The Anonymous Widower

Northern Powerhouse Rail – Significant Upgrades Of The East Coast Main Line From Leeds To Newcastle (Via York And Darlington) And Restoration Of The Leamside Line

In this article on Transport for the North, which is entitled Northern Powerhouse Rail Progress As Recommendations Made To Government, one of the recommendations proposed for Northern Powerhouse Rail is significant upgrades to the East Coast Main Line and reopening of the Leamside Line.

Northern Powerhouse Rail’s Objective For The Leeds and Newcastle Route

Wikipedia, other sources and my calculations say this about the trains between Leeds and Newcastle.

  • The distance between the two stations is 106 miles
  • The current service takes around 85 minutes and has a frequency of three trains per hour (tph)
  • This gives an average speed of 75 mph for the fastest journey.
  • The proposed service with Northern Powerhouse Rail will take 58 minutes and have a frequency of four tph.
  • This gives an average speed of 110 mph for the journey.

This last figure of 110 mph, indicates to me that a faster route will be needed.

These are example average speeds on the East Coast Main Line.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster – 156 miles – 98 minutes – 95.5 mph
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds – 186 miles – 133 minutes – 84 mph
  • London Kings Cross and York  – 188.5 miles – 140 minutes – 81 mph
  • London Kings Cross and Hull – 205.3 miles – 176 minutes – 70 mph
  • York and Newcastle – 80 miles – 66 minutes – 73 mph

I also predicted in Thoughts On Digital Signalling On The East Coast Main Line, that with full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling and other improvements, that both London Kings Cross and Leeds and York would be two-hour services, with Hull a two-and-a-half service.

  • London Kings Cross and Leeds in two hours would be an average speed of 93 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and York in two hours would be an average speed of 94.2 mph.
  • London Kings Cross and Hull in two-and-a-half hours would be an average speed of 94.2 mph.

I am fairly certain, that to achieve the required 110 mph average between Leeds and Newcastle to meet Northern Powerhouse Rail’s objective of four tph in under an hour will need, at least the following.

  • Full digital in-cab ERTMS signalling
  • Completion of the electrification between Leeds and York.
  • Ability to run at up to 140 mph in places.
  • Significant track upgrades.

It could also eliminate diesel traction on passenger services on the route.

High Speed Two’s Objective For The York and Newcastle Route

At the present time, High Speed Two is not planning to run any direct trains between Leeds and Newcastle, so I’ll look at its proposed service between York and Newcastle instead.

  • Current Service – 80 miles – 66 minutes – 73 mph
  • High Speed Two – 80 miles – 52 minutes – 92 mph

Note.

  1. High Speed Two will be running three tph between York and Newcastle.
  2. Northern Powerhouse Rail have an objective of 58 minutes for Leeds and Newcastle.

High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail do not not have incompatible ambitions.

Current Direct Leeds And Newcastle Services

These are the current direct Leeds and Newcastle services.

  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh
  • TransPennine Express – 1 tph – Manchester Airport and Newcastle.
  • CrossCountry – 1 tph – Plymouth and Edinburgh

Timings appear to be between 81 and 91 minutes.

What Would A Leeds And Newcastle In Under An Hour Do For London Kings Cross And Edinburgh Timings?

This question has to be asked, as a 58 minute time between Leeds and Newcastle will mean that timings between York and Newcastle must reduce.

York And Newcastle at various average speeds give the following times.

  • 73 mph (current average) – 66 minutes
  • 80 mph – 60 minutes
  • 90 mph – 53 minutes
  • 92 mph – 52 minutes (High Speed Two promise)
  • 100 mph – 48 minutes
  • 110 mph – 44 minutes

If any speed over 90 mph can be averaged between York and Newcastle, this means that with a London and York time of under two hours the following times are possible.

  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle in under three hours. – High Speed Two are promising two hours and seventeen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh in under four hours. – High Speed Two are promising three hours and forty minutes.

Consider.

  • An InterCity 225 achieved a time of under three-and-a-half hours between London and Edinburgh. in 1991.
  • That record journey was at an average speed of 112 mph.
  • There must be opportunities for speed improvements North of Newcastle.
  • Train and signalling technology is improving.
  • High Speed Two is promising three hours and forty minutes between London and Edinburgh.

I can see a fascinating rivalry between trains on High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line, developing, about who can be faster between London and Edinburgh.

Current Projects Between Leeds And Newcastle

These projects are in planning or under way on the section of the East Coast Main Line between Leeds and Newcastle.

Phase 2 Of The East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade

Phase 1 between London and Doncaster should have been completed, if the covids allowed and now work can be concentrated on Phase 2 to the North of Doncaster.

This page on the Network Rail web site describes the project. These paragraphs are the introduction to Phase 2.

Phase 2 of the project will involve the installation of feeder and substations along the route, capacity upgrades, new 132kv connection at Hambleton junction and upgrades to existing power supply connections.

The second phase of the project is currently in design stages and dates for carrying out the work are still being finalised.

Phase 2 will be delivering upgraded power to the East Coast Mainline railway between Bawtry and Edinburgh.

This project may not improve speeds on the railway, but it will certainly improve reliability and reduce the use of diesel power.

I do wonder, that as the reliability of the East Coast Main Line increases, this will reduce the need for the electric Class 801 trains, to have diesel engines for when the power supply fails.

It is known, that the Class 803 trains, that are under construction for East Coast Trains, will have only a small battery for emergency use.

A sensible weight saving would surely improve the acceleration and deceleration of the trains.

York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme

This page of the Network Rail web site, describes the project. These paragraphs introduce the project.

Our work between York and Church Fenton is in preparation for the Transpennine Upgrade, which will provide more capacity and faster journeys between Manchester Victoria and York, via Leeds and Huddersfield.

The five mile stretch between Church Fenton and Colton Junction – the major junction where trains from Leeds join the East Coast Main Line towards York – sees over 100 trains each day, with up to one freight or passenger train passing through every five minutes. This is one of the busiest stretches of railway in the North.

The work will include.

  • Modernising the signalling.
  • Replacing about five miles of track between Holgate (York) and Colton Junction.
  • Completing the eleven miles of electrification between York and Church Fenton stations.

I estimate that when the project is completed, there will be only around thirteen miles of track without electrification between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill TMD in Leeds.

The route between Church Fenton and Garforth stations, is shown in this map clipped from High Speed Two.

Note.

  1. York is just off the North-East corner of the map.
  2. Garforth is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Shown in orange is the new route of High Speed Two from East of Leeds towards York.
  4. Shown in blue is existing tracks, that will be used to take High Speed Two Trains to York and further North.
  5. The rail line running North-South on the edge of the map is the Selby Diversion, which opened in 1983 and  was built to avoid possible subsidence from the Selby coalfield.
  6. The pre-Selby Diversion route of the East Coast Main Line goes South from the join of the blue and orange sections of High Speed Two.
  7. At Church Fenton station, this route splits, with one route going West through Micklefield, East Garforth and Garforth stations to Neville Hill TMD and Leeds.
  8. The main road going North-South is the A1 (M).

It seems to me, that High Speed Two’s and Northern Powerhouse Rail’s plans in this area, are still being developed.

  • There has been no decision on the electrification between Church Fenton and Neville Hill TMD.
  • How do Northern Powerhouse Rail trains go between Leeds and Hull?
  • How do Northern Powerhouse Rail trains go between Leeds and York?
  • How do High Speed Two trains go between Leeds and York?

I suspect, when the full plans are published, it will answer a lot of questions.

Darlington Station Remodelling

A remodelling of Darlington station is under consideration.

I outlined this in £100m Station Revamp Could Double Local Train Services.

This was my conclusion in the related article.

I think that this will happen.

    • The Tees Valley Line trains will be greatly improved by this project.
    • Trains will generally run at up to 140 mph on the East Coast Main Line, under full digital control, like a slower High Speed Two.
    • There will be two high speed platforms to the East of the current station, where most if not all of the High Speed Two, LNER and other fast services will stop.
    • There could be up to 15 tph on the high speed lines.

With full step-free access between the high speed and the local platforms in the current station, this will be a great improvement.

It will create a major interchange, where high speed trains from High Speed Two, LNER and Northern Powerhouse Rail will do the following.

  • Approach at 140 mph or more.
  • Perform a controlled stop in the station.
  • Drop and pick-up passengers.
  • Accelerate back up to linespeed.

The station stop will be highly-automated and monitored by the driver.

One of the objectives would be to save time for all fast trains.

Capacity And Other Problems Between Leeds And Newcastle Listed In Wikipedia

These problems are listed in a section called Capacity Problems in the Wikipedia entry for the East Coast Main Line.

The North Throat Of York Station Including Skelton Bridge Junction

On the thirty mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line, between York and Northallerton stations, the route is mainly four tracks.

But three miles North of York there is Skelton Bridge over the River Ouse, which is shown in this Google Map.

Zooming closer, I clipped this second Google Map.

Note.

  1. There are actually two bridges over the River Ouse.
  2. The East bridge is a double-track bridge and is the original stone arch bridge.
  3. The West bridge was added later and I suspect has little architectural merit.
  4. The tracks on both sides of the bridge are extremely complicated.

If you look at the timings, trains seem to take one of two timings between York and Northallerton.

  • 17-18 minutes, which is almost an average speed of 100 mph.
  • 27 minutes, which is 67 mph.

Incidentally, one of Drax’s long biomass trains managed a time of 27 minutes.

Would going faster save any minutes?

  • A 110 mph average would give a time of 16.4 minutes
  • A 120 mph average would give a time of 15 minutes
  • A 125 mph average would give a time of 14.4 minutes
  • A 140 mph average would give a time of 12.9 minutes

On the face of it, it doesn’t appear that there are very large time savings, to be achieved.

On the other hand, if all trains can pass through Skelton Bridge and its complicated junction, without slowing, delays will be minimised and timetables can be faster.

But there is an anomaly in all the express trains that pass through York station. All stop, except those planned for East Coast Trains. In fact, their trains won’t stop between Stevenage and Newcastle.

The obvious solution to the Skelton Bridge problem, is to do what British Rail didn’t have the courage to do, when they electrified the East Coast Main Line in the 1980s. And that is to demolish the bridge and build a stylish modern four-track bridge!

It would eliminate many of the things, that could go wrong and would surely improve reliability. This could help to maintain a higher operating speed.

But would it be allowed by the Planning Authorities and English Heritage?

Hopefully, it doesn’t matter!

  • I am a Control Engineer and mathematical modeller, who has programmed some immensely complex systems in the last fifty-five years.
  • I have also flown light aircraft on instruments for many hours, where you control the plane according to what Air Traffic Controllers and the instruments tell you.

My experience tells me that, it would be possible to control a busy junction, like Skelton Bridge safely, by a well-programmed computer system helping the driver, arrive at the junction at the right time to go straight through.

I also believe that if modern in-cab digital ERTMS signalling can handle twenty-four tph on Thameslink going to and from scores of stations, then it can handle Skelton Bridge Junction.

In Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?, I proposed a similar solution to the problem at Newark.

Use Of The Leamside Line

Wikipedia says this about capacity to the South of Newcastle.

South of Newcastle to Northallerton (which is also predominately double track), leading to proposals to reopen the Leamside line to passenger and freight traffic.

I could have included it in the previous section, but as it such a important topic, it probably deserves its own section.

Looking at maps, reopening is more than a a possibility. Especially, as reopening is proposed by Northern Powerhouse Rail and mentioned in the title of this post.

I discussed the Leamside Line in detail in Boris Johnson Backs Station Opening Which Could See Metro Link To County Durham, which I wrote in June this year.

These are some extra thoughts, that update the original post.

Ferryhill Station

I was prompted to write the related post, by something Boris Johnson said at PMQs and it was mainly about Ferryhill station.

In the latest copy of this document on the Government web site, which is entitled Restoring Your Railway: Successful Bids, a new station at Ferryhill has been successful. Another bid in the same area to restore rail services between Consett and Newcastle has also been successful.

This map shows the East Coast Main Line as it goes North South between Durham and Darlington.

Note.

  1. Ferryhill is in the South-West of the map opposite the sand-pits in the South-East
  2. The East Coast Main Line runs North-South between the village an d the sand-pits.
  3. Follow the railway North and you come to Tursdale, where there is a junction between the East Coast Main Line and the Leamside Line.
  4. The East Coast Main Line goes North-Westerly towards Durham and Newcastle.
  5. The Leamside Line goes North to Washington and Newcastle.
  6. There is also the Stillington Freight Line going South-Easterly to Sedgefield and Stockton from Ferryhill.

Could Ferryhill be a useful interchange to local services connecting to Newcastle, Sunderland and Washington in the North and Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Stockton in the South?

The Leamside Line As An East Coast Main Line Diversion

I didn’t discuss using the line as a diversion for the East Coast Main Line in my original post, but if the infrastructure is to the required standard, I don’t see why it can’t take diverted traffic, even if it is also used for the Tyne and Wear Metro.

It should be remembered, that to create extra capacity on the East Coast Main Line between Peterborough and Doncaster, the route of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway, was upgraded. I first wrote about this line six years ago in Project Managers Having Fun In The East and the route seems to be working well. It is now being augmented by the addition of the £200 million Werrington Dive Under. See Werrington Dive-Under – 8th November 2018, for more details of this project, which will speed up all trains on the East Coast Main Line.

After the undoubted success of the upgrade  of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway, surely the team responsible for it, should be given the task of devising a similar plan for the Leamside Line, to take pressure off the East Coast Main Line between Newcastle and Northallerton.

Sharing The Leamside Line

The Tyne and Wear Metro also has its eyes on the Leamside Line for an extension.

It should be noted that the Extension To Wearside, uses the Karlsruhe Model to allow the Metro trains to share with freight and other passenger trains.

The new Stadler trains will probably make this even easier, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reopened Leamside Line handling a varied assortment of trains of all types.

The Sunderland Example

Sunderland station is a station, which has both Metro and mainline services from the same platforms.

Could a station at Washington be built to similar principles, so that some long distance services to Newcastle used this station?

A Terminal Station On The Leamside Line

Newcastle station may be a Grade One Listed station, but it is built on a curve and would be a nightmare to expand with more platforms.

Sunderland station is already used as a terminal for London trains, so would it be sensible to provide a terminal at somewhere like Washington?

My Final Thought  On The Leamside Line

Reopen it!

A Few Random Final Thoughts

This post has got me thinking.

Newcastle Station Capacity

I have seen reports over the years that Newcastle station, is lacking in capacity.

  • There could be extra services, as High Speed Two is proposing two tph from London Euston stations and one tph from Birmingham Curzon Street station.
  • There may be extra services because of Northern Powerhouse Rail, which has an objective of four tph from Leeds station.
  • There may be extra services because of new services to Ashington and Blyth.
  • There may be extra services because of new services to Consett.

Note.

  1. The first two services could use two hundred metre long trains.
  2. Some platforms can accept 234 metre long Class 800 trains.
  3. The last two services might use the Metro platforms.

As the station has twelve platforms, I feel with careful operation, that the station will have enough capacity.

This Google Map shows the station.

And this second Google Map shows the station, its position with relation to the Tyne and the lines rail routes to and from the station.

Note.

  1. Trains from the South arrive over the King Edward VII Bridge and enter Newcastle station from the West.
  2. Trains from England to Scotland go through the station from West to East and then go straight on and turn North for Berwick and Scotland.
  3. Next to the King Edward VII Bridge is the blue-coloured Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which takes the Tyne and Wear Metro across the Tyne, where it uses two platforms underneath Newcastle station.
  4. The next bridge is the High Level Bridge, which connects the East end of the station to the rail network, South of the Tyne. It connects to the Durham Coast Line to Teeside and the Leamside Line.

History has delivered Newcastle a comprehensive track layout through and around Newcastle station.

  • Services from the East can be run back-to-back with services from the West.
  • The Metro and its two underground platforms removes a lot of traffic from the main station.
  • There are seven through platforms, of which at least three are over two hundred metres long.
  • There are four West-facing bay platforms and one facing East.

But most intriguingly, it looks like it will be possible for trains to loop through the station from the South, by perhaps arriving over the King Edward VII bridge and leaving over the High Level bridge. Or they could go the other way.

Could this be why reoopening the Leamside Line is important?

LNER’s Extra Paths

The sentence, from an article entitled LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways   indicates that more capacity will be available to LNER.

Infrastructure upgrades are due to prompt a timetable recast in May 2022 (delayed from December 2021) from which point LNER will operate 6.5 trains per hour, out of Kings Cross, compared to five today.

I suspect that LNER could use the half path to run a one train per two hour (tp2h) service to Hull.

  • Currently, London Kings Cross and Hull takes a few minutes under three hours.
  • Currently, Doncaster and Hull takes around 55 minutes.
  • I have estimated that once full digital in-cab signalling is operational, that London Kings Cross and Hull could take a few minutes under two-and-a-half hours.

The full path to Hull could be shared with Hull Trains to provide an hourly service between London Kings Cross and Hull.

LNER could do something special with the full extra path.

Consider.

  • Some train operating companies have said, that they’ll be looking to attract customers from the budget airlines.
  • There could be a need for more capacity between London Kings Cross and all of Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle.
  • Faster services would be attractive to passengers.
  • York and Leeds will be fully electrified or trains could be fitted with batteries to bridge the thirteen mile gap in the electrification.

A limited-stop service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh via Leeds could be an interesting addition.

  • The train would only stop at Leeds and possibly Newcastle.
  • One objective would be a time under three-and-a-half hours between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.
  • What time could be achieved between London Kings Cross and Leeds?

It would certainly give High Speed Two a run for its money!

A New Elizabethan

I can remember The Elizabethan, which was a steam-hauled non-stop express between London and Edinburgh between 1953 and 1961.

I have laid out my ideas for a modern express train of the same name in A New Elizabethan.

It could be an interesting concept, to increase capacity between London and Edinburgh.

As I indicated in the previous section, LNER certainly have a path, that could be used to their advantage.

High Speed Two

The East Coast Main Line and High Speed Two have a lot in common.

  • The two routes will share tracks between a junction near Ulleskelf station and Newcastle station.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains could be based on Hitachi AT-300 train technology.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains would probably be able to run on the East Coast Main Line between London Kings Cross And Edinburgh.
  • Trains from both routes will share platforms at York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle stations.
  • I would hope that the signalling systems on both routes are compatible.

From a project management point of view, this commonality means that in an ideal world the new route of both High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail, and the upgrades to the East Coast Main Line should be planned together.

I believe there are still details on the design of the joint route, that have not been disclosed, or perhaps not even decided.

  • Will between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill depot be electrified?
  • How will Northern Powerhouse Rail connect Leeds and Hull stations?
  • How will Northern Powerhouse Rail connect Leeds and York stations?
  • Will High Speed Two connect Leeds and York stations?
  • What will be the operating speed of the joint section of the East Coast Main Line?
  • What will be the capacity in trains per hour of the joint section of the East Coast Main Line?
  • Will Newcastle station need an extra platform to handle three High Speed Two tph from London Euston

Two projects have been discussed in this post.

  • The unlocking of the bottleneck at Skelton Bridge.
  • The reopening of the Leamside Line.

I feel that these projects are important and will probably be needed for efficient operation of High Speed Two.

Other early projects could include.

  • Upgrading and electrification of the chosen route between Leeds and Hull,
  • Installation of the chosen system of in-cab ERTMS digital signalling on the route.
  • Electrification between Church Fenton station and Neville Hill depot.

I would deliver these and other joint projects early, so that travellers see a positive benefit from High Speed Two before the main work has even started.

High Speed East Coast

I wonder what is the maximum speed of the Class 80x trains, that are the backbone of services on the East Coast Main Line.

Consider.

  • It is known, that with in-cab digital ERTMS  signalling, these trains will be capable of 140 mph, but could they go even faster.
  • High Speed Two Classic Compatible trains will be capable of 225 mph.
  • Will Hitachi’s offering for these trains, be based on the Class 80x trains?

I would think, that it is fairly likely, that the existing Class 80x trains could be updated to an operating speed in the range of 150-160 mph.

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

The combined affect of both track and signalling improvements is illustrated by this simple calculation.

    • As Dalton-on-Tees is North of Doncaster, the route between Woolmer Green and Doncaster should be possible to be run at 140 mph
    • Woolmer Green and Doncaster stations are 132.1 miles apart.
    • Non-stop York and London Kings Cross trains are currently timed at 70 minutes between Doncaster and Woolmer Green stations.
    • This is an average speed of 113.2 mph.

If 140 mph could be maintained between Doncaster and Woolmer Green, the section of the journey would take 56.6 minutes, which is a saving of 13.4 minutes.

I can do this calculation for higher speeds.

  • 150 mph would take 52.8 minutes
  • 160 mph would take 49.5 minutes
  • 170 mph would take 46.6 minutes
  • 180 mph would take 44 minutes
  • 200 mph would take 39.6 minutes

Note.

  1. Eurostar’s latest Class 374 trains are capable of operating at 200 mph.
  2. A Class 395 train, which is closely related to the Class 80x trains, has attained a record speed of 157 mph.

There may be worthwhile time savings to be made, on some of the straighter sections of the East Coast Main Line.

Other improvements will also be needed.

Note, that I am assuming, that the Digswell Viaduct section would not be updated, as it would cause too much disruption.

I also believe that by using selective joining and splitting at Edinburgh, Leeds and perhaps Doncaster, Grantham, Newark or York, that a very comprehensive network of direct trains to and from London can be built from Grantham Northwards.

Beverley, Bradford, Cleethorpes, Glasgow, Grimsby, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Hull, Lincoln, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Perth, Redcar, Sheffield, Skipton, Sunderland and Washington could all be served at an appropriate frequency.

  • Some like Bradford, Glasgow, Harrogate, Hull, Lincoln and Middlesbrough would have several trains per day.
  • Others might have a much more limited service.

What sort of timings will be possible.

  • London Kings Cross and Doncaster could be around an hour.
  • London Kings Cross and Leeds could be around one hour and thirty minutes, using the current Doncaster and Leeds time, as against the one hour and twenty-one minutes for High Speed Two.
  • London Kings Cross and York could be around one hour and twenty-three minutes, using the current Doncaster and York time, as against the one hour and twenty-four minutes for High Speed Two.
  • Timings between York and Newcastle would be the same fifty-two minutes as High Speed Two, as the track will be the limitation for both services.
  • High Speed Two’s timing for York and Newcastle is given as fifty-two minutes, with York and Darlington as twenty-five minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Darlington could be around one hour and forty-nine minutes
  • London Kings Cross and Newcastle could be around two hours and sixteen minutes.
  • London Kings Cross and Edinburgh would be under three-and-a-half hours, as against the proposed three hours and forty-eight minutes for High Speed Two.

High Speed East Coast would be a serious and viable alternative to High Speed Two for the Eastern side of England and Scotland.

Conclusion

This is an important joint project for Northern Powerhouse Rail, High Speed Two and the East Coast Main Line.

Project Management Recommendations

This project divides neatly into several smaller projects..

  • Upgrade the power supply on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Finish the York to Church Fenton Improvement Scheme
  • Remodel Darlington station.
  • Install of in-cab ERTMS digital signalling.
  • Complete the electrification between Neville Hill TMD and York.
  • Solve the problem of Skelton Bridge and its complicated track layout.
  • Reopen the Leamside Line.

Most of these projects are independent of each other and all would give early benefits to the East Coast Main Line.

When complete, we’ll see the following timing improvements.

  • Leeds and Newcastle will drop from 85 minutes to 56 minutes, with an increase in frequency from three to four tph.
  • York and Newcastle will drop from 57-66 minutes to 52 minutes.
  • There could be ten minutes savings on Edinburgh services.

Passengers and operators would welcome this group of projects being started early.

 

 

 

 

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts On The Design Of Hitachi’s Battery Electric Trains

If you look at a Class 800 or Class 802 train, they have underfloor diesel engines. Their powertrain is described like this in its own section in Wikipedia.

Despite being underfloor, the generator units (GU) have diesel engines of V12 formation. The Class 801 has one GU for a five to nine-car set. These provide emergency power for limited traction and auxiliaries if the power supply from the overhead line fails. The Class 800 and Class 802 bi-mode has three GU per five-car set and five GU per nine-car set. A five-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/4 and a nine-car set has a GU situated under vehicles 2/3/5/7/8.

There have been rumours of overheating.

Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train

Hitachi have teamed up with Hyperdrive Innovation to create a Regional Battery Train. There is this Press Release on the Hyperdrive Information web site, which is entitled Hitachi Rail And Hyperdrive Agreement P[ens Way For Battery Trains Across Britain.

This Hitachi infographic gives the specification.

Note, that this is a 100 mph train, with a range of 56 miles.

Typical routes would include a route like Norwich and Stansted Airport via Cambridge.

  • It is 93 miles.
  • There are thirty-nine miles of electrification at the Stansted Airport end.
  • Norwich station is fully-electrified.
  • There is just 53 miles between the Trowse swing-bridge and Ely station, that is not electrified.

Trains would charge the batteries at both ends of the route and use battery power, where no electrification exists.

There are many similar routes like this in the UK.

Hitachi have also produced this video.

My thoughts lead me to a few questions.

Are The Battery Modules Simulated Diesel Engines?

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.

Stadler have three very similar trains, that are destined for the UK.

All share the same PowerPack-in-the-Middle design, which is shown in this picture.

There are four slots in the PowerPack, with two on either side and they can all hold, either a diesel engine or a battery. Only, the Class 756 trains, are planned to have batteries at present, to make the trains tri-mode and capable of being powered by overhead electric, on-board batteries or a diesel generator.

If I was designing the battery modules to slot into the PowerPack, I and many other engineers would make the battery module deliver similar characteristics and plug compatibility to the diesel module.

The train’s control computer, would be simpler to program and debug and would use modules appropriately to drive the train according to the driver’s instructions.

This interchangeability would also give the operator lots of flexibility, in how they configured and used the trains.

So will Hyperdrive Innovation use an approach for Hitachi, where the battery module has similar characteristics and plug compatibility to the current diesel module?

I wouldn’t be surprised if they did, as it allows modules to be quickly swapped as operational needs change and the train’s computer sorts out the train’s formation and acts accordingly.

On An Hitachi Regional Battery Train Will All Diesel Engines Be Replaced With Battery Modules?

If the computer is well-programmed, it should handle any combination of diesel engines and battery modules.

Perhaps for various routes different combinations might apply.

  • For maximum battery range, all modules would be batteries.
  • For maximum power, all modules would be diesel engines.
  • To handle some out and back routes, there might be three battery modules and a diesel engine to charge the batteries before return.
  • Could perhaps one or two battery modules be fitted to avoid using the diesel engines in stations and in sensitive areas?

On some routes all diesel engines will be replaced with batteries on Battery Regional Trains, but on others there could be a mixture of both battery and diesel engines.

It should be noted that Stadler achieve the same flexibility with their PowerPack-in-the-Middle design.

Operators will like this flexibility.

What Is The Capacity Of A Battery Module?

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that an all-electric Class 801 train uses 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

I can do a simple estimate based on this figure.

When running on batteries the train will need less energy due to less air resistance, because it is going at 100 mph, rather than 125 mph.

  • If the energy use is proportional to the speed, then at 100 mph, the energy use will be 2.73 kWh per vehicle mile.
  • But if the energy use is proportional to the square of the speed, the energy use will be 2.19 kWh per vehicle mile.

I will compromise and use 2.5 kWh per vehicle mile.

Total energy needed to move a five-car train 56 miles would be 5 x 56 x 2.5 or 700 kWh, which could be three batteries of 233 kWh.

These are not outrageous sizes and the batteries could probably be of a comparable weight to the current diesel engines. So replacement wouldn’t affect the handling of the train.

In addition, the batteries would need to be large enough to hold all the regenerated by braking during a stop.

  • The weight of a Class 800 train is 243 tonnes.
  • It can carry 326 passengers, who probably weigh 80 Kg with baggage, bikes and buggies.
  • This gives a total train weight of 269 tonnes.
  • Using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator, the kinetic energy at 100 mph is just 75 kWh.
  • For completeness, at 125 mph, the kinetic energy is 117 kWh and at 140 mph, the kinetic energy is 146 kWh.

All these figures are small compared to the battery size needed for traction.

Will East Coast Train’s Class 803 trains Use The Same Technology?

On East Coast Trains‘s Class 803 trains, batteries will be fitted to maintain onboard services, in case of a power failure.

Have these batteries been designed by Hyperdrive Innovation, with perhaps less capacity?

As East Coast Trains’s route between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh is fully electrified, the trains probably won’t need any auxiliary traction power.

But would increasing the battery size make this possible?

Where Do Avanti West Coast Class 807 Trains Fit In?

Avanti West Coast‘s Class 807 trains are also members of the same Hitachi A-Train family.

In the January 2020 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Hitachi Trains For Avanti.

This is said about the ten all-electric AT-300 trains for Birmingham, Blackpool and Liverpool services, which have now been numbered as Class 807 trains.

The electric trains will be fully reliant on the overhead wire, with no diesel auxiliary engines or batteries.

It may go against Hitachi’s original design philosophy, but not carrying excess weight around, must improve train performance, because of better acceleration.

It may also have the wiring for a diesel engine or a battery module, should operational experience indicate one is needed.

Will All Cars Be Wired Ready For A Diesel Or Battery Module?

A five-car Class 802 train currently has a diesel engine in cars 2, 3 and 4.

The Hitachi infographic says that a Regional Battery Train has a range of 56 miles on batteries.

Let’s assume that this range applies to a Class 802 train, that has been fitted with three battery modules.

If we take Hull Trains as an example, their Class 802 trains do the following sections using their diesel engines

  • Temple Hirst Junction and Beverley – 44.34 miles or 87 miles round trip
  • Temple Hirst Junction and Hull – 36 miles or 72 miles round trip

These distances mean that with a 56 mile range, there needs to be some form of changing at Hull and/or Beverley.

But supposing all cars are wired to accept batteries or diesel engines. This could mean the following.

  • A train with three batteries and a range of 56 miles, could fit a standard diesel engine as a range extender, which could also be used to charge the batteries at Hull or Beverley.
  • A train with four batteries, could have a range of 75 miles, which with regenerative braking and precise energy-saving driving could be able to go between Temple Hirst Junction and Hull and back on battery power.
  • A train with four batteries and a diesel engine,, could have a range of 75 miles on battery power. The diesel energy could be used as a range extender or to charge the batteries at Hull and/or Beverley.
  • Could a train with five batteries, which could have a range of 90 miles, be able to reach Beverley and return to Temple Hirst Junction?

Note.

  1. I have assumed that battery range is proportional to the number of batteries.
  2. There must also be scope for running slower to cut the amount of energy used.

In addition, all Hull Trains schedules seem to spend fifteen minutes or more in Hull station. This would be enough time to recharge the batteries.

I’m fairly certain, that if all cars were wired  for batteries or diesel engines, it would give the operators a lot of flexibility.

Running With Batteries And A Range Extender Diesel Engine

The LEVC TX taxi is described as a plug-in hybrid range extender electric vehicle, where a small petrol engine, can also be used to generate electricity to power the vehicle.

Suppose a Class 802 train was fitted with two battery modules and a diesel engine. Could the diesel act as a range extender, in the same way as the petrol engine does on the LEVC TX?

The diesel engines fitted to a Class 802 train are 700 kW, so if I’m right about the train having total battery capacity of 700 kWh, one engine would take an hour to charge the batteries.

Returning to my Hull Trains example, drivers could probably ensure that the train didn’t get stranded by judicial use of the a single diesel engine to charge the batteries, whilst running in rural areas along the route.

As there would only be one diesel engine rather than three, the noise would be much lower.

I suspect too, that a simple charger in Hull station could charge a train, as it passes through, to make sure it doesn’t get stranded in the countryside.

I suspect that a mix of batteries and diesel engines could be part of an elegant solution on some routes.

  • Edinburgh and Aberdeen
  • Edinburgh and Inverness
  • London Kings Cross and Hull
  • London Paddington and Swansea
  • London St. Pancras and Sheffield.
  • London St. Pancras and Nottingham

It might also be a useful configuration on some TransPennine routes.

Charging Battery Trains

Having a charger in a terminal station would open up a lot of routes to Hitachi’s battery electric trains.

At stations like Hull and Scarborough, this charger could be as simple as perhaps forty metres of 25 KVAC overhead electrification.

  • The train would stop in the station at the appropriate place.
  • The driver would raise the pantograph.
  • Charging would start.
  • When the battery is fully-charged, the driver would lower the pantograph.

This procedure could be easily automated and the overhead wire could be made electrically dead, if no train is connected.

It should be noted that Hitachi have recently acquired ABB’s power grid business, as announced in this Hitachi press release which is entitled Hitachi Completes Acquisition of ABB’s Power Grids Business; Hitachi ABB Power Grids Begins Operation.

Rail is not mentioned, but mobility is. So will this move by Hitachi, strengthen their offering to customers, by also providing the systems in stations and sidings to charge the trains.

This Google Map shows Hull station, with its large roof.

Could an integrated solution involving solar panels over the station be used to power electrification to charge the trains and dome electric buses next door?

Integrated solutions powered by renewable energy would appeal to a lot of municipalities seeking to improve their carbon profile.

Conclusion

These trains will transform a lot of rail services in the UK and abroad.

 

 

 

 

 

October 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

GWR Buys Vehicles Outright In HST Fleet Expansion

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Despite concerns over future passenger numbers, the Department for Transport has given permission for Great Western Railway to procure three more shortened HST diesel trainsets, branded as the Castle Class by the franchisee.

These pictures show some of the Castle Class trains.

They must be profitable and/or popular with passengers.

If I have a problem with these trains, it is with the Class 43 diesel power cars.

  • Each train has two power cars.
  • It would appear that there are about 150 of the Class 43 power cars in regular service.
  • Each is powered by a modern MTU 16V4000 R41R diesel engine, that is rated at 1678 kW.
  • The engines are generally less than a dozen years old.
  • They will be emitting a lot of carbon dioxide.

As the trains are now only half as long as they used to be, I would suspect, that the engines won’t be working as hard, as they can.

Hopefully, this will mean less emissions.

The article says this about use of the fleet.

With its fleet now increasing to 14, GWR expects to use 12 each day on services across the west of England. Currently the fleet is deployed on the Cardiff – Bristol – Penzance corridor, but the company is still evaluating how the additional sets will be used.

It also says, that they are acquiring rolling stock from other sources. Some of which will be cannibalised for spares.

Are First Rail Holdings Cutting Carbon Emissions?

First Rail Holdings, who are GWR’s parent, have announced in recent months three innovative and lower-carbon fleets from Hitachi, for their subsidiary companies.

Hitachi have also announced a collaboration with Hyperdrive Innovation to provide battery packs to replace diesel engines, that could be used on Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

First Rail Holdings have these Class 800/802 fleets.

  • GWR – 36 x five-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 21 x nine-car Class 800 trains
  • GWR – 22 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • GWR – 14 x nine-car Class 802 trains
  • TransPennine Express – 19 x five-car Class 802 trains
  • Hull Trains – 5 x five-car Class 802 trains

Note.

  1. That is a total of 117 trains.
  2. As five-car trains have three diesel engines and nine-car trains have five diesel engines, that is a total of 357 engines.
  3. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work Hull Trains’s Services?, I showed that Hull Trains could run their services with a Fast Charging system in Hull station.
  4. In Could Battery-Electric Hitachi Trains Work TransPennine Express’s Services?, I concluded that Class 802 trains equipped with batteries could handle all their routes without diesel and some strategically-placed charging stations.

In the Wikipedia entry for the Class 800 train, there is a section called Powertrain, where this is said.

According to Modern Railways magazine, the limited space available for the GUs has made them prone to overheating. It claims that, on one day in summer 2018, “half the diagrammed units were out of action as engines shut down through overheating.

So would replacing some diesel engines with battery packs, also reduce this problem, in addition to cutting carbon emissions?

It does appear to me, that First Rail Holdings could be cutting carbon emissions in their large fleet of Hitachi Class 800 and Class 802 trains.

The Class 43 power cars could become a marketing nightmare for the company?

Could Class 43 Power Cars Be Decarbonised?

Consider.

  • Class 43 power cars are forty-five years old.
  • They have been rebuilt with new MTU engines in the last dozen years or so.
  • I suspect MTU and GWR know everything there is to know about the traction system of a Class 43 power car.
  • There is bags of space in the rear section of the power car.
  • MTU are part of Rolls-Royce, who because of the downturn in aviation aren’t performing very well!

But perhaps more importantly, the power cars are iconic, so anybody, who decarbonises these fabulous beasts, gets the right sort of high-class publicity.

I would also feel, if you could decarbonise these power cars, the hundreds of diesel locomotives around the world powered by similar diesel engines could be a useful market.

What methods could be used?

Biodiesel

Running the trains on biodiesel would be a simple solution.

  • It could be used short-term or long-term.
  • MTU has probably run the engines on biodiesel to see how they perform.
  • Biodiesel could also be used in GWR’s smaller diesel multiple units, like Class 150, 158, 165 and 166 trains.

Some environmentalists think biodiesel is cheating as it isn’t zero-carbon.

But it’s my view, that for a lot of applications it is a good interim solution, especially, as companies like Altalto, will be making biodiesel and aviation biofuel from household and industrial waste, which would otherwise be incinerated or go to landfill.

The Addition Of Batteries

This page on the Hitachi Rail Ltd web site shows this image of the V-Train 2.

This is the introduction to the research program, which was based on a High Speed Train, fotmed of two Class 43 power cars and four Mark 3 carriages.

The V-Train 2 was a demonstration train designed in order to demonstrate our skills and expertise while bidding for the Intercity Express Programme project.

The page  is claiming, that a 20 % fuel saving could be possible.

This paragraph talks about performance.

The V-Train 2 looked to power the train away from the platform using batteries – which would in turn be topped up by regenerative braking when a train slowed down to stop at a station. Acceleration would be quicker and diesel saved for the cruising part of the journey.

A similar arrangement to that Hitachi produced in 2005 could be ideal.

  • Technology has moved on significantly in the intervening years.
  • The performance would be adequate for a train that just trundles around the West Country at 90 mph.
  • The space in the rear of the power car could hold a lot of batteries.
  • The power car would be quiet and emission-free in stations.
  • There would be nothing to stop the diesel engine running on biodiesel.

This might be the sort of project, that Hitachi’s partner in the Regional Battery Train; Hyperdrive Innovation. would probably be capable of undertaking.

MTU Hybrid PowerPack

I wouldn’t be surprised to find, that MTU have a drop-in solution for the current 6V4000 R41R diesel engine, that includes a significant amount of batteries.

This must be a serious possibility.

Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW Generator

In Our Sustainability Journey, I talk about rail applications of Rolls-Royce’s 2.5 MW generator, that has been developed to provide power for electric flight.

In the post, I discuss fitting the generator into a Class 43 power car and running it on aviation biofuel.

I conclude the section with this.

It should also be noted, that more-efficient and less-polluting MTU engines were fitted in Class 43s from 2005, so as MTU is now part of Rolls-Royce, I suspect that Rolls-Royce have access to all the drawings and engineers notes, if not the engineers themselves

But it would be more about publicity for future sales around the world, with headlines like.

Iconic UK Diesel Passenger Trains To Receive Green Roll-Royce Jet Power!

COVID-19 has given Rolls-Royce’s aviation business a real hammering, so perhaps they can open up a new revenue stream by replacing the engines of diesel locomotives,

I find this an intriguing possibility. Especially, if it were to be fitted with a battery pack.

Answering My Original Question

In answering my original question, I feel that there could be several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a Class 43 power car.

It should also be noted that other operators are users of Class 43 power cars.

  • ScotRail – 56
  • CrossCountry – 12
  • East Midlands Railway – 39
  • Network Rail – 3

Note.

  1. ScotRail’s use of the power cars, is very similar to that of GWR.
  2. CrossCountry’s routes would need a lot of reorganisation to be run by say Hitachi’s Regional Battery Train.
  3. East Midlands Railway are replacing their Inter-City 125s with new Class 810 trains.

The picture shows the power car of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train.

These may well be the most difficult to decarbonise, as I suspect they need to run at 125 mph on some routes, which do not have electrification and there are no 125 mph self-powered locomotives. After the Stonehaven crash, there may be more tests to do and a second train may be needed by Network Rail.

Why Are GWR Increasing Their Castle Class Fleet?

These are possible reasons.

GWR Want To Increase Services

This is the obvious explanation, as more services will need more trains.

GWR Want To Update The Fleet

There may be something that they need to do to all the fleet, so having a few extra trains would enable them to update the trains without cutting services.

GWR Want To Partially Or Fully Decarbonise The Power Cars

As with updating the fleet,  extra power cars would help, as they could be modified first and then given a thorough testing before entering passenger service.

GWR Have Been Made An Offer They Can’t Refuse

Suppose Rolls-Royce, MTU or another locomotive power plant manufacturer has a novel idea, they want to test.

Over the years, train operating companies have often tested modified trains and locomotives for manufacturers.

So has a manufacturer, asked GWR to test something in main line service?

Are Other Train Operators Thinking Of Using Introducing More Short-Formed InterCity 125 Trains?

This question has to be asked, as I feel there could be routes, that would be suitable for a net-zero carbon version of a train, like a GWR Castle or a ScotRail Inter7City.

Northern Trains

Northern Trains is now run by the Department for Transport and has surely the most suitable route in the UK for a shorted-formed InterCity 125 train – Leeds and Carlisle via the Settle and Carlisle Line.

Northern Trains may have other routes.

Transport for Wales Rail Services

Transport for Wales Rail Services already run services between Cardiff Central and Holyhead using diesel locomotive hauled services and long distance services between South Wales and Manchester using diesel multiple units.

Would an iconic lower-carbon train be a better way of providing some services and attract more visitors to the Principality?

Conclusion

GWR must have a plan, but there are few clues to what it is.

The fact that the trains have been purchased rather than leased could be significant and suggests to me that because there is no leasing company involved to consult, GWR are going to do major experimental modifications to the trains.

They may be being paid, by someone like an established or new locomotive engine manufacturer.

It could also be part of a large government innovation and decarbonisation project.

My hunch says that as First Rail Holdings appear to be going for a lower-carbon fleet, that it is about decarbonising the Class 43 power cars.

The plan would be something like this.

  • Update the three new trains to the new specification.
  • Give them a good testing, before certifying them for service.
  • Check them out in passenger service.
  • Update all the trains.

The three extra trains would give flexibility and mean that there would always be enough trains for a full service.

Which Methods Could Be Used To Reduce The Carbon Footprint Of The Class 43 Power Cars?

These must be the front runners.

  • A Hitachi/Hyperdrive Innovation specialist battery pack.
  • An MTU Hybrid PowerPack.
  • A Rolls-Royce MTU solution based on the Rolls-Royce 2.5 MW generator with batteries.

All would appear to be viable solutions.

 

 

 

 

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Could Some of Hitachi’s Existing Trains In The UK Be Converted To Battery-Electric Trains?

The last five fleets of AT-300 trains ordered for the UK have been.

Each fleet seems to be tailored to the needs of the individual operator, which is surely as it should be.

I can make some observations.

Fast Electric Trains

Both all-electric fleets on the list, will run on routes, where speed will be important.

  • The Avanti West Coast Class 807 trains on the West Coast Main Line, will have to be able to keep up keep with the Class 390 trains, that have the advantage of tilt for more speed.
  • The East Coast Trains Class 803 trains on the East Coast Main Line, will have to work hard to maintain a demanding schedule, as I outlined in Thoughts On East Coast Trains.

Any reduction in weight will improve the acceleration.

  • The seven tonne MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines can be removed to reduce the weight.
  • As a five-car Class 800 train with three diesel engine weighs 243 tonnes, this could save nearly 9 % of the train’s weight.
  • East Coast Trains feel they need an appropriately-sized battery for emergency hotel power. Could this be because the catenary is not as good on the East Coast Main Line as on the West?
  • Perhaps, Avanti West Coast feel a battery is not needed, but they could obviously fit one later. Especially, if there was already a ready-wired position underneath the train.

The extra acceleration given by 100% electric operation, must make all the difference in obtaining the required performance for the two routes.

Why Four Diesel Engines In A Class 810 Train?

The Class 810 trains are an update of the current Class 800/Class 802 trains. Wikipedia described the differences like this.

The Class 810 is an evolution of the Class 802s with a revised nose profile and facelifted end headlight clusters, giving the units a slightly different appearance. Additionally, there will be four diesel engines per five-carriage train (versus three on the 800s and 802s), and the carriages will be 2 metres (6.6 ft) shorter due to platform length constraints at London St Pancras.

Additionally, in this article in the October 2019 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled EMR Kicks Off New Era, this is said.

The EMR bi-modes will be able to run at 125 mph in diesel mode, matching Meridian performance in a step-up from the capabilities of the existing Class 80x units in service with other franchises.

The four diesel engines would appear to be for more power, so that these trains will be able to run at 125 mph on diesel.

In How Much Power Is Needed To Run A Train At 125 mph?, I calculated that a Class 801 train, which is all-electric, consumes 3.42 kWh per vehicle mile.

  • At 125 mph a train will in an hour travel 125 miles.
  • In that hour the train will need 125 x 5 x 3.42 = 2137.5 kWh
  • This means that the total power of the four diesel engines must be 2137.5,
  • Divide 2137.5 by four and each diesel must be rated at 534.4 kW to provide the power needed.

The MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engine is described in this datasheet on the MTU web site.

Note on the datasheet, there is a smaller variant of the same engine called a 12V 1600 R70, which has a power output of 565 kW, as compared to the 700 kW of the 12V 1600 R80L.

The mass of the engines are probably at the limits of the range given on the datasheet.

  • Dry – 4500-6500 Kg
  • Wet – 4700-6750 Kg

It would appear that the less-powerful 12V 100 R70 is about two tonnes lighter.

So where will four engines be placed in a Class 810 train?

  • The five-car Class 800 and Class 802 trains have diesel-engines in cars 2, 3 and 4.
  • The nine-car Class 800 and Class 802 trains have diesel-engines in cars 2,3, 5, 7 and 8.
  • It appears that diesel-engines aren’t placed under the driver cars.
  • Five-car AT-300 trains generally have a formation of DPTS+MS+MS+MC+DPTF.
  • The car length in the Class 810 trains are two metres shorter than those in other trains.

Could it be that the intermediate cars on Class 810 trains will be an MC car, which has both First and Standard Class seating and two identical MS cars both with two smaller diesel engines?

  • The two smaller diesel engines will be about 2.6 tonnes heavier, than a single larger engine.
  • Only one fuel tank and other gubbins will be needed.
  • The shorter car will be lighter in weight.
  • MTU may have designed a special diesel engine to power the train.

I would suspect that a twin-engined MS car is possible.

Could The Battery And The Diesel Engine Be Plug-Compatible?

I found 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.

The document may date from 2014, but it gives a deep insight into the design of Hitachi’s trains.

I will take a detailed look at the traction system as described in the document.

This schematic of the traction system is shown.

Note BC is described as battery charger.

This is said in the text, where GU is an abbreviation for generator unit.

The system can select the appropriate power source from either the main transformer or the GUs. Also, the size and weight of the system were minimized by designing the power supply converter to be able to work with both power sources. To ensure that the Class 800 and 801 are able to adapt to future changes in operating practices, they both have the same traction system and the rolling stock can be operated as either class by simply adding or removing GUs. On the Class 800, which is intended to run on both electrified and non-electrified track, each traction system has its own GU. On the other hand, the Class 801 is designed only for electrified lines and has one or two GUs depending on the length of the trainset (one GU for trainsets of five to nine cars, two GUs for trainsets of 10 to 12 cars). These GUs supply emergency traction power and auxiliary power in the event of a power outage on the catenary, and as an auxiliary power supply on non-electrified lines where the Class 801 is in service and pulled by a locomotive. This allows the Class 801 to operate on lines it would otherwise not be able to use and provides a backup in the event of a catenary power outage or other problem on the ground systems as well as non-electrified routes in loco-hauled mode.

This is all very comprehensive.

Note that the extract says, that both the Class 800 trains and Class 801 trains have the same traction control system. A section called Operation in the Wikipedia entry for the Class 802 train, outlines the differences between a Class 802 train and a Class 800 train.

The Class 802s are broadly identical to the Class 800 bi-mode trains used in the Intercity Express Programme, and are used in a similar way; they run as electric trains where possible, and are equipped with the same diesel generator engines as the Class 800. However, they utilise higher engine operating power – 700 kW (940 hp) per engine as opposed to 560 kW (750 hp) – and are fitted with larger fuel tanks to cope with the gradients and extended running in diesel mode expected on the long unelectrified stretches they will operate on.

I would assume that the differences are small enough, so that a Class 802 train, can use the same traction control system, as the other two train classes.

The Hitachi document also describes the Train Management and Control System (TCMS), the function of which is described as.

Assists the work of the train crew; a data communication function that aids maintenance work; and a traction drive system that is powered by the overhead lines (catenaries) and GUs.

Several trains have been described as computers on wheels. That could certainly be said about these trains.

There would appear to be a powerful Automatic Train Identification Function.

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

Now that would be a sight – One nine-car train rescuing another!

I would assume that this Automatic Train Identification Function has already been updated to add the Class 802 trains and it would appear to me, as a very experienced computer programmer, that in future it could be further updated to cater for the following.

  • New classes of trains like the future Class 803 and Class 810 trains.
  • The fitting of batteries instead of diesel engines.

Could the Function even be future-proofed for hydrogen power?

There are two main ways for trains to operate when the diesel engine in a car has been replaced by a battery.

  1. A plug-compatible battery module is designed, that in terms of function looks exactly like a diesel engine to the TCMS and through that the train crew.
  2. The car with a battery becomes a new type of car and the TCMS is updated to control it, in an appropriate manner.

Both methods are equally valid.

I would favour the first method, as I have come across numerous instances in computer programming, engineering and automation, where the method has been used successfully.

The method used would be Hitachi’s choice.

What Size Of Battery Could Be Fitted In Place Of The Diesel Engine?

Consider.

  • 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.
  • My engineering knowledge would suggest, that it would be possible to replace the diesel engine with an inert lump of the same mass and not affect the dynamics of the train.

So could it be that a plug-compatible battery module can be fitted, so long as it doesn’t exceed the mass of the diesel engine it replaces?

For an existing Class 800 or Class 802 train, that limit could be seven tonnes.

But for East Coast Train’s Class 803 train, that size would probably be decided by the required train performance.

How much power would a one tonne battery hold?

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

Using these figures, a one-tonne battery would be between 100 and 265 kWh in capacity, depending on the energy density.

This table can be calculated of battery weight, low capacity and high capacity.

  • 1 tonne – 100 kWh – 265 kWh
  • 2 tonne – 200 kWh – 530 kWh
  • 3 tonne – 300 kWh – 895 kWh
  • 4 tonne – 400 kWh – 1060 kWh
  • 5 tonne – 500 kWh – 1325 kWh
  • 6 tonne – 600 kWh – 1590 kWh
  • 7 tonne – 700 kWh – 1855 kWh

As energy densities are only going to improve, the high capacity figures are only going to get larger.

If you look at the design of the Class 803 trains, which could have three positions for diesel engines or batteries, the designers of the train and East Coast Trains can choose the battery size as appropriate for the following.

  • Maximum performance.
  • Power needs when halted in stations.
  • Power needs for emergency power, when the wires come tumbling down.

I suspect, they will fit only one battery, that is as small as possible to minimise mass and increase acceleration, but large enough to provide sufficient power, when needed.

Conversion Of A Five-Car Class 800/Class 802 Train To Battery-Electric Operation

If Hitachi get their design right, this could be as simple as the following.

  • Any of the three MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engines is removed, from the train.
  • Will the other diesel related gubbins, like the fuel tank be removed? They might be left in place, in case the reverse conversion should be needed.
  • The new battery-module is put in the diesel engine’s slot.
  • The train’s computer system is updated.
  • The train is tested.

It should be no more difficult than attaching a new device to your personal computer. Except that it’s a lot heavier.

As there are three diesel engines, one, two or three could be replaced with batteries.

Trains would probably be able to have a mixture of diesel engines and battery modules.

A Class 802 train with one diesel engine and two five-tonne batteries would have the following power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • A 700 kW diesel engine.
  • Two five-tonne batteries of between 500 kWh and 1325 kWh.

With intelligent software controlling the various power sources, this train could have a useful range, away from the electrification.

Conversion Of A Five-Car Class 810 Train To Battery-Electric Operation

The process would be similar to that of a Class 800/Class 802 Train, except there would be more possibilities with four engines.

It would also need to have sufficient range to bridge the gaps in the electrification.

Perhaps each train would have the following power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Two 565 kW diesel engines.
  • Two four-tonne batteries of between 400 kWh and 1060 kWh.
  • Batteries might also be placed under the third intermediate car.

I estimate that with 400 kWh batteries, a train like this would have a battery range of sixty-five miles.

Conclusion

The permutations and combinations would allow trains to be tailored to the best compromise for a train operating company.

June 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts On East Coast Trains

According to an article and a picture, the second new Class 803 train for Open Access Operator; East Coast Trains, has arrived in the UK to be fitted out at Newton Aycliffe.

These are my thoughts on the service.

The Trains

The Class 803 trains are similar to the other Hitachi A-trains running in the UK, but with two big differences.

  • They will have a one class interior and they will be fitted with a battery, instead of a diesel engine.
  • The battery is not for traction and is to provide hotel power in stations and in the event of a dewiring. The latter has been surprisingly common on the East Coast Main Line in recent years.

Normally, these five-car trains are fitted with a single MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engine, which is described in this datasheet on the MTU web site.

The mass of the engine is given as 6750 Kg, when it is ready to run.

It would seem logical to replace the diesel engine with a battery of the same weight. I’ll use seven tonnes, as the fuel tank won’t be needed either.

This page on the Clean Energy institute at the University of Washington is entitled Lithium-Ion Battery.

This is a sentence from the page.

Compared to the other high-quality rechargeable battery technologies (nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride), Li-ion batteries have a number of advantages. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

Using these figures, a seven-tonne battery would be between 700 and 1855 kWh in capacity.

Incidentally, the power output of an MTU 12V 1600 R80L is 700 kW.

In Sparking A Revolution I gave Hitachi’s possible specification of a battery-electric train.

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

These figures are credited to Hitachi.

Doing a quick calculation, it would appear that.

  • A 700 kWh battery could supply the same power as the diesel engine for an hour.
  • A 1855 kWh battery could supply the same power as the diesel engine for two hours and thirty-nine minutes.

I am drawn to the conclusion, that although Hitachi say the battery is not for traction purposes in a Class 803 train, that a battery the same weight as the current diesel engine, would be a very adequate replacement.

If say, you put a 300-500 kWh battery in a Class 803 train, it would probable give enough hotel power until the train was able to move again. but it would also reduce the weight of the train and thus improve the acceleration in normal running.

A Battery Module

I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitachi are developing a battery module, that can replace the MTU 12V 1600 R80L diesel engine.

  • The module would be used for both traction and hotel services on the train.
  • It would be charged from the electrification or by regenerative braking.
  • It would act as emergency power.
  • To the driver and the train’s computer, it would have similar performance to the diesel engine.

The diesel engine and the battery module would be plug-compatible and could be exchanged as required.

I can do a quick calculation for a 1000 kWh battery, which would weigh under four tonnes.

  • A 1000 kWh battery would provide 700 kW for 86 minutes.
  • At 90 mph, the train would travel for 129 miles.
  • At 100 mph, the train would travel for 143 miles.

That would be a very handy extended range.

As East Coast Trains will only run on a fully-electrified route, they have no need for the traction capability.

  • But it would fit well with the routes of Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, LNER and TransPennine Express.
  • All except East Midlands Railway and LNER, share part or full ownership with East Coast Trains.

It does look to me, that Hitachi is using East Coast Trains and their fully electrified route to give the battery module for the trains, a thorough work-out, on a route, where it will not normally be needed.

The Proposed Service

From various sources we know the following.

  • There will be five trains per day in both directions between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh. – See Wikipedia
  • East Coast Trains have ordered five trains. – See Wikipedia.
  • There will be stops at Stevenage, Durham, Newcastle and Morpeth. – See Wikipedia
  • The first Northbound service will arrive in Edinburgh before 10:00. – See Rail Advent.
  • Fares will be low-cost at around £25 – See Wikipedia.

It is also likely that East Coast Trains will want a journey time of under four hours, which is being planned for the route anyway under the L2E4  project.

As the record time between London and Edinburgh was set in 1991 by an InterCity 225 train at a minute under three-and-a-half hours, could a time of around three hours and forty-five minutes be possible, including the turnaround of the train?

10:00 Arrival In Edinburgh

This is obviously a good idea, but with a four hour journey time, it would mean leaving London before six.

  • Perhaps to make the most of clear tracks in the morning the train would leave early.
  • Currently, the first two trains from Kings Cross are the 06:15 to Edinburgh, which arrives at 11:08 and the 06:33 to Leeds.
  • How early could the train leave?

I suspect that the first train to Edinburgh would leave Kings Cross around 05:30 and arrive in Edinburgh and be ready to return before 10:00.

10:00 Arrival In London

If arriving in Edinburgh before ten is a good idea, then surely arriving in London by the same time is worthwhile.

  • Currently, the first train from Edinburgh to London is the 05:48, which arrives at 10:40.

As with the Northbound service, I suspect the first train to Kings Cross would leave Edinburgh around 05:30 and arrive in Kings Cross and be ready to return before 10:00.

Five Services Per Day

If the first Edinburgh and  Kings Cross services left at 05:30 and after unloading and loading, were ready to return before 10:00, that would be the first service.

The simplest way to handle the rest of the day would be to split the time into four and run the trains continuously.

Suppose, the last train got to its destination at one in the morning, that would mean that fifteen hours were available for four trains or three hours and forty-five minutes for each trip between London and Edinburgh and the turnaround.

The train starting from Kings Cross would run the following services.

  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 05:30 – Arrives before 10:00
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 10:00
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 13:45
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross- Leaves 17:30
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 21:15 – Arrives 01:00 on the next day.

The train starting from Edinburgh would run the following services.

  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 05:30 – Arrives before 10:00
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 10:00
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 13:45
  • Kings Cross to Edinburgh – Leaves 17:30
  • Edinburgh to Kings Cross – Leaves 21:15 – Arrives 01:00 on the next day.

There would be two very tired trains at the end of every day, that would be looking forward to some well-deserved tender loving care.

This has been my best guess at what the timetable will be! But!

  • Travellers can catch an early train, do a full days work in the other capital and return at the end of the day.
  • There are three services during the day; one each in the morning, the afternoon and the early evening, for those who want affordable, slightly less frenetic travelling.
  • I suspect the intermediate stops have been chosen with care.
  • Improvements at Stevenage station could make the station, the preferred interchange for many between East Coast, LNER and local services for Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and North London. Car parking is probably easier than Kings Cross!
  • Is Durham station an alternative station on the other side of the Tyne from Newcastle, with better parking?
  • Could Durham City Centre be the terminal of a Leamside Line extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro?
  • Newcastle station is very well-connected to all over the North East.
  • Morpeth station could attract a large number of travellers from over the Border. It also looks to have space to expand the parking!

It looks a well-designed route and timetable.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

Consider.

  • Each train could be two five-car trains working together as a ten-car train.
  • This would maximise the use of paths on the East Coast Main Line.
  • Four trains would be needed for the full five trains per day ten-car service.

As there is going to be a fleet of five trains, the fifth train would either be in maintenance or waiting to enter the action as a substitute.

Improving Efficiency

It looks to me, that the efficiency of this service could be improved by good old-fashioned time and motion study.

  • Will  drivers use stepping-up to speed the reverse of trains?
  • Would cleaning teams board at Morpeth and Stevenage stations and clean the train on the last leg?
  • Will the buffet be designed for fast replenishment?
  • Will drivers be given all possible aids to go faster?

Every little will help!

Conclusion

I like this system and the competition will keep LNER on its toes!

Would a similar system work on the West Coast Main Line?

  • Grand Union have proposed a service between Euston and Stirling stations.
  • There will be stops at Milton Keynes Central, Nuneaton, Crewe, Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie, Motherwell, Whifflet, Greenfaulds and Larbert.
  • Trains will be InterCity 225s.

The service could start in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

First Of Five FirstGroup Class 803s Arrives In UK

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

The Class 803 trains will be used by East Coast Trains for their low-cost, one-class, open-access service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

The trains would appear to be being delivered in time for services to start in Autumn 2021.

The article says the  trains are the first to have a new feature.

They will be fitted with batteries, although these will not provide traction performance – instead, they can power on-board services should the train fail.

The Class 803 trains are electric trains and are these batteries a replacement for the single diesel-engine on the electric Class 801 trains? This diesel-engine has two main purposes.

  • Provide emergency power for on-board services.
  • Move the train to a safe place foe evacuation of passengers.

The article also says that Hitachi could fit traction batteries to existing bi-mode fleets.

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment