The Anonymous Widower

Macclesfield Station And High Speed Two

Today, I went to Macclesfield station.

In the latest iteration of High Speed Two, two new destinations were added to the High Speed Two Network; Macclesfield and Lancaster.

These pictures show Macclesfield station.

It is a modern station, with three through platforms, two bridges and some Modernist architecture from the 1970s, that could be improved.

This Google Map shows the layout of the station.

Note.

  1. Platform 1 is in the West and is used by trains to Stockport and Manchester Piccadilly.
  2. Platform 2 is in the middle and is used by trains going to Stoke, London and the South.
  3. Platform 3 is in the East and appears to be used a couple of times per day.
  4. It also appears there might have been a fourth platform.

All platforms appear capable of handling an eleven-car Class 390 train, which are over two hundred and sixty metres in length.

 

Is the plan to use Macclesfield as a High Speed Two terminal feasible?

Which Trains Will High Speed Two Use On Macclesfield Services?

It appears that High Speed Two will have two types of trains.

  1. Trains built to the European loading gauge, that will only be able to work on high lines like High Speed One and High Speed Two. Examples would be Eurostar’s Class 373 and Class 374 trains.
  2. Trains built to the UK loading gauge, that could also work on existing UK 125 mph routes like the East Coast, Great Western, Midland and West Coast Main Lines. Examples would be Class 800. Class 801, Class 802, Class 390 and Class 745 trains.

The second type, which are referred to, as class-compatible trains will be used to Macclesfield, as these services will share track with Class 390 and other trains, that have been or will be built to the smaller UK loading gauge.

Will Classic-Compatible High Speed Two Trains Fit Into Macclesfield Station?

Currently, every hour, one eleven-car Class 390 train calls in Macclesfield station in both directions, as they provide one of Avanti \west Coast’s three trains per hour (tph) between London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly stations.

The current trains are sixty metres longer than the proposed classic-compatible High Speed Two trains, that could be terminating in Macclesfield station.

How Would Passengers Who Started And Finished Their Journeys In Macclesfield, Connect to Manchester?

Currently, these hourly services connect Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke stations.

  • Avanti West Cost – Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston.
  • CrossCountry – Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth
  • CrossCountry – Manchester Piccadilly and Bristol
  • Northern – Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke, which stops at all stations.

The characteristics would be common to all these four trains.

  • Services call at Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke stations.
  • As services share tracks with a High Speed Two service, they must be reasonably fast.
  • All except the Northern service are 125 mph trains.
  • The Northern service is run by a 90 mph Class 323 electric train.
  • As Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke via Stockport is a fully-electrified route, the trains should probably be able to take advantage.

In an ideal world should the frequency be six tph or one train every ten minutes in each direction?

Which Platforms Would Be Used To Terminate High Speed Two Services?

Trains built to the UK loading gauge could probably terminate in any of the three platforms.

But it might be advantageous to terminate all services in the same platform.

Platform 3 would be the obvious choice.

  • It shares an island platform with classic services going South between Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke.
  • Passengers starting their journeys in Manchester Piccadilly or Stockport could just walk across from their connecting train to the High Speed Two train.

It must surely be a possibility to make Platform 2 able to operate bi-directionally, so that all trains between Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke stations in both directions, stop in Platform 2, alongside the High Speed Two train for London and the South, that is waiting in Platform 3. The combined frequency would be eight tph. All passengers would just walk across the island platform to change trains.

Could A North-Facing Bay Platform Be Fitted Into The Northern End Of The Island Platform 2/3?

If you are going to provide a High Speed Two service to and from Macclesfield station, it needs to have superb and comprehensive connections to as many places as possible.

The station currently has four tph to Manchester Piccadilly, Stockport and Stoke, but would a North-facing bay platform with level access to the High Speed Two platform make any of the following feasible?

  • Run a second local stopping service between Manchester Piccadilly and Macclesfield to give all intermediate stations two tph to High Speed Two.
  • Run hourly services to places that don’t have good connections to high speed services to London and the South.
  • The Stockport and Stalybridge Line could be used to connect Stalybridge and Huddersfield to High Speed Two.
  • There might even be a way of creating a link between Macclesfield and Manchester Airport.

Note.

  1. Looking at the platform layout at Macclesfield station, fitting in a bay platform would appear to be feasible.
  2. The important Stockport station, which seems to have been forgotten by High Speed Two would probably have at least six tph to High Speed Two at Macclesfield station.
  3. The local train could be timed to arrive at Macclesfield station, a convenient time before the High Speed Two train is scheduled to depart.

The bay platform could even be part of Platform 3, if it was decided that trains stopping in Platform 3, never used the platform as a through platform. It would be Macclesfield’s version of the Clapham Kiss.

I suspect more space could be found, by moving the signal box at the end of the station.

\remember that these days most signalling is controlled from centralised Rail Operation Centres.

Could High Speed Two Trains Run Between Macclesfield And Manchester Piccadilly?

As I said earlier, High Speed Two’s classic-compatible trains will be the same cross-section and shorter, than an eleven-car Class 390 train.

So the answer to my question must be yes!

  • This would enable a stop at Stockport station.
  • No platform lengthening would be required at Manchester Piccadilly and Stockport stations.

High Speed Two must have good reasons for using Macclesfield as a terminal.

  • There are capacity issues between Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • Macclesfield offers opportunities to connect to places, that are difficult to reach from Manchester Piccadilly station.

But these problems could probably be overcome by digital signalling or extension of the Manchester Metrolink.

Could More High Speed Two Services Run Between Macclesfield Station and The South?

Consider.

  • I believe that Macclesfield station could handle more than an hourly High Speed Two train.
  • It is a general principle, that on a metro like the London Overground or Merseyrail, that a single platform can handle up to four or even six tph.
  • Four tph would surely be too high, but Macclesfield could easily handle a second classic-compatible train to and from Birmingham Curzon Street via Stoke and Stafford.
  • During the inevitable works at Manchester Piccadilly station to sccomodate High Speed Two, Macclesfield could offer an alternative route, between London and Manchester.

Using Macclesfield station, as an alternative terminal for Manchester Piccadilly, builds in extra capacity for the future and offers a valuable alternative route during construction and upgrade works.

Rationalisation Between Cross Country And High Speed Two

Consider.

  • In a lot of locations North of Birmingham, CrossCountry and High Speed Two seem to provide similar services between the same stations.
  • Using currently proposed connections between High Speed Two and the classic network, CrossCountry’s services could run faster.
  • CrossCountry’s new fleet of trains will probably be multi-mode trains, that will be very similar to the classic-compatible High Speed Two trains.
  • Some of the routes used by CrossCountry’s services will have a substantial upgrade to allow higher speeds and more trains, to speed up High Speed Two services.

There must be a case for rationalisation of services.

Conclusion

The more I look at High Speed Two terminating at Macclesfield station, the more I like it.

I can see these services running from the station in the future.

  • High Speed Two – Macclesfield and London Euston – One tph – This service would additionally call at Birmingham Interchange to link up with CrossCountry to the South.
  • High Speed Two – Macclesfield and Birmingham Curzon Street – One tph
  • CrossCountry – Macclesfield and Bournemouth, Plymouth or Reading – One tph.
  • Northern and others – Macclesfield and Manchester Piccadilly via Stockport – Four-six tph
  • Northern – Macclesfield and Huddersfield via Stockport and Stalybridge – Two tph
  • Northern – Macclesfield and Manchester Airport – Two tph.

Obviously, this is all speculation, but Macclesfield will develop into an important rail hub to the South-East of Manchester.

 

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EWR Targets Short-Term Fleet Ahead Of Possible Electrification

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Electrification could yet be on the agenda for East West Rail, after Government ministers confirmed that the decision not to wire the reopened railway could be reversed.

East West Railway (EWR) also announced last week, that it was looking for second-hand diesel multiple units to start services.

  • The lease will be for four years, with a possible extension of two years.
  • The deal is worth £40million and will include maintenance.
  • The deal will end on May the 10th 2028.
  • 12 to 14 three-car trains are required.
  • Services will start at the end of 2024.

It looks to me, that this deal has interim written all over it.

Could Class 170 Trains Be Used For East West Railway?

Class 170 trains come in two- and three-cars and by 2024 many could be being replaced by trains with a smaller carbon-footprint.

If you look at the three-car Class 170 trains, they are the following numbers of trains with various companies.

  • Class 170/1 – CrossCountry – 10
  • Class 170/2 – Transport for Wales – 8
  • Class 170/3 – Abellio ScotRail – 26
  • Class 170/3 – CrossCountry – 2
  • Class 170/4 – Abellio ScotRail – 13
  • Class 170/4 – Northern Trains – 16

There are also some Class 170/5 and Class 170/6 trains, that it appears will be consolidated into ten three-car trains for CrossCountry.

Could CrossCountry Provide The Trains For East West Railway?

I think one likely scenario would be for the trains for East West Rail to come from CrossCountry‘s mixed fleet of Class 170 trains.

Consider.

  • CrossCountry need a bit of a fleet change as they still ten High Speed Trains, that will need to be replaced with more modern rolling stock.
  • CrossCountry have been criticised for a lack of capacity.
  • Several of CrossCountry’s services are run by diesel trains on electrified tracks.

Perhaps, if they replaced the fleet with a customised variant of Hitachi’s Class 800 trains, they might offer a better service to their customers.

  • Each train would be five cars long.
  • Trains would be able to work in pairs.
  • Trains might have electric, battery and diesel capabilities.
  • Some would be dual-voltage trains and able to work on both 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail electrification.

I’m sure those clever people at Rock Rail are working on an appropriate specification, just as they did for Avanti West Coast with their customised variant of Hitachi’sClass 800 trains.

Looking at the delivery schedules for various fleets of Hitachi trains, we find.

  • East Midlands Railway will be receiving 33 x five-car Class 810 bi-mode  trains in 2020-2022.
  • Avanti West Coast will be receiving 13 x five-car AT-300 bi-mode  trains in 2020-2022.
  • Avanti West Coast will be receiving 10 x seven-car AT-300 electric  trains in 2020-2022.

Could the CrossCountry fleet be delivered in 2022-2024 to allow the Class 170 trains to be released?

Could Class 185 Trains Be Used For East West Railway?

TransPennine Express have a fleet of 51 three-car Class 185 trains.

The future of these trains is uncertain, as TransPennine Express is renewing their fleet.

  • They are all fully-compliant with the latest regulations.
  • They are 100 mph trains,
  • They are the right length.
  • They can work in pairs to increase capacity.

These trains would be easy to freshen up for East West Railway.

Could Bombardier Voyagers Provide The Trains For East West Railway?

There are four fleets of Bombardier Voyagers, that by the end of 2024 could be looking for a new home.

  • Thirty-four Class 220 trains could be released by 2024 by CrossCountry, if they replace their fleet with new trains.
  • Twenty-four Class 221 trains could be released by 2024 by CrossCountry, if they replace their fleet with new trains.
  • Twenty Class 221 trains will be released by 2022 by Avanti West Coast, when they replace their fleet with new AT-300 trains.
  • Twenty-seven Class 222 trains will be released by 2022 by East Midlands Railway, when they replace their fleet with new Class 810 trains.

These fleets could be updated for the East West Railway.

  • They are all fully-compliant with the latest regulations.
  • They are 125 mph trains.
  • Bombardier have been working on various schemes to fit batteries to these trains, to reduce running on diesel.

They could also be rebuilt to any required length.

Fast Forward To May 2028

By 2028, the following will have happened.

  • High Speed Two will have been substantially completed and electrified at Calvert, where it crosses the East West Railway.
  • East West Railway will be connected to the electrified West Coast Main Line at Bletchley.
  • East West Railway will be connected to the electrified Midland Main Line at Bedford.
  • New Hitachi Class 810 trains will be running through Bedford.
  • Future connections to the electrified East Coast Main Line at Sandy and the electrified West Anglia Main Line at Cambridge South will have been designed, if not well underway or even completed.

East of Calvert, there will be plenty of electricity to power any electrification.

The article also quotes a Government minister as saying there will be passive provision for electrification. This is sensible, as the clearances required for 25 KVAC overhead electrification are not that much higher, than those needed for the largest freight containers.

So the two major requirements for 25 KVAC overhead electrification; electricity supply and gauge-clearance, appear to be met in the basic design of the East West Railway.

The East West Railway will also have one characteristic, that has been lacked, by most of the railways we have electrified in the last few years.

It will be a substantially new railway, although quite a few miles will have been rebuilt on an existing track bed.

It is my view after looking at several electrification schemes in the last ten years, that when we have electrified a substantially new railway, we have made a much better fist of it, in terms of both cost and timescale.

Could this be, that if the track-bed has just been created or relaid, it is well surveyed and the engineers and workers, who laid it, can be asked their opinion, so fewer costly mistakes are made?

It should also be said, that the route of the East West Railway goes through fairly flat country, which probably doesn’t have the sewers and mine-shafts, that have plagued the erection of electrification in recent years.

I wonder, if having looked in detail at the costs, the builders of East West Railway have found that perhaps around 2023, after a detailed survey of the route, they can build the railway at a cost, which includes electrification, that still offers benefits.

What Would Be The Benefits Of Electrification Of The East West Railway?

The benefits of electrification are generally as follows.

  • Faster passenger and freight trains because of higher cruising speed and greater acceleration.
  • Lower carbon emissions.

Faster trains would lead to more trains running over the railway.

Will The Electrification Be Full Or Partial?

I believe that Hitachi and other ,manufacturers will produce passenger trains with the following abilities.

  • To use either 25 KVAC overhead or 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • To use onboard energy storage for running a number of miles.
  • To charge onboard energy storage, whilst dynamically connected to electrification.
  • To charge onboard energy storage, whilst stationary in a station or siding.
  • To swap between electrification and energy storage modes at operating speed.

These trains will be able to run on partially-electrified lines, by using energy storage to bridge gaps in the electrification.

In Sparking A Revolution, I gave this specification for a Hitachi battery-electric train.

  • Range – 55-65 miles
  • Performance – 90-100 mph
  • Recharge – 10 minutes when static
  • Routes – Suburban near electrified lines
  • Battery Life – 8-10 years

It looks like a route run by Hitachi battery-electric trains could have approximately sixty mile gaps in the electrification.

The trouble with gaps, is that they would mean that electric freight locomotives could not be used on the route.

One possibility could be the new tri-mode Class 93 locomotive, which has the following power sources.

  • 1.3 MW on diesel
  • 4.055 MW on electric
  • A power boost on battery

Hopefully, it can switch seamlessly between the various modes at line speed.

Until we see these locomotives in operation, we will not know if they can haul a maximum weight freight train all the way from Felixstowe to Ipswich and on to London, Cambridge or Peterborough.

Freight Trains Through Cambridge And Onto The East West Railway

In Roaming Around East Anglia – Freight Trains Through Newmarket, I said this.

The East West Rail Consortium plan to change the route of freight trains to and from Haven Ports; Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich to the West of Kennett station.

In this document on the East-West Rail Consortium 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.

How would these changes affect Newmarket and the horse-racing industry in the town?

I believe that many freight trains would go straight through Cambridge and Cambridge South stations and onto the East West Railway.

One point to note, is that all of the route between Felixstowe and Cambridge South station has been gauge-cleared for the largest container trains and electrification.

This would surely make it reasonably easy to electrify all the way between Felixstowe and Cambridge South station.

Conclusion

I am coming to the conclusion, that given the importance of the rail freight route between Felixstowe and the Midlands, that something like the following will happen.

  • 2024 – Diesel passenger trains start running between Reading and Bedford via Didcot, Oxford and Bletchley
  • 2026 – Opening of Cambridge South station.
  • 2028 – Partial or full electrification is erected between Reading and Bedford
  • 2028 – Battery-electric passenger trains replace the diesel passenger trains.
  • 2030 – Opening of the full route between Reading and Cambridge.
  • 2935 – Opening of a fully-developed route though Newmarket to allow freight trains to go between Felixstowe and the East West Railway.

It appears to me, that by using diesel trains for an interim period, they can open the Reading and Bedford service early, whilst they complete the East West Railway.

 

March 16, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Silent Hydrogen Trains On The Cards For New Line Linking Burton And Leicester

The title of this post is the same as that on this article on Derbyshire Live.

The idea of using hydrogen power came about after some people worried about the noise of trains, if the full route were to reopen.

The Proposed Route

The proposed route that would be reopened is the Leicester and Burton-on-Trent Line.

  • The route is double-track.
  • It is around forty miles long.
  • It is still used by freight trains, so the track must be in serviceable condition.
  • There are no stations.

Sadly, when the route was closed to passengers in 1964, British Rail simplified Knighton Junction at the Leicester end of the line. Wikipedia says this.

At the Leicester end of the line, Knighton North Junction has been dismantled and the former course of the line to the junction has been sold and turned into an industrial estate. The line’s remaining connection with the Midland Main Line is Knighton South Junction, which faces southwards, away from Leicester station. Trains between Leicester and the line therefore have to reverse direction at the junction.

This Google Map shows, what’s left of the junction.

Note.

  1. Leicester is to the North
  2. Burton is to the North-West.
  3. Melton Mowbray and London are to the South.

It looks to me, that someone at British Rail made it absolutely certain, that the rail line could not be reopened to provide a passenger service between Leicester and Burton.

For a train to go between Leicester and Burton, it would either need to reverse as Wikipedia indicated, or the curve would have to be very tight.

There is only one class of passenger train, that can go round tight curves and that is a Class 399 tram-train!

So to enable trains to go direct around the corner, the option is either expensive disruptive demolition or use something like tram-train technology or a specially designed bendy train.

The Ivanhoe Line

The route was originally planned to be the second part of the Ivanhoe Line, but this was discontinued after rail privatisation.

Services on this line is an hourly service between Leicester and Lincoln Central stations.

  • Intermediate stations are Syston, Sileby, Barrow-upon-Soar, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Beeston, Nottingham, Newark Castle, Collingham, Swinderby and Hykeham.
  • Services can get overcrowded, as the service is run by two-car trains.
  • Platforms would need to be lengthened for longer trains.

Extending this service to Burton station would surely be good for connectivity at and through Leicester.

The Association Of Train Operating Companies Plan For The Line

This is taken from the Wikipedia entry for the line.

In 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a £49 million proposal (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) to restore passenger services to the line that would include reopening stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth and Ellistown, Coalville Town, Ashby de la Zouch, Moira, and Gresley (for Swadlincote). There is also some support in the Leicester area for the line to have new stations to serve Leicester City F.C.’s stadium and the suburb of Braunstone.

Wikipedia also says, it could be developed as a no-frills line.

Possible New Stations In Leicester

I have mentioned new stations in Leicester, so here’s a few more thoughts.

Leicester Reversal Station

A friend said that to reverse the trains between Leicester and Burton, a station has been proposed to be built, south of Knighton Junction.

This Google Map shows the junction and the line to the South.

Only a single-platform station would be needed and it would be a simple and affordable solution to British Rail’s lack of vision of the future.

Leicester City Stadium

This Google Map shows the stadium.

Note the rail line passing to the South of the station.

It would appear that building a new station would not be the most difficult of projects.

But after the experience of Coventry City, who were relegated twice after Coventry Arena station opened, would eicester City want a station?

Braunstone Station

This Google Map shows the rail line running through Braunstone.

The rail line is at the top of the map.

Leicester Forest East Station

I wrote about this possible station in A Station At Leicester Forest East.

Burton Station

Intriguingly, Burton station is run by East Midlands Railway, who run no services to the town.

Services are provided by CrossCountry using a variety of long distance services.

The South Staffordshire Line connects Burton and Birmingham.

Part of this line is being converted to become an extension of the West Midlands Metro and Staffordshire County Council have looked at converting the whole route to tram-train operation to bring trams to Burton to promote tourism.

Hydrogen Power

I estimate that the distance between Lincoln and Burton is about a hundred miles.

Alstom are predicting a range of several hundred miles for their hydrogen trains for their Breeze train, which should mean a round trip to Lincoln from Burton will surely be in range.

Refuelling could be at a suitable place on the route.

In Delivering Hydrogen For Vehicles, I talk about how iTM Power are building hydrogen refuelling stations for road vehicles.

As the company is already building stand-alone hydrogen fuelling stations for fleets of buses in Birmingham and Pau, I’m sure that one for a fleet of trains is not a problem.

All their filling stations need is a small amount of space, a supply of tap water and a connection to the electricity grid.

It should be noted that Central Rivers Depot is four miles South of Burton.

Possibilities

There are a lot of possibilities to extend the Ivanhoe Line to Burton and even beyond using the South Staffordshire Line.

  • Battery or hydrogen trains can be used.
  • Stations can be added as required.
  • The route will connect to Eat Midlands Airport.
  • A solution for Knighton Junction an surely be devised.

Amazon are reported to be interested in the project, as they have a big depot at Coalville.

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Flybe Survive?

This article on the BBC is entitled Flybe Boss ‘Focused’ On Turning Airline Around.

This was the start of the BBC article.

Flybe boss Mark Anderson has told staff that he and the management team remain “focused” on turning the airline round.

Mr Anderson’s comments came in an email to staff following reports that the airline is in crisis talks in an attempt to put together a rescue deal.

According to Sky News, Flybe, which has already been bailed out once, has been struggling to secure fresh finance.

So will the airline survive?

A Wake Up To Money Discussion

At 0530 this morning, the BBC Radio 5 Live program discussed Flybe with Lord Adonis, who is a former New Labour Transport Minister giving his fourpennyworth.

The following suggestions and observations were made.

Air Passenger Duty Be Scrapped For Domestic Flights

This has been suggested and it is thought it would give Flybe several tens of millions of pounds of aid.

The feeling was that it wouldn’t be illegal under EU law and it looks like it could be the solution.

But it would apply to all domestic flights within the UK and I can’t see BA, Ryanair and easyJet accepting, this to be available only to Flybe.

It would also cost the Government a lot of tax and why should I as a non-flyer inside the UK have to pick up the tab in other ways?

Certain Flights Could Be Directly Subsidised

To get to some parts of the UK, flying is necessary and under EU rules, essential flights can be subsidised directly.

The programme mentioned that Newquay flights are subsidised and those to Derry could be.

Other Airlines Would Take Over Profitable Routes

This is the law of the jungle and it has always been so.

A Radical Solution

Consider these facts.

Flybe’s Routes Tend To Be Shorter

As examples, Flybe flies.

  • Aberdeen to Belfast–City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Durham/Teesside, Humberside, London–Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Wick
  • Birmingham to Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guernsey, Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Knock, Paris–Charles de Gaulle and Stuttgart
  • Exeter to Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guernsey, Jersey, London–City, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Paris–Charles de Gaulle.
  • London City, to Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Edinburgh, Exeter and Jersey.
  • Manchester to Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast–City, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Exeter, Hanover, Isle of Man, Jersey, Knock, Luxembourg, Lyon, Newquay, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Southampton and Stuttgart.

Most if not all of these flights are under 500 miles.

Flybe Flies A Lot Of Smaller Aircraft

The backbone of their fleet is the Dash 8 Q 400, of which they currently have 54 in service, making Flybe one of the largest operators of the type.

  • They are powered by two turboprop engines.
  • They seat 78 passengers.
  • They have a cruise speed of 400 mph.
  • They have a range of 1,200 miles.
  • They can fly into city centre airports like London City and Belfast City.

In my view, they are an ideal aircraft for their shorter routes, with shorter runways and stricter noise restrictions.

Flybe Makes A Lot Of Places Accessible

Boris said this morning on the BBC, that we need regional connectivity and Flybe is part of the solution.

Northern Ireland would fare badly if Flybe ceased to exist, until alternative airlines provided the flights.

London And Edinburgh Is A Rail Journey

Over the last few years, more and more of my friends travel by rail on this route rather than flying.

Why?

  • Trains are now virtually every half hour.
  • Trains go between city centres.
  • Prices are generally comparable.
  • The trains and service has improved.
  • One friend takes her dog.
  • The journey time is getting closer to four hours.

In the next couple of years, there will be more services and journeys will be faster.

But go beyond four hours and train travel is not so attractive, so there will always be a need for regional flights to the North of Scotland, the South and South-West of England and other places where trains are not convenient.

Noise, Pollution and Carbon Emissions

These are aviation’s three main environmental problems and although Flybe’s core fleet is mainly turboprop, they are still not totally environmentally friendly, although they are better than the smaller jets, of which Flybe use a few.

CrossCountry Trains

Several of Flybe’s routes are mirrored by some of the services of CrossCountry Trains.

CrossCountry uses exclusively diesel trains and these will surely be replaced by bi-mode or hydrogen-powered hybrid trains to take advantage of the electrification, where it exists.

A revitalised CrossCountry could take advantage of Flybe’s troubles to increase revenue.

Eviation Alice And Other Electric Aircraft

Eviation Alice and other electric aircraft are on the way.

Within ten years, there will be an electric aircraft that meets this specification.

  • All-electric operation
  • At least twenty passengers
  • A range of 500 miles
  • A half-hour turnround for an hour’s flight.
  • Low noise.
  • No pollution or carbon emission.

Eviation Alice will show the way with a first flight this year.

Note that their first customer is Cape Air, who are a very successful feeder airline in New England.

I am confident of my prediction because the maths and physics, say it is possible.

I also feel that the might of Airbus is the one to watch!

  • They have much to lose at the small end of their market.
  • They are very strong in aerodynamics and lightweight structures.
  • easyJet are reportedly behind the project.

It should also be remembered, that their rival Boeing has too much on their plate.

The Short Term Solution

The short term solution must be to keep Flybe functioning, as the economic damage to far-flung regions will be far greater than the cost of keeping the airline flying.

But it must be done legally and within the rules, as the large profitable carriers have access to some of the world’s best lawyers.

I can see the following happening.

A reduction in Air Passenger Duty for domestic air travel.

Government subsidies for essential routes like those to and from the North of Scotland, Northern Ireland and remoter parts of England and Wales.

BA, Ryanair and easyJet using their lawyers to get equal treatment.

The Long Term Solution

The long term solution will undoubtedly depend on electric aircraft, when they meet the following criteria.

  • Sufficient range and passenger capacity.
  • Sufficient support infrastructure at airports.
  • Full certification
  • Overcoming the scepticism of the general public.

I feel that the first electric aircraft will be about nine-ten seats and they will build up from there and that thirty seat aircraft will be flying in ten years.

They will start on thin routes, where the number of passengers are low.

The government could encourage the fast adoption of electric aircraft, by abolishing all Air Passenger Duty for electric flights.

What would that do for an airline’s marketing and the environment?

Conclusion

Electric aircraft will be one of the factors , that will ensure the survival of regional airlines like Flybe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 14, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Worcestershire Parkway Station Is Now On The Map

This article on the BBC is entitled Worcester’s New Railway Station’s Set To Open In December.

This Google Map showsWorcestershire Parkway station, at the place, where the Cotswold and Cross Country lines cross.

Services will probably start to call at the timetable change of December 15th, 2019

Judging by the bands of car parking shown in this map, they are expecting a sizeable number of passengers.

I just tried to book a ticket to the station and it is not in the on-line ticketing system yet as a destination, although it does show up as a stop on these journeys.

  • CrossCountry – Nottingham and Cardiff – Hourly
  • GWR – Paddington and Worcestor, Great Malvern and Hereford.- Hourly

Two other hourly CrossCountry services also pass through.

October 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Irish Rail And Porterbrook Order MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

The title of this post is the same as that of this this article on the International Rail Jotnal..

This is the first paragraph.

Irish Rail (IE) and British rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook have signed contracts with Rolls-Royce for the supply of 13 MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, the first firm orders for the hybrid rail drives.

Other points are made in the article.

  • IE has ordered nine PowerPacks for Class 22000 trains. If the technology works they intend to convert all 63 trainsets, which will need 234 PowerPacks, as each car has a diesel engine.
  • Porterbrook has ordered four for Class 168 and Class 170 trains.
  • The PowerPacks will be delivered between mid-2020 and 2021.
  • The MTU engines are built to EU Stage 5 emission regulations.
  • The PowerPacks can switch to battery power in stations and sensitive areas.
  • Under battery power, noise is reduced by 75 % and CO2 emissions by up to 25 %
  • Operating costs are significantly reduced.
  • The PowerPacks have regenerative braking, thus they reduce brake pad wear.
  • Due to electric power, the trains have been acceleration, which may reduce journey times.

It seems that passengers, train operating companies, train leasing companies and those that live by the railway are all winners.

If the concept works reliably and meets its objectives, I can see MTU selling a lot of Hybrid PowerPacks.

Which Operators Will Be Used For Trials?

This is a valid question to ask and I’ll put my thoughts together.

Irish Rail Class 22000 Train

These trains only run in Ireland with one operator;Irish Rail, so they will be used for trials.

As each car has one MTU diesel engine and Irish rail are stated in Wikipedia as wanting to run three-car and six-car sets, could they be converting one train of each length?

British Rail Class 168 Train

All the nineteen Class 168 trains of various lengths are in Chiltern Railway’s fleet, they will be the trial operator.

Chiltern also have nine two-car trains, which could be ideal for trial purposes as they will need two Hybrid PowerPacks.

British Rail Class 170 Train

Porterbrook own upwards of thirty two-Car Class 170 trains with CrossCountry, Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains.

As Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains are replacing their Class 170 trains, this means that CrossCountry will soon be the only user of two-car units.

The four two-car trains from Greater Anglia, will be going to Trains for Wales (TfW).

TfW currently has thirty two-car Pacers in its fleet, which must be replaced by the end of 2019.

TfW is bringing in the following trains.

  • Nine four-car Class 769 trains from Porterbrook.
  • Eight three-car Class 17 trains from Greater Anglia
  • Four two-car Class 17 trains from Greater Anglia

This is a total of sixty-eight cars.

So TfW are replacing a load of scrapyard specials with quality, more powerful trains, with approximately 13 % more capacity.

TfW are proposing to use the Class 170 trains on the following routes.

  • Heart of Wales line (from 2022)
  • Regional services between South and West Wales
  • South Wales metro lines – Ebbw Vale/Maesteg (until 2022)
  • Crewe-Shrewsbury local services (from 2022)

There is a mixture of routes here and it would be a good trial,

Other Trains

If the MTU PowerPack proves successful and leads to widespread conversion of the Class 168 and Class 170 fleets, will we see the twenty Class 171 trains and thirty-nine Class 172 trains converted to hybrid power?

Conclusion

It looks like a good solid project to me!

April 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Routes For Bombardier’s 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra

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.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

These are my thoughts on these franchises.

Bi-Mode And Pure Electric

I’m pretty certain that if you want to create a 125 mph bi-mode train, you start with a 125 mph electric train, if you want a high degree of commonality between the two trains.

Hitachi have a whole family of Class 800 trains, each of which has a different specification for the diesel power. Even the pure-electric Class 801 trains, has one diesel engine for emergencies.

An electric train with batteries could be very efficient, if the batteries were used to handle regenerative braking and boost the trains, where more power is required.

East Midlands

It is no surprise that Bombardier are talking to the groups, that are bidding to become the new franchise holder for the East Nidlands, when it is awarded in April 2019.

They wouldn’t want to see another company’s product roaring past the factory.

The proposed bi-mode Aventra will probably have been designed very much with the Midland Main Line in mind.

  • The Midland Main Line will be electrified from St. Pancras to Kettering and Corby.
  • Will the fast lines be electrified to Glendon Junction, where the Corby Branch joins the Midland Main Line?
  • The route between St. Pancras and Glendon Junction is being upgraded to four tracks, with as much 125 mph running as possible.
  • The non-stop nature of Midland Main Line services South of Kettering could be significant.
  • North of Kettering, there is currently no electrification.
  • The development of Toton station for HS2 is being accelerated and there could be an island of electrification here, by the mid-2020s.
  • If HS2 shares the Midland Main Line corridor between Toton and Sheffield, this section could be electrified by the late-2020s.

Over the next decade, there will be more electrification and a greater proportion of the route, where 125 mph running will be possible.

There has been a bit of controversy, that the number of stops the franchise will make at Bedford and Luton is being reduced after May this year.

The reason given is that it will enable faster services to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

North To Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield

Consider a bi-mode train with batteries going North.

  • Between St. Pancras and Kettering, it will be at 125 mph for as long as possible.
  • The train will also ensure that at Kettering, it has the batteries brim full, sfter charging from the electrification.
  • After a stop at Kettering station, if the electrification reached to Glendon Junction, the acceleration would all be electrically-powered.
  • Whether it stopped at Kettering or not, the train would pass Glendon Junction at line speed with full batteries.

It’s almost as if the electrification is being used as a catapult to speed the train North.

South From Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield

Being as electrically efficient coming South would be a lot more difficult.

  • I suspect that train batteries will be charged at Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, so they start their journey South with full batteries.
  • Using a full battery and assistance from the onboard generator, trains would be accelerated away from the terminii.
  • The trains computer would select automatically, whether to use battery or onboard generator power and would harvest all the power from regenerative braking.
  • At each stop on the journey, energy would be lost, as regenerative braking systems do not are only between seventy and ninety percent efficient.
  • Once at Glendon Junction, the train would raise the pantograph and switch to getting power from the overhead wires.

It’s all about a well-programmed computer on the train, which knows the route, the timetable and battery state so it can switch power sources appropriately.

Electrification

On the other hand, electrification around Toton could make everything easier and more efficient.

With electrification, every little helps.

  • Modern trains can raise and lower pantographs, quickly and automatically.
  • Faster journeys.
  • Lower carbon emissions.
  • Less noise and vibration from diesel generators.

Everyone’s a winner.

Oakham To Kettering

The Oakham-Kettering Line to Corby station is being electrified, double-tracked and I suspect speed limits will be raised.

Speed limits are also being raised and track improvements are being done, South of Glendon Junction.

Currently, services take seventy minutes. With the 125 mph Aventras on the route, they will not need to use the onboard generator, but surely the journey time could be reduced to under an hour, which would attract passengers and need less trains to run a two trains per hour (tph) service.

The Oakham Problem

Oakham station is in the middle of the town, as this Google Map shows.

The Department for transport would like to see more services to the town and the next station of Melton Mowbray.

But the line through the station is busy with freight trains and there is a level crossing in the middle of the town.

125 mph bi-mode trains, won’t help with the problem of Oakham.

Joining And Splitting Of Trains

There is also the possibility of joining and splitting trains.

Hitachi’s Class 800 trains can do this and I’m sure bi-mode Aventras will be able to do this automatically.

There is only four platforms available for trains on the Midland Main Line at St. Pancras and regularly two trains occupy one platform.

The ability to run a pair of bi-mode trains, that joined and split could be a great asset.

Liverpool To Norwich

This long route is an important one for those, who live near its stations. It is usually served by one or two Class 158 trains, which are often very crowded.

The route is partially electrified.

  • Liverpool to Hunts Cross
  • Manchester Oxford Road to Stockport
  • Grantham to Peterborough
  • Around Ely
  • Around Norwich

So there should be plenty of places to raise the pantograph and charge the batteries.

It is a typical long-distance route for the UK and I’m sure it would benefit from 125 mph bi-mode Aventras.

West Coast Partnership

Bids for the West Coast Partnership, which will run services on the West Coast Main Line and HS2, will be submitted by July 2018. The winning bidder will be announced in May 2019 and take over services two months later.

A modern 125 mph bi-mode would be an ideal replacement for the current twenty Class 221 trains, that work on the West Coast Main Line.

These Class 221 trains are.

  • Diesel powered.
  • Five-cars long.
  • Built in 2001-2002 by Bombardier.
  • 125 mph capable.
  • Some services are run by splitting and joining trains.

But most importantly, most services are run substantially under wires.

New 125 mph bi-mode trains would certainly improve services.

  • Several of the current services operated by Class 221 trains,  would become electric ones.
  • How much faster would they be able to run a service between London Euston and Holyhead?
  • They would also be able to run new services to places like Barrow. Blackburn and Huddersfield.
  • Five cars could be a convenient train size for the operator.

But above all, they would offer a better passenger experience, with less noise and vibration from the diesel engines.

The longest section of running using onboard power of a bi-mode Aventra will be along the North Wales Coast Line to Holyhead.

  • The line has an 90 mph operating speed.
  • The line is 85 miles long.
  • The gradients won’t be too challenging, as the line runs along the coast.
  • Services stop up to half-a-dozen times on the route.
  • From London to Crewe is electrified.
  • The section between Crewe and Chester may be electrified.

It looks to be an ideal route for a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

As the route appears to not be as challenging as the Midland Main Line, could this route, be the ideal test route for a hydrogen fuel-cell powered Aventra.

West Coast Partnership may well have plans to use 125 mph bi-mode trains as feeder services for HS2’s hubs at Birmingham and Crewe.

I could certainly see West Coast Partnership ordering a mixed fleet of 125 mph Aventras, some of which would be bi-modes and some pure electric.

CrossCountry

CrossCountry has a diverse portfolio of routes, which have every characteristic possible.

  • Some are lines with a 125 mph operating speed.
  • Some are electrified with 25 KVAC overhead wires.
  • Some are electrified with 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Some are not electrified.

A bi-mode train with these characteristics would fit well.

  • 125 mph capability on both electric and diesel power.
  • Battery power for short branch lines.
  • Modern passenger facilities.
  • Five-cars.
  • Ability to work in pairs.

They could actually go for a homogeneous fleet, if they felt so inclined.

That would be a substantial fleet of upwards of fifty five-car trains.

The new CrossCountry franchise will be awarded in August 2019 and start in December 2019.

Other Routes

If the 125 bi-mode Aventra with batteries is built, there could be other routes.

Borders Railway

Why would you run a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra on the 90 mph Borders Railway?

  • The Borders Railway will be extended to Carlisle, which will mean, that both ends will be electrified for a few miles.
  • This will mean that bi-mode trains with batteries could charge their batteries at both ends of the line.
  • If traffic increases, extra cars can be added.
  • The trains would be able to use the West Coast Main Line to link the Lake District to Edinburgh.
  • They could be given a tourism-friendly interior, to go with the large windows common to all Aventras.

The trains would help to develop tourism in the South of Scotland and the North of England.

East West Rail

The East West Rail between Oxford and Cambridge is going to built without electrification.

  • But that doesn’t mean that it should be built with an operating speed in the region of 90 mph!
  • The legendary InterCity 125s have been running on lines without electrification at 125 mph since the late 1970s, so it isn’t an unknown practice.

So if the line were to be built for high speed across some of the flattest parts of England, why not unleash the 125 mph bi-mode Aventras?

They could serve Ipswich, Norwich and Yarmouth in the East using their onboard generators.

They could serve Bournemouth, Bristol, Reading and Southampton, if the trains had a dual-voltage capability.

They could use electrification at Bedford, Bletchley, Cambridge and Reading to charge the batteries.

 

Settle-Carlisle Line

Surely, if the 125 mph bi-mode Aventras are suitable for the Borders Railway, then it should be able to work the Settle-Carlisle Line.

  • Both ends of the line are electrified, so batteries could be charged.
  • The line needs more and better services.

But the main reason, is that there will be a high-class scenic route between Edinburgh and Leeds.

I estimate that a London to Edinburgh service via Leeds, Settle, Carlisle and the Borders Railway would take six and a half hours, using a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra.

Some tourists love that sort of trip.

Waterloo To Exeter

The West of England Line has the following characteristics.

  • It runs between Basingstoke and Exeter.
  • It is a hundred and twenty miles long.
  • It has a 90 mph operating speed.
  • The line is not electrified.
  • It is connected to the electrified South Western Main Line to Waterloo.
  • The route is electrified between Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • Direct trains take three hours twenty-three minutes between Waterloo and Exeter, with fourteen stops between Basingstoke and Exeter.
  • The trains used on the route are twenty-five year-old Class 159 trains.

Would a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra improve the passenger service between Waterloo and Exeter?

  • The Aventras are built for fast dwell times at stations, so there could be time saving with all those stops.
  • The Aventras could use the third-rail electrification between Waterloo and Basingstoke.
  • There may be places, where the operating speed can be increased and the faster Aventras would take advantage.
  • The trains could have a passenger-friendly interior and features designed for the route.

The real benefits for South Western Railway and their passengers would come, if the trains could do Waterloo to Exeter in three hours.

Routes For A Pure-Electric Version

There are several routes in the UK, where the following apply.

  • Some long-distance trains are run by 125 mph trains.
  • The route is fully- or substantially-electrified.
  • A proportion of the route allows 125 mph running.
  • Sections of the route is only double-track.

Routes satisfying the criteria include.

  • The West Coast Main Line
  • The East Coast Main Line
  • The Great Western Main Line
  • The Midland Main Line

On these routes, I believe it would be advantageous, if all passenger trains were capable of operating at 125 mph.

This is cause if all trains were running at 125 mph, they could be more closely spaced, thus increasing capacity.

Digital signalling would probably be needed.

There are several train services,, that use the electrified  125 mph sections of these routes.

Birmingham/Liverpool/Manchester To Edinburgh/Glasgow

TransPennine Express, are replacing their current Siemens 110 mph Class 350 trains on this service, with new CAF  125 mph Class 397 trains.

 

Euston To The West Midlands, Liverpool And Preston

West Midland Trains are replacing some of their current Siemens 110 mph Class 350 trains with new Aventras.

Information is scarce at the moment, but could some of these new Aventras be 125 mph units for working on the West Coast Main Line?

Leeds/York To Edinbugh

TransPennine Express run trains on this route.

St. Panvras To Corby

The Corby Branch is being upgraded.

  • Double-track
  • 125 mph running
  • Electrification

The section of the Midland Main Line between St. Pancras and Glendon Junction is also being upgraded to allow as much 125 mph running as possible.

If 125 mph bi-mode trains are to be used from St. Pancras to Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield, then surely, it would be logical to use a pure-electric version of the train between St. Pancras and Corby?

Various documents and web pages say, that the St. Pancras to Corby services are going to be worked by 110 mph Class 387 trains. Surely, faster 125 mph trains, which had been designed for the route would be better for passengers and the train operating company.

From my experience of scheduling, the section of the Midland Main Line between St. Pancras and Bedford, must be a nightmare to timetable successfully.

  • There are two train operating companies using the route, who go a hundred miles in different directions.
  • The Class 700 trains used by Thameslink are only 100 mph trains, so probably can’t use the fast lines too often, as if they do, they’ll delay the expresses..
  • Regular passengers object to any change in stopping patterns or journey times.
  • Passengers liked to get on express services at Bedford, but they now don’t stop.
  • Passengers don’t like the Class 700 trains.
  • Luton Airport wants more services.

My experience, says that something radical must be done.

Consider.

  • Plans are for two tph between St. Pancras and Corby.
  • How many passengers would complain if they ended up in the St. Pancras Thameslink platforms, rather than the high-level ones? They’re both equally badly connected to the Underground, buses and taxis.
  • There will be four tph between Bedford and London all day on Thameslink, with an extra four tph in the Peak.
  • Some or all of these services will call at both Luton and Gatwick Airports.
  • Looking at the two semi-fast services. which both run at tw trph, they seem to stop virtually everywhere.

I think it would be possible for the two tph St. Pancras to Corby services to become express services between Corby, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

  • The services would only stop at Kettering, Bedford, Luton, Luton Airport Parkway, St. Albans, West Hampstead Thameslink, St. Pancras Thameslink, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge and East Croydon.
  • The services would use the 125 mph fast lines North of St. Pancras, as much as possible.
  • Corby services would always call at St. Pancras Thameslink.
  • The trains would be designed for both Airport services and long-distance commuting.
  • The trains would be maximum length.

Obviously, this is my rough idea, but something like it might satisfy the stakeholders, more than what is proposed.

I think there are also other services, which are fully electrified, which could be upgraded, so that they would be suitable for or need 125 mph electric trains.

Kings Cross To King’s Lynn

I wrote about this route in Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route.

Portsmouth Direct Line

Under Topography Of The Line in the Wikipedia enter for the Portsmouth Direct Line, this is said.

The central part of the route, from Guildford to Havant, runs through relatively thinly populated country. The line was designed on the “undulating principle”; that is, successive relatively steep gradients were accepted to reduce construction cost. In the days of steam operation this made the route difficult for enginemen.

But with.

  • A second man in the cab, in the shape of the train’s computer, juggling the power.
  • Regenerative braking to the batteries saving energy for reuse when needed.
  • Bags of grunt from the traction motors.

The pure electric version of the 125 mph Aventra might just have the beating of the topography.

South Western Railway plan to introduce an older train from Litchurch Lane in Derby on this route, in the shape of the last of the Mark 3s, the Class 442 train or the Wessex Electrics, which were built in the 1980s.

It will be interesting to see how a 125 mph pure electric Aventra compares to something made in the same works, thirty years earlier.

Waterloo To Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth

The South Western Main Line goes to Southampton Central, Bournemouth and Weymouth.

  • It is a 100 mph line
  • It is fully-electrified.

Would a 125 mph pure-electric Aventra be able to put the hammer down?

I’m sure Network Rail can improve the line to a maximum safe line-speed.

Conclusion

If Bombardier build a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, there is a large market. Especially, if there is a sibling, which is pure electric.

April 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power

The title of this post is the same as this article in Rail Magazine.

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.

Bombardier’s spokesman also said, that they have offered the train to three new franchises. East Midlands, West Coast Partnership and CrossCountry.

In some ways, I am not surprised about what is said in this article.

Another article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics.

This is said.

Bombardier is not resting on its laurels. Interestingly, the company has been watching the problems over electrification and the fact that more of Hitachi’s new trains will now be bi-mode because the wires have not been put up in time. McKeon has a team looking at whether Bombardier will go into the bi-mode market: ‘The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel. Based on Aventra designs, we could build one that went 125 mph. This would help Network Rail as it would not have to electrify everywhere.’ He cites East Midlands, CrossCountry and Wales as potential users of this technology.

The article was published in February 2017 and mentions, 125 mph on diesel and two of the companies in the recent article.

The Design Of The Trains

My thoughts are as follows.

The Starting Point

I’m pretty certain that if you wanmt to create a 125 mph bi-mode train, you start with a 125 mph electric train, if you want a high degree of commonality between the two trains.

Bombardier haven’t yet built any of their Aventras for West Midland Trains, but as they will use the West Coast Main Line extensively, will they be 125 mph trains and not 110 mph trains, as is said in Wikipedia?

Aventras And Battery Power

I will believe until Bombardier say I’m wrong, that Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, which are Aventras, use batteries for the following purposes.

  • To handle regenerative braking.
  • To limp the train out of the tunnel or to the next station or safe exit point, if there should be a catastrophic power failure.
  • To lessen the amount of electricity fed to the trains in the tunnels.
  • To allow features like remote wake-up, which need a train to have some form of power at all times.
  • To move trains in sidings and depots without having live electrification.
  • To run passenger features, when the power fails.

Effectively, the Class 345 trains have electricity as a main power source and batteries for energy storage and a secondary or emergency power source.

I talked to one of their staff, who was training drivers on Crossrail’s Aventras. The conversation went something like this.

  • Me: “What happens, when the Russians hack the power supply?”
  • Driver-Trainer: “We switch the train to emergency power!”
  • Me: “You mean batteries?”
  • Driver-Trainer: (Pause, then something like) “Might be!”

Can anybody think of another way to have emergency power on the train?

Electric Traction, Regenerative Braking and Batteries

Bi-mode trains and Alstom’s hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint are electrically powered at all times.

This means that under electric, diesel or hydrogen power, the traction motors can generate electricity to brake the train.

On an electric train, this electricity is returned through the overhead wire or third rail to power other nearby trains. This electricity could also be stored in an onboard battery, just as it is in a hybrid or battery-electric vehicle.

Driving A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The bi-mode Aventra could have electricity from one of four power sources.

  • 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • An onboard electricity generator powered by diesel fuel or hydrogen.
  • Batteries

So will the driver need to keep switching power sources?

I am a Control Engineer by training and optimising the best power to use is a typical problem for someone with my training and experience.

The train’s computer would take all the information about the route, timetable, signal settings, battery charge level, train loading, weather and other factors and drive the train automatically, with the driver monitoring everything thoroughly.

Aircraft have been flown in a similar fashion for decades.

I look in detail, at the mathematics of a bi-mode Aventra with batteries in Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries.

I came to the following conclusions.

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 sufficent.

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.

Note, that everything I proposed, is well within the scope of modern engineering, so other companies like CAF and Stadler, who are actively involved in rail application of battery technology, could join the party.

This picture is a visualisation of a Stadler Class 755 train, which they are building for Greater Anglia.

Note the smaller third car, which contains the diesel engine of this hybrid train. Is there room for batteries as well?

I can’t find any information on the web about the power train of the Class 755 train, but this article in the Railway Gazette, describes another Stadler bi-mode Flirt, that Stadler are building for Italy.

This is said.

The units will be rated at 2 600 kW with a maximum speed of 160 km/h when operating from 3 kV DC electrification, and 700 kW with a maximum speed of 140 km/h when powered by the two Stage IIIB compliant Deutz TCD 16.0 V8 diesel engines.

There is provision to add up to two more cars if required to meet an increase in ridership. Two more engines could be added, or the diesel module removed if only electric operation is needed.

Note.

  • The Deutz diesel engines are rated at 520 kW.
  • As 700 kW is the power of the train, I suspect each engine generator creates 350 kW of power.
  • 160 km/h would be ideal for the Great Eastern Main Line
  • 140 km/h would be more than adequate for roaming around East Anglia

I suspect that if batteries were used on this train, that the engines would be smaller.

We will see in May 2019, when the trains enter service.

Diesel Or Hydrogen Generator

Electricity generation using a diesel generator and electricity generator from a hydrogen fuel cell, each have their own advantages.

  • Diesel fuel has a higher energy density than hydrogen
  • Diesel engines create a lot of noise and vibration and emit carbon dioxide, noxious gases and particulates.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells can be silent and only emit water and steam.
  • Ballard who are a Canadian company and a leading manufacturer of hydrogen fuel-cells,  manufacture one for use in rail applications which has an output of 100 kW, that weighs 385 Kg.
  • MTU make the diesel engine for a Class 800 train, which has an output of over 600 kW, that weighs 5000 Kg.
  • Hydrogen storage is probably heavier and more complicated than diesel storage.
  • Both generators can be fitted into convenient rectangular power packs.

I would envisage that in the future,  hydrogen electricity generators will get more efficient, lighter in weight and smaller in size for a given power output.

I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe, that within a reasonable number of years, hydrogen generators and their hydrogen storage tank, will be comparable in weight and size to current diesel generators and fuel tanks.

Accelerating A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The major use of electricity on a 125 mph train, will be in accelerating the train up to line speed. The energy needed will be.

  • Proportional to the mass of the train. This is why your car accelerates better, when it’s just you in the car  and you don’t have your overweight mother-in-law in the back.
  • Proportional to the square of the velocity.

I have calculated that a five-car bi-mode Aventra, carrying 430 passengers and travelling at 125 mph, will have a kinetic energy of 91.9 kWh.

Obviously, using electricity from electrification is the best way to accelerate a train.

  • Electricity from electrification is probably cheaper and more convenient, than that from an onboard electricity generator.
  • If diesel is not used to power the train, there is no noise and vibration from an onboard diesel generator.
  • A route with a lot of running on onboard fuel, means more fuel has to be carried.

Using electricity stored in batteries on the train, is also a good way to accelerate a train, but the batteries must have enough charge.

The onboard electricity generator will be used, when there is no electrification and the power stored in the batteries is approaching a low level.

|When Bombardier’s spokesman says, that the ambience will be good, control of the train’s power sources has a lot to do with it.

Could he have been hinting at hydrogen, as hydrogen fuel cells do not have high noise and vibration levels?

Cruising A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

Newton’s First Law states.

Every body continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless impressed forces act on it.

If you have a train on a railway track moving at a constant speed, the following forces are acting to slow the train.

  • Aerodynamic forces, particularly on the front of the train.
  • Rolling friction of the steel wheel on a steel rail.
  • Bends and gradients in the track.
  • Speed limits and signals.

So the driver and his control system will have to feed in power to maintain the vrequired spreed.

I have sat on the platform at Stratford, whilst an Aventra has gone past at speed. I wrote about it in Class 345 Trains Really Are Quiet!

This was my conclusion.

Bombardier have applied world class aviation aerodynamics to these trains. Particularly in the areas of body shape, door design, car-to-car interfaces, bogies and pantographs.

Remember too, that low noise means less wasted energy and greater energy efficiency.

In addition steel wheel on steel rails is a very efficient way of moving heavy weights. Bombardier have a reputation for good running gear.

Once a train has reached its cruising speed, appropriate amounts of power will be fed to the train to maintain speed.

But compared to the power needed to accelerate the train, they could be quite small.

For small amounts of power away from electrification, the control system will use battery power if it is available and can be used.

The onboard electricity generator would only be switched in, when larger amounts of power are needed or the battery power is low.

Slowing A Bi-Mode Train With Batteries

The regenerative braking will always be used, with the energy being stored in the batteries, if there is free capacity.

Imagine the following.

  • A bi-mode making a stop at Leicester station on the Midland Main Line.
  • It is doing 100 mph before the stop on the main line.
  • It will be doing 100 mph after the stop on the main line.

The energy of the train after Leicester will be roughly the same as before, unless the mass of the train has changed, by perhaps a large number of passengers leaving or joining the train.

Let’s assume that the energy at 100 mph in the train is X kWh

  • When the train brakes for Leicester this energy will be transferred to the train’s batteries, if there is capacity.
  • On accelerating the train, it will need to acquire X kWh. It couldn’t get all of this from the batteries, as for various reasons the overall efficiency of this sort of system is about seventy to ninety percent.
  • The onboard electricity generator will have to supply a proportion of the energy to get the train back up to 100 mph.

But in a diesel train it will have to supply all the energy to get back to 100 mph.

Where Would I Put The Batteries?

Aventras seem to have a lot of powered-bogies, so to keep cable runs short to minimise losses and maximise the efficiency of the regenerative braking, I would put a battery in each car of the train.

This would also distribute the weight evenly.

Where Would I Put The Electricity Generators?

Diesel engines always seem to be noisy, when they are installed under the floor of a train. I’ve travelled a lot in Bombardier’s Turbostars and although they are better than the previous generation, they are still not perfect.

I’ve also travelled in the cab of a Class 43 locomotive, with a 2,250 hp diesel engine close behind me. It was very well insulated and not very noisy.

As I said earlier, the most intensive use of the onboard generators will come in accelerating a train to operating speed, where no electrification or battery power is available. There is only so much you can do with insulation!

Stadler, who are building the Class 755 train for Greater Anglia, have opted to put a short diesel generator car in the middle of the train.

This was an earlier train, where Stadler used the technique.

There are reports in Wikipedia, that the ride wasn’t good, but I’m sure Stadler has cracked it for their new 100 mph bi-mode trains.

Creating a bi-mode by adding an extra motor car into the middle of an electric train could be a serious way to go.

  • The dynamics are probably better understood now
  • A powerful diesel engine could be fitted.
  • Batteries could be added.
  • Insulating passengers and staff from the noise and vibration would surely be easier.
  • There could be a passage through the car, to allow passengers and staff to circulate.

In an ideal world, a four-car electric train could be changed into a five-car bi-mode train, by adding the motor car and updating the train software.

In Mathematics Of A Bi-Mode Aventra With Batteries, I came to the conclusion, that if the batteries are used in conjunction with the power-pack, that a single power-pack of about 200 kW could be sufficient to power the train. This would be smaller and lighter in weight, which would probably mean it could be tucked away under the floor and well-insulated to keep noise and vibration from passengers and staff.

In this article in Global Rail News from 2011, which is entitled Bombardier’s AVENTRA – A new era in train performance, gives some details of the Aventra’s electrical systems. This is said.

AVENTRA can run on both 25kV AC and 750V DC power – the high-efficiency transformers being another area where a heavier component was chosen because, in the long term, it’s cheaper to run. Pairs of cars will run off a common power bus with a converter on one car powering both. The other car can be fitted with power storage devices such as super-capacitors or Lithium-ion batteries if required.

This was published six years ago, so I suspect Bombardier have refined the concept.

So could it be that Bombardier have designed a secondary power car, that can be fitted with a battery and a diesel engine of appropriate size?

  • Using a diesel engine with batteries means that a smaller engine can be used.
  • The diesel engine could also be replaced with a 200 kW hydrogen fuel cell.

I won’t speculate, but Bombardier have a very serious idea. And it’s all down to the mathematics.

What Would Be The Length Of A 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra?

Long distance Aventras, like those for Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains, seem to be five and ten car trains.

This would fit well with the offerngs from other companies, so I suspect five- and ten-cars will be the standard lengths.

Could There Be A Bi-Mode Aventra for Commuter Routes?

The London Overground has ordered a fleet of four-car Class 710 trains.

The Gospel Oak to Barking Line is being extended to a new Barking Riverside station.

In an article in the October 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, which is entitled Celling England By The Pound, Ian Walmsley says this in relation to trains running on the Uckfield Branch, which probably has a terrain not much different to the lines to London.

A modern EMU needs between 3 and 5 kWh per vehicle mile for this sort of service.

The new extension is about a mile, so this would need 20 kWh each way.

This could easily be done with a battery, but supposing a small diesel engine was also fitted under the floor. Would anybody notice the same 138 kW Cummins ISBe diesel engine that is used in a New Routemaster hybrid bus?

I doubt it.

It is a revealing to calculate the kinetic energy of a fully-loaded Class 710 train. I estimate that it under 50 kWh, if it was travelling at 90 mph, which would rarely be achieved on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Could Bombardier Be Serious About Exporting Bi-Mode Aventras?

In my opinion, the Aventra is a good train an it seems to sell well in its electric form to train operating companies in the UK.

But would it sell well in overseas markets like the United States and Canada, India and Australia?

They obviously know better than I do, so we should take their statements at face value.

The Prospective Customers

The Rail Magazine article mentions three prospective customers.

I deal with them and other possiblilities in Routes For Bombardier’s 125 Mph Bi-Mode Aventra.

This was my conclusion.

If Bombardier build a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra with batteries, there is a large market.

It looks like the company has done a lot of research.

Conclusion

Bombardier are designing a serious train.

 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

HSTs For 2020

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways.

It describes how Wabtec in Doncaster will be updating  the InterCity 125 train, so that meet the latest Persons with Reduced Mobility (PRM) regulations, which come into force in 2020.

The fitting of power doors and retention toilets will see the following trains in service for a number of years after 2020.

This totals up to eighty-four Class 43 power cars and two hundred and five Mark 3 coaches.

Work On The Power Cars

With the exception of some interlocks, there appears to be little work being done on the power cars, which is probably because of the good care, that the trains have had over the years.

Although, they’ll obviously be serviced and painted.

Work On The Coaches

This is summed up as follows.

  • Sliding power doors for  passengers will be fitted.
  • A test rig will simulate fifteen years of use.
  • Controlled emission toilets are being fitted.
  • If a coach has two toilets , only one can be retained due to space limitations, caused by the pockets for the sliding doors.
  • Most of the coaches are receiving new universal access toilets.
  • From a picture caption in the article, it appears that less work on the interiors will be done on the CrossCountry coaches.

Production details are also given.

  • The first GWR and CrossCountry sets will be released in early November.
  • Two production lines will be setup.
  • The CrossCountry sets are targeted for completion by May 2018.
  • The Scotrail sets are targeted for completion by May 2019.
  • The final ten GWR sets will be rebuilt last.

Initially coaches will be modified to a 40-day turnround, which should be halved for the Scotrail sets.

Conclusions

Wabtec seem to be doing a comprehensive and quality job in updating the Msrk 3 coaches.

Consider.

  • Wabtec are setting up two production lines for the modifications.
  • At twenty days to modify a train, that means in a year, they can refurbish 36 coaches or probably four trains.
  • Greater Anglia have fifteen rakes of recently-refurbished Mark 3 coaches, one of which has been sold to be used with 60163 Tornado.
  • East Midlands Trains have twelve InterCity 125 sets.
  • Virgin Trains East Coast have sixteen InterCity 125 sets,

I wonder if any of these extra sets will be converted at Wabtec?

Where would they be used?

Chiltern Railways

Chiltern will probably need some more coaches for their services to Birmingham, Oxford and in the future; Milton Keynes.

If partial electrification should happen on their routes, Chiltern could replace the current Class 68 locomotives for a bi-mode like a Class 88 locomotive.

The New East Midlands Franchise

The new East Midlands franchise could go for a fleet of InterCity 125s for Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield services given than electrification won’t happen.in the near future.

It should be noted that HS2 will reach the new East Midlands Hub station around 2032/2033, so this will become a date, when London to East Midlands services will change forever.

CrossCountry

CrossCountry has a capacity problem and might find more InterCity 125s a very well-proven solution, that is liked by passengers.

Long Distance Services

Some long-distance routes like Norwich to Liverpool and Cardff to Manchester might be ideal for shortened InterCity 125s.

New Services

It is well-known that passengers very much like travelling on InterCity 125s and after my trip from Edinburgh to Inverness in the cab, I am convinced that drivers and probably other staff too,  have a lot of affection for these superb trains from a very different era.

It is these thoughts and feelings, that led Scotrail to go down the route of introducing shortened InterCity 125s on their major inter-city routes North of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

So could we see Scotrail’s example used in other places in the UK?

Chris Stokes in the September 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, finishes his column, after talking about scenic railways in the rest of the world, with this paragraph.

There are limited examples in Britain, such as the ‘Jacobite’ steam service between Fort William and Mallaig and the expensive and exclusive ‘Royal Scotsman’ service. But elsewhere on the Kyle line, the Cambrian Coast or Settle-Carlisle, all you get is a Class 158, with, if you’re lucky seats aligned with the windows. We could do so much better.

A shortened InterCity 125, perhaps with a regional buffet car would certainly be a lot better.

Scotrail could perhaps start the process by running a Glasgow to Leeds service via the Glasgow South Western Line and the the Settle to Carlisle Line.

 

 

 

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Bi-Mode Trains And CrossCountry

The CrossCountry franchise runs trains all over the UK.

I wonder how bi-mode trains will effect their services.

These are just a few thoughts.

InterCity 125 Trains

CrossCountry have enough Class 43 locomotives and Mark 3 carriages to make-up five 2+8 InterCity 125 sets.

These trains will not meet the regulations in a couple of years, so will they be replaced or refurbished.

It is probably not an easy decision for the following reasons.

  • Passengers and I suspect drivers too, love them.
  • They are probably ideal for longer routes like Devon and Cornwall to Scotland
  • Scotrail and Great Western Railway will be updating several trains each.
  • They are forty years old.
  • There may be pressure to retire the trains because of environmental problems.
  • If they even wanted to acquire a few extra sets, the type retirement by other operators might help.

Left to the Marketing Department, there would only be one decision.

Class 800 Trains

Class 800 trains or more likely Class 802 trains, specified for their routes may offer advantages to CrossCountry on some of their routes.

Consider these features of Class 802 trains.

  • Available in any number of cars between four and twelve.
  • Designed around a flexible interior.
  • Dual voltage is probably available.
  • Wi-fi and power sockets.
  • Hitachi have designed the trains for lower track-access charges.

Costs and the marketing advantage of new electric trains will probably decide.

Devon and Cornwall to Scotland

Consider.

  • Plymouth to Edinburgh and Glasgow is an hourly service that takes just under nine hours to Edinburgh with no changes.
  • One train per day goes from Plymouth to Aberdeen in eleven hours.
  • A lot of the route is not electrified, but it is North of York.
  • Would a Class 802 train have enough fuel capacity?

I suspect current arrangements will continue.

Southampton Central And Bournemouth To Manchester And Newcastle

Consider.

  • North of Leeds, the route is electrified using 25 KVAC overhead
  • South of Basingstoke, the route is electrified using 750 VDC third-rail.
  • Any bi-mode train would need to be dual-voltage.
  • Range should be less of a problem

A dual-voltage bi-mode Class 802 train might be ideal.

Other Routes

Most other routes only have a small proportion of running on electrified track.

Conclusion

I think it unlikely, that CrossCountry will go for a total replacement of their fleet with bi-mode trains.

But I suspect, they’re keeping a watching brief on developments in  electrification and trains.

 

July 24, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments