class 93 locomotives and intends to use them to haul 100 mph freight trains, where the routes allow.

On the electrified Great Eastern Main Line between Ipswich and London, the operating speed is 100 mph. But freight trains trundle up and down at 75 mph, thus slowing all of the passenger services.

Watts plans to use the Class 93 locomotives with new 100 mph container wagons to run freight trains at 100 mph on this and other routes, which would increase the freight and passenger capacity of the line.

New 100 mph freight wagons will be smoother, quieter and used through Newmarket at an appropriate speed would remove a large proportion of the noise and vibration.

Again, it would need investment from the freight companies.

However, modern freight trains hauled by modern hybrid locomotives like the Class 93 could significantly remove noise and vibration.

Lengthen Warren Hill Tunnel

A second bore will be dug to double-track the kilometre long Warren Hill Tunnel.

Some rail tunnels have been extended with covers and this technique might be possible at the Newmarket station end of the tunnel. The techniques exist, so that housing or other developments can be built on top of the railway.

Techniques like this not only suppress noise and vibration, but create much needed housing.

Acoustic Barriers

You see these a lot in Germany to reduce noise and vibration from railway lines in sensitive area, but rarely in the UK.

Conclusion

It will be difficult to put a double-track railway through Newmarket, but I believe that using modern rolling stock and some advanced construction, that a solution can be found.

Newmarket should dig in its heels and only accept the best to force rail freight companies to get their act together.

Government too, should enforce the current regulations on diesel locomotives, which most of the current locomotives do not meet.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Grants To Support Low-Carbon Technology Demonstrators

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

This is the two introductory paragraphs.

The Department for Transport has awarded grants of around £350 000 to each of five projects which aim to develop technology to reduce the rail network’s carbon footprint.

The projects were selected under the second round of the DfT’s First of a Kind competition, run by Innovate UK as part of the DfT’s wider Accelerating Innovation in Rail programme.

These are the winners.

Project 1 Riding Sunbeams

I wrote about this technology in Solar Power Could Make Up “Significant Share” Of Railway’s Energy Demand.

Project 2 Diesel Freight Carbon Reduction Technology

We all hate Class 66 locomotives, with their noise, vibration and pollution.

But an Essex company called Vortex Exhaust Technology has been awarded a grant to see if their free-flowing exhausts can tame, these most unfriendly of beasts.

They make this claim on their web site.

Vortex is the ONLY exhaust technology available that effectively eliminates back pressure, improving engine efficiency, boosting power and cutting emissions.

A Class 66 locomotive will be a tough challenge.

To see what the company can do for road vehicles, there is a case study at the bottom of this page.

But then they are Essex Boys! Performance is in the genes!

Project 3 CODD-P Hydraulic Pump

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Unipart Rail will undertake in-service testing of a commercial version of a digital displacement pump and electronic controller in place of a traditional hydraulic pump with swashplate design. This is expected to provide a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

It sounds like an idea from Artemis Intelligent Power in Edinburgh.

Project 4 Green Rail Exhaust After Treatment

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Leasing company Porterbrook will collaborate with Eminox to transfer an on-road exhaust after-treatment system widely fitted to heavy-duty vehicles to the railway environment, equipping a South Western Railway Class 158 DMU for in-service trials. This will enable the technical and commercial viability to be established, so it can be offered for widespread fitment.

There are currently 170 Class 158 trains and 30 of the closely-related Class 159 trains in service, so if this is successful, there won’t be a shortage of installations.

The picture shows one of East Midlands Trains, Class 158 trains.

 

It should also be said, that most Class 158 trains are in excellent condition, despite being nearly thirty years old.

Note that Porterbrook are involved. Train leasing companies seem to be getting increasingly involved with innovation.

Project 5 W2W Zero Emissions Power System

This is said in the Railway Gazette article.

Steamology’s Water 2 Water concept will use compressed hydrogen and oxygen gas in a ‘compact energy-dense steam generator’ to produce high pressure superheated steam to drive a turbine, which will generate electricity to charge the batteries as a ‘range extender’ for a Vivarail Class 230 multiple-unit produced from former London Underground vehicles.

It sounds to me, that the tabloids will say that this is the return of the steam train.

Conclusion

They are a broad spread of technology and I have this feeling, that the Department for Transport will get a sensible return for an outlay of around two million pounds.

But I suspect that the best and most profitable idea, will come, after a meeting between two or more of the award winners and their backers.

 

 

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rail Operations Group Gets Serious About Thunderbirds Etc.

The February 2019 Edition of Modern Railways has an article entitled Class 93 Tri-Oomph!, which has been written by Ian Walmsley.
This is the first paragraph.

Rail Operations Group has become known for the efficient haulage of EMUs around the country using very clever tranlation devices built into Europhenix converted Class 37 kicos. As I described in the March 2016 issue (“Lost in translation”) it looked at tens of millions of pounds worth of EMUs being dragged around unbraked, thought ‘this can’t be right’, and proceeded to make 50-year-old locomotives operate with state-of-the-art computer kit.

Rail Operations Group (ROG) had employed classicdisruptive innovation to create a new market, that was to everybody’s benefit.

As Ian reports, the company has grown a lot in the last few years and now does a lot more than just move new trains around.

  • Old trains are also moved.
  • Old trains are also stored safely.
  • Operations are all planned as a consultancy.

The company is already planning their next operational niche.

A Move Into Logistics

ROG is moving into logistics.

Ian talks about the inefficiency and polluting distribution system using trucks, that add to traffic congestion.
He talks about rail being a better way and then says this.

The difference with ROG is that the company is going to invest in two Class 769 (bi-mode 319s’) converted for parcel use, and while these are not my favourite trains, parcels are a lot less fussy than me about how long they take to get to top speed.
Using 769s’ means that your hubs can be almost anywhere; not necessarily on a 25 KVAC electrified siding, just close to a road system interchange area.

So what happens, if they don’t get a customer? The Class 769 trains will be delivered with seats, so they could be sub-leased for passenger use.

I wrote The Go-Anywhere Express Parcel And Pallet Carrier (HSPT) in May 2017, where I discussed the uses for this type of parcel carrier. This was my conclusion.

There is definitely a market for a HSPT.
If it does come about, it will be yet another tribute to the magnificent Mark 3 design!

As to the secondary use of these trains as passenger trains, there is nothing wrong with that. After all, we’ve all had our fill of the dreaded Rail Replacement Buses.

In Gospel Oak-Barking Fleet Plan Remains Unclear, I talked about the problems caused by late delivery of the new Class 710 trains.

The problem would have been eased, if two Class 769 trains in good condition could have been called up at a couple of days notice.

Surely, there are other applications.

  • I suspect that given the number of level-crossing accidents in the UK, they will find a lot of use.
  • I don’t think Porterbrook will mind, if ROG effectively offered a try-before-buy service to train operators.
  • There must also be a market for pop-up rail services to large sporting and cultural events.

Again, it appears ROG have found a niche and have invested in it.

Before leaving the subject of Class 769 trains, I must mention Brexit.

Could the trains find a use in a no-deal Brexit-world moving high-value freight from ports and airports to inland distribution centres?

Thoughts On The Class 93 Locomotive

These are some thoughts from the article.

Available Power

Ian starts by saying this about the operation of the Class 93 locomotive.

Apart from the obvious electric (4,000kW) and diesel (900kW), the third mode is a Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) battery (400kW), which can be used in conjunction with the diesel to give a power boost up to 1,300kW or 1,743hp in old money.
The extra oomph from the battery takes you from a Class 33 to a Class 37 in old locos but with minimal losses, and you don’t need full power for very long on most non-electrified routes.

I suspect there’s a clever control system, that optimises the use of the battery.

The Ultimate Thunderbird

The locomotive appears to have a unique feature of a variable height coupler, which enables it to haul rolling stock with all the five standard heights of coupler, that exist on UK railways.

How did this madness occur?

But as the locomotive can deal with them all, Ian argues that the Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Thunderbird or rescue locomotive.

Moving Trains In The Future

Ian argues that ROC’s collection of locomotives used for moving new and replaced trains is getting older and will soon be difficult to service.

The Class 93 locomotives would be ideal for this role.

But Ian sees this very much as a fallback position, if the locomotives do not find innovative new uses.

Ian finishes with this paragraph.

When we first saw Dr. Beeching’s new Freightliners(now ‘intermodal’) in the 1960s, they did 75 mph. They still do, but there are some really smart looking 100 mph flats available. Remember the path-ology. There are plenty of cross-country runs where a Class 37 equivalent is fine for the diesel bits, then pan up and 4,000kW is yours. Come on. Not excited by this? You must be in the wrong job.

As an example some freight trains go between Felixstowe and Birmingham, Liverpool or Manchester using the North London Line.

They are hauled all the way by a Class 66 diesel.

Put the containers on the smart looking 100 mph flats with a Class 93 locomotive on the front and the following happens.

  • The locomotive uses diesel between Felixstowe and Ipswich, with possibly some battery boost.
  • The locomotive uses electric power for most of the journey.
  • The locomotive might use diesel power at the destination for a short distance.
  • On the double-track 100 mph Great Eastern Main Line, the operating speed will not be far off the new Class 745 and Class 720 trains.
  • On the North London Line, the train will pass through some of the smartest parts of North London with lower levels of noise, vibration and pollution.
  • On the West Coast Main Line, the train will be able to mix it with the new Class 730 trains on the slow lines.

Greater Anglia have the trains to run more services between London and Ipswich.

How many more could they squeeze in, if all freight trains had a similar performance to their express services?

Consider now, freight trains taking the cross-country route from Felixstowe to the North and Midlands via Peterborough.

  • With track improvements at Haughley and doubling of the line between Kennett and Ely, I suspect that timings on the flat lands of East Anglia using hybrid power would be approaching those of Class 66 locomotive-hauled stock.
  • With a faster cruise on the East Coast Main Line, would the trains take the direct route on the slow lines, rather than the diversion through Lincoln?

The Class 93 locomotive could be the ultimate Felixstowe Flyer.

Could it also be the freight locomotive that passenger train operators want reight operators to use, as it keeps freight trains out of the way of passenger ones?

January 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment