The Anonymous Widower

An Analysis Of The Route Between Buxtehude And Cuxhaven

Alstom have chosen the route between Buxtehude and Cuxhaven, as the launch route for their hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint train.

I’ll now look at the route.

Buxtehude Station

Buxtehude station is on the outskirts of Hamburg.

This Google Map shows the station.

Note.

  1. There is a double-track electrified line through the station.
  2. There appears to be a West-facing bay platform, which conveniently has what looks to be a train in DB red, in the platform.

Services at Buxtehude include.

  1. Line S3 of the Hamburg S-Bahn between Pinneberg  and Stade. This line appears to be electrified with 15 KVAC overhead wires.
  2. Service RE 5 between Cuxhaven and Hamburg via Otterndorf, Stade and Buxtehude. This route is only electrified between Hamburg and Stade.
  3. Service RE 33 between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude via Bremerhaven and Bremervörde. This route is not electrified.

Service three is the one that from yesterday has been run by the Coradia iLint trains.

Between Buxtehude And Bremervörde

I followed this route in my helicopter and it is a single-track line through reasonably open country with in places trees along the line.

If this line was in the UK, it would be something like the Breckland Line or Great Eastern Main Line. through Norfolk, both of which have an operating speed of between 140-160 kph.

So I wouldn’t be surprised that the Coradia iLint could be almost at its maximum speed of 140 kph for long periods between stations.

Bremervörde Station

This Google Map shows Bremervörde station.

It would appear to be on a large site and there might even be a depot.

There’s certainly space to add a couple of large wind turbines to generate electricity, that could be used to create hydrogen through electrolysis.

Between Bremervörde And Bremerhafen HBf

As with the line to the East of Bremervörde, it is fairly straight across what appears to be fairly flat and through a mixture of open countryside and woodland.

This Google Map shows Bremerhafen Wulfdorf station.

The line from Buxtehude can be seen joining from the East.

The line is electrified to Bremerhafen HBf station.

So will the Coradia iLint trains change to overhead power at Bremerhafen Wulfdorf?

From Bremerhafen HBf To Cuxhaven

This Google Map shows Bremerhaven HBf station.

It looks to be a typical functional German station with four platforms, which are all electrified.

The electrification continues Northwards for a few kilometres, but once out of Bremerhaven, the line becomes single track without electrification.

I found this passing loop at the two-platform Dorum station, shown here on a Google Map.

Note how the tracks go either side of an island platform.

I suspect there are other places for trains to pass or they could easily be created.

The route ends at Cuxhaven station, shown in this Google Map.

In addition to the service to Buxtehude, there is also a another service on a shorter and more direct route to Hamburg along the estuary of the River Elbe.

Summing up this section of the route.

  • It is single-track with at least one passing loop.
  • There are just four stations.
  • It is electrified for a few miles at the Southern end.

I’ve also never seen a line with so many level crossings.

Services Between Cuxhaven And Buxtehude Via Bremerhaven HBf

The current service is hourly, with what looks to be these timings.

  • Buxtehude to Bremerhaven HBf  – 1:43 – Incldes 14 stops
  • Bremerhaven HBf to Buxtehude – 1:37
  • Bremerhaven HBf to Cuxhaven  0:51 – Includes 4 stops
  • Cuxhaven to Bremerhaven HBf – 0:44
  • Buxtehude to Cuxhaven – 2:34
  • Cuxhaven to Buxtehude – 2:21

Turnrounds are the following times.

Buxtehute – 28 minutes

Cuxhaven – 12 minutes

This gives a round trip of five hours and thirty-five minutes.

So it would appear that at least five Coradia Lint 41 trains are needed to provide the service.

Coradia Lint Trains

From what I can find on the Internet, the Coradia Lint trains are diesel-mechanical units, where the wheels are driven directly from the two diesel engines.

I’m not sure, but the engines may be mounted under the cabs!

Coradia iLint Trains

I suspect that the hydrogen-powered iLint trains could be driven by simply replacing the diesel engine, with a suitable traction motor.

What surprises me, is that there appears to be no plans to fit a pantograph  to the iLint, so that the intelligent brain on the train can use overhead electrification, when it exists.

This would mean that the range of the train on hydrogen would be increased, if the route was partially electrified.

Coradia iLint Trains Between Buxtehude to Cuxhaven

On the Buxtehude to Cuxhaven route, using electrification could be used to advantage to power the train and charge the batteries  through Bremerhaven, where about ten kilometres is electrified using 15 KVAC overhead wires.

Also, in Buxtehude station, which has 15 KVAC electrification on other lines, the bay platform that it appears will be used for the hydrogen-powered trains could be electrified to charge the batteries, during the  twenty-eight minutes, that the train is in the station. Perhaps, they could use a system such as I wrote about in Is This The Solution To A Charging Station For Battery Trains?

A similar system could be installed at Cuxhaven.

Surely, it is better to use the turnround times at each end of the route to charge the batteries, as this means less hydrogen will be consumed and the train’s range on a tankful will be increased!

There is an interesting comparison to be made here, with a route, I know well in the UK; Cambridge to Norwich.

  • Both routes are around 100 km.
  • Both routes are fairly flat and reasonably straight.
  • The operating speed of the UK line is 140 kph and I suspect the German line is about the same.
  • The UK line has six intermediate stops, whereas the German route has fourteen stops.
  • Both lines are run by diesel trains with similar operating speeds.

But the UK route is timed at one hour and nineteen minutes, as opposed to the two hours thirty-four minutes of the German one.

The German route does have twelve more stops, but even if two minutes is allowed for each stop, that doesn’t explain the difference.

The German route must be run at a slower speed than the UK one.

As the Germans improve the speed, journey times will surely reduce.

Conclusion

I am led to the conclusion, that Buxtehude to Cuxhaven route is an ideal route on which to test hydrogen-powered trains, but that as the trains develop, journey times will reduce substantially.

 

 

September 18, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , | 8 Comments

Hydrogen Trains Have Arrived

According to this page on the Internet, Alstom launched the Coradia iLint today.

These are some of the pictures.

I shall go for a ride.

The web page says this about the test route.

On behalf of LNVG, the Coradia iLint trains will be operated on nearly 100km of line running between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, replacing EVB’s existing diesel fleet.

As Buxtehude is close to Hamburg, the easiest way to experience the trains would be to fly to Hamburg.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | 5 Comments

Alstom And Eversholt Rail Develop Hydrogen Train For Britain

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in the International Rail Journal.

This is the first paragraph.

Alstom confirmed on September 11 that it is working with British rolling stock leasing company Eversholt Rail to refit class 321 EMUs with hydrogen tanks and fuel cells for hydrogen operation, in response to the British government’s challenge to eliminate diesel operation on the national network by 2040.

Other points about the conversion of Class 321 trains include.

  • Alstom will convert trains in batches of fifteen.
  • The first trains could be ready by 2021.
  • Up to a hundred trains could be converted..
  • A range of up to 1000 km on a tank of hydrogen.
  • A maximum speed of 160 kph.

The article also suggests that the Tees Valley Line and Liverpool to Widnes could be two routes for the trains.

A few points of my own.

  • Fifteen is probably a suitable batch size considering how Class 769 trains have been ordered.
  • Hydrogen is produced in both areas for the possible routes and could be piped to the depots.
  • In Runcorn it is plentiful supply from the chlorine cell rooms of INEOS and that company is thinking of creating a pipeline network to supply the hydrogen to users with high energy needs.
  • As the maximum speed of the hydrogen train is the same as the current Class 321 trains, I would suspect that it is likely that the hydrogen-powered train will not have an inferior performance.
  • I’ve now travelled in Class 321 Renatus trains on three occasions and in common with several passengers I’ve spoken to, I like them.
  • I hope the Class 321 Hydrogen trains have as good an interior!

I very much feel that there is a good chance that the Class 321 Hydrogen could turn out to be a good train, powered by a fuel, that is to a large extent, is an unwanted by-product of the chemical industry.

A Comparison Between The Alstom Coradia iLint And The Class 321 Hydrogen

It is difficult for me to compare the Alstom Coeadia iLint or even a bog-standard iLint , as I’ve never rode in either.

Hopefully, I’ll ride the iLint in the next few weeks.

The following statistics are from various sources on the Internet

  • Cars – 321 – 4 – iLint – 2
  • Electric Operation – 321 – Yes – iLint – Not Yet!
  • Loading Gauge – 321 – UK – iLint – European
  • Operating Speed – 321 – 160 kph – iLint – 140 kph
  • Range – 321 – 1000 km. – iLint – 500-800 km.
  • Seats – 321 – 309 – iLint – 150-180

Although the Class 321 Hydrogen will be a refurbished train and the iLint will be new, I suspect passengers will just both trains as similar, given the experience with refurbished trains in the UK.

In some ways, they are not that different in terms of performance and capacity per car.

But the Class 321 Hydrogen does appear to have one big advantage – It can run at up to 160 kph on a suitable electrified line, This ability also means the following.

  • Hydrogen power is not the sole way of charging the battery.
  • On some routes, where perhaps a twenty kilometre branch line, which is not electrified, is to be served, the train might work as a battery-electric train.
  • A smaller capacity hydrogen power unit could be fitted for charging the battery, when the train is turned back at a terminal station and for rescuing trains with a flat battery.
  • The depot and associated filling station, doesn’t have to be where the trains run most of their passenger services.

I also suspect that a Class 321 hydrogen could run on the UK’s third-rail network after modification, if required.

If you were an operator choosing between the two trains, you would probably find that because of your location, there would be a strong preference for one of the two trains.

I also doubt we’ll see iLints running in the UK because of the loading gauge problem.

Will the platform height scupper the running of Class 321 Hydrogen trains in Europe?

In Riding Docklands Light Railway Trains In Essen, I reported on seeing redundant Docklands Light Railway trains running in Essen.

For this reason, I wouldn’t totally rule out Class 321 Hydrogen trains invading Europe!

 

September 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Germany Approves Alstom’s Hydrogen Train For Passenger Service

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

The title says most of the article, but it also states that the first passenger services in Germany are scheduled for late summer.

July 14, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , | 3 Comments

Thoughts On A Hydrogen-Powered Class 321 Train

A hundred and seventeen Class 321 trains were built around 1990 and a hundred and four, which are currently in service with Greater Anglia, are due to be replaced by new Class 720 trains.

Alstom and the trains owners;  the Eversholt Rail Group, plan to convert some of these trains to hydrogen power.

The Class 321 Train

The basic characteristics of these trains are as follows.

  • They have a 100 mph operating speed.
  • They are built for operation on 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The closely-related Class 456 trains can run on 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • They have a formation of DTCO+TSO+MSO+DTSO.
  • Note that only the third car is powered.
  • Thirty of the trains have been refurbished in the Renatus project, which includes an upgraded interior and a new traction package, which includes regenerative braking.

This picture shows on of the driving trailers of a Class 321 train.

Note the large amount of space underneath.

If the Class 321 train has a problem, when converted to a modern efficient train, it is that the front end of the train has the aerodynamics of a large brick outhouse.

The Electrical System Of A Class 321 Train

I don’t know the electrical system of a Class 321 train, but I do know that of the Class 319 trains, which were built a couple of years earlier in the same factory at York These trains have a 750 VDC bus from one end of the train to the other.

As Class 321 and Class 319 trains have a similar train formation and a common Mark 3 heritage, I suspect that the electrical systems are the same and both have this 750 VDC bus.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking is an important part of any modern train, as it saves energy.

Normally, the energy generated as a train stops, is returned through the electrification to power other nearby trains.

But with a hydrogen-powered train, that may not be connected to the electrification, the energy has to be stored on the train to avoid being wasted.

The Alstom Coradia iLint Train

Alstom have developed a hydrogen-powered version of the Coradia Lint train, which they call an iLint.

This promotional video shows how Alsthom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint works.

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Summarising, Alstom’s video the Coradia iLint works in the following way.

  • The hydrogen fuel cell turns hydrogen gas into electricity.
  • The electricity is used to power the train or is stored in a lithium-ion battery.
  • The computer on the train monitors the system and controls it in an intelligent manner.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the system works in the same way as a serial hybrid vehicle like a New Routemaster bus.

  • The power source; hydrogen fuel cell in the train or small diesel generator in the New Routemaster, charges the battery directly.
  • The power source shuts down automatically, when the charge in the battery reaches a certain high level.
  • The power source starts up automatically, when the charge in the battery reaches a certain low level.
  • The battery moves the vehicle using one or more electric traction motors.
  • The battery powers all the other systems in the vehicle.
  • When the vehicle brakes, the traction motors generate electricity, which is stored in the battery.

The great advantage of this system is its simplicity, as the vehicle is effectively powered from a single source; the battery.

There is also an independently-controlled charging system for the battery.

A Possible Layout For A Hydrogen Powered Class 321 Train

Hydrogen powered trains need the following components.

  • Hydrogen tank.
  • Fuel cell to convert hydrogen to electricity.
  • Battery to store energy from both the fuel cell and regenerative braking.
  • Intelligent control system to control everything.

Positioning the last item shouldn’t be a problem, but could the other three larger components be placed under the train?

There’s certainly plenty of space under the two driving cars.

The battery would be connected to the following.

  • The 750 VDC bus to power the train.
  • The regenerative braking system.
  • The hydrogen fuel cell.

The train’s computer would control the systems intelligently.

Powering The Class 321 Train From Electrification

Class 321 trains were designed as electric trains and I’m certain they could be made to run on 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third rail electrification.

The electrically similar Class 319 trains are being converted into bi-mode Class 769 trains, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the hydrogen-powered Class 321 trains being able to use electrification directly.

The Battery Size

How large would a battery need to be to store energy from both the fuel cell and regenerative braking?

I will start by calculating the kinetic energy of a Class 321 train, as the battery must be able to store all the energy generated by regenerative braking, when the train stops in a station from an operating speed of up to 100 mph.

  • A Class 321 train weighs 137.9 tonnes
  • A train can accommodate a total of about 320 seated and standing passengers.
  • With bags, buggies and the other things passengers bring on, let’s assume an average passenger weight of 90 kg, which gives an extra 28.8 tonnes.
  • I will assume a total weight of ten tonnes for the battery, hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen tank
  • So I will assume that an in service Class 321 train weighs 176.7 tonnes.

Calculating the kinetic energy of the train for various speeds gives.

  • 50 mph – 12.3 kWh
  • 75 mph – 28 kWh
  • 90 mph – 40 kWh
  • 100 mph – 49 kWh

Note that speed increases the kinetic energy much more than weight. This is because kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed and only proportional to the weight.

Even if the extra equipment weighed twenty tonnes, the kinetic energy at 100 mph only increases to 51.8 kWh.

As the battery will have to store this energy after a stop from 100 mph, I suspect that the battery will have a capacity somewhere between 50 and 100 kWh.

A  Bombardier Primove 50 kWh battery, which is built to power trams and trains, has the following characteristics.

  • A weight of under a tonne.
  • Dimensions of under two x one x half metres.
  • The height is the smallest dimension, which must help installation under the train floor or on the roof.

I conclude that Alstom won’t have any problems designing a battery with sufficient capacity, that can be fitted under the floor of a Class 321 train.

The Train Will Need An Intelligent Computer System

The hydrogen-powered Class 321 train could have up to four methods of charging the battery.

  • From 25 KVAC overhead electrification
  • From 750 VDC third rail electrification
  • From the hydrogen fuel cell.
  • From regenerative braking.

The computer would try to ensure the following.

  • There was always spare capacity in the battery to accept the energy from regenerative braking.
  • Trains stop in a station with a full battery.
  • Hydrogen consumption is minimised.

The computer might even be programmed with the route and use GPS or digital signalling to optimise the train to that route.

It’s all very basic Control Engineering.

Alstom’s Marketing Philosophy

Watch Alstom’s video embedded in this post and they stress the environmental credentials of hydrogen power and particularly the Cordadia iLint.

They also show a caption which states that 195 states have made a commitment to zero carbon emissions.

That could be a very big market

The Coradia iLint will probably be a good train, but I suspect it may have a few problems satisfying a large market.

  • It is only two cars.
  • The current design can’t work on overhead electric power.
  • It is based on a Lint 54, which has only 160 seats.
  • Operating speed is 140 kph.
  • They are new trains and manufacturing may be expensive.

On the other hand, Class 321 trains have the following characteristics.

  • They are four car trains.
  • The trains can work from 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • The trains are built to a smaller loading gauge than the iLint.
  • I suspect that they could be easily converted to other overhead and third-rail electrification voltages.
  • Each train has 309 seats.
  • Operating speed is 160 kph.
  • They are existing trains and manufacturing may be more affordable.

It should also be said, that there is a massive amount of knowledge accumulated in the UK over thirty and more years, about how to refurbish, modify and update Mark 3-based rolling stock.

Once the concept of a hydrogen-powered Class 321 train is proven and certified, Alstom would probably be able to produce four-car hydrogen-powered trains at a fair rate, as they become available from Greater Anglia.

Conclusion

I have come to the following conclusions.

  • The Class 321 train will make a good hydrogen-powered train.
  • Alstom would not have looked at converting a thirty-year-old train to hydrogen power, if they thought it would be less than good.
  • British Rail’s design of a 750 VDC bus makes a lot of the engineering easier and enables the train to be tailored for world-wide markets, with different electrification systems and voltages.
  • Having two different trains will give Alstom better coverage of an emerging market.

I suspect in a few years time, if the hydrogen project is successful, Alstom will design and manufacture, a whole family of hydrogen-powered trains, with different gauges, capacities and operating speeds.

 

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The Hydrogen Train Of The Future Is A Lot Like The Train Of Today

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

It is an article worth reading ass it gives details of the philosophy of the guy behind the concept; Dr. Jörg Nikutta.

May 26, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Liverpool Manchester Hydrogen Clusters Project

The project is described briefly on this page on the Cadent web site.

This is the introduction.

The use of hydrogen in place of natural gas could offer a route to widespread decarbonisation of gas distribution networks.

The Liverpool-Manchester Hydrogen Cluster project is a conceptual study to develop a practical and economic framework to introduce hydrogen into the gas network in the Liverpool-Manchester area.

It proposes converting natural gas into clean-burning hydrogen gas, using a process called steam methane reforming. The process also removes CO2 from the gas, which can then be captured using existing carbon and capture storage technology and stored in depleted offshore gas reservoirs.

The hydrogen gas would then be supplied to a core set of major industrial gas users in Liverpool-Manchester and fed into the local gas distribution network as a blend with natural gas.

Note.

  1. At Runcorn, Ineos make hydrogen and chlorine by the electrolysis of brine.
  2. When I worked in Castner-Kellner works at Runcorn, it was generally taken away be truck.
  3. The Burbo Bank wind farm in Liverpool Bay, can produce 348 MW of electricity using some of the biggest wind turbines in the World, according to this article in The Guardian.
  4. Using excess  electricity generated by win turbines at night, is used by the Germans to create hydrogen.

It doesn’t look like the project will suffer from a shortage of hydrogen.

Alsthom And Hydrogen Powered Trains

Alsthom have a site at Widnes, where they modify and paint trains. They have also indicated, that they might build new trains in the UK.

They have also developed a hydrogen-powered train called the Alsthom Coradia iLint, which starts test running with passengers in a couple of months.

This promotionalvideo shows how Alsthom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint works.

The North Wales Coast Line would be an ideal test track.

  • It’s around eighty miles long.
  • It is nearly all double-track.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • It’s probably pretty flat, as it runs along the coast.

I don’t think too many people would bother about a few extra quieter trains, just emitting steam and water vapour.

North Wales could be getting a new environmentally-friendly tourist attraction.

 

April 9, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries

This article in Rail Magazine, is entitled Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

A few points from the article.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • The trains will be built at Derby.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.
  • Export of trains is a possibility.

It’s an interesting specification.

Diesel Or Hydrogen Power?

Could the better ambience be, because the train doesn’t use noisy and polluting diesel power, but clean hydrogen?

It’s a possibility, especially as Bombardier are Canadian, as are Ballard, who produce hydrogen fuel-cells with output between 100-200 kW.

Ballard’s fuel cells power some of London’s hydrogen buses.

The New Routemaster hybrid bus is powered by a 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine and uses a 75 kWh lithium-ion battery, with the bus being driven by an electric motor.

If you sit in the back of one of these buses, you can sometimes hear the engine stop and start.

In the following calculations, I’m going to assume that the bi-mode |Aventra with batteries has a power source, that can provide up to 200 kW, in a fully-controlled manner

Ballard can do this power output with hydrogen and I’m sure that to do it with a diesel engine and alternator is not the most difficult problem in the world.

The Mathematics

Let’s look at the mathematics!

I’ll assume the following.

  • The train is five cars, with say four motored cars.
  • The empty train weighs close to 180 tonnes.
  • There are 430 passengers, with an average weight of 80 Kg each.
  • This gives a total train weight of 214.4 tonnes.
  • The train is travelling at 200 kph or 125 mph.
  • A diesel or hydrogen power pack is available that can provide a controllable 200 kW electricity supply.

These figures mean that the kinetic energy of the train is 91.9 kWh. This was calculated using Omni’s Kinetic Energy Calculator.

My preferred battery arrangement would be to put a battery in each motored car of the train, to reduce electrical loses and distribute the weight. Let’s assume four of the five cars have a New Routemaster-sized battery of 55 kWh.

So the total onboard storage of the train could easily be around 200 kWh, which should be more than enough to accommodate the energy generated , when braking from full speed..

I wonder if the operation of a bi-mode with batteries would be something like this.

  • The batteries would power everything on the train, including traction, the driver’s systems and the passenger facilities, just as the single battery does on New Routemaster and other hybrid buses.
  • The optimum energy level in the batteries would be calculated by the train’s computer, according to route, passenger load and the expected amount of energy that would be recovered by regenerative braking.
  • The batteries would be charged when required by the power pack.
  • A 200 kW power pack would take twenty-seven minutes to put 91.9 kWh in the batteries.
  • In the cruise the power pack would run as required to keep the batteries charged to the optimum level and the train at line speed.
  • If  the train had to slow down, regenerative braking would be used and the electricity would be stored in the batteries.
  • When the train stops at a station, the energy created by regenerative braking is stored in the batteries on the train.
  • I suspect that the train’s computer will have managed energy, so that when the train stops, the batteries are as full as possible.
  • When moving away from a stop, the train would use the stored battery power and any energy used would be topped up by the power pack.

The crucial operation would be stopping at a station.

  • I’ll assume the example train is cruising at 125 mph with an energy of 91.9 kWh.
  • The train’s batteries have been charged by the onboard generator, on the run from the previous station.
  • But the batteries won’t be completely full, as the train’s computer will have deliberately left spare capacity to accept the expected energy from regenerated braking at the next station.
  • At an appropriate distance from the station, the train will start to brake.
  • The energy of the train will be transferred to the train’s batteries, by the regenerative braking system.
  • If the computer has been well-programmed, the train will now be sitting in the station with fully-charged batteries.
  • When the train moves off and accelerates to line speed, the train will use power from the batteries.
  • As the battery power level drops, the onboard generator will start up and replace the energy used.

This sequence of operations or something like it will be repeated at each station.

One complication, is that regenerative braking is not one hundred percent efficient, so up to thirty percent  can be lost in the braking process. In our example 125mph train, this could be 27.6 kWh.

With an onboard source capable of supplying 200 kW, this would mean the generator would have to run for about eight and a half minutes to replenish the lost power. As most legs on the proposed routes of these trains, are longer than that, there shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

If it sounds complicated, it’s my bad explanation.

This promotional video shows how Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint works.

It looks to me, that Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph bi-mode Aventra will work in a similar way, with respect to the batteries and the computer.

But, Bombardier Only Said Diesel!

The Rail Magazine article didn’t mention hydrogen and said that the train would be able to run at 125 mph on both diesel and electric power.

I have done the calculations assuming that there is a fully-controllable 200 kW power source, which could be diesel or hydrogen based.

British Rail’s Class 150 train from 1984, has two 215 kW Cummns diesel engines, so could a five-car bi-mode train, really be powered by a single modern engine of this size?

The mathematics say yes!

A typical engine would probably weigh about 500 Kg and surely because of its size and power output, it would be much easier to insulate passengers and staff from the noise and vibration.

Conclusion

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that a 125 mph bi-mode train is a practical proposition.

  • It would need a controllable hydrogen or diesel power-pack, that could deliver up to 200 kW
  • Only one power-pack would be needed for a five-car train.
  • For a five-car train, a battery capacity of 300 kWh would probably be sufficient.

From my past professional experience, I know that a computer model can be built, that would show the best onboard generator and battery sizes, and possibly a better operating strategy, for both individual routes and train operating companies.

Obviously, Bombardier have better data and more sophisticated calculations than I do.

 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is Hydrogen The Answer?

This excellent article on Rail Engineer, is a very good analysis of using hydrogen to power trains.

It is also crammed full of facts!

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Alstom Seem To Be Stepping Up The Pressure To Get Hydrogen-Powered Trains Into The UK

This article on Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Alstom: Industry must start work bringing hydrogen trains to UK immediately.

This is said.

In an exclusive interview with RTM, Mike Muldoon, who leads on hydrogen for Alstom in the UK, also warned that if the British rail industry did not start trying to bring in hydrogen trains as quickly as possible, the country’s market could become less attractive.

Could it be that Alstom see the opportunity for hydrogen-powered trains closing and want to make sure that the UK Government comes on-side?

Would The Coradia iLint Be Able To Run In The UK?

This document on the Alstom web site is a data sheet for the Coradia iLint.

Unfortunately, the data sheet doesn’t give the height and width of the iLint, but I suspect that these and other dimensions are not much different to typical UK values.

Even if the current iLint is wider and taller, I suspect that on a lot of routes a Coradia iLint would be able to run.

Development Of A UK Hydrogen-Powered Train

The Alstom Coradia iLint was developed from an existing train in a few months, in much the same way that Bombardier’s Class 379 BEMU prototype was created.

There would be the following differences between a UK and a German version.

  1. Adjusted height, with and platform height.
  2. Would a different pantograph reach be required?
  3. 25 KVAC instead of 15 KVAC.
  4. Would a third-rail 750 VDC version be needed?

Notes.

  • Point 1 is probably covered by the way modern trains are built.
  • Point 2 is down to the pantograph manufacturer.
  • Point 3 is covered by developing an electrical system that handles both voltages. After all 25 KVAC will be needed for France.
  • Point 4 just needs the appropriate third-rail shoe and electrical system.

I think that all this could mean that a UK version of the iLint could be developed within a reasonable time and budget.

Have Alstom Said Anything Else About For The UK?

This article on the Engineer web site is entitled Alstom Eyes Liverpool Hydrogen Train Trials.

It would appear to be a good choice for the following reasons.

Location

Alstom’s UK base is at Widnes, which is in the South-East of the Liverpool City Region.

Test Partner

Merseyrail have shown in recent years, that they can think out of the box, about using trains and would be a very able partner.

Test Route

The article suggests that Liverpool to Chester via the Halton Curve could be the test route.

  • The route is partly electrified from Runcorn to Liverpool.
  • The route passes close to Alstom’s base.
  • The section without electrification from Runcorn to Chester is probably about twenty miles long, which is a good test, but not a very difficult one.
  • I don’t think that there are too many low over-bridges that would need to be raised.

There would also be good opportunities for publicity and photographs.

Availability Of Hydrogen

Hydrogen is available locally from the various petro-chemical industries along the Mersey.

Incidentally, I used to work in a chlorine plant at Runcorn, where brine was split into hydrogen and chlorine by electrolysis. There were hydrogen tankers going everywhere! Does the industry still exist?

Further Routes

If you look at a map of the railways in the area, there are several other possibilities of other services.

  • Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington
  • Chester to Manchester
  • Serving new stations like Middlewich

The trains might be a possibility for the Borderlands Line.

Conclusion

Hydrogen trains would seem to be a possibility for running services in the Liverpool area and especially over the Halton Curve.

  • Liverpool to Crewe via Runcorn is electrified.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains could easily handle the routes without electrification.
  • There is a plentiful local supply of hydrogen.
  • There will be no great difficulty in updating the track and signalling.

Services could be run by existing diesel trains, until the new trains are available.

I also feel that Stadler’s new Class 777 trains for Merseyrail, when fitted with the ability to run on 25 KVAC overhead electrification and batteries could be able to handle Halton Curve routes.

Although, it is obviously very feasble to run hydrogen-powered trains, I have a feeling that the finances might not be as simple. Especially if Stadler make sure that their new Merseyrail trains can extend the Merseyrail network to town along routess without electrification.

Are Alstom stepping up the pressure, as they can see other trains arriving?

 

February 22, 2018 Posted by | Travel, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment