The Anonymous Widower

Carbon-Cutting Test Run Sees Welsh Timber Return To Railway

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

For the first time since 2005, a freight train carrying Welsh timber left Aberystwyth as part of a trial that could see regular freight traffic return to the Cambrian line.

The successful trial, aimed at exploring the feasibility of transporting timber by rail to reduce carbon emissions, opens up the possibility of removing hundreds of large lorries from the rural roads of mid Wales.

These are a few details and points from the article.

  • The terminal at Aberystwyth appears to have been just outside Aberystwyth station.
  • The timber was taken to Kronospan at Chirk in North Wales.
  • The 700 ton load of ten wagons was hauled by a pair of Class 37 locomotives.
  • The pair was needed because of the route.
  • Network Rail claim that upwards of sixteen trucks were taken off the roads of mid-Wales.

This Network Rail picture shows the loading of timber at Aberystwyth station.

And this Network Rail picture shows the two Class 37 locomotives.

It looks to me, that the locomotives pushed the empty train in and pulled the full train out. Once on its way, the train took the Cambrian Line to Shrewsbury and then it was about twenty miles to tyhe Kronospan factory at Chirk.

This video shows the train leaving.

I appears to have been filmed at a convenient level crossing.

Conclusion

It must have been a success, as they are going to repeat the exercise.

There would appear to be only one problem. The pair of Class 37 locomotives make a bit of a noise.

  • The pair have a power of 2610 kW.
  • I estimate that the journey between Aberystwyth and Chirk will take around two hours and thirty minutes.
  • Aberystwyth and Chirk is a distance of about a hundred miles.

It looks to me that this journey could be handled by one of the new Class 99 locomotives, that I wrote about in Class 99 Electro-Diesel Locomotive Order Confirmed.

I also doubt whether a battery-electric Class 99 locomotive could handle the route, but a hydrogen-powered locomotive, that fuelled at Aberystwyth might be able to do it.

I do think though, that passenger trains between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury could in the future be hydrogen-powered.

So if hydrogen were to be provided at Aberystwyth, hydrogen haulage of the timber trains would be a possibility.

May 7, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Hydrogen-Electric Class 99 Locomotive

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I introduced the Class 99 locomotive, for which the first order was announced by Stadler and GB Railfreight yesterday.

This was the start of that post, which I wrote in early March 2022.

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.

In this post, I will look at the design of a Class 99 locomotive running on hydrogen.

These are my thoughts.

Using Hydrogen Fuel Cells

The Railway Gazette article suggests that hydrogen fuel-cells will be used to create a hydrogen-electric Class 99 locomotive.

A typical hydrogen fuel-cell transmission will have the following elements, which will replace the diesel-electric generator.

  • A hydrogen fuel tank
  • A appropriately-sized hydrogen fuel-cell which generates electricity from hydrogen.
  • A battery to store electricity.
  • Regenerative braking will also be used to charge the battery.
  • The locomotive will have an electric transmission.

The various components will be fitted into the space, that was occupied by the diesel engine.

This Alstom video promotes the Alstom Coradia iLint and explains how it works.

Most hydrogen fuel-cell trains and trucks , work as the train does in this video.

Using A Reciprocating Engine Running On Hydrogen

This press release from Caterpillar is entitled Caterpillar to Expand Hydrogen-Powered Solutions to Customers.

It describes how Caterpillar will develop versions of their reciprocating engines, that will run on 100 % hydrogen.

This would be an alternative way of developing a zero-carbon Class 99 locomotive.

Note that Cummins, JCB and Rolls-Royce mtu have also converted diesel engines to run on hydrogen.

This method of conversion has advantages.

April 30, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Battery-Electric Class 99 Locomotive

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I introduced the Class 99 locomotive, for which the first order was announced by Stadler and GB Railfreight today.

This was the start of that post, which I wrote in early March 2022.

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.

Note the introductory paragraph of the Railway Gazette article.

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.

What sort of range and performance will this give to a Class 99 locomotive?

In Class 99 Electro-Diesel Locomotive Order Confirmed, I came to this conclusion.

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

The easiest way to create a battery-electric Class 99 locomotive would be to replace the Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine with the largest and most efficient batteries possible, add regenerative braking to battery and the best control system for the locomotive and the batteries, that engineers can devise.

These are my thoughts.

Range Of A Euro Dual On Diesel

Consider.

  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a 3,500 litre fuel tank.
  • A Euro Dual locomotive has a fuel consumption of 1039.3 L/hr.

This should allow the locomotive to run for about three hours and twenty minutes or about 250 miles.

Obviously, any electrification on the route, will increase the range.

Weight Of The Diesel Engine

This data sheet for the Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine gives a weight of over twenty tonnes, which is certainly a lot of weight.

You’ve also got the weight of the fuel tank, which could also contain in the Euro Dual hold nearly three tonnes of diesel.

I will assume that the weight of a Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine and the associated gubbins could be as high as 25 tonnes.

How Much Energy Could A Twenty Tonne Battery Hold?

In Innolith Claims It’s On Path To 1,000 Wh/kg Battery Energy Density, which was written two years ago.

This was my conclusion of that post.

I am led to believe these statements are true.

  • Tesla already has an energy density of 250 Wh/Kg.
  • Tesla will increase this figure.
  • By 2025, the energy density of lithium-ion batteries will be much closer to 1 KWh/Kg.
  • Innolith might achieve this figure. But they are only one of several companies aiming to meet this magic figure.

These figures will revolutionise the use of lithium-ion batteries.

I feel it is reasonable to go along with Tesla’s figure of 250 Wh/Kg, which gives a 5 MWh battery could replace the C175-16 diesel engine, if it had a total weight of 20 tonnes.

If the battery could have a total weight of 25 tonnes, the battery would have a capacity of 6.25 MWh.

It does look like the Caterpillar C175-16 diesel engine and the associated gubbins could be replaced by a substantial battery.

As the years go by, the capacity of the batteries will only grow.

Will Battery-Electric Class 99 Locomotives Have Regenerative Braking?

According to Wikipedia, Stadler Euro Dual locomotives do have regenerative braking, so it would seem likely, that this could be used to recharge the batteries, in addition to 25 KVAC overhead electrification, where it is available.

I will assume that battery-electric Class 99 locomotives will have regenerative braking.

How Long Could A Battery-Electric Class 99 Locomotive Run On Batteries?

Consider.

  • To have the performance of a Class 99 locomotive on diesel, the locomotive would need to output 2,800 kW.

Without regenerative braking this would give these figures.

  • A 5 MWh battery would run for at least one hours and 47 minutes.
  • A 6.25 MWh battery would run for at least two hours and 13 minutes.

Add in regenerative braking and short strategic lengths of electrification and large parts of the UK network would be opened up to electrified trains.

Conclusion

Stadler have probably done extensive simulations of the UK network with battery-electric Class 99 locomotives, so they would know the true potential of these locomotives.

April 29, 2022 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | 6 Comments

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

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