The Anonymous Widower

The Future Of The Class 68 Locomotives

This post has been brought on by the comments to two posts I have written today.

Both Direct Rail Services and TransPennine Express are major users of Class 68 locomotives, with each having a fleet of fourteen locomotives.

In addition, Chiltern Railways has a smaller fleet of six locomotives.

  • Direct Rail Services use their locomotives for various passenger and freight duties, including the important one of moving nuclear material around the country.
  • TransPennine Express use their locomotives on their passenger services across the North of England.
  • Chiltern Railways use their locomotives on their passenger services between London and Birmingham and sometimes Oxford.

The design was a bespoke one by Stadler for Direct Rail Services and the first one entered service in 2014.

The picture shows one of TransPennine’s Class 68 locomotives at Scarborough. As the picture shows, they are a smart and purposeful-looking locomotive, that wouldn’t look out of place in the right livery on the front of the Royal Train.

It has some good features.

  • It is a 100 mph locomotive.
  • It seems to be well-liked by operators.
  • It can haul both passenger and freight trains.
  • It can act as a Thunderbird or rescue locomotive.

But they have three problems; emissions, noise and diesel.

This is from Wikipedia.

The locomotive’s propulsion system is compliant with Stage III A of the European emission standards, but not the more stringent Stage III B requirements.

But noise is a another problem and this has caused council action in Scarborough.

More important than emissions or noise, is the fact, that the locomotive is diesel-powered, so the fleet will probably have to be retired from the railway, at a time, when there is still useful life left in the locomotives.

The Class 68 locomotive is a member of the Stadler Eurolight  family, of which there are three versions.

All follow similar design principles, differing mainly in dimensions, with Spain, Taiwan and the UK ordering upwards of twenty-thirty locomotives.

The UKLight branch of the family has two other members.

The Class 88 locomotive is an electro-diesel version of the Class 68 locomotive and the development of the design is described in this extract from the Class 88 locomotive’s Wikipedia entry.

Amid the fulfillment of DRS’ order for the Class 68, Stadler’s team proposed the development of a dual-mode locomotive that could be alternatively powered by an onboard diesel engine or via electricity supplied from overhead lines (OHLE). Having been impressed by the concept, DRS opted to place an order for ten Class 88s during September 2013. Having been developed alongside the Class 68, considerable similarities are shared between the two locomotives, amounting to roughly 70 percent of all components being shared.

According to Wikipedia, the type had a smooth entry into service.

The Class 93 locomotive will be the next development of the UKLight branch of the family, when it is delivered in 2023.

It will be a tri-mode locomotive, that will be capable of being powered by 25 KVAC overhead electrification, an onboard diesel engine and batteries.

It will be a 110 mph locomotive.

It can haul both passenger and freight trains.

Rail Operations Group have ordered 30 locomotives.

This is the first paragraph of the section in Wikipedia called Specification.

The Class 93 locomotive has been developed to satisfy a requirement for a fast freight locomotive that uses electric power while under the wires, but is also capable of self-powered operations. Accordingly, it is capable of running on diesel engines, from overhead wires, or from its onboard batteries. These batteries, which occupy the space used for the braking resistors in the Class 88, are charged via the onboard transformer or regenerative braking; when the batteries are fully charged, the locomotive only has its friction brakes available. The diesel engine is a six-cylinder Caterpillar C32 turbocharged power unit, rated at 900 kW, conforming with the EU97/68 stage V emission standard. The batteries units are made of Lithium Titanate Oxide and use a liquid cooling solution, enabling rapid charge and discharge.

It is a truly agnostic locomotive, that can take its power from anywhere.

The last paragraph of the specification compares the locomotive to the Class 66 locomotive.

In comparison with the Class 66, the Class 93 can outperform it in various metrics. In addition to a higher top speed, the locomotive possesses greater acceleration and far lower operating costs, consuming only a third of the fuel of a Class 66 along with lower track access charges due to its lower weight. ROG has postulated that it presents a superior business case, particularly for intermodal rail freight operations, while also being better suited for mixed-traffic operations as well. Each locomotive has a reported rough cost of £4 million.

It is no ordinary locomotive and it will change rail freight operations in the UK.

I have a feeling that the Class 93 locomotive could be a lower-carbon replacement for the Class 68 locomotive.

But I also believe that what Stadler have learned in the development of the Class 93 locomotive can be applied to the Class 68 locomotive to convert them into zero-carbon locomotives.

It may be just a matter of throwing out the diesel engine and the related gubbins and replacing them with a large battery. This process seems to have worked with Wabtec’s conversion of diesel locomotives to FLXdrive battery-electric locomotives.

 

January 22, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Direct Rail Services Disposes Of Heritage Locomotives

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

This is the first paragraph.

Direct Rail Services, the rail arm of Nuclear Transport Solutions (NTS), has announced details of its much-anticipated plan to sell off some of its heritage fleet of locomotives and coaching stock.

The main job of Direct Rail Services is to move nuclear fuel and other cargoes around the country in support of the UK’s nuclear industry. For this purpose, they have a substantial fleet of over fifty modern Class 66, Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives, which seem to have taken over from the heritage fleet, which are now starting to be passed on to other operators.

Direct Rail Services also tend to be the odd-job men and innovators of the traction business.

  • They have provided modern motive power for both regular, charter and replacement passenger services.
  • They haul freight trains for supermarkets and others.
  • They sub-lease Class 68 locomotives to other operators.
  • Both the Class 68 and Class 88 locomotives are 100 mph-capable, which must widen their markets.
  • They have supplied locomotives for Thunderbird duties.
  • They are happy to specify a new locomotive and bring it into service, as they did with the Class 68 and Class 88.

According to Wikipedia, they have issued a tender for a further ten new-build diesel-electric locomotives.

Will these be an existing design or another new design?

This is a section of the Wikipedia entry for the Class 88 locomotive.

Akin to the Class 68, the Class 88 can achieve a maximum speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), sufficient for regular passenger operations, while operating under OHLE, it has a power output of 4,000 kW (5,400 hp). Under diesel power, provided by its 12-cylinder Caterpillar C27, it has a maximum power output of 708 kW (949 hp); however, the maximum tractive effort is available in either mode. The locomotive’s engine, which is compliant with the current EU Stage IIIB emission restrictions, has limited available power as a result of the customer’s choice to give the Class 88 comparable power to a traditional Class 20.

It almost looks like a design for all purposes.

  • It can pull a passenger train at 100 mph.
  • With the right rolling stock, it must be able to pull a freight train at 100 mph.
  • A 100 mph freight capability must be very useful on double-track electrified main lines like the East and West Coast Main Lines, where it would increase capacity.
  • It probably has enough power to drag a freight train out of the depot on to an electrified main line.
  • The locomotive would appear to be able to do anything that one of Direct Rail Services’s Class 20 locomotives can do, which would surely enable it to pick-up a nuclear flask from a remote power station.
  • But it would also be able to transport the flask back to Cumbria using electric power, where it is available.
  • In ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut, I describe how a Class 88 locomotive moved a flask from Sizewell to Crewe.
  • It is compliant with the latest emission regulations.
  • It can use regenerative braking, where the electrification can handle it.

I wonder, if Direct Rail Services are going to add a locomotive to their fleet, that is capable of bringing the longest and heaviest freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe.

  • The Felixstowe Branch is a fairly flat track.
  • The only moderately severe gradients ae either side of the Spring Road Viaduct.
  • Some electrification could be added.
  • A 100 mph freight capability would help in increasing the capacity of the Great Eastern Main Line to and from London.

The right locomotive might be able to haul smaller freight trains between Felixstowe and Peterborough.

Conclusion

There has been no news about the extra ten locomotives that Direct Rail Services will order.

The company has form in designing the right locomotive for the job they will do.

I think, that when the order is placed, it could add another type of locomotive to Direct Rail Services’s fleet.

January 21, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 10 Comments

Freight On The East West Main Line

This page on the East West Main Line Partnership web site, describes their ambitions towards freight.

This is said.

The freight and logistics sector is one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions. Greater use of rail for freight and logistics provides additional resilience for the business community, while also acting on the need to achieve net zero.

Whilst not part of East West Rail, removing the bottlenecks on the Felixstowe to Midlands
corridor remains an immediate strategic priority for three sub-national transport bodies (England’s Economic Heartland, Transport East and Midlands Connect wrote to the Chancellor in this regard in July 2020).

However, the design and operation of the East West Main Line should take into account and contribute to the delivery of the requirements of the national rail freight strategy. In due course Great British Railways will have a statutory duty to consider the needs of rail freight and to take those needs into account in planning the future of the rail network.

It is therefore important that the East West Main Line is designed and delivered with the capability of supporting rail freight services without the need for additional works. In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

I have my thoughts.

Cutting Carbon Emissions In The Freight Sector

The obvious way to do this, would be to electrify every line in the country and purchase a new fleet of electric freight locomotives.

But the problems with this are the expense, disruption and timescale, it would take to replace all the locomotives and put up electrification on every line that might possibly be used by freight trains and  locomotives.

A solution is needed now, not in ten years.

But there are already solutions being demonstrated or developed that will cut carbon emissions from locomotives.

  • Stadler bi-mode Class 88 locomotives are already hauling freight trains and cutting emissions by using electric power where possible. But there are only ten of these locomotives.
  • The thirty Stadler tri-mode Class 93 locomotives on order for Rail Operations Group could or well be a game-changer. It is already known, that they will be able to cruise at 100 mph using electrification, so they will be able to mix it with the expresses on the Great Eastern Main Line. I suspect that these locomotives have been designed to be able to haul freight trains out of the Port of Felixstowe, by juggling the power sources.
  • In Freightliner Secures Government Funding For Dual-Fuel Project, I describe how Clean Air Power are converting a Class 66 locomotive to run on both diesel and hydrogen. This could be a very fruitful route, especially, if the diesel-electric Class 66 locomotives could be fitted with a pantograph to use electrification where it exists.
  • I have been very impressed with the work Wabtec have done to convert a large American diesel-electric locomotive into a battery electric locomotive. I wrote about it in FLXdrive ‘Electrifies’ Pittsburgh. In Could Class 66 Locomotives Be Converted Into Battery-Electric Locomotives?, I concluded that it might be possible to convert Class 66 locomotives into battery-electric locomotives using Wabtec’s technology.
  • In Powered By HVO, I talk about DB Cargo’s use of HVO to cut carbon emissions.

I am also sure that there are probably other solutions to decarbonise freight locomotives under development.

I would hope that over the next few years the amount of diesel fuel used in the freight sector will decrease significantly.

Improved Freight Routes

Currently, freight trains to and from Felixstowe take one of these routes.

  1. Via London – Using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line or Gospel Oak and Barking Line, and the West Coast Main Line.
  2. Via Nuneaton – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely, Peterborough and Leicester before joining the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton.
  3. Via Peterborough – Going via Bury St. Edmunds, Ely and Peterborough before taking the East Coast Main Line or the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln.

The first two routes routes have capacity problems, whereas the third route has been improved by the use of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line.

Problems on the first two routes include

  • The Great Eastern Main Line is only dual-track.
  • The Great Eastern Main Line and the routes through London are at full capacity.
  • The route via Nuneaton does not have much electrification.

The East West Main Line will open up a new route directly across the country for some services, that currently go via the London or Nuneaton routes.

  • Felixstowe and Birmingham
  • Felixstowe and Glasgow
  • Felixstowe and Liverpool
  • Felixstowe and Manchester

These services could use the East West Main Line to connect with the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley, if the track were to be modified.

In addition services between Felixstowe and South Wales and the West Country could use the East West Main Line to Oxford and then join the Great Western Main Line at Didcot.

The East West Main Line could reduce the number of freight trains on these routes.

  • Great Eastern Main Line
  • North London Line
  • Gospel Oak and Barking Line
  • Peterborough and Leicester Line

The first three lines are certainly at capacity.

The Newmarket Problem

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Coldhams Common, I talked about previous plans of the East West Rail Consortium, who were the predecessor of the East West Main Line Partnership for the rail line between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge through Newmarket.

In this document on their web site, this is said.

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

I have a feeling that if this plan were to be pursued, the Racing Industry in Newmarket wouldn’t be too keen on all the freight trains passing through the town.

Knowing the town and the racing industry and horses, as I do, I suspect that there will need to be serious noise mitigation measures through the town.

One would probably be a noise limit on the trains passing through, which might be very difficult for long freight trains, even if hauled by a much quieter battery-electric or hydrogen-powered locomotive.

Were the East West Main Line Partnership thinking of Newmarket, when they wrote the last sentence of the web page for freight.

In this regard due consideration must be given to ensuring that the impact on local communities of rail freight movements is minimised.

Newmarket is a unique town with a strong character and you shouldn’t take the town on lightly.

Related Posts

Birth Of The East West Main Line

Freight On The East West Main Line

Route Map Of The East West Main Line

 

 

 

October 8, 2021 Posted by | Hydrogen, Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Watford Junction Station’s Barrier Seats

I quite like these seats at Watford Junction station.

They would appear to give a nice perch to sit, whilst waiting for the train and also act as a crush barrier for the glass shelter behind.

They also give me something to hold, when a train goes through.

The train shown in the picture was a Tesco train between Tilbury and Daventry.

It went through the station at probably over 60 mph.

It had the usual smelly and polluting Class 66 on the front.

It took four hours 45 minutes for the journey, which included the Gospel Oak and Barking Line through London.

I did note earlier that the train seemed to be using modern wagons.

Are these wagons faster than those you generally see on UK railways?

Surely too, this is the type of train, that could be hauled by an electric locomotive with a Last-Mile capability, like a Class 88 Locomotive.

I would have thought, that Tesco could benefit, by using electric haulage, especially if the locomotive was appropriately liveried.

 

July 6, 2021 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

Nunhead Junction Improvement

London has a rail capacity problem, for both freight and passenger trains.

This report from Network Rail is entitled The London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

One of the secondary recommendations of the report is to improve Nunhead junction.

The report explains it like this.

Rail freight stakeholders have consistently highlighted Nunhead as a priority location for improving the flow of freight around the London orbital routes. The junction to the immediate east of the station is a flat crossing where two lines of route and multiple passenger and freight services groups converge into the South London Line, creating a pinch point for capacity.

Freight train drivers, when consulted for input into this strategy, flagged the route eastbound from Peckham Rye through Nunhead and towards Lewisham as a challenging section on which to keep heavier trains moving. This is primarily a consequence of the relatively slow permissible speed of 25mph over Nunhead Junction when routed towards Lewisham,
which follows a steadily rising gradient from Peckham Rye.

The option proposed by this strategy is for changes to the track alignment in order to increase the speed of the turnout towards Lewisham, as far as can be achieved without affecting the speed of the main route towards Catford. This option would primarily benefit the performance of eastbound freight flowing from the South London Line towards the North Kent lines, one of the key rail freight corridors in the South East, enabling freight trains to run at faster and more consistent speeds towards Lewisham.

This would most likely increase right time presentation at the critical flat junction at Lewisham, as well as assisting the flow of passenger and freight trains to the Catford Loop by ensuring preceding Lewisham-bound traffic can clear Nunhead Junction as quickly as possible.

Addressing the existing constraints to freight traffic through Nunhead, which by their nature most affect the heavier bulk traffic that characterises the North Kent corridor, would also support industry aspirations to maximise the payloads that trains can haul.

This map from cartometro.com shows the route between Nunhead and Lewisham stations.

 

And this Google Map shows Nunhead station and the junction.

Note.

  1. Nunhead junction is towards the right of the map.
  2. The lines going to the East go to Lewisham.
  3. The lines going to the South East go to Crofton Park and Catford.
  4. I have counted the freight trains through Nunhead junction on real time trains  and there can be as main as six trains per hour (tph), through the junction at times, using both Lewisham and Crofton Park routes.

But there would also appear to be plenty of space around the junction to realign the tracks.

As many trains need to go East from Lewisham and there are two flat junctions on the route; Nunhead and Lewisham, anything that improves keeping to schedule is to be welcomed.

The Use Of Electric Haulage

All routes through Nunhead junction have 750 VDC third-rail electrification, but I suspect all freight trains through the junction are diesel hauled.

Real time trains also shows that many of the trains through Nunhead junction also use the West London Line through Shepherd’s Bush.

In Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes, I proposed a dual-voltage battery-electric locomotive to handle freight trains.

Perhaps more capable battery-electric freight locomotives with their better acceleration, are part of the solution at Nunhead junction.

Conclusion

This appears to be a well-thought out solution to one of the problems for freight trains in London.

I also believe that dual-voltage battery-electric locomotives could be part of the solution at Nunhead junction and would also help in many other places on the UK rail network.

Related Posts

These are related posts about the London Rail Freight Strategy (LRFS).

Decarbonisation Of London’s Freight Routes

Doubling Harlesden Junction

East Coast Main Line South Bi-Directional Capability

Gauge Improvements Across London

Gospel Oak Speed Increases

Headway Reductions On The Gospel Oak To Barking, North London and West London Lines

Heavy Axle Weight Restrictions

Kensal Green Junction Improvement

Longhedge Junction Speed Increases

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Kensington Olympia

Moving The West London Line AC/DC Switchover To Shepherd’s Bush

Stratford Regulating Point Extension

Will Camden Road Station Get A Third Platform?

Will Clapham Junction Station Get A Platform 0?

June 24, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Class 88 Locomotive Heads On To The East Coast Main Line

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

This is the first three paragraphs.

Direct Rail Services has confirmed that one of its Class 88 broke new ground last week when it ran the length of the East Coast Main Line.

Last weekend, freight operator, DRS, ran a new diversionary route to enable the Class 88 locomotives to run almost the length of the ECML on electric power, as well as feeder routes that link up Daventry and Mossend.

The route normally follows the West Coast Main Line, but engineering work last weekend required a diversion.

That makes a second Class 88 locomotive story, where the locomotives are serving new routes, after ’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut.

Could it be that with new electrification coming on stream and more being planned, Direct Rail Services are researching what these locomotives can do?

The Route

As the Rail Advent article says, the route is electric all the way from Mossend to Daventry.

Mossend to Edinburgh via the Shotts Line.

  • Edinburgh to Stevenage via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Stevenage to Alexandra Palace via the Hertford Loop Line.
  • Alexandra Palace to Camden Road Central Junction via the East Coast Main Line.
  • Xamden Road Central Junction to Camden Junction via the North London Line.
  • Camden Junction to Daventry via the West Coast Main Line.

But it does go round the houses!

Note.

  1. The journey took fifteen hours and it arrived about two-and-a-half hours late.
  2. Edinburgh to Stevenage was timed to take seven hours, whereas passengers can do that journey in four-and-a half hours with a change.

With some strategic electrification would the train be able to cut across from the East Coast Main Line to reach Daventry?

The Future Of Direct Rail Services

Direct Rail Services have a mixed fleet of locomotives.

Only the last two types are modern locomotives, that are capable of hauling trains at 100 mph.

The Wikipedia entry also says this.

In September 2017, Direct Rail Services issued a tender for ten brand new diesel-electric locomotives.

Consider.

  • As Government policy is a zero-carbon UK by 2050, is that likely to change the tender to electro-diesel locomotives?
  • Direct Rail Services is owned by the Government,
  • The order from Rail Operations Group for Class 93 locomotives seems to have stalled.
  • Rail Operations Group have some ambitious plans for the use of the tri-mode 110 mph Class 93 locomotives, which I wrote about in Rail Operations Group Gets Serious About Thunderbirds Etc.
  • As any locomotives delivered in the next few years, will probably still be running in 2060, surely this conflicts with Government policy.

Perhaps, all three parties are working on a cunning plan to jointly order a common design.

 

 

 

 

 

May 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

’88’ Makes Sizewell Debut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

May 22, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

GWR and DfT’s Commitment To The Night Riviera

The May 2020 Edition of Modern Railways has an article, which is entitled West Of England Improvements In GWR Deal.

Under a heading of Sleeper Planning, this is said about plans for the Night Riviera.

Whilst GWR is already developing plans for the short term future of the ‘Night Riviera’ sleeper service, including the provision of additional capacity at times of high demand using Mk. 3 vehicles withdrawn from the Caledonian Sleeper fleet, it is understood the company has been asked to develop a long-term plan for the replacement of the current Mk. 3 fleet of coaches, constructed between 1981 and 1984, as well as the Class 57/6 locomotives, which were rebuilt in 2002-03 from Class 47 locomotives constructed in the early 1960s.

This must show commitment from both GWR and the Department for Transport, that the Night Riviera has a future.

These are a few of my thoughts on the future of the service.

The Coaches

I would suspect that GWR will opt for the same Mark 5 coaches, built by CAF, as are used on the Caledonian Sleeper.

I took these pictures on a trip from Euston to Glasgow.

The coaches don’t seem to have any problems and appear to be performing well.

The facilities are comprehensive and include full en-suite plumbing, a selection of beds including doubles and a lounge car. There are also berths for disabled passengers.

The Locomotives

The Class 57 locomotives have a power output around 2 MW and I would suspect a similar-sized locomotive would be used.

Possible locomotives could include.

  • Class 67 – Used by Chiltern on passenger services – 2.4 kW
  • Class 68 – Used by Chiltern, TransPennine Express and others on passenger services – 2.8 MW
  • Class 88 – A dual-mode locomotive might be powerful enough on diesel – 700 kW

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stadler come up with a customised version of their Euro Dual dual-mode locomotives.

 

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Lincolnshire, West Norfolk And The North Netherlands

These three areas are very similar.

This sentence comes from the Wikipedia entry for The Fens, which are found where Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk come together.

Most of the Fenland lies within a few metres of sea level. As with similar areas in the Netherlands, much of the Fenland originally consisted of fresh- or salt-water wetlands. These have been artificially drained and continue to be protected from floods by drainage banks and pumps.

I have heard it said, that The Fens owe a lot of their landscape to the Dutch, as it was the Dutch, who originally had a lot to do with draining the land.

It should also be noted, that one of the most famous people from the area is Commander George Vancouver of the Royal Navy, who was the son of John Jasper Vancouver, a Dutch-born deputy collector of customs in King’s Lynn. He gave his name to the Canadian city of Vancouver.

The Dutch have returned in that two of the three rail franchises in the area, are under the control of the Dutch company; Abellio; Greater Anglia (GA) and East Midlands Railway (EMR).

Current and future services through the area include.

  • GA – Stansted Airport and Norwich via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Liverpool Street and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • GA – Colchester and Peterborough via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • EMR – Norwich and Nottingham
  • EMR – Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln
  • EMR – Nottingham and Skegness via Grantham, Sleaford and Boston
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport via Peterborough, Cambridge and Ely.
  • Great Northern – King’s Cross and King’s Lynn via Ely and Cambridge
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Peterborough
  • Thameslink – King’s Cross and Cambridge

Note.

Most services are hourly, with some London services at a higher frequency.

  1. EMR are planning to increase certain early, late and Sunday services, so there may be improvements.
  2. GA are planning to introduce new Class 755 trains pn diesel services and new Class 720 trains on electric services.
  3. The Ely, Cambridge North and Cambridge corridor can have a frequency as high as eight trains per hour (tph)

Will EMR and GA work together to improve services in the area they jointly serve?

These are a few of my thoughts.

A Look At The North Of The Netherlands

In The Train Station At The Northern End Of The Netherlands, I looked at what the Dutch are doing in the North of the country, near to the city of Groningen.

  • Groningen is a city of around 200,000 people and a major rail hub, with services fanning out through the flat landscape.
  • The trains are mainly Stadler GTWs, which are the forerunners of GA’s Class 755 trains.
  • The Dutch are developing a hydrogen-based economy in the area, which I described in The Dutch Plan For Hydrogen.

Are Abellio looking to bring some of the ideas from the Netherlands to the UK?

I think to a certain extent, we’re going the same way. For instance, in the North of Lincolnshire a lot of development is going on to develop an energy economy based on offshore wind and energy storage.

The Cambridge Effect

Cambridge effects the whole of the area, in its demand for housing and premises for research, development and manufacture.

The Cambridge And Peterborough Problem

I used to play tennis, with a guy, who was promoting Peterborough as an expansion area for Cambridge. Peterborough is a city, with space and good connections to London and the North, by rail and the A1 road.

,But the problem is that the road and rail links between the two cities are atrocious, with a two-lane dual-carriageway and an hourly three-car diesel train.

It is my view, that the gap in the electrification between Ely and Peterborough should eventually be removed.

  • The land is flat.
  • The route is thirty miles long.
  • The route was recently upgraded to take the largest container trains, so electrification, surely wouldn’t be too difficult.
  • The biggest problem would probably be dealing with the numerous level crossings.

Electrification would allow.

  • More frequent and faster passenger trains between Cambridge, Ely and Peterborough.
  • Freight trains between Felixstowe and the North would be easier to haul using electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 and Class 93.
  • It would create an electrified diversion route for trains on the East Coast Main Line.

After electrification, it would be possible to have a much-needed four tph service between Cambridge and Peterbough with stops at Cambridge North, Waterbeach, Ely, Manea, March and Whittlesea.

  • Cambridge and Peterborough sstations both have several platforms, that could be used to terminate extra services.
  • The service could be extended to Cambridge South station, when that is built in a few years.

GA’s Class 755 trains could even provide the service without electrification.

What About Wisbech?

Wisbech is a town of 33,000 people without a passenger rail link.

But it does have the Bramley Line.

This is the introductory paragraph in Wikipedia.

The Bramley Line is a railway line between March and Wisbech in Cambridgeshire, England. A number of proposals are currently being investigated relating to the possible restoration of passenger services along the route.

The Association of Train Operating Companies and various politicians have supported creating a passenger service between Wisbech and Cambridge via March and Ely.

The service could be as follows.

It would use an existing single-track line, which would probably just need upgrading.

  • Cambridge and Wisbech would take around forty-five minutes.
  • A train would take two hours for the round trip.
  • An hourly service would take two trains.

What is useful, is that the length of the branch line is short enough, that it may be possible to be run the service using One Train Working.

Improvements Between Cambridge And King’s Lynn

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Work On £27m East of England Upgrades Set To Begin.

It lists the work to be done and the benefit in these two paragraphs.

The upgrades, between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, will include two platform extensions at Waterbeach and a platform extension at Littleport.

This will allow the introduction of eight-car services during peak times, providing passengers with more seats and a better experience.

The works will certainly add capacity for commuters to and from Cambridge and London.

Will the upgrade at Waterbeach station allow Greater Anglia’s four-car Class 755 trains to call.?

There is a section in the Wikipedia entry for Waterbeach station, which is entitled Future Plans, where this is said.

Plans to develop a New Town of 8,000 to 9,000 homes on the former Waterbeach Barracks site have been outlined by South Cambridgeshire District Council. As part of the proposal, there are plans to relocate the station to a new site and extend the platforms to accommodate 12 car trains.

This is more housing for Cambridge and I’m sure that the promised Norwich and Stansted Airport service will call.

Will Services Be Joined Back-To-Back At Peterborough?

Train companies sometimes find that joining two services together in a busy station is a good idea.

  • It may use less trains and drivers.
  • It uses a through platform rather than two bay platforms.
  • Trains could be turned in a more convenient station.

A proportion of passengers don’t have to change trains.

Note.

  1. |East Midlands Railway are joining the Doncaster and Lincoln, and Lincoln and Peterborough services into one service.
  2. Greater Anglia are extending the Peterborough and Ipswich service to Manningtree.
  3. Greater Anglia are extending the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport.

But East Midlands Railway are also splitting the Norwich and Liverpool service into two.

These are the services that are planned to terminate at Peterborough.

  • Peterborough and Colchester via Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds and Ely
  • Peterborough and Doncaster via Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln

As I said earlier, I would’ve be surprised to see extra Cambridge and Peterborough services to increase capacity between the two cities.

Current timings of the various sections are as follows.

  1. Peterborough and Lincoln – one hour and twenty-three minutes
  2. Lincoln and Doncaster – fifty-four minutes
  3. Peterborough and Ipswich – one hour and thirty-nine minutes
  4. Ipswich and Colchester – nineteen minutes
  5. Peterborough and Cambridge – fifty minutes

Adding up 3 and 4 gives a Colchester and Peterborough timing of one hour and fifty-eight minutes. But the new Class 755 trains are faster and will be running at full speed on electrification for sections of the journey.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under four hours. This would mean that four trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Adding up 1 and 2 gives a Peterborough and Doncaster timing of two hours and seventeen minutes.

With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours. This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

Could these two services be run back-to-back to create a Colchester and Doncaster service?

It would take four hours and fifteen minutes or nine hours for a round trip. This would mean that nine trains would be needed for an hourly service.

This is the same number of trains that would be needed for the two separate services.

The two companies might decide to run a joint service, but!

  • In whose colours would the train run?
  • Would there be crewing difficulties?
  • If a train fails, it would probably be a long way from home.
  • It has been felt sensible to split the five hour and thirty-five minute Norwich and Liverpool services.

Would it be possible to run a service between Cambridge and Lincoln?

  • Adding up 1 and 5 gives a timing of two hours and thirteen minutes.
  • With the turnround at both ends, a round trip would be under five hours.
  • This would mean that five trains would be needed for an hourly service.

It would be possible, but would the convenience attract enough passengers to make the service viable?

Would It Be Worth Reinstating March And Spalding?

There used to be a railway between March and Spalding.

Wikipedia says this about the closure of the route.

When the line closed between March and Spalding in 1982,[3] freight traffic was diverted through Peterborough station instead of cutting across the western edge of the Fens to avoid the line through Peterborough station

Some have called for the route to be reinstated to enable freight trains to by-pass Peterborough, when travelling between Felixstowe and the route to the North through Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln and Doncaster.

  • It is not a long route.
  • It could provide a passenger route between Cambridge and Lincoln.

I suspect that Network Rail looked at this scheme as an alternative to the Werrington Dive Under, which has been costed at £200 million.

Wikipedia says this about the Werrington Dive Under.

The project will see the construction of 1.9 miles (3 km) of new line that will run underneath the fast lines, culverting works on Marholm Brook and the movement of the Stamford lines 82 feet (25 m) westwards over the culverted brook. The project, coupled with other ECML improvement schemes (such as the four tracking from Huntingdon to Woodwalton) will improve capacity on the line through Peterborough by 33% according to Network Rail. This equates to two extra train paths an hour by 2021, when the work is scheduled to be completed.

A thirty-three percent capacity increase seems a powerful reason to build the Werrington Dive Under.

Would it also enable a faster route for trains between King’s Cross and Lincoln?

As to whether the direct route between March and Spalding will ever be reinstated, this will surely depend on several factors.

  • The number of freight trains needing to go between Felixstowe and Doncaster.
  • The maximum number of freight trains, that can use the freight route, through Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.
  • Whether a passenger service on the route is worthwhile.

There are also protests about the number of freight trains already using the route.

I can see the capacity of the freight route being increased and the route being made a more friendly neighbour, after the opening of the Werrington Dive Under.

  • Level crossings will be replaced by bridges.
  • Adoption of zero-carbon locomotives.
  • Installation of noise-reduction measures.

The line might even be electrified.

Peterborough After Werrington

If we assume that the services stay as currently proposed, the following trains will stop at Peterborough on their way to either Cambridge or Lincoln.

  • GA – Peterborough and Ipswich or Colchester – Platform 6
  • EMR – Peterborough and Lincoln or Doncaster- Platform 1 or 2
  • EMR- Norwich and Nottingham – Platform 7
  • EMR- Nottingham and Norwich – Platform 6
  • CrossCountry – Stansted Airport and Birmingham – Platform 7
  • CrossCountry – Birmingham and Stansted Airport- Platform 6

Note.

  1. Trains going to Cambridge use Platform 6.
  2. Trains coming from Cambridge  use Platform 7
  3. The Ipswich or in the future; Colchester service uses Platform 6 to turnback.
  4. The Lincoln or in the future; Doncaster service uses Platform 1 or 2 to turnback.
  5. Platform 6 and 7 is a new island platform with direct access to the Stamford Lines and the tracks in the Werrington Dive Under that connect to Spalding, Sleaford and Lincoln.

This means that after the Werrington Dive Under opens in a couple of years, the Peterborough and Doncaster service will stop in the wrong side of the station.

So it is likely, that Doncaster services will continue from the Werrington Dive Under into Platform 6 or 7 in Peterborough station.

As the Colchester service will probably still turnback in Platform 6 could we see the Doncaster and Colchester services timed to be in the island platform 6 & 7 at the same time.

Passengers would just walk a few metres between the two trains.

This Google Map shows the lines South of the station.

The Peterborough-Ely Line can be seen running East-West, to the South of the River Nene and then going under the East oast Main Line, before connecting to Platforms 6 and 7 on the West side of the station.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note the three island platforms, which are numbered 6 & 7, 4 & 5 and 2 & 3 from West to East.

The Wikipedia entry for Peterborough station, says this about Platforms 6 & 7.

Platforms 6 & 7: These new platforms were commissioned over the Christmas break 2013, and are now used by CrossCountry services between Stansted Airport/Cambridge via Ely and Birmingham New Street via Leicester; East Midlands Trains services between Norwich and Liverpool; and Greater Anglia services to Ipswich.

North from Peterborough station and just South of the site of the Werrington Dive Under is the Cock Lane Bridge. I took these pictures in November 2018.

Note the three fast lines of the East Coast Main Line on the Eastern side and the two Stamford Lines on the Western side.

Just North of thie bridge, the Stamford Lines will split and trains will be able to continue to  Stamford or cross under the East Coast Main Line towards Lincoln.

As there is a loop for freight trains through Peterborough station, the Werrington Dive Under will be able to handle sufficient trains.

Conclusion

The layout of Peterborouh station and the Werrington Dive Under will give Abellio a lot of flexibility to improve services in South Lincolnshire and West Norfolk.

Network Rail gets a lot of criticism, but you can’t fault the design and what lies behind it, in this instant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could A Battery- Or Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive Borrow A Feature Of A Steam Locomotive?

Look at these pictures of the steam locomotive; Oliver Cromwell at Kings Cross station.

Unlike a diesel or electric locomotive, most powerful steam locomotives have a tender behind, to carry all the coal and water.

The Hydrogen Tank Problem

One of the problems with hydrogen trains for the UK’s small loading gauge is that it is difficult to find a place for the hydrogen tank.

The picture is a visualisation of the proposed Alstom Breeze conversion of a Class 321 train.

  • There is a large hydrogen tank between the driving compartment and the passengers.
  • The passenger capacity has been substantially reduced.
  • The train will have a range of several hundred miles on a full load of hydrogen.

The Alstom Breeze may or may not be a success, but it does illustrate the problem of where to put the large hydrogen tank needed.

In fact the problem is worse than the location and size of the hydrogen tank, as the hydrogen fuel cells and the batteries are also sizeable components.

An Ideal Freight Locomotive

The Class 88 locomotive, which has recently been introduced into the UK, is a successful modern locomotive with these power sources.

  • 4 MW using overhead 25 KVAC overhead electrication.
  • 0.7 MW using an onboard diesel engine.

Stadler are now developing the Class 93 locomotive, which adds batteries to the power mix.

The ubiquitous Class 66 locomotive has a power of  nearly 2.5 MW.

But as everybody knows, Class 66 locomotives come with a lot of noise, pollution, smell and a substantial carbon footprint.

To my mind, an ideal locomotive must be able to handle these freight tasks.

  • An intermodal freight train between Felixstowe and Manchester.
  • An intermodal freight train between Southampton and Leeds.
  • A work train for Network Rail
  • A stone train between the Mendips and London.

The latter is probably the most challenging, as West of Newbury, there is no electrification.

I also think, that locomotives must be able to run for two hours or perhaps three,  on an independent power source.

  • Independent power sources could be battery, diesel, hydrogen, or a hybrid design
  • This would enable bridging the many significant electrification gaps on major freight routes.

I feel that an ideal locomotive would need to meet the following.

  • 4 MW when running on a line electrified with either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail.
  • 4 MW for two hours, when running on an independent power source.
  • Ability to change from electric to independent power source at speed.
  • 110 mph operating speed.

This would preferably be without diesel.

Electric-Only Version

Even running without the independent power source, this locomotive should be able to haul a heavy intermodal freight train between London and Glasgow on the fully-electrified West Coast Main Line.

I regularly see freight trains pass along the North London Line, that could be electric-hauled, but there is a polluting Class 66 on the front.

Is this because there is a shortage of quality electric locomotives? Or electric locomotives with a Last Mile capability, that can handle the routes that need it?

If we have to use pairs of fifty-year-old Class 86 locomotives, then I suspect there are not enough electric freight locomotives.

Batteries For Last Mile Operation

Stadler have shown, in the design of the Class 88 locomotive, that in a 4 MW electric locomotive, there is still space to fit a heavy diesel engine.

I wonder how much  battery capacity could be installed in a UK-sized 4 MW electric locomotive, based on Stadler’s UK Light design.

Would it be enough to give the locomotive a useful Last Mile capability?

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I estimated that a Class 88 locomotive could replace the diesel engine with a battery with a battery capacity of between 700 kWh and 1 MWh.

This would give about fifteen minutes at full power.

Would this be a useful range?

Probably not for heavy freight services, if you consider that a freight train leaving the Port of Felixstowe takes half-an-hour to reach the electrification at Ipswich.

But it would certainly be enough power to bring the heaviest freight train out of Felixstowe Port to Trimley.

If the Felixstowe Branch Line were to be at least partially electrified, then I’m sure a Class 88 locomotive with a battery instead of the diesel engine could bring the heaviest train to the Great Eastern Main Line.

  • Electrifying between Trimley and the Great Eastern Main Line should be reasonably easy, as much of the route has recently been rebuilt.
  • Electrifying Felixstowe Port would be very disruptive to the operation of the port.
  • Cranes and overhead wires don’t mix!

I wonder how many services to and from Felixstowe could be handled by an electric locomotive with a Last Five Miles-capability, if the Great Eastern Main Line electrification was extended a few miles along the Felixstowe Branch Line.

As an aside here, how many of the ports and freight interchanges are accessible to within perhaps five miles by electric haulage?

I believe that if we are going to decarbonise UK railways by 2040, then we should create electrified routes to within a few miles of all ports and freight interchanges.

Batteries For Traction

If batteries are to provide 4 MW power for two hours, they will need to have a capacity of 8 MWh.

In Thoughts On A Battery Electric Class 88 Locomotive On TransPennine Routes, I said this.

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

This means that a one tonne battery holds about 100 kWh.

So to hold 8 MWh or 8,000 kWh, there would be a need to be an 80 tonne battery using today’s technology.

A Stadler Class 88 locomotive weighs 86 tonnes and has a 21.5 tonne axle load, so the battery would almost double the weight of the locomotive.

So to carry this amount of battery power, the batteries must be carried in a second vehicle, just like some steam locomotives have a tender.

But suppose Stadler developed another version of their UK Light locomotive, which was a four-axle locomotive that held the largest battery possible in the standard body.

  • It would effectively be a large battery locomotive.
  • It would share a lot of components with the Class 88 locomotive or preferably the faster Class 93 locomotive, which is capable of 110 mph.
  • It would have cabs on both  ends.
  • It might have a traction power of perhaps 2-2.5 MW on the battery.
  • It would have a pantograph for charging the battery if required and running under electrification.
  • It might be fitted with third rail equipment.

It could work independently or electrically-connected to the proposed 4 MW electric locomotive.

I obviously don’t know all the practicalities and economics of designing such a pair of locomotives, but I do believe that the mathematics say  that a 4 MW electric locomotive can be paired with a locomotive that has a large  battery.

  • It would have 4 MW, when running on electrified lines.
  • It would have up to 4 MW, when running on battery power for at least an hour.
  • ,It could use battery-power to bridge the gaps in the UK’s electrification network and for Last Mile operation.

A  very formidable zero-carbon locomotive-pair could be possible.

The battery locomotive could also work independently as a 2 MW battery-electric locomotive.

Hydrogen Power

I don’t see why a 4 MW electric locomotive , probably with up to 1,000 kWh of batteries couldn’t be paired with a second vehicle, that contained a hydrogen tank, a hydrogen fuel-cell.and some more batteries.

It’s all a question of design and mathematics.

It should also be noted, that over time the following will happen.

  • Hydrogen tanks will be able to store hydrogen at a greater pressure.
  • Fuel cells will have a higher power to weight ratio.
  • Batteries will have a higher power storage density.

These improvements will all help to make a viable hydrogen-powered generator or locomotive possible.

I also feel that the same hydrogen technology could be used to create a hydrogen-powered locomotive with this specfication.

  • Ability to use 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • 2 MW on electrification.
  • 1.5 MW on hydrogen/battery power.
  • 100 mph capability.
  • Regenerative braking to batteries.
  • Ability to pull a rake of five or six coaches.

This could be a very useful lower-powered locomotive.

What About The Extra Length?

A Class 66 locomotive is 21.4 metres long and a Class 68 locomotive is 20.3 metres long. Network Rail is moving towards a maximum freight train length of 775 metres, so it would appear that another twenty metre long vehicle wouldn’t be large in the grand scheme of things.

Conclusion

My instinct says to be that it would be possible to design a family of locomotives or an electric locomotive with a second vehicle containing batteries or a hydrogen-powered electricity generator, that could haul freight trains on some of the partially-electrified routes in the UK.

 

 

 

July 28, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment