The Anonymous Widower

Will It Be Third-Time Lucky For Grand Union Trains In Wales?

It is three years since I wrote Grand Union Seeks ’91s’ To Cardiff and their proposal has not been accepted and the third iteration has been announced.

This article on Wales Online is entitled Independent Rail Firm Bids To Launch As Rival To Great Western On The Mainline From South Wales To London.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

An independent rail firm is hoping to launch a rival train service in Wales which they say will slash journey times between Carmarthen and London. Grand Union Trains is making a fresh bid to introduce an initial service in both directions between Cardiff and London on the existing Great Western line.

The company believes the move will “create passenger choice” and increase the number of trains available, with the hope that the service can be extended west in South Wales towards Carmarthen.

Other points in the article include.

  • Swansea will be by-passed, which will speed up services to and from Llanelli and Carmarthen.
  • A new Park-and-Ride station will be built by Grand Union at Felindre, which is to the North of Swansea.
  • Services will stop at Llanelli, Cardiff Central, Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol Parkway.
  • When Cardiff Parkway opens, this will be an extra stop.

An article in the June 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Grand Union Bids For London To Carmarthen, gives extra details.

  • Three classes.
  • 2203 start for the service.
  • Five return trains per day.
  • Cycle provision.
  • Vanload freight will be carried.
  • Electric trains could start between London and Cardiff by 2023.
  • In 2025, trains could be nine-car bi-modes.
  • South Wales-based operation and maintenance.
  • 125 full-time jobs created.

It certainly seems to be a comprehensive and well-thought out plan.

These are my thoughts and observations.

Felindre Station

Felindre station is named in Wikipedia as the West Wales Parkway station, where it is introduced like this.

West Wales Parkway is a proposed railway station north of Swansea, near to the boundaries of the neighbouring principal area of Carmarthenshire, and the villages of Felindre and Llangyfelach. The station is proposed to be situated at the former Felindre steelworks, near Junction 46 of the M4 and A48, and near Felindre Business Park and Penllergaer Business Park. The project is in the planning stages, as part of a wider Department for Transport proposal to re-open the Swansea District line to passenger traffic.

This Google Map shows where, it appears the Felindre station will be built.

Note.

  1. The Felindre Business Park in the North-West corner of the map, with a Park-and-Ride.
  2. The M4 running across the bottom of the map.
  3. The Swansea District Line runs East-West between the motorway and the Business Park.

It looks that the new station could be located on the South side of the Business Park.

According to Wikipedia, the station would cost £20 million to build.

  • It would need a comprehensive rethinking of transport improvements in the Swansea area.
  • But it could result in time savings on services between Carmarthen and Cardiff.

The Modern Railways article says this.

GU proposes to build the Felindre station near Swansea and invest in Severn Tunnel Junction station, where it says it will increase parking, provide direct access from the M4 motorway and improve passenger and staff facilities, backing up plans being evaluated by the Welsh Government for the station.

Grand Union is not a charity and does this indicate that a bank or infrastructure company is prepared to fund parking and the extra passengers pay the charges.

Rolling Stock

Wikipedia says that the rolling stock could be nine-car InterCity 225s hauled by Class 91 or Class 93 locomotives.

As the Class 93 locomotives are bi-modes, these would handle the Carmarthen and Cardiff leg.

The Modern Railways article says this.

Trains could start between Cardiff and London Paddington as early as May 2023 if electric only, with services extended west around two years later with new bi-mode trains in up to nine-car formations.

Would a new Class 93 locomotive count as a new bi-mode train?

I suspect the new locomotive would be more affordable, than a new bi-mode train.

Vanload Freight

This is an interesting idea and it follows similar thinking to Royal Mail’s latest ideas, that I wrote about in Royal Mail Rolling Back The Years To Put More Post On Trains.

One coach could be a nice little earner, if it were modified to carry roller cages, that were loaded and unloaded at the end of the route.

One advantage of the InterCity 225s is that they are 125 mph trains, so that this will be high speed freight.

Timings

Consider.

  • A GWR Carmarthen and London service takes three hours and 47 minutes.
  • This includes a nine-minute reverse at Swansea.
  • GWR makes seven more stops than Grand Union will.
  • GWR does seven diesel stops, whereas Grand Union will only do two.

I would estimate that Grand Union will be under three hours and thirty minutes.

Carmarthen Station

This Google Map shows Carmarthen station.

Note.

  1. The station has two platforms.
  2. There are certainly pictures of the station with an InterCity 125 in the station.

These pictures show the station.

I suspect that the station will be upgraded to accommodate Grand Union.

Rrenewable Energy Developments In South West Wales

In Enter The Dragon, I talked about renewable energy developments in South West Wales.

I used information from this article on the Engineer, which is entitled Unlocking The Renewables Potential Of The Celtic Sea.

The article on the Engineer finishes with this conclusion.

For now, Wales may be lagging slightly behind its Celtic cousin to the north, but if the true potential of the Celtic Sea can be unleashed – FLOW, tidal stream, lagoon and wave – it looks set to play an even more prominent role in the net zero pursuit.

The Red Dragon is entering the battle to replace Vlad the Mad’s tainted energy.

South West Wales could see a massive renewable energy boom.

The Railways To The West Of Carmarthen

This map from OpenRailwayMap shows the rail lines to the West of Carmarthen.

There are three main branches to Fishguard, Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock.

I can see the railways becoming increasingly important in supporting the growing renewable energy in the area.

  • There would be more frequent services.
  • Services would tie in with London and Cardiff trains at Carmarthen.
  • Closed stations could be reopened and new ones built.

It may also be possible to bring in large components needed by the renewable energy industry.

Conclusion

I feel that Grand Union have seen the opportunities presented to a frequent Carmarthen and London service and have grabbed them with both hands.

 

 

May 29, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Class 99 Electro-Diesel Locomotive Order Confirmed

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

This first paragraph gives details of the order.

GB Railfreight, leasing company Beacon Rail and Stadler have signed an agreement for the supply of 30 Class 99 six-axle electro-diesel locomotives for entry into service from 2025. The operator said they would the first electro-diesel locomotives capable of hauling heavy freight at main line speeds on the UK network.

The article also gives these technical details of the Class 99 locomotives.

  • Ability to operate under 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Up to 6,000 kW under electrification.
  • Maximum speed of 120 km/h (75 mph)
  • ‘high-power low-emissions’ Stage V diesel engine.
  • Tractive effort of up to 500 kN
  • The locomotives will be compatible with British the UK loading gauge and specifications.

This document on the Stadler web site is the specification for the Stadler Euro Dual locomotives, that have been sold to German operator; HVLE.

These are some technical details.

  • Ability to operate under 25 KVAC overhead electrification or 15 KVAC  German overhead electrification.
  • Up to 6,000 kW under electrification.
  • Maximum speed of 120 km/h
  • Caterpillar C175-16 Stage IIIB diesel engine.
  • Engine output of 2,800 kW
  • Tractive effort of up to 500 kN
  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a length of 23 metres
  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a 3,500 litre fuel tank.

Wikipedia gives details of a Stadler Class 68 locomotive, which is shown in this picture.

These are some details.

  • There are 34 Class 68 locomotives in service in the UK.
  • Caterpillar C175-16 Stage IIIB diesel engine.
  • Engine output of 2,800 kW
  • A Class 68 locomotive has a 5,000 litre fuel tank.
  • A Class 68 locomotive has a length of 20.5 metres.
  • It should be noted, that a Class 66 locomotive has an engine output of 2,500 kW.

These are my thoughts on the design and specification of the Class 99 locomotive.

The Diesel Engine

The Class 68 and the Euro Dual appear to have a diesel engine, with these specifications.

  • Caterpillar C175-16 Stage IIIB diesel engine.
  • Engine output of 2,800 kW

Whereas the Class 99 locomotive is stated as having a ‘high-power low-emissions’ Stage V diesel engine.

So have Stadler fitted the latest Caterpillar C175-16 Stage V diesel engine into a Class 99 locomotive?

This would surely be likely, as any reputable diesel engine company would strive to reduce the emissions of their engines and make them compatible with the latest regulations.

Will 2,800 kW Be Enough Power On Diesel?

If the Class 99 locomotive has 2,800 kW from the latest Caterpillar diesel engine, this is the same as for a Class 68 and the Euro Dual, so it is likely to be enough power.

It is also more power, than is available from a Class 66 locomotive.

What Will Be The Length Of The Class 99 Locomotive?

It does appear that the Class 68 locomotive is 20.5 metres long and the Euro Dual is 23 metres long.

But this is not really unexpected as the Euro Dual has two larger three-axle bogies.

I suspect to use the equipment layout of the Euro Dual, that the Class 99 locomotive could be 23 metres long.

What About The UK Loading Gauge?

When it came to designing the Class 68, 88 and 93 locomotives, Stadler had no difficulty fitting all the gubbins in a 20.5 metre package.

If I am right in surmising that a Class 99 locomotive will be longer because of its larger bogies, I suspect that modern computer-aided design will enable Stadler to create a locomotive, that will fit the UK loading gauge.

Conclusion

It does appear that a design based around the latest version of a Caterpillar C175-16 will be possible.

April 29, 2022 Posted by | Design, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

Construction Ramps Up At £260 Million Mossend International Railfreight Park In Scotland

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

This is the first paragraph.

The development of a major new low carbon, multi-modal rail freight facility located in the heart of Scotland has taken a significant step forward with the laying of a private rail track to facilitate construction. Once complete, Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP) will provide 2.2 million sq ft of logistics space and Scotland’s first 775-metre electric rail terminal.

This looks to be all good stuff.

But Glasgow has needed the capability to handle 775-metre electric freight trains for some time.

So what took politicians so long to decide to upgrade the MIRP, as surely the ability to handle the longest electric freight trains will surely encourage the following?

  • The movement of freight from road to rail.
  • A reduction in freight traffic on the roads of Scotland and to a lesser extend England.
  • The ability to run electric freight trains between Glasgow and Continental Europe.

If freight ramps up after the MIRP is completed, there’ll probably be a need for the following.

Some new highly capable locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive.

More than the proposed 16 trains per day (tpd).

They will certainly need the planned 24/7 operation.

This Google Map shows the site of the MIRP at the current time.

It will be interesting to see how the site grows.

 

October 5, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 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

Grand Union Plans ‘93s’ To Stirling

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

This is the first paragraph.

Grand Union Trains hopes to use tri-mode Class 93 locomotives ordered by Rail Operations (UK) Ltd on its proposed Stirling to London Euston open access service – if it is approved by the Office of Rail and Road.

The article also says that they will be using nine-car rakes of Mark 4 coaches and a driving van trailer.

  • Full-length InterCity 225 trains have the same formation.
  • A full-length InterCity 125 can carry 406 Standard Class and 129 First Class passengers.
  • InterCity 225 trains are hauled by a Class 91 locomotive, which is rated at 4.8 MW.
  • A Class 93 locomotive has a rating of 4 MW on electricity.

As the Class 93 locomotive has a maximum speed of 110 mph, as opposed to the 125 mph of the Class 91 locomotive, the reduced power is probably enough.

Th following sections give more information from the article.

Planned Route

This sentence from the article gives the route.

If approved, trains will call at Greenfaulds, Whifflet and Motherwell on their way south from Stirling, then Lockerbie, Carlisle, Preston, Crewe and Nuneaton before arrival in London.

The route appears to be fully-electrified.

Planned Timetable

More details of the planned service are also revealed.

  • Trains will be approximately every three hours.
  • There will be four trains per day in each direction.
  • The first train South will leave Stirling at 05:15
  • The first train North will leave Euston at 07:30.

That will be a total of around 3,500 seats per day or over a million seats per year.

Planned Start Date

A start date around the end of 2022 is suggested, but it does say that delivery of the Class 93 locomotives could make this tight.

But it does appear that gauge clearance for the service is in hand.

Conclusion

I like this service proposal and I think the Class 93 locomotive improves it.

I do think if Grand Union’s service is an operational success, that we will see these locomotives replacing Class 68 locomotives on passenger services, where there is a proportion of electrification.

Could the almost brand-new Class 68 locomotives be converted to run on hydrogen, as surely they are too young for the scrapyard?

Stadler are not stupid and I suspect they could be converted to something with a smaller carbon footprint. My choice would be hydrogen.

August 11, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 9 Comments

A Very Long Freight Train At Camden Road Station

I took these pictures as a very long freight train passed through Camden Road station.

Note.

  1. I estimate the train had 45 positions for containers.
  2. Fourteen or fifteen were not filled.
  3. I suspect the train started in Wentloog in South Wales and was going to the Port of Felixstowe.
  4. That route is fully electrified from Wentloog to Ipswich.
  5. The journey took over eight hours.

This could be a route, where an innovative  Class 93 locomotive could be able to handle the freight train all the way across England and half of Wales.

  • Most of the way, the locomotive would be using the electrification.
  • The short distance at Wentloog and the fifteen miles at Felixstowe would be handled by the onboard diesel engine and the substantial battery.

These will be world-class zero-carbon freight trains, just by changing the motive power.

June 21, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 12 Comments

DfT To Have Final Say On Huddersfield Rebuild Of Rail Station And Bridges

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

This is the first paragraph.

As part of the £1.4bn Transpennine Route Upgrade. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is to rule on planned changes to Huddersfield’s 19th century rail station and not the Kirklees council, in what is to be a huge revamp of the line between Manchester and York.

According to the article eight bridges are to be replaced or seriously modified.

As Huddersfield station (shown) is Grade I listed and three other Grade II listed buildings and structures are involved, I can see this project ending up with a substantial bill for lawyers.

But then, to have a world-class railway across the Pennines, a few eggs will need to be broken.

Electric Trains Across The Pennine

This page on the Network Rail web site describes the Huddersfield To Westtown (Dewsbury) Upgrade.

When the upgrade and the related York To Church Fenton Improvement Scheme is completed, the TransPennine route between Huddersfield and York will be fully-electrified.

As Manchester To Stalybridge will also have been electrified, this will mean that the only section without electrification will be the eighteen miles across the Pennines between Stalybridge and Huddersfield.

Will this final eighteen miles ne electrified?

Eighteen miles with electrification at both ends will be a short jump for a Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, the specification of which is shown in this Hitachi infographic.

The Class 802 trains of TransPennine Express are able to be converted into these trains.

The trains could work these routes.

  • Liverpool Lime Street and Scarborough
  • Manchester Airport and Redcar
  • Liverpool Lime Street and Edinburgh via Newcastle
  • Manchester Airport and Newcastle
  • Manchester Piccadilly and Hull
  • Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes

Note.

  1. I suspect some more Class 802 trains with batteries will be needed.
  2. The trains would either use battery or diesel power to reach Hull, Redcar and Scarborough or there could be a few miles of electrification to stretch battery range.
  3. Will the Class 68 diesel locomotives be replaced with Class 93 tri-mode locomotives to haul the Mark 5A coaches to Scarborough.
  4. Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes could be a problem and will probably need some electrification around Sheffield and Grimsby.

This would just mean TransPennine’s two short routes to be decarbonised.

  • Manchester Piccadilly and Huddersfield
  • Huddersfield and Leeds

As except for the eighteen mile gap between Stalybridge and Huddersfield, these two routes are fully-electrified, I suspect that a battery-electric version of a 110 mph electric train like a Class 387 or Class 350 train could run these routes.

Conclusion

It looks like if these sections of the TransPennine Express network are upgraded and electrified.

  • York and Church Fenton
  • Huddersfield and Westtown
  • Manchester and Staylebridge

Together with a few extra miles of electrification at strategic points, that TransPennine Express will be able to decarbonise.

 

May 18, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Class 93 Locomotive Hauling A Train Between The Port Of Felixstowe And Wentloog

I am looking at this trip in detail, to see how a Class 93 locomotive could change this journey.

Where Is Wentloog?

Wentloog is a Rail Freight Interchange, run by Freightliner, a few miles to the East of Cardiff.

This Google Map shows the interchange.

Note the electrified Great Western Main Line between London and Cardiff giving rail access to freight trains.

Sections Of The Route

The route can be divided into these sections.

  • Port of Felixstowe and Trimley – 2.3 miles – 7 minutes – 19.7 mph –  Not Electrified
  • Trimley and Ipswich – 14 miles – 60 minutes -14 mph – Not Electrified
  • Ipswich and Stratford – 64.6 miles – 77 minutes – 50.3 mph – Electrified
  • Stratford and Acton Wells Junction – 12.5 miles – 72 minutes – 10.4 mph – Electrified
  • Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line – 0.7 miles – 3 minutes -14 mph – Possibly Electrified
  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog – 134.3 miles – 249 minutes -32.4 mph – Electrified

Note.

  1. Nearly, all the route is electrified.
  2. I am not sure if between Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line is electrified.

The journey takes nearly eight hours.

These are my thoughts on how the various sections would be handled.

Port of Felixstowe And Trimley

As I stated in Rail Access To The Port Of Felixstowe, I would electrify the short section between the Port of Felixstowe And Trimley. This would do the following.

  • Charge the batteries on trains entering the Port, so they could operate in the Port without using diesel.
  • Charge batteries on trains leaving the Port, so that they could have a power boost to Ipswich.
  • The trains could be accelerated to operating speed using the electrification.

There would also be no use of diesel to the East of Trimley, which I’m sure the residents of Felixstowe would like.

Trimley and Ipswich

This section would be on diesel, with any energy left in the battery used to cut diesel running through Ipswich.

Ipswich And Stratford

Consider

  • Ipswich and Stratford is a 100 mph fully-electrified line.
  • A passenger train can do the route in an hour.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between Ipswich and Liverpool Street are 100 mph electrically-hauled trains.

Stratford and Acton Wells Junction

The North London Line is getting increasingly busy and as it goes through the middle of residential areas, there will be increasing pressure for all trains to be electric, to cut noise and pollution.

In A North London Line With Digital Signalling, I wrote about the benefits of adding digital signalling on the North London Line.

I suspect in a few years time all freight trains using the North London Line will be electrically-hauled and will use digital ERTMS signalling, so that more trains can be squeezed onto the North London Line, so that increasing numbers of freight trains can travel between Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury in the East and Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Scotland and other destinations in the North and West.

Locomotives like the Class 93 locomotive will become an increasingly common sight on the line.

Acton Wells Junction and Acton Main Line

This connection between the North London Line and the Great Western Main Line will surely, be electrified, if it has not been done already, so that electric freight trains can go between the two routes.

Acton Main Line and Wentloog

Consider

  • Acton Main Line and Wentloog is a fully-electrified line.
  • The operating speed is up to 125 mph
  • A passenger train can do the route in just under 100 minutes.

There must be savings to be made! Especially, if all trains between London and Cardiff are electrically-hauled trains, capable of upwards of 100 mph.

Conclusion

There would be very worthwhile time and diesel savings, by running the Felixstowe and Wentloog service using a Class 93 locomotive.

How many other services to and from Felixstowe, London Gateway and Tilbury would be improved by being hauled by a Class 93 locomotive?

I suspect, it’s not a small number, that can be counted on your fingers and toes.

January 19, 2021 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments