The Anonymous Widower

Freightliner’s New Livery

.As I passed through Ipswich yesterday, I took these images of Freightliner’s locomotives in their new livery.

Note.

  1. Freightliner’s new depot on the town side of the Great Eastern Main Line appears to be fully open.
  2. Freightliner’s Class 90 locomotives, which they received from Greater Anglia now seem to be in the new livery.
  3. Freightliner’s Class 08 shunter is also shown in the new livery.

It also looked like up to four Class 90 locomotives were parked by Ipswich station.

This Google Map shows the tracks at the Western end of Ipswich station.

Note.

  1. The Greater Anglia Class 755 train in Platform 1 of Ipswich station.
  2. The two Freightliner Class 90 locomotives in the old green livery in the locomotive parking.
  3. I wonder, if freight trains are now changing to electric haulage after being hauled out of Felixstowe into Ipswich Yard, before continuing their onward journey.

Yesterday, by the use of Real Time Trains, I found these trains changed to electric haulage at Ipswich.

  • 0250 – 436K – Felixstowe North to Garston – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.
  • 0912 – 496K – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.
  • 0932 – 497K – Felixstowe North to Ditton
  • 1113 – 412L – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park
  • 2046 – 410M – Felixstowe North to Trafford Park
  • 2152 – 412M – Felixstowe North to Garston – Changed back to diesel at Crewe.

These are my thoughts.

Changing Locomotives At Ipswich

It seems to take about 25 minutes to change a locomotive from diesel to electric.

At Ipswich, this seems to fairly easy.

  • The freight train from Felixstowe stops in Ipswich Yard to the West of the station.
  • The diesel locomotive is detached and probably moved to the yard to the South of the station.
  • The electric locomotive is moved from by the station and attached to the train.
  • The train goes on its way using electric traction.

All locomotive movements don’t seem to be too challenging.

Could More Electric Services Be Run?

I found these paths yesterday, where services left Felixstowe and went South to London.

  • Coatbridge – 1
  • Ditton – 2
  • East Midlands Gateway – 1
  • Garston – 2
  • Hams Hall – 2
  • Lawley Street – 3
  • Trafford Park – 5
  • Wentloog – 3

This is a total of nineteen trains and currently only six are electrified between Ipswich and London.

Would Bi-Mode Locomotives Be More Efficient?

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I wrote about how GB Railfreight were planning to acquire a fleet of bi-mode locomotives.

In the related post, I said this.

I feel that, as the locomotive must fit current routes and schedules, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following specification.

  • UK loading gauge.
  • Co-Co
  • Class 90 locomotive power and operating speed on electricity of 3.7 MW and 110 mph.
  • Class 66 locomotive power and operating speed on diesel of 2.5 MW and 75 mph.
  • Ability to change between electric and diesel power at speed.
  • Ability to haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe.
  • Ability to haul passenger trains.

Stadler will have one eye on the fact, that if they get this design right, this order for up to fifty locomotives could be just the start.

These locomotives would be ideal for Felixstowe to Ditton, Garston and Trafford Park.

  • They would eliminate changing locomotives on these routes.
  • They would reduce carbon emissions and fuel usage.
  • They would be able to run at at least 100 mph on the Great Eastern and West Coast Main Lines.

They might also open up other partially electrified routes from Felixstowe via London.

Felixstowe And Wentloog

Wentloog freight terminal in South Wales.

In Movable Overhead Electrification To Decarbonise Freight, I used the Ipswich and Wentloog route to show how a long route could be decarbonised by the use of moveable electrification.

Conclusion

It looks like a philosophy is emerging to decarbonise a large proportion of freight services out of the Port of Felixstowe.

 

 

 

March 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Movable Overhead Electrification To Decarbonise Freight

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

This is the first paragraph.

The use of a moveable overhead conductor rail to eliminate the need to use diesel locomotives at freight terminals where traditional fixed electrification equipment would obstruct loading and unloading is being demonstrated in the UK, and a trial in India is planned.

The Railway Gazette article also has two pictures, which show the overhead conductor rail in two positions.

Ipswich And Wentloog

In A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Wentloog, I wrote about running freight trains between Felixstowe and Wentloog using a Class 93 locomotive.

Currently, there appear to be three services a day each way between Felixstowe and Wentloog.

  • They are diesel hauled.
  • The Class 66 locomotive can’t travel faster than 75 mph.
  • The route between Ipswich and Wentloog is fully-electrified.
  • Other services that go from Felixstowe to the rest of the UK via London, are sometimes hauled by a Class 90 locomotive from Ipswich.
  • Class 90 electric locomotives can haul trains at up to 110 mph.

This Google Map shows the layout of Wentloog freight terminal.

Fitting a moveable overhead conductor rail at Wentloog would surely allow carbon-cutting Class 90 locomotives to haul a train, between Ipswich and Wentloog.

How many other freight terminals can be electrified by installing a moveable overhead conductor rail?

March 19, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

DB Cargo UK Successfully Trials The Use Of ‘Combi-Consists’

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release on DB Cargo UK.

This is the first paragraph.

DB Cargo UK is trialling the use of ‘combi-consists’ to increase capacity, improve customer service and improve its efficiency.

The next four paragraphs describe the trial.

This month the UK’s largest rail freight operator ran a unique jumbo train from Belmont Yard in Doncaster to Barking, East London, carrying a mix of wagons for two altogether different types of customers.

The train consisted of two sets of empty wagons – 21 x MBA wagons for Ward Recycling and 18 x JNA wagons for FCC Environment – with an isolated DIT (dead-in-train) locomotive – in the middle.

The MBA wagons had previously been discharged at Immingham in North Lincolnshire and the JNA wagons discharged at FCC Environment’s new waste transfer facility at Tinsley in South Yorkshire.

Both sets of wagons were then taken to DB Cargo UK’s Belmont Yard depot in Doncaster where the jumbo train was assembled. The train travelled from Belmont Yard to Barking via Lincoln Central, Spalding, The East Coast Mainline, Hertford North and Canonbury Tunnel.

There is also a video embedded in the press release, which shows the formation of the train in detail.

This train is certainly efficient, as it uses less train paths, crew and fuel.

DB Cargo UK now intend to trial the concept on a greater portion of the East Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line.

I have a few thoughts.

Could The Concept Work With Loaded Trains?

This trial was with empty trains, but would it be possible to use the concept with two shorter loaded trains?

Would there be advantages in terms of efficiency, if the following were done?

  • Two container trains leave Felixstowe as a pair, with one going to Plymouth and the other going to Cardiff.
  • They split at say Swindon and then proceed independently.

Obviously, all the weights would have to be in order and the locomotive would need to be able to pull the combined train.

Other possibilities might be.

  • Stone trains running from the Mendips and the Peak District to London.
  • Biomass trains running from import terminals to power stations in the Midlands.
  • Trains delivering new cars.
  • Trains delivering goods for supermarkets. Tesco are certainly increasing their use of trains.

I would suspect that DB Cargo UK have several ideas.

Could An Electric Locomotive Go In The Middle?

A Class 90 locomotive weighs 84.5 tonnes, as against the 129.6 tonnes of the Class 66 locomotive used in the trial.

So if the electric locomotive can be run dead-in-train, the weight would be slightly less.

But this might give a big advantage, if they ever wanted to run a pair of trains from Felixstowe to Plymouth and Cardiff, as per my earlier example.

  • The trains would split anywhere on the electrified section of the Great Western Main Line.
  • The lead train would go to Plymouth.
  • The second train would go to Cardiff, which is now fully electrified.

There would appear to be possibilities to save carbon emissions.

Could An Electric Locomotive Go On The Front?

Some routes out of Felixstowe are fully-electrified from the Great Eastern Main Line.

It could be possible for the following.

  • Two diesel-hauled trains to leave Felixstowe with ubiquitous Class 66 locomotives and form up as a combi-consist train in Ipswich yard.
  • The Class 66 locomotive on the front is replaced by an electric locomotive.
  • Both Class 90 and Class 92 electric locomotives have twice the power of a Class 66 locomotive, so both should be able to haul the combi-consist train.

The trains would split en-route with the electric locomotive hauling a train to an electrified destination.

This picture shows, what could be an experiment by Freightliner at Shenfield.

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to ask the driver, if the Class 66 locomotive was running dead-in-train or helping the Class 90 locomotive with a very heavy load.

The picture shows, that the electric and diesel locomotives can work together, at the front of a train.

Since I took this picture, I’ve never seen a similar consist again.

Could A Bi-Mode Locomotive Go On The Front?

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I talked about how GB Railfreight had started negotiations to purchase a fleet of powerful bi-mode locomotives from Stadler.

  • Provisionally, they have been called Class 99 locomotives.
  • The locomotives will be Co-Co bi-modes.
  • The diesel engine will be for heavy main line freight and not just last-mile operations.
  • I suspect that on diesel the power will be at least 2.5 MW to match a Class 66 locomotive.

These locomotives could be ideal for hauling combi-consist trains.

Would Combi-Consist Trains Save Energy?

This could be a big driver of the use of combi-consist trains and may push DB Cargo UK to acquire some powerful bi-mode locomotives.

Conclusion

Combi-consist trains seem to be an excellent idea.

 

March 16, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

GB Railfreight is planning to order a fleet of main line electro-diesel locomotives with a modular design which would facilitate future replacement of the diesel engine with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell module.

The rest of the article gives clues to the deal and the specification of the locomotives.

  • Negotiations appear to have started with Stadler for locomotives to be built at their Valencia plant.
  • Twenty locomotives could be ordered initially, with options for thirty.
  • The locomotive will be Co-Co bi-modes.
  • The diesel engine will be for heavy main line freight and not just last-mile operations.
  • They would be capable of hauling freight trains between Ipswich and Felixstowe, within two minutes of the times of a Class 66 locomotive.
  • They will be of a modular design, so that in the future, the diesel engine might be replaced by a battery or fuel cells as required and possible.

They have provisionally been called Class 99 locomotives.

These are my thoughts.

EuroDual or UKLight?

Stadler make two types of bi-mode locomotives.

But the two types are closely related and open up other possibilities.

This paragraph from the Eurolight wikipedia entry, explains the various versions.

The type has been intentionally developed to support use on secondary lines without limiting power or speed performances, making it suitable for mixed traffic operations. Specific versions of the Eurolight have been developed for the United Kingdom market, and a 6-axle Co’Co’ machine for narrow gauge Asian markets, named UKLight and AsiaLight respectively. Furthermore, an electro-diesel locomotive derivative of the UKLight that shares much of its design, referred to as the Stadler Euro Dual, has also been developed and introduced during the late 2010s.

It looks like the customer can get the locomotive they want.

GB Railfreight would probably need locomotives to this specification.

  • Slightly narrower than a EuroDual, to fit the UK loading gauge.
  • Three-axle bogies to handle the weight of the larger locomotive.
  • A body bigger than the UK Light to be large enough for the diesel engine.
  • It would probably help if the locomotive could go anywhere that a Class 92 locomotive could go, so it could handle their duties if required.

This leads me to the conclusion that GB Railfreight will get a slightly narrower EuroDual.

Weight Issues

The weights of various locomotives are as follows.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – 129.6 tonnes
  • Euro Dual – 126 tonnes
  • Class 90 Locomotive – 84.5 tonnes
  • Class 92 Locomotive – 126 tonnes

All locomotives have six axles, except for the Class 90 Locomotive which has four.

I don’t think there will be any weight issues.

Power On Electricity

These are the power of the locomotives on electricity.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – Not Applicable
  • Euro Dual – Up to 7 MW
  • Class 90 Locomotive – 3.7 MW
  • Class 92 Locomotive – 5 MW

GB Railfreight can probably have what power is best for their routes.

Operating Speed On Electricity

These are the power of the locomotives on electricity.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – Not Applicable
  • Euro Dual – 100 mph
  • Class 90 Locomotive – 110 mph
  • Class 92 Locomotive – 87 mph

GB Railfreight can probably have what power is best for their routes, but I suspect they’d want it to be as fast as a Class 90 locomotive.

Power On Diesel

These are the power of the locomotives on diesel.

  • Class 66 Locomotive – 2.5 MW
  • Euro Dual – Up to 2.8 MW
  • Class 90 Locomotive – Not Applicable
  • Class 92 Locomotive – Not Applicable

To be able to handle trains, that a Class 66 locomotive is able to, 2.5 MW would probably suffice.

Could The Locomotives Use The Channel Tunnel?

I suspect that diesel locomotives are not liked in the Channel Tunnel because of all that flammable diesel.

But in the future, when there is a battery-electric variant, I would suspect that would be allowed.

In UK To France Automotive Train Service Launched, I talked about Toyota’s new service between Toton in England and Valenciennes in France via the Channel Tunnel. A locomotive with sufficient battery range might be ideal for this service, if it could handle the Market Harborough and Toton section, which is likely to be without electrification for some years.

Will The Locomotives Have Third Rail Shoes?

If their power on electricity is such that they can stand in for Class 92 locomotives, then there may be a need to fit all or some of the locomotives with third rail shoes.

As an example, they might be useful in taking freight trains to and from Southampton or the Channel Tunnel.

Conclusion

I feel that, as the locomotive must fit current routes and schedules, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the following specification.

  • UK loading gauge.
  • Co-Co
  • Class 90 locomotive power and operating speed on electricity of 3.7 MW and 110 mph.
  • Class 66 locomotive power and operating speed on diesel of 2.5 MW and 75 mph.
  • Ability to change between electric and diesel power at speed.
  • Ability to haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe.
  • Ability to haul passenger trains.

Stadler will have one eye on the fact, that if they get this design right, this order for up to fifty locomotives could be just the start.

It certainly seems a locomotive designed for the UK’s railway system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Iron Ore Miner Orders Heavy-Haul Battery Locomotive

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

This is the first two paragraphs.

Mining company Roy Hill has ordered a Wabtec FLXdrive battery-electric heavy-haul freight locomotive. This will replace one the four ES44ACi diesel-electric locos used to haul its 2 700 m long iron ore trains, and is expected to reduce fuel costs and emissions by ‘double digit’ percentages while also cutting maintenance costs.

The locomotive is scheduled to be delivered in 2023. It will have a capacity of 7 MWh, an upgrade from the 2·4 MWh prototype which Wabtec and BNSF tested in revenue service in California earlier this year.

Note.

  1. It will have a 7 MWh battery.
  2. 2700 metres is 1.6 miles.

It looks to me, that the three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive are arranged as a massive hybrid locomotive and I suspect that with sophisticated control systems, those double digit cuts in fuel costs and emissions would be possible.

A couple of years ago, I took this picture near Shenfield.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

  • The Class 90 locomotive has an TDM system for multiple working.
  • The Class 66 locomotive has an AAR system for multiple working.

So does this mean that the two locomotives can’t work together, which if it does begs the question of what is happening.

  • Had the Class 66 locomotive failed and Class 90 was acting as a Thunderbird?
  • Was the Class 66 locomotive being moved from one depot to another for maintenance or repair?
  • Was it an experiment to see if the two locomotives could work together?

I sometimes think that I didn’t see this unusual formation, but then the camera doesn’t lie.

But could we learn from what Wabtec are doing for Roy Hill in Australia?

The Class 93 Locomotive

Rail Operations Group have already ordered thirty Class 93 tri-mode locomotives from Stadler, which have following power ratings.

  • Electric – 4000 kW
  • Diesel – 900 kW
  • Hybrid – 1300 kW

If this locomotive is capable of hauling the heaviest intermodal freight trains out of Felixstowe, Southampton and other ports and freight terminals, it could contribute to substantial  reductions in the diesel fuel used and emissions.

As an example, I will use a freight train between Felixstowe North Terminal and Trafford Park Euro Terminal.

  • It is a route of 280 miles.
  • I will ignore that it goes along the North London Line through North London and along the Castlefield Corridor through Manchester Piccadilly station.
  • There is fifteen miles without electrification at the  Felixstowe end.
  • There is under three miles without electrification at the  Manchester end.

On this service , it could be as much as 94 % of diesel and emissions are saved, if the Class 93 locomotive can haul a heavy freight train out of Felixstowe. A few miles of strategically-placed electrification at the Ipswich end would help, if required.

It must also be born in mind, that the Class 93 locomotive is a 110 mph locomotive on electric power and could probably do the following.

  • Run at 100 mph on the busy Great Eastern Main Line.
  • Run at faster speeds on the West Coast Main Line.
  • Fit in well with the 100 mph passenger trains, that run on both routes.

So not only does it save diesel and carbon emissions, but it will save time and make the freight train easier to timetable on a route with lots of 100 mph passenger trains.

The Class 93 locomotive looks like it could be a game-changer for long-distance intermodal freight, especially, if there were short sections of strategically-placed electrification, added to the electrified network.

Emissions could also be reduced further by using some for of sustainable fuel.

The picture shows a Class 66 locomotive, which is powered by Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil  or HVO.

I can see that all diesel-powered trains and locomotives will be powered by sustainable fuels by the end of this decade.

A Wabtec Battery-Electric Locomotive

Wabtec is building a battery-electric locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

This article on Railway Age talks about Wabtec’s FLXdrive battery locomotives and describes some features of the locomotive for Roy Hill in Australia.

It mentions pantographs and overhead wires to charge the batteries.

  • Wabtec’s prototype battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 2.4 MWh
  • The Roy Hill battery locomotive has a power output of 3.24 MW and a battery size of 7 MWh

I could envisage Wabtec designing a UK-sized battery-electric locomotive with these characteristics.

  • 2.5 MW power output, which is similar to a Class 66 locomotive.
  • A battery size of perhaps 1.8 MWh based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology.
  • A pantograph to charge the batteries and also power the locomotive where electrification exists.
  • 75 mph operating speed.
  • Ability to work in tandem with a Class 66 locomotive.

All technology is under Wabtec’s control.

This locomotive could have a range of at least fifty miles on battery power.

I think this locomotive could handle these routes.

  • Peterborough and Doncaster via the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line via Lincoln, with some form of charging at halfway.
  • Felixstowe and Nuneaton, with some extra electrification at some point between Peterborough and Leicester.
  • Oxford and Birmingham, with possibly some extra electrification in the middle.

One option for charging electrification, would surely be to electrify passing loops.

I think a battery-electric locomtive based on Wabtec’s  FLXdrive technology could be a very useful locomotive.

Could Wabtec’s Battery-Electric Locomotive Pair-Up With A Class 66 Locomotive?

Roy Hill will use their locomotive to form a consist of three diesel locomotives and one battery locomotive to obtain double-digit savings of fuel and emissions, when hauling iron-ore trains that are 1.6 miles long on a route of 214 miles.

We don’t have massive iron-ore trains like this, but we do move huge quantities of segregates and stone around the country in trains generally hauled by Class 66 locomotives.

So could a Class 66 or another suitable locomotive be paired-up with a battery-electric locomotive to make savings of fuel and emissions?

I would suggest that if it works in Australia, the technology will probably work in the UK.

The biggest problem for Wabtec is that the heavy end of the market may well be a good one for hydrogen-powered locomotives. But Wabtec are going down that route too!

Conclusion

I am convinced that the two decarbonisation routes I have outlined here are viable for the UK.

But I also feel that locomotive manufacturers will produce hydrogen-powered locomotives.

Other companies like Alstom, Siemens and Talgo will also offer innovative solutions.

 

 

 

 

 

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Pair Of Class 90 Locomotives Working Through Stratford

I spotted this pair of Class 90 locomotives at Stratford hauling a long but lightly loaded freight train.

Note.

  1. I was surprised to see the locomotives working as a pair.
  2. Was it an experiment, testing or driver training?
  3. The locomotives were still in the Greater Anglian white livery.
  4. They still had their names.

I was a bit slow to get my camera out.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Switching From Lorries To Freight Trains Could Cut Air Pollution By 10%

The title of this post is the same as this article on Rail Technology Magazine. This is the first paragraph.

Making the switch from HGVs to trains for freight travel could lead to 10% less air pollution from NOx across the country, says new research from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The major problem will be to get freight operators to switch from road to rail.

However, I do feel that this may be hastened by external factors and innovative methods and technology.

Shortages Of Train And Truck Drivers

There are regular news items about shortages of train and truck drivers.

I would think, that both careers will attract the same type of person.

Both careers will have their good and bad points.

But after a search of the Internet, it does appear that the train driver will earn more than the truck driver.

So will a shortage of truck drivers, nudge more freight operators to use rail?

Track Improvements For Rail Freight

Over the last decade or so, there have been several improvements in track layouts, that have been driven by the need to increase the amount of freigt carried by rail.

  • The development of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Line through Lincolnshire as a freight by-pass for the East Coast Main Line.
  • The building of the Bacon Factory Chord to increase capacity to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
  • Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking Line will create a second electrified freight route across London.
  • Several passing loops have been lengthened to allow longer freight trains.
  • The Ordsall Chord will help freight through Manchester.

Obviously any general improvements will help freight trains as well as passenger trains.

Air-Pollution Activitists And Politicians

Most long-distance rail-freight is diesel-hauled and increasingly it goes through areas of large cities, where there is electrification. These electrified lines all see diesel-hauled freight trains.

  • The North London Line
  • The West London Line
  • The Gospel Oak to Barking Line
  • The Ordsall Chord
  • The Great Eastern Main Line
  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • The Great Western Main Line

It will not be long before air-quality activists set their sites on removing diesel haulage from lines like these.

Will a local politician in North London say, be more likely to get elected, if they say, they will push for a ban on noisy and polluting diesel-powered locomotives running through their constituency.

The Replacement Of Diesel Locomotives With Electro-Diesel Locomotives

If you take a freight route like say Felixstowe to Trafford Park in Manchester via the Great Eastern Main Line, the North London Line and the West Coast Main Line, all of the route except for the two ends is electrified.

Normally, freight on this route would be hauled by a Class 66 diesel-locomotive, which would probably score 2/10 as a friend of the environment.

A modern electro-diesel locomotive, like a Class 88 locomotive  may be able to this and similar routes using electricity in the middle and its onboard diesel engine at both ends of the route.

The various locomotives, used on UK freight trains compare as follows.

  • Class 66 – 65/75 mph – 2.4 MW on diesel
  • Class 68 – Modern diesel to Stage II A emission standards – 100 mph – 2.8 MW on diesel
  • Class 70 – 75 mph – 2.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 86 – 75 mph – 0.7 MW on electricity
  • Class 88 – 100 mph – 4 MW on electricity – 0.7 MW on diesel
  • Class 90 – Electric locomotive – 100 mph – 0.9 MW on electricity
  • Class 92 – Electric locomotive – 87 mph – 5 MW on electricity

As the table shows the  Class 66 locomotives  are slow and less powerful than both the more modern Class 68 or Class 88 locomotives.

Cynically, I would say that the only reason that Class 66 and Class 70 locomotives are still in service is that they are good for the bottom line.

Despite this, I feel we’ll see an increasing number of electro-diesel locomotives like the Class 88 arriving in the UK.

New Electric Locomotives

Judging by some of the strange combinations, I’ve seen on some freight trains, we are short of electric locomotives.

This double-headed train has a Class 90 electric locomotive and a Class 66 diesel locomotive at the front of a long freight train.

Even electric locomotives from the 1960s are being called up for service.

These two Class 86 locomotives were hauling a freight train through Hackney Wick station.

I think we’ll see small numbers of new electric locomotives arriving in the UK.

I suspect too, that freight operators are preparing their bids for the fifteen Class 90 locomotives, that will be released in the next few years by Greater Anglia.

More Electrification

In a couple of years, there will be full electrification from London to Bristol and Cardiff.

Although the Government has put a hold on a lot of electrification,  current schemes like electrification of the Great Western Main Line will increase the use of electric or electro-diesel haulage.

Other smaller schemes might be added to increase the use of electric haulage for freight.

As an example, the lines into the important freight ports of London Gateway and Liverpool Two are not electrified. Electrifying both would probably increase the proportion of electrically-hauled freight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Freight Train With Four Locomotives

Every time, I go through Ipswich station, there are usually at least one pair of Class 86 locomotives stoating about.

But these pictures show four locomotives, bringing a train into Ipswich Yard.

Much of the train was empty, so I suggest it was some kind of positioning move. It also looks like only two locomotives had their pabtographs up.

It seems that Freighliner must like the locomotives, as increasingly, I see pairs at Ipswich and going along the North London Line, with a heavy freight train in tow.

Wikipedia says this about their current use by Freightliner.

However, the class does still remain in use with the company, with Freightliner retaining a core fleet of 14 locomotives in service as of 2019, ensuring the class has been in service well over 55 years after first being introduced.

British Rail were obviously better at making locomotives, than sandwiches.

A pair of Class 86 locomotives, which each have 2685 kW, is a powerful pair and more than the 4,000 kWQ of the modern bi-mode Class 88 locomotive.

Freighliner also have ten Class 90 locomotives and will acquire another thirteen locomotives from Greater Anglia in the near future.

  • These locomotives have a power output of 3,730 kW.
  • They have an operating speed of 110 mph, which must be very useful on the higher speed main lines.
  • For most operations, they probably don’t need to be used in pairs.

With all these electric locomotives, it looks like Freightliner are looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Norwich-In-Ninety Is A Lot More Than Passengers Think!

But, I very much expect that Greater Anglia know what they are doing.

I came up to Norwich on the 1100 train, which was timed to get in at 1230. According to the driver, there were signalling problems at Manningtree, which meant we arrived in Norwich twenty-one minutes late.

I was going on to Cromer or Lowestoft. So by the time I’d had a cider and bought a ticket, I didn’t leave Norwich until 1345 for Cromer. But I did have time by the sea to take a few pictures and have a coffee and a gluten-free scone, before getting the return train to Norwich.

Back at Norwich, I had a choice of two trains.

  • The 1700 stopping at just Ipswich and Norwich
  • The 1703 stopping at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich and a few other places.

I was booked on the 1700, from where I’m writing this note on my phone.

These are some of my observations.

Operating Speed

I have just travelled between Norwich and Ipswich in thirty minutes, with Speedview on my phone reading within a couple of mph of 100 mph all the way from where we got to operating speed South of Norwich to where we slowed for Ipswich station.

Diss, Stowmarket and Nedham Market stations were passed at almost 100 mph

Ipswich to Colchester was at a slower 90 mph, but then from Marks Tey to just before Chelmsford, the train was back to around 100 mph.

Speeds between 70 and 90 mph were held from Chelmsford to Liverpool Street, which was reached at 1830 as scheduled.

Acceleration

I got the impression, that the acceleration of the train wasn’t up to the operating speed. Certainly, it didn’t seem to accelerate as fast as an InterCity 125,

But then we’re talking about a rather puny Class 90 locomotive with just 930 kW pulling eight Mark 3 coaches.

In an InterCity 125, there is nearly 1,400 kW to accelerate the same number of similar coaches to 125 mph.

But these are small numbers compared to a four-car Class 755 train running on electrical power, which according to Stadler’s data sheet is 2,600 kW, which is 86% more power than an InterCity 125.

As there are two power-bogies each must be good for 1,300 kW.

Typical four-car electric Flirts seem to have around 2-3,000 kW, according to various Stadler data sheets.

Flirts seem to be seriously powerful trains and I can understand why some Norwegian Flirts are capable of 125 mph running. This is said in Wikipedia about the Norwegian Flirts.

All trains have five cars. However, in contrast to previous five-car FLIRTs they will have a third powered bogie giving them a maximum power output of 4,500 kW (6,000 hp) and a top speed of 200 km/h (120 mph).

If that extract is saying that each bogie can provide up to 1,500 kW, then Class 745 trains with four bogies have 6,000 kW.

If they were Class 755 train-sized bogies, then Class 745 trains, then the trains have 5,200 kW.

For comparison, an eleven-car Class 390/1 train has 5,950 kW.

With these figures, I feel it is reasonable to assume, that Class 745 trains, will accelerate to operating speed faster than the current forty-year-old BR stock.

  • They appear to have a lot more power, than the current trains.
  • Their aluminium bodies probably mean they weigh less, than the steel-bodies of the current trains.
  • Their aerodynamics are probably more advanced.
  • They probably have sophisticated technology that stops wheel slip, controls the train in a smooth manner and assists the driver.
  • The rolling dynamics will be no worse than that of the current trains.

Some conclusions can be drawn about the current trains and their operation.

  • A Class 90 locomotive with only 930 kW has sufficient power to keep an eight-car train running at 100 mph. It looks like the figure  is around 1.2 kWh per car per mile.
  • They must be in top condition.
  • The drivers probably know the route like the back of their hand and can coax the required performance from their ageing charges.

BR’s forty-year-old design must still be seriously good and the trains get the TLC they need.

Passing Stations At 100 mph

Diss, Stowmarket, Needham Market, Marks Tey, Kelvedon, Hatfield Peverel and Ingatestone stations were all passed within a few mph of 100 mph, with Maningtree and Colchester stations passed at around 85-90 mph.

Obviously, this must be allowed and not having to slow means that the speed is not degraded.

The only station where there was a substantial slowing was Chelmsford, where the train slowed to about 60 mph.

The Current Norwich-in-Ninety Services

These are the current ninety minutes services between Liverpool Street and Norwich.

  • 0900 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1100 – Liverpool Street to Norwich
  • 1700 – Norwich to Liverpool Street
  • 1900 – Liverpool Street to Norwich

Only one train is needed that starts and finishes in Norwich, where it is stabled overnight.

Serving The Intermediate Stations

Both the 1100 train to Norwich and the 1700 to Liverpool Street only stop at Ipswich.

But leaving a couple of minutes behind was another Class 90 locomotive/Mark 3 coach set stopping at more stations.

  • Going North, the train takes nineteen minutes longer, with stops at Colchester, Manningtree, Ipswich and Diss.
  • Going South, this train takes ten minutes longer, with stops at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Colchester and Stratford.

I suspect that when the Bombardier Class 720 trains have been delivered, these might be used for the stopping trains.

How Many Trains Will Be Needed?

It appears that the slower trains are currently timetabled to take between 111 and 115 minutes.

If a round trip can be done in four hours, then two trains per hour (tph), will require eight Class 745 trains.

As there are ten trains on order, this means the following.

  • Eight trains will be used to run the two tph stopping service.
  • One train will be needed for the Norwich-in-Ninety service.

This leaves one train as a spare or in maintenance.

Cromer And Back In A Day

In the four-and-a-half hours, I was in Norwich, I was able to take a train to Cromer, take a few pictures, have a quick lunch and then return to Norwich.

This is possible using the slower trains, but the fast trains can give you another hour in Norwich.

Obviously, this hour will be available for many journeys and must surely open up many possibilities for frequent travellers on the route.

How Reliable Is The Norwich-in-Ninety Service?

There have been twenty services in the first week of the service..

  • Fourteen have been on-time or a couple of minutes early.
  • Five have been under ten minutes late.
  • One was late by more than ten minutes.

That last train was twenty-two minutes late and I was on it, on the first Wednesday of the service.

I shall update this table, until I get bored with it!

Can The Timetable Be Changed?

The way the timetable is set out is an interesting solution to trying to be all things to all passengers.

  • There is a basic two tph service, which stops between London and Norwich according to a simple pattern.
  • Four services per day, with two in each direction, are delayed by two or three minutes.
  • The original departure times are taken by a fast train, that only stops at Ipswich.
  • These four departure times, are arranged, so that the services can be handled by a single fast train shuttling between Liverpool Street and Norwich
  • The fast train starts in Norwich at 0900 in the morning and returns to Norwich and its depot at 2030. The train can then have a good service after a hard day’s work!

Obviously, Greater Anglia have all the passenger data, so they have probably laid out a fast timetable, that will reflect current passenger numbers.

But as time goes on, this timetable can be augmented.

At present, they are using their express trains for both the two tph and the fast services.

These will be changed to Class 745 trains during the remainder of this year.

The venerable Class 90 locomotives and their Mark 3 coaches have blazed the trail and made everybody’s dream of Norwich-in-Ninety a reality, but now it is up to Greater Anglia’s new trains to fully develop the timetable.

  • If they are successful in attracting passengers more services will do Norwich in ninety and Ipswich in sixty.
  • The back-up stopping service running behind the fast train could be run by a new Class 720 train, which have a similar 100 mph operating speed.
  • Several services per day, using Class 755 trains, will be running between Lowestoft and London and augmenting the fast service between London and Ipswich.

Interestingly, as I left Norwich for Cromer, there was a Class 321 Renatus at Norwich station in Platform 2 Checking with Real Time Trains, this other relic from British Rail, but refurbished to a modern standard for passengers and performance, formed the 1400 express to London and arrived on time after seven stops.

It looks to me that Greater Anglia have a creditable back-stop, if there should be any unforeseen problems with the new trains.

But it also shows that the stopping service that follows the Norwich-in-Ninety service can be run by a 100 mph electric multiple unit.

This would surely release Class 745 trains to run more fast services.

An Improved Ipswich And Norwich Service

Greater Anglia have said that there will be three tph between London and Norwich and that one may or will be run the new Class 720 trains.

The only section of the Great Eastern Main Line, that won’t have four tph will be between Ipswich and Norwich. So could we see a 100 mph local service between two rivals.

Yesterday’s Class 321 Renatus did Norwich to Ipswich in forty-one minutes.

  • The route is fully-electrified.
  • Class 720 or Class 321 Renatus trains could be used.
  • Trains would stop at Diss, Stowmarket and Needham Market stations.
  • The rail line is not busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The bottleneck of Trowse bridge South of Norwich is to be replaced.

Running four tph between Ipswich and Norwich would be a lot more affordable, than improving the capacity on the mainly single-carriageway A140.

Would Faster Running Be Possible North Of Ipswich?

There are two major problems on the Great Eastern Main Line to the North of Ipswich.

  • Trowse Bridge to the South of Norwich.
  • Haughley Junction, where the Cambridge and Norwich routes divide to the North of Stowmarket.

Both projects have been kicked into the long grass more times than most, but it does look, that these two bottlenecks could be fixed in the next few years.

I also observed the following between Ipswich and Norwich.

  • The line wasn’t busy North of Stowmarket.
  • The train had no difficulty maintaining 100 mph.
  • The quality of the overhead electrification gantries might suggest a need for replacement.
  • There are some level crossings, that have no place on a 100 mph main line.

Would it be advantageous to update the line, so that higher speeds were possible?

I suspect that both the Class 745 and Class 720 trains could handle perhaps 110 mph with modifications, that are proven or planned with similar trains.

Conclusion

I had an exhilarating ride yesterday and it is a foretaste for the greatest improvement in transport for East Anglia in my lifetime.

 

 

May 22, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The First Norwich To London Service In Ninety Minutes

These pictures show the arrival of the first Norwich-in-Ninety service in Liverpool Street

Looking at Real Time Trains, it appears the train left Norwich at 0900 and arrived in Liverpool Street at 1030.

Normal services take three or four minutes under two hours, so ninety minutes with a Class 90 locomotive, eight Mark 3 coaches and a driving van trailer isn’t bad!

May 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment