The Anonymous Widower

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

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

This is the introductory sub-heading.

Regional and rural railways poses a huge problem for the railway to decarbonise.

Lorna McDonald of Hitachi Rail and Jay Mehta of Hitachi ABB Power Grids tell Andy Roden why they believe they have the answer.

These are my thoughts on what is said.

Battery-Electric Trains

The article starts by giving a review of battery-electric trains and their use on routes of moderate but important length.

  • Some short routes can be handled with just a charge on an electrified main line.
  • Some will need a recharge at the termini.
  • Other routes might need a recharge at some intermediate stations, with a possible increase in dwell times.

It was in February 2015, that I wrote Is The Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) A Big Innovation In Train Design?, after a ride in public service on Bombardier’s test battery-electric train based on a Class 379 train.

I also wrote this in the related post.

Returning from Harwich, I travelled with the train’s on-board test engineer, who was monitoring the train performance in battery mode on a laptop. He told me that acceleration in this mode was the same as a standard train, that the range was up to sixty miles and that only minimal instruction was needed to convert a driver familiar to the Class 379 to this battery variant.

It was an impressive demonstration, of how a full-size train could be run in normal service without connection to a power supply. I also suspect that the partners in the project must be very confident about the train and its technology to allow paying passengers to travel on their only test train.

A couple of years later, I met a lady on another train, who’d used the test train virtually every day during the trial and she and her fellow travellers felt that it was as good if not better than the normal service from a Class 360 train or a Class 321 train.

So why if the engineering, customer acceptance and reliability were proven six years ago, do we not have several battery electric trains in service?

  • There is a proven need for battery-electric trains on the Marshlink Line and the Uckfield Branch in Sussex.
  • The current Class 171 trains are needed elsewhere, so why are no plans in place for replacement trains?
  • The government is pushing electric cars and buses, but why is there such little political support for battery-electric trains?

It’s almost as if, an important civil servant in the decision process has the naive belief that battery-electric trains won’t work and if they do, they will be phenomenally expensive. So the answer is an inevitable no!

Only in the South Wales Metro, are battery-electric trains considered to be part of the solution to create a more efficient and affordable electric railway.

But as I have constantly pointed out since February 2015 in this blog, battery-electric trains should be one of the innovations we use to build a better railway.

Hydrogen Powered Trains

The article says this about hydrogen powered trains.

Hybrid hydrogen fuel cells can potentially solve the range problem, but at the cost of the fuel eating up internal capacity that would ideally be used for passengers. (and as Industry and Technology Editor Roger Ford points out, at present hydrogen is a rather dirty fuel). By contrast, there is no loss of seating or capacity in a Hitachi battery train.

I suspect the article is referring to the Alstom train, which is based on the technology of the Alstom Coradia iLint.

I have ridden this train.

  • It works reliably.
  • It runs on a 100 km route.
  • The route is partially electrified, but the train doesn’t have a pantograph.
  • It has a very noisy mechanical transmission.

Having spoken to passengers at length, no-one seemed bothered by the Hindenburg possibilities.

It is certainly doing some things right, as nearly fifty trains have been ordered for train operating companies in Germany.

Alstom’s train for the UK is the Class 600 train, which will be converted from a four-car Class 321 train.

Note.

  1. Half of both driver cars is taken up by a hydrogen tank.
  2. Trains will be three-cars.
  3. Trains will be able to carry as many passengers as a two-car Class 156 train.

It is an inefficient design that can be improved upon.

Porterbrook and Birmingham University appear to have done that with their Class 799 train.

  • It can use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • The hydrogen tanks, fuel cell and other hydrogen gubbins are under the floor.

This picture from Network Rail shows how the train will appear at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Now that’s what I call a train! Let alone a hydrogen train!

Without doubt, Porterbrook and their academic friends in Birmingham will be laying down a strong marker for hydrogen at COP26!

I know my hydrogen, as my first job on leaving Liverpool University with my Control Engineering degree in 1968 was for ICI at Runcorn, where I worked in a plant that electrolysed brine into hydrogen, sodium hydroxide and chlorine.

My life went full circle last week, when I rode this hydrogen powered bus in London.

The hydrogen is currently supplied from the same chemical works in Runcorn, where I worked. But plans have been made at Runcorn, to produce the hydrogen from renewable energy, which would make the hydrogen as green hydrogen of the highest standard. So sorry Roger, but totally carbon-free hydrogen is available.

The bus is a Wightbus Hydroliner FCEV and this page on the Wrightbus web site gives the specification. The specification also gives a series of cutaway drawings, which show how they fit 86 passengers, all the hydrogen gubbins and a driver into a standard size double-deck bus.

I believe that Alstom’s current proposal is not a viable design, but I wouldn’t say that about the Porterbrook/Birmingham University design.

Any Alternative To Full Electrification Must Meet Operator And Customer Expectations

This is a paragraph from the article.

It’s essential that an alternative traction solution offers the same levels of performance and frequency, while providing an increase in capacity and being economically viable.

In performance, I would include reliability. As the on-board engineer indicated on the Bombardier  test train on the Harwich branch, overhead electrification is not totally reliable, when there are winds and/or criminals about.

Easy Wins

Hitachi’s five-car Class 800 trains and Class 802 trains each have three diesel engines and run the following short routes.

  • Kings Cross and Middlesbrough- 21 miles not electrified – Changeover in Northallerton station
  • Kings Cross and Lincoln – 16.6 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newark Northgate station
  • Paddington and Bedwyn – 13.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Newbury station
  • Paddington and Oxford – 10.3 miles not electrified – Changeover in Didcot Parkway station

Some of these routes could surely be run with a train, where one diesel engine was replaced by a battery-pack.

As I’m someone, who was designing, building and testing plug-compatible transistorised electronics in the 1960s to replace  older valve-based equipment in a heavy engineering factory, I suspect that creating a plug-compatible battery-pack that does what a diesel engine does in terms of power and performance is not impossible.

What would be the reaction to passengers, once they had been told, they had run all the way to or from London without using any diesel?

Hopefully, they’d come again and tell their friends, which is what a train operator wants and needs.

Solving The Electrification Conundrum

This section is from the article.

Where electrification isn’t likely to be a viable proposition, this presents a real conundrum to train operators and rolling stock leasing companies.

This is why Hitachi Rail and Hitachi ABB Power Grids are joining together to present a combined battery train and charging solution to solve this conundrum. In 2020, Hitachi and ABB’s Power Grids business, came together in a joint venture, and an early outcome of this is confidence that bringing together their expertise in rail, power and grid management, they can work together to make electrification simpler cheaper and quicker.

I agree strongly with the second paragraph, as several times, I’ve been the mathematician and simulation expert in a large multi-disciplinary engineering project, that went on to be very successful.

The Heart Of The Proposition

This is a paragraph from the article.

The proposition is conceptually simple. Rather than have extended dwell times at stations for battery-powered trains, why not have a short stretch of 25 KVAC overhead catenary (the exact length will depend on the types of train and the route) which can charge trains at linespeed on the move via a conventional pantograph?

The article also mentions ABB’s related expertise.

  • Charging buses all over Europe.
  • Creating the power grid for the Great Western Electrification to Cardiff.

I like the concept, but then it’s very similar to what I wrote in The Concept Of Electrification Islands in April 2020.

But as they are electrical power engineers and I’m not, they’d know how to create the system.

Collaboration With Hyperdrive Innovation

The article has nothing negative to say about the the collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to produce the battery-packs.

Route Modelling

Hitachi appear to have developed a sophisticated route modelling system, so that routes and charging positions can be planned.

I would be very surprised if they hadn’t developed such a system.

Modular And Scalable

This is a paragraph from the article.

In the heart of the system is a containerised modular solution containing everything needed to power a stretch of overhead catenary to charge trains. A three-car battery train might need one of these, but the great advantage is that it is scalable to capacity and speed requirements.

This all sounds very sensible and can surely cope with a variety of lines and traffic levels.

It also has the great advantage , that if a line is eventually electrified, the equipment can be moved on to another line.

Financing Trains And Chargers

The article talks about the flexibility of the system from an operator’s point of view with respect to finance.

I’ve had some good mentors in the area of finance and I know innovative finance contributed to the success of Metier Management Systems, the project management company I started with three others in 1977.

After selling Metier, I formed an innovative finance company, which would certainly have liked the proposition put forward in the article.

No Compromise, Little Risk

I would agree with this heading of the penultimate section of the article.

In February 2015, when I rode that Class 379 train between Manningtree and Harwich, no compromise had been made by Bombardier and it charged in the electrified bay platform at Manningtree.

But why was that train not put through an extensive route-proving exercise in the UK after the successful trial at Manningtree?

  • Was it the financial state of Bombardier?
  • Was it a lack of belief on the part of politicians, who were too preoccupied with Brexit?
  • Was it that an unnamed civil servant didn’t like the concept and stopped the project?

Whatever the reason, we have wasted several years in getting electric trains accepted on UK railways.

If no compromise needs to be made to create a battery-electric train, that is equivalent to the best-in-class diesel or electric multiple units, then what about the risk?

The beauty of Hitachi’s battery-electric train project is that it can be done in phases designed to minimise risk.

Phase 1 – Initial Battery Testing 

Obviously, there will be a lot of bench testing in a laboratory.

But I also believe that if the Class 803 trains are fitted with a similar battery from Hyperdrive Innovation, then this small fleet of five trains can be used to test a lot of the functionality of the batteries initially in a test environment and later in a real service environment.

The picture shows a Class 803 train under test through Oakleigh Park station.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Phase 2 – Battery Traction Testing And Route Proving

I am a devious bastard, when it comes to software development. The next set of features would always be available for me to test earlier, than anybody else knew.

I doubt that the engineers at Hyperdrive Innovation will be any different.

So I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the batteries in the Class 803 trains can also be used for traction, if you have the right authority.

We might even see Class 803 trains turning up in some unusual places to test the traction abilities of the batteries.

As East Coast Trains, Great Western Railway and Hull Trains are all First Group companies, I can’t see any problems.

I’m also sure that Hitachi could convert some Class 800 or Class 802 trains and add these to the test fleet, if East Coast Trains need their Class 803 trains to start service.

This phase would be very low risk, especially where passengers are concerned.

Possibly, the worse thing, that could happen would be a battery failure, which would need the train to be rescued.

Phase 3 – Service Testing On Short Routes

As I indicated earlier, there are some easy routes between London and places like Bedwyn, Lincoln, Middlesbrough and Oxford, that should be possible with a Class 800 or Class 802 train fitted with the appropriate number of batteries.

Once the trains have shown, the required level of performance and reliability, I can see converted Class 800, 801 and Class 802 trains entering services on these and other routes.

Another low risk phase, although passengers are involved, but they are probably subject to the same risks, as on an unmodified train.

Various combinations of diesel generators and batteries could be used to find out, what is the optimum combination for the typical diagrams that train operators use.

Hitachi didn’t commit to any dates, but I can see battery-electric trains running on the Great Western Railway earlier than anybody thinks.

Phase 4 – Service Testing On Medium Routes With A Terminal Charger System

It is my view that the ideal test route for battery-electric trains with a terminal charger system would be the Hull Trains service between London Kings Cross and Hull and Beverley.

The route is effectively in three sections.

  • London Kings Cross and Temple Hirst junction – 169.2 miles – Full Electrification
  • Temple Hirst junction and Hull station – 36.1 miles – No Electrification
  • Hull station and Beverley station – 8.3 miles – No Electrification

Two things would be needed to run zero-carbon electric trains on this route.

  • Sufficient battery capacity in Hull Trains’s Class 802 trains to reliably handle the 36.1 miles between Temple Hirst junction and Hull station.
  • A charging system in Hull station.

As Hull station also handles other Class 800 and Class 802 trains, there will probably be a need to put a charging system in more than one platform.

Note.

  1. Hull station has plenty of space.
  2. No other infrastructure work would be needed.
  3. There is a large bus interchange next door, so I suspect the power supply to Hull station is good.

Hull would be a very good first destination for a battery-electric InterCity train.

Others would include Bristol, Cheltenham, Chester, Scarborough, Sunderland and Swansea.

The risk would be very low, if the trains still had some diesel generator capacity.

Phase 5 – Service Testing On Long Routes With Multiple Charger Systems

Once the performance and reliability of the charger systems have been proven in single installations like perhaps Hull and Swansea stations, longer routes can be prepared for electric trains.

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

The press release talks about Penzance and London, so would that be a suitable route for discontinuous electrification using multiple chargers?

These are the distances between major points on the route between Penzance and London Paddington.

  • Penzance and Truro – 35.8 miles
  • Truro and Bodmin Parkway – 26.8 miles
  • Bodmin Parkway and Plymouth – 26.9 miles
  • Plymouth and Newton Abbot – 31,9 miles
  • Newton Abbot and Exeter – 20.2 miles
  • Exeter and Taunton – 30.8 miles
  • Taunton and Westbury – 47.2 miles
  • Westbury and Newbury – 42.5 miles
  • Newbury and Paddington – 53 miles

Note.

  1. Only Newbury and Paddington is electrified.
  2. Trains generally stop at Plymouth, Newton Abbott, Exeter and Taunton.
  3. Services between Paddington and Exeter, Okehampton, Paignton, Penzance, Plymouth and Torquay wouldn’t use diesel.
  4. Okehampton would be served by a reverse at Exeter.
  5. As Paignton is just 8.1 miles from Newton Abbot, it probably wouldn’t need a charger.
  6. Bodmin is another possible destination, as Great Western Railway have helped to finance a new platform at Bodmin General station.

It would certainly be good marketing to run zero-carbon electric trains to Devon and Cornwall.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

In this brief analysis, it does look that Hitachi’s proposed system is of a lower risk.

A Few Questions

I do have a few questions.

Are The Class 803 Trains Fitted With Hyperdrive Innovation Batteries?

East Coast Trains‘s new Class 803 trains are undergoing testing between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh and they can be picked up on Real Time Trains.

Wikipedia says this about the traction system for the trains.

While sharing a bodyshell with the previous UK A-train variants, the Class 803 differs in that it has no diesel engines fitted. They will however be fitted with batteries to enable the train’s on-board services to be maintained, in case the primary electrical supplies have failed.

Will these emergency batteries be made by Hyperdrive Innovation?

My experience of similar systems in other industries, points me to the conclusion, that all Class 80x trains can be fitted with similar, if not identical batteries.

This would give the big advantage of allowing battery testing to be performed on Class 803 trains under test, up and down the East Coast Main Line.

Nothing finds faults in the design and manufacture of something used in transport, than to run it up and down in real conditions.

Failure of the catenary can be simulated to check out emergency modes.

Can A Class 801 Train Be Converted Into A Class 803 Train?

If I’d designed the trains, this conversion would be possible.

Currently, the electric Class 801 trains have a single diesel generator. This is said in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train about the Class 801 train.

These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails.

So it looks like the difference between the powertrain of a Class 801 train and a Class 803 train, is that the Class 801 train has a diesel generator and the Class 803 train has batteries. But the diesel generator and batteries, would appear to serve the same purpose.

Surely removing diesel from a Class 801 train would ease the maintenance of the train!

Will The System Work With Third-Rail Electrification?

There are three routes that if they were electrified would probably be electrified with 750 DC third-rail electrification, as they have this electrification at one or both ends.

  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Marshlink Line
  • Uckfield branch

Note.

  1. Basingstoke and Exeter would need a couple of charging systems.
  2. The Marshlink line would need a charging system at Rye station.
  3. The Uckfield branch would need a charging system at Uckfield station.

I am fairly certain as an Electrical Engineer, that the third-rails would only need to be switched on, when a train is connected and needs a charge.

I also feel that on some scenic and other routes, 750 VDC third-rail electrification may be more acceptable , than 25 KVAC  overhead electrification. For example, would the heritage lobby accept overhead wires through a World Heritage Site or on top of a Grade I Listed viaduct?

I do feel that the ability to use third-rail 750 VDC third-rail electrification strategically could be a useful tool in the system.

Will The System Work With Lightweight Catenary?

I like the design of this 25 KVAC overhead electrification, that uses lightweight gantries, which use laminated wood for the overhead structure.

There is also a video.

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

Isuspect that both systems could work together.

 

Would Less Bridges Need To Be Rebuilt For Electrification?

This is always a contentious issue with electrification, as rebuilding bridges causes disruption to both rail and road.

I do wonder though by the use of careful design, that it might be possible to arrange that the sections of electrification and the contentious bridges were kept apart, with the bridges arranged to be in sections, where the trains ran on batteries.

I suspect that over the years as surveyors and engineers get more experienced, better techniques will evolve to satisfy all parties.

Get this right and it could reduce the cost of electrification on some lines, that will be difficult to electrify.

How Secure Are The Containerised Systems?

Consider.

  • I was delayed in East Anglia two years ago, because someone stole the overhead wires at two in the morning.
  • Apparently, overhead wire stealing is getting increasingly common in France and other parts of Europe.

I suspect the containerised systems will need to be more secure than those used for buses, which are not in isolated locations.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Use Energy Storage?

Consider.

  • I’ve lived in rural locations and the power grids are not as good as in urban areas.
  • Increasingly, batteries of one sort or another are being installed in rural locations to beef up local power supplies.
  • A new generation of small-footprint eco-friendly energy storage systems are being developed.

In some locations, it might be prudent for a containerised charging system to share a battery with the local area.

Will The Containerised Charging Systems Accept Electricity From Local Sources Like Solar Farms?

I ask the question, as I know at least one place on the UK network, where a line without electrification runs through a succession of solar farms.

I also know of an area, where a locally-owned co-operative is planning a solar farm, which they propose would be used to power the local main line.

Will The System Work With Class 385 Trains?

Hitachi’s Class 385 trains are closely related to the Class 80x trains, as they are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.

Will the Charging Systems Charge Other Manufacturers Trains?

CAF and Stadler are both proposing to introduce battery-electric trains in the UK.

I also suspect that the new breed of electric parcel trains will include a battery electric variant.

As these trains will be able to use 25 KVAC overhead electrification, I would expect, that they would be able to charge their batteries on the Hitachi ABB  charging systems.

Will The System Work With Freight Trains?

I believe that freight services will split into two.

Heavy freight will probably use powerful hydrogen-electric locomotives.

In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, which is based on a Freightliner press release, I detail Freightliner’s decarbonisation strategy, which indicates that in the future they will use hydrogen-powered locomotives.

But not all freight is long and extremely heavy and I believe that a battery-electric freight locomotive will emerge for lighter duties.

There is no reason it could not be designed to be compatible with Hitachi’s charging system.

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I talked about the plans for 100 mph parcel services based on redundant electric multiple units. Eversholt Rail Group have said they want a Last-Mile capability for their version of these trains.

Perhaps they need a battery-electric capability, so they can deliver parcels and shop supplies to the remoter parts of these islands?

Where Could Hitachi’s System Be Deployed?

This is the final paragraph from the article.

Hitachi is not committing to any routes yet, but a glance at the railway map shows clear potential for the battery/OLE-technology to be deployed on relatively lightly used rural and regional routes where it will be hard to make a case for electrification. The Cambrian Coast and Central Wales Lines would appear to be worthy candidates, and in Scotland, the West Highland Line and Far North routes are also logical areas for the system to be deployed.

In England, while shorter branch lines could simply be operated by battery trains, longer routes need an alternative. Network Rail’s Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy interim business case recommends hydrogen trains for branch lines in Norfolk, as well as Par to Newquay and Exeter to Barnstaple. However, it is also entirely feasible to use the system on routes likely to be electrified much later in the programme, such as the Great Western main line West of Exeter, Swansea to Fishguard and parts of the Cumbrian Coast Line.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine would be driven by high collateral benefits and practicality.

These are my thoughts.

Long Rural Lines

The Cambrian, Central Wales (Heart Of Wales), Far North and West Highland Lines may not be connected to each other, but they form a group of rail routes with a lot of shared characteristics.

  • All are rural routes of between 100 and 200 miles.
  • All are mainly single track.
  • They carry occasional freight trains.
  • They carry quite a few tourists, who are there to sample, view or explore the countryside.
  • All trains are diesel.
  • Scotrail have been experimenting with attaching Class 153 trains to the trains on the West Highland Line to act as lounge cars and cycle storage.

Perhaps we need a long-distance rural train with the following characteristics.

  • Four or possibly five cars
  • Battery-electric power
  • Space for a dozen cycles
  • A lounge car
  • Space for a snack trolley
  • Space to provide a parcels service to remote locations.

I should also say, that I’ve used trains on routes in countries like Germany, Poland and Slovenia, where a similar train requirement exists.

Norfolk Branch Lines

Consider.

  • North of the Cambridge and Ipswich, the passenger services on the branch lines and the important commuter routes between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich are run by Stadler Class 755 trains, which are designed to be converted to battery-electric trains.
  • Using Hitachi chargers at Beccles, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft, Thetford and Yarmouth and the existing electrification, battery-electric Class 755 trains could provide a zero-carbon train service for Norfolk and Suffolk.
  • With chargers at Dereham and March, two important new branch lines could be added and the Ipswich and Peterborough service could go hourly and zero carbon.
  • Greater Anglia have plans to use the Class 755 trains to run a London and Lowestoft service.
  • Could they be planning a London and Norwich service via Cambridge?
  • Would battery-electric trains running services over Norfolk bring in more visitors by train?

Hitachi may sell a few chargers to Greater Anglia, but I feel they have enough battery-electric trains.

Par And Newquay

The Par and Newquay Line or the Atlantic Coast Line, has been put forward as a Beeching Reversal project, which I wrote about in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

In that related post, I said the line needed the following.

  • An improved track layout.
  • An hourly service.
  • An improved Par station.
  • A rebuilt Newquay station with a second platform, so that more through trains can be run.

I do wonder, if after the line were to be improved, that a new three-car battery-electric train shuttling between Par and Newquay stations could be the icing on the cake.

Exeter And Barnstaple

The Tarka Line between Exeter and Barnstaple is one of several local and main lines radiating from Exeter St. David’s station.

  • The Avocet Line to Exmouth
  • The Great Western Main Line to Taunton, Bristol and London
  • The Great Western Main Line to Newton Abbott, Plymouth and Penzance
  • The Riviera Line to Paignton
  • The West of England Line to Salisbury, Basingstoke and London.

Note.

  1. The Dartmoor Line to Okehampton is under development.
  2. Several new stations are planned on the routes.
  3. I have already stated that Exeter could host a charging station between London and Penzance, but it could also be an electrified hub for battery-electric trains running hither and thither.

Exeter could be a city with a battery-electric metro.

Exeter And Penzance

Earlier, I said that I’d trial multiple chargers between Paddington and Penzance to prove the concept worked.

I said this.

I would class this route as medium risk, but with a high reward for the operator.

But it is also an enabling route, as it would enable the following battery-electric services.

  • London and Bodmin
  • London and Okehampton
  • London and Paignton and Torquay

It would also enable the Exeter battery-electric metro.

For these reasons, this route should be electrified using Hitachi’s discontinuous electrification.

Swansea And Fishguard

I mentioned Swansea earlier, as a station, that could be fitted with a charging system, as this would allow battery-electric trains between Paddington and Swansea via Cardiff.

Just as with Exeter, there must be scope at Swansea to add a small number of charging systems to develop a battery-electric metro based on Swansea.

Cumbrian Coast Line

This is a line that needs improvement, mainly for the tourists and employment it could and probably will bring.

These are a few distances.

  • West Coast Main Line (Carnforth) and Barrow-in-Furness – 28.1 miles
  • Barrow-in-Furness and Sellafield – 25 miles
  • Sellafield and Workington – 18 miles
  • Workington and West Coast Main Line (Carlisle) – 33 miles

Note.

  1. The West Coast Main Line is fully-electrified.
  2. I suspect that Barrow-in-Furness, Sellafield and Workington have good enough electricity supplies to support charging systems  for the Cumbrian Coast Line.
  3. The more scenic parts of the line would be left without wires.

It certainly is a line, where a good case for running battery-electric trains can be made.

Crewe And Holyhead

In High-Speed Low-Carbon Transport Between Great Britain And Ireland, I looked at zero-carbon travel between the Great Britain and Ireland.

One of the fastest routes would be a Class 805 train between Euston and Holyhead and then a fast catamaran to either Dublin or a suitable rail-connected port in the North.

  • The Class 805 trains could be made battery-electric.
  • The trains could run between Euston and Crewe at speeds of up to 140 mph under digital signalling.
  • Charging systems would probably be needed at Chester, Llandudno Junction and Holyhead.
  • The North Wales Coast Line looks to my untrained eyes, that it could support at least some 100 mph running.

I believe that a time of under three hours could be regularly achieved between London Euston and Holyhead.

Battery-electric trains on this route, would deliver the following benefits.

  • A fast low-carbon route from Birmingham, London and Manchester to the island of Ireland. if coupled with the latest fast catamarans at Holyhead.
  • Substantial reductions in journey times to and from Anglesey and the North-West corner of Wales.
  • Chester could become a hub for battery-electric trains to and from Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Shrewsbury.
  • Battery-electric trains could be used on the Conwy Valley Line.
  • It might even be possible to connect the various railways, heritage railways and tourist attractions in the area with zero-carbon shuttle buses.
  • Opening up of the disused railway across Anglesey.

The economics of this corner of Wales could be transformed.

My Priority Routes

To finish this section, I will list my preferred routes for this method of discontinuous electrification.

  • Exeter and Penzance
  • Swansea and Fishguard
  • Crewe and Holyhead

Note.

  1. Some of the trains needed for these routes have been delivered or are on order.
  2. Local battery-electric services could be developed at Chester, Exeter and Swansea by building on the initial systems.
  3. The collateral benefits could be high for Anglesey, West Wales and Devon and Cornwall.

I suspect too, that very little construction work not concerned with the installation of the charging systems will be needed.

Conclusion

Hitachi have come up with a feasible way to electrify Great Britain’s railways.

I would love to see detailed costings for the following.

  • Adding a battery pack to a Class 800 train.
  • Installing five miles of electrification supported by a containerised charging system.

They could be on the right side for the Treasury.

But whatever the costs, it does appear that the Japanese have gone native, with their version of the Great British Compromise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2021 Posted by | Design, Energy, Hydrogen, Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Vivarail At COP26

This press release from Network Rail is entitled Network Rail And Porterbrook To Showcase Britain’s Green Trains Of The Future At COP26.

These two paragraphs are from the end of the first section of the press release.

It is envisaged that the HydroFLEX may also be used to transport visitors to see the Zero Emission Train, Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train.

Network Rail is also in the earlier stages of planning a similar event with Vivarail to bring an operational battery train to COP26.

Vivarail have taken battery trains to Scotland before for demonstration, as I wrote about in Battery Class 230 Train Demonstration At Bo’ness And Kinneil Railway.

Will other train companies be joining the party?

Alstom

It looks like Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Class 600 train will not be ready for COP26.

But I suspect that the French would not like to be upstaged by a rolling stock leasing company and a university on the one hand and a company with scrapyard-ready redundant London Underground trains on the other.

I think, they could still turn up with something different.

They could drag one of their Coradia iLint trains through the Channel Tunnel and even run it to Scotland under hydrogen power, to demonstrate the range of a hydrogen-powered train.

Alstom have recently acquired Bombardier’s train interests in the UK and there have been rumours of a fleet of battery-electric Electrostars, even since the demonstrator ran successfully in 2015. Will the prototype turn up at COP26?

Alstom’s UK train factory is in Widnes and I’ve worked with Liverpudlians and Merseysiders on urgent projects and I wouldn’t rule out the Class 600 train making an appearance.

CAF

Spanish train company; CAF, have impressed me with the speed, they have setup their factory in Newport and have delivered a total of well over a hundred Class 195 and Class 331 trains to Northern.

I wrote Northern’s Battery Plans, in February 2020, which talked about adding a fourth-car to three-car Class 331 trains, to create a battery-electric Class 331 train.

Will the Spanish bring their first battery-electric Class 331 train to Glasgow?

I think, they just might!

After all, is there a better place for a train manufacturer looking to sell zero-carbon trains around the world to announce, their latest product?

Hitachi

A lot of what I have said for Alstom and CAF, could be said for Hitachi.

Hitachi have announced plans for two battery-electric trains; a Regional Battery Train and an Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train.

I doubt that either of these trains could be ready for COP26.

But last week, I saw the new Hitachi Class 803 train speeding through Oakleigh Park station.

This is not a battery-electric train, where battery power can be used for traction, but according to Wikipedia and other sources, it is certainly an electric train fitted with batteries to provide hotel power for the train, when the overhead electrification fails.

Are these Class 803 trains already fitted with their batteries? And if they are, have they been tested?

And who is building the batteries for the Class 803 trains?

The traction batteries for Hitachi’s two battery-electric trains are to be produced by Hyperdrive Innovation of Sunderland, which is not far from Hitachi’s train factory at Newton Aycliffe.

As an engineer, I would suspect that a well-respected company like Hyperdrive Innovation, can design a battery-pack that plugs in to Hitachi’s trains, as a diesel engine would. I would also suspect that a good design, would allow an appropriate size of battery for the application and route.

I feel it is very likely, that all batteries for Hitachi’s UK trains will be designed and build by Hyperdrive Innovation.

If that is the case and the Class 803 trains are fitted with batteries, then Hitachi can be testing the battery systems.

This document on the Hitachi Rail web site, which is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme, gives a very comprehensive description of the electrical and computer systems of the Hitachi trains.

As an engineer and a computer programmer, I believe that if Hyperdrive Innovation get their battery design right and after a full test program, that Hitachi could be able to run battery-electric trains based on the various Class 80x trains.

It could be a more difficult task to fit batteries to Scotland’s Class 385 trains, as they are not fitted with diesel engines in any application. Although, the fitting of diesel engines may be possible in the global specification for the train.

It is likely that these trains could form the basis of the Regional Battery Train, which is described in this infographic.

Note.

  1. The Class 385 and Regional Battery trains are both 100 mph trains.
  2. Class 385 and Class 80x trains are all members of Hitachi’s A-Train family.
  3. Regional Battery trains could handle a lot of unelectrified routes in Scotland.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hitachi bring a battery-equipped train to COP26, if the Class 803 trains have a successful introduction into service.

Siemens

Siemens have no orders to build new trains for the national rail network in the UK.

But there are plans by Porterbrook and possibly other rolling stock leasing companies and train operators to convert some redundant Siemens-built trains, like Class 350 trains, into battery-electric trains.

According to Wikipedia, Siemens upgraded East Midlands Railways, Class 360 trains to 110 mph operation, at their Kings Heath Depot in Northampton.

Could Siemens be updating one of the Class 350 trains, that are serviced at that depot, to a prototype battery-electric Class 350 train?

Stadler

Stadler have a proven design for diesel-electric, battery-electric and hydrogen trains, that they sell all over the world.

In the UK, the only ones in service are Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains, which are diesel-electric bi-mode trains.

The picture shows one of these trains at Ipswich.

  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • Diesel, battery or hydrogen modules can be inserted in the short PowerPack car in the middle of the train.
  • Diesel-battery-electric versions of these trains have been sold for operation in Wales.
  • The interiors of these trains are designed for both short journeys and a two-hour run.

There is a possibility, that these trains will be upgraded with batteries. See Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’.

Conclusion

Times will be interesting in Glasgow at COP26!

 

June 6, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hope For Wisbech Line Revival

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A partnership with Network Rail will speed up plans to re-introduce passenger services to Wisbech, according to James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough.

These are my thoughts.

Current Plan And Status

The current plan is as follows.

  • The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority has been developing plans on its own.
  • It will now work with Network Rail.
  • The initial service will be between March and Wisbech.
  • Hopefully, a viable plan will emerge.

A direct Wisbech and Cambridge service is an objective, once capacity has been improved at Ely.

Long Term Objectives

These longer term objectives are indicated in the article.

  • A direct Wisbech and Cambridge service.
  • A two trains per hour (tph) service between Wisbech and Cambridge.

These objectives will probably need capacity to be improved at Ely.

I used to play real tennis with one of Cambridge’s foremost thinkers about the long-term future of the city and the surrounding area.

He believed that Peterborough would increasing become a satellite city to Cambridge to provide housing and manufacturing capacity.

Based on my discussions with him, I believe that there should be at least two tph connecting Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, March and Peterborough stations.

Services Through March Station

These services go through March station.

  • Greater Anglia – 1 train per two hours (tp2h) – Ipswich and Peterborough
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Cambridge and Birmingham New Street
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street.

Note.

  1. All trains stop at Ely.
  2. The Greater Anglia service also stops at Manea and Whittlesea.
  3. Greater Anglia promised to increase the frequency of the Ipswich and Peterborough service to hourly, in the new franchise agreement.
  4. The East Midlands Railway service does not stop at March.

In addition there are often around a succession of freight trains going to and from Whitemoor Yard and the Port of Felixstowe.

Even without major improvements at Ely, I suspect, that there could be three or even gour tph between Ely and Peterborough that stop at March, with Manea and Whittlesea served by at least one tph.

This frequency would do the following..

Improve services between Cambridge and Peterborough, if you were prepared to change at Ely, as there could be up to four tph between Ely and the three Cambridge stations.

Make it possible for a simple shuttle train to run between March and Wisbech and have good connections with services at March to both Peterborough and Cambridge.

Track Layout At March

This Google Map shows the track layout at March.

Note.

  1. March station is in the South-East corner of the map.
  2. Ely is to the East.
  3. Peterborough is to the West.
  4. Whitemoor marshalling Yard is to North.

This second Google Map shows the Northern part of the map to a larger scale.

Note.

Whitemoor yard is to the North of the map.

There is a single track railway running North East  from Whitemoor junction  South of Whitemoor yard to the North East corner of the map. This is the disused Bramley Line between March and Wisbech, which will be reopened.

Between March And Wisbech

I have flown my virtual helicopter along the remains of the track between Whitemoor junction and Wisbech.

This Google Map shows a typical section of the line, just to the North of March.

Note.

Whitemoor Yard is to the West side of the map.

The Bramley Line shows as a green scar running diagonally across the map to the North-East cornet.

The blue dot marks a bus stop on the B1101.

The next three images were taken from Google Streetview.

This one shows the Bramley Line crossing the B1101.

In this one, the Bramley Line is crossing Long Drove.

And here it’s crossing Redmoor Lane.

I wouldn’t have thought, that turning the Bramley Line into a railway that would be safe for one of Greater Anglia’s three-car Class 755 trains would be a challenging project.

Approaching Wisbech

This Google Map shows how the railway approaches Wisbech.

Note.

At the Northern end of the map, there are the square white roofs of the Purina dog food factory, which appears to have been built on the site of the former Wisbech East station.

At the Southern end of the map, the railway crosses the A47.

This Google Map on a larger scale shows the Purina factory.

I don’t think it will be very easy to site a station in this area, without a great deal of friendly co-operation of Nestle, who own Purina.

This Google Map on a larger scale shows where the Bramley Line crosses the A47.

This image looking to the North from the A47, was taken from Google Streetview.

It definitely says that the Railway woz here!

This Google Map shows the A47 and what lies to the South of the road.

Note.

  1. The two-way A47 road across the map.
  2. The development to the South of the A47.
  3. The green scar of the former railway to the West of the development.

Looking at the route of the former railway and the A47, I must come to the conclusion that using the former route to access Wisbech would be extremely difficult and would require an expensive crossing of the A47.

A New Station At Wisbech

I think there are two solutions to providing a station for Wisbech; a Park-and-Ride station, where the former railay crossed the A 47 or find another site.

As a bridge over the A47 would be expensive, I would feel that the Park-and-Ride station could be the best option.

It could have a single platform like Felixstowe, which is shown in this image.

The train is one of Greater Anglia’s new Class 755 trains which would probably be used for services to Wisbech.

  • Adequate car parking could be provided at the station.
  • Secure bicycle parking would be provided.
  • There could be an electric shuttle bus to the town centre and the the North Cambridgeshire Hospital.

The only simple alternative, would be if it were possible to dig or bore a short single-track tunnel under the A47, so that the station could be put on the town side of the A47, where a lot of the land seems to be used for parking cars that are ready for the scrapyard.

Digging it should be possible given some of the traditionally dug tunnels, that have recently been built in the UK.

Would The Bramley Line Be Single Or Double Track?

The Felixstowe Branch Line is about the same length as the Bramley Line and is effectively a single-track line with a long passing loop to support a one tph passenger service.

So to support the desired two tph between March and Wisbech, I suspect that a mainly single-track route with a passing place in the middle will be needed.

Would There Be Any Intermediate Stations?

There used to be a station at Coldham, which is about halfway. Te Wikipedia entry for the station says this.

A plan by the Bramley Line to restore the line between Wisbech and March may see trains return to Coldham in some form.

This Google Map shows the village.

Note.

The road going to the West is called Station Road.

The green scar of the former railway can be seen passing North-South to the West of the houses.

This view from Google Streetview shows the former railway looking North from Station Road.

Could a double-track section be squeezed in here?

The Wikipedia entry for the Bramley Line shows two other stations, that were planned for a proposed heritage railway; March Elm Road and Waldersea.

This Google Map shows the area between March and Wisbech.

Note.

  1. March is in the South-West corner of the map.
  2. Wisbech is in the North-East corner of the map.
  3. Waldersea is indicated by the red arrow.
  4. Coldham is South of the red arrow.

Although March Elm Road and Waldersea might be ideal for a heritage railway, I suspect that the old British Rail layout of just a station, where trains can pass at Coldham would be the best layout.

What Trains Would Be Used?

I have assumed that Greater Anglia will use their three-car Class 755 trains.

  • They are new comfortable trains.
  • They are designed to carry bicycles.
  • When the route is extended to Cambridge, they would be able to use the electrification South of Ely.

I also feel that Greater Anglia planned their fleet size to include enough trains for a Wisbech service.

Could Battery Electric Trains Be Used?

The Class 755 trains are designed as modular bi-mode trains with a PowerPack in the middle, which contains diesel engines.

Stadler are building Class 756  tri-mode versions of these trains for Transport for Wales, which will have batteries and two diesel engines in the PowerPack.

In Thoughts On The Actual Battery Size In Class 756 Trains And Class 398 Tram-Trains, I stated that a three-car Class 756 train would have a 480 kWh battery capacity and the four-car would have 600 kWh. These figures came from a Freedom of Information Request. Not by me, I should add!

Batteries of these sizes would I feel give the Class 755 trains a range of up to fifty miles.

The various distances in the area are.

  • March and Ely – 15 miles
  • March and Peterborough – 15 miles
  • March and Wisbech – 12 miles

I think that Stadler’s and Network Rail’s engineers can come up with a very affordable plan, that will enable tri-mode Class 755 trains to run the following routes.

  • Cambridge and Wisbech and return.
  • Ely and Peterborough

As part of the works to improve capacity at Ely, I suspect there will be some renewal and extension of the electrification in the complicated junction.

So would the electrification be extended a few miles towards March, to remove any need for charging at Wisbech station?

What would certainly ensure battery-electric services to Wisbech would be the electrification of Ely and Peterborough via March.

I feel this is an important electrification infill, that should be done sooner rather than later.

  • It would be needed if it were decided, that all freight trains to and from Felixstowe were to be electric-hauled.
  • It would enable direct electric passenger services between Cambridge and the North.
  • It would help enable battery-electric operation between Peterborough and Norwich.
  • It would allow trains from the North to use Liverpool Street as an alternative terminal during engineering works or other blockades.

It might even make it easier to widen or replace the Digswell Viaduct, as it would offer a fully-electrified diversion route via Cambridge, during the inevitable long closure of the route.

Improvements At March Station

March station will need to be improved, if it is going to be used as an interchange station.

It will probably need a bay platform to turn the Wisbech trains.

I also think that step-free access will be needed for passengers, who need to cross the tracks and can’t manage the stairs.

Conclusion

I very much feel that the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail can create a very useful branch line to Wisbech.

There is not much infrastructure to be built and upgraded.

  • A new station will be built at Wisbech, which I feel is likely to be a Park-and-Ride on the A47.
  • A bay platform will probably need to be reopened at March station.
  • March station will need to be step-free.
  • There may be a station and a passing loop at Coldham.
  • Track and signalling will need to be replaced.

But the big project needed is the remodelling at Ely, which will have to be done to increase capacity, through the bottleneck.

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains would appear to be ideal for the branch and could operate on battery power.

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Will Hitachi Announce A High Speed Metro Train?

As the UK high speed rail network increases, we are seeing more services and proposed services, where local services are sharing tracks, where trains will be running at 125 mph or even more.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Kings Lynn

This Great Northern service is run by Class 387 trains.

  • Services run between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn or Cambridge
  • The Class 387 trains have a maximum operating speed of 110 mph.
  • The route is fully electrified.
  • The trains generally use the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line, South of Hitchin.
  • Most trains on the fast lines on the East Coast Main Line are travelling at 125 mph.
  • When in the future full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented on the East Coast Main Line, speeds of up to 140 mph should be possible in some sections between London Kings Cross and Hitchin.

I also believe that digital signalling may be able to provide a solution to the twin-track bottleneck over the Digswell Viaduct.

Consider.

  • Airliners have been flown automatically and safely from airport to airport for perhaps four decades.
  • The Victoria Line has been running automatically and safely at over twenty trains per hour (tph) for five decades. It is now running at over 30 tph.
  • I worked with engineers developing a high-frequency sequence control system for a complicated chemical plant in 1970.

We also can’t deny that computers are getting better and more capable.

For these reasons, I believe there could be an ERTMS-based solution to the problem of the Digswell Viaduct, which could be something like this.

  • All trains running on the two track section over the Digswell Viaduct and through Welwyn North station would be under computer control between Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth stations.
  • Fast trains would be slowed as appropriate to create spaces to allow the slow trains to pass through the section.
  • The driver would be monitoring the computer control, just as they do on the Victoria Line.

Much more complicated automated systems have been created in various applications.

The nearest rail application in the UK, is probably the application of digital signalling to London Underground’s Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines.

This is known at the Four Lines Modernisation and it will be completed by 2023 and increase capacity by up to twenty-seven percent.

I don’t think it unreasonable to see the following maximum numbers of services running over the Digswell Viaduct by 2030 in both directions in every hour.

  • Sixteen fast trains
  • Four slow trains

That is one train every three minutes.

Currently, it appears to be about ten fast and two slow.

As someone, who doesn’t like to be on a platform, when a fast train goes through, I believe that some form of advanced safety measures should be installed at Welwyn North station.

It would appear that trains between London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn need to have this specification.

  • Ability to run at 125 mph on the East Coast Main Line
  • Ability to run at 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under control of full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

This speed increase could reduce the journey time between London Kings Cross and Cambridge to just over half-an-hour with London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn under ninety minutes.

The only new infrastructure needed would be improvements to the Fen Line to King’s Lynn to allow two tph, which I think is needed.

Speed improvements between Hitchin and Cambridge could also benefit timings.

London Kings Cross And Cambridge/Norwich

I believe there is a need for a high speed service between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge.

  • The Class 755 trains, that are capable of 100 mph take 82 minutes, between Cambridge and Norwich.
  • The electrification gap between Ely and Norwich is 54 miles.
  • Norwich station and South of Ely is fully electrified.
  • Greater Anglia’s Norwich and Cambridge service has been very successful.

With the growth of Cambridge and its incessant need for more space, housing and workers, a high speed train  between London Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge could tick a lot of boxes.

  • If hourly, it would double the frequency between Cambridge and Norwich until East-West Rail is completed.
  • All stations between Ely and Norwich get a direct London service.
  • Cambridge would have better links for commuting to the city.
  • London Kings Cross and Cambridge would be less than an hour apart.
  • If the current London Kings Cross and Ely service were to be extended to Norwich, no extra paths on the East Coast Main Line would be needed.
  • Trains could even split and join at Cambridge or Ely to give all stations a two tph service to London Kings Cross.
  • No new infrastructure would be required.

The Cambridge Cruiser would become the Cambridge High Speed Cruiser.

London Paddington And Bedwyn

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Bedwyn.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Reading.
  • The 13.3 miles between Newbury and Bedwyn is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Newbury and Bedwyn, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

London Paddington And Oxford

This Great Western Railway service is run by Class 802 trains.

  • Services run between London Paddington and Oxford.
  • Services use the Great Western Main Line at speeds of up to 125 mph.
  • In the future if full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is implemented, speeds of up to 140 mph could be possible on some sections between London Paddington and Didcot Parkway.
  • The 10.3 miles between Didcot Parkway and Oxford is not electrified.

As the service would need to be able to run both ways between Didcot Parkway and Oxford, a capability to run upwards of perhaps thirty miles without electrification is needed. Currently, diesel power is used, but battery power would be better.

Local And Regional Trains On Existing 125 mph Lines

In The UK, in addition to High Speed One and High Speed Two, we have the following lines, where speeds of 125 mph are possible.

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

Note.

  1. Long stretches of these routes allow speeds of up to 125 mph.
  2. Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling is being installed on the East Coast Main Line to allow running up to 140 mph.
  3. Some of these routes have four tracks, with pairs of slow and fast lines, but there are sections with only two tracks.

It is likely, that by the end of the decade large sections of these four 125 mph lines will have been upgraded, to allow faster running.

If you have Hitachi and other trains thundering along at 140 mph, you don’t want dawdlers, at 100 mph or less, on the same tracks.

These are a few examples of slow trains, that use two-track sections of 125 nph lines.

  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Leicester and Lincoln – Uses Midland Main Line
  • East Midlands Railway – 1 tph – Liverpool and Norwich – Uses Midland Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Portsmouth Harbour – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Great Western Railway – 1 tph – Cardiff and Taunton – Uses Great Western Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Cumbria – Uses West Coast Main Line
  • Northern – 1 tph – Newcastle and Morpeth – Uses East Coast Main Line
  • West Midlands Trains – Some services use West Coast Main Line.

Conflicts can probably be avoided by judicious train planning in some cases, but in some cases trains capable of 125 mph will be needed.

Southeastern Highspeed Services

Class 395 trains have been running Southeastern Highspeed local services since 2009.

  • Services run between London St. Pancras and Kent.
  • Services use Speed One at speeds of up to 140 mph.
  • These services are planned to be extended to Hastings and possibly Eastbourne.

The extension would need the ability to run on the Marshlink Line, which is an electrification gap of 25.4 miles, between Ashford and Ore.

Thameslink

Thameslink is a tricky problem.

These services run on the double-track section of the East Coast Main Line over the Digswell Viaduct.

  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Brighton – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.
  • 2 tph – Cambridge and Kings Cross – Slow train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage, Knebworth, Welwyn North, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Potters Bar and Finsbury Park
  • 2 tph – Peterborough and Horsham – Fast train stopping at Hitchin, Stevenage and Finsbury Park.

Note.

  1. These services are run by Class 700 trains, that are only capable of 100 mph.
  2. The fast services take the fast lines South of the Digswell Viaduct.
  3. South of Finsbury Park, both fast services cross over to access the Canal Tunnel for St, Pancras station.
  4. I am fairly certain, that I have been on InterCity 125 trains running in excess of 100 mph in places between Finsbury Park and Stevenage.

It would appear that the slow Thameslink trains are slowing express services South of Stevenage.

As I indicated earlier, I think it is likely that the Kings Cross and King’s Lynn services will use 125 mph trains for various reasons, like London and Cambridge in well under an hour.

But if 125 mph trains are better for King’s Lynn services, then they would surely improve Thameslink and increase capacity between London and Stevenage.

Looking at average speeds and timings on the 25 miles between Stevenage and Finsbury Park gives the following.

  • 100 mph – 15 minutes
  • 110 mph – 14 minutes
  • 125 mph – 12 minutes
  • 140 mph – 11 minutes

The figures don’t appear to indicate large savings, but when you take into account that the four tph running the Thameslink services to Peterborough and Cambridge stop at Finsbury Park and Stevenage and have to get up to speed, I feel that the 100 mph Class 700 trains are a hindrance to more and faster trains on the Southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

It should be noted, that faster trains on these Thameslink services would probably have better acceleration and and would be able to execute faster stops at stations.

There is a similar less serious problem on the Midland Main Line branch of Thameslink, in that some Thameslink services use the fast lines.

A couple of years ago, I had a very interesting chat with a group of East Midlands Railway drivers. They felt that the 100 mph Thameslink and the 125 mph Class 222 trains were not a good mix.

The Midland Main Line services are also becoming more complicated, with the new EMR Electric services between St. Pancras and Corby, which will be run by 110 mph Class 360 trains.

Hitachi’s Three Trains With Batteries

Hitachi have so far announced three battery-electric trains. Two are based on battery packs being developed and built by Hyperdrive Innovation.

Hyperdrive Innovation

Looking at the Hyperdrive Innovation web site, I like what I see.

Hyperdrive Innovation provided the battery packs for JCB’s first electric excavator.

Note that JCB give a five-year warranty on the Hyperdrive batteries.

Hyperdrive have also been involved in the design of battery packs for aircraft push-back tractors.

The battery capacity for one of these is given as 172 kWh and it is able to supply 34 kW.

I was very surprised that Hitachi didn’t go back to Japan for their batteries, but after reading Hyperdrive’s web site about the JCB and Textron applications, there would appear to be good reasons to use Hyperdrive.

  • Hyperdrive have experience of large lithium ion batteries.
  • Hyperdrive have a design, develop and manufacture model.
  • They seem to able to develop solutions quickly and successfully.
  • Battery packs for the UK and Europe are made in Sunderland.
  • Hyperdrive are co-operating with Nissan, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Newcastle University.
  • They appear from the web site to be experts in the field of battery management, which is important in prolonging battery life.
  • Hyperdrive have a Taiwanese partner, who manufactures their battery packs for Taiwan and China.
  • I have done calculations based on the datasheet for their batteries and Hyperdrive’s energy density is up with the best

I suspect, that Hitachi also like the idea of a local supplier, as it could be helpful in the negotiation of innovative applications. Face-to-face discussions are easier, when you’re only thirty miles apart.

Hitachi Regional Battery Train

The first train to be announced was the Hitachi Regional Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. It is only a 100 mph train.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. It has a range of 56 miles on battery power.
  4. Any of Hitachi’s A Train family like Class 800, 802 or 385 train can be converted to a Regional Battery Train.

No orders have been announced yet.

But it would surely be very suitable for routes like.

  • London Paddington And Bedwyn
  • London Paddington And Oxford

It would also be very suitable for extensions to electrified suburban routes like.

  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • London Waterloo and Salisbury
  • Manchester Airport and Windermere.
  • Newcastle and Carlisle

It would also be a very sound choice to extend electrified routes in Scotland, which are currently run by Class 385 trains.

Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train

The second train to be announced was the Hitachi InterCity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. Only one engine is replaced by a battery.
  2. The batteries are to be designed and manufactured by Hyperdrive Innovation.
  3. Typically a five-car Class 800 or 802 train has three diesel engines and a nine-car train has five.
  4. These trains would obviously be capable of 125 mph on electrified main lines and 140 mph on lines fully equipped with digital in-cab ERTMS signalling.

Nothing is said about battery range away from electrification.

Routes currently run from London with a section without electrification at the other end include.

  • London Kings Cross And Harrogate – 18.3 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Hull – 36 miles
  • London Kings Cross And Lincoln – 16.5 miles
  • London Paddington And Bedwyn – 13.3 miles
  • London Paddington And Oxford – 10.3 miles

In the March 2021 Edition of Modern Railways, LNER are quoted as having aspirations to extend the Lincoln service to Cleethorpes.

  • With all energy developments in North Lincolnshire, this is probably a good idea.
  • Services could also call at Market Rasen and Grimsby.
  • Two trains per day, would probably be a minimum frequency.

But the trains would need to be able to run around 64 miles each way without electrification. Very large batteries and/or charging at Cleethorpes will be needed.

Class 803 Trains For East Coast Trains

East Coast Trains have ordered a fleet of five Class 803 trains.

  • These trains appear to be built for speed and fast acceleration.
  • They have no diesel engines, which must save weight and servicing costs.
  • But they will be fitted with batteries for emergency power to maintain onboard  train services in the event of overhead line failure.
  • They are planned to enter service in October 2021.

Given that Hyperdrive Innovation are developing traction batteries for the other two Hitachi battery trains, I would not be the least bit surprised if Hyperdrive were designing and building the batteries for the Class 803 trains.

  • Hyperdrive batteries are modular, so for a smaller battery you would use less modules.
  • If all coaches are wired for a diesel engine, then they can accept any power module like a battery or hydrogen pack, without expensive redesign.
  • I suspect too, that the battery packs for the Class 803 trains could be tested on an LNER Class 801 train.

LNER might also decide to replace the diesel engines on their Class 801 trains with an emergency battery pack, if it were more energy efficient and had a lighter weight.

Thoughts On The Design Of The Hyperdrive innovation Battery Packs

Consider.

  • Hitachi trains have a sophisticated computer system, which on start-up can determine the configuration of the train or whether it is more than one train running as a longer formation or even being hauled by a locomotive.
  • To convert a bi-mode Class 800 train to an all-electric Class 801 the diesel engines are removed. I suspect that the computer is also adjusted, but train formation may well be totally automatic and independent of the driver.
  • Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery seem to be based on a modular system, where typical modules have a capacity of 5 kWh, weighs 32 Kg and has a volume of 0.022 cu metres.
  • The wet mass of an MTU 16V 1600 R80L diesel engine commonly fitted to AT-300 trains of different types is 6750 Kg or nearly seven tonnes.
  • The diesel engine has a physical size of 1.5 x 1.25 x 0.845 metres, which is a volume of 1.6 cubic metres.
  • In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a five-car Class 801 electric train, needed 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph.
  • It is likely, than any design of battery pack, will handle the regenerative braking.

To my mind, the ideal solution would be a plug compatible battery pack, that the train’s computer thought was a diesel engine.

But then I have form in the area of plug-compatible electronics.

At the age of sixteen, for a vacation job, I worked in the Electronics Laboratory at Enfield Rolling Mills.

It was the early sixties and one of their tasks was at the time replacing electronic valve-based automation systems with new transistor-based systems.

The new equipment had to be compatible to that which it replaced, but as some were installed in dozens of places around the works, they had to be able to be plug-compatible, so that they could be quickly changed. Occasionally, the new ones suffered infant-mortality and the old equipment could just be plugged back in, if there wasn’t a spare of the new equipment.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation’s battery-packs have the same characteristics as the diesel engines that they replace?

  • Same instantaneous and continuous power output.
  • Both would fit the same mountings under the train.
  • Same control and electrical power connections.
  • Compatibility with the trains control computer.

I think they will as it will give several advantages.

  • The changeover between diesel engine and battery pack could be designed as a simple overnight operation.
  • Operators can mix-and-match the number of diesel engines and battery-packs to a given route.
  • As the lithium-ion cells making up the battery pack improve, battery capacity and performance can be increased.
  • If the computer, is well-programmed, it could reduce diesel usage and carbon-emissions.
  • Driver conversion from a standard train to one equipped with batteries, would surely be simplified.

As with the diesel engines, all battery packs could be substantially the same across all of Hitachi’s Class 80x trains.

What Size Of Battery Would Be Possible?

If Hyperdrive are producing a battery pack with the same volume as the diesel engine it replaced, I estimate that the battery would have a capacity defined by.

5 * 1.6 / 0.022 = 364 kWh

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which is not very challenging.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

As a figure of 3.42 kWh per vehicle-mile to maintain 125 mph, applies to a Class 801 train, I suspect that a figure of 3 kWh or less could apply to a five-car Class 800 train trundling at around 80-100 mph to Bedwyn, Cleethorpes or Oxford.

  • A one-battery five-car train would have a range of 24.3 miles
  • A two-battery five-car train would have a range of 48.6 miles
  • A three-battery five-car train would have a range of 72.9 miles

Note.

  1. Reducing the consumption to 2.5 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 87.3 miles.
  2. Reducing the consumption to 2 kWh per vehicle-mile would give a range of 109.2 miles.
  3. Hitachi will be working to reduce the electricity consumption of the trains.
  4. There will also be losses at each station stop, as regenerative braking is not 100 % efficient.

But it does appear to me, that distances of the order of 60-70 miles would be possible on a lot of routes.

Bedwyn, Harrogate, Lincoln and Oxford may be possible without charging before the return trip.

Cleethorpes and Hull would need a battery charge before return.

A Specification For A High Speed Metro Train

I have called the proposed train a High Speed Metro Train, as it would run at up to 140 mph on an existing high speed line and then run a full or limited stopping service to the final destination.

These are a few thoughts.

Electrification

In some cases like London Kings Cross and King’s Lynn, the route is already electrified and batteries would only be needed for the following.

  • Handling regenerative braking.
  • Emergency  power in case of overhead line failure.
  • Train movements in depots.

But if the overhead wires on a branch line. are in need of replacement, why not remove them and use battery power? It might be the most affordable and least disruptive option to update the power supply on a route.

The trains would have to be able to run on both types of electrification in the UK.

  • 25 KVAC overhead.
  • 750 VDC third rail.

This dual-voltage capability would enable the extension of Southeastern Highspeed services.

Operating Speed

The trains must obviously be capable of running at the maximum operating speed on the routes they travel.

  • 125 mph on high speed lines, where this speed is possible.
  • 140 mph on high speed lines equipped with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling, where this speed is possible.

The performance on battery power must be matched with the routes.

Hitachi have said, that their Regional Battery trains can run at up to 100 mph, which would probably be sufficient for most secondary routes in the UK and in line with modern diesel and electric multiple units.

Full Digital In-cab ERTMS Signalling

This will be essential and is already fitted to some of Hitachi’s trains.

Regenerative Braking To Batteries

Hitachi’s battery electric  trains will probably use regenerative braking to the batteries, as it is much more energy efficient.

It also means that when stopping at a station perhaps as much as 70-80% of the train’s kinetic energy can be captured in the batteries and used to accelerate the train.

In Kinetic Energy Of A Five-Car Class 801 Train, I showed that at 125 mph the energy of a full five-car train is just over 100 kWh, so batteries would not need to be unduly large.

Acceleration

This graph from Eversholt Rail, shows the acceleration and deceleration of a five-car Class 802 electric train.

As batteries are just a different source of electric power, I would think, that with respect to acceleration and deceleration, that the performance of a battery-electric version will be similar.

Although, it will only achieve 160 kph instead of the 200 kph of the electric train.

I estimate from this graph, that a battery-electric train would take around 220 seconds from starting to decelerate for a station to being back at 160 kph. If the train was stopped for around eighty seconds, a station stop would add five minutes to the journey time.

London Kings Cross And Cleethorpes

As an example consider a service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • The section without electrification between Newark and Cleethorpes is 64 miles.
  • There appear to be ambitions to increase the operating speed to 90 mph.
  • Local trains seem to travel at around 45 mph including stops.
  • A fast service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes would probably stop at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town.
  • In addition, local services stop at Collingham, Hykeham, Barnetby and Habrough.
  • London Kings Cross and Newark takes one hour and twenty minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes takes three hours and fifteen minutes with a change at Doncaster.

I can now calculate a time between Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

  • If a battery-electric train can average 70 mph between Newark and Cleethorpes, it would take 55 minutes.
  • Add five minutes for each of the three stops at Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town
  • Add in the eighty minutes between London Kings Cross and Newark and that would be  two-and-a-half hours.

That would be very marketing friendly and a very good start.

Note.

  1. An average speed of 80 mph would save seven minutes.
  2. An average speed of 90 mph would save twelve minutes.
  3. I suspect that the current bi-modes would be slower by a few minutes as their acceleration is not as potent of that of an electric train.

I have a feeling London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes via Lincoln Central, Market Rasen and Grimsby Town, could be a very important service for LNER.

Interiors

I can see a new lightweight and more energy efficient interior being developed for these trains.

In addition some of the routes, where they could be used are popular with cyclists and the current Hitachi trains are not the best for bicycles.

Battery Charging

Range On Batteries

I have left this to last, as it depends on so many factors, including the route and the quality of the driving or the Automatic Train Control

Earlier, I estimated that a five-car train with all three diesel engines replaced by batteries, when trundling around Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire or Wiltshire could have range of up to 100 miles.

That sort of distance would be very useful and would include.

  • Ely and Norwich
  • Newark and Cleethorpes
  • Salisbury and Exeter

It might even allow a round trip between the East Coast Main Line and Hull.

The Ultimate Battery Train

This press release from Hitachi is entitled Hitachi And Eversholt Rail To Develop GWR Intercity Battery Hybrid Train – Offering Fuel Savings Of More Than 20%.

This is a paragraph.

The projected improvements in battery technology – particularly in power output and charge – create opportunities to replace incrementally more diesel engines on long distance trains. With the ambition to create a fully electric-battery intercity train – that can travel the full journey between London and Penzance – by the late 2040s, in line with the UK’s 2050 net zero emissions target.

Consider.

  • Three batteries would on my calculations give a hundred mile range.
  • Would a train with no diesel engines mean that fuel tanks, radiators and other gubbins could be removed and more or large batteries could be added.
  • Could smaller batteries be added to the two driving cars?
  • By 2030, let alone 2040, battery energy density will have increased.

I suspect that one way or another these trains could have a range on battery power of between 130 and 140 miles.

This would certainly be handy in Scotland for the two routes to the North.

  • Haymarket and Aberdeen, which is 130 miles without electrification.
  • Stirling and Inverness, which is 111 miles without electrification, if the current wires are extended from Stirling to Perth, which is being considered by the Scottish Government.

The various sections of the London Paddington to Penzance route are as follows.

  • Paddington and Newbury – 53 miles – electrified
  • Newbury and Taunton – 90 miles – not electrified
  • Taunton and Exeter – 31 miles – not electrified
  • Exeter and Plymouth – 52 miles – not electrified
  • Plymouth and Penzance – 79 miles – not electrified

The total length of the section without electrification between Penzance and Newbury  is a distance of 252 miles.

This means that the train will need a battery charge en route.

I think there are three possibilities.

  • Trains can take up to seven minutes for a stop at Plymouth. As London and Plymouth trains will need to recharge at Plymouth before returning to London, Plymouth station could be fitted with comprehensive recharge facilities for all trains passing through. Perhaps the ideal solution would be to electrify all lines and platforms at Plymouth.
  • Between Taunton and Exeter, the rail line runs alongside the M5 motorway. This would surely be an ideal section to electrify, as it would enable battery electric trains to run between Exeter and both Newbury and Bristol.
  • As some trains terminate at Exeter, there would probably need to be charging facilities there.

I believe that the date of the late 2040s is being overly pessimistic.

I suspect that by 2040 we’ll be seeing trains between London and Aberdeen, Inverness and Penzance doing the trips without a drop of diesel.

But Hitachi are making a promise of London and Penzance by zero-carbon trains, by the late-2040s, because they know they can keep it.

And Passengers and the Government won’t mind the trains being early!

Conclusion

This could be a very useful train to add to Hitachi’s product line.

 

 

 

March 9, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EMR Set To Retain Liverpool – Nottingham Service

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

The Department for Transport has confirmed to East Midlands Railway that, for the time being at least, it is no longer planning to transfer the Liverpool Lime Street – Nottingham service to TransPennine Express from the December 2021 timetable change.

My experience of the service is limited these days, but occasionally, I do use the Liverpool and Sheffield section of the service to get across the Pennines on trips North.

In January 2020, I had a horrendous trip on an overcrowded train composed of several one-car Class 153 trains, which I wrote about in Mule Trains Between Liverpool And Norwich.

This is not the way to run a long distance service, which takes over five and a half hours.

The plan to improve the service involves splitting it into two from the December 2021 timetable change.

  • Liverpool and Nottingham
  • Derby and Norwich

It was thought that the Liverpool and Nottingham section would be going to TransPennine Express (TPE).

These points summarise the Railway Gazette article.

  • TPE were training drivers and that has now stopped.
  • EMR have told staff, they will be keeping both services.
  • The service will still be split.
  • EMR  will not have enough trains to run the split service.

This paragraph sums up what could happen to run the service.

One option favoured by industry insiders would see EMR take on 15 Class 185 Desiro trainsets which are due to be released by TPE during 2021 as its fleet renewal programme concludes. These trains are maintained by Siemens at its conveniently located Ardwick depot in Manchester.

I see this splitting, as being a pragmatic solution to the problems of running a long service, with a very varied loading at various parts of the route.

  • As one company runs both sections, the changeover can be arranged to be very passenger-friendly.
  • EMR manage the possible change stations at Derby and Nottingham.
  • Passengers can be given proper care in the changeover.
  • Derby gets a direct connection to Peterborough, Cambridge and Norwich.

With my East Anglian hat on, I can see advantages in the split, as I regularly used to travel as far as Derby or Nottingham, when I lived in the East, but only once took the full service to Liverpool.

I have a few thoughts.

Capacity Between Liverpool And Nottingham

This section of the service is generally run by a pair of Class 158 trains, which have a capacity of around 140 each or 280 in total.

The Class 185 trains have three-cars and a capacity of 180 seats.

Currently, Liverpool and Nottingham takes just under two hours and forty minutes, which would make for a comfortable six-hour round trip. This would mean, that an hourly service between the two cities, will need a fleet of six trains.

Under Future in the Wikipedia entry for Class 185 trains, this is said.

Following the August 2020 decision not to transfer the Liverpool Lime Street to Nottingham route to TransPennine Express, East Midlands Railway could opt to take on the 15 trainsets due to be released from TPE to run this route.

Fifteen trains would be more than enough trains to run a pair on each hourly service and perhaps run some extra services.

Pairs of Class 185 trains between Liverpool and Nottingham would go a long way to solve capacity problems on this route.

Calling At Derby

The current service between Liverpool and Norwich doesn’t call at Derby, as it uses the Erewash Valley Line via Alfreton.

The proposed Eastern portion of the split service has been proposed to terminate at Derby, so passengers would change at Nottingham, if they wanted to travel to Sheffield, Manchester or Liverpool.

As East Midlands Railway, runs both services, they can optimise the service to serve and attract the most passengers.

Preparation For High Speed Two At East Midlands Hub Station

Eventually, the two halves of the Liverpool and Norwich service must surely call at the future East Midlands Hub station for High Speed Two, so future routes must fit in with the plans for High Speed Two.

But there’ll be plenty of time to get that right.

Interchange At Nottingham

I’m sure a quick and easy interchange can be performed at Nottingham.

In the simplest interchange, the two services could share a platform and passengers could just walk between the two trains on the level.

The following sequence could be used at Nottingham.

  • The train from Derby to Norwich would arrive in the platform and stop at the Eastern end of the platform.
  • The train from Liverpool to Nottingham would arrive in the platform and stop close behind it.
  • Passengers on the train from Liverpool, who wanted to take the Norwich train, would simply walk a along the platform and board the train.
  • The Norwich train would leave when ready.
  • The train from Liverpool would stay where it had stopped and be prepared for the return trip to Liverpool.
  • , The next train from Norwich to Derby would pull in behind the Liverpool train.
  • Passengers on the train from Norwich, who wanted to take the Liverpool train, would simply walk a along the platform and board the train.
  • The Liverpool train would leave when ready.
  • Finally, the Norwich to Derby train would leave for Derby.

Only one platform would be needed at Nottingham station, that would need to be long enough to handle the two trains.

Between Norwich And Derby

This is the only section of the Liverpool and Norwich route with any electrification.

  • Currently about thirty miles between Grantham and Peterborough are electrified.
  • The lines around Ely and Norwich are also electrified.

I think that Ely and Peterborough will be electrified earlier than other lines.

  • It would be part of an electrified freight route between Felixstowe and the East Coast Main Line.
  • It would enable electric passenger trains between Cambridge and the North.
  • It would mean the Ipswich and Peterborough services could be run by battery electric trains.
  • It could be a useful electrified diversion route to London, during engineering works.

,This extra electrification, would also mean that Norwich and Derby would probably be within range of battery electric trains.

Stadler have stated that Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains can be converted from bi-mode into battery electric trains.

So as Greater Anglia and East Midlands Railway are both Abellio companies, could we see battery electric operation on the around 150 miles between Norwich and Derby?

Conclusion

Splitting the Liverpool and Norwich service opens up a lot of possibilities to improve the service.

 

 

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Flexible Train For A Pandemic

Anybody, who believes that COVID-19  will be the last pandemic is an idiot!

The virus has shown, those with evil intentions to take over the world, that a pandemic, started by a weaponised virus, whether natural or man-made, can be a useful tool in your arsenal.

We must prepare for the next pandemic.

So how will we travel by train?

Current Train Interiors And The Need To Social Distance

The need to social distance will remain paramount and some of our current train interiors are better than others for passengers to remain two metres apart.

These are some typical UK train interiors.

Typical London Overground Interior

These pictures show a typical London Overground interior on their Class 378 trains and Class 710 trains.

Distancing at two-metres will reduce the capacity dramatically, but with wide doors and common sense, this layout could allow social distancing to work.

Siemens Desiro City Suburban Interior

These pictures show the interior of the two Siemens Desiro City fleets; Thameslink‘s Class 700 trains, Great Northern‘s Class 717 trains and South Western Railway‘s Class 707 trains.

As with the London Overground layout, as the trains are fairly spacious with wide doors, social distancing could probably be made to work at reduced capacity.

Four Seats And A Table

These pictures show a selection of trains, where you have four seats around a table.

Trains include Greater Anglia’s Class 379 trains, Class 745 trains, Class 755 trains, and a selection of Class 800 trains, Class 377 trains from various operators and a superb reconditioned Class 150 train from Great Western Railway.

Could these be made to work, if there was only one person or self-isolating group living together at each set of four seats?

Designing For A Pandemic

These are my thoughts on various topics.

Seating Layouts

Consider.

  • As the pictures show, maintaining social distancing will be difficult on some trains.
  • Could the number of seats in use, be determined by the avert level of the pandemic?
  • Could seats have lights on them to show their status?
  • Will companies insist on reservations?

As to the last point, some train companies are already doing this!

 

Luggage

Will there be limits on the luggage you can take?

Entering And Leaving The Train

Would someone with a dangerous infectious disease be more likely to pass it on, when entering or leaving a train, through a narrow doorway?

I believe coaches with narrow single end doors make social distancing impossible.

  • Passengers get stuck in the bottleneck that these doors create.
  • Passengers are entering and leaving through the same crowded door.
  • Anybody in a wheelchair, pushing a child in a buggy or dragging a large suitcase, will make the bottleneck worse.

They are not fit for purpose in a post-COVID-19 world!

It might be possible to make the doors work using a traffic light system, which allowed passengers to leave, before any passengers were allowed to enter.

But any safe system, would be likely to increase dwell times in stations.

These pictures show the doors and entry and exit for Greater Anglia’s Class 745 and Class 755 trains.

These trains have been designed to be able to run London and Norwich services over a distance of more than a hundred miles, so the trains could be considered InterCity services in all but name.

Note.

  1. All doors are double and lead into a wide and spacious lobby.
  2. Entry and exit is level, as there is a gap filler between train and platform.
  3. Entry and exit in a wheelchair, pushing a buggy or wheeling a large suitcase doesn’t

Greater Anglia’s new trains would appear to be better in a post-COVID-19 world.

I also think, that these trains are better designed for the disabled, those with young children, and the elderly and just plain worn-out.

Finding A Seat

If you watch people entering a train, they often take forever to find their seat and sit down. Especially, if they’ve got a massive suitcase that won’t fit in the space provided.

Rules on boarding a train and how much luggage you can bring will be developed.

Toilets

Will visiting the toilet still be allowed? Or will toilets even be removed?

Flexibility

I think a degree of flexibility must be built into the design.

I mentioned lights on seats to show which could be used, that could be lit up according to the threat level.

Conclusion

Travelling will get more complicated.

 

 

 

 

May 17, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Greater Anglia Completes Directly-Managed Norwich Victoria Sidings Project

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Greater Anglia has opened four sidings able to stable 12-car trains just outside Norwich station, with its first train using the facility on March 3.

Other information can be found in this and other articles.

  • It was Greater Anglia’s biggest infrastructure investment to date.
  • The sidings are on the South side of the Trowse Swing Bridge, that crosses the River Wensum.
  • The project took nine months to complete.
  • The sidings look to be fully electrified.

I would assume that each siding can take one of the following.

  • A twelve-car Class 745 train, which are 236.6 metres long.
  • A ten-car Class 720 train, which are 240 metres long.
  • Two five-car Class 720 trains, which are 122 metres long.
  • More than one Class 755 trains, which are 65 metres long (3-car) and 81 metres long (4-car)

They will certainly be able to pack in the trains.

 

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

Ipswich And Peterborough In A Battery Train

Greater Anglia have a fleet of bi-mode electro-diesel Class 755 trains, that could be converted into tri-mode electro-diesel-battery trains. I reported on this in Battery Power Lined Up For ‘755s’.

If when fitted with batteries these trains had a range of say 55-65 miles on battery power, these Greater Anglia routes could be handled using battery and electric power.

  • Ipswich and Cambridge
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft
  • London and Lowestoft
  • Marks Tey and Sudbury
  • Norwich and Cambridge
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth
  • Norwich and Lowestoft
  • Norwich and Sheringham

Note.

  1. Marks Tey and Sudbury is planned to be extended to Colchester Town. Is this to allow a Class 755 train with a battery capability to charge the batteries on the Great Eastern Main Line? No charging facilities would then be needed on the branch.
  2. I have left out the current Ipswich and Peterborough service.
  3. There is speculation that Greater Anglia want to run a Cambridge and Wisbech service via Ely and March.

It is also reported that some or all Peterborough and Ipswich services will continue to Colchester.

  • There is a convenient bay platform at Colchester to reverse the trains.
  • A Colchester and Peterborough service, would give travellers in North Essex easier access to LNER services at Peterborough.
  • Frequencies from Colchester and Ipswich across Suffolk would be improved.

If the trains were to run on battery power between Stowmarket and Ely, the batteries could be charged between Colchester and Stowmarket. Note that Stowmarket and Ely is about forty miles, which should be within battery range.

Ely and Peterborough is thirty miles, which again is within battery range. So would the train top up the batteries at Ely in perhaps a five minute stop?

Extra Electrification At Ely

There could be three battery-electric services needing to charge batteries as they pass through Ely.

  • Colchester/Ipswich and Peterborough
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport
  • Cambridge and Wisbech

So would it be sensible to extend the electrification for a few miles towards Peterborough and Norwich to give the battery a quick top-up? It should be noted that the notorious Ely Junction is to be remodelled.

 

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

A Class 755 Train PowerPack Car

The picture shows the PowerPack car of a Class 755 train.

Note.

  1. The two covers to give access to the two engines on each side of the car.
  2. The shared Jacobs bogies between the cars.
  3. The pairs of shock absorbers between cars.

The Jacobs bogies and the shock absorbers are probably used to help give the trains a smooth ride. The Wikipedia entry for Jacobs bogies says this.

Instead of being underneath a piece of rolling stock, Jacobs bogies are placed between two carbody sections. The weight of each car is spread between the Jacobs bogie. This arrangement provides the smooth ride of bogie carriages without the additional weight and drag.

After my half-dozen or so rides in Class 745 and Class 755 trains, I wouldn’t be averse to seeing a lot more of these trains in the UK.

 

March 17, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Actual Battery Size In Class 756 Trains And Class 398 Tram-Trains

A Freedom of Information Request was sent to Transport for Wales, which said.

Please confirm the battery capacity and maximum distance possible under battery power for the Tram/Train, 3 & 4 Car Flirts.

The reply was as follows.

The batteries on the new fleets will have the following capacities: –

  • Class 756 (3-car) Flirt – 480 kWh
  • Class 756 (4-car) Flirt – 600 kWh
  • Class 398 tram-trains – 128 kWh

I will now have thoughts on both vehicles separately.

Class 756 Trains

In More On Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts, I speculated about the capacity of the batteries in the tri-mode Stadler Flirts, which are now called Class 756 trains, I said this.

I wonder how much energy storage you get for the weight of a V8 diesel, as used on a bi-mode Flirt?

The V8 16 litre diesel engines are made by Deutz and from their web site, it looks like they weigh about 1.3 tonnes.

How much energy could a 1.3 tonne battery store?

The best traction batteries can probably store 0.1 kWh per kilogram. Assuming that the usable battery weight is 1.2 tonnes, then each battery module could store 120 kWh or 360 kWh if there are three of them.

I also quoted this from the July 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

The units will be able to run for 40 miles between charging, thanks to their three large batteries.

Since I wrote More On Tri-Mode Stadler Flirts in June 2018, a lot more information on the bi-mode Stadler Class 755 Flirt has become available and they have entered service with Greater Anglia.

Four-car trains weigh around 114 tonnes, with three-car trains around a hundred. I can also calculate kinetic energies.

How Good Was My Battery Size Estimate?

These are my estimate and the actual values for the three batteries in Class 756 trains

  • My estimate for Class 756 (3- & 4-car) – 120 kWh
  • Class 756 (3-car) Flirt – 160 kWh
  • Class 756 (4-car) Flirt – 200 kWh

So have Stadler’s battery manufacturer learned how to squeeze more kWh into the same weight of battery?

In Sparking A Revolution, I talked about Hitachi’s bullish plans for battery-powered trains, in a section called Costs and Power.

In that section, I used Hitachi’s quoted figures, that predicted a five tonne battery could hold a massive 15 MWh in fifteen years time.

If Stadler can get the same energy density in a battery as Hitachi, then their battery trains will have long enough ranges for many applications.

Class 398 Tram-Trains

In Sheffield Region Transport Plan 2019 – Tram-Trains Between Sheffield And Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, I showed this map of the route the trams would take.

I also said this about the tram-trains.

The distance between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster is under twelve miles and has full electrification at both ends.

The Class 399 tram-trains being built with a battery capability for the South Wales Metro to be delivered in 2023, should be able to reach Doncaster.

But there are probably other good reasons to fully electrify between Doncaster and Sheffield, via Meadowhall, Rotherham Central and Rotherham Parkgate.

The major work would probably be to update Rotherham Parkgate to a through station with two platforms and a step-free footbridge.

Currently, trains take twenty-three minutes between Rotherham Central and Doncaster. This is a time, that the tram-trains would probably match.

If you adopt the normal energy consumption of between three and five kWh per vehicle mile on the section without electrification between Rotherham Parkgate and Doncaster, you get a battery size of between 108 and 180 kWh.

It looks to me, that on a quick look, a 128 kWh battery could provide a useful range for one of Stadler’s Class 398/399 tram-trains.

Class 398 Tram-Trains Between Cardiff Bay and Cardiff Queen Street Stations

The distance between these two stations is six chains over a mile,

Adding the extra bit to the flourish might make a round trip between Cardiff Queen Street and The Flourish stations perhaps four miles.

Applying the normal energy consumption of between three and five kWh per vehicle mile on the section without electrification between Cardiff Queen Street and The Flourish, would need a battery size of between 36 and 60 kWh.

Conclusion

The battery sizes seem to fit the routes well.

 

 

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments