The Anonymous Widower

The TruckTrain

Note that I first came across the TruckTrain, when I wrote Innovative Composite Masts Look To Reduce Cost And Increase Efficiency Of Rail Electrification.

I have now decided that the concept could be so revolutionary, that it needs its own post.

The TruckTrain

TruckTrain is a concept with roots in Coventry University that could be off-beam enough to become a new normal.

The TruckTrain Web Site

The TruckTrain web site is the main source of information for the TruckTrain.

A sales leaflet for the TruckTrain can be accessed from the Home page.

The About page on the web site, gives this description of the TruckTrain.

TruckTrains® are short, fast, bi-directional self-propelled fixed freight train formations able to operate at passenger train speeds. Train sets can work in multiple in response to operational and commercial imperatives. Each vehicle is powered and all axles are powered to deliver the acceleration and braking required to achieve and to sustain this demanding level of performance. The initial configuration will use diesel-electric power to ensure freedom of operation over the national network. A hybrid design able to operate on electrified lines has also been developed together with an all-electric variant capable of extremely high-speed performance.

The Specifications page on the web site gives a detailed specification  of the TruckTrain.

These are my thoughts.

The Basic Design Concept

This leaflet on their web site describes the concept.

This visualisation at the bottom of the leaflet shows four TruckTrains forming a train carrying twelve intermodal containers, each of which I suspect are each 20 feet long.

Note.

  1. Each of the four TruckTrains appears to be carrying three intermodal containers.
  2. A 20 foot container is 6.096 metres long, so three are 18.288 metres long.
  3. Each TruckTrain has two bogies and four axles.
  4. The cabs at the two ends of each TruckTrain are different sizes.
  5. The longest carriages in use on the UK rail network are the 26 metre carriages used by Hitachi in their Class 800 and other trains.

I can deduce that with a twenty metre load space, a TruckTrain would accommodate any of the following.

  • Three twenty-foot containers.
  • A forty foot container and a twenty foot container.
  • Large numbers of pallets.
  • Ability to handle roll-cages as regularly used by supermarkets.
  • A curtain-sided load space.

Any of these would give six metres for the two cabs.

This should be enough space for two cabs, but there are other possibilities.

  • The longer cab could have a pantograph on the roof to use 25 KVAC electrification.
  • The space behind the driver cab in the longer cab could be used for power-train gubbins.
  • There must also be space under the load space for more power-train gubbins.

I feel certain, that an electrically-powered TruckTrain is more than a possibility.

The Width And Height Of A TruckTrain

This sentence from the Wikipedia entry for intermodal container, says this about their size.

Intermodal containers exist in many types and a number of standardized sizes, but ninety percent of the global container fleet are so-called “dry freight” or “general purpose” containers – durable closed rectangular boxes, made of rust-retardant Corten steel; almost all 8 feet (2.44 m) wide, and of either 20 or 40 feet (6.10 or 12.19 m) standard length, as defined by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 668:2020. The worldwide standard heights are 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m) and 9 feet 6 inches (2.90 m) – the latter are known as High Cube or Hi-Cube (HC / HQ) containers.

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

2-7 car Freight multiple unit capable of carrying combinations of 6 to 21 TEU of ISO containers, Hi-cube containers or swap bodies or 175 cubic meters of palletised cargo per vehicle with refrigeration available for both variants.

And the sales leaflet for the TruckTrain says this.

Performance and train path profile similar to a Turbostar passenger DMU.

Does that also mean that the width and height of a TruckTrain are no greater than that of a Class 170 train, which are respectively 2.69 and 3.77 metres?

It appears that international standards allow for a wagon floor height of 0.94 metres, which gives the following train heights to the top of the container.

  • Standard container – 3.53 metres
  • High Cube container – 3.84 metres

It will be a tight fit, but companies like Stadler use smaller wheels on some of their UK trains, which also have a height of 3.95 metres

I suspect that with a bit of selective bridge-raising TruckTrains will be able to go anywhere a Turbostar can go.

Connecting TruckTrains Together

The pictures of the TruckTrain on the web-site and the leaflet appears to show a standard multiple unit coupler like a Dellner.

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

2-7 car Freight multiple unit capable of carrying combinations of 6 to 21 TEU of ISO containers.

Is seven the maximum or just a marketing limit?

The technology and software to connect the trains and run them as a formation has been well and truly tested in many multiple units.

Motive Power Of TruckTrains

The About page for the TruckTrain says this.

The initial configuration will use diesel-electric power to ensure freedom of operation over the national network. A hybrid design able to operate on electrified lines has also been developed together with an all-electric variant capable of extremely high-speed performance.

As I said earlier, the pantograph could go on the roof of the longer cab for electric operation and the diesel engine could go under the load, as it does on most diesel multiple units.

I would think though, that one of the best variants would mount batteries under the load space.

Hydrogen would probably be a no-no, as this would limit the availability of the train to serve certain routes.

Performance Of TruckTrains

The Specifications page for the TruckTrain says this.

Maximum speed 140 kph for the inter-modal version, 160 kph for the pallet carrier.

As some of the routes, where these trains would be used is out of Felixstowe, where there is a 100 mph operating speed on the Great Eastern Main Line, I suspect that TruckTrains will sell better with a 100 mph (160 kph) operating speed on electric power.

125 mph Truck Trains

If they were running on a fully electrified route, I suspect the technology is available to run TruckTrains at 125 mph, which would make them ideal for parcels and light freight.

Manufacture Of TruckTrains

I don’t see that there would be many problems in manufacturing TruckTrains.

  • 100 mph (160 kph) bogies are readily available for freight trains.
  • A wagon manufacturer would probably be happy to design and build the chassis.
  • The cabs could possibly be a standard multiple unit design.
  • There shouldn’t be any problems with the power-train.
  • Multiple running and splitting/joining technology is very much proven.

Certified rail components would probably be available for other parts and uses.

Combi TruckTrains

Combi Aircraft is defined in Wikipedia like this.

Combi aircraft in commercial aviation are aircraft that can be used to carry either passengers as an airliner, or cargo as a freighter, and may have a partition in the aircraft cabin to allow both uses at the same time in a mixed passenger/freight combination.

Would a Combi TruckTrain have applications on some routes in the world, where a passenger route carries the occasional container up and down the route?

Several ideas might be possible.

  • The simplest would probably to have a twenty or forty foot passenger module, which could be lifted in and out like a standard intermodal freight container.
  • TruckTrains could also be built with the load space fitted out for passengers, so they became a Class 153 replacement, that could be coupled to a freight TruckTrain.
  • Could a TruckTrain be fitted out as a specialised work train to take workers and equipment to a work site, which had difficult road access?

It could almost be like a rail equivalent of Thunderbird 2.

Point-To-Point TruckTrains

The classic point-to-point train, could be run by someone like Toyota, where the engines for their cars are made in North Wales and the cars are assembled at Burnaston near Derby. I know there is a doubt over the future of Toyota’s engine plant, due to the stopping of manufacture of cars running on fossil fuels, but surely, an appropriate number of TruckTrains shuttling on the route would give advantages over a fleet of trucks, like, speed and reliability.

In the leaflet, they mention that the TruckTrain has been designed to use single-track short-terminals. These would surely be ideal for a company that decides to use TruckTrain as a point-to-point train between an important supplier and their main factory or distribution centre.

TruckTrains Could Use Stations

There has been a lot of talk recently about using major stations as freight terminals at night.

I doubt that a TruckTrain would have any problems using stations.

International TruckTrains

Why not? In Kraft Heinz And Freight Innovation, I talked about an international freight movement, that would be ideal for TruckTrains.

TruckTrains And Ferries

Could we even see the revival of train ferries?

Imagine a terminal at a port in Ireland, which could load and unload containers between standard gauge TruckTrains and trucks.

  • A short length of standard gauge track would lead from the terminal to the quay, so that the TruckTrains could be driven on and off the ferry, either using a shunter or the TruckTrains’ own battery or diesel power.
  • On the other side of the water, the TruckTrain would use the UK railways to get to its destination.

This concept would allow freight to go between most of Western Europe and Ireland with only a transfer to and from trucks at both ends.

It could even be improved with dual-gauge TruckTrains, which might be able to run between Ireland and Spain, through the Channel Tunnel.

Conclusion

I like the concept and I can’t see why it would not be successful worldwide.

 

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Special Weekend Timetable Has Been Put In Place For Lincoln Christmas Market

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

This is the first paragraph.

The timetable has been put in place for Lincoln Christmas Market with direct services from Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.

It looks to be a clever piece of planning, whilst work is carried out on the East Coast Main Line between Doncaster and Peterborough.

  • Services will be diverted onto the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line though Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.
  • Will the trains be using the new tracks at the Werrington dive-under.
  • Nine-car Class 800 bi-mode trains will be used.
  • On the Saturday, there will be two trains per hour (tph) in both directions.
  • Of these trains, five trains per day (tpd)  in both directions will stop at Lincoln Central station.

It does appear that LNER are making the best of a difficult situation.

Passengers going to Lincoln for the Christmas Market will not be disappointed.

Grand Central Trains

Grand Central Trains are also using the diversion route.

Hull Trains

Hull Trains are also using the diversion route.

On the Saturday, there will be five tpd in both directions.

These can be doubled up to ten-car trains if the demand is there.

Lumo Trains

Lumo trains don’t appear to be running.

Conclusion

Network Rail seem to have done a cunning piece of timetabling.

There’ll be trainspotters galore in the centre of Lincoln.

November 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Northern Ends Of The Platforms At Kings Cross Station

These pictures show the Northern ends of the platforms at Kings Cross station.

The two trains are both nine-car Hitachi Class 800 or Class 801 trains and I was standing in line with their noses.

I wonder what is the maximum length of trains that can be handled in these platforms.

  • They can certainly handle ten-car trains, as LNER run these to Leeds.
  • Hitachi have designed the trains, so they can be up to twelve-cars, which are 312 metre long trains.
  • Looking at maps, I suspect that eleven-car trains would be the largest that can be handled.

But surely to maximum the number of passengers handled in the station, the platforms should be able to handle the longest Hitachi trains.

  • Unless, the capacity of an individual train is limited by the gate-lines and Network Rail have said that ten-car trains are the longest allowed.
  • Or would twelve-car trains be two far to walk with lots of luggage.

But ten-car trains would allow Lumo to double-up trains to increase capacity selectively, when perhaps, there is an important sporting event.

So when say the Culcutta Cup is taking place, an early morning train to the match and a late evening return could be doubled to add another four hundred seats.

But the current Lumo timetable only shows just two trains on a Saturday.

  • London King’s Cross – Edinburgh, which leaves at 10:25 and arrives at 14:57.
  • Edinburgh – London King’s Cross, which leaves at 08:49 and arrives at 13:17.

Not very good to go to the rugby or a birthday lunch with your mum.

But realtimetrains reveals two early morning paths allocated to Lumo.

  • London King’s Cross – Edinburgh, which leaves at 05:45 and arrives at 10:06.
  • Edinburgh – London King’s Cross,  which leaves at 05:36 and arrives at 10:04.

So you can get to the other capital, but is there a later last train back?

Oh! Yes there is! And again they are revealed by realtimetrains.

  • London King’s Cross – Edinburgh, which leaves at 18:27 and arrives at 22:56.
  • Edinburgh – London King’s Cross, which leaves at 17:56 and arrives at 22:29.

Is the Southbound service earlier, as Murrayfield is closer to Waverly station, than Twickenham is to King’s Cross?

If the return was fifty pounds and the trains were doubles, that could be revenue of around  £ 40,000. There would be more electricity and track access charges, and they’d need extra train crew, but Lumo would surely be quids in!

Lumo’s financial model has several nice little earners.

 

October 25, 2021 Posted by | Finance, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

LNER’s Middlesbrough And London Service Starts On December 13th

Tucked at the bottom of the article entitled LNER Tickets For Christmas Getaway in Edition 939 of Rail Magazine, there is this paragraph separated from the article by a sole bullet point.

LNER has confirmed that from December 13 it will run a new weekday service between London King’s Cross and Middlesbrough.

It has already made an appearance on Real Time Trains and I can find the following details.

  • There will be one train per day (tpd)
  • Intermediate stops will be at Thornaby and York.
  • The Middlesbrough and London service will leave Middlesbrough from Platform 1 at 07:08 and arrive in King’s Cross at 10:22.
  • The London and Middlesbrough service will leave King’s Cross at 15:25 and arrive in Middlesbrough in Platform 2 at 18:18.

These are my thoughts.

Trains Per Day

One train per day, is obviously an introductory service and like services to Harrogate and Lincoln, the number of services will ramp up to perhaps four or five tpd, if the demand is there and the paths and trains are available.

Journey Times

Consider

  • The Southbound journey takes three hours and fourteen minutes with a time of two hours and nine minutes between York and King’s Cross
  • The Northbound journey takes two hours and fifty-three minutes with a time of one hour and fifty-six minutes between King’s Cross and York.
  • Some services between King’s Cross and York are as fast as one hour and forty-eight minutes.
  • Middlesbrough and York seems to take around 52-58 minutes.
  • These Middlesbrough and York timings are consistent with TransPennine Express.
  • Digital signalling could offer savings in journey time between York and London.

I think it is very likely as the timetable improves, that timings between Middlesbrough and London could be around two hours and forty minutes.

Electrification

The route is fully electrified except for between Middlesbrough and Longlands Junction, where it joins the electrification of the East Coast Main Line, which is a distance of twenty-two miles.

Hitachi are developing a battery-train, which they call the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

Note.

  1. LNER’s current Class 800 trains will probably be able to be converted to this train.
  2. A range on battery power of upwards of forty miles would be expected.

If the range on battery-power can be stretched to perhaps sixty miles, this train should be capable of serving Middlesbrough without the need for any extra charging at the terminus.

I am sure Hitachi would like to see their battery-electric trains running between King’s Cross and Middlesbrough, as it would be an ideal route on which to show the trains to prospective customers, given that their factory is at Newton Aycliffe.

Conclusion

This could be good demonstration battery-electric service for Hitachi and LNER.

 

September 12, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

LNER To Serve Cleethorpes

Under the proposed new LNER timetable, which will start in May 2022, there will be a new train service between London Kings Cross and Cleethorpes.

According to this article on the Lincolnite, which is entitled Direct Cleethorpes To London Rail Link ‘Close’ To Getting Go Ahead, there will be one service per day.

It will leave Cleethorpes at 06:24 and Grimsby Town at 06:32 before arriving at King’s Cross at 09:25.

The return will leave King’s Cross at 16:10 and arrive in Grimsby Town at 19:05 and Cleethorpes at 19:20.

The August 2021 Edition of Modern Railways makes these points about the service.

  • The larger Azuma fleet makes this extension possible.
  • ,A more regular service would require additional trains.
  • LNER is examining whether other intermediate stations east of Lincoln could be served.

I would have thought, that Market Rasen station could be a possibility for an intermediate stop.

I have a few thoughts.

Extra Services

This single service is ideal for though living in Lincolnshire, but it doesn’t suit those people, who perhaps need to go to the area from London for business or family reasons.

  • Lincoln appears to get around five or six trains per day in each direction to and from King’s Cross.
  • Services are roughly one train per two hours.
  • I suspect the Lincoln service can be run by a single train, that shuttles between King’s Cross and Lincoln stations.

I believe, that Cleethorpes needs at least a pair of services to and from London, so that travellers can spend a day in North-East Lincolnshire.

  • This would probably need more trains.
  • Services would go via Lincoln and Lincoln may get extra services to London.
  • Selected services could stop at intermediate stations, like Market Rasen.

There are surely possibilities for a integrated timetable between King’s Cross and Lincoln, Market Rasen, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes.

Battery-Electric Operation

Consider.

  • LNER’s Class 800 trains are prime candidates for conversion to Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Trains, so they can run away from the overhead wires of the East Coast Main Line to places like Lincoln, by the use of battery power.
  • These battery trains could charge using the electrification between King’s Cross and Newark North Gate stations.
  • The distance between Lincoln Central station and the East Coast Main Line is 16.6 miles.
  • In Plans To Introduce Battery Powered Trains In Scotland, I quote Hitachi, as saying they expect a sixty mile range for battery trains.

I am sure, that these trains would have sufficient range on battery to be able to work King’s Cross and Lincoln services without using diesel.

But could the Hitachi trains reach Cleethorpes with some well-positioned charging?

  • The distance between Lincoln and Cleethorpes stations is 47.2 miles.
  • In Solving The Electrification Conundrum, I describe Hitachi’s solution to running battery-electric trains, by using well-placed short lengths of 25 KVAC overhead electrification controlled by an intelligent power system.

With a range of sixty miles on batteries and charging at Lincoln and Cleethorpes stations, it would appear that battery electric operation of Class 800 trains between King’s Cross and Cleethorpes is a distinct possibility.

Lincoln Station

Lincoln station has three operational through platforms and I suspect all would need to be electrified, so that trains could be charged as they passed through.

These are distances from Lincoln station.

  • Cleethorpes – 47.2 miles
  • Doncaster – 36.9 miles
  • Nottingham – 33.9 miles
  • Peterborough – 56.9 miles
  • Sheffield – 48.5 miles

It does appear that if Lincoln station were to be electrified, most services from the city could be run using battery-electric trains.

Cleethorpes Station

This picture shows Cleethorpes station with two TransPennine Express Class 185 trains in the station.

Note.

  1. The Class 185 trains are diesel, but could be replaced by Hitachi Class 802 trains, which could be converted to battery-electric operation.
  2. Cleethorpes and Doncaster are 52.1 miles apart, which could be in range of Hitachi’s battery-electric trains.
  3. It doesn’t look to be too challenging to electrify a couple of platforms to charge the battery-electric trains.
  4. Cleethorpes station could surely charge both the LNER and the TransPennine Express trains.
  5. The Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber service which is under fifty miles for a round trip could also be replaced with battery-electric trains.

Cleethorpes station could be totally served by battery-electric trains.

Battery-Electric Trains For Lincolnshire

At the present time, there is a surplus of good redundant electrical multiple units and the rolling stock leasing companies are looking for places where they can be used.

Porterbrook are already looking to convert their fleet of Class 350 trains to battery-electric operation and I am certain, that now that Hitachi and others have solved the charging problem, a lot more trains will be converted.

Most would appear to be four-car 100 mph trains, which will be very convenient and should fit most platforms.

Conclusion

Running battery-electric Class 800 trains to Lincoln, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes could be the start of decarbonisation of Lincolnshire’s railways.

What would battery-electric trains do for the economy of Lincolnshire?

 

 

 

August 7, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Approaching Kings Cross – 5th July 2021

I took these pictures approaching Kings Cross.

Reports say most of the work of the remodelling is now complete. Although, it did look to me that in places more tracks could be laid.

The Length Of The Long Platforms At Kings Cross

This repeat of the last picture in the gallery shows the length of the nine long platforms.

Note.

  1. The train is in Platform 3.
  2. The train is an eight-car Class 700 train.
  3. Eight-car units are 162 metres long.
  4. Twelve-car units are 242.6 metres long.

Platform 3 is obviously long enough to take the following trains.

This Google Map shows the ends of the platforms at Kings Cross.

Note.

  1. The long platforms at the right are 2 and 3.
  2. Platform 2 and 3 are wide.
  3. Two LNER Azumas are in Platforms 5 and 6.

It looks to me that whilst all platforms can probably handle the standard British Rail length of 240 metres, those on the right may be able to handle longer trains. But what trains? These are my thoughts.

Longer LNER Azumas

This document on the Hitachi Rail web site is entitled Development of Class 800/801 High-speed Rolling Stock for UK Intercity Express Programme.

The document says that Class 80x trains have a sophisticated Train Control and Management System (TCMS).

The document says that this is one of the functions of the TCMS.

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

I would assume that with the purchase of extra cars, that it might be possible to lengthen trains to up to twelve cars.

Lengths would be as follows.

  • Ten-car Class 80x train – 260 metres.
  • Eleven-car Class 80x train – 276 metres.
  • Twelve-car Class 80x train – 312 metres.

To add extra capacity on the routes to Leeds and Edinburgh services, there must be a balance between these factors.

  • The cost of extra cars.
  • The cost of platform lengthening.

There must of course be space for any platform lengthening.

It would seem to me, that common sense should allow twelve-car trains to be handled at King’s Cross, as this must be one of the best ways of adding capacity to East Coast Main Line services.

Caledonian Sleeper

The Caledonian Sleeper doesn’t normally run into King’s Cross, but during the rebuilding Euston for High Speed Two, it may be necessary to provide an alternative platform.

Unfortunately, the sixteen-car Caledonian sleeper trains are 352 metres long. So it would appear that Kings Cross would not be a temporary alternative.

But given the amount of money being invested in sleeper trains in Europe by the likes of Midnight Trains and NightJet, I can see that the Caledonian Sleeper might have another problem – success and the need for more capacity.

So I wouldn’t rule out an East Coast Main Line sleeper train between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

It might call at Stevenage, Newcastle and Berwick to widen its passenger base, just as the current sleeper calls at Watford, Carlisle and Carstairs.

The train could be extended to Aberdeen, to simplify services in Scotland.

Obviously, traffic and finance would decide, but I wouldn’t rule out the Caledonian Sleeper running to and from King’s Cross for a few years yet.

A Night Light Freight Terminal

In Is This The Shape Of Freight To Come?, I wrote about the new generation of fast electric freight trains, based on redundant electric multiple units.

  • If you look at Real Time Trains, you will find that few trains use King’s Cross station between two and five in the morning.
  • Platforms can take a twelve-car version of these electric freight trains.
  • The new platforms are wide and level.
  • Local delivery could use electric vehicles and bikes.

I think King’s Cross has possibilities for handling goods like food, parcels and shop supplies.

The Short Platforms At Kings Cross

When I was a child, King’s Cross had four short suburban platforms, where N2 steam tank engines hauled suburban services in and out of the station.

The suburban platforms have now been reduced to two platforms, that fit in with the current uses of the station.

  • The two platforms are numbered 9 and 10.
  • They can handle an eight-car Class 700 train, which is 162 metres long.
  • They can handle a five-car Class 800 train, which is 130 metres long.
  • Some five-car services run by the new Hitachi trains use these platforms.

These pictures show the platforms.

Note.

  1. The platforms are wide.
  2. The picture of the Azuma in Platform 9 was taken before the centre track was removed recently.
  3. Today, one LNER Azuma departed from Platform 9 to go to Lincoln, but both platforms were busy with Great Northern services to Cambridge, Ely and Kings Lynn.

I do wonder if the platforms could be used for light freight, during the night.

Conclusion

King’s Cross is not just one of the UK’s finest railway stations, which is recognised by its Grade I Listed status, but it is now moving towards an efficient, high-capacity station that works around the clock!

 

 

July 6, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

800009 – John Charles

On my way to Wales on Tuesday, I travelled in the Class 800 train, that is numbered 800009 and named after the great Welsh footballer; John Charles at one end.

I actually saw him play for Leeds in a match against Spurs at White Hart Lane. Leeds played in a blue kit in those days and I am fairly sure John Charles played up front.

I suspect, it likely, that it must have been the  1956-57 season as it would be the only season where Leeds were in the First Division, before John Charles left in 1957 to go to Juventus.

I wonder how many people, who saw John Charles play, have actually ridden in the train named after him?

It was good to see that Great Western Railway have also put his Italian nickname; Il Gigante Buono on the train.

 

June 11, 2021 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hitachi Class 800 Train Or Pendelino?

I have had several day trips on hot days on Hitachi Class 800 trains or similar since the pandemic started to places like Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Grantham, Hull and Westbury.

I’ve done a couple of trips in Pendelinos or Class 390 trains to Birmingham and Liverpool.

In addition, I’ve taken a couple of trips on other trains to Corby, Ipswich, Sheffield and Southampton.

It must have been sometime in 2018, when I took one of the first Pendelinos to Blackpool after that station was first electrified.

It was a journey on which I first noticed being unwell on a Pendelino. I travelled in First and remember complaining to the steward and said that some taff didn’t like the trains after their recent air-conditioning upgrade.

Perhaps, Virgin Trains chose a system that would be cheaper to run and it is not on a par with the quality systems used by Bombardier and Hitachi?

I have been testing the atmosphere in trains like a Class 345, 378 or 800 and the temperature is usually 25-26 °C and a humidity around 40-60 %. I haven’t tested a Pendolino yet!

I must say, I’ve never ended up in hospital after a trip out of London, except after a recent trip on a Pendelino to Birmingham, that I wrote about in A Mysterious Attack On My Body.

In that post, I also said this about the Pendelinos.

I had travelled between Euston  and Wolverhampton on my least favourite trains – Alstom’s Class 390 trains.

    • The seats don’t align well with the windows.
    • The trains are cramped because of all the tilting mechanism.

These trains must a nightmare for anybody taller than my 1.70 metres or heavier than my sixty-two kilos.

But the biggest problem of these Pendolino trains is that Alstom updated the air-conditioning a few years ago for Virgin a few years ago and I find the air inside too dry.

So in future, I won’t be travelling on a Pendelino, unless I travel in First!

I also can’t wait until Avanti West Coast get new Hitachi Class 807 trains on the Euston and Liverpool route!

June 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On Train Times Between London Paddington And Cardiff Central

I went to Cardiff from Paddington on Tuesday.

These were the journey details.

  • Distance – Paddington and Cardiff – 145.1 miles
  • Time – Paddington and Cardiff – 110 minutes – 79.1 mph
  • Time – Cardiff and Paddington- 114 minutes – 76.4 mph

There were four stops. Each seemed to take between two and three minutes.

I do feel though, that the trains are still running to a timetable, that could be run by an InterCity 125.

I watched the Speedview app on my phone for a lot of both journeys.

  • There was quite an amount of 125 mph running on the route.
  • Some stretches of the route seemed to be run at a line speed of around 90 mph.
  • The Severn Tunnel appears to have a 90 mph speed.
  • Coming back to London the train ran at 125 mph until the Wharncliffe Viaduct.

These are my thoughts.

Under Two Hour Service

The current service is under two hours, which is probably a good start.

Improving The Current Service

It does strike me that the current timetable doesn’t take full advantage of the performance of the new Hitachi Class 80x trains.

  • Could a minute be saved at each of the four stops?
  • Could more 125 mph running be introduced?
  • Could the trains go faster through the Severn Tunnel?
  • If two trains per hour (tph) were to be restored, would that allow a more efficient stopping pattern?
  • The route has at least four tracks between Paddington and Didcot Parkway and the Severn Tunnel and Cardiff.

I would reckon that times of between one hour and forty minutes and one hour and forty-five minutes are possible.

These times correspond to average speeds of between 87 and 83 mph.

Application of In-Cab Digital Signalling

Currently, a typical train leaving Paddington completes the 45.7 miles between Hanwell and Didcot Parkway with a stop at Reading in 28 minutes, which is an average speed of 97.9 mph.

This busy section of the route is surely an obvious one for In-cab digital signalling., which would allow speeds of up to 140 mph.

  • Services join and leave the route on branches to Bedwyn, Heathrow, Oxford and Taunton.
  • The Heathrow services are run by 110 mph Class 387 trains.
  • There are slow lines for local services and freight trains.

If an average speed of 125 mph could be attained between Hanwell and Didcot Parkway, this would save six minutes on the time.

Would any extra savings be possible on other sections of the route, by using in-cab digital signalling?

I suspect on the busy section between Bristol Parkway and Cardiff Central stations several minutes could be saved.

Would A Ninety Minute Time Between Paddington And Cardiff Be Possible?

To handle the 145.1 miles between Paddington and Cardiff Central would require an average speed including four stops of 96.7 mph.

This average speed is in line with the current time between Hanwell and Didcot Parkway with a stop at Reading, so I suspect that with improvements to the timetable, that a ninety minute service between Paddington and Cardiff Central is possible.

It may or may not need in-cab digital signalling.

My Control Engineer’s nose says that this signalling upgrade will be needed.

Would A Sixty Minute Time Between Paddington And Cardiff Be Possible?

A journey time of an hour between Paddington and Cardiff Central would surely be the dream of all politicians the Great Western Railway and many of those involved with trains.

To handle the 145.1 miles between Paddington and Cardiff Central would require an average speed including four stops of 145.1 mph.

It would probably be difficult to maintain a speed a few mph above the trains current maximum speed for an hour.

  • How many minutes would be saved with perhaps a single intermediate stop at Bristol Parkway station?
  • Perhaps the Cardiff service could be two tph in ninety minutes and one tph in sixty minutes.
  • Full in-cab digital signalling would certainly be needed.
  • Faster trains with a maximum speed of up to 155-160 mph would certainly be needed.
  • There may be a need for some extra tracks in some places on the route.

A journey time of an hour will be a few years coming, but I feel it is an achievable objective.

The Extended Route To Swansea

Cardiff Central and Swansea is a distance of 45.7 miles

A typical service takes 55 minutes with three stops, at an average speed of 49.8 mph.

This would be an ideal route for a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which is described in this Hitachi infographic.

It would probably be needed to be charged at Swansea station, to both enable return to Cardiff Central or extend the service to the West of Swansea.

Conclusion

Big improvements in journey times between Paddington and Cardiff Central are possible.

 

June 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What Would Be The Ultimate Range Of A Nine-Car Class 800 Train?

In Thoughts On Batteries On A Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, I had a section, which was called The Ultimate Battery Train.

I said this.

I think it would be possible to put together a nine car battery-electric train with a long range.

  • It would be based based on Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train technology, which would be applied to a Class 800 or Class 802 train.
  • It would have two driver cars without batteries.
  • It would have seven intermediate cars with 600 kWh batteries.
  • It would have a total battery capacity of 4200 kWh.
  • The train would be optimised for 100 mph running.
  • My estimate in How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 Or 100 mph?,   said it would need 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile to cruise at 100 mph.

That would give a range of over 200 miles.

If the batteries were only 500 kWh, the range would be 178 miles.

Aberdeen, Inverness, Penzance and Swansea here we come.

Note that I have ignored energy lost in the station stops.

Energy Use And Recovery In A Station Stop

The station stop will be handled something like this.

The train will be happily trundling along at 100 mph.

At the right moment, the driver will apply the brakes and the train will stop in the station.

With trains like these Hitachi trains and many others, braking is performed by turning the traction motors into generators and the kinetic energy of the train will be turned into electricity.

Normally with this regenerative braking, the electricity is returned to the track, but these trains are not running on electrified track, so the electricity will be stored in the traction batteries on the train. This is often done in battery-electric road vehicles.

After the stop, the train will use battery power to accelerate back to 100 mph.

What kinetic energy will a Class 800 train have at 100 mph?

  • The basic weight of a nine-car Class 800 train is 438 tonnes.
  • I am assuming that the batteries are no heavier than the diesel engines they replace.
  • The trains hold 611 passengers.
  • I will assume each weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies, which gives a weight of 48.9 tonnes.
  • This gives a total train weight of 486.9 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives a kinetic energy of 135.145 kWh.

When I first saw figures like this, I felt I had something wrong, but after checking time and time again, they still appear.

At each stop a proportion of the train’s kinetic energy will not be recovered.

These figures show the extra energy needed at each stop with different regenerative braking efficiencies.

  • 100 % – 0 kWh
  • 90 % – 13.51 kWh
  • 80 % – 27.03 kWh
  • 70 % – 40.54 kWh
  • 60 % – 54.06 kWh

Obviously, the more efficient the regenerative braking, the less energy that needs to be added at each stop.

Edinburgh And Aberdeen

I am using Edinburgh and Aberdeen as an example.

Consider.

  • I am assuming the train is cruising at 100 mph along the route.
  • There are seven stations to the North of Haymarket station.
  • If I assume 60 % regenerative braking efficiency, then each stop will need 54.06 kWh of electricity from the batteries.
  • This gives a total of 378.4 kWh for the stops. Let’s call it 400 kWh.
  • This effectively reduces the usable battery size to 3800 kWh
  • Take off 200 kWh to make sure there’s always space for regenerative braking energy and useable battery size is 3600 kWh.

This can then be divided by the number of cars and 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile, to get the range.

This gives a range of over 180 miles.

With 500 kWh batteries the distance is just under 180 miles.

It certainly appears that a battery-electric train with seven 500-600 kWh batteries should be able to run between Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Obviously, charging would be needed at Aberdeen.

What Would Be The Ultimate Range Of A Five-Car Class 800 Train?

What kinetic energy will a five-car Class 800 train have at 100 mph?

  • The basic weight of a five-car Class 800 train is 243 tonnes.
  • I am assuming that the batteries are no heavier than the diesel engines they replace.
  • The trains hold 302 passengers.
  • I will assume each weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies, which gives a weight of 25.6 tonnes.
  • This gives a total train weight of 268.6 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives a kinetic energy of 74.6 kWh.

I will now use Edinburgh and Aberdeen as an example.

Consider.

  • I am assuming the train is cruising at 100 mph along the route.
  • I am assuming that the three intermediate cars have 600 kWh batteries.
  • There are seven stations to the North of Haymarket station.
  • If I assume 60 % regenerative braking efficiency, then each stop will need 29.84 kWh of electricity from the batteries.
  • This gives a total of 208.9 kWh for the stops. Let’s call it 210 kWh.
  • This effectively reduces the usable battery size to 1590 kWh
  • Take off 100 kWh to make sure there’s always space for regenerative braking energy and useable battery size is 1490 kWh.

This can then be divided by the number of cars and 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile, to get the range.

This gives a range of over 136 miles.

With 500 kWh batteries the distance is around 110 miles.

It looks to me, that from these calculations that a nine-car train with battery packs in all the intermediate cars has a longer range than a five-car train with battery packs in all the intermediate cars.

What Would Be The Range Of a Five-Car Class 803 Train Equipped With Batteries?

What kinetic energy will a five-car Class 803 train have at 100 mph?

  • The basic weight of a five-car Class 803 train is 228.5 tonnes.
  • Three 600 kWh batteries could add 18 tonnes
  • The trains hold 400 passengers.
  • I will assume each weighs 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies, which gives a weight of 32 tonnes.
  • This gives a total train weight of 278.5 tonnes.

Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, gives a kinetic energy of 77.3 kWh.

As before, I will now use Edinburgh and Aberdeen as an example.

Consider.

  • I am assuming the train is cruising at 100 mph along the route.
  • I am assuming that the three intermediate cars have 600 kWh batteries.
  • There are seven stations to the North of Haymarket station.
  • If I assume 60 % regenerative braking efficiency, then each stop will need 30.92 kWh of electricity from the batteries.
  • This gives a total of 216.4 kWh for the stops. Let’s call it 220 kWh.
  • This effectively reduces the usable battery size to 1580 kWh
  • Take off 100 kWh to make sure there’s always space for regenerative braking energy and useable battery size is 1480 kWh.

This can then be divided by the number of cars and 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile, to get the range.

This gives a range of over 135 miles.

With 500 kWh batteries the distance is around 110 miles.

 

June 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment